George Varughese

Nepal elections 

Nepal Embarks on New Political Course

November 29, 2017


Millions of Nepalis on Sunday cast their votes in the first of two-phase provincial and federal elections which will conclude on December 7. Thousands of candidates from more than 90 parties are competing for 275 seats in the new federal parliament and 550 seats in seven provincial assemblies across the country. A police personnel guards a polling… Read more

Nepal local elections 

Peaceful Municipal Elections Show That Nepal Is Not as Divided at the Local Level

November 1, 2017


Below is an excerpt from an interview with The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Nepal, George Varughese, first published by World Politics Review. In mid-September, Nepal closed the chapter on its first local elections in two decades, as the third phase of voting for municipal bodies took place in restive southern Nepal. The vote was fre… Read more

Nepal local elections 

From Subjects to Citizens: Reconnecting Nepalis with a Democratic Political Process

May 10, 2017


Next week, Nepalis will vote in local elections for the first time in 20 years. The first phase of elections will be held on May 14 in federal provinces 3, 4, and 6; the second phase is scheduled for June 14 in provinces 1, 2, 5, and 7. Election fever has certainly gripped the country and there is much excitement about having elected representative… Read more

Nepal elections 

Why Nepal’s Upcoming Local Elections Matter More than Ever

April 26, 2017


On May 14, Nepalis will go to elections for newly-delineated local (village and municipal) governments. These comprise one of three constitutionally mandated elections to be completed by January 2018. At the time they were announced, the news of elections at the local level brought mixed reactions from those who wish for some si… Read more

Commuters travel through one of New Delhi's 146 metro stations. 

Eye on South Asia: Challenges to Development and Democracy

Berkeley, Wednesday, March 22, 2017


5:00 pm – 7:00 pm University of California Berkeley Faculty Club, Seaborg Room Home to 1.7 billion people, South Asia was the world’s fastest growing economic region in 2016, and is expected to hold this spot in 2017. However, South Asian countries continue to face daunting challenges of persistent poverty, widening inequality, and growing instabil… Read more


Commemorating the Life of Former Nepali Minister Madhav Ghimire

October 5, 2016


Madhav Ghimire Madhav Ghimire was a man of substance and grace, and we must remember him by celebrating a life devoted to Nepal. About 20 years ago, while researching the impact of foreign aid on local collective action in Nepal, a trusted friend suggested I meet a civil servant who could be relied upon to be balanced and pragmatic about Nepal’s co… Read more


A Pyrrhic Victory and Ominous Sign for Politics in Nepal

August 10, 2016


Last week, Nepal elected Pushpa Kamal Dahal (aka Prachanda, the “fearsome one”) as the country’s 24th prime minister in 25 years. The former rebel chief and chairman of the CPN-Maoist Center (MC) was sworn in to govern for a whopping nine months. Following his turn, Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba is already lined up to govern as prime mi… Read more


Perilous Progress in Nepal

February 3, 2016


Following seven years of fitful birthing Nepal’s new constitution was promulgated in September 2015, and instantly became the epicentre of ongoing political turmoil that threatens to undermine progress on many fronts in the country. The culmination of a protracted political transition since the comprehensive peace accord of 2006, the new constitution attempts…

A man sits for a smoke in front of green rice fields 

Nepal: The Quake and the Constitution

June 24, 2015


Two months have passed since Nepal was rocked by a series of devastating earthquakes. The tremors continue, but it appears that the earth is finally settling and some respite may be had – for a short while at least, until the monsoon rains bring their annual havoc of landslides and floods, which are certain to be far worse this year…


In Quake’s Wake, the Price of Political Disarray

April 29, 2015


The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday morning, April 25, and the 6.5 aftershock the following day, left frightened residents here in Kathmandu huddled in the rain in streets blocked with rubble and shaken by powerful tremors that made those structures still standing too dangerous to enter. Deaths are now estimated at over 5,500, a number that will continue to climb as emergency workers dig through collapsed buildings and push into the most affected districts of Dhading, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, and Sindhupalchok.


The Stubborn Persistence of Gender Inequality

April 1, 2015


Despite the swelling mantra of women’s empowerment, and the proliferation of gender-sensitive approaches in aid program descriptions, the snail-like advancement of women in developing countries continues to indict our best efforts. Microfinance programs, reserved seats for women in parliament, and a raft of…


Politicking in Nepal: It’s Not Just About the Constitution

January 21, 2015


January 22 marks the deadline for a new constitution in Nepal, as committed to by all political parties participating in the 2013 Constituent Assembly (CA) elections. But on Tuesday of this week, thousands of police were deployed and schools and shops were shut down in the capital…


Academics, Practitioners, and Donors: Whose Evidence Counts and For What?

December 10, 2014


There is a difficult tension in the evidence-seeking agenda: on the one hand, donors seek short-term, project-related outcomes to support claims about their impact on a grand scale in a society; on the other hand, society-level impact does not seem measurable…