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Economic Inequality in the ‘Democratic’ Nepal: Dimensions and Implications
Unformatted Document Text:  23 The relatively higher average expenditures, incomes, and wealth for the HCH’s, for example, substantiate the widely held thesis that the hierarchical, Hindu caste system has tended to largely determine one’s access to economic resources (Bista 1991; Ganguly and Shoup 2005; Lawoti 2005; UNDP 2004). This partly explains why the MCH’s and LCH’s as well as the Muslims continue to experience a relatively weak position on economic resources. The suggestion that Newars were able to capitalize on their socio-economically privileged position (Gellner 2007; UNDP 2004) helps explain their ascendance in the economic ladder during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Yet, the abruptly deteriorating position of the Janjatis during the period is difficult to explain. That, just like the MCH’s, LCH’s, and Muslims, the Janjatis have had lower participation in public service and other socially privileged activities (Gellner 2004; Lawoti 2005; Murshed and Gates 2005; UNDP 2004) cannot fully explain these relatively recent changes. This phenomenon, if operational, would not let them acquire such economically esteemed status in 1996 or perhaps even prior to this. More fully understanding this would involve examining, inter alia, occupational heritage, political apathy, corruption, and foreign employment and remittances, issues that require more comprehensive data. Each of the seven major caste and ethnic categories included here embodies a diverse group of people and the movements of the group averages do not fully capture everyone’s experiences with access to resources. Together with the improved position of the Newars, for example, their within group inequality has also increased, suggesting that a significant portion of the Newars may have been still left behind. While the vertical inequality has decreased among the HCH’s as well as the Janjatis, this may lead to different outcomes. The condition of most of the HCH’s has improved, as the increase in their access to economic resources indicates. At the same time, the condition of most of the Janjatis has deteriorated over time, thus magnifying their differences

Authors: Wagle, Udaya.
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23
The relatively higher average expenditures, incomes, and wealth for the HCH’s, for example,
substantiate the widely held thesis that the hierarchical, Hindu caste system has tended to largely
determine one’s access to economic resources (Bista 1991; Ganguly and Shoup 2005; Lawoti
2005; UNDP 2004). This partly explains why the MCH’s and LCH’s as well as the Muslims
continue to experience a relatively weak position on economic resources. The suggestion that
Newars were able to capitalize on their socio-economically privileged position (Gellner 2007;
UNDP 2004) helps explain their ascendance in the economic ladder during the late 1990s and
early 2000s. Yet, the abruptly deteriorating position of the Janjatis during the period is difficult
to explain. That, just like the MCH’s, LCH’s, and Muslims, the Janjatis have had lower
participation in public service and other socially privileged activities (Gellner 2004; Lawoti
2005; Murshed and Gates 2005; UNDP 2004) cannot fully explain these relatively recent
changes. This phenomenon, if operational, would not let them acquire such economically
esteemed status in 1996 or perhaps even prior to this. More fully understanding this would
involve examining, inter alia, occupational heritage, political apathy, corruption, and foreign
employment and remittances, issues that require more comprehensive data.
Each of the seven major caste and ethnic categories included here embodies a diverse group of
people and the movements of the group averages do not fully capture everyone’s experiences
with access to resources. Together with the improved position of the Newars, for example, their
within group inequality has also increased, suggesting that a significant portion of the Newars
may have been still left behind. While the vertical inequality has decreased among the HCH’s as
well as the Janjatis, this may lead to different outcomes. The condition of most of the HCH’s has
improved, as the increase in their access to economic resources indicates. At the same time, the
condition of most of the Janjatis has deteriorated over time, thus magnifying their differences


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