Nepal Policy Watch: A project of Advocacy Unified Network – AUN

Nepal Policy Watch

 

Courtesy: AUN News
August 2022 DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.22974.15682 License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Advocacy Unified Network – AUN, international public policy research and advocacy organization headquartered in the Hague, conducted research and analysis of Nepal’s general policies, including economics, trade and commerce, politics, governance, international relations, geopolitics, art, and culture. The objective of this project is to analyze the public policies of Nepal to assess the future development graph of Nepal. This is particularly important for AUN to identify the critical strategies for supporting Nepal’s SDG achievement.

AUN analyzes the development process of Nepal through the initiative.

AUN is a public policy research and advocacy organization headquartered in The Hague with a presence in Africa, Europe, Latin America, the United States, Asia, and Australia. We combine research with a focused approach to advocacy to achieve lasting change for people and the planet.

AUN is an independent, not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that aims to contribute to development, democratization, and stability in South Asia and beyond by promoting good governance and people-centered policy-making.

Policy-makers must identify and realize innovation opportunities to promote economic growth and poverty alleviation. Improving governance and regulatory frameworks is also necessary so that private sector enterprises can create a favourable business environment for growth and investment.

The Nepal government released the much-anticipated first national IP policy after becoming the first low-developed country (LDC) to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Apr. 23, 2004. The recent promulgation of the New Constitution (2015) and the recent convening of the Nepal Investment Summit (2017) have encouraged the Nepal government to prioritize IP to enhance Nepal’s investment climate. Mr. Deepak Thapa travelled to Nepal to highlight US support for the new Government and assess the policy situation first-hand.

As Nepal people move forward with the Constituent Assembly, the United States stands by the right of people to make choices for themselves through a free and fair political process. If Maoists abandon violence and respect human rights, they have their place in the political arena of Nepal.

While the CRC supports Nepal in international negotiations, the CRC is also engaged with Nepal on its policies and processes inside Nepal, providing an essential link between the two. They also seek to connect international policy processes to Nepal’s domestic policies, working with the national, provincial, and local governments to implement those policies and plans and, in turn, bring local priorities to the national level to inform global processes. They are also looking at embedding climate action in government basic development plans to ensure Nepal achieves sustainable development.

Several donors in Nepal have funded programs over many years to support respect for human rights, reforms in the police, access to justice, and the rule of law. Still, they have not pressured Nepal to promote transitional justice or to end impunity by security forces. Impunity for human rights violations has extended to continuing violations, undermining principles of accountability and the rule of law in post-conflict Nepal. While Nepal was one of the first countries in the world to safeguard the social and political rights of LGBT persons, including the legal recognition of the third gender, cases of discrimination and abuse by the police persist.

King Gyanendra’s attempts to close Nepal’s young, vibrant civil society, muzzle political opposition, shut down courageous journalists from Nepal, and jail students, political activists, and human rights advocates. The Indian Government, with the aid of Nepali opposition parties operating in India, succeeded in changing Nepal’s political system, where King Birendra was forced to establish a parliamentary democracy.

A period of semi-constitutional Government followed, in which the monarch, assisted by leaders from fledgling political parties, governed Nepal. The Nepali monarchy looked upon India’s implicit support of democracy with suspicion. However, monarchies had immensely benefitted from these policies, as these had led to the overthrow of Nepal’s Rana rulers. The British Indian Empire saw Nepal as a buffer against China, and after 1947, India continued this policy.

International Relations

The US deputed a team in Nepal to assess where development and economic assistance can make the biggest, immediate impact. Nepal’s growth and financial aid are already meeting some of the critical needs of the Nepal people and its Government. India spends millions each year supporting its Himalayan neighbours and committed another $1 billion for Nepal earthquake relief. The then Nepali Prime Minister KP Oli visited India with a delegation jumbo during a period in which Nepal-India relations were plunging to the lowest ebb in recent history.

Nepal raised border disputes at a joint foreign ministers committee meeting. Regarding bilateral economic relations, growing trade imbalances between the two countries have led to allegations from Nepali political leaders, economists, and traders that it is a deliberate Indian strategy to make Nepal poor. Many Nepali foreign policy experts are now advocating for the complete status of an ally for Bangladesh. According to them, Nepal should look for political, economic, security, and assistance from Bangladesh in dealing with the Indian republic to satisfy Nepal’s interests since Nepal does not have enough financial and diplomatic weight to face India. Essentially, Nepal needs to adopt rational foreign policy and carry out smart diplomacy, which is guided by pragmatism, regarding issues of global geopolitics.

Firstly, Nepal should implement Nepali foreign policy vis-a-vis immediate neighbours, where historical resonance, integrity, geo-cultural realities, and geo-economic potential can be understood. Secondly, mindful of the sensitivities of the technology of geopolitics, Nepal should determine national foreign policy on technology, embrace tech diplomacy, and designate techno-ambassadors in particular countries, so they can advance Nepal’s domestic technological interests and strengthen tech-economic collaboration.

The core objectives of Nepal’s foreign policy are to promote the dignity of Nepalis while preserving sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. And to promote Nepal’s economic welfare and prosperity. Nepal’s foreign relations, except those with the Republic of India, the Peoples Republic of China, and the United States, are managed mainly by its Foreign Office. Whereas relations with India, China, and the United States, Nepal’s most significant partners, are still controlled by the Office of the Prime Minister.

Quoting Stephen P. Cohen, Zhang Li observed that the country is a crucial buffer state to India. New Delhi strategists are concerned that Nepal’s weakening and disintegration may provide a rare opportunity for China to become directly involved with the South Asian Subcontinent. India links security with economic relations and has pushed to overhaul the Indo-Nepal relationship in its entirety. The country pressed for holding India accountable for triggering the protests and blocking supplies. The publicity surrounding the visit to Nepal gained traction after India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, visited Nepal.

Future Policies

In this project, we explore reforms to Nepal’s environmental policies at the federal level and provide generalizable conceptual insights into challenges in governance and resource allocation at multiple scales about climate change and development, especially in a context experiencing forms of rapid policy changes. Knowledge and Expertise Like most developed countries, Nepal’s climate policy-making and implementation heavily depend on global science. International donors are investing significantly in federal Nepal, with each tier of Government having its resources and climate-related responsibilities.

Nepal has begun integrating SDGs into the national planning and budgeting systems since the 14th national plan (2016/17-18/19), and other sectoral strategies, policies, and targets are in line with SDGs. The significant challenges of implementing the SDGs are that annual policies, programs, and budgets in Nepal are out of sync with the country’s national targets for SDGs, as stated in the roadmap for the SDGs. Also, the Nepal government has approved a national action plan to implement ILO-169. However, this is yet to be implemented.

In Nepal, a relevant Ministry or Department that has realized a need for some specific policy within their area of operations has developed guidelines using a model provided by the National Planning Commission (NPC). Unfortunately, there has been an upsurge in policy-making support policies over the past few years; rather than being taken as measures for solving the Nepali health problems, but as means of strengthening their CVs and bragging rights over the number of policies developed under their tenure.

They have also sought to tie international policy processes with Nepal’s domestic policies, working with the national, provincial, and local governments to implement these policies and plans–and, in turn, elevating local priorities up the national ladder to inform global processes. They are also looking at embedding climate action in government basic development plans to ensure Nepal achieves sustainable development. While PRC supports Nepal internationally, it also internally communicates with Nepal on its policies and processes, providing an essential link between the two.

China’s policy of friendliness is directed at all parties and factions within Nepal and all the Nepali people. China is happy to see Nepal developing amicable relations with all countries, playing an essential role in regional and international affairs. Wang said that regardless of the changing global scenario and internal conditions of both countries, China would unwaveringly follow the policy of friendship toward Nepal. Enhance the cooperation that benefits each other, and promote the construction of the Sino-Nepal community with a shared future, following the path set out by both leaders.

It will help to support Nepal in providing better services for its people, facilitate the flow of goods across the country, and open up new opportunities for private investment – all in pursuit of sustained development for Nepal’s people. Through the MCA-Nepal (the Government of Nepal-owned development board [Bikas Samiti]), Nepal will implement the project with supervision and assistance from the MCC.

Integrated Development

Arnico Panday is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Integrated Development Studies, Nepal. Until January 2020, he was Regional Program Director of Atmosphere Program, ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development), Nepal. He built up and led the team working on research, mitigation, and policy for air pollution and climate change in Nepal and neighbouring countries in Nepal. As head of the Nepal government’s main policy advisory body, he guided national development strategy-making, coordinated policies across public sectors, monitored significant projects, led ministerial delegations to the international arena, and managed organizational changes.

The Nepal Environment Policy Action Plan (1993) successfully mainstreamed ecological concerns in various programs and institutions. Scientific studies and consultations at the regional and international levels are helpful to Nepal when developing domestic policies and legislation on the subject.

They are also looking into embedding climate action in the Government’s basic development plans to enable Nepal to pursue sustainable development. They also seek to connect international policy processes to Nepal’s domestic policies, working with the national, provincial, and local governments to implement those policies and plans–and, in turn, elevating local priorities at the national level to inform global processes. The Policy and Planning Commission in the province of Gandaki has been relatively proactive, supporting local governments in their integration of Sustainable Development Goals by formulating local-level five-year development plans. Nepal needs to incorporate a developmental dimension to land productivity under rural development schemes and unlock the economic opportunities for non-farm sector industrial development, taking advantage of resources available on mountain terrain.

In some cases, the Sajhedari funds smaller developmental projects such as water pumps and road improvements so that citizens and local authorities can practice correctly choosing, executing, and monitoring such projects. With programs that combine traditionally separate development goals, such as natural resource management, healthcare, and education, villagers have enhanced livelihoods in these ecologically challenging conditions. Evidence suggests that these same approaches can contribute to strengthening the resilience of individuals and communities to climate change, said Judy Oglethorpe, World Wildlife Fund, in an address at Wilson Centre. The panellists said integrated development could spur more dynamic, innovative policy approaches. Development Initiatives (DI) has supported local data innovation through its data-for-development innovation fund, which allows Nepali innovators to pilot data-driven solutions for local development challenges.

Organizations like FACTS Nepal, an independent, privately owned research firm in Nepal, are researching the demand of businesses for open data and the challenges companies face when using the data. Development Initiatives (DI) has worked with more than 30 partners in Nepal on data-related interventions through initiatives like Open Nepal and the Data for Development (D4D) Programme, funded by UK Aid and delivered in collaboration with The Asia Foundation. PRC is currently working on a 3-year project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, looking at how Nepal could transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Hindu Nation

A Nepali political party supporting Hindutva has launched a campaign calling for the country to become a Hindu theocracy, reports Asian News. The party has been calling for re-establishing the Hindu state and monarchy since Nepal became a secular republic in 2008. In 2006, Nepal became a secular country after removing the previous constitutional monarchy. The more secular Indian Government helped bring the ex-Maoist rebels into the peace agreement and mainstream politics. The interim parliament declared the country a secular state in its interim constitution in January 2007.

The now-defunct constitution of 1990, in force till Jan. 15, 2007, described Nepal as the Hindu Kingdom, even though the now-defunct 1990 Constitution did not declare Hinduism the State religion. Hindus have faced no problems practicing Hinduism, while Nepal was not reported as a Hindu State. Nepal has been a Hindu-dominated state for a very long time but was declared a Hindu state for a short time because of the rulers’ interests. As per their strategy, Nepal was the vehicle for achieving political ends for the monarchy.

Rajnath Singh, the then President of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of India, told the Nepali delegation to India that the country should continue as a Hindu state. In 2013, Rashtriya Prajatantra Party leader Kamal Thapa announced that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi would assist his party in restoring the Hindu state of Nepal. He called on all Nepali parties to unite, set aside their political ideologies, and proclaim Nepal a Hindu state. During the program, the President of World Hindu Federation International, Ajay Singh, called for declaring Nepal a Hindu state since an overwhelming majority of Hindus inhabit Nepal.

BJP leader and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath wrote a letter (he was just a Member of Parliament at that time) to the Prime Minister of Nepal in 2015 saying Nepal should be made a Hindu state and should prohibit religious conversions. The Nepali Parliaments on May 18 announcement ended the country’s distinction as the only Hindu state in the world. The Nepali Parliaments announcement was one of several tough decisions the new Government made to woo Maoist rebels into joining in the peaceful political process. When the situation called for patience and precision, India’s action demanded that Nepal repeal the Nepali Constitution.

For the 2017 federal and provincial elections, two leading Communist parties, the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) and Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist-UML), joined hands, winning in large numbers, ensuring the stability of Government in Nepal for the next thirty years. It will be no surprise that Nepal’s significant parties incorporate the restoration of a Hindu nation into their manifestos for the upcoming general elections.

Objectives

US policy objectives concerning Nepal include supporting democratic institutions and economic liberalization, promoting peace and stability in South Asia, supporting Nepal’s territorial integrity, alleviating poverty, and promoting development. US policy objectives toward Nepal focus on helping Nepal achieve peaceful, prosperous, and democratic societies. As a country, Nepal’s foreign policy is focused on protecting sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, and promoting economic well-being and prosperity. In addition to contributing to peace, harmony, and security worldwide, it aims to foster unity and cohesion between nations.

It works to foster evidence-based debates between citizens and critical stakeholders of development, in the public and private sectors, about contemporary Nepali and Asian political issues. The Nepal National Information & Communications Technology Policy 2072 (2015) seeks to foster an environment conducive to collaboration and partnerships on information and communication technologies between the public and private sectors, civil society, and stakeholders at various governance levels and industries.

After becoming the first low-developed country (LDC) to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Apr. 23, 2004, the Nepali Government released the much-anticipated first National IP Policy. The Nepal Environment Policy Action Plan (1993) has successfully mainstreamed the environmental issue into various programs and institutions.

The Nepal Five-Year Plan has a social objective to promote better health and education, as well as to promote an equitable distribution of income. The 8th Five-Year Plan was intended to take Nepal on a path to sustained higher growth while reinvigorating the participation of private sectors in economic activities. In this regard, Nepal is poised to execute Vision of Youth 2025, a 10-year strategic plan to promote the holistic development of youth in Nepal.

Despite being one of the first countries in the world to produce a scoping country report on implementing sustainable development goals (SDGs), Nepal is taking longer than many to put together a comprehensive action plan for reaching these goals. While Nepal has prepared reasonable policies, a lack of a specific project and political will has generally left policies with inadequate monitoring mechanisms or, worse, not implemented. If the Nepal Government approaches seriously and executes all recommendations, the Nepali Government can build a balanced IP regime based on its socio-economic and cultural practices.

Earlier, the Nepali government was highly enthusiastic about the ratification. It has kept ratifying the Marrakech Treaty on the list of priorities in its triennial action plan by the cabinet. To some observers, this seems like a policy that India would need to reverse if India wanted to eliminate incentives for Nepal to try and develop Nepal’s energy, trade, and other links further with China. However, the previous developments in the Terai region encouraged Nepal to pursue closer relations with China, but the situation is changing fast. Nepal has adopted liberal trade policies to complement its goals to expand exports, attract foreign investments, make its products competitive, diversify commerce, and create jobs.

 

Author: Arindam Bhattacharya

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7792-5445

Chairman, Advocacy Unified Network

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