“Nepal No Part Of Any Hindu Nationalist Expansion” Lord Megnad Desai

LORD MEGNAD DESAI is a renowned economist and Labor peer, whose interests range from Marxian economics to post colonial theory. Professor Emeritus at London School of Economics (LSE), Desai’s research spans over 50 years in a broad range of topics concerning the impact of the private sector and state in development, Marxian economics, globalization and market liberalization. As an active member of the British Labor Party, where he acted as chairman during 1986-92, Desai has made vast contributions to developing the field of economics from human development to economic history and political economy. Desai, who had taught at LSE since 1965 and became professor in 1983, was recently in Patna to address an international conference on Bihar and Jharkhand organized to celebrate the silver Jubilee of Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI). Lord Meghnad Desai's book, Marx's Revenge, is one of the widely read books. As the left movement is declining around the world, Lord Desai spoke to KESHAB POUDEL at the sidelines of the conference at Patna. Excerpts:

Issue Name : Vol.10,No 16,April 7,2017 (Chaitra 25,2073)

How do you see the importance of your book Marx’s Revenge in the present context?

My book was really not about the failure of Marx, but the failure of Lenin. I want to make a distinction that Marx never put a date on the end of capitalism. The capitalism is itself in a crisis. It will dissolve or it will fade away when there is a better mode of production available. Actually, what is proved is that capitalism has itself a lot of energy in it than the Leninism.

How do you see the future of Leninism?

Leninism as a political program has stayed on. It has also a lot of energy and it will stay in China. It is healthy working system. However, China is basically Maoist based on peasant revolution. However, it shares a number of things in Leninism. In fact, China’s communist party had an apprentice of ten years in Henan. They know how to rule. But in Soviet Union, Lenin and his man had low experiences of running anything. So, China was able to establish sustainable Leninism. People's Republic of China has been running for last 68 years.

 Will Leninism work in Nepal?

My answer is that Nepal has been in almost an aberration because Nepal has not gone through the bourgeois phase. One has to consider Nepalese Marxists are in bourgeoisie revolutionary phase. There is a small middle class in Nepal and they are religious. I don’t think that there is a sustainable and workable philosophy, which is coming out of Leninism which can solve all the problems of Nepal.

Why can Nepal not implement Leninism?

You know you have so many peculiarities as Nepal is a landlocked country and very much dominated by a few big regional neighbors. For long time, Nepal wasa colony of colonyand linked to the British Army as a supplier of soldiers. We are all surprised that India has a Maoism which has never succeeded and Nepalese Maoists have made a success.

How do you look at Nepalese Maoists?

Nepalese Maoists are not really Maoist in real sense. They are bourgeoisie transition. Nepal stayed feudal much longer than anywhere else because of independence from Britain. It was kept from development for a long time. Nepal will have to go simultaneously from bourgeoisie phase to development phase. But it is always going to be a difficult country to govern and transform. Bhutan, Jammu Kashmir, Sikkim and Nepal were very peculiar Himalayan states. They are smaller than Tibet. Bhutan manages in complete isolation with limited exposure, Sikkim was forcefully integrated into India and Nepal has maintained its place in different ways.

In the context of rightist forces, how do you see the current phenomenon of declining left or center to the left? What will be the implications for countries like Nepal?

To some extent, the right is more nationalist and liberal order becomes internationalist. Ultimately what happened is people were losers from the international order, who were less educated. They lost out because manufacturing was relocated to Asia from the west. Although service sector and financial sector grows up, all they require is a lot of education. The people fall behind because their school level education goes down. They lost manual job and there were no more welfare packages available in the west. As the manufacturing hubs disappeared, everything was lost. In some ways, the current right is popular because it promises to addresses the needs of those who have lost. The question now is: can Trump deliver by using tariffs and some protectionism measures?

 How do you see the future of left?

The left claimed that they didn’t believe in the free trade and globalization and they championed the slogan of protectionism. However, the left was convinced to abandon their protectionist stand and join the general liberal economic order. That order is now in a difficulty because of rise of right. It has run out of energy because after the crisis of 2008 and the people have lost everything. As the recovery has taken too long, people cannot pay the debt. In this backdrop, the liberal order is facing the threat from within and outside.

What is your impression about Brexit and U.S. Elections?

The Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory were a result of a mobilization of those who have lost by the right not by the left. And, so the question is: whether the right delivers better conditions? I don’t mind, whether right or left, if they deliver or look after the people who are neglected and left out.

Do you think capitalism benefits the people?

Even if capitalism works, people may or may not benefit.The right has energy to be genuinely populists. It will be a wise way of looking what would be Trump's position. He will put tax cut to the rich and put enough barriers so that his clients gain.  If he will get reelected it will change the nature of politics, because you have to reconsider left right category.

What is the future of left?

Currently the left of political spectrum across the western world has lost almost all energy since the crisis of 2008, we have not seen resurgence of social democratic party to power very much. We have seen a left retreating as they have very much compromised. The left does not have answers. That is where the right has moved in and probably this is some of the answer.

Out of four Himalayan states, Nepal has so much of similarities with India. How do you see this?

Hindu nationalists of India have never expressed any desire to take over Nepal as far as I know. I have gone through their statements and ideology; they are more on Pakistan. All the way Indian nationalists have created Nepal as no go area. There is no hegemony discourse. There were obvious Sikkim and Bhutan. Nepal is not a part of any expansion phase of Hindu nationalists. 

What impact will be there from the rise of Hindu Nationalist movement on Nepal?

Unless there is a Hindu Nationalist movement in Nepal, which is one of the madness, like that of success of Maoists movement. Otherwise, it will be difficult to see Hindu nationalist movement in Nepal.

How do you see the Chinese interest?

China does not want to lose Nepal as they need Nepal’s independence to defend Tibet. They obviously consider Nepal as a frontline defense. I think if somebody looks at the whole geography from Afghanistan, Kashmir, Tibet and Nepal and Bhutan, it is very interesting geography on the top of the world. All are mountainous countries and all are small. But, the territory of Tibet is huge. So far Nepal is concerned; it gains more from what is happening in Tibet. China needs stability in Tibet. If Tibet destabilizes, Nepal’s fortune will change and it will be very difficult for Nepal.

What implications are there for Nepal after BJP rise in India?

I have read a lot of BJP and RSS literature but Nepal is not a part of their ambition of Hindu nation. India does not want a major trouble with China involving Nepal. Until then, Hindu Nationalists have no ambitions about Nepal. This is the region there was no resentment and moment in India by BJP even after the removal of Hindu monarchy and Hindu state.


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