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Contribution to Book
Regionalism and National Unity in Nepal (2009)
  • Arjun Guneratne, Macalester College

"Thirty-three years after it was first published, Frederick Gaige’s book, Regionalism and National Unity in Nepal, remains the single best introduction to the socio-political context of Tarai politics. This is due first to the enduring quality of Gaige’s study of the Tarai; the research is meticulous, the analysis insightful, and the writing concise and clear. But the significance of his book is due also to the largely hill-oriented nature of social science research in Nepal. Scholars of Nepal, both domestic and foreign, have tended to gravitate to Nepal’s highlands for their research problems and study sites, even as the population and the relative importance of the Tarai to Nepal’s future has grown. The small corpus of books that deal with culture, society and politics in the Tarai, with few exceptions, do not deal with the region as a whole, and of those that do, none have the scope and insight of Gaige’s work. One of the conclusions that Gaige came to in the early 1970s was that the Tarai was not “a sea of discontent, ready to drown the government in a high tide of revolution” (p. 193). Thirty years later, the situation is different, and the new republic faces its most difficult challenge in the Tarai. Why that should be the case is a story waiting to be told, although bits and pieces of the answer are available in various minor studies." — Arjun Guneratne Regionalism and National Unity in Nepal is Frederick H. Gaige’s acclaimed study of the Tarai and the Nepali state’s misdirected and ineffectual attempts at integrating the region into the national mainstream. The theme of the book remains as relevant three decades later, especially at a time when the very essence of Nepali nationalism is being questioned and new forms of co-existence are being negotiated. The introduction by Arjun Guneratne updates the reader on the social and political context in which the book is being re-issued besides highlighting some of the more pertinent issues now at stake in the Tarai, indications of which are scattered throughout Gaige’s book.

Publication Date
Frederick H. Gaige
Social Science Baha
Citation Information
Arjun Guneratne. ""Introduction"" KathmanduRegionalism and National Unity in Nepal (2009)
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