03 December, 2006
A Preliminary Critique of the World Bank/DFID Summary Report Unequal Citizens: Gender, Caste, and Ethnic Exclusions in Nepal
The terms ‘social exclusion’ and ‘social inclusion’ which originated and flourished in the social policy discourses in Europe in response to the crises of the welfare state and the debates around the concept of citizenship are now floating around in Nepal’s developmental discourses, largely due to international agencies such as the World Bank, DFID, and the Norwegian government-funded Social Inclusion Research Fund Secretariat. Social exclusion and inclusion are polysemic and contested concepts, and there is a debate whether they add value to concepts of poverty, discrimination and marginalisation; whether they are relevant for the South; and how these concepts have been understood and deployed.
There have been several publications this year on social exclusion, including the late Dr. Harka Gurung’s From Exclusion to Inclusion: Socio-Political Agenda for Nepal and the World Bank/ DFID’s summary report Unequal Citizens: Gender, Caste and Ethnic Exclusions in Nepal, both of which are likely to have a major influence on Nepal’s developmental and political policies and discourses. Yet, as in the case of many other concepts exported to Nepal, these terms have not been examined theoretically or for their relevance for the Nepali context. Based on the literature on social exclusion and inclusion and legal anthropology, this lecture attempts a preliminary critique of the theoretical framework and some of the major concepts (exclusion, inclusion, institutions, empowerment) used in the World Bank/DFID report. Questions will be raised about theory and concepts and consequences for the collection and analysis of data. The lecture, however, will not address the issue of policy recommendations, which is best left to policy experts and consultants.
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Rajendra Pradhan, associated with Social Science Baha, is an anthropologist with wide research interest and experience. He has researched on Newar Hindu rituals in Kathmandu, the care of the elderly in a Dutch village, food habits in Sarlahi and water rights in Nepal. He is currently involved in research using a legal anthropological perspective on topics such as traditional and modern dispute resolution processes; the socio-cultural and legal history of land, forest and water in Nepal; and history of pluralism and social inclusion and exclusion. His publications include Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law in Social, Economic and Political Development (2003), Law History and Culture of Water in Nepal (2003), ‘Legal pluralism, models of society, and the politics of cultural difference in Nepal’ (2003), Water, Land and Law (2000), Water Rights, Conflict and Policy (1997), ‘Sacrifice, regeneration, and gifts: Mortuary rituals among Hindu Newars of Kathmandu’ (1996), and ‘Much ado about food and drinks: Notes towards and ethnography of social exchange in the Netherlands’ (1990).