Constitutional Nationalism and Legal Exclusion - Equality,
Identity Politics and Democracy in Nepal (1990-2007) (Delhi:
Oxford University Press 2013)
This book is a detailed case study of Nepal's
post-1990 constitutional experience. It examines the complex
relationship between law and politics, and emphasizes the role of
cultural identity in making institutional choices relating to the
framing and implementation of the Nepali Constitution. The volume
also analyses the patterns of legal exclusion that resulted in the
growing politicization of identity, the de-legitimization of the
1990 Constitution, and the current demand for state-restructuring
based on ethnic federalism and group rights.
The author, tracing the evolution of Nepal from a constitutional
monarchy to a republic, analyses the drafting of the 1990
Constitution, the impact of the Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) on
demands for constitutional change, the relationship between conflict
and demands for recognition, and the role of Nepal's Supreme Court
in the articulation of identity politics.
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'Constitutional Developments in a Himalayan Kingdom: The
Experience of Nepal' In: Khilnani, Sunil and Raghavan, Vikram and Thiruvengadam,
Arun, (eds.), Comparative Constitutional Traditions of South Asia. (2013)
Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 87-115.
This chapter offers an account of Nepal's constitutional developments over the years in light of the ‘interaction between indigenous law and transplanted law’. The author reflects upon the modalities of the political transformations that have occurred in Nepal over the past 250 years, with particular reference to the influence of external legal and political concepts. After tracing the constitutional history of Nepal, the author examines the 1990 Constitution and its demise, and what it tells us about political processes in Nepal between 1990 and early 2007, and about democratic politics in the country more generally. It argues that it was a flawed constitution that failed to adequately accommodate the aspirations of the people. The promulgation of the 2007 Interim Constitution has endeavoured to ignite a process of state restructuring and the creation of a ‘New Nepal’. A new document recognizing Nepal's inner plurality, rooted in social hybridity and fostering a civic sense of belonging, with an emphasis on citizenship and rights rather than constitutional arrangements based on a polarized
essentialising identity lines, is the need of the hour. The long-term success of the political process currently underway to establish lasting peace in Nepal will depend ultimately upon whether the present constitution-making endeavours achieve consensus and stability.
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Rasaratnam, Madurika and Malagodi, Mara 'Eyes wide
shut: persistent conflict and liberal peace-building in Nepal and Sri Lanka'
Conflict, Security and Development (2012) 12 (3). pp. 299-327.
The decisive, albeit different, endings of armed conflict in
Sri Lanka and Nepal and subsequent post-war developments challenge key
assumptions about conflict that have informed post-Cold War international
efforts to produce peace in such conflict zones. International intervention
including in Sri Lanka and Nepal characterises armed conflict as sustained by
specific political economies that can only be stably resolved by establishing
liberal democracy and market economics. This paper examines liberal peace
engagement in Sri Lanka and Nepal to challenge a crucial assumption of the
persistent conflict thesis, namely the separation between political contestation
and armed conflict. It argues that the divergent post-conflict outcomes of
continuing ethnic polarisation in Sri Lanka and constitutional reform in Nepal
reveal strong continuities in the dynamics of pre-war, war and post-war
politics. This continuity challenges the presumed separation of politics and
violence that drove international engagement to produce liberal peace and
suggests that such engagement, far from encouraging reform, may have
(inadvertently) sustained conflict in both cases.
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'Constitutional Change and the Quest for Legal Inclusion in
Nepal' In: Harvey, Colin and Schwartz, Alexander, (eds.), Rights in Divided
Societies. (2012) Hart Publishing, pp. 169-193.
'The End of a National Monarchy: Nepal’s Recent Constitutional
Transition from Hindu Kingdom to Secular Federal Republic.' Studies in
Ethnicity and Nationalism (2011) 11 (2). pp. 234-251.
The article analyses Nepal's transition in 2007 from the
constitutional definition of the state as a ‘Hindu monarchical kingdom’ to a
‘secular federal republic’, followed by the abolition of the Shah monarchy in
2008. Nepal's institutional change in 2007–2008 invites reflection on the role
of Hindu kingship in informing Nepali nationalism in its constitutional
formulation. The developments of the Shah monarchy are interpreted as the
product of both the institution and the various historical figures that have
occupied that institutional place. However, it is argued that the more or less
charismatic qualities of individual Shah kings were ‘contained’ within and
minimised by the prevailing institutional dimension of the monarchy in defining
the Nepali nation. The nationalist legitimacy of the Shah monarchy as Nepal's
core political institution rested upon the notion of Hindu kingship, which
transcended the single historical personalities of the Shah kings and proved so
pervasive that it has shaped the constitutional definition of the nation even in
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'The Cost of Reconciliation - Impunity and Accountability in
Post-Conflict Nepal' Law & Society Trust Review (2010) 21 (275-27). pp.
'Minority Rights and Constitutional Borrowings in the Drafting
of Nepal's 1990 Constitution' European Bulletin of Himalayan Research
(2010) 37. pp. 56-81.
'Forging the Nepali Nation through Law: A Reflection on the
Use of Western Legal Tools in a Himalayan Kingdom' Studies in Ethnicity and
Nationalism (2008) 8 (3). pp. 433-452.