Book review : Local development viewed thru different angles

Public Policy and Local

Development: Opportunities and Constraints

Eds: Pushkar K Pradhan, Doris Wastl-Walter and Steven Folmar

Publisher: IGUC/GAPP

Pp: 340


Even more imperative is the need to advocate that community members in community inclusion models re-examine how their methods and practices act in ways, sometimes intentionally and other times inadvertently, to continue and exclude traditionally marginalized peoples,” says Steven Folmar, in his article The Sirubari Village Tourism Project and Local Development in Western Nepal.

And what can be more insightful a suggestion to Nepali development stakeholders than this.

The book Public Policy and Local Development: Opportunities and Constraints contains several similar insightful quotes in 23 articles selected from 36 presented at the International Conference on Public Policy and Local Development: Opportunities and Constraints, organised jointly by the Tribhuvan University Central Department of Geography and the International Geographical Union Commission/Geography and Public Policy (IGUC/GAPP) in Kathmandu in 2007.

The book hovers around the issues of local development and tries to see the

issue through different

perspectives by presenting the existing policies and

practices, their gaps and complementarities in the countries including Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Portugal, Slovakia, Switzerland and the US.

In yet another article, post-doctorate researcher Kavita Arora says, “These communities are already facing the onslaught of flawed development and they are still reeling under its impact, pushed as they are to the verge of extinction. Their knowledge thus needs to be identified, recorded and practiced but they must transcend the cynical vision of simply roping their knowledge to cash economy.”

She deals with the dwindling indigenous knowledge of the Andamanese tribes, in her article The wiping out of indigenous knowledge and the death of the tropical forest: the case of rainforest management in Andaman.

A youth Nepali politician Fatik Bahadur Thapa, a former member of parliament, writes in his article Role of Indigenous Political Leadership in Local Development in Nepal, “Since these leaders were elected through their political parties rather than their ethnic organisation, they do not necessarily feel that they have to be loyal to their ethinic organisation and communities, which are known as excluded from the mainstream as well.”

The book is divided into four different chapters. The first chapter Local Organisations, Natural Resource Management and Livelihood contains six papers. The first two deal with how local organisations manage water and forest resources. The other four papers deal with the role of local institutions in raising the living standards of the people through community development effort.

The second chapter, in five papers, deals with Conflict, Violence and Environmental and Socio-economic Problems. The issues at discussion range from prostitution,

domestic violence, drug abuse, conflict and natural resource policies to how indigenous knowledge is being wiped out affecting the livelihood of the people.

The third chapter entitled Environment, Health and Conservation Measures contains five papers that deal about drinking water and public health, air quality

and health, conservation

efforts and recreational

activities and their impacts on environment.

The fourth chapter entitled Public policies, development approaches and spatial

transformation deals with how public policies affect overall development of any rural area. The chapter contains seven articles ranging from village tourism, urban agriculture, immigration policies, and development of higher education, decentralisation, market management and role of political leaders in local development.

The book can be of much use for development students, practitioners, policy makers, planners and geographers in developing and

developed countries alike. Also international NGOs may refer to the book to analyse the gaps between policies and practices related to several aspects of local development. The technical nature of the book may make it an unimpressive one for the general reader.

The book has failed to give a brief introduction of the contributors, which

could have given an insight about the background of the authors.