Day 2: 23 July

Home / Panels/Sessions 2015 / Day 2: 23 July

2015

Social Science Baha organised The Fourth Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya in partnership with Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, Britain-Nepal Academic CouncilCentre for Himalayan Studies-CNRS

Day 2: 23 July (Thursday)
SESSION 5: 9 – 10:30 am
HALL A 
HALL B 
Panel A5
Panel B5
Societal Conflict and Post-Conflict Trends
Chair: Meena Poudel 
Policy and Programme Advisor, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) 
Chair: Jeevan Raj Sharma 
Lecturer in South Asia and International Development, University of Edinburgh
Meena Acharya
Senior Advisor
SAHAVAGI
The National Market Under a Federal System, Ensuring Equal Playing Field for Women
Prakash Bhattarai
PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Effectiveness of Third-Party Coordination in Conflict Resolution: Evidence from Nepal
Madhuri Rana Singh
Visiting Faculty, Department of Conflict Peace and Development Studies, Tribhuvan University
Breaking the Silence Shrouding Violence against Women & Girls: Socio-Political Accountability towards Women’s Human Rights
Prabin Nanicha
Shrestha
MA in Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, Tribhuvan University
‘Music for Peace’ Discourse and Local Understanding in Post-Conflict Nepal
Binda Pandey
Deputy Member of ILO Governing Body from Workers’ Group
Participatory Democracy and Federalization of The Country – What does it mean for Feminist Political Agenda
Sandeep Basnyat
PhD student, Department of Tourism, University of Otago, New Zealand
Labour Movements and The Tourism Industry: Do They Have Historical Nexus in Post-Conflict Nepal?
BREAK: 10:30 – 11:00 am
SESSION 6: 11:00 am – 12.30 pm 
HALL A 
HALL B
Panel A6
Cultural Investigations and Politics
Panel B6
Chair: Hari Sharma
Social Science Baha 
Chair: Katharine Rankin 
Professor of Geography, University of Toronto
Ramawatar Yadav
Former Vice-Chancellor, Purbanchal University, Nepal
A Hitherto Undiscovered and Unstudied Hand-Copied Newari Manuscript of a Maithili Bārahamāsā Song Composed by King Jagatprakāśamalla (1643-1673 CE) of Nepal: Preliminary Analysis
Jacob Rinck
Doctoral Student, Socio-cultural Anthropology, Yale University
Land Reform, Social Change and Political Cultures in Nepal’s Tarai
Gerard Toffin
Distinguished Emeritus Director of Research, CNRS, Paris
Politics of Culture and Ethnic Museums in Nepal
Sujit Shrestha
Emory University, USA
Making and Un-making ‘Sukumbasi’: Contestations over Naming in Kathmandu’s Urban Politics
Anne Mocko
Assistant Professor, Concordia College
Who Sees the Sacred Vest? Ritual, Politics, and The Recasting Bhoto Jatra during Nepal’s Interim Period
Amy Leigh Johnson
Doctoral Student, Anthropology, Forestry and Environmental  Studies, Yale University
“Tharu-Pahadi Bhaai Bhaai”: Imagining Federalism in Sundar Sudurpaschim
LUNCH BREAK: 12:30 – 1:30 pm
SESSION 7: 1:30 – 3:00 pm
HALL A
HALL B
Panel A7
Panel B7
Identity Politics: Old and New
Chair: Yogesh Raj 
Martin Chautari
Chair: Sambriddhi Kharel
Social Science Baha 
Birat Ghimire
Universal Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd
Sambeg Panthi
Pokhara University
Policy of Repair: MHP Development in Nepal
Shyam Krishna Shrestha
Consultant Country Coordinator, Terre des hommes Germany Southasia Program
Anita Shrestha
PhD Scholar, Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur
Identity Issue of Dhaugoda Newar after Unification of The Bhaktapur Kingdom in Nepal
Nischal Regmi
An Insight into ICT’s Energy Consumption and its Implications
Krishna P. Adhikari
Research Fellow,
Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford
David Gellner
Chair, Britain-Nepal Academic Council
New Identity Politics and the 2012 Collapse of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly: When The Dominant becomes ‘Other’
Harsha Man Maharjan
Researcher, Media Research Unit, Martin Chautari
Rise and fall of High Level Information Technology Commission in Nepal
Kumar Khadka
PhD Student, International Conflict Management Program, Kennesaw State University, Georgia 
Contemporary Identity Politics in Nepal: the Madhes Uprising and Their Rise as one of the Major Players in National Politics
BREAK: 3 – 3:30 pm
SESSION 8: 3:30 – 5:00 pm
HALL A 
HALL B 
Panel A8
Citizen and the State
Panel B8
Chair: Mahendra Lawoti 
Professor of Political Science,
Western Michigan University
Chair: Tanka Subba
Vice-Chancellor, Sikkim University 
Prapanna Maskey
Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur
Issues and Impact of Social Security and Citizenship on Nepali Society 
Pramod Bhatta
Director of Research, Education Research Unit, Martin Chautari, Kathmandu
Affiliation as Privatization: Trajectories of University Expansion in Nepal   
Khem Shreesh,
Sanjay Sharma &
Rooja Bajracharya
Independent Researchers
‘Numbering of the people’: 100 Years of Census in Nepal and National Discourse
Devendra Uprety,
Pratyoush Onta,
Lokranjan Parajuli
Martin Chautari, Kathmandu
How Not to Make New Universities
Pawan Kumar Sen
Interdisciplinary Analysts,
Patan Dhoka, Lalitpur
Nepal’s Transformation from Monarchism to Republicanism: In Views of General Public
Pratyoush Onta,
Krishna Adhikari,
Lokranjan Parajuli,
Devendra Uprety
Martin Chautari, Kathmandu
Ramesh Rai
Tribhuvan University
BREAK: 5-5:30 pm
PUBLIC PANEL SESSION: 5:30 pm
HALL B
Panelists:
Bhaskar Gautam
Martin Chautari
Mallika Shakya
South Asian University
Austin Lord
Cornell University
Jeevan Baniya
Social Science Baha
Earthquake 2015 and Social Scientists: Reflections from the Field and Afar
Moderator:  David Gellner, University of Oxford 
This panel discussion was partially supported by The Asia Foundation

Abstracts

Panel: Nepal in transformation – changing women’s roles and responsibilities
Panel Organizer: Meena Acharya, Madhuri Rana Singh and Binda Pandey 

Panel Abstract: The panel will have three papers, focusing on women’s movement since the Beijing Conference on Women, 1995, achievements, current and agenda and future directions, in the context of the restructuring of the state and the society.

go back


Paper 1: The National Market under a Federal System, Ensuring Equal Playing Field for Women
Meena Acharya, Team Leader, UN Women 

Paper Abstract: The paper stars with a review of what women of Nepal have achieved, in terms of economic empowerment and capabilities, factors that have played positive or negative role in this progress, and analyzes the current challenges in ensuring equal playing field to women of various social groups in the market economy, that Nepal is sure to follow. There have been significant public and non-government sector investment in Nepal in the last 20-25 years to increase women’s access to education and health facilities because of which HDI improved from 0.416 in 1991 to 0. 540, GDI improved from 0.312 to 0.912[1].  Women have gained much in terms of education and health, and income as well. Female/ Male earned income ratio in terms of Purchasing Power Parity$ has also jumped from 1/3 in 1995 to 0.727 in 2014.  However, women workers are still more concentrated than men in the subsistence agriculture and at lower ladders of non-agricultural employment. They overwhelming work in the non-formal sector.  Social norms which accord priority to their marriage restrict their mobility and make them entirely responsible for household work, increasing gender based violence (GBV), although decreasing but still significant lag in educational attainments, present formidable barriers to their career development in the professional field as elsewhere in south Asia. Unequal inheritance laws and practices further restrict their access to economic resources for personal development and gainful employment. More important these gains have not been distributed equitably across women of all social groups, regions and areas of Nepal.

Historically, economic and social policies have been made at the center, which appled to the whole country. These may not have percolated effectively to the grass roots level, but they are there as a reference point. In the past, the Nepali state has been liberal towards women, in the last two decades, formally accepting international standards of gender equality and need for empowerment of women, except in the case of citizenship rights. But federalization of the country, will divide this state power between the center and the states. How will various states exercise this power becomes an issue for women. Will the freedoms and facilities granted to women vary according to the philosophy of the political party? Will we have different legal frameworks which govern our lives? How can   substantive equality for all women be guaranteed across all states? The paper ponders over these questions and tries to assess the future scenario, from the review of current drafts of various parts of the constitution that have been agreed upon.

Key words: gender equality and women’s empowerment; substantive and formal equality; federalization; division of power; equal playing field in the market.

go back


Paper 2: Breaking the Silence Shrouding Violence against Women: Socio-Political Accountability towards Women’s Human Rights
Madhuri Rana Singh, Visiting Faculty, Department of Conflict Peace and Development Studies, Tribhuvan University 

Paper Abstract: “ …Utherabole hawa le lagthyo- basera bole musa le sunthyo” meaning “…if I stood up and spoke the wind took away my voice and if I sat down only the mouse heard …” “…from thinking of it as our ‘fate’ to tolerate violence we now know it is our ‘right’ to live a life free of violence…”“…After tolerating four months of eccentric and physical behavior of my ex-husband, my parents realized all was not good. Family members tried to mediate the situation but I finally opted for divorce, otherwise I would either be dead or in a mental asylum by now…”Expressions from eighty four year old, forty two year old and twenty six year old women respectively reflect the changing perception and mindset of women towards violence against women (VAW).

The paper highlights the menace of VAW universally and in Nepal. Even to this day, society attributes blame to the female victims for provocation or inviting violence upon them by their disobedience and failure as a wife or infidelity.[4]VAW at the family level, community and by State was considered as ‘women’s only’ issue. Physical, emotional, traditional practices harmful to women, social and cultural norms and economic deprivation, were considered as corrective measures, further sanctioned by religious interpretation to put women in their right place. The political transformation of the country to democracy in 1990 and the environment of overall social transformation opened avenues for gender advocates and NGOs to break their silence on this universal menace.  The world conferences on women, especially the Fourth World Conference outcome in the form of Beijing Platform for Action gave momentum for addressing the issue and almost two decades of advocacy, lobbying and persistent struggle by women’s rights groups have culminated in the formulation and amendment of constitutional provisions, laws and policies to address the issue in Nepal. How these gains can be preserved and actions against VAW  at all levels can be strengthened  across  the country , in all federating states given their cultural traditions is an issue at hand, which has been explored  to some extent in this paper. Politicization of crime, patriarchal mindset resulting in unwillingness to treat the issue as a social and development issue, corruption and bad governance are factors restricting women from enjoying their basic human rights as conferred by the UDHR 1947. However, as the movement to be organized and demand for right and justice to victims of violence has started, we can be hopeful that women will be able to enjoy their basic human rights through gender equality. Media played a crucial role in highlighting the issue and to raise awareness regarding fate versus right. Increase in reporting of VAW cases in the police and other relevant institutions, proves that silence shrouding the issue is dissolving and socio political accountability is increasing.

go back


Paper 3: Participatory Democracy and Federalization of The Country – What does it mean for Feminist Political Agenda
Binda Pandey, Deputy Member, ILO

Paper Abstract: Nepal is in transition. Great political change has been happened through people’s movement in 2006, which over through monarchy and established republic Nepal. That movement has established many other agendas relating with social and economical transformation. Main streaming the marginalized groups based on gender, caste, region, ethnicity, class etc. was the mission of the movement. For the reason, federalism, participatory democracy, inclusion, gender equality, secularism, good governance are major agendas in the process and institutionalizing all these issues are in high priority. First step on the institutionalizing process is promulgation of long awaiting new constitution, which is still under drafting process.

From the feminist standpoint all these issues, demand something different meaning. Women have not been recognized as fully independent citizen by state. Discrimination between father and mother in regards to producing citizen identity of children is one of the examples of this. Every person including man and woman should depend on male relatives to produce citizenship card and women have kept away from right to descent.

Women are in majority as population, but they have been subordinated and marginalized and kept in distance from decision-making. All state mechanism relating with policy-making and law formulation, is still being mono-sex dominated. Changing the context and gender balancing and sensitizing the state mechanism and citizen’s attitude is crucial to achieve substantive equality through functional participatory democracy with feminist perspective. Accepting the concept of diversity within women, abolition of caste system and mainstreaming the diversified peripheral groups is heart of the inclusive democracy.

Nepalese society is deeply influenced by patriarchal norms and values. Women have been commoditized. For instance, women are not free even to keep their own identity and address consistent. Somebody-else decide for her present and future. They are notfree to choose their profession. Violence against women is big problem. They are not safe even within family and by relatives. Rather creating conducive environment to make them safe and confident, society blame her back and state ask her to proof the incident with evident.  Minimize the patriarchy influence to make state and society gender sensitive in action is big responsibility for the feminist movement.

State power should be de-centralized to bring the governance close to people fairly. In the process women should be equally part of the every mechanism and step to make forward-looking change with feminist perspective. For the time being state should follow affirmative action program in the area, where women’s participation is in scarce.

In conclusion, promoting participation with quality and change in attitude and behavior of all including individual citizen upto state mechanism is necessary to achieve feminist agenda in the process of entering into federalism as well as institutionalizing functional and participatory democracy in the process of social transformation.

Key words: Participation, Federalism, gender equality, Democracy

go back


Effectiveness of Third-Party Coordination in Conflict Resolution: Evidence from Nepal
Prakash Bhattarai,
PhD, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand 

Abstract: To what extent does third-party coordination contribute substantially to conflict resolution? While the strategies mentioned in the existing conflict management literature focus on the fact that third parties should be coordinated to make them effective in intervention processes, they do not address how such coordination strategies have contributed to conflict resolution in actual practice. In the light of this research gap, and drawing upon the case of the Maoist armed conflict and peace process of Nepal,the focus of this paper is to provide empirical justifications of coordination strategies from two perspectives: coordination success and coordination effectiveness. The coordination success component evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of certain third-party coordination processes in conflict resolution efforts. The coordination effectiveness component assesses the actual contribution to conflict resolution of different coordinated actions taken by third parties.

This research suggests that effectiveness of third-party coordination should not be evaluated only on the basis of certain actions and strategies adopted by the third parties in the course of conflict intervention. Rather, one must ask how certain coordinated efforts have actually contributed to the peace process; only this can inform us about actual coordination effectiveness. Third-party coordination success is only a first step towards coordination effectiveness. Coordination success provides a motivation for third parties to get involved in actual intervention efforts, helps them to come up with better intervention strategies, and clarifies their roles. It also contributes to make the peace process organize, durable, and discipline.

This research further suggests that third-party interveners’ coordination is often a one-off event in armed conflicts and peace processes. Thus, its contribution to peace processes can only be measured on the basis of a particular case, or limited to discrete issues rather than the broader peace process. Likewise, the identity of the third parties and their acceptability to the conflicting parties, the nature of disputes, and the characteristics of mediators are also found to be quite relevant for influencing the occurrence and outcome of third-party coordination. Specifically, the role of a lead agency and the inclusion of powerful third parties in the coordination process is quite important for obtaining positive outcomes in the peace process. Other findings of this research suggest that intervention efforts where both local and external third parties are involved are more effective than the involvement of only local or only external third parties. This research also suggests that some of the intervention efforts in Nepal were successful only because of third-party collaborative efforts; some of their contributions are blurred with other national political processes; some of them were only successful because of higher emphasis given by the conflicting parties. Third-party coordination has also been effective in terms of its contribution to putting many third parties ‘on the same page’ regarding particular aspects of the peace process. In order to achieve the broader goal of lasting peace, third parties’ coordinated efforts need to be supplemented by other factors, such as the conflicting parties’ efforts and sincerity, spoiler management during the negotiation and post-agreement processes, and the meaningful people’s participation in the peace process.

go back


‘Music for Peace’ Discourse and Local Understanding in Post-Conflict Nepal
Prabin Nanicha Shrestha, MA in Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, Tribhuvan University

Abstract: Peace-building initiatives in many post-conflict societies have used music as a powerful tool to foster and promote peace-building activities. These initiatives are often supported by I/NGOs who are influenced by ‘Music for Peace’ discourse. This discourse is founded on the belief that music has a ‘transformative’ power to bring positive changes in values and behavior of people. In Nepal, ‘Music for peace’ discourse gained popularity during the post-conflict period when many I/NGOs started activities such as peace concerts and ‘music education for peace’ targeted at the local level. However, scholars argue that such peace-building initiatives at local level have not been adequately studied to examine local people’s understanding and engagement in such programs. In this context, this paper takes the example of a music education program in a village in Udaypur district to understand local people’s experiences and assessment of the program, and to determine the general efficacy of ‘music for peace’ programs in post conflict societies. The music program, initiated in 2009, is run by a local community school with financial support from an international non-profit organization based on the ‘Music for Peace’ discourse. Based on the study of this particular peace-building initiative, this paper attempts to highlight complexities involved in implementing and practicing a global discourse of peace building at the local level by analysing the local actors’ perspective of the effectiveness of the program and the discourse.

This study is based on qualitative research methods, such as participant observation and in-depth interviews with music students, music teachers, parents, and organizers of the music program. The initial findings show that music students, music teachers, parents, and the organizers have different understanding and assessment of the program based on their social location, subjective experiences and expectations. Despite these differences, they realise the need of local ownership and sustainability of the program and explicitly state that the international discourse is suitable and desirable in the local Nepali context. However, although the international organization ultimately plans to handover the program to the local community, the lack of assurance of local support and institutional capacity by the local committee has raised questions over the continuity and sustainability of the program. In presenting these findings, this paper argues that a global discourse of peace-building at the local level should be examined from a community level by examining the local interpretations and experiences involved in practicing an international discourse within a limited local context. The evidence strongly indicates that although the many local actors involved in the practice, organising, and running the program share an understanding and appreciation of the ‘Music for Peace’ discourse, there are serious questions regarding the material resources, practical limitations, and the sustainability of the program once the international organisation passes the program to the local community.

Therefore, this paper concludes that any study of a peace-building initiatives influenced by a global discourse should consider how local interpretations affect the continuity and sustainability of local initiatives based on a macro discourse that may neglect the conditions and ability of the local people to sustain the program on a micro level.

go back


Labour movements and the tourism industry: Do they have historical nexus in Post-conflict Nepal?
Sandeep Basnyat, PhD student, Department of Tourism, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Abstract: Post-conflict Nepal is politically and socially fragile, and retains the roots of conflicts emanating from its history. On the other hand, the lack of uniformity between the theory and the practice of regulation and organization of the trade union movements has sustained effects on the industrial relations in the tourism industry of Nepal. What is the interlinking nexus between these two factors? Earlier work by Paul Edwards (2003) presented a model to analyse the industrial relations by examining the interrelationships among employees’ representatives, employers, employees and the state. The engagement of the trade unions with the employees are related to the organization and mobilization of the employees’ demands; whereas, their involvement with the employers and the state are related to taking part in collective bargaining, and legislation making and lasting accommodations.

Based on Edwards’s framework, this paper examines the factors attributable to have shaped the trade union movements within the tourism industry in post conflict Nepal. Drawing largely from the published reports, journalistic articles, and a few research studies, it focuses on the examination of the interrelationship between the trade unions’ activities and the contemporary political, social, cultural and legal contexts since the early 1990s. The early findings indicate that the trade union movements in the tourism industry in post conflict Nepal has not only been influenced with the aim of securing political power, but also maintaining social harmony, including providing transitional justice and managing post-conflict emotions. Based on these early findings, the paper argues that the examination of the labour movements in the tourism industry in post conflict societies such as Nepal is inadequate with the existing industrial relations framework and suggests two additional factors for incorporations.

In the context, where several post-conflict societies consider tourism as one of the main economic activities, the study is expected to inform the consequences and the effects of the development of relationship between labour politics and tourism, and contribute to the scarce literature on industrial relations and tourism in post conflict societies.

go back


A Hitherto Undiscovered and Unstudied Hand-Copied Newari Manuscript of a Maithili Bārahamāsā Song Composed by King Jagatprakāśamalla (1643-1673 CE) of Nepal: Preliminary Analysis
Ramawatar Yadav, Former Vice Chancellor of Purbanchal University (2007-2011)

Abstract: By account it is estimated that hand-written Manuscripts of a total of 153 dramas (26-30 in Newari; 5-6 in Bangla and Braj Bhāsā/Avadhi/Hindi; and more than 115 in Maithili) and a host of collections and/or anthologies of Maithili verse compositions penned by Newar kings of Nepālamandala in Newari script are stored and preserved in the National Archives of the Government of Nepal in Kathmandu. This paper begins with a state-of-the-art historical overview of a meager number of such highly invaluable literary works published thus far across the globe and moves on to provide information on poet-king Jagatprakāśamalla’s life and works based on historical documents and inscriptions.

Bārahamāsā ‘song of the twelve months’ is an extraordinarily popular and prototypical genre of poetry – folk or literary, secular or devotional, but essentially highly romantic and intensely emotional – in a number of New Indo-Aryan languages, including Maithili. Maithili bārahamāsā songs constitute an opulently rich heritage of an impressive oral literary tradition par excellence. Most bārahamāsā are, what is called, virahabārahamāsā; in other words, they tend to express an ardent and anguished longing for reunion of a wife with her separated husband. The acute pain of separation described therein is pitched against the background of a highly moving description of nature’s (i.e. season’s) face aggravating the pain of separation during each month of the year. However, the present cluster of bārahamāsā songs makes a clear departure from the literary convention in that it is written demonstrably to commemorate the untimely demise of Jagatprakāśamalla’s life-long and dear friend Candraśesarasimha and to express deep sorrow and pain of separation as well as to extol his fine attributes and glorious deeds.

Stating that the present hand-copied Newari Ms of the bārahamāsā songs composed by Jagatprakāśamalla in c. 1662 CE may claim to be the oldest extant text of the Maithili bārahamāsā songs to date, the paper presents a preliminary analysis of this autochthonous genre of Maithili folk-poetry.

Finally, the main question that raises itself is: Is the genre of bārahamāsā poetry an autochthonous form, or is it derived from some other source? It is commonly held that the earliest form of a bārahamāsā song may owe its origin to rtuvarnana ‘the portrayal of a season’ and sadrtuvarnana ‘the portrayal of six seasons’ depicted in the Rg Veda and the Vedic Samhitās, the great epics of Classical Sanskrit – the Rāmāyana and the Mahābhārata, and particularly in Kālidāsa’s Rtusamhāra that describes the six seasons of the Indian Calendar in sufficient detail. Nevertheless, basing himself on a strict scrutiny of a host of texts of the folk-poetry and literature of Bengal, Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, and Tamilnad, Zbavitel (1961: 615) has arrived at a succinct and credible conclusion: “At present, it seems most probable that the Baromasi [bārahamāsā] existed in the folk-poetry of India in a very remote past, that it was preserved by oral tradition and that it spread all over India, developing in each of its numerous national and tribal literatures in a different way.” Based on the above firm assertion of Zbavitel’s, Maithili bārahamāsā songs too ought to be viewed as an autochthonous genre of the Maithili oral folk-poetry.

go back


Politics of culture and ethnic museums in Nepal
Gérard Toffin, Emeritus Research Professor, CNRS (France)

Abstract: In Nepal the history of museums does not go back very far. It dates back to 1939 with the opening to the public of a collection of arms and other trophies at the residence of Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa. This museum, commonly known as Chauni Silkhana, subsequently became the Nepal Museum (Rashtriya sangrahalaya). From 1951 onwards, several national museums and art galleries opened, most of which were housed in the precincts of the three former royal palaces of Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Kathmandu, and at archaeological sites. These museums came under the Ministry of Culture and their aim was to preserve and display to the general public cultural vestiges of the past. They have contributed to a general movement towards the patrimonialization (the process of turning cultural features into a people’s heritage) of Nepalese culture.

More recently, since 1990 to be precise, ethnic museums have been in vogue. The emergence of these types of museums has followed on from the return of democracy and the adoption of a new multicultural policy in the country as a model of governance. There have so far been few ethnic museums in Nepal. However, a number of them are currently being built more or less based on a model that has already been experimented in India and in other countries of South-East Asia. Each museum plans to showcase items of material and symbolic local life and to establish an ethnic heritage at a time when the future of these minorities is threatened by modernization and globalization. Examples such as the Ethnic Community Indigenous Museum of Lalitpur (Bhola Ganesh), which was built and is managed by Jyapu Samaj, and NNEM, the Nepali National Ethnographic Museum (Nepal Rashtriya Jatiya Sangrahalya) sponsored by the Nepal Tourism Board, and located in Brikuti Mandap (Kathmandu), are worth a mention.

The study of these ethnic museums, —researching the way they were created, how the objects were collected, who the museums belong to, investigating techniques for displaying artefacts, the use of mannequins, the narratives they illustrate, the links with the Janajati/Adivasi movement, — are thrilling issues that have been overlooked. These questions have to be scrutinized forthwith since these institutions play a major role in reinforcing collective identities and new forms of indigenousness. Ethnic museums provide groups with greater visibility and forms of recognition in the new socio-political landscape. The process of strengthening a group’s heritage therefore has a political purpose, which needs to be taken into account and investigated. It is also important to analyse the specific modes of remembrance that are utilized and the transformation of a living culture into an objectivised, fossilized and, in some ways, essentialized heritage.

These new museums undoubtedly reveal a feeling of nostalgia. Yet do they portray a necrology of the past or is new life instilled in the exhibits? It is also important to understand the role of global models, especially those established or advocated by UNESCO regarding these matters. It is hoped that this study will help to decipher how native Janajati people strive to adapt to modern society and how they juggle with different patterns of knowledge and historicity that stem from a patrimonialization of culture. In broader terms, the key issues here are: how a cultural heritage is being constructed, how it is produced, what the history of a group becomes in these patrimonial discourses.

go back


Who Sees the Sacred Vest? Ritual, Politics, and the Recasting Bhoto Jatra during Nepal’s Interim Period
Anne Mocko, Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS); Committee for the Study of Religions of India (CSRI); American Academy of Religion (AAR) 

Abstract: For 240 years, Nepal was ruled as a Hindu kingdom under a Hindu king from the Shah dynasty. The government was administered under widely divergent political configurations across this time, and the country was administered alternately by the king himself, by successions of prime ministers, by Shah family regents, or by Rana hereditary rulers. What varied much less was how the government was performed in the contexts of state-level ritual. In these contexts, regardless of who held the lal mohar or administered the tax structure, the king was annually performed to be the center of power and the pinnacle of the state.

The ritual identity of the king rested on a variety of annual events, from Indra Jatra to Dasai to Basanta Shrawan to Shiva Ratri to Bhoto Jatra. Bhoto Jatra is the annual conclusion of the chariot festival of Rato Machhindranath in Patan. Bhoto Jatra (like Indra Jatra) formed part of the Shahs’ ceremonial inheritance from the conquered Malla rulers of the Kathmandu Valley, and annually involved the king and major representatives of the government congregating in Jawalakhel to witness the displaying of the spangled vest (bhoto) from the four corners of Rato Machhindranath’s chariot.

In 2006, however, the second Janandolan brought down the direct government of King Gyanendra, and the Interim Government put in to replace it began targeting all the practices that had sustained the monarchy for generations. For the two years of the Interim Period, from the Janandolan in April 2006 through the legal dissolution of the monarchy in May 2008, the Interim Government progressively detached the king from the practices of kingship—ranging from the right to convene parliament and appoint diplomats, to the right to lead the army, to the appearance on all national currency, to the performance of royal ritual.  In 2007, the Interim Government redefined the prime minister’s role to encompass both head of government and head of state, and started sending the prime minister to perform the king’s roles at all public ritual events.

This new strategy was first implemented at Bhoto Jatra, the first major public ritual of the king’s annual calendar. Because of the experimental nature of this move in 2007, the negotiations were unusually complex and important, and succeeded in setting the administration’s procedures and strategies for the remainder of the Interim Period.

This paper lays out the history of Bhoto Jatra, and explains the performance of royal ideology through monarchy’s involvement with the god Rato Machhindranath. It then traces the ways Bhoto Jatra was performed during the Interim Period in 2006 and 2007, paying particular attention to the ways Bhoto Jatra intersected with other major events in the demotion of the king and the ways that the Interim Government negotiated and implemented the ritual’s ‘recasting’ in 2007. It then concludes by explaining the ways Bhoto Jatra has settled, since 2008, into post-royal realities.

go back


Panel: Land and Politics in Nepal: Anthropological Investigations
Panel Organizer: Pauline Limbu, Jacob Rinck, Sujit Shretha, and Amy Leigh Johnson

Panel Abstract: The divide between nature and culture is demolished in anthropology. Rather than continue to view nature as a backdrop or resource for human meaning making, scholars today move to consider the complicated ways nature is imbricated in the creation of systems of value and the formation of social experience. Inherently, the selection of value and meaning from environmental entanglements entails a political choice. This panel brings together four current anthropology graduate students whose research focuses on questions of the relationship between land and the state in Nepal. Through an array of ethnographic, historical, and discursive methods, the panelists demonstrate the ways the concept of land can be used analytically to approach topics of national interest, including citizenship, land reform, state infrastructure, and federalism. Various anthropological subfields inform the panelists’ diverse interests, and the panel serves as a review of the recent theoretical contributions of political anthropology, the anthropology of space and place, the anthropology of development, environmental anthropology, new materialism, and the anthropology of planning, as well as their applications to the study of contemporary Nepal. With this panel, the panelists aspire to invigorate lively scholarship on facets of human-environment relationships, and their political resonances.

go back


Paper 1: Land reform, social change and political cultures in Nepal’s Tarai
Jacob Rinck, Yale University 

Paper Abstract: This paper examines aspects of Nepal’s changing political economy by tracing the relationship between political elites and agrarian structures in the central Tarai since the first democratic revolution in 1950. Based on a review of existing literature on land reform and land distribution, as well as ethnographic material from Dhanusha district gathered during 2013 summer research, it tentatively argues that the political importance of land decreased significantly over the three decades of Panchayat rule between 1960 and 1990. In the 1940s and 1950s, land was the major economic and political resource; all top political leaders at the time came from landlord families. After the introduction of a land ceiling in 1964, however, access to patronage resources distributed through the royal palace, and later the democratic government, in Kathmandu seems to have become much more important. This change manifests itself in the social background of national level leaders from Dhanusha in the 1990s, as leaders from middle-caste, middle-peasant backgrounds started successfully challenging candidates from older elites in elections. These observations challenge interpretations of Nepal’s 1964 land reform as unsuccessful; re-distributive effects in the short run may have been limited, but it does seem to have led to a significant decline of the value of land as form of political capital, and may have contributed to the opening up of political space in the long run.

go back


Paper 2: Making and Un-making ‘Sukumbasi’: Contestations over Naming in Kathmandu’s Urban Politics
Sujit Shrestha, Emory University 

Paper Abstract: This paper examines the concerted erasure of the word ‘sukumbasi’ by governmental and nongovernmental agencies in the context of Kathmandu’s urban politics, linking it to a process of de-politicization of a land-rights based movement. This paper argues that sukumbasi identity and political agendas are deeply rooted in issues of land reform and ownership. ‘Sukumbasi’ refers to both a population of people as well as a recognized physical space claimed and inhabited by the group. Starting 1998, sukumbasi groups began to organize under an umbrella organization whose primary objective was to obtain titles (lalpurja) for its sukumbasi constituents. Their slogan – “Bhumisaahitko baas adhikar” articulated the radical politics of their movement in no uncertain terms.[5]

Drawing upon ethnographic and archival research, this paper argues that as the sukumbasi movement intensified across the nation, the word ‘sukumbasi’ presented a particular challenge to governmental and nongovernmental agencies. On the one hand, governmental agencies were troubled by the sukumbasi movement’s demands for landrightsand titles. On the other hand, nongovernmental organizations too were anxious todistance themselves from overtly politicized land-rights issues. Building on insights frompolitical anthropology and the anthropology of development, this paper will argue thatthe re-casting of ‘sukumbasi’ as ‘informal settlements’, ‘urban poor’, ‘squatters/squattersettlements’, ‘slums/ slum-dwellers’, etc. by various involved agencies calls for anerosion of the radical demands of the sukumbasi movement. While marginalized urbangroups may contest certain dominant discourses that challenge their political agendas,they are compelled to accept certain organizing themes such as ‘housing/shelter rights’that frame their political interests. By seeking to control the meanings of such framingconcepts governmental and nongovernmental actors maneuver to actively depoliticizesukumbasi agendas, e.g. by rendering sukumbasis as populations in need of certainservices (e.g. housing services) rather than land-rights.

While rapid urbanization continues to accelerate the transformation of physical, social,and political landscapes in Nepal, the benefits of and control over urbanization continueto be unevenly accrued by certain segments of society. By examining particular strugglesover naming and defining ‘sukumbasi’, this paper provides insight into the actualworkings of urban governance to show how certain groups maneuver to cope with andchallenge specific aspects of urban processes. Doing so this paper will reveal definite ways through which certain marginalized urban groups arrive at and contest specific understandings of government, local and national-level politics, and citizenship.

go back


Paper 3: “Tharu-Pahadi Bhaai Bhaai”: Imagining Federalism in Sundar Sudurpaschim
Amy Leigh Johnson, Yale University

Paper Abstract: On the eve of the First Constituent Assembly’s deadline to draft a constitution, a consortium of politicians and civil society groups under the banner Akhanda Sudurpaschim, “Undivided Farwest,” announced a transportation strike across Nepal’s Farwest Development Region that lasted for 32 days. Anxious that the two Tarai districts of the region—Kailali and Kanchanpur—would be separated from the seven Hill districts and consolidated into an ethnic federal state, “Tharuhat,” Akhanda Sudurpaschim supporters demanded the government recognize the entire Farwest Development Region as a single federal province under the principle of “geographic federalism.” In this paper, I address how it became possible for the development region concept to garner sentiment and create territorial attachments in Nepal’s Farwest. Using archival documents and administrative reports describing the planning of the development region model in the 1960s alongside personal fieldnotes collected during my reporting on the Akhanda Sudurpaschim and Tharuhat movements, I explore how a “market-zone”/administrative unit competes beside concepts of indigenous “homeland” for territorial recognition in Nepal’s post-2006 nationalism, suggesting that the ontological divide between the two concepts (market zone/administrative unit and homeland) may be counterproductive to the study of nationalism in its contemporary forms in Nepal.

go back


Panel: Investigating Technology-Society Links in Nepal: An Eclectic Proposition
Panel Organizer: Martin Chautari
Chair: Yogesh Raj, Martin Chautari

 Panel Abstract: The proposed panel will investigate technology-society linkages in Nepal. It aims to be a blueprint for similar productive enquiries into the changes in material and natural endowment of poor societies all over the world. Standard accounts frame the relationship within tools-and-transfer approach, which assumes that technologies (not all, but ‘sexy’ ones thought as typically linked to modernity) were instrumental in bringing revolutionary changes in these societies and that the most fruitful research is the question about dynamics of their introduction and diffusion in the host landscape. The approach suits those modernising elite, which wish to understand the ‘barriers’ and ‘constraints’ in order to remove them and usher their poor fellow countrymen into (post)modern world.

The papers in the panel contrastingly, focus on existing use and not merely on innovation or early diffusion of two technologies of great relevance to Nepal, the micro-hydro (MHP) and the Internet. The latter approaches are indeed of great value as they help us understand the origins of technologies in the Nepali society and with what promises and through what sorts of institutions they were brought into Nepali landscape. The shift in focus, in contrast, helps us bring technology back to the everyday and to the streets, shops and homes, where it truly belongs, from academies and laboratories, where it was imprisoned by the military-industry-bureaucracy complex by today’s analysts.

The first paper on the state and history of the operation of the micro-hydros in Gulmi shows why operation and maintenance costs materially influence the performance of the MHPs, and hence its promised social and economic benefits. The second paper on the rise and the demise of the High Level Commission on Information Technology (HLCIT) shows a centralized and powerful body alone does not ensure technology development in Nepal whose bureaucracy has perhaps organically evolved from a distributed authority, distributed responsibility (dadr) model, and not from a centralised authority, distributed responsibility model (cadr) as the proponents of the HLCIT assumed. The third paper in the panel conducts ethnographic enquiries into the landscape of the major stakeholders of the Internet in Nepal. The paper argues that while mere perception of the major players about a functioning (supposedly) techno-centric future of Nepali society is driving the real and perhaps irreversible changes in the way-of-things, that perception has been built without even preliminary empirical studies of a significant scale.

The papers show how grounded knowledge of the technology-in-use helps develop a critical analysis of the top-down, innovation-driven, techno-centric visions that have characterised much of the technology development in Nepal. Around the papers, the panel will help discuss the following themes:

(a) What sociological and historical approaches can better comprehend the nature of technology-society links in Nepal?

(b) What can the history of institutional landscape that was built for technology-transfer and dissemination tell us about the technology-society interactions in the country?

(c) How will the focus on technology-in-use further the critical reappraisal of the social and economic promises of the ‘new’ technologies?

(d) How should sociologists, anthropologists, historians and technologists proceed to undertake science and technology studies in Nepal?

go back


Paper 1: Policy of Repair: MHP Development in Nepal
Birat Ghimire and Sambeg Panthi, Universal Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd.

Paper Abstract: There are over 3000 MHPs of different size and capacity contributing approximately generating 32 MW of electricity in Nepal. Over the next 20 years, the government wants to expand the share of electricity generated from micro and mini-hydro plants to 15 percent of total electricity demand. The apex government body for promoting the renewable energy technologies in Nepal, the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) wants one MHP every village [1]. In the absence of a national census, both the number and significance of MHPs becomes little unreliable. There are, however, good indicators which suggest that MHPs have brought substantial changes in the quality of life and in the social capital formation in the project sites. Besides, the MHPs have created a whole array of forward and backward linkages in the rural economy, creating a new set of investors, firms, implementing institutions, and end-users.

Yet, our understanding about the state of MHPs in Nepal is fragmentary and, being at best indicative, is inadequate to formulate effective long-term and medium-term policies. The existing knowledge on MHP-use, for instance, is based on generalisations of case studies that are neither proven to be representative of the whole nor conducted with required rigour.

To illustrate, a study has shown that the operation and maintenance (O&M) costs in MHP, expressed as a share of the revenue generated, varies between 33-60% in a medium term (4-14 years). The result was tested against the everyday operation of the 14 MHPs in Gulmi. The findings suggest that O&M costs do turn out to be the largest factor that causes a very low internal rate of return (irr) in the long run. The subsidy, which amounts up to 70% of the initial investment, seems to affect the irr only marginally (from 2% without to 8% with subsidy). These findings, if true across the country, could have major policy implication on first, promotion of the MHPs as attractive financial propositions; second, the effects of subsidies on the MHP project life; third, the structured intervention required to reduce O&M costs; and fourth, the emphasis given on the social consequences of the MHPs.

The crux of the problem is we do not have a comprehensive, real-time picture of the use and operating conditions of the MHPs in Nepal. Much of the existing knowledge on the MHPs is based on anecdotal, unrealistically small and non-representative case studies. The aforementioned study, for instance, utilised data only from three MHPs (out of 3000 MHPs) and estimated the income and expenditure of the units based solely on oral interviews with the owners. Indeed, AEPC’s chief has openly admitted that the institution has no comprehensive knowledge about the operating conditions of the MHPs in Nepal. The problem is the lack of a detailed knowledge of the landscape of the MHP use. Such knowledge will consist of both quantitative and qualitative data on not only use and economy of the MHPs, but also on its governance. Such knowledge is crucial for understanding how energy infrastructures alter the social structures and relations, and are in turn altered by them.

go back


Paper 2: An Insight into ICT’s Energy Consumption and its Implications
Nischal Regmi, Martin Chautari; and Shailesh B. Pandey, Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari 

Paper Abstract: The major components of an ICT infrastructure is hidden to the general public which creates a false perception that the ICT sector is energy efficient and a significant underestimate in its total energy consumption. This work is a preliminary investigation into the energy demand of the Nepali ICT sector. We present a statistical model to analyse the contribution of the ICT sector in the national energy consumption scenario with a specific focus on the telecommunication sector. Although the model leaves out some important dimensions due to lack of publicly available data, the stable regression model can easily be expanded to accommodate new dimensions (indicators). The results show that even with the most lenient assumptions regarding the behaviour of the ICT sector, it is a (statistically) significant consumer of energy. The hidden from public view is aided by the fact that the energy consumption of the present ICT sector is well below the transportation networks. However, the fast rise in prevalence of the personal computing devices (in households and offices) and expansion of communication networks (especially Telecoms) is likely to see ICT play a critical role in the national energy production framework within our lifetime. Globally the technological innovations have managed to reduce the energy consumption in smart technology applications such as power grids and transportation network with each generation. But it is struggling to keep up with the massive demand for greater performance. As with any technology, the solution to the energy problem is socio-technical rather than purely technological. The understanding of the context of energy use is as important as the technology that delivers energy savings. We therefore recommend that an energy audit of the ICT sector along with large scale studies on the context of technology use has to be done simultaneously. These have to precede the wholesale changes portrayed by the dreams of the ICT policy, e-governance master plan and the like1

  1. 1. Readers can see Martin Chautari (2014, 2015) for discussions on ICT policy regime and findings from stakeholders’ interviews.

go back


Paper 3: Rise and fall of High Level Information Technology Commission in Nepal
Harsha Man Maharjan, Researcher, Media Research Unit, Martin Chautari

Paper Abstract: Planners and IT experts usually argue that a high-level, centralized, and powerful body overseeing the IT sector is what required for unleashing the revolutionary power of IT in Nepal. This idea is generally evoked for all sorts of technology development. This paper criticizes this polemic by presenting the story of the rise and fall of High Level Commission for Information Technology (HLCIT) established in Nepal in 2003.

The HLCIT was the apex body formed under the chair of the Prime Minister to provide crucial policy and strategic direction to the Nepali IT sector.  Located at the Prime Minister’s Office, the HLCIT had a powerful vice chair, secretaries of two line ministries (Science and Technology, and Information and Communications), and the President of the Computer Association of Nepal as its members. The HLCIT was active from the beginning. It defined IT agenda in Nepal by preparing the draft of e-governance master plan,  commissioning research, and organizing roundtables with ‘stakeholders’ as well as by establishing tele-centers, standardizing Nepali font, and preparing  the strategic business plan of the IT Park in Kavre. The intense activities of the HLCIT, however, came to an abrupt end when the cabinet meeting on 13 December 2011 decided to dissolve the body. The decision was made despite the protests from the private sector and the related parliament members.

In the meteoric rise and the sudden downfall of HLCIT (2003-2011), it is useful to see that a centralized and powerful body alone does not ensure technology development. I argue in this paper that socio-political aspects of bureaucracy, particularly the way (perceived) power is organized in government bureaucracy, often shape the trajectories of such commissions/institutions irrespective of either the usefulness of the technology in question or the designed efficiency of the high-level institutions.

go back


Identity issue of Dhaugoda Newar after unification of the Bhaktapur Kingdom in Nepal
Shyam Krishna Shrestha,
Consultant Country Coordinator, Terre des hommes Germany Southasia Program; Anita Shrestha, PhD Scholar, Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur 

Abstract: This research explores how Malla Newars families had displaced from Bhaktapur and migrated to Choprang Ramechhap after unification of then Bhaktapur Kingdom in Nepal. Basically three research questions have asked in this research: 1) how did then ruling Malla families displace from the Sukuldhoka Bhaktapur and change Malla surname to Dhaugoda? 2) How did Dhaugoda surname change to Shrestha at Choprang, Ramechhap? 3) Why have they interested to change their surname as Dhaugada again?  The research was based on post modernism world view. Qualitative research methodology was administered and in-depth interview with 10 elder people and group discussions were done. The study reveals that 50 households of Newar have been living at Choprang including 9th generation. They had been migrated here from Sukuldhoka, Bhaktapur after conquest over Bhaktapur by Prithivi Narayan Shah on 17th November, 1769. Then Malla families who did not agree over unification were either brutally killed or hardly survived. Some of them had started selling yoghurt and changed their surname as Dhaugoda so that Shah rural did not detain and kill.  It is believed that they were then Malla ruler’s clan having close linkage with them. Moreover, they never used to sell yoghurt during the Malla regime in Bhaktapur. After dawn of the Shah Regime, they were deprived different ways. Meantime, two Dhaugoda families had migrated to eastern part of valley namely Bhaisepati, Chauri of Kabrepalanchok and one family had migrated to Choprang Ramechhap for getting rid from brutal revenge of the Shah ruler.

Most of the Dhaugoda Newar families living at Choprang started to write Shrestha as surname while Nepal government initiated to provide citizenship. Some of families again migrated to Panauti, Bhaisepati, Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Hanumangunj Bara, Thosey Ramechhap. The families migrated in Kathmandu valley has again started to write Dhaugoda instead of Shrestha. Some families also use to write Dhoju instead of Shrestha and Dhaugoda. The families living at Choprang and migrated other places are still adopted Shrestha as surname. Indeed, the family migrated from Sukuldhoka Bhaktapur had never adopted yoghurt making and selling occupation. Dhaugoda living at Choprang go to Bhaisepati for worshiping “Kulpuja” as some of Dhaugoda families have been living there having own culture through Guthi system.  Due to frequent change in surname, genealogy of the Dhaugoda is controversial. In this context, they have formed a Dhaugoda society as an informal organization for searching identity and have started to interact with each other as common agendas of identity. They have raised identity issues at local level but it has not been come as a vibrant voice. Finally, researchers concluded that then Malla families lost their identity after merging Bhaktapur in Nepal. In nut shell, identity issue comes in ground vibrantly as own dignity when favorable condition comes in any society.

Key words:  Newar, Malla, Dhaugoda, Shrestha, Identity, Post modernism

go back


‘New Identity Politics and the 2012 Collapse of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly: When the Dominant becomes “Other”
Krishna P. Adhikari, Research Fellow,
Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford; David Gellner, Chair, Britain-Nepal Academic Council 

Abstract: This paper explores the politicization of ethnicity in Nepal since 1990. In particular it looks at how ideas of indigeneity have become increasingly powerful, leading to Nepal becoming the first and to date only Asian country to have signed ILO 169. The rise of ethnic politics, and in particular the rise of a new kind of ethnicity on the part of the ‘dominant’ groups, Bahuns (Brahmans) and Chhetris (Kshatriyas), is the key to understanding why the first Constituent Assembly in Nepal ran out of time and collapsed at the end of May 2012, despite four years and four extensions of time, following historic and unprecedentedly inclusive elections in April 2008 and a successful peace process that put an end to civil war.

go back


Contemporary Identity Politics in Nepal: the Madhesh Uprising and Their Rise as one of the Major Players in National Politics
Kumar Khadka, PhD Student, International Conflict Management Program, Kennesaw State University, Georgia, USA

Abstract: Nepal, one of the underdeveloped counties of South Asia with a population of 26.5 million, used to be a zone of peace. But the recent history of Nepal is full of violent political upheavals. Within the last two decades Nepal experienced some violent political uprisings. After a decade long brutal Maoists insurgency in Nepal, Madhesh (also known as the “Terai” region of Nepal, touches the border of India in the western, eastern and southern region of Nepal) launched a violent political campaign called ‘Madhesh Uprising’ in 2007 demanding complete regional autonomy, rights of self-determination, and a single Madhesh province (Ek Madhesh Ek Pradesh). The Madhesh uprising not only took lives and damaged properties, it also disturbed the ethnic harmony and social cohesion in Madhesh. Millions of Madheshis (the inhabitants of Madhesh who are basically Maithali and Bhojpuri speaking population) actively took part in this movement against the government and mainstream political parties. The whole Madhesh become more aware and united. As a result, political parties registered from Madhesh for the 2008 constituent assembly election secured majority votes from Madhesh and became the fourth and fifth largest political parties in Nepal’s first constituent assembly. They changed the political landscape. The mainstream political parties were forced to choose Madheshi candidates in the presidential election. What happened next became the history in Nepalese contemporary politics. The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal got its first president and vice-president from Madhesh with few milestone political as well as legislative changes.

The Madhesh uprising came as a total surprise and shocked national as well as international actors who have been working for Nepal’s peace process after the Maoist insurgency. The Madhesh uprising was different than the Maoists insurgency and happened after the comprehensive peace agreement between the Maoist and the government of Nepal. The Maoist insurgency was more a class struggle, while the Madhesh uprising was clearly an ethnic and racial rebellion. The Madhesh uprising established Madheshi nationalism as a significant part of the emerging ethnic and political landscape of Nepal. Analyzing the historical, socio-economic development, and the contemporary politics of Nepal, this paper argues that the Madhesh uprising was an inevitable outcome of a deep-rooted discrimination based on identity and ethnicity. This paper shows how the deep-rooted discrimination based on identity and ethnicity generates violence. The result of this paper supports the claim that deep-rooted social discrimination generates violence and political unrest. This paper also shows how issues of identity and ethnicity can be used for political purpose.

Key words: Madhesh Uprising, Identity Conflicts, Grassroot Movements, Political Violence, Social Discrimination, Nepal, etc.

go back


Issues and Impact of Social Security and Citizenship on Nepali Society
Prapanna Maskey, Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur

Abstract: Present paper aims to discuss the Issues of Social Security and Citizenship pertaining to an elderly in Nepal. People of Nepal are deprived of social security benefit being devoid of the citizenship certificate. However, genuine and traditional and social and religious Janma Kundali, Chaurashi and Janko System are in existence in Nepal to verify the actual age of the elderly. Under the broad framework of the theory of Welfare state, the paper focused on issues of social security. Paper analyzes whether or not social security scheme in Nepal reflect the norms and values of the welfare state. Furthermore, paper analyze the aspect of micro level pros and cons of social security scheme and trace out systematic way to manage social security and citizenship program. Similarly, paper aims to analyze the spillover impact of social security benefit the family members of the beneficiaries. Paper manifests how social security benefit scheme can be managed to address the changing time and the circumstances. Similarly, paper analyzes how the social security benefit contributes in family integration in the age of capitalism. Applying capital theory of the Bourdieu this paper shows how economic capital enables elderly to gain social capital. Paper even shows how the social security benefits and tax system is interconnected with each other.  Likewise paper directs policy makers to manage social security scheme reflecting the concern of the elderly. Paper analyzes whether the social security scheme is able to ensure social justice in Nepali context.

go back


‘Numbering of the people’: 100 Years of Census in Nepal and National Discourse
Khem Shreesh, Mphil in English (ongoing), Institute of Advanced Communication, Education, and Research Pokhara University; Sanjay Sharma, Consultant, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal 

Abstract: The state in its various avatars through the ages has always tried to keep a count of its citizens, initially for taxation, labour service, and conscription, and ostensibly for formulating policies and development planning. Census is conducted periodically, generally every ten years. From a superficial level, the census is carried out to make a note of the population dispersed all over the country and to record their socio-economic conditions, which reflects the social reality of the nation, but it also actively constructs that reality. It creates that reality through categorisation of and attribution of characteristics to the people. This construction of reality is prompted by and serves the ‘interest of particular historical and/or social context’.

Through this construction of reality, the state and/or its ruling elite have the means of and an idea about its populations. Without this knowledge about the people, the state cannot speak about them; and when it has the information about them, it creates a discourse about them. Because the state is the most informed institution about its citizens, it has the power to design and lead that discourse the way it wants. The state expresses this power mostly through language and behaviour. Foucauldian ‘relationship between power and knowledge, and how the former is used to control and define the latter’ is useful to explain the behaviour of the Nepali state in and during census periods. In the first three censuses, 1911, 1920 and 1930, the state focused on the number of individuals who are able to work [for the state?] (kaam dina sakne). They also enumerated those who were in ‘Moghalaan’. Similarly, the 1921 census specifically asks about the freed slaves who were later settled in Bicha-Khori (current Amlekhgunj).  Furthermore, the state directed outright in the 1941 census regulations that the occupation of women may not be noted. The recent censuses have given special attention to ethnicity and foreign labour migration.

Making a critical discourse analysis of the census questionnaire and census regulations of Nepal over the last 100 years, from 1911 census to 2011 census, the paper attempts to analyse how the state extracts the information it needs from its citizens by using the census. For the purposes of the paper, Foucault’s concept of discourse and power has been considered to analyse all the population census questionnaires of Nepal. A wide array of literature on Nepal’s social, political and economic conditions over the period of time have been analysed to locate the context in which the state designed the questionnaires, used the selective words and phrases to reflect its priorities of the time, enacted regulations and issued instructions on how the censuses were/are carried out. The resulting diachronic overview will give a picture of the Nepali state/society and changes it has undergone.

go back


Nepal’s Transformation from Monarchism to Republicanism: In Views of General Public
Pawan Kumar Sen, Interdisciplinary Analysts, Patandhoka, Lalitpur 

Abstract: This paper, based on longitudinal public opinion surveys conducted between December 2004 and April 2012, argues that though majority of the Nepali people was in the favour of retaining the institution of monarchy till a few months prior to the declaration of republicanism by the first sitting of the Constituent Assembly in May 2008, the majority people (though not by a big margin) have approved the republicanism by April 2012. Analysis of the longitudinal data also helps giving insights on the relationship between political events and public opinions. A large segment of the Nepali populace came to think that monarchy was not necessary after the successful end of the Jan Andolan II in April 2006 because Seven-Party Alliance and the UCPN (Maoist) had already declared abolishing of monarchy after the successful end of the movement. Once the movement was undertaken successfully, this led to lessen ordinary public’s support toward monarchy and increase their support toward republicanism. The surveys data reveal that the agenda of republicanism holds up more to hill caste group, hill indigenous group and hill Dalits than other groups. Tarai indigenous group and Muslims are divided between monarchists and republicans while majority of Madhesi caste group and Madhesi Dalits are still more likely to support the monarchy. But on the whole, more Nepali people are favouring republicanism in these days. Supporters of the UCPN (Maoist) and other small leftist parties have overwhelmingly preferred for a republican state while supporters of the Nepali Congress, CPN (UML) and Tarai based regional parties have moderate support toward republicanism. In contrast, supporters of small rightist parties have tremendous preference toward monarchism. This paper also establishes that the public’s opinion on the issue of secularism and lingualism significantly corroborates to the public’s opinion on the issue of republicanism. Multiple regression analyses confirm that supporters of secularism are more likely to support the republicanism while the supporters of Hinduism are more likely to support the monarchism. On the other, supporters of Nepali language as the only official language are more likely to support the republicanism while the supporters of other languages as the official languages at the local are more likely to support the monarchism. This may be due to the favouritism of Madhesi caste group and Madhesi Dalits toward the monarchism who also want the Nepali state to recognize other languages spoken in the country as the official languages at the local level.

go back


Panel: Engaging with Higher Education Reforms in Nepal
Panel Organizer: Education Research Group, Martin Chautari (MC), Kathmandu
Chair: Tanka Subba, Vice-Chancellor, Sikkim University 

Panel Abstract: Various high level commissions set up by the Government of Nepal and several projects funded by donors such as the World Bank have attempted to address the problems in the higher education sector in Nepal. Some of the major reform initiatives that were started in the early 1990s include the concepts of multi-universities and the decentralization of Tribhuvan University. However, macro-level evidence thus far suggests that these efforts have not been all that successful. Furthermore, there is relatively little research-based academic or media engagement with the various reforms initiated in the higher education sector in the past 25 years.  The three papers in this panel try to redress this gap by providing analyses based on detailed historical and contemporary data collected through a mix of research methods.

The first paper engages with the history and the consequences of the ‘affiliation’ mode adopted by Nepali universities for their growth. The second paper examines the complexities involved in the re-making of a Tribhuvan University (TU) constituent campus as an ‘autonomous’ campus. The third and final paper discusses the difficulties of institutionalizing a new university in mid-western Nepal via the proposed transfer of TU’s constituent and affiliated campuses. Together these three papers augment our understanding of the complexities inherent in reforming the higher education sector in Nepal. The titles and abstracts of the three proposed papers in this panel are given below.

go back


Paper 1: Affiliation as Privatization: Trajectories of University Expansion in Nepal
Pramod Bhatta, Martin Chautari 

Paper Abstract: In this paper, I look at the trajectories of higher education expansion in Nepal through “affiliation” mode, which in essence allows a university to award degrees to students from campuses in return for the payment of affiliation fees. Nepal has a relatively short history of higher education. Discussions for the establishment of a Nepali university were first initiated in 1948, which focused, inter alia, on the nature of the university to be established—teaching or affiliating, or both. In the mid-1950s, when Nepal embarked on a systematic development of a national education system following the political change of 1951, the option laid out for the establishment of a university was a combination of “teaching” and “affiliation” functions. According to the report of the Nepal National Education Planning Commission (1955: 129), this third type of university that “… consists of a centrally located group of colleges plus outlying colleges, all responsible to the same university …. holds the most promise for Nepal.” Subsequently, Tribhuvan University (TU) was established by bringing all existing colleges (affiliated to initially Calcutta University and later Patna University; both of India) under TU, which itself was structured around Patna University.

Over time, affiliation became the hallmark of higher education expansion in Nepal, with all subsequently established universities adopting the model for nationwide expansion. Whilst it has contributed to enhancing higher education opportunities, it has also led to the eventual deterioration of Nepali universities in both academic and governance spheres. So why have newer universities failed to break from such tradition? I will locate the answers to this question in a number of arenas, including state (dis)engagement with higher education after the 1990s, state espousal of education privatization, and the political economy of affiliation.

go back


Paper 2: How Not to Make a New University: The Case of Mid-Western University Thus Far
Devendra Uprety, Martin Chautari 

Paper Abstract: The idea of creating new universities out of the constituting colleges of Tribhuvan University (TU) has a long history. When the then Mahendra Sanskrit University (MSU) was started as Nepal’s second university in 1986, this idea was first put into practice by transferring some of TU’s colleges to MSU. However it was only after the end of the Panchayat System in 1990 that discussions around this idea became thick as a way to reduce the size and management challenges of TU. After many false starts, it was only in 2010 that three new universities – Agriculture and Forestry University, Far-Western University and Mid-Western University – were established by separate Acts passed by Nepal’s parliament with the proposed transfer of specific constituting and affiliated campuses of TU to the new universities. However the transfer of TU’s campuses (and properties) to the new universities has run into bottlenecks that were not envisioned initially. Instead the ‘transfer from TU’ mode of starting these new universities has created many complexities in their institutionalization.

In this paper, I take up the establishment of the Mid-Western University (MWU) in Surkhet as a case study of the ‘transfer from TU’ model. When the MWU Act was passed in 2010, it was stated that the Surkhet (Education) Campus, a constituting campus of TU, would be transferred to MWU and function as the founding constituting campus of the new university. This transfer has not happened until now.  I describe the resistance put up by the faculty of Surkhet Campus and the central management of TU against the transfer idea. Based on interviews done in Surkhet with key management personnel of MWU and its faculty members and students, I then analyze the reasons behind this non-transfer. Details from this case study allow me to argue that the policy to start new universities through the transfer of TU’s constituent campuses to them not only prevents their early institutionalization but instead further complicates the initial challenges faced by a new university. I end by suggesting that the ‘transfer from TU’ model of starting new universities to reduce TU’s burden needs a thorough re-think.

go back


Paper 3: The Saga of a Transition: The Efforts to ‘Rightsize’ Tribhuvan University in Post-Panchayat Nepal
Ramesh Rai and Pratyoush Onta
, Martin Chautari 

Paper Abstract: Nepal’s oldest university, Tribhuvan University (TU), was established in 1959 as a state-supported public university. In keeping with the centralized king-controlled nature of the polity under the ‘Partyless Panchayat System’ (1960-1990), TU was allowed to be the only university in Nepal until 1986. When Panchayat folded in 1990, the size of the student body at TU, the number of its constituent colleges and those to which it had provided affiliations had grown by many folds. After describing the manifold problems in Nepal’s higher education sector, the 1992 Report of the National Education Commission (NEC) identified the centralization of authority whereby all of TU’s colleges had to rely on its Kathmandu officers for academic direction and financial assistance as a main reason for that institution’s ill-management.

Several projects funded by donors have attempted to address this problem of TU by suggesting various actions that would realize decentralization within the TU behemoth. In the Work Bank-supported Second Higher Education Project (SHEP) which lasted from 2007 to 2014, the granting of autonomy to TU’s constituent campuses was made a major institutional reform objective. Grants were given to TU for coming up with a Campus Autonomy Regulation and for actually granting autonomy to any of its constituent campuses. Incentive grants were also given to the concerned campuses of TU which wanted to become autonomous. In early 2010 Mahendraratna Multiple Campus (MRMC) in Ilam in east Nepal became the first TU constituent campus to become autonomous and three others joined that set subsequently by mid-2014.

This paper provides a detailed case study of the ideas and processes that have driven MRMC’s travels to become an autonomous campus of TU. It describes what has been achieved in terms of new infrastructure and related developments in the campus of MRMC as part of this process. It also describes the academic and research efforts launched by the MRMC management and faculty after it became an autonomous campus and demonstrates the inherent complexities involved in the process. Based on these descriptions, the paper then argues that MRMC has mostly achieved ‘administrative autonomy’ during the process but has not achieved ‘academic autonomy’ from TU. The paper also discusses the implications of this argument both for MRMC’s future and for the process of TU’s decentralization as envisaged by the country’s planners.  It finally argues that the reform initiatives designed to address TU’s highly centralized structure will not result in robustly decentralized higher education landscape in Nepal given the many inherent complexities involved in the process.

[1]Source: UNDP (HDRs), 1995 and 2014

[2] Author’s interview with community groups working for economic, social and political empowerment of women in the Eastern Development Region of Nepal-7-12 June 2014

[3] Ibid

[4] Violence against Women: Global Scope and Magnitude

[5]Translated as “shelter rights with land ownership”

go back