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One tiny reform but a giant potential

We never seem to be tired to cite Singapore as an example of a remarkable progress despite having no natural resources. Singapore’s story has a status of myth in Nepal. It did not have anything, it was a swamp after all.  The only competitive advantage it had when it gained independence in 1965, was its port which was strategic in that it could serve as the gateway to Asia. But the true competitive advantage as most people who know the region well, will tell is the ‘Human Resource’. 
 
Every state has citizens. The difference with Singapore was that the leaders knew that the success of their new state depended on human resource management. This article is not a review of Singaporean history or even lessons we can learn from Singapore. Instead it is a prelude to a surprising news regarding the proposed restructuring of the government ministries. 
 
Kudos
For the past decade, there has been effort from all sectors for the formation of an “HR Ministry”, including media, private sector and public sector. HR Meet, an awareness program for HR, was conducted in every year to lobby and publish articles to that end. 
 
Finally good news for all has come: among the 14 ministries recommended by the special committee to the government, there is the all new Human Resource Ministry. Its role and scope is not known yet except that it is the combination of the General Administration Ministry, Education/Youth/Sport Ministry. 
 
Will this recommendation take effect or not, is another matter, but for activists of an HR Ministry, this is as good as it gets. One day, we will truly rejoice and say, “With the effort of all sectors the formation of HR Ministry has become a fact”. 
 
Lately private sectors have given priority to HR. Now we are elated that the government sector also has started giving importance to HR and joined the wagon. 
 
Nepal with the HR Ministry: what will be the difference?
Many skeptics out there could not be bothered by this ‘good news for all’. Their argument would be in the line, “Nepal changed into a republic and nothing changed, what would possibly change after the addition or the renaming of a ministry?” 
 
But we beg to differ. Let’s pull in the comparison to Singapore we started earlier. After the mis-en-place of the HR ministry the following things can happen:

  1. Singapore plans the number of doctors, engineers and lawyers to product every year. It is farfetched for the country like ours where we are in the concept of ‘more the merrier’: More doctors, more engineers, more bachelor’s degree holders, and more master ’s degree holders.  The HR ministry will get some cues from countries like Singapore and plan how many citizens should pursue which career in order to meet the developmental goals of the country.
  2. Remittance being the cash cow for the both the government coffins and the various businesses in Nepal, this HR ministry will focus on increasing the quality of the remittance, that is, increasing amount remitted per Nepali, through better policies, training, certification, and international branding. 
  3. Partnership with HR experts of the country in designing the most suitable policies for addressing issues like:
    • Brain drain
    • Unemployment
    • Employability skills
    • Performance evaluation of all government staffs
    • Design of new compensation package for government staffs to stop corruption and sabotage like delaying or dropping of projects to the extent the liquidity crisis is triggered like now
Conclusion
There is no doubt that this HR ministry will not be a panacea. However, if a proper minister is put at the helm of this HR Ministry, Nepal can become a myth of unthinkable transformation beating even Singapore in the annals of history. 

Authors: Mohan Ojha & Manohar Man Shrestha