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Public View on Diplomatic Productivity of Nepal

It is interesting to see that the general public of Nepal are yearning to know and learn about the productivity of the Nepalese Foreign Ministry and its entire mechanism inside and outside the nation.

Previously, it was a matter of special concern for royalty and so called public celebrities, but now perspectives have been changed and almost all Nepalese peoples are starting to judge their own relationship and plus-minus shares in the productivity of Nepalese diplomacy. However, the need and interest of the general public does not seem to receive any response from the diplomatic operators of Nepal.

It is great to know that nowadays, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has been spending huge efforts for restructuring, reengineering and reorganizing its entire institution to achieve better professionalism and huge diplomatic productivity in the changing context of diplomatic world. The working approach in integrated terms is known as an Organization and Management (O&M) survey. This is the current fashion and considered a seasonal activity of the entire civil service system of Nepal, and also, prohibitory policy in general of the Administrative Restructuring Commission (ARC) of Nepal.

It is well known that the Nepalese constitution building process is in limbo. The Constitutional Assembly (CA) has not yet decided on the overall governance structure of the upcoming federal model of Nepal, including the diplomatic affairs and potential structures. It is harmful to move forward without knowing the destination, priority and path forward or being unclear over possible questions about the move. So, everyone is trying to do O & M, which is like shooting bullet into the dark.

However, a few ministries, including MoFA also obtained special permission from ARC for an O & M survey. It is believed that a detailed O & M cannot be materialized now, until after approval of the governance structure of Nepal, in the federal context. Therefore, there are only possibilities of small changes or minimal organizational amendments that are mandatory to work and function at minimum level.

Normally, an O & M survey is a fact based work and document, it should be neither based on values nor influenced by any ill-intention. So, it should be purely based on national and institutional desire and interest. In fact, the major basis of the survey are programs, workload, job nature, rationality, and human resources of the particular institution. Therefore, the O & M is a scientific term, and technically well defined, structured set of activities, that performs under the theology of administration and management sciences.

It is itself a most complex, multi-connected, multiparty, time taking and sensitive job. So, it is essential to express gratitude to MoFA who dared to undertake such tough works. Actually, the O & M Survey is mandatory in Nepal for each and every civil service mechanism that wishes to make any productive changes in its existing organogram and job. In principle, it is required for all degrees of maximum or minimum changes in structures, hierarchy and functions

In any O & M survey, a scientific and technically justified workload analysis is crucial to judge the enlargement, enhancement and enrichment or reduction of an organogram and its system. Now, MoFA is asking central agencies to support them in increasing the numerous numbers of new institutions and divisions, joint secretaries and other high-ranking diplomats inside and outside the nation.

MoFA officials have been asked that O & M survey workload analysis or detail performance analysis be based on the various dimensions of diplomatic productivity and its related determinants, in accordance with the international practice and theory of administrative and management science.

Unfortunately for MoFA, the people and state authorities in Nepal also know that diplomatic productivity does not include any tangible value of money or quantitative calculation that can be easily shown in figures in sense of tax, custom or tourists.

MoFA in our developing nation does not mean anything to the country and its people, other than being a white elephant. Theoretically, MoFA is a type of bridge or means of connectivity or aligning authority between domestic and international affairs. It is a kind of road or highway or means of transportation made to link bilateral and multilateral forums and other relevant international community to achieve domestic goals and interest in a defined manner.

For example, if there is war between two states, MoFA officials can’t fight since they are not trained for warfare, they have no expertise in war management, so they need state military to attack the enemy state under the umbrella of MoFA or other diplomatic mission.

Similarly, they only have diplomats with generalist backgrounds, so principally, they are not experts in labor affairs, economic affairs, trade affairs, commerce affairs, defense affairs, immigration affairs or security affairs etc. Therefore, the existing MoFA system cannot be productive without having proper, rational and adequate representation from sartorial authorities and institutions in the system and composition of MoFA and its diplomatic mechanism. This may be the ground that alone MoFA has either zero or negligible diplomatic productivity.

Diplomatic productivity has been a hidden or ignored word until now, for MoFA officials in Nepal, so it is important to spend a few lines to define the word. Diplomatic productivity has various dimensions, scope and understanding and it varies, country by country or institution. For instance, determinants and dimensions of diplomatic productivity can be different for mega developed, developed, underdeveloped, and post conflict transitional nations.

For a country like Nepal, the areas or dimension of diplomatic productivity may be described under several subheadings such as foreign direct investment, foreign aid, trade and commerce, foreign employment, tourism, bilateral-multilateral trade and commerce, defense cooperation, intensity of peoples cooperation and contacts, frequency of high-level visits, energy, election and representation, peace building, relief and rescue, consular and immigration service, national competences, international leadership, public accessibility, remittance, exchanges, governance and migrant security.

Diplomatic productivity does not look for direct and instant benefits as everyone knows that the advantages of effective and efficient diplomacy generally comes in the long term. It is not like exchanging money for goods from a shop. It is difficult to quantify or calculate the exact quantitative or numerical value of diplomatic effort but it does not mean that it is impossible. It is an area of subjective and qualitative study.

For instance, it can be interpreted on the basis of cases and issues while weighing its achievements in accordance with the goals, priority and interests of what the nation wants to get from its diplomatic apparatus. It is about success (positive) or failure (negative) results that deals with the status of achievements of the state’s goal, policies, plans and programs as assigned to MoFA and its mechanisms.

Forty thousand illegal Nepalese jobs came under crisis in Iraq, because MoFA stamped passports “not valid to enter Iraq.” MoFA was also totally silent on rescue issues on Middle east/Gulf political unrest until national media and the Ministry of Labor repeatedly demanded immediate action.

It can be seen while studying the status of Asian, European or American markets for Nepalese products and also analyzing the declining positive trade and commerce transactions with Indo-Nepal. Moreover, major countries have changed on arrival visa facilities for Nepalese citizen due to our poor diplomatic performance. In the past, Nepalese enjoyed on-arrival visa facilities in many more countries including Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Declining Nepalese representation, participation and leadership in multilateral and bilateral institutions, including the UN can be considered one of the most pathetic consequences of existing negative diplomatic performance. Similarly, decreasing quality foreign employment market, growing human smuggling in the name of foreign employment and failure to provide basic rescue and relief timely in destination countries for labor migrants shows the real face of the lack of Nepalese diplomacy.

In public opinion, Government should not waste much if the Nepalese diplomat abroad either stands to take part in reception ceremony, hospitality management or just to fulfill their own vested interest. Wearing formal dress, sleeping in meetings, losing in negotiations, enjoying dollars, torturing people for passports, and drinking whisky cannot be the successful code of a diplomat, nor a positive outcome for a state’s investment. Changes, restructuring, and correction need to be accepted for immediate reform inside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that it needs more manpower, resources, new institutions and more because these are essential for their self-claimed and self defined economic diplomacy and foreign employment system without realizing the need and involvement of respective authorities and its stakeholders inside their diplomatic system.

In Nepal, MoFA ignores the reality and contemporary need of a successful diplomacy and international relations system. MoFA must study and learn more about the shifting dynamics of contemporary diplomacy, otherwise it will not be worth making any changes and reform until and unless it rethinks its existing mindset and horizon. MoFA should join hands with concerned agencies on an equal and rational basis. It should reflect on their ongoing O & M, if they really want to go forward to fulfill the need and interest of the nation and its people.

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