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Lessons from Qatar

By Our Reporter
A small Gulf country like Qatar efficiently dealt with the one year of economic blockade imposed on it by a much larger country Saudi Arabia and its allies. After the blockade, Qatar, an import based country, got a great lesson and gave special focus on becoming self reliant in every sector. Within one year, Qatar has become a self-reliant country in many items including dairy and agricultural products.
Clearly, the blockade on Qatar was the hegemony of Saudi Arabia. When Qatar, a small country, was developing in all fronts, it became a headache for the rulers in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, Qatar was accused of supporting terrorist groups. Besides, Al Jazeera television network emerged as a popular international television channel, and this became indigestible for the rulers in other Gulf countries. Therefore, Saudi Arabia has demanded for the shut-down of the Al Jazeera television as a condition for lifting the blockade. But Qatar denied to accept these conditions and instead stood up to such bullying tactics.
After the blockade, one can see the Qatari national flag in every building. This is a sign how those countries imposing blockade on Qatar encouraged the Qatari people to remain united and patriotic.
Will Nepal learn from Qatar?
Time and again, Nepal has faced economic blockade from India. In 1971, Nepal faced the first such economic blockade when the then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was dissatisfied from Nepal’s role internationally. Again in 1989, the then Indian prime minister Rajeev Gandhi imposed an economic blockade when Nepal denied to remain under the security umbrella of India. This blockade continued for nineteen months followed by the people’s movement 1, but the then King Birendra didn’t bow down to India, instead, he handed over the executive power to the political parties.
Again, when the new constitution was promulgated against the interests of India, in 2015, India imposed an economic blockade for six months causing a great economic crisis in Nepal.
Unfortunately, Nepal has not been able to learn lessons from the Indian blockades. Nepal has remained an import-based country and still, Nepal is dependent in its trade with India. The trade deficit with India is increasing in an alarming way. More seriously, our foreign trade indicates that this country is heading towards a failed state.
Although the Nepal Rastra Bank claims that we have foreign currency reserve for seven months, for the first time in Nepal’s history, the balance of payment indicator has also gone negative.
Our leaders are distributing big dreams to the people but the scenario is totally different. How will we import petro-products when the foreign currency reserve goes down to the zero level, our planners have never thought about this. Import of petro-products is increasing each year in an alarming manner. Use of electricity could help reducing consumption of petro-products.
The first duty of the government is to substitute imported items from which we can reduce the country’s imports. If every household will use heaters to cook food, at least the consumption of LPG cooking gas will be reduced. We are importing petro-product worth billions of rupees  for vehicles. If the government will discourage import of luxury vehicles, our seriously sick economy could get great relief.
Our planners should identify new areas rather than remain dependent on traditional habits, specially while talking about rescuing our economy. If Nepal will give priority to the IT sector or make Nepal a free trade zone like Hong Kong or Singapore, our trade deficit and negative balance of payment could turn around and go in a positive direction.
Nepal is known to be an agricultural nation but even rice and vegetables are being imported from India. Such imports should be stopped by providing advanced technology, facilities and incentives to the farmers.
Unfortunately, our rulers are thinking about ruling the nation for decades by giving the slogan such as “stable government, prosperous Nepal”. Probably no one has any idea about where our prosperous Nepal will be found!

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