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Title: The consequences of co-option : NGOs, the left and social change in Nepal
Author: Ismail, Feyzi
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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NGOs now have a history spanning almost three decades in Nepal, with origins that are rooted in both party politics and international pressures for liberalisation beginning in the mid-1980s. Tens of thousands of national and international NGOs work on a range of issues encompassing development, human rights, democracy and, most recently, peacebuilding, the vast majority funded and supported by Western donors. As NGOs were rising to prominence as a potential force for social change in the early 1990s, the Left was also beginning to organise, and denounced NGOs as agents of imperialism. The Maoists came to prominence by fighting a revolutionary war to improve life for the poor peasant majority, but after a decade-long People's War, the Maoists became incorporated into the parliamentary system. While the 1990 revolution met formal, popular political demands for democracy, consolidated with the overthrow of the monarchy as a result of the 2006 revolution, there has been little economic progress for the mass of the population. The Maoists' subsequent decision to join mainstream politics meant that any potential for fundamental economic redistribution was postponed, and bourgeois democracy re-stabilised. This stabilisation relied on the interplay of two phenomena: an anti-Maoist alliance consisting of the international community, business federations, the domestic ruling elite and NGOs, and a fundamental ambiguity at the heart of the Maoists' political theory. At a number of crucial moments in the struggle, the Maoists' conviction that Nepal was not economically prepared for social transformation led to moments of hesitation and confusion, which were successfully exploited by the state and its supporters. The interventions of NGOs in particular played a decisive role in resolving these moments of upheaval in ways that protected elite interests and facilitated the incorporation of the Maoists into conventional, mainstream politics. This process in turn has had a profound impact on the Maoists' politics and organisation. Key priorities and approaches adopted by NGOs have been internalised and reproduced by the Maoists, including the foregrounding of ethnic politics over class politics, which has the potential to polarise Nepali society along ethnic lines. It is argued that such approaches were latent in the Maoists' theory of revolution but were crystallised through the agency of NGOs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available