Surath Giri, president and co-founder of NPI (right) with the governor of Nepal (center).
In Nepal, translations of authoritarian, socialist works by Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, and others are widely available, but books that promote liberty and free markets are virtually non-existent. The Nepal Prosperity Institute (NPI) is working to fix this by translating pro-market books into the local Nepali language — starting with James Gwartney’s Common Sense Economics. Translating Common Sense Economics into Nepali means that arguments for lower taxes, less government regulations, and freer trade will be more accessible to the average Nepali citizen. The ideas expressed in Common Sense Economics offer a needed alternative to the prevailing dogma around centralization in Nepal.
Common Sense Economics is a compelling book because of the real-life examples Gwartney uses to demonstrate the power of free markets. The Nepali translation carries the same persuasive weight, although under a slightly different title — the phrase “common sense” does not translate easily into Nepali, so the translation is titled Asal Arthashastra, or “Good Economics.”
“Common Sense Economics... didn't just introduce me to the ideas of the free market but in fact, made me fall in love with economics,” said Surath Giri, president and co-founder of NPI. “Before reading Common Sense Economics, my view of economics was that of an extremely boring and theoretical subject that tried to reduce everything to equations and figures. Common Sense Economics was my door to the realization that economics is probably the most interesting subject in the world. With its simple explanation accompanied by plenty of real-life examples, it taught me to think like an economist and convinced me that free-market policies are a prerequisite for achieving freedom and prosperity.”
Giri decided to pursue translating Common Sense Economics after attending Asia Liberty Forum in Mumbai in February 2017. Atlas Network connected Giri with Gwartney in order to secure copyrights for the translation. With the translation finished, NPI is now distributing the translation to Nepali students and the broader population of the country.
“We [are planning] to conduct various events (such as discussions, debates) in different colleges and universities based on the ideas [in Common Sense Economics] and to distribute the copies of the book to interested students,” continued Giri. “We are also planning to produce four short videos based on the ideas discussed in the book and to promote the videos through social media to generate attention.”
Common Sense Economics is the first in what Giri hopes will be a series of translations of classical liberal literature in order to give Nepal a true alternative to statist economic theories.
“There is a dearth of free-market literature in the Nepali language although the majority of our population doesn't speak or understand English,” continued Giri. “Moreover, there is a lack of books explaining the ideas of liberty in the Nepali context. With this translation, I wanted to create a work that explains market economics to the Nepali speaking audience. This is the first step towards my vision of creating a pool of free-market literature in the Nepali language.”
Giri sees NPI’s role in Nepal as providing easily accessible literature in the language of the people to provide an entry point for the other classical liberal think tanks, which provide country-specific research, into people’s lives.
“Nepal is over-flooded with anti-freedom literature,” continued Giri. “I hope to change the scenario by creating a pool of free-market literature so that people, at least, get introduced to ideas of free-market and liberty as well. I plan to translate the works of Ayn Rand, F.A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman into Nepali someday … All the translations will be accompanied by short videos explaining the ideas so that they can be promoted in social media. Overall, our plan is to create free-market literature in the local language and reach out to people with the ideas. We also intend to create materials that our allies can use for promoting these ideas. While our allies can focus on carrying out research and advocating for policy reform, we hope to specialize in creating the literature they can use to promote ideas.”
Nepal Prosperity Institute received an Atlas Network translation grant in support of its project.