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Sarita Sapkota

About Sarita Sapkota

Ms. Sapkota is the Coordinator of Communication and Development at Samriddhi Foundation and was previously engaged with the Foundation as a Research Associate for more than three years. She is a graduate of political science and also contributes articles for Samriddhi's column at The Himalayan Times' Perspectives supplement.

Three years of bandhs in five years!

Republica National Daily published an article on the total number of bandhs (general strikes) in Nepal in the past five years and  it stands at an alarming 1047 days! Their cited source is Nepal Police.

bandas-in-5-yrsThis forced me to think about how many productive days do we really have and at this rate what will happen to the big dreams about eradicating poverty and in the words of few politicians, making Nepal ‘Singapore’ or ‘Switzerland’ in X number of years.

The above picture was drawn up on a back of an envelope calculation. Few notes:

  • These are the 37 holidays considered as public holidays in the list.
  • I am not adding the average 30 days a year leave one is entitled to as part of current laws and regulations.
  • You could say there could have been overlaps of bandhs on Saturdays and public holidays too. It has happened but rather rarely!

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Sarita Sapkota

About Sarita Sapkota

Ms. Sapkota is the Coordinator of Communication and Development at Samriddhi Foundation and was previously engaged with the Foundation as a Research Associate for more than three years. She is a graduate of political science and also contributes articles for Samriddhi's column at The Himalayan Times' Perspectives supplement.

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#Notmyconstitution

The constitution came…. after 8 years…apparently we had the time, and the money, and we could totally afford it…so no worries. We even survived the earthquake to live under this constitution.

But we survived to live under THIS constitution? These are six things about the constitution that really perturbs me.

1) The definition of us : “Nepal is an independent…state, oriented towards democratic socialism…”

Did we really agree to have the government take one of our two cows (that we bought from our sisters’ and brothers’ remittance) and give it to our neighbor when we voted for them to write the constitution?

Did we really agree to be forced to join a cooperative where you have to teach your neighbor how to take care of his cow (which was actually yours?)

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 12.56.19 PM

2) Welfare dependence: Sit back, relax, enjoy the constitution, and the country.

We have right to clean environment, employment (and thus unemployment benefit), food, healthcare, and other social securities. Everything we need is a right! You’re gonna get these things no matter what. So, Sit back, relax and enjoy the country. The omnipotent state is going to do everything for us. It does not matter if these are realistically deliverable. Where else, if not the constitution, will you dream high and set tall ideals? Afterall, उद्देश्य के लिनु उडी छुनु चन्द्र एक ….

cat relax

If you are smart, the next thing you do after reading the constitution is get hold of a good lawyer to make some good money cause there are likely to be enough opportunities to sue the government in near future. If you are lucky, you will actually get a date at the court in a couple of years and if you are super lucky and win, the government will actually pay you after losing!

3) The haziness associated with property rights: Keep your property, only as long as the state does not want it!

It does say “Every citizen shall, subject to laws, have the right to acquire, own, have professional gains, sell and otherwise utilize, or dispose of property.”

But wait….after a few lines its says : Provided that it shall not be deemed to obstruct land reform, management and regulation by the State for increasing produce and productivity of land, modernization and professionalization of agriculture, environmental protection, and for an organized settlement and urban development as provided for by sub-clause 93) and (4).

I don’t know any property owner whose property might not be interpreted to violate this law.

brookins

4) Creating this ‘us against them’ for perpetuity : All Nepalese are equal but some are more equal than the others.

Some of us are really special to secure a special clause in the fundamental rights section. Like the Labour Unions, but not the employers huh (c’mon why put this profit hungry evil employment providers whom we don’t even need cause we now have unemployment benefits lined up). If you belong to certain caste group, great for you, you are right there on the fundamental rights section. Rest of you – better luck next constitution. Hopefully you will have become a minority by then. Divide people across those lines. Perpetuate minorities, that’s how you get elected every time.giphy

 

5) Defeating the purpose overall: Autonomy! What does that mean?

Local states are all made of Jon Snows. They know nothing! That’s what the drafters thought. Otherwise there would be something local states could do, other than waiting for the center to send them leaders, money, food, administrators, everything basically.

Jon snow

6) And the vagueness: Prepare to fight!

The duties of a citizen as mentioned in the constitution includes “Compulsorily enlist when the nation needs the service”! Somebody please tell me what would ‘when the nation needs the service’ could possibly mean. Big flood? Big earthquake? Diarrhoea epidemics, etc.?

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Welcome to the New Nepal!

Let me know if there are things in the constitution that you disagree with. Use the hashtag #notmyconstitution and share!

 

 

Note: Views are personal!

 

 

Sarita Sapkota

About Sarita Sapkota

Ms. Sapkota is the Coordinator of Communication and Development at Samriddhi Foundation and was previously engaged with the Foundation as a Research Associate for more than three years. She is a graduate of political science and also contributes articles for Samriddhi's column at The Himalayan Times' Perspectives supplement.

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This is how education vouchers will educate our school children better

Over five decades ago Milton Friedman proposed an alternative to improve public education with school vouchers –  separating government financing of education from government administration of schools. Friedman argued, “parents at all income levels would have the freedom to choose the schools their children attend.”

Here at top 5 reason why

1. Making teachers and principles of government schools more responsible and accountable to the parents
2. Giving poor parents a choice on which school to send their kids for education
3. Decreasing inequality in the education by improving the performance of government run schools
4. Promoting entrepreneurship in educational system so that there is more innovation and decrease in cost
5. Empowering the students of government run schools to make the system more accountable and responsible

Read more HERE

Sarita Sapkota

About Sarita Sapkota

Ms. Sapkota is the Coordinator of Communication and Development at Samriddhi Foundation and was previously engaged with the Foundation as a Research Associate for more than three years. She is a graduate of political science and also contributes articles for Samriddhi's column at The Himalayan Times' Perspectives supplement.

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Ayn Rand’s key ideas

1) Pursuit of self –interest is good and moral. Nothing is worth sacrificing your own self.

Populists and political idealists demand sacrifice of people’s happiness and their lives for ‘higher purpose’ of serving some vague ideals such as ‘common good’.
Below are some people who advocated for these ideas such as ‘common good’, ‘good of a society’, ‘collective good’ etc. and tried to apply it in a political sphere. The above image is a demonstration of its consequence.

2) Enterprise building (productive activity) is the noblest activity.

“Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live–that productive work is the process by which man’s consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values–that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others–that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human…”
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

3) Code of the free individual: Rationality, Independence, self-reliance, integrity, rationality, productive effort.

As explained in Atlas Shrugged:

“My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists-and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason-Purpose-Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge-Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve-Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride.”

Rationality:

“Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists, that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it, which is thinking-that the mind is one’s only judge of values and one’s only guide of action-that reason is an absolute that permits no compromise-that a concession to the irrational invalidates one’s consciousness and turns it from the task of perceiving to the task of faking reality-that the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind-that the acceptance of a mystical invention is a wish for the annihilation of existence and, properly, annihilates one’s consciousness.”

Independence:

“Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it-that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life-that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence.”

Integrity

“Integrity is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake your consciousness, just as honesty is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake existence-that man is an indivisible entity, an integrated unit of two attributes: of matter and consciousness, and that he may permit no breach between body and mind, between action and thought, between his life and his convictions-that, like a judge impervious to public opinion, he may not sacrifice his convictions to the wishes of others, be it the whole of mankind shouting pleas or threats against him-that courage and confidence are practical necessities, that courage is the practical form of being true to existence, of being true to one’s own consciousness.”

Honesty

“Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud-that an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, their perceptiveness become the enemies you have to dread and flee-that you do not care to live as a dependent, least of all a dependent on the stupidity of others, or as a fool whose source of values is the fools he succeeds in fooling-that honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others.”

Justice

“Justice is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake the character of men as you cannot fake the character of nature, that you must judge all men as conscientiously as you judge inanimate objects, with the same respect for truth, with the same incorruptible vision, by as pure and as rational a process of identification-that every man must be judged for what he is and treated accordingly, that just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty chunk of scrap than for a piece of shining metal, so you do not value a totter above a hero-that your moral appraisal is the coin paying men for their virtues or vices, and this payment demands of you as scrupulous an honor as you bring to financial transactions-that to withhold your contempt from men’s vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement-that to place any other concern higher than justice is to devaluate your moral currency and defraud the good in favor of the evil, since only the good can lose by a default of justice and only the evil can profit-and that the bottom of the pit at the end of that road, the act of moral bankruptcy, is to punish men for their virtues and reward them for their vices, that that is the collapse to full depravity, the Black Mass of the worship of death, the dedication of your consciousness to the destruction of existence.”

Productiveness

“Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live-that productive work is the process by which man’s consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values-that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others- that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human-that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind’s full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay-that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live-that your body is a machine, but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road-that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up-that your work is the purpose of your life, and you must speed past any killer who assumes the right to stop you, that any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction.”

Pride

“Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned-that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character-that your character, your actions, your desires, your emotions are the products of the premises held by your mind-that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining-that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul-that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the rational being he is born able to create, but must create by choice-that the first precondition of self-esteem is that radiant selfishness of soul which desires the best in all things, in values of matter and spirit, a soul that seeks above all else to achieve its own moral perfection, valuing nothing higher than itself-and that the proof of an achieved self-esteem is your soul’s shudder of contempt and rebellion against the role of a sacrificial animal, against the vile impertinence of any creed that proposes to immolate the irreplaceable value which is your consciousness and the incomparable glory which is your existence to the blind evasions and the stagnant decay of others.”

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Top 3 reasons why Economic Freedom matters for Nepal

(This article was originally published in the national daily The Himalayan Times, Perspectives on Nov. 23, 2014)

Like every year, the annual Economic Freedom of the World report 2014 was released last week. Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation is a co-publisher of the report which is produced by The Fraser Institute, Canada’s top ranked think tank. This year too, Nepal’s glory as one of the least economically free nation continues. Of the 43 variables used in the report, major weaknesses for Nepal remain in Legal System and Property Rights, Labor Market Regulations and Regulatory regime for trade and business. Read the full press release from Samriddhi Foundation on Nepal’s performance here.

For now, here are top 3 reasons on why Economic Freedom matters to a country like ours:

1. We need economic growth to deal with poverty. Aid will never get us out

We probably already know that aid is not going to lift Nepal out of poverty. Living in Nepal, we have seen this. What we probably know a little less is about is what has lifted people out of poverty. Here is a case in point:

Back in August 2011, the Nepal Living Standards Survey-III revealed that Nepal was able to achieve an astonishing 18 percent point decline in absolute poverty in the six years between 2003/04 and 2009/10. Would you attribute this achievement to the government’s periodic plans to reduce poverty, or to the efforts of more than 20,000 NGOs and INGOs spread across Nepal?

As studies are yet to answer to these very important questions, another set of statistics from the same report suggest an important perspective. The report revealed that 55.8 percent of households received remittances in Nepal, which is a sharp rise from the 31.9 percent reported in NLLS 2003/04. So when 55.8 percent of Nepalese households started receiving regular money from their families working in construction sites and mines in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries, they were able to buy food, get basic health care and even send their children to good schools. THIS IS ECONOMIC FREEDOM. People are not only free to buy and sell things (including their own labor) but also to travel, do what they deem as the most effective thing to help themselves earn a living under a certain minimum legal boundary.

(Read my full essay on Economic Sustainable Development published by the Center for International Private Enterprises, which was the first place winner in CIPE’s 2011 Youth Essay Contest.)

dow e have economic freedom info graph

2. Political redistribution of wealth is not the way to deal with the Nepal’s prevailing income inequality.

Through Economic Freedom redistribution of wealth can take place more efficiently and morally than through political redistribution. Efficiently because Economic Freedom means allowing market forces to work which redistributes wealth on a massive scale. Morally because when market forces are allowed to take its course, voluntary exchange takes place and people are free to choose on what they buy, sell and the terms of exchange as opposed to political redistribution of wealth which is done through use of force (taxes, laws, etc.).

Here’s quoting Mr. Tom Palmer who puts it even more succinctly:

“If we want to understand the relationships between policies and outcomes, it should be kept in mind that property is a legal concept; wealth is an economic concept. The two are often confused, but they should be kept distinct. Market processes regularly redistribute wealth on a massive scale. In contrast, unwilling redistribution of property (when undertaken by individual citizens, it’s known as “theft”) is prohibited under the rules that govern free markets, which require that property be well defined and legally secure. Markets can redistribute wealth, even when property titles remain in the same hands. Every time the value of an asset (in which an owner has a property right) changes, the wealth of the asset owner changes. An asset that was worth 600 Euros yesterday may today be worth only 400 Euros. That’s a redistribution of 200 Euros of wealth through the market, although there has been no redistribution of property. So markets regularly redistribute wealth and in the process give owners of assets incentives to maximize their value or to shift their assets to those who will. That regular redistribution, based on incentives to maximize total value, represents transfers of wealth on a scale unthinkable for most politicians. In contrast, while market processes redistribute wealth, political processes redistribute property, by taking it from some and giving it to others; in the process, by making property less secure, such redistribution tends to make property in general less valuable, that is, to destroy wealth. The more unpredictable the redistribution, the greater the loss of wealth caused by the threat of redistribution of property.”

Read Tom Palmer’s full essay or watch a video of him debunking twenty myths about market.

3. Real ‘inclusion’ would mean having more Economic Freedom.

Inclusion is a big agenda in Nepal. A lot of non-profits from the country and abroad are working to improve the lives of the marginalized. However, the way inclusion is practiced right now is by handing out special privileges to groups based on population, area of residence, ethnicity, gender and other similar categories. If special rights are handed out to people based on above categories, it naturally means that the rest of the population is being excluded. So it is just perpetuating the cycle and not really creating an environment where everybody is treated equal. Real inclusion would mean everybody is treated equal. THIS IS ECONOMIC FREEDOM because “the key ingredients of a legal system consistent with economic freedom are rule of law, security of property rights, and independent and unbiased judiciary, and impartial and effective enforcement of the law.”

Finally, here is a checklist of the major things Economic Freedom stands for:

economic freedom checklist

Watch this video to learn more about why economic freedom is so great. If you are more of an academic type, you might like this report from NICLAS BERGGREN which uses data and empirical evidence to demonstrate the arguments used in this article.

Sarita Sapkota

About Sarita Sapkota

Ms. Sapkota is the Coordinator of Communication and Development at Samriddhi Foundation and was previously engaged with the Foundation as a Research Associate for more than three years. She is a graduate of political science and also contributes articles for Samriddhi's column at The Himalayan Times' Perspectives supplement.

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Resources for ‘Expressing ideas for a free society’

Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation announces “Expressing ideas for a Free Society – A Creative Competition” . A chance to win a total of Rs. 60,000 by learning about five of the greatest freedom champions and expressing their central ideas creatively.

Here are some resources that will help you prepare for the competition;

The Invisible Hand

The concept of ‘The Invisible Hand’ was first introduced in: The Theory of Moral Sentiments, written in 1759. The association of the term with markets is more visible in the book “The Wealth of Nations”.

Spontaneous Order

Spontaneous Order, also known as ‘self-organization’ or ’emergent order’ means an order that emerges on its own and without somebody’s grand design. E.g. language. Hayek argued that market economics is spontaneous order.

Capitalism & Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand’s book “Capitalism : The Unknown Ideal” presents her view on Capitalism. She speaks of those ideas in this video as well.

Bastiat & ‘What is see and what is not seen’

French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly explains opportunity cost and debunks several myths about economics, policies and law in this short and easy to understand writing.

Milton Friedman & School Choice

Famous for his “Free to Choose” series, Nobel Prize Winning Economist Milton Friedman is also known as a great proponent of school choice, which can help provide quality education to the masses.

 

Sarita Sapkota

About Sarita Sapkota

Ms. Sapkota is the Coordinator of Communication and Development at Samriddhi Foundation and was previously engaged with the Foundation as a Research Associate for more than three years. She is a graduate of political science and also contributes articles for Samriddhi's column at The Himalayan Times' Perspectives supplement.

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