Starting in 2009, as Nepal was beginning its long and still ongoing transition from civil war to a constitutional democracy, I was invited to help establish a public policy research and reform institute called The Niti Foundation. “Niti” means “policy” in Nepali. Our main project was to try to understand the existing policymaking process and diagnose major obstacles to democratic governance. I headed a research team under the expert guidance of Niti’s first director, Mr. Mohan das Manandhar. Together, we interviewed leaders and knowledgeable elites; wrote case studies of problematic areas in Nepali policy (public education, local democracy, hydropower, and garbage disposal); held a series of “policy labs” in which we brainstormed ways around the obstacles identified in our case studies; and ultimately, wrote a “Policy Diagnostic Study Report” which was published in 2012.
Research in the field
Posing with a child in Dhurikel: Everywhere I went, children and students often asked if they could have their photo taken with me. This little girl came right up to me and gestured that she wanted her picture taken. The only Nepali word I knew was “Namaste” so I got her to gesture with me.
With Mohan Das Manandhar, Director of the Niti Foundation, in Asan Bazaar. I am wearing a pashmina shawl given to me by Mohan and his wife Neera, and a jacket made in Nepal that I purchased in New Hampshire before my first trip.
This temple in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square was destroyed in the earthquake of May 2015. The photo was taken in September 2010 during the holiday “Gai Jatra.”