Book Review: James Chiriyankandath, Ed. 2015. Parties and Political Change in South Asia

Published date01 December 2015
Date01 December 2015
Subject MatterBook Reviews
346 Book Reviews
security. An external threat did not exist either. The structure of its security forces
underwent changes that sought to incorporate its former Maoist foes into the NA.
The United Nations Mission in Nepal calculated that there were 19,602 former
Maoist combatants although only 1,500 were eventually incorporated into the
NA. While done in the interests of national reconciliation and force restructuring,
this process proved complex and not without a degree of controversy.
The book provides a postscript, written in 2014, to counter his concluding
pessimistic statement that ‘the dream was dead’ (p. 334). After the loss of 16,000 people
to internal conflict over many troubled years, Jha reflects that ‘the process of political
change takes generations’ (p. 343). The uneven advancement of Nepal becoming a
republic and the pursuit of drafting their constitution are shown as having been no
easy trek. The battles that the Nepalese people have undertaken in this journey are
un-romanticized and unadorned. As Nepal heads closer towards its post-monarchy
goal of the drafting and acceptance of a new constitution, the struggles, hopes and
fortitude of its people clearly show that many seek to achieve a new republic that is
replete with ‘republicanism, secularism, federalism, inclusion and democracy’. This
first-person narrative account from Jha is a perfect entrée for those seeking to under-
stand the recent history and contemporary issues in Nepal.
Gavin Briggs
Lecturer in National Security and International Relations
Curtin University, Australia
James Chiriyankandath, Ed. 2015. Parties and Political Change in South
Asia. London: Routledge. 195 pp. ISBN: 978-1-138-82156-9
DOI: 10.1177/2347797015601921
Over the past seven decades, political parties have become a defining feature of
the political landscape of South Asia. Parties and Political Change in South Asia
is a collection of eight scholarly papers focusing on different aspects of how major
parties have been agents of the tumultuous change in the three South Asian
nations; India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. As such, this book covers a wide range
of issues such as gender, religion, patronage, clientelism, political recruitment,
democratic regression, dynastic patronage and the lack of pluralism in intraparty
affairs that renders parties and political systems vulnerable to degeneration in
South Asia. Political changes in South Asia have largely been driven by political
parties hence making the study of political party formation an important aspect to
explore. This book primarily seeks to explore these relationships and situate them
within a broad historical context, tracing continuities and changes between politi-
cal parties and political change in South Asia. The book adds valuable commen-
tary on various factors, which has influenced the party formation and hence the
political changes in South Asia.

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