KATHMANDU: Although monarchy was abolished following the Constituent Assembly election in April 2008, the Spring 2006 Movement had effectively put the 240-year old dynasty to an end, setting the stage for the emergence new political equations. The Maoists, who had waged a decade-long armed conflict exploiting the inherent weaknesses that existed in the Nepali society, were well on the road to become a strong political force in the country. The Madhesh — also known as the Terai, Nepal’s bread basket and a vote bank of Nepali Congress — was heating up in search of an identity that it had long been craving for, coupled with heightened sense of ethnicity awareness among the Janajati, Tharu, Dalits, women and Muslims.
The aspirations for change, however, were thwarted by inter and intra-party conflicts, rampant corruption — sadly, a hallmark of Nepali politics and governance system — and deteriorating economic conditions of the people. These are some issues Professor Baral’s latest book — Nepal-Nation-state in the Wilderness — deals with.
The book comes comprises six chapters — the last, being What Next? Here, the author concludes: The agenda of making a new Nepal has suffered due to political leaders’ lack of commitment, vision, and determination. As a result, he argues, the replacement of regime — from monarchy to republic — is not felt by the general people. “Old feudal — authoritarian values continue with the new elites becoming irrelevant to governance,” he states. A veteran academic and an authority on politics in his own right, Prof Baral does also recommend some measures to correct the ills: revamping and restructuring the state; setting common agenda and ending disparity gap; evolving consensus on foreign and security policies; understanding nationalism; and improving on the governance and service delivery.
He concludes the book on a rather pessimistic note and the political leadership had better get the point: Paradoxically, the state has not reached the terminal point; neither has it given us any promising picture for the future. Democracy is in peril, so is the vitality of the state.
From the book jacket itself
Nepal-Nation-state in Wilderness takes a critical look at three important aspects of modern Nepal: viability of the Nepali State, prospects and challenges of its liberal democracy, and strategies for managing the emerging geopolitical trends.
The author analyses the transformation of Maoists into a systematic party within the liberal-democratic setup and the mutual distrust that developed afterward. The book further explores the state of Nepal’s physical location between China and India and Nepal’s own incapacity to manage the geopolitical pulls and pressures arising out of its unique position. The book is an insight into the tenets of liberal democracy, its applicability to the scenario in Nepal, and the historical developments that determine how democracy takes shape.