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Presenting a paper at the South Asian Conference

For the first time on Friday, I was presenting a paper on an academic conference. I was nervous. Besides presenting, I had to moderate the presentation as a chair of the panel. This responsibility added to the stress. And, the presentation was 8:30 in the Friday morning.

Despite that when the annual South Asian Conference 2005, organized by South Asia Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison began I was not as nervous as I thought I would be. I carried quite well.

My panels consisted of three presenters, Mahendra Lawoti, Li Onesto and myself and it was titled as “Causes, Strategies, and Consequences of the Maoist Insurgency in Nepal”. In the presentation Mahendra dai compared the Maoist movements of Peru, Nepal, and India. He looked at the participation of ethnic groups in each country. Li, well known for reporting from Maoist heartland in late 1990s and her bias towards the Maoists, presented paper on the theoretical aspect of the insurgency. My paper attempted at understanding the Maoist movement in Nepal from a little different perspective than commonly seen. In the paper I argued that the grievance based model, which says that insurgency is a result of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment causes political violence, cannot sufficiently explain the violence because the Maoist insurgency began and spread at the time when political and economical opportunities were expanding in the 1990s in Nepal. Thus, I asserted that other factors, mainly – strong commitment of the CPN (Maoist) to the violence, the incompetent governments, lack of political consequences, and lack of cooperation from Royal Palace and the Royal Nepal Army to Nepal’s government helped in the success of the insurgency.

After our presentation, there were three other panels, which discussed about contentious politics and democratization in Nepal. These presentations came from as varied individuals as students of anthropology to security analyst and peace negotiators. However, each presentation helped in understanding Nepal’s current politics from a new and different perspective. Anne’s comparison of river pollutions in Kathmandu to democratic politics of 1990s were amusing and thought provoking, General Ashok Mehta’s lively and assertive presentation was informative and Ivan’s presentation of negotiations were complex yet enlightening.

Finally, dinner with all presenters, at Chautara though expensive, was full of light moments, serious discussions, and humorous statements. Especially Krishna Gyanwali ji’s, a Humphrey fellow at Michigan State, discussions with General Mehta made us laugh a lot.

Overall, it was a very productive day and I enjoyed each moment of being a part of intellectual community that is working on Nepal.



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