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Issue No.: 570 | December 2014


Lok Raj Baral
NATION STATE IN THE WILDERNESS, MANAGING STATE, DEMOCRACY AND GEOPOLITICS by Lok Raj Baral ● Sage Publications, New Delhi ● ● 2012●  pp. 308 ● Rs.750

Reviewed by Dr. G .R. S. Rao, formerly Chair Professor in Public Policy, Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad.                                                                       

Lok Raj Baral has done well by introducing the theme of his publication with a set of parameters of Nepali politics. For, though human society seems to have ushered the era of democracy, democratization to be precise across the world, the soil conditions are germinating diverse mutations of democracy.                                                     
Baral is not an ivory tower academic satisfying himself merely with analytical chastity. He is at once an academic, a diplomat, a politician and above all an enlightened citizen. He has presented the several streams traversing different terrain adding to the turbulence of the confluence of democracy. The beauty is that social churning leads to the mainstreaming of democracy. Baral’s analytical narrative of Nepal’s struggle brings out, vividly, the turbulence of cross-currents. 

Democracy itself means social (political, economic, cultural, ethnic et al) change, managing the challenge of change. This democratic transformation is more complex, for it involves the spectrum of change concurrently, and thus constitutes a greater challenge than the attainment of ‘political freedom’ through any or many processes, ranging from the evolutionary to the revolutionary. The vintage democracies as well as the contemporary democratizing societies demonstrate this fact. Baral’s analytical narrative of Nepal illustrates this integral process of democratization.

The empirical ground reality is that all the genres of democracy, evolved from diverse civilizational conditions, represent cross-cultural factors and a historical continuity. A bottle of wine may be described as wine, yet California Napa wine is not the same as the French Bordeaux. Cultural cross-currents do not permit any such comparison of Nepal’s dynamic gut issues of social-political harmony, federal relations, and stable state as a vital prerequisite as well as an integral part of the end objective of democratic transformation. Such issues and processes have been dealt with photo- statically. It is easier to formulate kaleidoscopic ingredients of democratization, but difficult to fix them on a canvas. 

For any discerning student of contemporary Nepal, it becomes evident that attaining ‘political freedom’ through a revolutionary movement is relatively easier than bringing about democratic social transformation. For, it is a process of socio-legal engineering, at two levels viz., institutionalization of democracy, and, the more challenging dimension of democratizing the people, so as to fuse with the liberal democratic values and the global institutions of governance.  

Standing at this critical cross-roads of building a nation, Baral comes to the inevitable issue: ‘what next’? The first Prime Minister of contemporary democracy, Prachanda crystallized this issue saying: "Nepal may have attained its political freedom, but we have to face the World Bank moulds of growth and development.” Though some comparisons can be cited in the publication under review, Baral did well in not adopting a comparative study of countries and communities around the globe, but firmly setting his sights on the challenges of democratic transformation in Nepal.

A comprehensive narration of  the current critical challenges, a bit more of the status of institutionalisation of democratic transition, with their inter-se roles and role-relationships, would have thrown more light and plausible approaches to the process of democracy and maintenance of  a moving equilibrium.

The eminent author brings out this internal strife as a contra-indicator of democratization very appropriately. That Constitution-making is no small challenge is evident from the situation obtaining in Nepal today. The democratization and Constitution-making in the case of India was characterized by what has been called consensual democracy. The paradox in India is that we have amended the Constitution more than 120 times, and aborted such attempts (to amend) many more times. It was the dominant characteristic of consensual democracy that prompted a commentator to say, "It was bliss to be born at that time of history”. Prof. Baral deserves compliments for bringing out a comprehensive and analytical narrative of Nepal negotiating the rapids of democratization, seeking to establish a constitutional democracy.





Other Articles in this Issue

Between Ourselves

Between Ourselves



M. V. Kamath: A Personality Sketch


Remembering Rajaji

The Wit and Wisdom of Rajaji


“I Touch a Sensitive Spot”

C. Rajagopalachari

Rajaji in his ‘Dear Reader’ page, in Swarajya


Remembering Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Rediscovering The Sardar

T. H. Chowdary

When the Princely State of Hyderabad was integrated into the Indian Union


Assembly Elections: Haryana and Maharashtra

Haryana A Decisive Victory for the BJP

B. N. Mehrish

Maharashtra: Have the BJP and the Shiv Sena Missed the Mandate?

Nitin G. Raut

Prime Minister Modi – 6 Months After

Modi Triumphant

Firoze Hirjikaka

Modi’s Detractors in America

Sardul Singh Minhas

Federalism, Governance and Growth

Sunil S. Bhandare

The Political-Economy of Black Money in India

Ajit Karnik

Point Counter Point : Every issue has at least two sides

Maharashtra Elections

Ashok Karnik

Ottawa Attack

Ashok Karnik

The Black Money Hype

Ashok Karnik

The Rural Perspective

Agriculture and Rural Indebtedness - IV

R. M. Mohan Rao

Foreign Relations in the 21st Century

Containment And Cooperation: Continuity and Change in India’s China Policy

B. Ramesh Babu

Book Review


Lok Raj Baral


Vappala Balachandran

Educating Adults

The Legality of ‘Tolerated Prostitution’ - Remembering Meliscent Shephard as we Debate

Jyoti Marwah

Legalising Prostitution – The Way Forward

Elizabeth Rosen

Sending Sheetal from a Red Light Area to a U.S drum school?


Facilities Alone do not make for Good Education – A Personal Experience

Suresh C. Sharma

Compelling Scientists to Teach

Suresh C. Sharma

From Our Readers

Andhra Pradesh Day

T. H. Chowdary

Preserving Our Nationhood and Culture

T. H. Chowdary

Why this Discrimination?

Suresh C. Sharma

“A Tale of Three Nations” - A Correction

Arvind Banavalikar


Many Voices from the Past

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