Experts expand on the theoretical
underpinnings of decentralization
Decentralization and Good Governance
Published by the Political Science
Association of Nepal and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung,
Edited by Ganga Bahadur Thapa
Price: Rs. 200/US$5
Even after five decades of decentralization
efforts, the officials and leaders of local bodies in
Nepal do not understand its importance. The local bodies
consider decentralization a way of salvation from central
authority. Central bodies view the process as the transfer
of authority from to the local bodies.
Following the restoration of democracy,
millions of rupees have been spent on seminars on decentralization,
democracy, rule of law and violations of human rights.
However, countries like Nepal have not benefited much
from such exercises. Hundreds of books and articles have
analyzed and evaluated the process and practice of decentralization.
Almost every issue faced during the implementation of
the principles of decentralization have been covered in
these papers. However, very few people have access to
them. This book comes as a useful tool in broadening understanding
of the theoretical approaches of decentralization.
In his article "Local Governance
and Decentralization Programs: A Comparative Analysis
in Legal Perspective", decentralization expert Tulsi
Narayan Shrestha explains the core issues of local self-governance
in Nepalís context. Shrestha also provides a wide
historical perspective in analyzing the role of local
Ram Kumar Dahalís article, "Prospects
of Good Governance", emphasizes the importance of
good governance in running local bodies. Dahal argues
in favour of measuring the performance of local bodies
in keeping with the parameters of good governance.
Ganga Bahadur Thapa, who edited this
volume, holds the view that the transitional nature of
Nepalís democratic system is responsible for the
The local bodiesí quest to become
more powerful and assertive and the strong tendency of
central units to hold on to authority create problems
in the process of devolving authority. Over the past few
years, several positive efforts have been made at the
legislative, economic and political levels to realize
the provisions of local self-governance in Nepal. However,
the essential question remains: are the District Development
Committees, Village Development Committees and Municipalities
able to exercise the powers envisaged?
Although a new act on the local governance
is in the process of implementation, the country is yet
to find answers to problems related to the allocation
of power and the role and duties of local bodies. There
are very important articles in the book that deal with
the internal viability and autonomy of local bodies and
their initiative to strengthen local self-governance.
They also evaluate the mechanisms of the responsiveness
of authorities and their transparency and accountability
well as issues of coordination between
At a time of confusion over the scope
and range of decentralization, the articles in this book
try to simplify the core issues for the general reader.
The National Newsmagazine, Vol. 20, No. 31, Feb 16
- Feb 22 , 2001.