S11: Social Sciences


S11: Social Sciences

by Coordinators
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In recent decades, Nepal has seen unprecedented political movements, resulting in substantial changes in socio-cultural, political and economic spheres. Moreover, movements of people, particularly the rise of international labour migration in the past two decades, have led to multiple reconfigurations: of family structures, of socio-cultural and economic relations, of occupational practices, of consumption patterns, and so on. On the one hand, new class-based relations and inequalities are emerging. On the other, egalitarian —including caste and gender— policy reforms and behaviours are becoming more and more common. The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 has posed risks both to national and to international mobility. It has already disrupted the way we socialize and interact; old social norms are breaking down, and new patterns are emerging. In the face of these new challenges, as well as bearing in mind Nepal’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (particularly gender equality #5, reduced inequalities #10, race justice and institutions #16), the symposium on Social Sciences aims to bring leading social scientists and researchers from across the globe together in order to share and discuss recent research and experiences that help reshape policies to adapt to the new circumstances, and make use of new opportunities.

Social sciences entail a diverse field of studies, and issues to be discussed and addressed are multifarious. In order to accommodate to the format of the Convention (two allocated slots of two hours each), we are running sessions on selective themes which are among the most important issues facing the Nepali society: labour migration and higher education institutions building and research. The first session will be a seminar in which five invited experts in the field of migration in Nepal will be presenting papers covering issues concerning the subject, including Covid-19 and its impacts. The second session will be a roundtable discussion, in which six distinguished scholars from various Nepali and international academic institutions will engage in subjects of higher education institutions building and research culture. The sessions are also designed to engage general audience as much as possible. By sharing relevant personal experiences, and or presenting research-based evidences, and stimulating critical discussions, both the sessions are expected to be useful to the policy makers, researchers and practitioners. In addition, four papers covering various fields within social sciences will be presented under a special video/poster presentation session.

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Coordinator: Krishna Adhikari


Dr Krishna Adhikari is a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, where he has been (co-) leading a number of social science research projects, mainly on Nepal or the Nepali cultural world since 2010. He is currently Co-investigator on a British Academy-funded project, ‘The Dalit Search for Dignity’, in (mid and far) Western Nepal. He is a founder of UK-based think tank, Centre for Nepal Studies UK, and currently the Chair of Britain-Nepal Academic Council. His research interests include: caste and ethnic relations and identity politics; education, employment, and social mobility; migration and diaspora communities; social capital and community-based institutions; international and rural development; collective action and the governance of natural resource management.

14.30-16.30 Seminar on international labour migration, Covid-19 and impacts
17.00- 9.00 Roundtable on the higher education institutions and research culture
Time TBC Video/poster presentation (various papers)


Seminar on International Labour Migration, Covid-19 Pandemic, and Impacts in Nepal


Krishna Adhikari


Consequences of Covid-19 on foreign labour migration in Nepal: A need for incorporating resiliency framework in migration policies and activities.

Jagannath Adhikari


Covid-19 has clearly exposed the fact that Nepal government has no capacity and policy framework to protect its migrant workers in the event of disasters. Even though migrant workers have been contributing to the economy through hard and dangerous work, they did not receive even the basic support from the government that they are entitled to (for example, support from ‘welfare fund’) in this pandemic. With the lack of policy framework to manage migration during disasters like Covid-19, there was also confusion about how to support migrants who face problems. Based on studies with migrants and investigative journalistic reports, this paper highlights the problems that the migrants experienced in work (destination country), while returning to Nepal and in going back to their society, and their interests in migration vis-à-vis work in Nepal, and the support they expect from the government or public institutions. The findings are used to present a policy framework that could help in making migration resilient even during disastrous events like this pandemic. Here the concept of ‘disaster management’ that emphasizes ‘rescue’, ‘relief’, and ‘recovery’ are employed along with ways to integrate migration and remittances with economic growth within the country so that migrants can be engaged when they return home and the economy as a whole does not collapse. This could also help in making migration/remittances contributory to sustainable development within the country.

Jagannath Adhikari is associated with universities in Australia as adjunct faculty – currently with University of New South Wales and Curtin University of Technology. His research interests lie in the intersection of agrarian change, migration and development, climate change and food security. He has authored and co-authored more than a dozen books, and published several research articles and book-chapters on these themes. 

Nepalese workers in India: an invisible yet vital labour migration

Tristan Bruslé                                                                                        


Over the last two decades, the issue of Nepalese labour migration to India has been obscured by new migrations to Gulf countries and to South East Asia and by the process of diasporisation of Nepalese people in Western countries. Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Nepalese migrants go to work, either permanently or seasonally, in every part of India, they seem to be invisible and are not given appropriate attention. However, for millions of poor households, India is still a destination that enables them to make a livelihood (gujara garna), to make ends meet when agriculture no longer suffices or when the Nepalese labour market offers very few job prospects. In this paper, I will try to explain why labour migration to India is invisible in the public discourse, and what is at stake regarding this particular mobility in terms of livelihood strategies, jobs and migration dynamics.  

Tristan Bruslé is a geographer based at the Centre for Himalayan Studies (CNRS, France). His main interest lies in international migration, mobility and urbanisation in Nepal. He is particularly interested in migration dynamics from households’ perspective.

COVID 19 and Migration: An Employment Strategy for Returnees in Nepal

Ganesh Gurung


Before COVID-19, Nepal was sending 1,009 Nepali youths to foreign countries for employment every day. It was especially to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Malaysia. In return, Nepal received 2.39 billion Nepali rupees in remittances every day, which is equivalent to 28 per cent of Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is more than from the agricultural sector. Thus, remittances remain a bloodline of Nepal’s economy. However, after COVID-19, migrants are returning home every day and more than five hundred thousand have already returned from India. Nearly two hundred thousand youths are waiting to return to Nepal from GCC and Malaysia. Thus, there remains challenge to provide employment to the returnees. One of the potential sectors to employ these returnees is agriculture but it has structural barriers such as land ownership, rampant intermediaries, availability of agricultural inputs and profit margin. So, employment in the agricultural sector cannot be the strategy until the problems in the sector are addressed. Five to seven hundred thousand Indian workers have returned to India where Nepali returnees can be employed easily for which a proper practical planning should be crafted immediately until agriculture sector is ready to employ.

Ganesh Gurung has PhD from University of Lucknow, India. He did his PhD on migration issues of Nepal. He was member of National Planning Commission and until recently he was Executive Chairman of Nepal’s Think Tank – Policy Research Institute. He was Visiting Fellow in Harvard University USA and Yonneyama Fellow in Japan. He has written/edited books/articles on migration, land and social issues.

(Im)Mobility, Coronavirus and the Migrant Worker: Some reflections from South Asia

Bandita Sijapati

The COVID-19 induced economic crisis has brought the world, including migrant-receiving countries, to a near standstill. In addition to the possible loss of jobs and risk of contagion, the pandemic is also having a ripple effect in terms of the mass return of migrants, reduction in remittance flows that migrant-receiving households have been dependent on, and, in many instances, increases in xenophobic and discriminatory treatment of migrants. Among others, migrant-sending countries like Nepal are being forced to address the challenges experienced by their migrant workers abroad while at the same time attempting to keep their remittance-driven economy afloat. The experience from South Asia indicates that addressing these challenges is not easy but there are lessons to be learnt from the various measures that the individual countries in the region have taken which Nepal can adopt and adapt moving forward.

Bandita Sijapati is currently a Senior Social Development Specialist with the World Bank. Prior to that, she served as Research Director at the Centre for the Study of Labor and Mobility, Social Science Baha, during which she carried out extensive research and participated in national and international policy dialogues in the field of labour and migration from Nepal and the South Asia region. Bandita received her PhD from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She has a Master’s degree from Columbia University, New York, and a Bachelor’s from Macalester College, Minnesota. She was also a Visiting Academic at the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS).

The Future of International Labour Migration in the Post-Covid World: Challenges and Opportunities for Nepal

Ramesh Sunam


The coronavirus pandemic has significantly disrupted international labour migration. Unsettling Nepal’s ‘remittance economy’, the pandemic and economic fallout has posed severe risks to the livelihoods of Nepali migrant workers and their families. Nepal is already witnessing a return of migrant workers from foreign countries, mostly irregular Nepali migrants and those losing jobs. In this paper, I examine the key characteristics of international labour migration and Nepal’s own domestic contexts to contemplate the future of labour migration from Nepal. In the next few years, with movement restrictions and financial stagnation in labour destination countries including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Malaysia, labour migration from Nepal may decline. However, I argue that given that Nepal is minimally prepared to engage a bulk of unemployed people and the migrant returnees, it is unrealistic to assume that foreign labour migration may not resume soon after the revival of global economies. The Nepali government can utilise this crisis to restrain labour outmigration with focused policies for agricultural transformation while addressing the critical push factors of migration. The agriculture sector provides tremendous opportunities for transforming Nepali ‘remittance villages’ to (re)engage both prospective migrants and migrant returnees for enhancing their livelihoods.

Ramesh Sunam is an Assistant Professor at Waseda University, Japan. Sunam is also a Research Fellow at the Global Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (GIIS), a research institution based in Kathmandu. He has published 20+ research articles, many appearing in leading international journals. He has recently published a book: The Remittance Village: Transnational Labour Migration, Livelihoods and Agrarian Change in Nepal (Routledge, 2020). He is also the author of the book Samabeshitako Bahas. The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) has awarded him “Grant-in-Aid for Early-Career Scientists” grant to undertake research on intra-Asian labour migration. He earned a PhD from the Australian National University (ANU).


Jeevan Baniya, Social Science Baha, Nepal

Jeevan Baniya is a Ph.D. in Political Science from University of Oslo, Norway. He is the Assistant Director at Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal. He served as an Expert Member in Task Force Committee for the Government of Nepal to review foreign employment related policies, laws, and other provisions. He has published several research papers and articles on labour and migration. He has also served as a faculty at Department of International Relations and Diplomacy (MIRD), Tribhuvan University, teaching masters and PhD degree courses.

Neha Chaudhary, ILO, Nepal

Neha Choudhary has been working at the International Labour Organization (ILO) since June 2018.  Based in Nepal, she is the National Project Coordinator for the Integrated Programme on Fair Recruitment, which aims to reduce deceptive and coercive practices during the recruitment process of migrant workers and the violations of their fundamental principles and rights at work, as well as other human and labour rights in the migration cycle. Sociologist by training, her area of interests include labour migration, gender migration, and social integration of migrants.

Part 2

ROUNDTABLE: Higher Education in Nepal: Building Institutions, Enhancing Research Capacity

For over 25 years until the mid-1980s Nepal had only one university, with constituent campuses based in major towns. After 1990 Nepal permitted the establishment of new universities, both public and private, as well as non-governmental development and research institutions.  Alongside the regional and specialized universities that are already in operation, under the new federal set-up there are policies in place to establish new provincial universities. The rapid expansion of higher education must certainly be welcomed as a necessary investment in Nepal’s people, the country’s main asset; and the development of high-quality education within Nepal is certainly desirable as a way to stem the flow of students leaving the country to study abroad. But the huge and extremely rapid expansion, and the rise of such extensive private provision, raises many questions about institution-building, about the quality of teaching, about whether the new institutions will actually meet the needs of the country, about the capacity of such tertiary institutions to encourage and support a culture of research activity among both staff and students, and about equity of access and widening participation. The proposed panel aims to open discussion on these issues.

This discussion panel will be in two parts. The first part will focus on the setting up of new institutions and the specific problems encountered in doing so. The second part will discuss research capacity, how it can be enhanced, and whether and to what extent there can be a role for NRNs, NGOs, and private research institutions and others, whether based in Nepal or abroad.


David Gellner, University of Oxford, UK

David Gellneris Professor of Social Anthropology and a Fellow of All Souls College in the University of Oxford. He has worked on Nepal for 40 years, particularly on religion, ethnicity, politics, caste, class, and migration. Many of his writings can be found on academia.edu. In 2019 he and Krishna Adhikari edited a special issue of Contributions to Nepalese Studies on ‘Nepal’s Dalits in Transition’.


Pratyoush Onta, Martin Chautari, Nepal

Pratyoush Ontais a historian.  He has written about Nepali nationalism, area studies, higher education and the media.  He is also the founding editor of the journals Studies in Nepali History and Society (est. 1996) and Media Adhyayan (est. 2006, in Nepali; now renamed Samaj Adhyayan).  He is currently the director of research at Martin Chautari in Kathmandu.

Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, Bielefeld Universtity, Germany

Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, Professor of Social Anthropology in the Faculty of Sociology, University of Bielefeld, has research and published on higher education for the last ten years, with a focus on international student mobilities, especially within and to Asia, Dalits in higher education, and inequality and social mobility at universities in South Asia and Europe. She has conducted research in Nepal and South Asia since the 1980s.

Kushum Shakya, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Kushum Shakyais Professor of Economics, and is the Dean at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, in Tribhuvan University. Prior to this she served the University as the Head of Central Department of Economics (Feb, 2018- July, 2020. She also served as the Director of Quality Assurance and Accreditation, UGC, Nepal (July 2008-May 2011). She is a PhD in economics from TU in 2008.

Padam Simkhada, Huddersfield University, UK

Padam Simkhada is Professor of Global Health and Associate Dean International in the School of Human and Health Sciences, Huddersfield University. He has a keen interest in the internationalization of higher education. His current research focuses on health system research, maternal health, reproductive and sexual health and migration. He has published over 170 research articles in peer-reviewed journals, the majority related to Nepal.

Deepak Thapa, Social Science Baha, Nepal

Deepak Thapa is the Director of the Social Science Baha, a research organisation based in Kathmandu. He has written extensively on Nepal’s contemporary political developments and is also a columnist with The Kathmandu Post.  

Part 3

Video/Poster Presentation (Various)

Situation of migrant workers between Nepal and India during COVID-19

Deepak Chandra Bhatta, Assistant Professor, Far-Western University

Females in Agritourism: Exploring Best Jobs

Kumar Bhatta, Chiba University, Japan and Yasuo Ohe, Tokyo University of Agriculture

Responding to the Coronavirus pandemic: A study of Nepal’s Epidemic law regime

Jivesh Jha, Judicial Officer, Birgunj High Court.

Right and privileges of the Dalits in Nepal: A Constitutional study

Raksha Ram, Judicial Officer of the Supreme Court of Nepal

To register for this event please visit the following URL: http://knowledge.nrna.org/participate/ →


Date And Time

2020-10-11 @ 02:30 PM to
2020-10-11 @ 07:00 PM


Online event

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