What would be the dream of parents for a daughter born today on constitution day in the middle of a pandemic? Most likely a good health, proper education and of course a perfect husband. If the family is well enough financially, COVID-19 and schooling would probably be a lesser problem. What about the effect of the constitution in the course of her life?

The lockdown is a mistake

September 8, 2020 12:02 pm

Nepal was quick to follow the international trend of imposing restrictions to contain COVID-19 infection soon after reporting a few coronavirus cases. Starting with restrictions on international air-travel on March 22 to sealing land borders with India and announcing a nation-wide lockdown on March 24, Nepal’s strategy to prevent spread of the coronavirus and flattening the disease curve was well appreciated until collateral damages started becoming visible. The demerits of the decision easily exceeded its benefits to a point that many public health and other experts now state the lockdown was a mistake.

KATHMANDU, Sept 7: The rusty padlocks on shops in the New Road area of Kathmandu are a clear reflection of how hard the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the business sector in Nepal.

Minimizing the social cost of COVID-19

August 31, 2020 10:57 am

HONG KONG – In 1960, the Nobel laureate economist Ronald H. Coase introduced the “problem of social cost”: human activities often have negative externalities, so individual rights cannot be absolute. Institutions must intervene. There is no better example of this dynamic than the COVID-19 crisis.

The students who have been deprived of learning will look back to this time to recall how the government failed education in the name of pandemic.

Financial repression revisited?

August 24, 2020 12:13 pm

WASHINGTON, DC – The US federal debt-to-GDP ratio rose sharply during the 2008-09 Great Recession and continued rising thereafter, going from 62 percent in 2007 to 90 percent in 2010. By 2019, it had reached 106 percent, and the Congressional Budget Office was warning that the trust funds for Social Security and Medicare would be exhausted by 2028. Many economists argued that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 100 percent was already worryingly high, and that the future tax increases needed to reduce it would be massive.

How to live during the pandemic?

August 19, 2020 09:45 am

Millions of cases of Covid-19 have been reported across 188 countries, close to million people have lost their lives and more than 11.3 million people have recovered as well. Billions of people are in lockdown, unable to visit one another, unable go to work, unable to attend school, unable to meet one another in public places. People around the world are struggling at home, in care homes and intensive care units, separated from their loved ones in their hours of need.

Are financial markets none the wiser?

August 11, 2020 10:00 am

LONDON – In an April commentary about the wild gyrations in financial markets during the February-March phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, I noted that the behavior of equity markets had been as bewildering, complex, and fascinating as ever. Still, I suspected that a weird logic was at work, and argued that markets might continue to rally despite the collapse of the world economy. And so they have. Will that change?

The show must go on

August 10, 2020 11:27 am

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered our perception about what is normal, and thus our 'needs' and 'wants' carry a new meaning.  As we wander amid an unprecedented crisis, many of us believe that it may perhaps change us as a species. Our priorities have changed, and so has our outlook towards life.  It has changed everything from the way we communicate to the overall functioning of each sector of the business environment.

Gaze of Covid-19 on academia

August 6, 2020 14:50 pm

A usual calendar would have allowed this time of the year for plus two schools and colleges to spread their charismatic slogans throughout the country. A series of billboards would have produced the most photogenic smiles of the students of the given college flaunting their successes, presumably because they have studied there. Voices would have emerged from television and radio channels, reminding its audiences the most important phone numbers of the year—that of the plus twos. Most importantly, in their spade card—their prospectus—they would have declared their jewels: their highly qualified and experienced faculties, well-lit spacious classrooms, fully equipped laboratories with research lab and/or spacious hotel management labs, rooftop/hygienic cafeterias, separate hostels for boys and girls, fitness centers, peaceful and safe environment (irrespective of their location), the best transport facility and so on.

Worst times may be coming

August 3, 2020 12:00 pm

The Covid-19 has affected the whole world. Even the most developed countries seem to be struggling to reduce its impact. The situation is worse in underdeveloped countries like Nepal. In Nepal, Covid-19 has affected all sectors—bank, tourism, trade, industry, education and aviation. The supply chain of raw materials, vegetables and other food items has been disrupted. We don't know how deep the economic fallout will be.

Who will save livelihood?

August 3, 2020 09:48 am

The lockdown had just started. That afternoon, a raggedly old man with a heavy load of corn stacks approached me on a desolate road in our neighbourhood, with his face—and perhaps his whole body—running a sweat.

Will the US and China go to war?

July 30, 2020 08:00 am

Notions of liberal democracy and communism-socialism have long divided mankind into opposing ideological-social, political-economic governance models and world views. Both came together to defeat the menace of political populism, economic-tribal-territorial nationalism gripping Europe around the last world wars. But the power of ideas was so strong that the division re-emerged as the Cold War soon after World War II ended. Even as Europe, the old epicenter, struggles to evolve out of the dictates of outdated ideas, elsewhere division is now resurfacing with renewed vigor as US-China tussle.

"As many as 112 people died while 49 are missing due to flood and landslide in various parts of the country in last three months," reported National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority on July 18.

LONDON – Since March, I have been more open than other commentators to the possibility of a “V-shaped” recovery from the pandemic-induced downturn (though I have also consistently warned of structural challenges facing many economies in the decade ahead). Wherever I have expressed this optimism, I have met with pushback, given the apparent depth and scale of the current crisis. And yet, as we move into July, many classic short-term leading and coincident indicators still point to a V-shaped recovery, as does the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane.

KATHMANDU, July 10: The generation and supply of about 500 megawatt of electricity has been hampered due to the incessant rain and rise in the levels of rivers across the nation.

As the world is struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, another threat to livelihood has emerged:The plague of locust swarms. By the end of 2019, East Africa was already experiencing the worst locust outbreak. But due to the larger threat of Covid-19, the locust surge went largely unnoticed.

DHADING, July 1: Most of the private schools in the country, basically those affluent ones, have run digital classes amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.  Millions of children, however, have not been able to attend such classes, thanks to the lack of digital technologies at their home.

KATHMANDU, June 30: Nepali housewife Shiba Kala Limbu grimaced as she recalled how she went hungry in order to feed her five-year-old daughter after the coronavirus pandemic cost her husband his job as a mason in the Gulf state of Qatar.

The American muddle

June 28, 2020 14:00 pm

HONG KONG – Former US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new book The Room Where It Happened bills itself as “the most comprehensive and substantial account” of President Donald Trump’s administration. And, indeed, it has quickly become a critical resource for those seeking to understand Trump. But, despite Bolton’s juicy revelations about Trump’s conduct of foreign policy (which his administration tried in vain to keep off bookshelves), the book does little to answer the fundamental question facing the US: Is its current foreign-policy muddle Trump’s fault, or the result of something deeper and more structural?

The COVID shock to the dollar

June 27, 2020 07:00 am

NEW HAVEN – Pandemic time runs at warp speed. That’s true of the COVID-19 infection rate, as well as the unprecedented scientific efforts under way to find a vaccine. It is also true of transformational developments currently playing out in pandemic-affected economies. Just as a lockdown-induced recession brought global economic activity to a virtual standstill in a mere two months, hopes for a V-shaped recovery are premised on an equally quick reopening of shuttered economies.

China’s economic crossroads

June 21, 2020 15:00 pm

BRISBANE/NEW YORK – Back in 2013, the Chinese government laid out a policy agenda that promised real reforms to an economy laden with debt and distorted by the influence of the country’s large state-owned enterprise (SOE) sector. But instead of seeing that agenda through, China chose to dodge the risks entailed by marketization, and has since reverted to what it knows best: state control over the economy and the semblance of stability that comes with it.

LONDON – I recently re-read and reflected on everything I have written for Project Syndicate since the start of this year. Two commentaries, in particular, stood out. In January, I suggested that without a new surge in productivity, the world would struggle to achieve the same level of economic growth in the 2020s as it did in previous decades.

Containing the anger virus

June 7, 2020 15:00 pm

PARIS – The small landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which lies between China and India, is not only a tourist mecca. The country has also long pioneered the concept of “gross national happiness” (GNH), which its architects regard as far more comprehensive and accurate than the conventional measure of an economy, gross national product, or GNP.

LONDON, June 7: Global cases of the novel coronavirus neared 7 million on Saturday, as case numbers surge in Brazil and India, according to a Reuters tally.

Moving towards a new normal

June 7, 2020 12:39 pm

Coronavirus pandemic has engulfed almost all countries around the world. The number of infected person and subsequent death has reached almost 6.7 million and 400 thousand respectively and the number is on rise with every passing day. It is still uncertain when this annihilation will stop and the people will return to their normal life.

Five policies for agriculture

June 6, 2020 15:30 pm

Agriculture in Nepal has slow growth over a protracted period despite a number of policies and strategic approaches being followed in the past. The Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP), unveiled in 1995 with a 20‐year vision, adopted a Green Revolution‐type approach based on massive investments on key inputs such as irrigation, fertilizers and rural roads to be focused on high potential areas. Based on it, the Government of Nepal (GoN) has formulated several broader policy frameworks since then. Of these, Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) and National Agriculture Policy 2061 (NAP 2004) remain main policy documents to date. All these policies are judged to be sound in design but have suffered greatly in implementation. In many cases, they lacked the supporting legislation and resources for implementation.

KATHMANDU, May 28: After shutting its business for weeks due to the lockdown, one of the most sought-after restaurants in town, Bajeko Sekuwa is now running back on track with active home delivery services. Although the restaurant hasn’t been able to function like in the pre-lockdown phase, the operators are content that they are able to provide service to their customers and possibly pay salaries to their staffs. “We are satisfied that we have been able to stand up to the expectations of our customers but the major satisfaction we have is that the home delivery service has made it possible for us to pay salaries to our staffers even in a time of a crisis,” said Sanjib Kumar Timalsina, head of operations at the restaurant.

Cooperate with China or suffer

May 29, 2020 14:00 pm

HONG KONG – As governments worldwide confront the terrible choice between saving lives from COVID-19 and protecting people’s livelihoods, economic indicators highlight the intensity of the dilemma. Unemployment has skyrocketed, trade has plunged, and the global economy is facing its worst downturn since the Great Depression. There is only one way to limit the pandemic’s economic fallout: Sino-American cooperation.

KATHMANMDU, May 25: Aakriti Khanal remembers how before the COVID-19 lockdown she used to be a different individual as compared to now. “I was a book-worm who was almost a nerd, always reading books,” she recalls. However, the period after the lockdown has been quite eccentric for her. In a bid to cope with the ongoing lockdown, she has now developed a few new hobbies and enjoys having discovered them. Sketching and watching anime are her current major hobbies.

Innovating online education

May 24, 2020 17:00 pm

Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, the now popular online education system had rarely become a priority for Nepali academic institutions. Now the nationwide lockdown has compelled the majority of the institutions and their teachers to run their classes online, mostly by using Zoom software. The evolving trend in the Nepali education system has thus made Nepali teachers, students, and parents familiar with the online classes. Thus COVID-19 has made virtual teaching and learning a new normal. But without proper plans, sufficient technological tools, and much-needed awareness among all stakeholders, it won’t be possible to achieve positive outcomes from ongoing online education. The past experiences have shown that poorly designed technologies rather discourage the teachers and students from adopting it.

WASHINGTON, DC – COVID-19 has confronted the world with a horrific crisis. Because developing a vaccine will likely take at least a year, governments need to buy time to keep health-care facilities from being overwhelmed and to minimize the number of people who fall ill and die, not least by reducing the rate of new infections.

Advantage nature. This is one thing that has happened by default amid the scourge of Covid-19 pandemic. It took us to be in global lockdown to allow the natural world we have degraded so much to heal itself to some extent. And the visuals of wild animals roaming our streets, vegetation reclaiming their spaces, skies clearing up offering spectacular views of mountains have been feast for our eyes as we shield ourselves indoors. Satellites have shown Carbon Dioxide emissions dropping deep even in major polluters like China and India.

Life after COVID-19

May 20, 2020 14:40 pm

Black Death wiped out half of England’s population in the 18th century but it also laid the foundation for the industrial revolution. Japan, after the World War II, changed its social hierarchy and followed the technological-based social structure to rescue its economy.

FDI post Covid-19

May 19, 2020 15:00 pm

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is changing the world drastically. The crisis has turned into an unbelievable loss of human lives and millions of people are being infected every day. Governments are putting their utmost efforts to control the pandemic; and global pharmaceutical companies as well as scientists are in the research mode to develop COVID-19 vaccine. At the same time, pandemic is leading world towards financial slowdown and international financial institutions such as Asian Development Bank (ADB) have estimated global cost of pandemic could range from USD 2.0 trillion to $ 4.1 trillion; equivalent loss of between 2.3 to 4.8 percent of global GDP. Nepal is acutely feeling the brunt.

Today is the 57th of the nationwide lockdown. But I do not feel the reason to complain about the situation. Reclining on my comfortable red chair sunken in the middle of my garden, I feel peace and calm. The rare reverberation of the chirping birds, so distinct from the times when the world just made it hard to indulge, in nature through the overshadowed cacophony outside gives one inner peace.

Crises to come

May 19, 2020 14:00 pm

Crises have been a normal feature of human history. Nations have faced natural disasters, political and economic upheavals. The fact that they emerged stronger each time is a tribute to the amazing abilities of human imagination. The differentiator, however between progressive and regressive nations, has been the response each posed depending upon the gravity of the situation.

The world right now is facing a pandemic due to the novel coronavirus. It has become a threat to mankind. The global lockdowns have consequently affected all sectors of human life, among which, the education sector has been majorly affected.

Is COVID-19 killing democracy?

May 17, 2020 14:30 pm

BRUSSELS – The economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis occupy almost everyone’s thoughts and conversations. And for good reason: the European Union, for one, is headed toward the worst recession in its history, with the economy expected to shrink by 7-12% this year. But far less is being said about the danger the pandemic poses to democracy, even though the signals are similarly ominous.

Is COVID-19 killing democracy?

May 17, 2020 14:30 pm

BRUSSELS – The economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis occupy almost everyone’s thoughts and conversations. And for good reason: the European Union, for one, is headed toward the worst recession in its history, with the economy expected to shrink by 7-12% this year. But far less is being said about the danger the pandemic poses to democracy, even though the signals are similarly ominous.

LUCKNOW, India, May 16: A truck crammed with migrant labourers trying to reach their distant homes amid a nationwide lockdown crashed in northern India on Saturday, killing at least 23 and injuring 35.

CHICAGO/SYDNEY, May 15: Global coronavirus deaths passed 300,000 on Thursday as infections approached 4.5 million, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States responsible for more than a quarter of all fatalities.

Out of this, a better world

May 14, 2020 15:00 pm

Over the last month we are seeing how a crisis like the ongoing lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is bringing again the best out of the people. I am saying again because it has been the same during the emergency following the earthquakes that hit the country.

Two weeks have passed since 25 April: the date that has stayed in Nepalis’ memory as one of the darkest days in our history. These past couple of weeks, I cannot help but be emotional thinking back to what we suffered five years ago. The unexpected earthquakes stuck Nepal killing over 9,000 people, destroying over $4 billion dollars’ worth in infrastructure, turning our proud heritage into rubbles and crippling the country in more ways than we can imagine. In that desperate time, as the numbers of dead continued to rise and the aftershocks terrorized us for weeks, we suffered as one nation. The pain was the same. And so was the hope.

Recent weeks have seen a flurry of news items and interviews about the state of the Nepali movie industry in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

NEW YORK, May 12: India’s trains will start rolling again and millions in the Philippines will be able to leave their homes, even as an expert warns that many countries are driving blind as they reopen because they haven’t set up strong systems to track new outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Covid-19 is testing the world

May 11, 2020 15:00 pm

The Covid-19 pandemic has indicated an unprecedented change in the balance of world order—first of a state’s capacity, its limitations and priority and the second of the collapse of America-led world order. Regional Alliances like NATO, EU, ASEAN, SAARC etc have become almost irrelevant in Covid-19 humanitarian cooperation.

The WHO South-East Asia Region is entering a new phase in its pandemic response. In recent weeks the spread of COVID-19 in the Region has slowed, due in large part to the unprecedented physical distancing measures that countries implemented early and aggressively. Several Member States are now preparing to safely transition towards a “new normal” in which social and economic life can function amid low disease transmission. To do that successfully, countries must continue to be bold, decisive and mobilize the full power of their whole-of-government, whole-of-society approaches.

The coronavirus COVID -19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time. Cases are rising daily in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. It also has the potential to create devastating social, economic, and political crises that will leave deep scars around the world. Nepal is starting to suffer the most abrupt and widespread cessation of economic activity. The impact has already started and will only worsen in the coming days.

LONDON, May 7: Britain’s COVID-19 death toll has risen by 649 to 30,076, according to figures announced on Wednesday by government minister Robert Jenrick.