The ban on foreign movies and vehicles with Indian number plates imposed by CPN-Maoist a couple of months ago was clearly aimed at making the new party’s presence felt, at home and particularly across the southern border. So was the shutdown of KFC and Pizza Hut earlier in the year, prompted by the ardent stalwarts of Mohan Baidya. The new Maoist party’s latest attempt at fame is its taking control of a Dolakha-based magnetite industry, purportedly to prevent its handover to ‘foreigners’. There is little evidence to back the Maoist claim.
If anything, the stake of Orissa Industry, the Indian stakeholder in Nepal Orient Magnetite plant at Lakuridanda, Dolakha, has steadily declined, from 50 percent in 1982 to 12.5 percent at present. The truth is that investors have shied away from the factory which has now been closed for a decade. If there was any truth in CPN-Maoist claim that foreigners are interested in the magnetite production facility, it would be a cause for celebration, rather than despondence. For it would signal that foreign investors are actually interested in resurrecting virtually dead enterprises in Nepal.
It appears that rather than only opposing foreign investment, which the Maoists have been doing since the early days of their ten-year insurgency, the CPN-Maoist objects to the very concept of public-private partnership. Back in July, the All Nepal Federation of Revolutionary Trade Union (ANFRTU) affiliated to CPN-Maoist had made a decision to launch struggle programs to end the contract system and the hire-and-fire provisions in private sector enterprises. The ANFRTU announcement was an attempt of the new Maoist party to undercut the influence of trade unions belonging to UCPN (Maoist). Moreover, ANFRTU wants a July agreement between trade unions and the government to ban strikes in industries for four years annulled.
Whipping up nationalism has been the favorite ploy of ‘revolutionists’ of all strips in Nepal. During the insurgency, the erstwhile CPN (Maoist) were digging up trenches in villages to protect themselves against ‘Indian invasion.’ By banning Indian movies and barring Indian-number plated vehicles into Nepal, the newly-minted CPN (Maoist) have certainly managed to enter the radar of the Indian establishment. But we don’t see how this can in any way benefit either the country or the party in the long run. We believe a private-public model is sine qua non for the revival of Nepal’s moribund industrial sector. The country needs the help of foreign investors to revitalize its industrial base and wean itself off remittance.
Towards this goal, Nepal should welcome investments from all corners of the globe—although there is certainly a case for better regulation of foreign direct investment. The Baidya-led Maoist party might have managed to get the kind of attention they sought for, but ultimately, such a strategy is likely to backfire on the radical communists. Today’s youth can easily see thorough the thin Maoist charade of ‘revolution through hyper-nationalism’. The Nepali youth, short of jobs at home, are leaving the country in droves. Even those who stay behind understand very well that it is hard to take part in a revolution on empty stomach