In Memoriam: Dr. Bhola Nath Chalise (1952-2015)

Dr. Bhola Nath Chalise

With heavy hearts, we said a final goodbye to our Freedom Champion, Dr. Bhola Nath Chalise, on April 14, 2015. Nepal lost one of its great champions of freedom and economic reform, and Samriddhi lost a strong pillar in its effort to create a movement for a free and prosperous Nepal.

Dr. Bhola Nath Chalise is considered a leading figure from the bureaucracy’s side during the process of liberalization in the early nineties. He had been a Senior Advisor for Samriddhi since 2008. He had also been a Research Guide and Resource Person on several projects at Samriddhi and had authored a number of publications. He often mentioned that Arthalaya (School of Economics and Entrepreneurship) was one of his favorite programs at Samriddhi where he took sessions on ‘Voluntary Exchange and the Morality of Markets’ from 2009 until his health started deteriorating in 2012. An extremely humble and open-minded individual, Dr. Chalise led a principled life that was based on values such as honesty, integrity, freedom and responsibility.

Born in a small village named Simaltar in northeastern side of Kathmandu valley, Dr. Chalise joined Nepal’s civil service in July 1975 and went to Vienna in October 1983 for a doctorate in economics from the same university as F. A. Hayek. Upon his return from Vienna in 1986, Dr. Chalise resumed his service at the Ministry of Industry, where he worked on some of the most important legislations on business and investment —Industrial Enterprises Act 1987, Industrial Enterprises Act 1992, Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act 1992 and Company Act 1997— that reflected the vision of economic liberalization for Nepal. These legislations removed license raj, opened all sectors for business and expanded economic opportunities beyond the groups that were, or had access to, the ruling class. The impact of these legislations was that a new era of growth and liberalization started in Nepal, which gradually touched the lives of ordinary Nepalese. Dr. Chalise not only worked on drafting these legislations but also successfully privatized some public enterprises during his time at the government and worked on decreasing the corporate tax rate rather than providing arbitrary incentives such as selective facilities and rebates. In his long career, Dr. Chalise fought with some of the strongest currents of prevalent ideas of economic orthodoxies and a mentality that state is omnipotent.

Dr. Chalise served at various significant positions in the Nepalese government such as the Secretary of Ministry of Industry, Member Secretary of National Planning Commission, Secretary of Ministry of Local Development, Chairman of one of the largest commercial state banks in Nepal, Rastriya Banijya Bank, Managing Director of Nepal Electricity Authority, among many.  After his retirement from the government service, Dr. Chalise continued to actively contribute in promoting liberty in Nepal through his writings on privatization, national planning, economic policy reform, etc. and his involvement with Samriddhi. He was one of the very few advocates of free market in Nepal’s mainstream media for decades. During the Asia Liberty Forum 2015 co-hosted by Samriddhi, Dr. Chalise delivered a Toast to Freedom where he was alsorecognized as a Freedom Champion. Dr. Chalise had been fighting with renal insufficiency in the recent years. He is survived by his wife and four sons.

Knowing Dr. Chalise and working with him was a great privilege for us. His passion for freedom moved us and his strength in defending his ideals inspired us. He will be with us forever.