Mechi to Mahakali

-This article was originally published by Jai Venaik and Sujan Regmi in The Himalayan Times on Setember 3, 2017.

An inherent feature of a federal country is its collaborative force between the territorial jurisdiction of states welding together to create one single federal entity. Bearing in mind the same principle, Nepal was also divided into seven regional units to accelerate growth and development to reach the far corners of the country. Though the division is largely attributed to be based on the ethnic identity variable, one must realise that its capacity to sustain as an independent self-governing entity is essential to contribute to the development of Nepal as envisioned by the constitution. Thus, it is essential to study the capacities of individual provinces to diagnose the different approaches they will have to take to achieve the vision as outlined by the constitution.

The Constituency Delimitation Commission in its report to the Prime Minister submitted the  divisions of the constituencies at both federal and state level as in the table.

A regional state exists because of its people, and it is the same people that work and contribute towards national growth. When we analyse the cross-section data for all the seven states, State No. 6 has the lowest population density of approximately 50 persons/sq km of land while State No. 2 has the highest of about 559. This metric gives us an idea of the kind of resources these states will have to devote to in order to uplift its human resource.

Literacy is a generic indicator of the human development and given the numbers, State No. 2 records the lowest with only 49%, while State No. 6 still records upto 58%. Though both these numbers are below the national average of 66%, it can be inferred that with a high population density and low literacy rate, State No. 2 will have to devote significant resources to boost its human resource capacity. A general trend also observed is the low literacy rate amongst female population. Coupled with a sex ratio in favour of the female population, it is of prime importance that states take in account these indicators to decide their priorities.

A well-educated population would add nothing to development if the opportunities do not reach them at their villages. For centuries, development of Nepal has always been concentrated in the Kathmandu Valley. Needless to say, Dolpa’s Dunai and Humla’s Simikot are places with high economic potential but have not been able to transform and benefit due to a basic connecting feature – roads. Thus State No. 6’s agenda would also encompass establishing connectivity in the region through a network of roads given that it has the lion share of Nepal’s land area, of about 20.67%.

Similarly, it is essential to see the bounty of rivers flowing through each of these regional units as these high velocity waters generate the electricity required to run Nepal’s economic engine. A geographical cross-section reveals an ample distribution of river water flowing through all states but its only State No. 4 which harnesses the maximum of 448 MW of electricity.

It is interesting to note that even though State No. 2 has low degree of development, it contributes about 16.23% to the gross domestic product of the country. This is in turn tells us of the unbound capacity the state has to develop under a federal regime while State No. 6 has the lowest contribution of about 3% to the GDP. Under a unitary regime, the erratic policies being followed flourished a halfhearted development of all regions. This clearly reflects in the statistical introspection of data for State No. 3. It is long believed that Kathmandu Valley is considered as the most developed and cosmopolitan region, but it is interesting to note that State No. 1 and 4 have a higher literacy rate than that of State No. 3 which holds the valley, furthermore, State No. 4 also generates more electricity and also has a higher per capita income as compared to State No. 3.

Given this erratic distribution of development under the previous centralised systems, it is necessary for the states to understand their own intrinsic needs and cater to them. The same comes with a line of caution. A high degree of political instability and the constant fluctuations in the policy stance has proved to be disastrous keeping up with the spirit of every Nepalese citizen.

The onus thus lies on every Nepalese shoulder to ask for his right to contribute to the development of the country. The Constitution provides for the opportunity and the right of every man to earn a dignified life, thus it is essential to safeguard every Nepalese right to not only earn his living via his/her potential but also transform the country. The wide variation in the geography, resources and human resource should not be a cause of conflict but should be the boon of developing the country in so many different ways to as to stand high in all different sectors – be it textiles or tourism, dairy or mountain medicine. It thus lies on every individual to harness his/her potential with the help of his/her constitution.