Strong states help underdeveloped countries reach their potential quickly and efficiently. This was the crux of the argument presented in “State Building in Post-Conflict Countries,” a lecture during third period on Monday by Dr. Krishna Hachhethu, professor of political science at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal. The lecture room was packed with students with an interest in Nepal, a political science class and most of the Political Science Department faculty.
Dr. Hachhethu emphasized in his presentation the difference between nation-building and state-building. He defined state-building as a governmental mechanism of “institutional capability,” and said it is rendered legitimate by a social contract between the state and the people. Nation-building, on the other hand, is more concerned with the external, diplomatic and militaristic aspects of a country’s foreign policy.
“Underdeveloped nations are put on trial for civil war… this creates fragile states,” Hachhethu said, and posited that an emphasis on state-building rather than nation-building can help war-ravaged areas grow.
Hacchhethu referenced his native Nepal as a nation that stands to benefit from nation building, citing the decade-long civil war between the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) and the old Nepalese monarchical system that began in 1996. He said that Nepal has been under the rule of six constitutions since 1949, and that this demonstration of the weakness of the Nepal state engendered the grueling civil war. With a stronger state promoting institutions that would benefit the most Nepalese people, Hachhethu claimed that the nation of Nepal could become peaceful and satisfy its citizens.
“A social contract must be present within state-building,” he said.
The lecture was an important one for any student concerned with the political theory of government institutions and its interaction with the people and particularly fascinating for those interested in the nation of Nepal, including junior Katrina Firor.
“After going to Nepal, the lecture gave me more context for why the political situation was so chaotic,” she said.