ABC Television and Nepalpage.com have been conducting discussions with prominent figures on the occasion of the 42nd memorial day of Pushpa Lal, He was the Founding General secretary of Nepal Communist Party . In this context Sapana Thami and Dhurba Hari Adhikari have discussed with the eldest son of Pushpa Lal, a famous business man and entrepreneur, Umesh Lal Shrestha on the issue of current economic condition and national economy of Nepal. Following is the excerpt of the discussion.
-Our country is observing 42nd Memorial Day of Pushpa Lal. How are you recalling him on behalf of his family?
We do not remember him only one day but perpetually. To remember on behalf of family means to perform Shraddha as per our religion. But we keep on remembering /recalling him almost every day. Moreover, at present we have a communist government in the country and question like, what would have happened, had he been with us at the present, obviously strikes us and to have curiosity in everyone is natural. He would have been in his late nineties, had he been at this time. Absolutely, we remember him every moment in our family.
-How is the country recalling him in your view in totality?
It has been 71 years since the establishment of Nepal Communist party. After it was founded a kind of the wave of movement spread in Nepal. I felt quite happy yesterday to watch and listen to the confessions made by those fellows who had blamed Pushpa Lal of being a traitor. Maximum of people verbally abused him during his life. However, they remembered his contributions after his demise. Since I am not a political man, I do not want talk on politics any more, but I would like to share with you my experiences about his ideas regarding movement despite my short stay with him. Most probably he had been to exile at a time when I was stepping to 4 or 5 years. Only after I became 10 years old, we used to meet him in Varanasi, Darbhanga or Gorakhpur once a year during our winter vacation and used to enjoy 10-15 days with him together. But I got that opportunity only for 8 or 9 years. If we count the days, I hardly passed half year with him. I recalled now his loving, sober, simple, cool tempered, kind hearted, frank and caring nature. Despite our rascal behavior during our childhood days, he did not use to be angry and even did not use to punish. He had never scolded me. Moreover, his treatment towards his friends was really praiseworthy. He was by nature a generous man even though he did have nothing to give them. He was even ready to put off his coat and give to his friend. My mother, sisters, and uncles better know him than I do. I came to know him as Pushpa Lal gradually later on.
I kept on studying his writings, articles, Marxism and many more and finally came to know that I was the son of a great man. Then after my respect and honour to my father deepened though every son loves his father. It’s a matter of pleasure for me to the party that he had founded ruling the country securing almost two third of majority in the election , though as a businessman I am not much happy and satisfied with government’s performance. However, the government is working in favour of the poor section of our society and for this I am happy.
-Do you remember an interesting moment you enjoyed with your father?
I don’t have such a remarkable moment. In fact, I don’t remember now. He had come to our house at night but I don’t know the purpose of his coming.
–You said you studied Marxism and books written by your father. Why did not you join politics?
I was involved in the politics in 1979 as a student leader handling a student front. However, I did not join politics openly. In fact, I started my business from 1977 at the age of perhaps 19 or 20. I remained busy in my household affairs. Our family did not have good earnings as my mother was the only member who used to work for the survival. Shortly before my father’s demise I started my own business.
My father and mother both used to stay in Delhi and a sister had been married. I used to stay in Kathmandu. Since I had to run family, I got involved in a business. I thought a member from a family is fine to join politics though pressures were mounting over me to actively join the politics during 1990. I thought my parents spread socio-political awareness and I decided to spread economic awareness. After all we have to improve our country. That was why I never showed inclination towards politics.
I am in a business and I consider myself comparatively successful in this field. However, its your duty to study whether I am successful. Since I belong to 2 or 3 businessman from among all, I feel , it is quite good for Nepal.
- Pushpa Lal is your own guardian but he is the guardian of the nation. How do you evaluate him as a family guardian as well as a guardian of a nation?
- I couldn’t have opportunity to pass long time with him. I spent my childhood days with my mother. Though I passed away at the age of 88, I don’t remember him as a father. I already told you that I hardly could stay with him for 120-150 days in my whole life.
- Your mother was also involved in leftist politics. How do you view your parents political background?
They both were politically conscious from their childhood. At a time when my elder uncle ( my father’s elder brother), Ganga Lal was executed he had told my father, “ Don’t let the lamp of democracy put off”. Because of that incident my father got involved in politics. In the beginning he joined Prajaparishad , later he joined Ratirya Congress ( National Congress) , and finally he founded Nepal Communist Party. My mother was more active in women’s movement since 1945/46 than in politics. During 1946 women in Nepal had launched a huge movement. I don’t remember exactly whether Mohan Shamsher was in power that time but I am sure there was a Shamsher. Women agitators including my mother were confined as a captive in Kathmandu. After 10/12 days they were taken before Shree 3, the then Rana ruler and asked who they were and what was their demand. My mother and others had told that they wanted to join School. Then order was given make arrangement for their admission in Durbar School. My elder untie, my mother, Angur Baba Joshi, and Bhuvan Singh were the four women who passed SLC from Nepal for the first time. All four have passed away. Only after her SLC , my mother inclined towards communist party and she began her political career.
-It is said that Nepal Communist party is only hanging Pushpa Lal’s Photo. They have not been able to follow Communist Party’s principle, ideology, and party line. As a son of Pushpa Lal , don’t you think that we have to give birth to another Pushpa Lal to materialize his dreams?
It might be quite difficult to have another Pushpa Lal in Nepal. I think it is quite difficult to have a person like him. One issue worth recalling of the past is that the policies that my father adopted in accordance to the contemporary sociopolitical and economic condition, industrialization and agriculture condition were quite correct. However, my opinion is that policies should be reviewed in accordance to the need of the time and context. Communists should not dramatize to apply policies that Lenin formulated in 1918. They should be timely reviewed and changed. For example, China did transform it through reviewing past policies. China is the real communist country. We are not a communist country as we have come through election. We should develop our economic policy and system as China did. The economic policy of 1918 can’t run a nation at present. That was our constitution is said to be ‘Socialism Oriented’.
What is socialism? Socialism means equality. You and I, male and female and all are equal irrespective of caste and creed. All should have right over property as we have. But all can’t be exactly equal. There must be a considerable distance between rich and poor. Currently rich people are quite rich and poor are quite poor. Now we have maximum poor people. In the past communist thought poor will be decreased in case they killed rich people. We have to think to uplift poor people.
I think , the government is thinking and doing to lessen the number of poor. It is sure that while working lapses remain and it is not that Pushpa Lal’s policies can be used totally. Now a days communists are saying people’s multiparty democracy and 21st Century democracy. But you will not find essential differences among them if you analyze them with my father’s new democracy. All believe in multiparty competitive system and the same have been written in their statutes. All either Madan Bhandari’s People Multiparty Democracy or others are fundamentally same. There might be slight differences but not in essence.
It is said that production should be made with in the country and production forces should be socialized in socialism. How have you observed current production and business sector on of our country?
I think there is lack of coordination in Nepal .Our leaders say one thing but do the opposite. They have not formulated laws to develop national capital and national capitalist. Even bureaucracy does not seem to be cooperating the government much. The government should collaborate with private sector because private sector is the backbone of our economy and it drives national economy to right track. You can see North Korea and Cuba. They are not heading towards gradual development and transformation because they are not collaborating with private sector. Therefore, we can’t develop our country unless we stop ignoring private sector.
Why I am telling this is simply because almost 70% of the total GDP comes from private sector in Nepal and it provides employment to more than 4 /5 million people. The government may provide employment only to 4/5 hundred thousand people. What our problem? Maximum of our youths have been to foreign jobs busy in selling their sweat and blood. Unless we provide maximum job opportunity to our youths inside our
The government should formulate policies to attract in our agroindustry providing soft loan and other facilities. The main problem of our country is unemployment. To solve this problem, we have to develop national capital. We should make effort to become self-reliant which can ‘t be seen. We have to think it serious.
-Do you meant we don’t have coordination despite good policy and plan?
We have policy-based problem and moreover, there is more problem in implementation. For example, government brought new budget that made all of us unhappy. It did nothing and spoke nothing. Small and middle-sized businessmen became unhappy with it. We lobbied the government most and the current monetary policy has encouraged us. We would like to thank the government for it. Our weak point is the problem in our implementation. What can we do with good policies without its execution? Therefore, Our Rt, Honorable Prime Minister as well as other ministers should pay proper attention in the execution of their policy.
How is the investment friendly environment in the country at present as we have stable government? Is it friend to private sector?
They have to learn it to make an investment friendly. Frankly speaking it is not investment friendly. It is quite bothering. There is no question of the chance of foreign investment as the delay in delivery of service even to Nepal’s businessmen is increasing. In terms of cost basis , Nepal is quite costly country. We have 15-20 % more cost of basis in comparison to India and China. That was why are products are costly. It is because of delay in service delivery and other factors. We don’t have transparency and infrastructure has not been sufficiently built. The government is not investment friendly in the sense that I am trying to close one of companies for one and half years but in vain. How can a business man prosper in such a country? We have to complain the authority.
We convened many investment summits and we got assurance of foreign investments too. Who knows how much invest could we bring? What are the reasons behind this? An investor seeks assurance of return in due course of time. Therefore, the government should formulate an investment friendly policy and implement it through fast track. For this sake bureaucratic delay and botheration should be discouraged.
How easy is there to establish a company in a country where to close a company takes a long time?
To establish a company is quite easy but to continue and let it survive is quite difficult. One you start a company , think you fall in a trap. You can enter it simply if someone opens a door but there will be no way to come out of the swam after your business shrinks. Malaysia also has same system but there is no communist government. They develop national capital and national capitalist. We have to follow this policy.
- What is view on socialist economy?
- Socialist economy aims at lessening the gap between poor and rich. Nothing more than this lies in that economy. The main concern of this is not have economically weak. The socialism that I have understood is this much. Socialism does not mean that we have to follow the old traditions and introduce old communism. The socialism that I have understood is not similar to that of North Korea.