Kathmandu: The Great Upheaval: Resetting Development Policy and Institutions for the Decade of Action in Asia and the Pacific, edited jointly by two senior officials of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was published by Cambridge University Press (CUP) and unveiled in Bangkok on March 31. Co-editors Swarnim Waglé and Kanni Wignaraja are chief economic advisor and director, respectively, at UNDP’s Asia-Pacific bureau in New York.
The book has thirteen chapters in addition to an Introduction by the editors and a foreword by the Administrator of UNDP, Achim Steiner. The chapters touch on six broad themes: climate change, economic production and productivity, digitalization, regional and global public goods, state capability, and human development-related themes of equality of opportunity, human security, and multidimensional poverty.
The book sets out options for policymakers to consider as we head into a new Asia-Pacific Century, one where economic strength will be necessary but insufficient by itself, as inclusion, resilience and sustainability—once seen as moral choices—become imperatives for the planet’s future, according to the publisher.
Kanni Wignaraja, originally from Sri Lanka, and educated at Bryn Mawr and Princeton, is one of the United Nations’ most seasoned development leaders.
The book has a heavy Nepali footprint.
Dr Swarnim Waglé is an eminent Nepali economist who has served as the vice-chair of National Planning Commission (NPC). He is widely recognized in Nepal as a public intellectual looked up to by the younger generation for his acumen and reform-oriented credentials in development economics. His three-year tenure at NPC was noted for delivery on post-disaster policy responses, economic reforms, long-term development strategy formulation, international positioning, and organizational change at NPC. Waglé also chairs a South Asian think-tank, the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS), based in Kathmandu.
The policy volume carries contributions by several other scholars and artists from Nepal.
Arnico Panday, a scholar, advocate and practitioner in the field of atmospheric sciences with a doctorate from MIT has contributed a chapter on ‘The Third Pole,’ documenting the impacts of climate change in the Hindukush-Himalaya.
Professor Avidit Acharya, a political-economist at Stanford University has co-authored a chapter on ‘equality of opportunity’ with John Roemer of Yale, one of the world’s leading thinkers on the subject of equality.
The book is being launched through a series of policy dialogues in New York, Bangkok, Berlin, Delhi and Kathmandu, according to Waglé. The book cover used by Cambridge University Press was designed by Hari Marasini who is based in Kathmandu, and includes an original painting by one of Nepal’s foremost artists, Ragini Upadhyay. Waglé notes that he selected this painting because it perfectly depicted the pandemic with a “masked man and woman, appropriately sanitized and distanced.”
UNDP has made the book freely downloadable here.