Kathmandu: The manifesto issued by the Nepali Congress Party today conveys hope and inspiration to the younger generation. The manifesto is also realistic. We haven’t included anything that is unattainable over the next five years or so. But that sort of aspiration and ambition is conditional on us stepping up to clean up the political system a little bit, having a much higher quality of governance and a broader, bolder ambition on a renewed set of economic issues.
In all this, there’s also an element of continuity. BP Koirala, the first democratically-elected prime minister of Nepal, when he founded this party [Nepali Congress] had set out certain universal goals related to people’s welfare, improvement in living standards within a liberal order. He imagined a country that could assert itself in the international space. So we’ve tried to reclaim some of those original goals set by our Founding Fathers.
We comment on the current political state of affairs, but the crux of the manifesto is on the economic agenda. And there, we’ve called it shared prosperity. In Nepali, we call it the notion of Samaunnati, everyone being carried along and upwards.
The manifesto has five concrete dimensions.
One is cleaning up the liberal polity, improving the quality of governance. We’re very explicit about what sort of policy and institutional reforms are needed there.
The second element is broadening the economic base and getting the economic dynamism going so that we can create the kinds of jobs that the ambitious targets that we’ve set require. Again, this is also conditional on bold reforms, and strong leadership on the political front.
The third base of shared prosperity would be the pursuit of an equitable society–what we call “Samanyanik Samaj” in Nepali–through the lens of quality education, quality health and nutrition, and a broad, all encompassing social protection framework.
The fourth element is on climate change and disaster preparedness, and also the nature conservation, for which Nepal already has a lot to celebrate, but we want to consolidate and build upon the past successes.
And the fifth element is our presence in the international sphere, which is based on the principle of sovereign reciprocity and our active participation in selective international fora, particularly related to climate change, and also how we manage the transition as Nepal graduates from the status of a least developed country (LDC) by 2026. So all these timelines coincide with the tenure of the next government and, therefore, these issues have been adequately addressed in the manifesto.
So again, overall, we raise the issue of digitalization and job creation aimed at the youth, importance given to augmenting domestic production capabilities, and our international participation. But all that is conditional on good governance and a bold economic agenda, which I’ve called an “omnibus” set of reforms.
We’re basically talking about scrapping or radically revising or introducing dozens, not a dozen, but dozens of laws to give the private sector that feeling that finally, something is happening, something can happen in Nepal.
So the larger takeaway is really on the economy, and instilling hope in our youth, the younger generation, while also being aware that the entire center for global economic activity is moving to Asia, within our neighborhood, given the rise of China and India. The entire planetary transition is occurring from the Holocene to this new geological epoch of the Anthropocene. Looking at the Himalayas and how the glaciers are melting, global warming is affecting our river basins. And finally, the demographic shift is happening within Nepal where half the country is under the age of 25. And we’re going to age very fast. We will become an ageing society in the next seven to eight years, and we will have become an aged society over the next 25/30 years. So we literally have one generation to lift this country up. And we do not want to squander this opportunity.
So the cynics and the naysayers will say, well, this was not covered, and the manifesto is too ambitious, but we really don’t have the luxury to not be reasonably ambitious. I hope people will find this is indeed what is contained in the Nepali Congress manifesto for the forthcoming elections.