Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Nepal's Stalled Revolution"

The New York Times has published this interesting editorial on the "stalled revolution" taking place in Nepal worthy of further comment. Some readers may be aware that my original intent when entering graduate school was not to study political philosophy, but to become a political scientist with a particular interest in India's relationship with its neighbouring kingdoms of Bhutan and Nepal.

Nepal is a country of two halves in many respects. For example, the eastern half (where Kathmandu, the capital, is located) is more affluent, educated, and urban than the less affluent, education, and rural western half. Since the demcoratization process began a few decades ago, there has been much tension between east and west that has become characterized by Maoist rebel resistance in the west against successive (and too often very short lived) governments based in the east.

The glue that helped give unity to the whole has been the monarchy. This is not to say that the monarchy is warmly embraced by the Maoists (it is not), but that the monarchy had more popularity beyond Kathmandu than the country's political parties, such as the Nepali Congress Party and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist).

Much has changed since. First, there was the regicide. This helped to destabilize the one unifying institution, the monarchy, which in turn helped lead to strengthen the hand of the Maoists. The Maoists have since tasted power -- and their leader was even briefly Prime Minister.

What does the future hold? Nepal is a curious country. Whereas other countries have rejected communism and communist parties, Nepal seems to have largely embraced them. Part of the reason is perhaps because their communism is not the communism of the Soviet Union (despite the appeal to Lenin), but far more in the vein of India's communists in Kerala with a focus on fairness, freedom, and a community-based approach to development and education. Given the great success of Kerala in many respects, this is perhaps unsurprising. Those of leftwing persuasion then have something to cheer about in Nepali communist experiment.

The problem remains one of factions over unity. The monarchy has always been the unifying force. Since the regicide several years ago, this unity has been dealt a real blow. What remains for the "stalled revolution" is for the fragmented political parties to work more closely together and put the nation's development ahead of personal ambitions. Nepal can be a success -- and may even offer evidence that the "Kerala miracle" may be exported -- but it requires the country to come together as a people. This remains to be seen.

1 comment:

Political Challenges in Nepal said...

Monarchy did unified Nepal in a way in past ...But, monarchy and political parties both seems to fail in Nepal because of lack of experience of modern governance. Now, people started to migrate elsewhere and saw the globalization, industrialization, and modernization. However, country remained same over time. Vastly, also because of geographical remoteness. Political parties are experimenting one after another with new governments. Where is popular consent? What they do not have is ability and political education of the relationship between governance and society. In past, Gyanendra had the power and influence for all changes, but he too was inexperienced and because his+his sons acts were widely disliked by people, He was dethroned. Now, no political parties and leaders are widely accepted in Nepalese society and non of them seem to have passed the test of time to bring prosperity to Nepalese future.