Bookworm Babble (March 23, 2009)

Source: The Kathmandu Post

Constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari has been providing his invaluable insights into the current constitution-making process. He has authored many books on constitution-making, including his most famous 1998 volume "Commentary on the Nepalese Constitution".

Tell us a little about your reading habit.
I have no fixed time for reading as such. But most often, I read between 9-12 at night. I can concentrate better at night.

What do you read?
Mostly, I read on current issues, legal thoughts, and modern constitution-making.

Talking about constitution, what are the major issues that the new constitution should address?
There are so many things the new statute needs to address, chief among them institutionalisation of democracy, guaranteeing of human rights, deciding on the form of the government, restructuring the judiciary, and the all important issues of provisional set-up and devolution.

That must call for a lot of reading…
It does. Legal profession itself involves a lot of reading. We need to read a lot to develop our analytical skills and grasp the larger context while discussing legal disputes. For instance, in order to provide valuable suggestions to constitution making, I need to have a good handle of the country's political and constitutional background. I also have to keep myself updated on constitutions of other countries.

Do you do a lot of inter-disciplinary reading?
As I said, without a proper grounding in our political, cultural and social context, I cannot make any valuable suggestion for drafting of the constitution of New Nepal. That, in turn, involves a lot of reading on political thought, geo-politics, society, economy, education system, etc.

Which writers inspire you?
If you are talking about the legal field, I closely follow the likes of Prof. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School, Richard Postner who is considered the first name in law and economics and economist Jeffery Sachs.

Besides that I used to read Shakespeare a lot. In Nepali, my favourite writers are Laxmi Prasad Devkota, BP Koirala, Guru P. Mainali and Bhawani Bhikshu.

What books are you reading?
I have recently gone through Ludwig Stiller's "The Silent Cry" and Balkrishna Pokharel's "History of Khas People".

You are a columnist for The Kathmandu Post. In your opinion, are short newspaper articles as effective as books?
Well-written articles can save a lot of time by directly going into the crux of the matter. Read a good book review and you get a hang of what it is all about without having to read it. At other times, you might want to read more of a book that has gotten a good review. There is no hard and fast rule that one must read just books to gain knowledge.

Federalism is proving to be a tricky concept for Nepalis. Could you recommend a book which could be a good starting point to getting it?
No one book can cover each and every aspect of as vast a concept as federalism. But I had to recommend one, it would be Ronald Watts' "Comparing Federal Systems."

What about a book to help make sense of current political and constitutional turmoil in Nepal?
There are very few comprehensive books that cover the current political turmoil in the country. In fact, I cannot even think of one serious work on the topic. There is no substitute to reading as much on the topic as you can.

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