Patrimonial and Bureaucratic Administration in Nepal: Historical Change and Weberian Theory

Edwards, Daniel Walker

     This thesis is not a political or administrative history of Nepal during the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. It does attempt to relate evidence, primarily on the Rana administration (1846-1950) to theoretical ideas on patrimonial administration in 'traditional' societies and on the development and characteristics of 'modern' bureaucratic administration. Using as a case study a form of government and bureaucracy which, until a quarter of a century ago, operated within a country isolated from the rest of the world, the thesis, first of all, has a descriptive purpose. It presents a good deal of new information derived from unpublished government documents and interviews with the relatively small number of men who are still alive to tell about their years of service under the Rana regime. Secondly, it has an analytic purpose, to 'test' or evaluate the usefulness of certain typologies of administration in illuminating the realities of one historical bureaucracy. Guided by the comparative method, the Nepali bureaucracy is examined at two different periods, during the first and the latter decades of Rana rule. This should allow consideration of a third general question: to what extent the bureaucracy changed or 'developed' while the Ranas held power, whether it developed more 'rational' and bureaucratic features and whether these made it a more efficient instrument of administration.