With the growing economic disparity and rise of extreme poverty, the Nepali people are gradually tilting to socialist ideologies, looking at this as an alternative to the neo-liberal political thought. In the last two decades, Nepal has followed the liberal economic policy that tended to give almost everything to the private sector.
The government cut its funding in education, health and other social sectors. This increased the disparities among the people living in various parts of the country. Although the Nepali Congress preached a social democratic ideology, it tilted its policy towards neo-liberalism. Thus, the people moved to communist parties as an alternative.
At a time when the Nepali society is attracted towards a socialist or welfare concept, the book titled Why Social Democracy in Nepal assumes a greater significance. A compilation of papers written by Nepal’s renowned scholars Chaitnya Mishra, Meena Acharya, Dev Raj Dahal, Chandra Dev Bhatta, Madhuri Singh and Meena Poudel, this is the first of its kind scholarly book discussing the current political trend.
Social democracy is more propitious than liberal or neo-liberal ones for gender justice, for a number of reasons. First, social democracy seeks social justice at ecological, social, gender and inter-generational level and supports reciprocity across various spaces, writes Dev Raj Dahal in his article Social Security in Social Democracy: Gender Perspective. “The welfare objectives such as economic growth, full-employment and social development have become the responsibility of the elected government through it can engage the private sector, civil society and international community in achieving them.”
Professor Chaitnya Mishra argues, “In the world-historical context that Nepal is currently located in, the programs of ‘Socialism,’ ‘New Democracy’, ‘worker led capitalism’ (which apparently implies state capitalism) etc are rhetorical devices and political programs which are based on an invalid and, therefore, dangerous miscomprehension of history. Nepal will not benefit from adopting a political-economic system which is radically different from that of its two neighbors.”
Along with other authors, Dr. Meena Acharya discusses the issue of women under the political system. She analyzes the role of women in Nepali politics and political process. In his paper, Chandra Dev Bhatta looks at Social Security Basis for the Welfare State: Challenges and Opportunities for Nepal.
“There is a long history of existence of social security mechanisms in Nepal. Evidences clearly show that Hindu-Buddhist society used to have a state based on the welfare principles. There is a close nexus between welfare state and social security regime. When Nepal entered into the democratic phase in 1990, it adopted policies which in principle contradicted democratic values and principles. Liberalization of economy in 1990 pursued under the external advice harmed both the Nepali state and society massively, writes Bhatta.
Although there are many books on neo-liberal democratic order and its significance in Nepal’s context, this is the first book which discusses the alternative perspectives or relevance of social democracy for Nepal.