The Post-war Direction in Nepal: Deepening Capital, Deepening Inequality
The last decade in Nepal has encompassed both great hope and bitter disillusionment over the trajectory of politics and development. While challenges to the status quo over the past three decades – the people’s movements, the Madhesi uprisings and the People’s War – have contained within them not only a series of political demands, but socio-economic demands, fundamental socio-economic change has been elusive. Figures show that inequality has been rising since the 1980s undermining gains in human development. This paper focuses on the economic reforms advocated by major international donors and consecutive national governments in the post-war and post-earthquake context, arguing that the overwhelming emphasis on economic growth – even ‘inclusive’ economic growth – has led to intensified precarity, informality and inequality. The particular economic reforms associated with reconstruction – further privatisation, commodification of land, the strengthening of the private sector and liberalising of the finance sector etc., have created circumstances in which the dominance of international capital and Nepal’s (neo)liberalisation have been reinforced. The fact that these economic reforms are taking place in a context of the reassertion of the right following the end of the People’s War and the weakening of a progressive, left-wing challenge to the status quo, both within civil society and amongst the political classes, has exacerbated efforts to reverse inequality. Without a break with the neoliberal development model, reconstruction will not reverse the trends in inequality and socio-economic change will remain elusive.