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Economic Inequality in the ‘Democratic’ Nepal: Dimensions and Implications
Unformatted Document Text:  27 broad-based in architecture or delivered as designed. Policies on land reform, taxes, infrastructure build up, education, health, social development, and economic growth and development, among others, ought to draw from an understanding of the inherent social and economic inequalities that threaten their effective, efficient, and equitable implementation. More important than these specific policies, however, is to achieve political and social stability in Nepal, a lack of which has effectively crippled the economy and failed the state (Riaz and Basu 2007). While the second round of the mass-movement has successfully unfolded, effectively stripping the monarch off the power, the issues of social and political inequality have emerged and served as a major stumbling block to stability. But any effort to bring the stability back will require commitment from all different parties involved. It is only with the proper understanding of the roots of ongoing political instability that the concerned agents of change can efficiently deal with it. Now that the broad-based inclusionary policies are vigorously debated on different levels, these understandings can make a real impact. Notwithstanding this wishful thinking, the contemporary inequality and political trends in Nepal invalidate the thesis that democracy truly levels the playing field, providing more egalitarian economic outcomes (Benhabib and Przeworski 2006; Dahl 1971; Mahler 2004; Lipset 1959, 1994). Ideally, democracy is expected to install political mechanisms to correct for any unintended consequences especially when the majority of the population wants to alter the course (Dahl 1998; Lipset 1994). In Nepal, however, even the fundamental ingredients of democracy including the adult franchise with competitive elections have not produced balanced participation, leading to inadequate representation of some socio-economically disadvantaged groups (Gellner 2007; Lawoti 2005; Wagle 2006d, 2006e). No doubt, democracy may not be solely responsible for this unintended consequence, with deep-seated discriminatory practices

Authors: Wagle, Udaya.
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broad-based in architecture or delivered as designed. Policies on land reform, taxes,
infrastructure build up, education, health, social development, and economic growth and
development, among others, ought to draw from an understanding of the inherent social and
economic inequalities that threaten their effective, efficient, and equitable implementation.
More important than these specific policies, however, is to achieve political and social stability
in Nepal, a lack of which has effectively crippled the economy and failed the state (Riaz and
Basu 2007). While the second round of the mass-movement has successfully unfolded,
effectively stripping the monarch off the power, the issues of social and political inequality have
emerged and served as a major stumbling block to stability. But any effort to bring the stability
back will require commitment from all different parties involved. It is only with the proper
understanding of the roots of ongoing political instability that the concerned agents of change
can efficiently deal with it. Now that the broad-based inclusionary policies are vigorously
debated on different levels, these understandings can make a real impact.
Notwithstanding this wishful thinking, the contemporary inequality and political trends in
Nepal invalidate the thesis that democracy truly levels the playing field, providing more
egalitarian economic outcomes (Benhabib and Przeworski 2006; Dahl 1971; Mahler 2004; Lipset
1959, 1994). Ideally, democracy is expected to install political mechanisms to correct for any
unintended consequences especially when the majority of the population wants to alter the
course (Dahl 1998; Lipset 1994). In Nepal, however, even the fundamental ingredients of
democracy including the adult franchise with competitive elections have not produced balanced
participation, leading to inadequate representation of some socio-economically disadvantaged
groups (Gellner 2007; Lawoti 2005; Wagle 2006d, 2006e). No doubt, democracy may not be
solely responsible for this unintended consequence, with deep-seated discriminatory practices


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