Print Edition - 2016-03-06  |  Free the Words

Solve the cube

  • Candidates for major government posts should take a test to prove their common sense
- Pramod Raj Pokharel, Kathmandu

Mar 6, 2016-

Nepal has been pursuing development for a long time, and various slogans, theories, modalities, working methods, claims and targets have been raised, dropped and recycled over the years. But the achievements have fallen short of the target. Likewise, Nepal has been receiving foreign aid for over 60 years. Currently, it stands at $1 billion annually which is equivalent to about a quarter of the government budget. Just think what could have been done with all that money. When large amounts of funds are being spent in the development sector but the promised results do not appear, it is obvious that the money is contributing to something else, such as the empowerment of the corrupt, deeper inequality and loss of public faith. More precisely, these funds have been contributing to making extractive politics sustainable in Nepal. 

The status quo

Countries rise when they put in place the right pro-growth political institutions, and they fail when these institutions ossify or fail to adapt. Many believe that the extractive institutions, like the mainstream political parties in Nepal, can never unleash growth. Law and order serves the members of the patronage networks, and never the ordinary people. Regulations and syndicates create entry barriers and prevent open functioning of markets. Ordinary citizens hardly get opportunities and space, as system bottlenecks prevent the creation of equal opportunities and a level playing field. Nepal has seen many think tanks, visionary leaders and sector experts. Unfortunately, all of them proved to be nothing more than paper giants. We need to re-evaluate our value system in politics, bureaucracy, judiciary and socio-economic affairs, at least to figure out why we failed to put the right person in the right place. 

Nepal needs to adopt a new filtering system to select people for all sensitive positions like Member of Parliament, Prime Minister and President. Academic degrees and the number of years spent in jail are fine, but the candidates must be made to take a basic test on an equal footing. The world presently is under the influence of a belief called Theory of Binary Opposition—cold exists because there is heat, and without the poor there will not be the rich. For a few countries to be rich, there must be a larger group of nations without prosperity. And this is how a few parts of the world are always kept under controlled instability. After all, without instability and conflict, tests and sales of new theories and weapons are impossible.  

Solving problems

Fortunately, in this regard, Rubik’s Cube is exceptional as all its six sides can be equally rich. Like the toss of a coin, the cube does not believe in chance. It has a very strict set of moves called algorithms. Without following these rules, one cannot fix it. The cube teaches discipline and a good set of logical memory, and it is one of the simplest forms of a human-invented complex system. In today’s world where the mind is influenced by various media and sources, the cube helps to keep it in a genuine state.

Returning to Nepal’s growth, development and prosperity, it is largely using common sense consciously. No theory is directly applicable. The most important thing is to read and analyse the situation. And with a mind that is aware, the needed changes can be ascertained by the use of common sense and a basic level of intelligence. Unfortunately, common sense is a flower that does not grow in everyone’s garden. Common sense is seeing things as they are and doing things as they should be. Many believe that there are only a few options for Nepal’s transformation like a younger generation of political leaders to drive political reforms, a new civil society movement to put pressure on the political parties, or a new political structure to drive an agenda of change. But interestingly, no one talks about the core element. The fact is that if the core element remains the same, the outcome will not be much different regardless of whatever way the changes are done.

To change the core element, there should be a test of common sense. This test is based on the fusion of two books —Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson and IQ and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen. Administering a test to see whether one has common sense and a basic level of intelligence or not is very simple. Take 2x2, 3x3, 4x4 and 5x5 Rubik’s Cubes and give yourself one month to solve them. After one month, if you can solve all these four types of cubes within two hours, think that you have an inherent quality to understand the complexities around you and the capability to fix problems. Otherwise, accept your disability to solve even the simplest form of a manmade complex system. 

Things to ponder

In that case, the quality of your brain is inferior to that of kids in the age group of 4-12 years. Then judge yourself: Do you deserve to be in a sensitive position within a system? How can people trust your ability to solve real complex problems related to poverty, inequality, growth, development and prosperity? More interestingly, why should today’s young kids accept you as their leader? Forget your curriculum vitae, you have to prove that you are compatible with the young generation. 

Hence, amend the constitution and insert a provision that it is the fundamental right of every Nepali to ask that candidates for positions in the national system, including Member of Parliament, Prime Minister and President, should sit for a common sense test. Nepali kids below 15 years of age should be given the responsibility of conducting this Rubik’s Cube-based test. This change in the core element will transform the entire political, judicial and bureaucratic system without bloodshed and further losses to the country. This will be the simplest and cheapest revolution to transform a poor country like Nepal. 

Pokharel is an energy expert and global change manager


Published: 06-03-2016 10:48

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