--BY MADAN LAMSAL
It’s looking quite strange. It doesn’t seem to be running as per the laws of economics. Nor does it seem to be following the principle of demand and supply. No matter how hard you try, you won’t get the share market, the Ason market or the Thamel market of the past which would be teeming with people shouting and haggling over prices under the dim tube-lights from early morning till late night. People would reach the market just to bicker over prices even if they didn’t mean to buy anything. And where have the native traders who would be at these places in the past gone today? Today, needless to say, these markets are less known for fair trading and more for wheeling and dealing!
Today, businesses like banks and insurance are running, so to speak, even if they are running at half throttle. The drug, food, and vegetable and fruit markets, too, look okay from the outside. But if there is any business that is running at full throttle then it is politics! Similarly, one would always expect the government-run markets – the tax offices, the drinking water and electricity offices etc – to run full-fledged. The deadly coronavirus is no longer scaring people. But it is still after several businesses. That’s precisely why there are huge padlocks hanging on the doors of half the businesses ranging from tourism to entertainment, education to real estate and construction and so on. Several small or medium enterprises of these sectors are either already dead or dying a slow death. How can you expect the government, which has somehow managed to survive itself, to have something up its sleeve for the revival of these dead institutions?
Different from all these markets, there is another haat-bazaar which is quite ‘hot’ and always running at full throttle and that is the ‘world haat-bazaar’. This is a market in Nepal where one can find almost all goods and services imported from across the world, attractively placed in showcases. Yes, this is the bazaar where almost everything gets sold and bought, under one roof. While other markets are shrinking, this one continues to swell.
At the stalls of this market, goods imported from across the world are available – from Chinese airplanes and suits and ties to American guns and Japanese sex toys! Just don’t worry about the money. There are banks to take care of that! They are all too ready to loan you any amount provided that you are ready to be skinned if you cannot pay back the EMIs!! For the time being even if you don’t get loans from banks to run industries, you can certainly get loans for the import business. In fact, the banks vie with each other to issue loans for the import business. But it’s not just the imported goods that are available in this market. You also get some hard-to-believe goods too. You don’t believe me? Enter this market and you’ll find out that even big actors and actresses are on sale here! The more scantly-dressed the actresses are the higher prices they fetch!! Similarly, in the list of items on sale are other people with big names and fame – professors, economists, journalists, lawyers, engineers, business persons etc!!!
If you move forward further, you will come across the stall of ‘huge discounts’. In this stall, not only people but also their faiths, noses, eyes and brains too are on sale. At this stall, people are also being trained in pimping and pandering, bagging government contracts, evading taxes, making politicians happy, coaxing and cajoling or tricking the government into carrying out policy corruption and robbing the country. Many people who were once unemployed have received these all-important training courses from this training institution and are today on the Who’s Who list of the country!
There is another stall – the stall of communalism. You get the book How to Spread Hate in Society free of cost here. The shops of hypocrisy and blind-beliefs are also here. You can buy shamelessness and dishonesty at a wholesale price here. A little further in at another stall are young men and women clutching their academic certificates in their hands! You can see foreigners weighing these people up, haggling over their prices, picking up some while rejecting others in order to take them to their own countries to make them bonded labourers! Our government ministers and employees, too, are seen here, happily helping the foreigners!! There is another stall where racism and casteism, regionalism and nationalism are selling like hot cakes!!!
In this ‘world market of Nepal’, there is a ‘free stall’ where jealousy, dishonesty, betrayal, hostility, hate, crime, cruelty, anger, greed, deceit etc are available almost free of cost. And this is the most-crowded stall! Nearby, there is another stall – the most expensive one in this world market. This stall sells, in small packages though, tears, laughter, pity, happiness, love and affection, sisterhood and brotherhood, reconciliation, mercy, humanity, sympathy, empathy, compassion etc. But only a handful of people dare to enter this stall to buy what it sells!
In front of the last stall is hung the country’s new map incorporating the territories encroached upon by the southern neighbor. Inside this stall, many people decked up in the national dress are shouting at the top of their voices – “The country is being auctioned off!” A good crowd of foreigners in their suits, boots, ties and hats is seen haggling over the price here. A few brokers, making a cross with their hands on their chests from time to time, are helping the foreigners buy the country at this stall. At one side of this final stall, a handful of people are crying and wailing, saying they will never allow the country to be sold. But their voice is too quiet and hardly anyone is paying any attention to them.
Yes, this is a ‘world market’ inside Nepal. A result of market extremism! A market is all about need-based production of goods and services. But market extremism is all about producing the goods and services first and creating the need later! Yes, today’s age is that of market extremism. If you happen to enter such markets, you will most likely buy at least something. Welcome to this world market!