Professor Durga D. Poudel
As a continuation to the last article on “Viability of Federalism”, this article discusses some benefits and drawbacks of federalism in
Benefits of federalism.
The basic reason and motivation behind federalism is to put limits on the power of the central government to protect federal states against tyranny, and empower common people and provide opportunities for people’s full participation on economic, social, resource utilization, and other related agendas of a federal state. This system of governance is practiced largely by a nation that is born through the fusion of various nations. Another advantage of this system can be viewed as the enhancement of opportunities for bottom-up planning with a better grasp of the local issues and concerns. Also, each federal state can serve as a laboratory for different policies and programs. Successful programs and policies from a federal state could be transferred to other states. Federalism corrects the problem of decentralization, and helps in formulating laws that are appropriate to a region or a community. Through the process of enhanced people’s participation, formulation of appropriate policies and programs, empowerment of communities, and decentralization, federalism is expected to help eradicate poverty, inequality, and social injustice in
Drawbacks of federalism
In addition to its costliness, danger of national disintegration, role conflicts between the central and the state governments, the problem of equitable sharing of natural resources, and differences in educational, health, and other services among the states, the drawbacks of federalism in
Ethnic and cultural recognition - Because the past system of governance had miserably failed to fully accommodate ethnic communities, minorities, women, and common people in governance and decision making, ethnic and indigenous groups in Nepal are looking for their recognition and are demanding their full participation in state affairs. As a result, voices are raised for ethnic/linguistic federalism or geographical/regional federalism in
Poverty alleviation – There is no evidence that federalism results in the alleviation of poverty. Some of the key measures of poverty alleviation include enterprise development, employment generation, community empowerment, strategic planning and development, natural resource conservation and utilization, education and skill development, infrastructural development, agricultural productivity enhancement, availability of finance and credit, appropriate rules and regulations, peace, and good governance. While the problems of food security, employment generation, development of basic infrastructures, and the prevalence of law and order in the nation require highly coordinated, focused, and united efforts, how will federalism address this urgent issue of poverty eradiation in
Foreign intervention – Almost every political leader and political party in
Our sense of oneness and solidarity - Despite Nepal’s extremely poor transportation and communication infrastructures, rugged terrain, poor economy, large ethnic and linguistic diversity, and extremely isolated ethnic communities and population, Nepalese people have thus far enjoyed their unity amidst diversity, and have developed a strong sense of oneness and solidarity over the past 240 years. Due to the latest information technologies and improving communication infrastructures, Nepalese from every ethnic community, geographic region, and linguistic group are coming together while appreciating their cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and geographic diversities. Strengthening of the sense of oneness and the building of solidarity among Nepalese citizens for the nation’s economic development and socio-economic transformation is continuously progressing. Our collective spirit and harmony, sense of oneness and solidarity, our pride over ethnic and cultural diversity and geographical variations, as well as our belief and commitment on the sustainable utilization and the development of natural resources for economic revolution in Nepal are the pre-requisites and the foundations for the development of our nation, societies, and the preservation of our culture and traditions. How is federalism going to further cultivate and develop this sense of “oneness and solidarity” among us is yet another big question.
Dr. Poudel is a Professor and Head at the Department of Renewable Resources and a Fellow of the Center for Cultural and Eco-tourism at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S.A. Dr. Poudel was born in Tanahu, and received his B. Sc. Degree from Pakistan, M. Sc. From AIT