Economic Freedom for the Sake of Living

While the world is experiencing riots against racism, Nepal is fighting its own battle against the worst case of human rights infringement brought forth due to casteism. The gruesome murder of so-called ‘lower caste’ youths has resulted in demonstrations in the streets of Kathmandu where people are demanding justice to the victims and their families.

But, this piece is not about that unfortunate incident but rather another case of infringement of human rights that is very slowly coming to light.

Today, the world including all Nepalese has come across the slogan ‘all lives matter’, yet somehow it seems that ‘all lives’ does not include that of daily wage earners and poorer population, who have been living hand to mouth.

Though the lockdown was implemented mainly with the idea that the lives of the people are bigger than the economy, it has failed utterly as with the continuation of nationwide lockdown for the third month, these people are on the verge of dying from hunger than the virus itself. 

As of May 31st, there have been 7 deaths of hunger and exhaustion during this lockdown and many more are facing hardships to sustain their lives. The relief distribution that the government provided has also stopped and it seems that the government has completely forgotten about this section of the population.

In a bid to protect their own lives, many small business owners and the shopkeepers have started to defy the current lockdown and open their businesses. The shopkeepers too are more worried about their daily sustenance than the virus. However, the Nepal Police keep forcing the shopkeepers to shut their shops down and adhere to the rules of lockdown. 

Many videos and pictures have been surfacing on social media where shopkeepers from different places are seen arguing with the police.

Now, isn’t refraining people from operating their businesses and earning their livelihood for the sake of living an injustice towards them?

Shopkeepers and small business owners have already started protests, contesting the idea of not letting them run their businesses. If the lockdown is not put to an end soon, protests of small business owners might be a frequent scenario and the remaining population might join them. The riots and revolts from different parts of the country demanding economic freedom will create a more difficult situation for the government.

Thus, in the current scenario, a decision of easing or changing the modality of the lockdown will be welcomed rather than the government not taking any decision at all. As John F. Kennedy once said – 

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”

Prakash Maharjan

Prakash Maharjan is a researcher at Samridhi Foundation with his area of focus in the field of federalism, governance, development and entrepreneurship. He is pursuing his postgraduate studies in International Relations and Diplomacy at Tribhuwan University and is a graduate in Business Administration from Kathmandu University. He was previously a research fellow at Sichuan University prior to joining Samriddhi Foundation. He believes in hard work and determination and aims to instigate policy reforms in the country on the basis of evidence-based research with a vision to flourish prosperity in the country.

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