Nepal And The Industries Of Tomorrow


Bill Gates says, if he were to start today, he would not launch a software company, he would launch a biotech company. (I am so glad my high school classmate Ravindra Sapkota is the Founder of and runs the top biotech startup in Nepal) Point be noted, Bill Gates is the richest person on earth. And he is the ultimate Maoist to boot. He has touched more poor lives through his Foundation than any Maoist I know.

And I am talking sheer dollars here, I am talking purely money. I am talking wealth, and wealth alone. Brazil can make more money from the Amazon rainforest through biotech than absolutely anything else. Which means, the stupidest thing you can do is, clear up that forest and start growing corn there. There is more money in biotech than there is in hydroelectricity, definitely. But hydroelectricity is also important. It is also a big money maker.

Nepal's richness of flora and fauna is a huge economic asset. It just might be its biggest asset when you think long term. So how much sense does it make to destroy that flora and fauna? Imagine a future where all of Nepal's rivers have run dry! No hydroelectricity, right? Destroying Nepal's flora and fauna is like drying up the rivers. You are murdering Nepal's economic future.

Nepal's cultural diversity is also a huge economic asset. I am thinking the global tourism industry. Nepal has been the most popular choice among Peace Corps volunteers during the entire existence of that program. Why do you think that is? Is it because all Nepalis speak one language? And dress the same? And are homogeneous? No.

The saddest part of the whole federalism debate has been that half the political crowd talks as if Nepal's cultural diversity is a problem. Forget the Madhesis. The Madhesi culture will survive no matter what shape the federalism takes. Absolutely. We should be talking about the Rautes and the Chepangs. All those 100 plus groups with distinct cultures that KP Oli thinks are problematic because they are different but too few in number to be given "identity!" Identity has been made a dirty word in Nepali politics. It is the exact opposite of what needs to happen if Nepal is to grow prosperous. No federalism in Nepal will be meaningful unless all distinct ethnic and cultural groups not only find protection and preservation, but ways to keep their cultures rich and alive. Celebrate diversity if you want to make the country rich.

Similarly, think hydro, but not at the cost of Nepal's rich flora and fauna. There are ways to generate electricity without destroying biodiversity.


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