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Multiple Perspectives

Padam Nepal

Edited by Sebastian von Einsiedel , David M. Malone and  Suman Pradhan
Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2012, pp. XIV + 398, price not stated


The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2006 ended the decade long conflict which had pitted the Maoists against the State in Nepal and claimed the lives of thousands of people. Although the peace process has begun, the situation still remains fragile and volatile. Disparate groups which were once united in the people’s movement for democracy have fragmented and regrouped around newer forms of identities. Adequate, equitable and inclusive deliverance of fruits of democracy seems still in waiting. The book under review is a dense collection of essays by eminent Nepalese and foreign academics, peace and development practitioners, journalists and business representatives on the complex nature and frequently fractured process of peace building in Nepal. The volume has attempted an in-depth interrogation of the peace process, accommodating divergent voices, notes of optimism as well as pessimism of its contributors on the future prospects of peace building. In the Introduction the three editors argue that the global economic and financial crises and the consequent shift of focus of international politics towards Asia with little or no attention paid to Nepal, the West’s flawed stereotypical perception of Nepal as a land of the valiant Gurkhas with cultural traditions, all have no clue whatsoever to the current crisis rooted in history that confronts the State. This is followed by a condensed history of Nepal since the time of Prithvi Narayan Shah, an examination of the structural and proximate causes of conflicts in Nepal, a review of the emergence of the people’s war and the politics of identity in the Terai region. The brief historical background leading to the war and then to peace efforts, with occasional use of quantitative data provides useful insights. ‘The Making of the Maoist Insurgency’ by Deepak Thapa offers a overview of the historical, ideological and opportunistic causes of the movement. Thapa surveys the root causes underlying the Maoist revolt, drawing his theoretical insights significantly from social movement literature. He narrates how, since the 1740s, the campaigns of Prithvi Narayan Shah, followed by the rule of the Ranas (1846-1951) and the Panchayat rule (1960-1990) the elites had, through symbols and rituals managed to sustain a unified kingdom by the marginalization of the dalits, the Janajatis, the Madheshis, and other minority groups. Thapa argues that the restoration of multi-party democracy after the first People’s Move-ment in 1990 failed to deliver the expected radical social transformation; instead it facilitated political instability ...

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