Book Reviews : Sociology of Nepal explained


Book: Essays on the Sociology of Nepal

Publisher: Fine Print

Price: Rs 450

Pages: 366

Essays on the Sociology of Nepal, a collection of 15 thought-provoking essays and four book reviews, has raised several questions on our feudal and centralised state system. The essays, though some of them written over a period of 25 years, have still not lost their relevance as the core issues of Nepali society, in the last three decades, have not changed radically.

The book, authored by eminent social scientist Dr Chaitanya Mishra and published by Fine Print, peeps into the social dynamics of development, foreign aid, growth, Maoist movement and last year’s April movement. Nepal has, for long, resisted the inevitable

socio-political change giving ground to an armed Maoist movement and the author has put in his hard labour to dig these very issues that led to the transition of power.

The book presents an array of analytical essays like Locating the Causes of the Maoists Struggle, Nepal: Five years following the Social Summit, The New Push for Privatisation that revolve around the social, political and economical changes of Nepali society.

Essays... start with an essay on political transition in Nepal. Over the period of the last decade, Nepal has witnessed the resistance to socio-economic injustice in many forms; from passive resistance to armed retaliation, fuelling the deep-rooted class-hatred in the rural Nepali psyche further. The essay, based on the April movement and the changes it brought and challenges it has to face, tries to analyse the contradictions of ideas among the key players, their faith and correlation.

Foreign Aid and Social Structure: Note on intrastate relationship, an essay co-written with Pitambar Sharma during the sixth Five-Year plan presents the deeply disturbing fact of the benefits of foreign aid and its impact in the widening the gap between the upper class and under class.

The author gently questions the benefits Nepal has been getting from foreign aid. “The upper social classes of such countries derive the major benefits from foreign aided development,” the essay sums up highlighting the relationship between foreign aid and class structure; production and distribution system, the power structure and the ideological framework. “It has helped towards the creation of a parasite primate city and centralisation of power,” claims the essay.

The essay concludes that the national interest and priority could be overlooked. The author does not mention any special case but Melamchi could be a case study not only to scrutinise foreign aid politics but also to seriously review the government’s policy.

The book also clarifies the misconception that resource and development are related. At least in the case of Nepal, resource could not help develop the country. On one hand the countries in the world have lagged because of the resource-crunch and on the other,

Nepal could not manipulate its vast resources.

Though the essays are lengthy, readers can benefit form the insight of the author on socio-cultural-economical dynamics of Nepali society and the contemporary issues.

While urban Nepal is walking hand-in-hand with modern times, rural Nepal has been left far

behind — a century or more to be precise.

Development pundits may not agree with this fact, but once they go through the book, they will not have any choice but to accept it.