To the Editor:
“Nepal, on the Brink of Collapse,” by Seyom Brown and Vanda Felbab-Brown (Op-Ed, June 6), oversimplifies and underestimates the democratic process in Nepal. The current political turmoil is troubling and, indeed, a constitution must be delivered. Still, Nepal has made substantial progress in its democratic transition, which began only in 1990 and is unlikely to end now.
Accomplishments include the creation of a genuinely open public sphere, in which all citizens can engage in wide-ranging debate; unprecedented political participation from previously marginalized groups; and the agreement on demobilization and integration of Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army.
The suggestion that donors withhold aid is counterproductive. Donors are deeply enmeshed in the political process, having directly or indirectly supported nearly every interest group over time, not least the corrupt state. If embargoes were the solution, they should have been implemented long ago. Instead, the global community must encourage Nepali politicians to fulfill their constituents’ democratic aspirations.
Potential visitors should not be deterred by the Op-Ed article’s alarmist tone. Reports from across the country suggest that life on the ground is calmer now than at many points in recent history.
New Haven, June 6, 2012
Ms. Shneiderman is an assistant professor of anthropology and South Asian studies at Yale University. Mr. Turin is a research associate at the University of Cambridge and an associate research scientist at Yale.