Some people have the unique capability of discovering ghosts where there are none. These imaginary ghosts are then used to create scare in the society to fulfill vested interests.
Driven by unbridled greed, such miscreants often even go a step ahead and knowingly paint angels in demonic shades. The good guys are thus kept out of the arena and monopolies play merry.
Nepal is witnessing this hideous game currently in the form of a traffic police crackdown on app-based bike riders whose entry into the city transportation market has made life much easier for commuters. Not only are they paying lesser than what they used to taxi-drivers, they are also saving time in traversing through thick traffic.
What more could a consumer ask for.
Tootle and Bangladesh-backed Pathao are mobile app-based platforms that offer mobike ride sharing services in Nepal currently.
As more and more customers are opting for these economical transport services, Nepali youngsters have found a new avenue of employment. Tootle has been in operation for nearly two years and Pathao has entered the field a couple of months ago. The door-step-to-destination mobike rides are steadily striking roots. Lower pollution has come as a much needed bonus.
You need not be a genius to guess the genesis of the recent crackdown, involving even the arrest of mobike riders, by the traffic police. Prompted by the Taxi Riders Association of Nepal, traffic police is using archaic laws to nab mobike drivers virtually in the centre of Kathmandu. Little do they realise that these laws need to be thrown in the dustbin as the internet, GPS, Android, IOS apps etc. had not even been born when these laws were formulated. You cannot arrest the advancement of technology let alone beat it. You can survive and prosper only if you move step in step with technology and strive to break a new path. Always!
It has become obvious that the Government headed by Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli is inclined towards greater infusion of technology in different spheres of life. So who is running down the young entrepreneurs?
Apparently, it is the administration in collusion with monopolistic taxi business! We have seen over the years how administrative machinery and local bodies have ruined the policies, principles and plans of many well- meaning governments.
Elected political dispensations come and go but officers, high and low, continue to warm their seats for decades. Until and unless, kept on a leash and simultaneously motivated, government employees can make or mar the fate of a government and country.
In fact, in the instant issue of app-based mobikes, the traffic police and local administration have no case whatsoever. They prefer to plough an old furrow because that is the easiest way out? One need not apply one’s mind to upgrade systems and work culture. After all, keeping with the times calls for toil and sweat. Who wants to do that? Innovation is anathema to the officialdom.
In such an environment, entrepreneurs, who come up with disruptive technologies and management systems, are dreaded the most by status-quoists. Deeply entrenched in termite-infested ways of business and management, they are literally fossilised. New ideas are a threat to their monopolies. Haven’t we seen many of the world’s top business houses falling off their perch in the last few decades? The top order is today occupied by information technology-driven behemoths many of whom are less than a decade old. In terms of market capitalisation, Apple, Tencent Holdings, Alibaba, Netflix, Microsoft, etc. are the new giants to reckon with.
Luckily, these companies had just the right leadership and eco-system which welcomed and nurtured new technology. Those who posed roadblocks were shunted away.
Legendary entrepreneurs carved highways for themselves despite opposition, failure, derision, ridicule and, most importantly, utter lack of resources. The home garage emerged as the typical laboratory of these computer czars.
It is evident that Prime Minister Oli fully realises the dire need for infusion of funds in Nepal. He also seems convinced that innovation and entrepreneurship will facilitate this. Speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland he stated, “We are trying to invite investment and new technology and introduce digital connectivity for enhanced regional cooperation.”
What an irony that a business lobby is singing an opposite tune at the same time. Will it ever think beyond its own selfish interests? And, after all, how long can you beat technology? Make friends with it sooner than later. Or you will perish.
Basant Chaudhary is a Poet, Writer, The Chairman of BLC and Basant Chaudhary Foundation. (firstname.lastname@example.org)