Thursday, December 11, 2014

Prashant Jha’s “Battles of the New Republic

Prashant Jha’s book “Battles of the New Republic” left me depressed; no, no the book is excellent but Nepali politics sucks. Throughout the book, Jha shows that all our political developments are at the mercy of our southern neighbor. This begs the question: Are we even independent?

As a political reporter, Jha had unparalleled access to key actors in Nepali politics and he was even in contact with Indian spooks who had greater hand in Nepali politics than imagined. All of them categorically confirm that Nepali politicians were/are mere puppets at the hands of Indian masters. However, by focusing on Indian hand so much, Jha may have missed the angle of Western intervention. 

Jha is all for change in current political dispensation. While Nepal certainly progressed from being a Hindu Kingdom to a secular republic but things have not changed much in the ground. The writer had pinned much hope in Maoists and Madheshi forces to usher in vital changes in the country but they too were splintered in several factions and were rather co-opted by the old system they were trying to change in the first place. He is a little disappointed with this.

Jha’s extensive analysis of the Madheshi movement helps gain the knowledge of pains and anger the community feels. But the narrow casteist politics of Madheshis as exposed by Jha makes the reader conclude that left to themselves, Madheshis will leave the region in lurch.

I was mesmerized by the lucid prose style of the writer in the book. Even if this book seems to be intended for the audience outside Nepal, even Nepali readers will get a clear perspective of our politics by reading it.

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