Nepal: Between Dictatorship and Anarchy

Issue Date October 2005
Volume 16
Issue 4
Page Numbers 129-143
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By any measure, Nepal’s experience with democratization has been a tragic failure. Despite a 1990 popular revolution and the king’s subsequent embrace of what looked like a serious attempt to introduce multiparty competition to the world’s only officially Hindu divine-right monarchy, recent Nepalese history has been fraught with instability and strife. A decade-old Maoist insurgency has left more than 11,000 people dead and effectively denied the government’s writ across huge swaths of the kingdom’s 140,000 square kilometers. Throughout the 1990s, one frail government after another fumbled while the country’s economic and political problems grew worse. The royal household suffered a tragic blow in 2001 when the crown prince gunned down ten relatives including the king before killing himself. Then in February 2005 the current holder of the throne, Gyanendra, carried out a “self-coup.” His dismissal of the legislature and seizure of power mean that Nepal now finds itself, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, mired that much more deeply in a strange and bloody battle between the opposed and yet similarly antidemocratic ideologies of communism and royal absolutism.

About the Authors

Šumit Ganguly

Šumit Ganguly is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington, and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author (with William Thompson) of Ascending India and Its State Capacity (2017).

View all work by Šumit Ganguly

Brian Shoup

Brian Shoup is a doctoral candidate in political science at Indiana University.

View all work by Brian Shoup