Then there is the catch-all phrase: capacity building. In the 1980s, the Hetauda cloth factory did well in Nepal and the neighborhood with high quality textile products. Then, like in other spheres of national life, a combination of political interference, mismanagement, low productivity and inability to compete, the factory closed.
In the post-earthquake and post-COVID economy, why not revive the Hetauda factory to produce cloth for the army and police and design it to produce masks and PPE? In an earthquake, it makes tents, and soon in the monsoon it can produce rafts and rain gear.
The new normal is where a textile factory needs to quickly become a PPE and mask maker. How do we train the staff, and what kind of skills will workers need? In the next cold wave this winter, we will need sleeping bags and jackets.
Pharmaceutical companies in Nepal have to gear up to acquire the license to produce a vaccine or drugs for COVID-19. Which companies have the capability? Capacity building has a whole new meaning in the post-pandemic, post-earthquake, and during the climate induced disaster-prone Nepal.
Another aspect of capacity is related to leadership at the centre, the provinces and local governments. Leadership, we have seen, is about who can keep millions of people to stay the course, lay out clear plans and communicate clear instructions at times of crisis.
It is about trust, transparency and accountability. The next election is less than three years away, that would be the perfect time to reward the do-ers. The earthquake was a great teacher, and COVID-19 is an exam for those who want to rule over us. Can they pass the test?
Anil Chitrakar writes this fortnightly column ½ Full in Nepali Times, and is President of Siddharthinc