Sanghiyata ko artha rajniti (Political Economy of Federalism) is a book written by Binod Neupane. The second edition of the book written by Neupane, who is familiar with models of federalism, decentralization and local development, was published in August 2020. The book mainly focuses on the challenges currently facing Nepalese federalism and the measures to be taken. to take. taken to overcome them.
The 508-page book begins with the meaning and general definitions of federalism. Turning briefly to the form of federalism in the United States and European countries, the author rushes to explain the three levels of government in Nepal. From the author’s point of view, Nepal practices a quasi-federalism like that of Nigeria although the two countries have adopted different political systems. Taking the case of the African country, Ethiopia, the author warns of the repercussions a country could witness if it failed to properly manage ethnic federalism.
In the book, Neupane asserts that federalism was imposed on Nepal at the behest of outside forces. Neither a referendum was held nor the political parties felt the need to consult the population on federalism. “The success of federalism can only be judged by analyzing the way in which power is vested at the provincial and local levels. Almost complete or complete federalism can both lead to the disintegration of nations, ”observes Neupane.
While the author has not explicitly spoken of gerrymandering during the state restructuring process, it is precisely fitting that the current unitary form of governance in Nepal was introduced to serve the interests and maintain the dominance of a part of the political class.
In different sections of the book, the author has repeatedly questioned the sincerity of the political leadership. Although Nepal started practicing decentralization a long time ago, it was institutionalized by the constitution. It also briefly discusses trends in globalization and local development. However, he feels that they cannot go together side by side.
Even if the term “prosperity” or samriddhi became a buzzword in Nepalese society after 2015, the author points out that Nepal’s path to perpetual peace, good governance, sustainable development and prosperity is not easy due to deep corruption. entrenched, deceptive development approach, growing trade deficit, and irresponsible leadership.
Taking the case of the 2015 economic blockade imposed by India, the author questions the loyalty of political parties based in Madhes to the country. He says the Madhes-based political parties that initially championed the issue of federalism have turned it into a tool for gaining power. He observes that they themselves were not clear on their agendas when the Madhesh movement started in 2008. Another serious problem mentioned by the author is that those who brought about the agenda of social disintegration are now seen as the main defenders of federalism.
The author stressed the need to purify the political and administrative leadership to bring about drastic changes to the socio-economic development of the country. While ordinary people raise questions about the sincerity, effectiveness, and dedication of political leaders, the book also concludes that political leaders are largely blamed for the country’s social and economic backwardness.
Although the conduct of foreign affairs falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government, it is noted that some provincial and local governments have attempted to exercise foreign relations independently. For example, the Municipality of Kathmandu has already signed twinning links with at least 16 foreign local governments without obtaining prior approval from the federal government. Such practices should be stopped as there is a risk that the country’s foreign policy will be compromised if local governments sign twinning agreements with foreign local governments without prior approval from the federal government.
In the new federal organization, intergovernmental coordination between federal, provincial and local governments is very crucial. There is a lack of close collaboration between the bureaucracy, political parties and local representatives, resulting in undue delay in building development projects on time. The frequent transfer of civil servants is seen as another major problem in the new federal organization.
Corruption is increasing in all spheres of government, from federal, provincial to local. Nepalese society witnessed widespread corruption after the political change of the 1990s, as politicians and bureaucrats became less responsible to the people. Even though corruption has prevailed over the past 30 years Panchyat period, the author stated that he actually flourished after 1990. He pointed out that government agencies turned into Ghus Addas (anti-corruption units) although they are supposed to provide efficient public services and contribute to good governance. One cannot differ from the author’s argument that petty corruption at all levels of government has not been brought under control for years due to a close link between bureaucrats and officials. Bichauliya (intermediaries).
Another burning issue that the author has repeatedly mentioned in the book is that a strong link between bureaucrats, politicians and intermediaries has caused undue delay in the execution of development projects. Going further, he says there is a huge influence of foreign companies in political and bureaucratic circles. They are willing to pay millions of rupees in bribes to get projects awarded to them.
Social disintegration, social inequalities, poverty, lack of infrastructure, reduced industrial development, acute unemployment and growing economic dependence on foreign countries are some of the major problems Nepal is currently facing. . In the book, the lack of clear visions of incompetent political leaders; strategic planning and roadmaps for economic development were seen as one of the reasons for the weak economic development of the country. Nepal’s current approach to social inclusion cannot address the real concerns of marginalized groups, including Dalits, he said.
The book not only focuses on federalism and its challenges, it also suggests how Nepal can achieve its socio-economic goals. In the chapter entitled “Proximity, Connectivity and Development”, the author asserts that improved rail connectivity will help boost the country’s economic development.
Speaking about the geoeconomics and geopolitics of Nepal, the author argues that Nepalese leaders are failing to profit from the economic boom in neighboring countries China and India. Against this background, the author seems optimistic about the economic benefits Nepal can achieve through China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, later renamed Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI). The author takes a critical look at India’s geopolitical interests in South Asian countries, including Nepal and Pakistan, which often views China’s rise as a threat to China’s national security interests. ‘India. Linking it to the Nepalese context, the author argues that Nepalese politicians and bureaucrats are largely influenced or guided by Indian policymakers and intelligentsia who primarily see Nepal through the prism of national security.
In conclusion, the book is useful to everyone, from the simple reader to those who want to know Nepalese federalism and its contemporary challenges. The author is more critical of the bad practices of federalism, arguing that the country could experience a split if political decision-makers fail to properly manage this system of governance. The author’s opinions or consecutive observations within the book irritate the readers. He could have expressed his own opinion on federalism in a more organized way. What is most missing is that the author does not suggest what type of federalism Nepal should have adopted.
Book: Sanghiyatako Artha Rajniti
Author: Binod Neupane
Publisher: Shangrila Books
Price: Rs 795