Problems of Nation-Building and Identity Politics in Nepal
It was at the end of the Second World War (WW-II) that decolonisation started in South Asia. The Nation-building process became an enormous task to the newly independent countries as well to those not colonised ever but affected by the colonial legacy, to build a common feeling of nationhood in a very diverse and plural society. Most of the South Asian countries developed the feeling of nationalism during their freedom struggles with the objective of self-rule. While other factors, such as historical events, traditions, religion, culture, language, and ethnicity, have also helped in the shaping of nationalism in South Asia.
Nepal, a small and culturally country in South Asia, remained uncolonised, and it became the source of national pride among Nepalese. It also gave them a sense of superiority in comparison to others having a colonial rule. It also helped the Nepalese rulers in the shaping of Nepalese nationalism based on traditional symbols and Hindu nationalism. The Shah Dynasty (1769-1846 and 1951-2008) as well the Rana Regime (1846-1951) both tried to establish ‘Uniformity among Diversity’ and the cultural assimilation of different ethnoreligious and indigenous groups. The national symbols like the national flag, the cow, and the signs of Lord Vishnu on the coins all referred to Hindu nationalism in Nepal. The aim of the state became a unified nation based on one religion, one language and one culture.
Miss-recognition of the diverse identities led to the emergence of the identity-based movements in the 60s and later with the introduction of 1st Jan Andolan (peoples’ agitation) in 1990. Earlier these movements were very peaceful and later became violent in the late 90s, and after 2006 further violent activities increased. These changes lead to new debates on Nepali nationalism. The perception also made that these ‘identity-based movements’ undermine the process of nation-building in Nepal.
This study aims to analyse the political development in Nepal regarding the nation-building process and examines the problems of nation-building. In this context, it is critically important to understand the history of the formation of Nepal and the political transitions it faced. The study will also analyse the identity-based movements and their impact on the nation-building process.
The following research questions being addressed here are:
- What kind of nationalism did Nepal promote since its inception?
- How did the political transition affect the process of nation-building in Nepal?
- How did the identity-based movements affect the process of nation-building in Nepal?
This study adopts quantitative and qualitative methods of research. The study will use the primary sources available on the topic and will use secondary literature available from a wide range of books and journals and various research articles.
Keywords: Nepal, Nation-building, Hindu-nationalism, Identity Politics, State-centric nationalism, People-centric nationalism.
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