Fighting corruption here
Corruption is an endemic problem in the developing world, which is suffering from poverty, lack of good governance, and in most of the cases political instability. Foreign aid is an integral part of the economies in the Third World including Nepal. Corruption in development aid got either no or very little attention till before 1990 when donors used to pour their money into the developing world for their political, ideological and strategic interests.
It was only after the fallout of the former Soviet bloc that donors started giving corruption control due consideration in development projects. Many donor agencies started adopting policies and strategies to fight corruption in their partner countries and within their organisations. In this context, Dr Rabindra Khanal Donors’ Policies Against Corruption in Nepal explores various anti-corruption policies adopted by a few selected but major donor agencies in Nepal.
He has studied the approaches of two major multilateral donor agencies (World Bank/IMF and Asian Development Bank) and five bilateral donors (USAID, DFID, DANIDA, NORAD and SDC) to combat corruption in Nepal in a book organised in four chapters.
In the first chapter, the author links corruption to bad governance as directly proportional, and transparency and accountability as inseparable parts of good governance. While bad governance is a major factor behind high corruption, poverty, institutional inefficiency, political instability, bureaucratic red tapism and weak judicial and legislative systems are equally responsible for it. The author also highlights the importance of foreign aid though how important foreign aid is in developing countries can be debated specially when there is a large section of people who see it as a factor creating dependency and donors as partners-in-sin for the underdevelopment and corruption in such countries. The author has justified the selection of donors for the study as the ones, which have framed necessary policies to get rid of corruption and promote good governance in Nepal.
In the second chapter, Dr Khanal analyses anti-corruption policies of the seven donors. All donors have similar views on corruption, but their emphasis differs slightly. All realise the impact of corruption and give emphasis on good governance. While DANIDA and SDC have framed action plans to be implemented in partner countries, others have developed country assistance strategies.
The third chapter describes donors’ coordinated efforts against corruption in Nepal. This coordination is a must to avoid duplication and misuse of donor money that comes from their taxpayers’ money. The focus is on good governance through capacity building and institutional and financial reforms. Use of guidelines, auditing, transparency and civil society participation could prevent development aid from corruption. The author identifies poverty reduction in line with government’s poverty reduction strategy paper as the theme of development aid. Decentralisation, administ-rative and legislative reforms, civil society empowerment, political accountability and strengthening of anti-corruption institutions like CIAA are the major areas in which donors have been working in a coordinated way. The formation of Nepal Donors’ Group is the major way forward to this coordination.
In chapter four, Dr Khanal concludes the book with some recommendations to the donors so as to make their fight against corruption more effective. Policy formulation alone cannot do anything but what is really important is the implementation.
Overall, the book explores the anti-corruption policies of seven major donors in Nepal. Based on content analysis of some primary and secondary data, it is more descriptive than analytic. The sample for study is small but I agree with the logic of the author as mentioned earlier. The quality of the book justifies its price. Finally, as Dr Devendra Raj Pandey says in his thought-provoking foreword, the book should prove a valuable addition to the currently growing literature on corruption in the country.
Sonam Wangmo Sherpa
Sun on the Mountains is a collection of poems and artwork tastefully done and presented. The poems by Para Limbu fittingly inculcate the lifestyle, challenges and emotions of people in Humla, Jumla, Mugu, Kalikot and Dolpa.
With 20 poems, the book makes for an interesting read; and the addition of acrylic pictures by Pallav Ranjan on every opposite page assists the charming imagery used by the poet. Sun and Fire, Who We Are, Timelessness and Rebirth are some of the subtly delightful poems, which despite rich descriptions and vivid sensory imagery, are beautiful in simplicity.
One common factor is that most poems end in suspense, ending but not quite finishing. Something is usually left to happen, but this does not lessen the book’s charm.
In the words of Matthias Moyerseon, director of SNV Nepal, “this work of tradition” focuses on the most backward areas of Nepal and hopes to bring much-needed development to them. Nepal’s most rural areas have been portrayed in all their rich traditional glory and the poet has tried to encompass the reality in poetic form.
Different from other poetry and picture books, Sun on the Mountains is fit for all age groups and will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Prepared by Spiny Babler and published by SNV Nepal, it commemorates the silver jubilee of SNV in Nepal.