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Submitted by Mallika Shakya on
You rightly point out that Nepal now has a small window of opportunity as the violent insurgency has been contained and an inclusive platform for dialogue has been built in the form of national constituent assembly. It is important that Nepal uses this transitional opportunity to address the issues that gave rise to the insurgency in the first place. This will inevitably include issues of economic interlinkages with, first, cultural identities, and second, political ideologies. On latter, democracy has been a winner in Nepal in that extreme right and left are now mainstreamed into the middle ground of competitive, multi-party democracy. Public works, employment service centres, business promotion are all important for reconstruction. But these programs must ensure that they work to strengthen democratic norms at the grassroots level. And that they uproot the lingering roots of patronage, hiearchy and elitism. And that they also preempt any seeds being sown for class-based animosities. On former, issue of cultural identity has now been ushured into Nepali State-building on multiple fronts. Any reconstruction programs should ensure that they do not fuel divisive ethnicity politics, nor that they disacknowledge ethnicity-nuanced issues of discrimination and exclusion, and that they address these issues in a constructive manner. Nobel Laureate Economist Amartya Sen has talked about identity economics at length both in his Identity and Violence book (2006)and his earlier book on Culture and Public Action (2004). I think these have great relevance for Nepal at this point in time.