Monday, August 31, 2015

Nepal's Constitutional Challenges

Just finished watching a Al Jazeera u-tube video on the above subject, kindly posted on Face Book by Jan Sharma. Please watch the video on u-tube (title as above) or in his or my FB timeline.

I cannot understand how some of the Nepali panelists used "caste" and "ethnic group" synonymously. There are 4 castes, legally abolished but unfortunately socially still a work in progress. There are around 100 ethnic groups in Nepal. Fortunately, Al Jazeera showed an Ethnographic Map of Nepal to enlighten the confused. "Every major caste was promised a state" - that stung my ears loud and clear!

A major point of discussion was on the meaning of "New Nepal". One of the panelists tried to summarize it as (a) the end of monarchy; (b) secularism; and (c) centralization to Federalism (sic). Am glad that Ms. Manjushree Thapa widened the meaning to broader aspects. In any case, (a) was not a demand of the 2006 'People's Movement' which was against "ABSOLUTE" monarchy, not the institution per se.

(b) was a Maoist agenda, to which the two other major parties acceded through coercion or in the mistaken belief that secularism is a sine qua non for democracy, supported by international proselytizing interests.

(c) is the reason why Nepal is in flames now with ethnic groups demanding their own state (which was erroneously made synonymous in the programme with 'province' by some panelists). The carnage in Tikapur a week ago, a bandh in Pokhara yesterday instigated by Magars, and we have not seen the last of it. Politics 101 as well as any dictionary can confirm that the opposite of centralization is decentralization, not federalization. Federalism also arose from the Maoist insurgency where the insurgents promised ethnic groups their own state in order to garner their support for the ignominious 'people's war'. Nepal has not had local government elections for 22 years; therein lies the solution, not federalizing a unitary state, a feat never accomplished in the history of nations. The Madhesh political parties are naturally for federalism in the hope that they will get at least two or three states, if not the entire Terai, as their own. Birgunj, one of the major border cities with India is under curfew as I write. I hear rumours Nepalgunj is also in a similar fate. To add fuel to the fire, the Indian Home Minister has been quoted as proclaiming that India will safeguard its citizens in Nepal Terai, further implying, wrongly, that 30% of Nepal's population is Madhesis. Fact remains that 60% of the Madhesis are Nepalis and the remaining only are Indians, who are welcome to return to their country. Further, the Minister had better not included Nepali Madhesis as his constituency.


HORATIO said...

Apologies for the abrupt ending above. Am out of practice blogging, after an almost two years hiatus. In any case, I have said my piece. "Included" should read "include" at the end.

Comments welcome.

HORATIO said...

News Flash: eastern Nepal closed due to Limbus bandh. Federalism has come home to roost. Time for those who sowed the seeds to start sweating!

Joe Niemczura, RN, MS said...

I posted this link in various places.

my own blog on these events:

HORATIO said...

Joe Niemczura, thank you for spreading this link. The more feedback this blog gets, with a vibrant discussion going, the better it will achieve its objective of having a global "Chiya Pasal".

Read your blog on these events with interest. Your feelings for Nepal come out clearly. Thank you for being a Friend of this beleaguered country.

Govind said...

The situation in Nepal reminds me of the book by VS Naipaul India:a Million Mutinies Now.Everyone everywhere demanding their so called rights Nepal is very much like what the author writes about India in the 90s..
Where is "sundar Santa Nepal" we experienced in our green years?

kiran thapa said...

We have had the Maobadi agenda and the Congress/Amale agenda and the Madeshi agenda that excludes Tharus and other ethnic groups in the terai. There are also the large hill ethnic groups: the Magar, Gurung, Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Sherpa, Thakali, and the others not named here, who live in the hills.

Now is the time to make sure that the constitution that comes out takes into account needs and aspirations of these historically neglected groups including Women.

The most important area is power sharing. Representatives of all the groups including the Bahun and Chettri must be given a voice. But no one must be allowed to set their own agenda nor dominate the discours.

Lets all work as Nepalis for our Motherland Nepal.

HORATIO said...

Thank you for your comments, Govind and Kiran.

Yes, "sundar shanta Nepal" of our green years is no more. It is now up to the youths to bring back that Nepal, snatching power from the fossilized hands of our current political elite. It can be done. I feel it unfair at times to exhort young people while playing the 'armchair quarterback'. But we can only do what is within our ability; I am not young and not completely healthy, all I can do is write. That I will.

Indeed, power sharing is the most important need right now to address the perceived needs of the marginalized groups. These groups exist in every society; I dare say that even the U.S. has such a group in its Native Americans. In Nepal, our marginalized groups, as Kiran specified above, need to be included in the body politic. But if each ethnic group demands a state of its own, as is happening, it is simply not possible - geographically, economically and demographically. Strong representative local government is the key to our salvation, not the pipe dream of a federal Nepal initiated by the comrades and supported foolishly by other national and international actors.