Cabals and Cartelsby: Rajib Upadhya
“This absorbing tale of Nepal’s trials and tribulations in a challenging period is remarkable both for the depth of analysis and the breadth of its coverage. Focused on the country’s dysfunctional transitional politics in relation to development and international aid, the book crafts a lucid story that reaches into critical aspects of Nepal’s political economy to highlight a ‘dark underbelly’ that continues to upset the hopes and promises of post-conflict transition.”
DEVENDRA RAJ PANDAY,
Former Finance Minister and author of Nepal’s Failed Development
“A brilliant and courageous analysis of how Nepal’s pursuit of reform is ultimately shaped by the realities of the cartels and cabals. It keeps the injustices of daily life of Nepal’s citizens firmly in view as it walks us through pivotal moments… For those who care about democracy and development, it provides important insights… For Nepali citizens and policy makers, it provides essential reading and a call to urgent action.”
Director, Institute for State Effectiveness and co-author of Fixing Failed States
“Part memoir, part political-economy analysis, this book is a gripping account of Nepal’s struggle for development. Cabals and Cartels doesn’t mince words, slays a few sacred cows, and provides an analytical narrative that will help the Nepali people—and those of other poor countries—escape poverty.”
If it were fiction, Nepal’s saga would be labelled post-apocalyptic.
For much of its recent history, the West romanticised Nepal as some La La Land; an abode to shiny, happy people holding hands.
All that changed beginning in 1996 when a violent “Maoist” insurgency swept the country. The world was astonished to learn that grave social injustices and deep economic inequities belied the ubiquitous Nepali smile. A nascent, “democratic” polity failed to deliver and it chose to fight a deadly war of attrition instead.
Nepal descended into deeper chaos when the heir apparent to the 240-year old Nepali crown gunned his family down – including the reigning king – tempting the world to write the nation off as yet another “failed state”.
But twenty years and as many governments later, Nepal surprised everyone again. It resurfaced as the world’s youngest, secular republic. Democracy prevailed where none would have expected it to.
In Cabals and Cartels, Rajib Upadhya takes us on a roller-coaster ride, rich in insight and innuendo, meshing extraordinary personal and professional experiences with an elegant historical narrative. His book is as much a celebration of the Nepali spirit that has weathered more than its fair share of trauma, as it is a cautionary tale of broken promises and foregone opportunities; of a political class bedevilled by its own worst instincts; of duplicitous friendships; and of grim economic prospects pinned down in its potentials by collusion and graft.