SISTEER Study Group Session 2

With the briefing and logistics settled in week 1, the SI STEER’s second reading session kicked off with the understanding of Nepal’s history, geography and its development state. We were given two readings – Trajectories of democracy and restructuring of the state. by Hachhethu, K. & Gellner, D. N. (2009) and Arguments for a better world: Essays in honor of Amartya Sen, Vol I – Ethics, Welfare, and Measurement. by Foster, J. E. & Handy, C. (2009) – to look through and digest before we come together for discussion on 7th Feb.

Although the readings looked daunting at first (both contain over 10 pages worth of information), most of us managed to finish them and came prepared with extra online research and questions that needed answers. In the first article, Hachhethu and Gellner (2009) gave a detailed recount of how democracy came to Nepal and the challenges Nepal faced dealing with democracy. The second article argues that external capabilities – gained through one’s relationship with family, friends and people – are important concepts for formulation of policies such as providing training in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for the people.

Dr Kankana led the discussion by assigning each group to summarise a specific period of the democracy timeline that Nepal has undergone. They include:
·       The Dawn of Democracy in 1950s
·       Reinventing Democracy after 2002
·       Establishment of the Republic
·       Inclusive Democracy

It was an insightful discussion as the groups were able to clarify any doubts we had with each other and reinforces our understanding of Nepal’s development. From the Rana oligarchy before 1950s to the Communist revolt in 1972, we learnt how Nepal struggled with different regimes and political ruling that has led to what Nepal is currently today.

After the discussion session, two groups were due to give a presentation on Contemporary Nepal. The first group, Sin Yeou and Sze Hao, presented on Nepal’s Geography and Environment. We were amazed to learn that there were three distinct ecological belts running through Nepal. They separate the country into three broad physiological areas: The Terai region, The Hill region and The Mountain region. Because of its unique geographical location, Nepal is probably one of the only country where provide us with topography ranging from subtropical lowlands to alpine glaciers.

Next, the second group, Jing Qi and Stella, took the stage to give us a brief overview of Nepal’s current social, economic and political situation. It was heartening to hear that Nepal has improved its literacy rate and aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, although much work still needs to be done regarding ethnic clashes and political instability. Currently, Nepal is a federal secular parliamentary republic with three major political parties governing the country. It is also important to note that social, economic and political aspects are inherently linked together, and in order to accomplish developmental goals, all three aspects have to be well taken care of.

That’s it from me for the second reading session. Next up, our Project Director, Benson, will be giving us a Design Thinking Workshop!

Written by
Sin Yeou