“According to Nepal’s calendar, we are living in 2080,” Basanta Adhikari told attendees at a June lunch hosted by the Mackinac Center. “So in terms of the calendar we are 56 or 57 years ahead. But in terms of economic development we are a century behind.”
Adhikari, founder of Bikalpa-an Alternative, a free-market think tank in Nepal, aims to change that. His talk at the Midland Country Club focused on the regulatory challenges faced by young entrepreneurs and citizens in Nepal.
Since its establishment in 2014, Bikalpa-an Alternative has advocated for economic and individual freedoms for all Nepalese. Through research and public engagement, it helps individuals actively shape their country’s future.
Adhikari shared stories from his own journey and explained how his deep-rooted appreciation for freedom and prosperity – he named his children “Liberty” and “Freedom” – fueled his commitment to spread these values across Nepal. His grassroots liberty movement is driven by his ambition to provide equal opportunities for all citizens to prosper and exercise their rights.
The road ahead is challenging. Adhikari and his team face an uphill struggle to defend the principles of a free-market society, with limited support from organizational allies. Even so, they remain dedicated to countering populist and illiberal policies through research, advocacy and engagement with young people.
Adhikari told the story of how Bikalpa-an Alternative helped dismantle overregulation and barriers to entry for entrepreneurs. When the government loosened some regulations, young business leaders were encouraged to stay in the country, which has driven economic growth. Under Adhikari’s leadership, Bikalpa-an Alternative received the Asia Liberty Award from the Atlas Network in 2019. It was also a 2021 finalist for the Atlas Network’s Think Tank Shark Tank Award.