News & Events

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Event Type: News & Events
Event Location: IIDS

Movie on The House - Episode 8


The Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) hosted its 8th Movie on the House (MOTH) series with the screening of “The Wave” on the 26th of April 2024. This event was in collaboration with Yuwa Nepal and the Global Shapers Community (Kathmandu Hub). The movie screening was followed by an interactive panel discussion. The panel comprised Prof. Krishna Khanal, Senior Political Scientist; Mr. C.K. Lal, Senior Political Columnist; and Ms. Divya Rana, Program Officer at the Centre for Human Assets, IIDS. Dr. Sucheta Pyakuryal, Director of the Center for Governance, moderated the discussion.  

What is “The Wave” about? 

‘The Wave’ explores the thought-provoking journey of Ron Jones, a history teacher, who embarked on a robust social experiment to address a critical question in relation to the German population’s alleged conformity of Nazi atrocities. Jones devised an immersive classroom experience. Through strict discipline and a distinctive salute, he replicated elements of fascist control, observing as his students not only embraced the structure but also policed each other's behaviours. 

As the experiment unfolded, Jones expanded its scope, simulating broader societal dynamics within the school environment. Confronting his students with the reality of their compliance, he highlighted the dangers of unchecked authority and collective conformity. By drawing parallels between their actions and historical events, particularly the complicity of ordinary citizens during World War II, Jones prompted deep introspection among his students and viewers alike. 

The experiment's profound revelation that individuals can unwittingly surrender their autonomy in pursuit of “belonging” and “authority” resonates as a cautionary tale. It calls attention to the Machiavellian nature of conformity and the ease with which people can be manipulated, even when they believe they are acting independently. The documentary highlights the value of encouraging autonomous thought, individual responsibility, and a vigilant defence of freedom against any authoritarian tendencies via Jones' endeavours. 


The panel discussed how people's natural want to fit in with the group and adhere to social norms may lead to polarization and conformation biases. Even while there aren't any immediate dangers of extremism in a pluralistic society like Nepal, there is always a risk of “charismatic” leaders taking advantage of social frustrations and situations. Nonetheless, to avoid further division in society, the panel emphasised how critical it is to delve into the historicity of collective grievances to better understand the sentiments of individuals i.e. their hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. Turning the conversation to young people's goals, the discussion highlighted the discrepancy between employment prospects and skill sets required in Nepal, which is causing a huge exodus as young people are having to prioritize maintaining their living (even if of basic standard) over pondering upon political theories such as nationalism, democracy and other such ideals. To realise the ambitions of the youth and prevent future social upheaval in Nepal, it is therefore important to bridge the gap between academia and industry, which focuses on providing quality education, and good jobs in the country. 


The panel discussed the lesser likelihood of fascism taking root in Nepal due to several factors. Firstly, they pointed out a big chronological difference between the historical rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s and the contemporary Nepali scenario. Secondly, in the absence of a unified political ideology in Nepal unlike the internal conflict of 2006, there aren’t populist groups or individuals at present, which are successfully organizing young people together. Thirdly, the panel emphasised the waning power of conventional political ideologies like communism, and socialism as well as a decrease in parental supervision, which has been supplanted by a wide range of individualistic values amongst youth, with young people today influencing political opinions in the private and public space via social media. Finally, even though Nepali culture places high importance on discipline, the panel noted opposition to regimentation (during the 2006 conflict), especially considering the documentary's portrayal of experiences with limited freedoms. Thus, considering these complex processes and the clearly visible improvement in society, the panel concludes that fascism is unlikely to become standardized in Nepal. 


This panel analyses “populism”, denouncing its regressive, deceitful form and applauding its progressive variant that stands for the people’s majoritarian opinions. Different from democracy and majority rule, “populism” has the potential to be a strong force for good or evil, depending on how it is used. In line with Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am”, the panel emphasizes that critical thinking is essential, and this includes challenging religious convictions. We may acquire insight and refrain from mindlessly adhering to the majority by thinking and questioning. 

The emphasis is on independent thought, including historical instances such as contesting the flatness of the Earth. Blind conformity is discouraged, as following the examples of several countries like the United States of America that was built on questioning, illustrating its importance. Ultimately, the panel concluded on the note of, critical thinking being vital for individual, societal and national progress. 

The event summary was prepared by Simran Shah, Research Trainee, IIDS