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MAHENDRA LAWOTI

Towards a Democratic Nepal: Inclusive Political Institutions for a Multicultural Society

Towards a Democratic Nepal: Inclusive Political Institutions for a Multicultural Society

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The Maoist insurgency in Nepal, which began in 1996, has led to considerable political violence in which more than 10,000 people have already lost their lives. This insurgency began and grew dramatically because of the injustice and inequality inherent in Nepali society. Paradoxically, argues the author of this timely book, it was the restoration of democracy in 1990 that heightened awareness of these inequities and which encouraged the dispossessed to articulate their problems and aspirations.

Providing comprehensive critique of the Constitution adopted in 1990, this book identified it as an important factor in the exclusion of various ethnic and minority groups. It examines the causes for the lack of democratic consolidation in Nepal and outlines alternative institutions that can give voice to the various sociocultural groups in the country and strengthen democracy. Dr. Lawoti makes a case for setting up a new Constituent Assembly and for following the principle of self-determination to reform the polity. He also makes several important recommendations for the construction of an inclusive and democratic Nepal. These include:

  • Federalism;
  • An elected powerful House of Nationalities;
  • A proportional electoral system;
  • Affirmative action policies and reservations;
  • Declaration of a secular state;
  • A centralized judicial review; and
  • The constitutional protection of minority rights.
Overall, argues the author, unless Nepal's ruling elite becomes sensitive to the needs of marginalized and excluded groups, the country could witness an escalation in violence. Highlighting a range of issues critical to strengthening democracy in Nepal, this important book will appeal to scholars and students of Nepal - especially its government, politics and society - and of South Asian Studies. It will be of equal interest to policy makers, development agencies and journalists interested in Nepal.

 

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