‘Historic time for Nepal as political, economic, social factors fall into place’

Sandip Ghose, executive president for sales, marketing, and logistics of Birla Group, said on Sunday that the present is a historic time for Nepal, as all factors—political, economic and social—have fallen into place to push the nation forward.

Delivering a keynote speech at Kantipur Conclave, a two-day global event that kicked off in the Capital on Sunday, Ghose said Nepal has overcome successive trials and trysts in the past six decades with tremendous resilience, and must now make the most of the available opportunity.

“Nepal’s post-conflict recovery and peaceful transition from constitutional monarchy to a republic and now towards a federal democracy can be a textbook case study for the world,” added Ghose, who lived in Nepal from 1998 to 2002.

Stating that Nepal is often described as a small country with large complexities, he said that the mind-boggling diversity of Nepal is disproportionate to its geographical size. “Nepal needs a customised solution for its multiple micro-economies, and these solutions have to be unique—not borrowed from other countries,” he said. “Given the differences in ethnicity, economic conditions, climate, terrain and societal norms, Nepal cannot have a one-size-fits-all solution,” he noted.

Ghose, who travelled extensively during his four-year stay in Nepal as the head of Unilever Nepal, noted that one has to travel outside Kathmandu or scratch beneath the surface in Kathmandu to understand the spirit of the Nepali people.

Expressing his surprise at the trouble an everyday Nepali takes to educate their children, Ghose said the obvious question that will follow is how many of these educated children will stay in Nepal or those studying abroad will come back.

Saying that Nepal’s access to the vast Indian markets to the South—both for goods and jobs—has been considered as a competitive advantage, Ghose said the movements of both goods and people will increase exponentially with the opening of new entry points of connectivity with China. “However, the real benefit to Nepal will occur only if there is real ‘value addition’ within Nepal. But if Nepal become a mere ‘transit point’, as it has been historically from Tibet/China to India, there will be little wealth creation for the common people,” he noted.

He said Nepal can take a cue from Bangladesh and Cambodia for its economic development. He added that Nepal shouldn’t be discouraged by the argument that the countries have gas because Nepal can tap into its hydro-power potential to meet its energy requirement.

He underlined the need for enhancing connectivity in landlocked Nepal. “Now with rail links opening up on both the North and South of Nepal—ports in China, India and even Bangladesh will be easily accessible,” he said. He said “landlocked” will be a thing of the past and, more importantly, Nepal cannot remain “mind-locked.”

Ghose said the future belongs to the younger generation and they will find their own answers, while the older generations are but just custodians of the present. “We cannot even pretend that we have the answers,” he said.

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