2077 BS: A Year That Was Challenging

The country was in lockdown when Nepali New Year 2077 begun on April 13, 2020, and it is on the brink of another similar restriction with the surge in coronavirus cases – 460 infection and five deaths – as the year concludes on Tuesday.
Confusion and apprehension prevail on the part of the government as well as in the private sector especially the service sectors like education, tourism and hospitality even on the eve of the New Year.
Opening school has become a contentious issue with doctors and large section of guardians suggesting their closure while school operators are openly voicing for the continuity of physical classes. Tourism sector was badly hit by the pandemic and this sector lost about 16 per cent of its annual Gross Domestic Product in the last fiscal year.
The economic growth witnessed a negative trend with -1.9 per cent in the last fiscal which is expected to rise to 2.7 per cent this year. However, this hope is fragile as it could be easily shattered if there is another lockdown or any sort of restriction in the last three months of the fiscal year since a major part of the capital budget is mobilised during this period and development work takes pace.
Meanwhile, in the last nine-months, until Monday, the government could mobilise only 46.5 per cent of the total annual budget with only 29.2 per cent capital spending, according to the Financial Comptroller General’s Office.
The pandemic has significantly affected the materilisation of the foreign investment pledges made in the Nepal Investment Summit held in March 2019, some weeks before the lockdown was imposed.
The Investment Board had recently finalised the feasibility study and Detailed Project Report of four large infrastructure projects showcased at the summit.
Although the World Bank has revised Nepal’s economic growth to 2.7 per cent this month from its earlier projection of 2.1 per cent made in January, the fear of the virus contagion had begun to hit the economy.
Education has been one of the worst hit sectors. While the private schools in the urban areas began to run online classes via Zoom and Teams applications by June last year, schools in villages were in dilemma until August with most of the community schools failing to create connection between the teachers and students.
Poor information technology infrastructure, poor internet and telephone connection and poor access to technology resulted in no classes in many community schools across the country. Some schools in villages tried to run online classes but it couldn’t give expected results as many guardians did not have a smartphone let alone laptops and desktop computers.
The pandemic affected the academic calendars of the universities and students of Bachelors first year are still waiting for their final exam routines. In normal situation, the final exams should have been completed eight months ago.
Although the universities
hesitantly readied themselves for the virtual classes, with some exception, they failed to run virtual exams. On top of that while the risk of the

virus prevailed throughout the year, universities did not create procedures and infrastructure to conduct online examination. Education sector’s growth shrunk to 3 per cent in 2019/20 from 5.98 per cent in 2018/19.
The year remained tumultuous due to intra-party rift in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). The largest communist party in history of Nepal that had command almost a two-thirds majority in the parliament was in the news throughout the year as the chair of the party Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda supported by senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal challenged the authority and leadership of chair and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
As factionalism reached the grassroot level of the party and Prachanda Nepal faction took action against Oli, the latter retaliated by dissolving the House of Representatives on December 20, 2020.
However, the dissolution of the parliament was immediately challenged at the Supreme Court and in a landmark decision, the SC reinstated the parliament. In another dramatic development, the court conferred the name of the NCP on Rishi Ram Kattel, thereby dismissing the three-year old unification between the CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre.
This decision finally split the NCP into its earlier form: CPN-UML and CPN-MC. Lately Madhav Nepal faction of the UML is creating parallel party structures across the country.
The party debacle was visible in the election of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) where candidates near to UML’s Oli and Nepal faction and MC won in 11, 7 and 10 districts respectively. The year 2078 will continue to witness the widening of the tensions between the two factions of the UML.
International relations
In an historical attempt, Nepal published a new map including Kalapani region, Limpiyadhura and Lipulek – which have been occupied by India for the last six decades – in its territory. Earlier, in November 2019, India published its political map including Nepali territory inside its international borders.
Nepal immediately sent diplomatic note expressing dissatisfaction over India’s unilateral move. But the southern neighbour did not correct its move, instead it developed a road in Nepali territory of Kalapani region. Finally, Nepal published a new map of the country including the India-occupied region in its territory in May last year (in the month of Jestha).
However, despite prolonged tensions between Nepal and India, the government cautiously handed the relations and maintained the economic and social relations with the latter. The publication of the map created a national unity with all political parties and civil society voicing support for the move.
The government’s diplomacy was particularly successful in procuring the vaccines against coronavirus. While about 100 countries across the globe have not received single dose of vaccines, Nepal had inoculated about 1.7 million of its citizens so far and is set to begin the second dose of the jabs from next week.
This year marked the completion of the long-awaited Melamchi Water Supply Project which was dreamt for about three decades and was supposed to be completed by 2008.
The national pride project received multiple glitches and went to through multiple cost and time overrun. However, the pandemic slowed the progress of other large projects like Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectricity Project, Gautam Buddha International Airport, Pokhara International Airport and many other.