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State Restructuring in Nepal


Professor Pitamber Sharma, a noted geographer/regional planner has been deeply involved in the discourse on the model of federalism that Nepal needs to adopt since the idea of state restructuring emerged in the recent years. Republica’s Thira L Bhusal caught up with Prof Sharma to discuss the many facets of the complex issue.


How do you analyze the entire discourse that is taking place with regard to state restructuring?

It may be fair to say that the discourse on state restructuring in Nepal is focused on two perspectives or models: One is the ethnic perspective, and the other is what might be called the socio-economic development perspective. The ethnic model advocates for the formation of states or provinces covering territories historically inhabited by some major ethnic communities. History is the starting point. The argument is that it is the lack of recognition of territorial ethnic identities, their language, traditions, culture and aspirations that has resulted in the rise of a partisan state, where Hindu caste groups such as the Chhetris and Bahuns have exercised the monopoly of power and received the open patronage of the state. 

I believe that federalization is just a means to an end. The end is the creation of a prosperous Nepal where prosperity is shared by all irrespective of ethnicity, caste or class. The rational for federalism in Nepal has to rest on three premises. The first is the recognition of the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and regional identity and aspirations of the diverse population groups that inhabit Nepal. Shared ownership of the state requires that progressive ethnic, cultural and regional identities are given due recognition. The second is to facilitate rapid, equitable and inclusive development so that livelihoods of all, and particularly of the vulnerable, marginalized and disadvantaged groups, can be rapidly improved. This requires that adequate attention is paid to natural and human resources that can provide the basis for equitable and inclusive development. The third is to decentralize and devolve power to the lowest possible level so that the roots of a truly participatory and accountable democracy are strengthened.

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