How do you view federalism?
No one can deny the fact that Nepal needs federalism. In the present context, devolution of power is a must. Lack of proper governance is a major issue in Nepal. This is the reason the agenda of federalism comes. My concern is the way debate has been taking place in Nepal making federalism as a political agenda. Along with political agenda, one cannot ignore the economic sustainability of the federal units.
Do you think federalism can bring a solution?
Federalism is not panacea. Of course, federalism empowers the people at local level. One must not forget the fact that federalism and development need to go together. If federalism fails to address development aspirations of people, it will be doomed to fail. There is also the need to look at economic sustainability of federalism.
How do you see the number of states?
The number of states should be based on the economic viability. We want federalism to make Nepal and Nepalese rich and prosper. Thus, there is the need to take a cautious approach on the number of states. Major political parties raise the agenda of federalism to increase their vote bank. In the name of federalism, Nepal cannot afford more than five states. Nepal’s financial and political ability is very limited. You cannot change the local situation just by changing the forms of government.
What can Nepal learn from the Indian experience?
We need not to go here and there to look for a federal model. Nepal can learn from India’s rich experiences on economically viable federalism. Indian states have been making magnificent progress, and are prospering through federalism. Nepal can learn a lot from Indian model of functional federalism.
(Excerpts of the statement delivered at launching of book Nepal as a Federal State: Lessons from the Indian Experiences organized by Center for South Asian Studies.)