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TANDON Vishnu Kumari

PhD Student in Political Studies at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS-Paris)

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Current Research

Title of thesis : Towards Federal Democracy: The Role of Institutional and Socio-Political Factors in Defining Local Level Participatory Planning in Nepal

PhD supervisor : Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal (EHESS)


My research focuses on politics, structural arrangements, and practices of local governance aimed at vesting power in the hands of marginalized communities through local planning in the federal context of Nepal. Federalism in Nepal is a result of a chain of events that has taken place since 2006, starting with the Comprehensive Peace Accord, Jan Andolan II (People’s movement) and the process of drafting a constitution that put an end to the 10-year civil war. Inequality and an undemocratic constitution were considered to partly account for the escalation of civil war. Equality within a diverse population is consequently one of the major features of the new constitution. Federalism was necessary to ensure a constitution based on equality. With the advent of federalism, Nepal was restructured into 753 local government units that have been operational since the first phase of local elections that took place in May 2017. With almost no prior experience or preparation, local leaders are expected to meet the demands of the diverse population through decentralized local planning policies.

In this context, my research explores the planning process that local units follow and which encourages the participation and inclusion of diverse populations, whether it be recording demands at settlement level or decision-making at the highest municipal level. The study is being conducted within three local units: Buddhabhumi municipality, Dhanushadham municiplaity and Benighat Rorang rural municipality. These units are in Kapilvastu, Dhaanusha and Dhading districts, respectively, each with a very different socio-political and economic situation. Thus, different patterns of participation in different local contexts can be examined. However, while conducting preliminary research, I rarely came across any literature on Nepal that discusses participatory planning in a post-war federal context. This study therefore strives to fill this gap in research by evaluating and analyzing the effect of the changes brought about by federalism in the mobilization of resources.

Keywords: federalism, constitution, decentralized planning, participation, local governance, resource mobilization, marginalized community