Local Values in Governance: Legacy of Choho in Forest and School Management in a Tamang Community in Nepal
The political modernization in Nepal accelerated since 1951 when the country changed its course owing to a popular movement that was acclaimed as the beginning of democracy in the country. However, the governments continued cultural and political homogenization. This has been so in the case of local governance practices as well. Modern governing structures/institutions are guided by the state formed policies and elite-based power structures despite the fact that different ethnic groups in Nepal have their own traditional self-governance systems. In this context, this article unfolds the inheritance of traditional practices of the Tamang community (one of the major ethnic groups of Nepal), in a village, in the district adjoining Kathmandu valley, within the modern structures of governance of forest and school management systems. The paper argues that there is a legacy of the traditional institution, the Choho, though the system of Choho itself has now largely disappeared. This paper, based on ethnographic fieldwork, presents the accounts of Choho and examples of how the particular norms, values, beliefs, and practices are still in practice challenging and denying the modern/state formed mechanisms of governing the forests and schools in the village. The paper further argues that given the modern governance system, the traditional souvenir exchange practice that was rooted in the notion of honour and respect has now shifted towards the practice of giving and receiving gifts based upon the principle of reciprocal benefits that could be described as a bribe.