Author's PickCuriosity

We will remain poor country even after two decades. Here’s why?

One Nepali phrase was popular among our parent’s generation; “Hariyo Ban Nepal Ko Dhan” meaning green forest is Nepal’s wealth. They were taught true. In a socioeconomic perspective, Nepal’s major population lived in villages, relying on agricultural economy and burning firewood for fuel, as energy source. Firewood was most important energy source, so people lived near forest.
Time changed, economy changed. People migrated to cities so energy source also changed. Electricity became new vital energy source. State started planning to harness water resources for electricity . Study said , we are second richest country in water resources per capita. Unfortunately, we couldn’t catch the speed of development in electricity generation so we faced sever energy crisis in our time.
Time again changed, world economy shifted to rapid growing IT industries. Since we were already poor in many ways like infrastructure, energy, education. We were left behind in development of IT industries  in Nepal. We again missed two decades to get rich.
Now, it looks like world economy is preparing to welcome next big thing in human economic history, Artificial Intelligence. And we are not ready yet. We are not ready with our education, infrastructure, policy, human resources and capital. So for sure, we are again going to be a poor country.

Rise of Artificial Intelligence and we are not ready to welcome yet.

Most of you might have heard about TESLA car. It is not just a car but the smarter car. It has so many features that human don’t have to bother much during drive. According to Business Insider Magazine, the car has improved safety features, like its partial auto-pilot functions. Using a forward looking camera, radar and 360 degree sonar sensors with real time traffic updates, the auto-pilot feature enables automatic driving in both the highway and in stop and go traffic. Not to mention, it can also detect a parking spot and park itself.
And question is, have we built our infrastructure to support these kinds of cars? No. It is too far to think that our roads will be connected to radars, satellites or internet server to support above functions. Tesla is one example among much rapidly growing AI development. In coming 10 years we will see AI in different sectors and industries. In fact our daily lifestyle will be governed by different AI .We will have virtual personal assistants, accountants, legal & financial advisers, doctors and even retail shops.(The conversation)
Can you imagine, west will not have retail cloth outlets in town in 20 years? Rather, they will have a personal 3D printer that can print clothes for them according to their size, complexion and choice. In the time, where Nepal is struggling to employ optic fiber for fast internet, till we finish putting optic fiber in all our town world will have moved so far that we will again miss to catch the speed of new economy.

Vicious circle of poverty

Vicious circle of poverty is a broad term that can be explained with an example of a family to understand a country. For example, if a family is poor with uneducated parents, there is a higher chance that children will also end up being poor. Reason is, they will not have opportunity to go to good school, so their level of thinking will not be as competent to someone who is privileged to go to good schools. So they will settle missing good economic opportunities like businesses and jobs. On the other hand, since they will be brought up in poor environment, poor hygiene and malnutrition, there is always higher chance that their family will not have good health. Their saving will be spent for medicines, or another chance is they will die lack of getting good health services.
So is the same for a poor country. It is very tough and challenging to rise above vicious circle of poverty. It offers more investment in education, health and infrastructure but Nepal doesn’t seem to move ahead with big effort in that vital sector.

Poverty in relative term

Poverty as a technical term, can be absolute and relative.
According to UN, “Absolute poverty measures poverty in relation to the amount of money necessary to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. The concept of absolute poverty is not concerned with broader quality of life issues or with the overall level of inequality in society.”
Relative poverty is a quite different idea. It also can be said relative deprivation. Poor because others are rich. Or, poor because others have attained higher quality of life. For example, if a neighbor drives Audi car and you have a Hyundai I20, you are poor compared to him. Similarly, for a country like Nepal we might win absolute poverty in ten years. All Nepali might be able to secure basic needs like food, shelter and clothes. But the world has move ahead that they have different definition of basic needs like room heating, higher education, assured health services and even fast transport system.
But for us, those things are called luxury.
So, a rich country’s basic need can be poor country’s luxury.


That’s why we will remain poor country for coming two decades too.
(Image credit : Ankit Shrestha , Chitra katha)

Prakash Acharya is an entrepreneur from Nepal, passionately working to substitute fossil fuels with clean energy technologies. He co-founds Mukti Energy, a solar energy company providing a one-stop solution in the sector. He is also a big believer in change so he advocates and works for creating impact in society. His topics of interest spans from sustainability, zero energy, poverty reduction, sociology to smart city. He graduated from Institute of Engineering, Thapathali Campus on Industrial engineering. He is also a former assistant lecturer in IOE, Thapathali . Prakash is a fellow for Social Entrepreneurship Outreach Program 2014, Social Entrepreneurship Forum Sweden.

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