Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ocean in a Jar

The political system has been changing in Nepal quite frequently. Since 1943/54, including Rana Prime Ministerial system, Nepal already has witnessed four different kinds of political system — the Panchayat, the Multi-party System with Constitutional Monarchy and the Federal Democratic Republic. However, except for the federal republican system with which we are still working, none of the systems has lasted. Not a single system has been able to deliver its promises to bring prosperity and well-being in the lives of people. Nothing seems to work out in Nepal. 

Why? One of the main reasons is that Nepal has failed to institutionalise the changes into the system. For instance, already declared a federal country, Nepal still doesn’t have states/provinces; and the failure of the first Constitutional Assembly (CA) has again created doubts in the mind of people about the suitability and viability of federal republic system. However, there are many other, equally important, aspects that we must understand before we start debating for the reasons behind the present situation of Nepal. 

Dr Uddhab Pd Pyakurel and Dr Indra Adhikari through State of Conflict and Democratic Movement in Nepal have attempted to start a discussion regarding the same.
The Front Page

The book, spread over eleven chapters, is actually a collection of different articles most of which have already been published in different journals and books from Nepal and India. Most of them were written after the Jana Aandolan II in 2006. Articles from varying fields of Nepal’s social and political life have been brought together and arranged in such a way it presents a comprehensive picture about how Nepal has reached the present state.

Except for the second and fourth articles that deal about the political transition and democracy of Nepal respectively, all other articles deal about the political and social phenomenon that came into the scene after Janaandola I of 1990. The Maoist movement is the most dominant discussion in almost all the articles. In fact, in one way or the other, the Maoist movement is one of the important ingredients of every article which is not unusual given the pervasiveness of the movement after Janaandolan I till the present time. 

The two articles — seventh and the eighth deal about women in conflict. The former describes the Maoist insurgency from gender perspectives, while the latter about the involvement of women in Telangana People’s Struggle. Both articles point out the under-representation of women in leadership positions as compared to the percentage of women in the battle field. 

The eleventh article is an interesting one. Written as a narrative, the author has presented his perspective about the first CA elections where he worked as an observer. According to the article, the terror tactics used by the Maoists during the elections was the main reason behind the emergence of the party as the largest one. The last article explains suggestions given by Ram Manohar Lohia (RML), a prominent socialist leader of India, not only the way to institutionalise the achievement of a revolution but also to have good relations with India. According to the article, RML had suggested Nepali leaders to tempo the institutionalisation process as soon as the revolution is over, before the defeated force get organised. He also suggests the Nepalis to have good relations with all the political parties of India rather than confining themselves to a party in government and in particular to bureaucracy.

The book tries to link the past of Nepal with its present. In other words, the book tries of answer the present with the help of events in the past. For example, the permanent nature of transition in Nepal has been attributed to power-greedy rulers of the past, who always tried to play the India or China card to remain in power. Similarly, marginalisation of ethnic communities, Dalits, women by the ruling power has been described as the prime reason behind the growth and rise of Maoist movement in Nepal.

However, the inability of the book to accommodate fresh articles dealing with socio-political scenario of Nepal, especially after the dissolution of CA, is its major limitation. Moreover, since most of the articles included are political ones, the information and even the ideas, readers may, at times, find some repetitions.

In conclusion, this book is one of its kinds when it comes to summarising the ocean in a jar. The book is successful in summing up almost everything that happened in Nepal, especially after the advent of democracy in 1950s.

(Acharya is an Erasmus Mundus fellow studying Masters in Development Studies in Uppsala University, Sweden)

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