It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice- Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping, who pioneered and engineered the economic success of the second largest economy in the world, garnered much criticism when he pronounced the statement at the Communist Youth League Conference in 1962. The paramount leader proved true to his words; he later shook hands even with the archenemies of China, focused on his goal of steering the country to the summit of economic prosperity.
In countries like Nepal, much time, energy and other resources are wasted debating on ideologies. Cadres of political parties debate on socialism, capitalism, communism, etc. often even without having the slightest idea of what these terminologies actually mean. There are heated arguments on Hinduism and secularism, and games of maligning other political parties as pro-India or pro-China.
For the people, no matter whether the government stands on the ideology of communism or democracy, as long as it can deliver development, provide quality health and education facilities and the right to freely prosper, it is a good government. Deng Xiaoping, who was vehemently driven by great insight, set his eyes only on the prosperity of China and switched even Mao Zedong’s system of State Controlled Economy to Market Freedom. As a result, China basked in the phenomenal economic growth rate averaging 6 percent for 30 years.
Nepal should stop engaging in futile discussions of ideology, religion and identity superiority, and focus on expanding the economy and augmenting development activities. Many young Nepalis are forced to join pathetic labor markets around the world and it is a matter of pity that the government rejoices in remittance. When the governments in the struggling countries lack resources and are unable to stir economic activities and create jobs, they can compensate by encouraging entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship empowers people, which in turn promotes a nation.
Amid foreign startups like OYO hotels – turned into mega business within a matter of a few mere years – entering the Nepali market with vigor, the government should produce a conducive environment for strongly motivated young Nepali entrepreneurs for the country to be unbeaten in the race of manufacturing ideas in own ground. Given the right environment, Nepali citizens too can spawn new ideas and contribute to the economy. They too can create software and applications to be installed in mobiles, computers and other appliances, which more importantly, will be distinctive to the Nepali soil. In China, undoubtedly, the visionary leader Xiaoping, who set the goals of ‘The Four Modernizations’ in agriculture, industry, defense, and science and technology, is the paramount reason behind the country’s miraculous transformation. He set the bed, which stimulates entrepreneurship in the young Chinese population today. As such, it should not be surprising that 40 percent of the university goers in China graduate with engineering and science degrees.
For achieving the goals of creating entrepreneurship driven society, the government should raise awareness about the importance of entrepreneurial mindset connecting it to rewards of economic prosperity and empowerment. Schools, colleges and universities can be the cradle for cultivating such a mindset. Regardless of the majors the students take, they should be mandated to take at least one subject which teaches them entrepreneurship and provides foundational knowledge on innovation, technology, and financial management. All university degrees should be awarded only after the students have fulfilled internships and project works, carrying 50 percent weight of the entire academic work.
The government has to adopt very systematic and scientific methods for the protection of intellectual properties of patents, trademarks, copyrights, domain names, etc. This raises awareness about the value of intelligence and inspires creativity and entrepreneurship. The government should facilitate easy registration of companies cutting off unnecessary regulations.
The other thing the government can do is vigorously run incubation centers, as many as possible, under municipal and village development offices. In biology, incubators are places where young ones are hatched and nurtured. Incubation centers will serve a similar purpose for the startups. They will provide information about processes of obtaining seed money, link entrepreneurs to financial institutions, help to seek angel investors and venture capitalists, help in the regulation of financial activities and management of the intellectual property. They can also help in market research.
Finally, to sustain entrepreneurship, the government should assist in creation and management of investment. Tax rebates and other incentives can be extended to financial institutions that invest and help to accelerate the growth of startups. In China and other innovation-driven countries, when any startups show promises of making big, the government agencies are keen to fund them. Appropriate rules and regulations propitious to small individual investors and venture capitalists should be formulated.
Many of the times media houses are accused of spreading negativities. The government can impel media houses to dissipate stories that stimulate entrepreneurship culture.
One does not always need a big idea like that of Mark Zuckerberg for entrepreneurial achievement. With the right idea, even something as simple as selling coffee can be turned into a multibillion-dollar business, which happened with Starbucks. Moreover, in Nepal, there are plenty of stories like simple common women producing selroti to sell massively at departmental stores and uneducated men employing innovative ideas to generate high yields in agriculture, which engendered great economic transformations in their lives.
It is time Nepal assimilated ‘Deng Xiaoping’s good cat’ principle and focused on actions that foster development and economic prosperity relinquishing vague unending debates of ideology, religion and identity politics. The government should engage to achieve the real goal i.e., the empowerment of people and economic exuberance. One of the genuine ways to do so will be vitalizing entrepreneurship.