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En cashing Celebration

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I recently wrote on the economic benefits of the music industry in a given area/ town. While the article was focused on concerts (leading to a minor week long festival), a more lengthy version of the same can be seen in Brazil’s carnival and others. Nepal is home to pseudo-carnival celebrations in their own definitions be it the Macchindranath Jatra in Lalitpur that stretches over month long celebrations (along with Indra Jatra in Kathmandu and Bisket Jatra in Bhaktapur) which have strong historical and cultural significance but also see the Street Festival in Pokhara which is a more globalised version of a carnival.

While the others in the world not only celebrate brining in the desired number of tourists and foreign exchange, will one of Nepal’s celebrations touch the same name, fame and economic benefits, time will only tell.

Watch the Economist’s video explanation on the origins of Carnival and its economic impact today.

 

 

Jai Venaik

About Jai Venaik

Jai comes from a liberal arts background majoring in Economics, Political Science and International Relations from the Symbiosis International University and the London School. At Samriddhi, he works as a Researcher, chiefly on projects on Constitutional and Legislative Studies.

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Key to Reforming Indian Education: Rescuing Government Policy-making and Regulatory Functions from Service Delivery

Vikas Jhunjhunwala explores pertinent ways to address the sidelined policy making and regulation in the Indian Education Sector in this article published originally in Center for Civil Society’s, Spontaneous Order.

Currently the governmental roles of policy making, regulation and service delivery are combined within a single entity in the Indian Education Sector. There is a need, however, for these to be separated into 3 different entities with an “arms- length” relationship between them (similar to sectors such as finance, telecom and electricity). Doing so would free up valuable bandwidth for policy making and regulation which is currently being impeded by service delivery. In turn, this would enable an in- depth understanding of the issues faced by private sector entities, leading to the healthy development of the sector as a whole. Continue reading

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ECONOMIC TIMELINE OF NEPAL

Economic development in Nepal has been challenging, since time immemorial, due to the frequent changes in the political leadership. The political isolation of the early Nepali kingdom fostered an economic system of rent seeking elites and resulted in increased income inequality. The subsequent economic liberalization, with the end of absolute monarchy, led to economic growth and improvement in living standards of the people. As a Federal Democratic Republic, Nepal embarks on a new journey where it can hopefully, progress towards sustainable economic growth.

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Ankshita Chaudhary

About Ankshita Chaudhary

Ankshita is working as an intern in the Research as well as the Communications and Outreach Department at Samriddhi Foundation.

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Strategy versus Stakes

Vladamir Putin secured his fourth term as Russian President swiftly with more than seventy percent vote in his favour. Russian history is a testament to leaders with diverse and varied characteristics with Lenin, Stalin, Kruschev, Brejnev, Gorbachev, Yeltsin and now Putin. But political generals aren’t the only leaders Russia can boast of, it also boasts of his fascination with the game of chess. The game of chess was a national pastime after the revolution of 1917. The game was subsidised and heavily encouraged. This naturally meant that its influence flew with national leaders as each of them have their own personal story with the game. Lenin was a serious player, but Russian author Maxim Gorky claimed Lenin got angry when he lost. Leon Trotsky reportedly played in Vienna and Paris. Stalin cared so much about his reputation as a chess master that he publicised a fake game in which he claimed to defeat party loyalist and future chief of the secret police Nikolai Yezhov. Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov are known Russian grandmasters. Naturally is can be concurred that the strategy of politics and chess have been intertwined in Russian history. Continue reading

Jai Venaik

About Jai Venaik

Jai comes from a liberal arts background majoring in Economics, Political Science and International Relations from the Symbiosis International University and the London School. At Samriddhi, he works as a Researcher, chiefly on projects on Constitutional and Legislative Studies.

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FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE

In today’s dynamic era of nation building, the European project has been hailed as a new step towards creating a free world. The same is echoed by the ‘four freedoms’ that serve as the foundations of amalgamating societies across lines of culture, traditions, history and geography. With Brexit in 2016 and the following negotiations thereafter, one of the four freedoms has come under heated debate, the free movement of persons. While the British Prime Minister has been vehemently opposing this freedom, the EU Leaders have been stressing their strong support to this freedom. While the negotiations continue, its interesting to see how the world fares on the free movement of persons.

From the start of 1900s till date, an approximate of ten such agreements exist all over the world with the first being Britain and Ireland in 1923 with the enactment of the Common Travel Agreement. Apart from the EU (Schengen Agreement), Russia and Belarus have a similar arrangement under the name of Union State (1996), the Nordic countries signed a passport union (1954) while the Andrean Community, CARICOM, Gulf Cooperation and the East African Community are a product of the 21st century. While every single arrangement is varied in text and composition, two other such relationships exist, ones not only based on economic rights but also on the ideals of friendship. The Friendship Treaty that exists between India-Nepal (1950) and India-Bhutan (1949) are one of their kinds and certainly one of the first amongst developing nations. That is a feat in itself that even the EU cannot claim as the pioneer having begun the process via the Treaty of Rome signed in 1957 and enacted in 1958.

The friendship treaty between India and Nepal does not limit to free movement of persons but also in matters of property, trade and commerce and residence. The result of which is that Indians and Nepalis have made their homes on either side of the border, people transcend the abstract notion of borders whereby the great Nepali Sherpa hero, Tenzing Norgay took his last breath on Indian land while the ex-crown prince found his princess in India. However, in recent times the relations between the two nations have come under heavy criticism. Flared up by nationalistic notions on both sides of the border, petitions have also called for a wall and stricter border controls. I do not wish to comment on the political face of the issue, rather, I would take a look on the economic advantages and disadvantages that the open border brings.

Countries are prone to experience labour shortages, especially when the case of specific skilled positions are required in the rapidly advancing age of technological progress. The National Health Service of the UK is a fine example to be quoted here, about 10% of the staff at NHS are not British. Similarly, in an economy, there may appear shortages in certain professions such as teaching and nursing. These vacancies can take a long time to fill because of the time taken to undertake training. If there is free movement of labour, qualified workers will be attracted to fill these vacancies making the economy more flexible and overcome shortages quicker. Countries which suffer from lack of workers due to a rapidly increasing ageing population also see benefits from countries rich in demographic dividends.

Moreover, if an economy experiences labour shortages, it will put strong upward pressure on wages; higher wages can easily lead to inflationary pressures. Free movement of labour means rising wages will attract more labour into a country and this will prevent excess wage inflation. Remittances according to Pew Research Centre’s latest report indicates the survival of many countries depend on this very income coming from migrant workers abroad and help the home country. Nepal is known to be a very big beneficiary of about 31% of the GDP. Apart from these, migration is also know to create additional demand in the host country boosting consumption and hence the GDP. Additionally, it saves huge costs of maintaining force for verifications at borders and from creating them in the first place.

However, freedom of movement of persons does create certain lags in economic terms. Large net flows of people cause infrastructure problems especially for housing. Further more, due to increase in immigrants, a high population density may create problems of congestion leading to a decrease in quality of life. Furthermore, the labour market theoretically might see a dip in wages due to over supply of labour. However, the same has seen contrary results by academicians such as Manacorda, Dustmann and, Nickell and Saleheen as they note, “Empirical research on the labour market effects of immigration to the UK finds little overall adverse effects of immigration on wages and employment for the UK-born…The less skilled are closer substitutes for immigrants than the more highly skilled. So any pressures from increased competition for jobs is more likely to be found among less skilled workers. But these effects are small.” There is also the case for shortage of workers and brain drain cases in under developed economies. A fine example of the same could be seen in Dhadhing in Nepal which did not have workers for the reconstruction work post the 2015 earthquake.

While no extensive study is available on the case of economic implications of the India-Nepal free movement of people, nationalistic rhetoric has caused injury to a feat that India-Nepal achieved at the very beginning of their respective contemporary histories.

Jai Venaik

About Jai Venaik

Jai comes from a liberal arts background majoring in Economics, Political Science and International Relations from the Symbiosis International University and the London School. At Samriddhi, he works as a Researcher, chiefly on projects on Constitutional and Legislative Studies.

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Land Rights for Women in Nepal

“Earlier, we had tongues but could not speak. We had feet but could not walk. Now that we have the land we have the strength to speak and walk!” This quote from women who received land titles in India’s Bodhgaya Land Rights Movement perfectly portrays how land rights empower women.

The struggle for women rights in Nepal has been an on-going battle with property rights being an important component. Although the situation as detailed below is pretty dismal, we have come a long way. From a civil code that limited inheritance rights for women and biases that determined property rights according to marital status and age, to passing of the Gender Equality Act and the Constitution forbidding gender based discrimination, thus granting daughters and sons equal rights to inherit property, progress is evident.

Furthermore, numerous progressive policies are currently in place to help increase land ownership of women. These include:

  • Tax exemptions of 25%-50% (depending on geographical area) available to women during land registration, provided she does not sell the land within three years.
  • 35% tax exemption for widows during land registration.
  • 50% tax exemption when land is transferred within three generations of daughter or granddaughter.
  • Joint Land Ownership which can be obtained for just Rs.100.

Why then is women land ownership in the country still dishearteningly low?

  • Many women are unaware of the rights and benefits they possess.
  • Women do not receive help in the implementation of their rights.
  • Deep seated patriarchal norms make women feel that they do not need to own land, especially because of the fear that they risk divorce if they ask for land.
  • Families are concerned that women owning land will deprive the family of an asset in the event of marriage or re-marriage and so they are discouraged from getting citizenship certificates.

Sneha Pradhan

About Sneha Pradhan

Sneha Pradhan is a Researcher at Samriddhi Foundation with an interest in good governance. She is a graduate student at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pursuing a Master of Science degree in Public Policy and Management. She also has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Statistics with a minor in Complex Organizations from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

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