Student Political Activism in Nepal: Vanguards of Democracy or Powerless Pawns?

  •  Sharad Chandra Rai    


Student political activism declined in the Global South after the 1990s. However, it has remained strong in Nepal despite the fact that it has undergone similar socio-political changes. This paper demonstrates that the main reason for the distinct nature of Nepali student political activism lies in the patron–client relationship between student organizations and political parties. Undoubtedly, the contribution of student organizations in the establishment of democracy in the three major democratic mass movements in Nepal is incomparable. However, the nature of their relationship with their mother political parties transformed from a semi-autonomous to a subordinate relationship after the institutionalisation of a multi-party democracy in 1990. This interdependent relationship is maintained and consistently solidified through the mutual exchange of resources, both material and non-material. This paper concludes that student political activism in Nepal is not expected to decline in the near future, because these patronage-dispensing political parties are perceived to be part of the state by the general Nepali society—one that controls state resources and institutions, including universities and public campuses.

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