May 7, 2010 Sujeev Shakya

Rs 15,000,000,000 is how much the Maoist strike has cost the country so far

Every day of the Maoist strike the country loses Rs 3 billion ($40 million). Since Sunday we have lost Rs 15 billion ($200 million).

Bandas are the most tried and tested way to express political power in Nepal. All political entities here have used them at one time or another. Post-1990, parties have groomed students and workers to enforce
their strikes.

In South Asia there is a healthy culture of defying strikes and there are government measures to either ban them or minimise impact. In Nepal, we have not yet learnt how to react. This is why in the past, even strikes organised by unknown entities have seen complete closures.

Ruling political parties aren’t even trying to thwart the current banda: perhaps they fancy using this priceless tool when they themselves are in opposition. The state has never developed mechanisms to counter strikes, either by using the state apparatus to protect essential services or by ensuring people have access to education and healthcare.

We cannot really gauge the extent of future losses simply through tourism cancellations. Airlines may now review plans for Nepal. The outside world may try to figure out what’s wrong with Nepal for a while, but beyond that we will be ignored by the international community. Nothing could be worse in a globalised world.

For the politicians, the recent events may simply represent another part of their struggle for power but for Nepal, the damage may prove to be irreparable.

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