Demystifying myth of peaceful Nepal


Contentious Politics and democratization in Nepal — edited by Mahendra Lawoti, an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science in the Western Michigan University, USA — has raised several questions on our feudal and centralised state polity and highlighted the most contentious issues.

The volume has tried to demystify the myth of ‘a peaceful Nepal’. It focuses on identity struggle vis-à-vis Maoists insurgency its

causes and effects, violent and non-violent movements and social exclusion that has subsequently fuelled the gender and identity movements.

Nepal, according to Harka Gurung, was brought together territorially by the Gorkha conquest but it has not been unified psychologically and economically even after more than two centuries. And Lawoti blames caste-based Hindu hierarchical order for this discrimination and exclusion.

The book has a dozen articles — on democracy, role of stakeholders in democratisation process, relation and effect between social movement and political parties, ethnic nationalism and Maoists Insurgency — contributed by a range of journalists to scholars from different parts of the world.

The volume is divided into five parts and the first part gives an account of different social and economical sectors and their exploitation by a small elite class. The second part has covered the Maoists insurgency.

Li Onesto, a journalist, has in The Evolution of Maoist Revolution in Nepal in an Adverse International Environment credited the Maoists’ growth to largely broad strategy developed by Mao half a century ago. Had only Nepali Maoists followed Mao, and were there not social exclusion and huge disparity in Nepali society, could the violent movement succeed? Maoists have also accepted the fact that different actors have played different roles in the growth of Maoists.

The third part is on identity politics. This part delves into the issues of diverse ethnic communities that have become the scapegoat and are largely manipulated. The rising number of militant groups in Tarai in the name of liberalising Tarai in recent days is an example of how they are manipulated.

There is yet another face of identity politics, which the editor knowingly or unknowingly, has missed. It would have been better if the book had separate chapter on the struggle between Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha and Chure-Bhawar Ekata Samaj.

Similarly, fourth part deals with the rights of people to protest in democracy. But there has always been confusion in Nepali society as it never learnt to respect other’s right while exercising one’s right to protest.

The fifth part concludes that neither the social cohesions and demoralisation of society nor the continuous breaching of law and order will strengthen the democracy. Democracy can only be strengthened in a just society. Peace without justice will definitely uproot the democracy.

Contentious Politics and democratisation in Nepal aims to communicate the

experiences and perceptions of the social political contradictions in Nepal. Nepali

society is undergoing a massive transformation, something that is yet to be realised. The book touches upon the root causes of our present social malaise and also gives us a chance for serious introspection.