There was a time when the people did not need the state. In pre-agriculture era humans primarily lived on wild roots, fruits and animals. It was not only the state but even the system of marriage and institution of family was not in existence. So were the private property and economic classes. But, with the development of agriculture, the people started gathering property in the form of crops. This brought a great shift - matriarchy was replaced by patriarchal system. In hunting age, there was no need of saving the hunted items. The hunters, particularly the males, killed animals, brought raw meat to kabila (herd) members and were distributed among them. The meat, fruits and roots were quickly consumed.
However, this was not the case with agro-products, which could not be used up instantly. They had to be kept safe for consumption in future. But, who should protect corns when the males are out of their huts. This pestered them. They found the solution in marriage. The males began to keep wife to protect their yields. This is how the marriage, one of the oldest social institutions, evolved. With the creation of family, there perhaps rose castes, community, class, private property, social institutions and finally, the state. After eons, the generations of those hunting humans have been transformed into people and citizens from the stages of slaves and subjects, with the state becoming an indispensable instrument to fulfill their fundamental requirements.
There are a plethora of scholarly propositions defining the functions and goals of the state that acts in the form of government and its organs. One of the premises about the state is that it was created to serve the interests of dominant class in the society. Marxists buy this logic but in modern times the idea of welfare state is gaining grounds. Today, the citizens look towards the state to protect their life, property, and bring prosperity. Still the debate goes on in regard to the size of the government that executes the stated policy of the state. In the primitive age, there was no state, and in the postmodern stage, there is also voice for less-assertive state. For example, libertarians in the United States demand a small government and no tax at all, allowing them to pursue economic activities unhindered. But, this extremity is only an exception. The countries where the governments are playing their proactive role, the people there have achieved better livelihoods, peace and development.
Tax is one factor that creates inseparable link between the state and its people, obliging the both for the cause of national prosperity. The more the taxes, the more the social benefits for the people. Fewer taxes, fewer benefits. In Nordic countries, employees pay around 40 per taxes from their incomes and enjoy superior level of social security. Taxation system also defines the nature of the state. If it encompasses all, the poor and the rich alike, it will be inclusive. If only a handful of rich people pay the taxes, the state is forced to act unfairly, giving rise to plutocracy, not democracy. But, in order to encourage and oblige the people to pay the tax - direct and indirect, there should be strong precondition: the government must be democratic, fair and pro-people. It must ensure that the taxpayers’ money will be properly utilized to the welfare of all the countrymen. The people expect that their hard-earned money be used in delivering the basic amenities – water, electricity, road, health, education and employment.
Talking about the situation of Nepali state, we find a very disappointing scenario. It is disheartening to note that every successive government during the last two decades has utterly failed to spend taxes for providing basic facilities to the public. Taxes make up 13 percent of the total GDP. It is true this meager amount can hardly meet every need of the people but things would be quite different if the political parties were honest and the government accountable to the people. The government is active to widen the tax net but the people have lost their faith in its ability to spend their money in the right place. So its drive to collect more taxes has failed to be effective. This is because the government has showed an utter sense of indifference towards the basic needs of the people like water, electricity, garbage collection, and sewerage system, road maintenance and price of essential commodities. Other two important public sectors – health and education - are left at the mercy of footloose cynical people, whose goal is to squeeze more from the hapless public. Political leaders of all major and minor parties talk about big things but are never concerned with soaring inflation that has broken the back of the consumers. The collective political action can tame it. Sadly, this burning issue has been overshadowed under the smokescreen of political transition.
Politically, the country stands at the threshold of a new age following the landmark changes in its superstructures. These changes should have brought positive outcomes. But, it continues to see its credibility waning owing largely to the insincere political leadership and incapable bureaucracy. Many think the Nepali state is in the most vulnerable position in its history as a result of past conflict, prolonged instability and increased number of non-state actors and parasites. It is completely in shambles and doldrums. The most dangerous thing is the people’s growing distrust with the state’s institutions and actors. They think corruption has been institutionalized from top to bottom and the politicians scramble to get their snouts in the public trough. Thus, it is a great challenge for the coming government to overcome this egregious trust deficit and restore confidence in the people about the ability and intention of the state and its players.