What does a socialism-oriented constitution mean?

Article 4 of Part 1 of the Constitution of Nepal, 2015 clearly maintains that Nepal is a socialism-oriented State apart from all other defining elements provided for conceptualizing Nepal as it steps up towards federalism. However, apart from the hinting reference as a socialism-oriented country, the constitution does not provide further clarification or detail regarding the characteristic of socialism that the country aims for in its social, political, or economic front. Also, there is visible lack of concrete and common perception regarding the position of the country within the continuum of socialism that ranges from liberal socialism in one end to state-sponsored socialism in another.

By all means, defenders of the virtue of the Constitution regard that the idea of socialism envisioned in the Constitution implicitly traces the unfolding of the socialism in the 21st century. As such, they recognize the idea of socialism in parallel to the developments in the socialist States as People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Vietnam that have embraced open market economy and other liberal economic principles allowing the respective countries to sufficiently integrate into the global economic value-chain. In regards to the fact that such communist countries had observed economic growth with adoption of a liberal socialism at least on the economic front, constitutional experts defend the element of socialism in the Constitution under the narrative that Nepal aims for similar nature of socialism.

However, the bone of contention is whether such narrative provide sufficient justification for the country to not swing or crawl towards a more authoritarian form of socialism amid an unstable political economic scenario in future. And, while it does not, the question that follows is what sort of signal does it send to domestic and foreign private investors or entrepreneurs alike who might find themselves at the lower end of the bargain with even likely chance of their investments being nationalized within the constitutional grounds?  At least, the answer can be uncomforting.

Hence, as we realize the beauty of liberal economic principle in advancing a country in all fronts following the progress of world economic history in last century, it important for a sacred political script as the Constitution to clearly defend the idea of political economic liberalism that Nepal itself has struggled to achieve within the last century. Leaving a loophole in the constitution on such establishments creates chance for the country to retract on its political economic progress.


Prience Shrestha

Prience works in the research department at Samriddhi Foundation. And, he attempts to specialize in the field of Development Economics

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