by Caroline Agovino, Vanderbilt University
Group members: Lauren Fung, Allie Baumgartner, Caroline Agovino, Taylor Thompson with Dr. Ram Hari Lamichhane. In this WebQuest, we explore the social, political, economic, religious, and ethnic dimensions of Nepal in order to better comprehend its unique leadership models today. Furthermore, we examine the role of pluralism and globalization on international leadership paradigms.
Geography and Location
Nepal is situated in between two of Asia's greatest nations India and China. Geographically, this is significant because Nepalese culture is greatly influenced by both countries.
Nepal's landscape is diverse and beautiful. It has 8 of the 10 tallest peaks in the world, including Mt. Everest, the tallest peak. The north of the country is mountainous and the south is fertile and urbanized.
Population: 29 billion (2011) or #41 in the world
Growth rate: 1.596% (2011), doubles approximately every 30 years
Ethnic groups: Chhettri 15.5%, Brahman-Hill 12.5%, Magar 7%, Tharu 6.6%, Tamang 5.5%, Newar 5.4%, Muslim 4.2%, Kami 3.9%, Yadav 3.9%, other 32.7%, unspecified 2.8%
Religions: Hindu 80.6%, Buddhist 10.7%, Muslim 4.2%, Kirant 3.6%, other 0.9% (2
Languages: Nepali (official) 47.8%, Maithali 12.1%, Bhojpuri 7.4%, Tharu (Dagaura/Rana) 5.8%, Tamang 5.1%, Newar 3.6%, Magar 3.3%, Awadhi 2.4%, other 10%, unspecified 2.5%
Source: ("Nepal," 2011)
Receives substantial foreign aid from India, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU) as well as multilateral organizations--including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the UN Development Program.
Source: ("The economy of," 2011) , ("Nepal," 2011), (Travel Document Systems, 2010)
Indian culture has a pervasive influence over the both the food and dress found in Nepalese culture. Click our link for more information!
Nepalese national food consists of Lentils (DAAL), Rice (BHAAT), and vegetable curry (TARKARI). Popular side dishes include pickles (Achar) of many varieties of which the most popular are tomato achar, mango achar, and cucumber achar.
- Daura-Suruwal is the traditional Nepali dress.
- The dress has several religious beliefs identifying its designed, and has therefore remained the same for year.
- For example, the Daura has 8 strings that tie it up around the body—8 is the luck number in Nepali mythology. Also, the closed neck of the Daura signifies the snake around the Hindu Lord Shiva’s neck.
- The Nepali dress for women is the sari.
Religion in Nepal
Hinduism: Fast Facts
The Oldest Living Religion
Followers: 3rd largest religion (about 900 million followers worldwide)
Major sects: Saivism, Vaisnavism, Saktism
Sacred texts: Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras, Bhagavad Gita
Spiritual leader: Guru or safe
Place of worship: Temple or home shrine
Ultimate reality: Brahman
Human nature: In bondage to ignorance and illusion but able to escape
Purpose of life: To attain liberation (moksa) from cycle of reincarnation
How to live: According to the dharma
Afterlife: If karma is unresolved, soul is born into a new body; if karma is resolved, attain moksa
Culture Key: Pluralism in Nepal
Because Nepal is a democracy, all members of the society are inherently entitled to the same basic rights and opportunities. However, some racial minorities maintain and promote their cultural distinctiveness. The challenge for the state is “allowing cultural differences to persist without violating common and socially defined rights... the challenge consists of finding a viable compromise, for the state as well as the citizens between equal rights and the right to be different.” Freedom is granted to preserving diverse heritages, languages and religions. There are several cultural categories of people in Nepal:
Pluralism, Caste Systems, and Nepal Today
From 1768 through 1951, the people of Nepal were categorized into 5 distinct hierarchical ranks. Now the castes do not formally exist, but there is a fairly uniform order of caste ranking today that is prominent:
Caste group that wears a sacred thread known as tagadhari
Groups of ‘non-enslavable’ liquor consuming caste, called masine matwali
Groups of ‘enslavable’ liqour consuming caste, called masine matwali
Impure but ‘touchables’
Untouchable castes (the dalits)--economically marginalized and discriminated against
While the caste system still exists, the restoration of the multiparty democratic system has allowed many dissenting voices of different communities to surface.
(*The Madhesi caste makes up 32% of the population, yet holds over 60 less positions of governance than the Newars, who make up 5% of the population)
Pluralism: An Aid to Corruption
The political situation in Nepal has become exceedingly volatile throughout the past several years. The country has gone through an extremely tense transition of power often characterized by violent struggles between the King, political parties and Maoist insurgents. This political instability has taken its toll on the country’s economic performance as it has adversely affected the country’s manufacturing, transport, communication and tourism from time to time.
Due to the high level of political violence and corruption within the country the economic opportunities within the Nepali economy are lacking. In both the public and private sectors, corruption, petty as well as grand, has become a fundamental problem and is considered endemic by many Nepalese. It has become a major obstacle to economic and political reforms, accountability, transparency and effective governance.
According to official reports:
- Global Competitiveness Report of 2009-2010 noted that corruption is one of the most problematic factors of companies doing business in the country, exceeded only by government instability and inadequate supply of infrastructure.
- Business execs reported in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010 that there is a significant extent of favoritism of well-connected companies and individuals in government officials' decisions regarding policies and contracts.
- Within the country, legislation is poorly enforced, which allows the government officials to act on their own accord and be exempt from punishment.
For More information on Corruption visit our Blog!
After the fall of the Rana Regime in 1951, public education committees were put in place to provide public health care and legally abolish the caste system.
Nepal is still facing challenges in better educating its citizens. It's current system was developed by UNESCO and therefore reflects many western dispositions and values. Nepal operates with a 10+2 system in which students must receive the School Leaving Certificate via passing a test for their SLC in the 10th grade before accessing “higher education" (11th and 12th grade). Community managed schools have become a popular and effective alternative to other education systems.
Community Managed Schools
- 1 in every 5 schools is community managed
- Involvement by a wider array of stakeholders, including parent-teacher associations, civil society, representatives of the local governments, and women’s groups.
- Truancy has decreased from 50% to 18% with the implementation of these programs.
Nepal's health systems organization is a good plan for decentralization and community control, (VDC) but lack of infrastructure, financial resources, equipment, supplies, trained staff, electricity, transportation and water supplies as well as insurgent activity continue to hinder the development, expansion, and implementation of basic health services.
Leading diseases and illnesses include diarrhea, gastrointestinal disorders, goiter, intestinal parasites, leprosy, and tuberculosis. Nepal also has high rates of child malnutrition (72 percent in 2001) and under-five mortality (91.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2001), which have especially horrific implications for women and children. Even moderate iodine deficiency, especially in pregnant women and infants, lowers intelligence by 10 to 15 I.Q. points, shaving incalculable potential off a nation’s development.
Infant mortality: 65.3 per 1,000
Life expectancy: 60.43 male/ 59.91 female
Population >65: 3.7%
Median age: 20.3 year
0-14 years: 34.6%
15-64 years: 61.1%
65 years and over: 4.4%
Financing Health Care in Nepal
Healthcare as % of GDP: 5.3 (2003)
Per Capita health expenditures: $64 (Int.)
Government Expenditure as % of total: 23.5% (2000)
Foreign Donor Expenditure as % of total: 62%
Main foreign donors include: WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, World Bank, GTZ, DFID, USAID, JICA, SDC
Problems with Distribution of Health related Aid to Nepal
Low absorptive capacity leads to poorly allocated, disbursed and reimbursed funds
Inconsistencies in the financial files/records between government and donor agencies
General lack of decision making ability and authority at all levels
Poorly managed, difficult and ineffective coordination on finances and efforts
- The Ministry of Health organized a joint MOH/Donor coordination Mechanism (committee) to help mobilize resources and renew efforts to account for funds and how they are utilized throughout the country