1) Increase tax on rental earnings such as dividends, inheritance, personal capital gain, and the like.
2) Create opportunities for community enterprises. Discourage multinationals from overshadowing local businesses and rendering them redundant.
3) Eradicate the existing patron-clientele politics. Establish the rule of law and practice good governance.
Time has come to rethink capitalism. The whole ideology is flawed in the contemporary world. We should evaluate the consequences of massive wealth inequalities in Nepal and all over the world. As societies, we have evolved dynamically from our past. So many issues such as gender roles and other forms of social injustices are being considered and solved collectively to make our society better. If you look back at the past 100 years, so many things have changed in our society.
But capitalism remains in its most primitive form. We still follow the ideology of wealth accumulation that has been passed on to us from the early human hunter-gatherer stage.
The thought process has not changed much. If it does not change soon, wealth inequality will reach its peak and we will have to face dire consequences. Time has come to seriously evaluate the consequences of massive wealth inequality. Over time, the class divide due to wealth will grow and all opportunities of wealth accumulation will be reserved for the privileged few. When this divide keeps increasing generation after generation, there will definitely be a disruption in the peace and harmony of our societies.
So, it is high time we start talking about wealth distribution in Nepal. Personally, I feel the government needs to tighten laws on rental and inheritance-based income in Nepal. I know this is against the very idea of capitalism, but this traditional thought is what we want to unsettle right now.
Rental income is unproductive and parasitical. Fundamentally, rent-seeking involves low risks or no risk at all and does not contribute much to the economy. It is not an actual income and just contributes to making the rich richer and the poor poorer. While some privileged people enjoy generational wealth, rent costs and the prospects of ownership gradually decrease for most others. The gap thus created will grow too huge to fill in the coming years. So, I think there should be a good amount of capital gain taxes on rental agreements and deals involving similar personal gains.
For a least developed country like Nepal, the medium for wealth creation must be redefined. We have to move back to the community instead of depending on multinationals. Take agriculture. We import over Rs 300 billion worth of agricultural products a year. This just shows that there are immense opportunities for commercial agriculture production, processing, and marketing, which will also create innumerable well-paid jobs. If we can industrialize agriculture people will have disposable income, which in turn could have a trickle-down effect on other trades and industries like personal care and entertainment.
We are too dependent on multinational companies right now. We need to get back to the community enterprise models to save our economy and maintain fair wealth distribution in the country. Let’s take aerated drinks. We send millions of rupees abroad to buy them. What if we were to substitute imported aerated drinks with something homegrown? It might turn out inferior but there’s also an equal possibility that it might turn out superior. In any case, once we can produce and sell something locally, we will be creating opportunities for wealth distribution within the country itself.
Consider some of our local restaurants and eateries such as Bajeko Sekuwa. These businesses started small in the community but are now opening chains around the country and giving tough competition to multinational companies. They are gaining traction and setting examples for other businesses to follow suit.
Multinational companies do not contribute much to the country’s economy besides giving a false sense of employment generation. The prices of some products appear to have decreased because of the multinational companies, but that is only at the micro level. The reality is, the multinational companies are reducing opportunities for local entrepreneurs and in the grander scheme of things, taking away billions from Nepal. They are also killing small community-based ‘mom and pop’ businesses and creating monopolies in certain industries. So, I think we should have stronger restrictions on multinational companies operating in Nepal and promote local enterprises.
This is only possible when we have a strong rule of law and good governance. The present patron-clientele political culture should be abolished. In a country where leaders reign over their parties till they die and their sustenance and earnings depend completely on politics, such a practice must be eradicated as well. Leadership should now be based on governing capacities and chair-holders of political parties should not be allowed more than two defined terms. Also, one person should not become prime minister or president for more than two terms.
For this to happen, we have to be more vocal. We can’t remain mute spectators anymore. Gone are the days when politicians used their cadres for information dissemination and brainwashed the general public. In the past, the system controlled all forms of communication and politicians used their cadres to get to people. This cadre-based political age is gone now.
Digital media is taking control away from the politicians and giving it to the common people. This is already bringing a lot of change in how people are selecting their leaders in other countries and I see this as a possibility in Nepal too. We need new platforms and new faces in Nepal.
The biggest challenge for Nepal’s aviation industry today?
Bureaucracy and red-tapism. Some people in the bureaucracy with this egoistic mindset want to dominate the aviation industry. This mentality has to be fought against.
Do you have political aspirations?
For those who love their country and the society and are not happy with the current state of affairs, social work and politics would be an obvious choice.
Could you name three of your favorite books?
I read a lot of books so choosing three would be difficult. But I find ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ by Thomas Piketty insightful. If I have to name two more, they would be ‘The Difficulty of Being Good’ by Gurcharan Das and ‘The Third Pillar’ by Raghuram Rajan. Currently, I am reading ‘Capital and Ideology’, also by Piketty.