Creativity, the creator economy and TikTok ban

Enforcing a ban on TikTok could yield long-term consequences, adversely affecting Nepal's capacity to prosper in the creative economy, hampering Nepal’s potential to thrive in the sector.

Bimal Pratap Shah

  • Read Time 5 min.

A profound transformation is underway as capitalism shifts away from its conventional industrial model towards a new paradigm anchored in CREATIVITY and knowledge. Departing from historical reliance only on natural resources and large-scale industries, today’s economic prosperity is increasingly tied to knowledge, innovation, and talent. The creative economy, currently valued at an impressive $985 billion, shows no signs of slowing down. G20 Insights, a platform that offers policy proposals to the G20, produced by Task Forces from the Think20 (T20) Group, projects it to potentially contribute 10% to global GDP by 2030. Despite global political and financial uncertainties, according to the World Economic Forum, the internet is the primary distribution channel of the creative economy.

In the course of this radical economic transformation, the Government of Nepal has banned TikTok and cryptocurrency, hindering the country’s potential to thrive in the creative economy—an essential driver of economic growth.

People should really be worried about the TikTok and also cryptocurrency ban because till now Nepal has demonstrated remarkable prowess in navigating the evolving landscape of the creativity-powered knowledge economy, surpassing 47 countries out of the 139 surveyed, as unveiled by a 2023 comprehensive study conducted by the Martin Prosperity Institute. The study evaluates various dimensions, including technology, talent, and tolerance, each playing a pivotal role in shaping a nation’s competitive edge. In this intricate landscape, Nepal secures positions of 97, 99, and an impressive 29 in technology, talent, and tolerance respectively.

Nepal’s high ranking in tolerance is especially noteworthy in the context of an expanding body of research’s findings show that the positive correlation between openness to diversity and economic development. Embracing a diverse spectrum of ideas not only stimulates economic growth but also attracts creative minds globally, providing a distinctive advantage in fostering innovations and establishing startup ventures that fuel new industries. This openness significantly enhances a nation’s technological and talent capabilities, offering a distinct economic advantage over less tolerant counterparts, particularly in embracing and accepting racial, ethnic, and political minorities, along with their voices and concerns.

While Nepal’s rank in technology and talent may not be as remarkable as its standing in tolerance, the country has nonetheless made commendable strides in these areas, outpacing 40 countries.  This is good news for Nepal, as visionaries like Peter Drucker, renowned as the father of modern management, who made significant contributions to the understanding of organizational leadership, and Fritz Machlup, an Austrian-American economist who played an important role in advancing economic theory and the study of the knowledge economy, emphasize the pivotal role of knowledge workers in economic development. Paul Michael Romer, an esteemed American economist and former Chief Economist of the World Bank who co-received the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his groundbreaking contributions to endogenous growth theory, notably formalized the intricate connection between knowledge, technology, and endogenous growth, thereby emphasizing the pivotal link between talent and economic progress. Nepal’s positive trajectory in these domains positions it favorably in the unfolding narrative of the creativity-powered knowledge economy.

The creative services market holds promise in addressing global challenges such as youth unemployment, exodus of youth, and poverty reduction. Virtual goods  like TikTok videos, with low production and distribution costs, provide opportunities for individuals with creative ideas to participate in the global economy.  To fully harness the transformative potential of the creative economy, effective strategies are needed, ranging from regulatory environments to awareness campaigns and investments in education and infrastructure. Government, political parties, academia, companies, and communities must collaborate to create a platform that nurtures the growth of the creative economy, fostering social cohesion and economic development.

In the wake of the recent TikTok ban in Nepal, it important to discuss that  the social media platform has transcended its role as a mere entertainment platform, transforming into a pivotal launchpad for numerous Nepali content creators. It serves as a dynamic space for showcasing talents and monetizing creative work. Whether in the realms of music, dance, acting, comedy, or education, TikTok provides artists with a platform to engage with a diverse global audience. This evolution has ushered in opportunities for partnerships, collaborations, and income generation, thereby contributing significantly to the growth of the creative economy of Nepal.

Banning the most popular social media app outright would not only stifle these economic opportunities but also hinder the growth of the creative industry in Nepal.  The government should shift focus  towards implementing practical content guidelines and mechanisms for reporting and addressing inappropriate content. By promoting responsible usage and holding creators accountable for creating content that contribute to creating social disharmony. The government should regards the platform  as a creative outlet for Nepali people while effectively addressing concerns about its negative impact on society.

Moreover, it is crucial to recognize that a ban may not comprehensively address concerns about social disharmony. Instead of opting for a ban, investing in digital literacy programs, online etiquette, and capacity building to identify and penalize perpetrators, along with integrating education on responsible online behavior in high schools, could empower users to navigate platforms responsibly and foster a healthier online environment. Despite proponents of the ban asserting that the platform promotes social disharmony, a closer examination of the situation suggests that this move could be a strategic ploy by the government to suppress dissent, particularly stifling the voices of the youth who are extremely frustrated with the current state of the country’s economy, forcing them to leave the country for employment. 

Besides fueling the creative economy and showcasing Nepali talent worldwide, TikTok has emerged as a platform where citizens can freely share videos exposing instances of government wrongdoing. This newfound avenue of expression has garnered immense attention. In a sense, TikTok has provided a haven for these voices to be heard, challenging the government’s narrative. Therefore,  many Nepali people believe that the TikTok ban in Nepal seems to be more about stifling dissent and suppressing the voice of the youth than protecting societal values.

In the wake of the recent TikTok ban in Nepal, it important to discuss that  the social media platform has transcended its role as a mere entertainment platform, transforming into a pivotal launchpad for numerous Nepali content creators.

Indeed, TikTok has played a crucial role as a platform for Nepali citizens to express concerns, criticize the government, and mobilize for change. Banning the platform appears to be an attempt to control the narrative, silencing those who question those in power. Recognizing potential ulterior motives behind such a ban is crucial, and there is a need to safeguard the right to free expression and open discourse. Instead of a ban, the government should invest in the infrastructure and manpower necessary to monitor TikTok and penalize those creating content contributing to social disharmony and vulgarity. Rather than outright banning TikTok, the government should leverage it as a platform to attentively address public grievances and actively resolve issues that adversely affect people’s lives. The government should view the platform as an opportunity to better understand the problems faced by the general population, especially the youth.

Enforcing a ban on TikTok could yield long-term consequences, adversely affecting Nepal’s capacity to prosper in the creative economy. Furthermore, individuals thriving in the creative sector might opt to migrate to other countries, exacerbating the issue of brain drain, thus hampering Nepal’s potential to thrive in the creative economy.