Saturday, February 11, 2006

Status of Madheshi in Nepal

Introduction
Nepal is a country of strange diversities. There are varied geophysical, climatic and biological diversities culminatios into the diverse socio-econimc, political and cultural patterns in the country. Nepal lies in the youngest fold of the mountains, Himalaya, the roof of the world. It ranges from about 60 metre elevation to the 8848m, the highest point of the world. From the climatic point of view, it ranges from tropical to the tundra from south to north. Southern belt is almost plain and the northen belt is rocky and mountainous gradually elevated to thousands of snow peaks. The Mahabharat range lying inbetween these two belts is a gently sloping land having river - valleys and tars.
The biggest Terai belt lies in the Southern Nepal adjacent to Indian border. It is elevated upto 600 metres from the sea level. It comprises 23% of the total land areas of Nepal and 56% of its cultivated land. It has been formed out alluvium constantly deposited by rivers flowing down the Gangetic plain. The Terai land is fertile for agriculture where wide varities of crops are grown. Terai is mainly irrigated by the major river systems, namely Koshi, Gandaki, Karnali, Mechi, Kankai, Kamala, Bagmati, Tinau, Rapti, Mahakali, Ratu, Lal Bakaiya, Mohana etc.
From the economic point of view, Terai is primarily an agricultural belt with the midland of Terai being mostly the fruit growing area. The northen part of Terai is very beautiful area suitable for development of tourism and live stock farming. In this way, natural diversity is reflected through social, cultural, political and other aspects of life. These natural phenomena make Nepal a unique country in the map of the world.
The word Terai is of relatively recent origin and is used interchangeably for 'Madhesh' which is derived from the sanskirt word 'Madhyadesh' meaning the land between the foot hills of Himalayan mountain in the north and the Vindhya mountain on the south. People living in this region have been called Madheshee or Madheshiyas. Manu, the law maker of the Hindus, also mentioned the term Madhyadesh. The word Madhesh is also found in Buddhist pali literature e.g. the Vinayapitaka.
The Madhesh or Terai therefore, has been referred to the plain strip of the land lying within the boundary of Nepal. Likewise the word Madheshee or the term Terai people refers not to all the inhabitants of the Madhesh but indigenous ones of this region. They are also called the Nepali citizen of Indian origin.
2. Geopolitics of the Madhesh or Terai :
The Madhesh is the most important region of the Nepal, geographically and culturally distinct from the hills. The high mountains of Nepal, or the hills attracted the attention of adventurous travellers, mountain climbers and scholars ever since Nepal was opened to the outside world after 1950. However, the Terai region or the Madhesh of Nepal, could attract comparatively little attention of foreign scholars because it is hot, dusty and malarious. Consequently, little interest was taken about the Terai's geographical, historical, economic or cultural characteristics, despite the fact that it comprises 21% Nepal's land area which inhabits more than 50% of Nepali population. This neglect is striking, because the Madhesh is the backbone of Nepal's economy, producing about 65% of the nations gross domestic product (GDP) yielding about 76% of the governments revenue, and 60% agricultural products of the country. Nepal Terai is approximately 500 miles long from western boundary, the Mahakali river, to it's eastern boundary, the Mechi river. This east to west border line between the Nepal Terai and Indian states touches Uttranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. An average width of the Terai is 20 miles. Two geographical terms are frequently used in Nepal, "inner terai" and "outer terai". The inner Terai refers to Bhitari Madhesh containing flat land north of Siwalik or churia range in Sindhuli, Makwanpur and Dang districts. The Bahari Terai is the plain region touching Indo-Nepal border South of the Siwaliks. Outer Terai consists of 19 districts, namely Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusa, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Routahat, Bara, Parsa, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Banke, Bardia, Kailali and Kanchanpur. Geographically and culturally Terai is a transitional region between the hills and the plains. The transitional nature of the Terai creates problems for Nepal associated in respect of integration of the region into the main-stream of national economic and political programme. Most of the Terai inhabitants are Madheshee. In connectin with religion, language, culture, life style and other social rituals they share with people living across the border in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. During past decades, hill people migrated and settled in the terai on mass scale making perceptible change in political and cultural change.
3. A historical background :
The Mithila or Videha kingdom existed in ancient times with its capital at Janakpur claiming to be the birth-place of Sita. Similarly, their existed Lumbini, birth place of the Buddha with Kingship at Kapilvastu under the Shakyas and Debdaha under the Koliyas. Archaeological findings around this area indicate habitation going back to the 9th century B.C. though the most ancient heritage of Nepalese history is in the Terai, but the ruling class is drawing our attention back to the Kathmandu valley.
Madheshee people are indigenous inhabitants of the Madhesh or Terai and experienced all sorts of hardship and trials throughout history under ancient rulers, the Mughals, the East India Company and Shah dynasty. However, after the campaign of unification of Nepal in the 18th Century the Gorkha dominance, persisted over the developed culture of the Madheshee. The British government returned the Terai land to the Nepalese king in 1816, a year after the Sugauli treaty and determined well devised boundaries of the kingdom. It entered into an agreement with the king that the Madheshee people should not be persecuted in anyway. The Article 7 of the Memorandum of approval and acceptance of the Rajah of Nepal stipulated on December 8, 1816 is an evidence. It was through treaty of Sugauli that the Terai was handed over by the British East India Company to Nepal and as such is present situation, India is expected to safeguard the interests of the Madheshee community. But contrary to this commitment real mission remained far from being fulfilled. Ever since the treaty was signed between two countries, the Madheshee have been facing national identity crisis.
In course of past historical stages Nepal experienced a succession of many political systems : absolute monarchy under the Shah Kings (1769-1846), an oligarchy under Rana Prime Ministers (1846-1951), followed by temporary regimes of democracy (1951-59), parliamentary system (1959-60), revival of aboslute monarchy (1960-90), restoration of multi-party system (1990-2002)and then finally direct-rule of present monarchy after royal coup. If one goes to distant past the Terai was ruled by a number of petty chieftains, some of whom owed merely nominal allegiance to the pre-Shah rulers. In this connection efforts have always been made by the ruling elites to enable the Terai people for reserving economic interest of Kathmandu based aristocracy having little participation in national polity. "The ruling elites both Shah and the Ranas believed that the development of Terai was not in their longterm interest".
4. Distribution of population : Caste/ethnic groups
The 2001 census identified more than 50 castes/ethnic groups in the Madhesh. Overall, the Madheshee caste/ethnic group is largely rural (92.55%). Classification of population according to caste and language is only tentative. Madheshee ethnic groups includes Kishan, Gangai, Jhangar, Tajpuria, Tharu, Danuwar, Dhanuk, Dhimal, Meche/Bodo, Rajbansi/Koche, Satar/Santhal etc. caste and other ferred to the plain strip of the land lgroups includes Yadav, Teli, Chamar, Kushwaha/Koiri, Kurmi, Musahar, Dusadh/Paswan, Sonar, Kebat, Brahmin, Baniya, Mallah, Kalwar, Hazzam/Thakur, Kanu, Sudhi, Lohar, Tatma, Khatway, Dhobi, Nooniya, Kumhar, Halwai, Rajput, Kaystha, Badhai, Marwadi, Banter, Barai, Barai, Kahar, Rajbhar, Lodhi, Bind/Binda, Noorang, Gaderi, Chidimar, Mali, Bengali, Dom, Kamar, Halkhor, Panjabi/Sikha, Dhunia, Jain, Munda, Muslim, Patharkatta/Kushwadia, Sarbaria, Kallar etc.
5. Languages of the population
The madheshee's langauges can be broadly categoried as Indo-Aryan ones. In addition to these there are several regional languages such as Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tharu, Rajbansi, Bazzika, Surjapuri, and a few local dialects. Santhali is microscopic tongue spoken by tribal people. Besides, there are Marwadi, Tajpuria, Dhimal and Mechie. Among them Maithili is a dominant language in the eastern - Terai, Bhojpuri in the mid-Terai and Awadhi in the western Terai. Hindi, of couse, serves as a link language spoken among the Madheshee people from Mechi to Mahakali.
6. Religious faiths in Madhesh
Nepal is officially declared as a Hindu country. According to 2001 census, population of Hindus in the country is over 80.62%. Buddhist 10.74%, Islam 4.20%, Kirat 3.60%, Christian 0.5%, Sikh 0.0%, Jain 0.0% and others 0.4%. In terai, the second largest religion is Islam and Buddhism occupies third position.
7. Population explosion in the Terai due to migration
In the light of population composition Nepal is traditionally an area formed by immigrants from the Indo-Aryan and Mangoloid stocks. Intermixture of racial, cultural and religious strains has produced broadly two outlooks, one influenced culturally by the north, the other by the south.
The madheshee (Terai people) are bound to live like a second-rate citizen. For the last decades, parbatia (hill people) from the north have been resettled in some strength, not without political aims on fresh reclaimed forest land in the Terai. The Nepalese people of Indian origin, the Desi people as they are called, are placed in the third category of socially underprevileged people. The way the government has demarcated five development region and fourteen administrative zones in the kingdom. it is not without a calculated purpose. In fact the zonal boundaries do not always coincide with natural divisions. Had geographical factors been allowed to determine zonal boundaries, the entire Terai belt would have formed a single natural zone. But the biased ruling class relished their own class despite the Terai people's apparent majority. Contrary to natural law the zonal division have been fixed from north to south, disecting the Terai strip with all its ethnic, linguistic and regional unity, into ten different administrative blocks placed under the rule of zonal commissioners drawn from the ruling class. This arrangement positively helped the rulers in preventing progress of Terai area. Development was a threat to their monopoly of political power. The privileged classes have used this tactics to segregate the Terai population from the main stream of political life.
Analysis of the census 1991 shows that the population density is about 24 person per square km. in mountain, 141.3 person per sq.km. in hill and 274.5 person per sq.km. in Terai. But according to the census 2001, the population density is about 33 person per sq.km. in mountain, 167 person per sq.km. in hill and the 18th Century the Gorkha dominance, persisted over 330 person per sq.km. is in Terai.
Among internal migrants in Nepal, majority migrated from the mountain and hill to the Terai, while population at the national level increased by 60% during 1971-91; it nearly doubled in Terai during the same period. As a matter of fact there is no charm of job and other opportunities in Nepal which may motivate the Indians to rush to Nepal. Efforts were strongly made by the HMG Nepal to encourage the process of migration of population from the hills to the Terai. Rapti valley development plan (1954), Nepal resettlement company (1964), Jhapa resettlement company, Kanchanpur resettlement project, Nawalparasi resettlement project etc. were implemented by clearing the dense forest land of Madhesh. Apart from internal immigrants, Nepali speaking refugee from Burma, Assam, Sikkim, West Bengal and Bhutan and other places were encouraged to settle there. One the contrary the landless Madheshee people in the Terai were rarely given any land in this wave of resettlement projects. Big politicians and hill elites in the name of the "political victims" were allotted land in Madhesh by clearing the dense forest.
By 1927 a little less than half of the Terai land was covered with dense forest. But by 1977 the percentage of the forest land reduced to one fifth of its total area. Between 1977 and 1992 there was hardly any forest left anywhere except in National Parks. Because of over strain on use of natural resources, such as forest, agricultural land, environment and river, there has been shortage of rainfall, decline in water table in rivers and soil, irregular monsoon and desertification in several parts of the Madhesh.
Migration of population has created imbalances in the Terai. Many people are forced to migrate outside in search of jobs. Madheshee labour of the Terai now go to the different parts of India, Delhi, Punjab and Hariyana states. Many Madheshee people, Tharus, Santhal/Satar are forced to migrate to India. In the past thousands of Tharus from Dang, Banke, Bardia, Kailali and Kanchanpur migrated to India as a result of Kamaiya (bounded labour) System. There was also a large scale migration of the Tharus from Chitwan district to adjacent Indian teritory.
8. The governments imposing policy on language
The constitution of the kingdom of Nepal 1990 accepted that all languages spoken as mother tongues in Nepal would be treated as national languages. The Article 18 of the fundamental rights of the constitution clearly states "Each community residing within the kingdom of Nepal shall have right to preserve and promote its languages, script and culture". There is no guarantee of support from the state to their development. Policy of repression through philosophy of national language 'Nepali' is threat to the survival of other languages spoken by people of Madhesh. Khaskura or SinjaliBhasa has been promoted to status of national Nepali languages as well as "official language". Languages spoken by Madheshee like Hindi, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Rajbansi etc. are derecognised. Most of the languages have been ignored in the curriculum of schools. At the end of the panchayat system the government derecognised even the degree of M.A. in Hindi, Maithili and Newari. Languages other than Nepali and English have been dercognised for the public service commission. Sajha Prakashn has also stopped publishing books in prohibited languages. The Royal Nepal Academy has turned a deaf ear to the development of these prohibited languages. Ruling class does not visualise the force of local languages in the integration of nation. It is known to all that Pakistan suffered division in 1971 on account of forceful implimentation of Urdu language over the Bengali speaking people in East Pakistan. Language is also one of bitter factors of rift between the Tamil and Sinhali speaking people of Sri Lanka. In Nepal as many as 100 languages and dilects are spoken. But HMG Nepal and sectarian ruling class do not realise the real force of local languages of the people. It is highly pernicious to the peace and prosperity of Nepal.
9. Discriminatory policies and practices of the rulers
In all principalities unified to form modern Nepal the ruling elites come from upper caste, Brahmins, Chhetris, Thakuris and Ranas. Their ranks have subsequently been joined by the Newars after the Kathmandu valley became the nation's centre. According to a study conducted by the centre for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA) 80% of the position of power and profit are held by the hill Brahamins, Chhetris and Newars although they represent a small ad geographical factors been allowed to determine minority of Nepal. A subsequent survey has revealed that more than half of the government civil servants is drawn from the Kathmandu valley only which contains about 3% of the population of Nepal. The social inequalities created by under representation and symbolic representation of Madheshee people in civil services and security forces, disproportionate representation in legislative and executive bodies; and opportunities to certain caste people in political appointments are some examples of injustice, and exploitation of Madheshee people of Nepal. Infact the seeds of disunity and fanaticism were sown by Prithvi Narayan Shah. The inhabitants of the Madhesh were not given important assignment during his rule. High posts were reserved for certain hill caste groups. First preference was given to the hill people and second to richman or landlord in Terai. Till 1950, the Madheshee people were treated like slaves. Untill 1958, it was essential for them to acquire way receipt (passport) before entering into Kathmandu.
According to the Dhanapati Upadhaya citizenship commission 2051 B.S. (1994), approximately 40 lakh genuine Nepali have been denied of citizenship certificates. Majority of them are Madheshee people living in the Terai. Denial of citizenship has created many problems. First, they do not get service in the government, corporation and private institutions. Secondly, they cannot run industry and trade. Thirdly, denial of citizenship in one's own country means humiliation as one treated as a foreigner in own country. And fourthly, the denial of citizenship is the denial of the basic human rights to hold property. The reality is that no body in Nepal is liable to purchase land in absence of citizenship.
The land reform programme was used as a vehicle for transferring to the hill people, the landholdings of plain's people.
a. Civil service
In Nepal, high official posts have been occupied by hill Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars while majority Madheshee people have been excluded from these positions. The composition of the higher grades of bureaucracy demonstrates a strong bias against weaker section of Madheshee people. Social, economic and political benefits destributed only to the hill Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars has deep historical roots. These communities enjoyed Rana patronage and got civil service, opportunities for modern education, and training of abroad for learned professions. Though a minority, they are powerful ones. A vast majority of teachers, university professors, academicians, intellectuals and Journalists are the high caste Hindus.
Table-1
Caste/Ethnic Composition of senior officials
Post Brahmin Chhetri Newar Terai Others Total
01. Secretary 12 5 8 4 1 30
02. Add. Secretary 16 5 11 1 1 34
03. Joint Secretary - - - - - -
04. Adm. Service 56 9 17 5 3 90
05. Health Service 22 9 36 4 2 73
06. Education Service 11 2 12 4 1 30
07. Judicial Service 3 10 3 3 1 20
08. Audit Service 1 2 2 - - 5
09. Legislative Service 1 - 2 - - 3
10. Engineering 33 13 36 17 4 103
11. Agriculture 11 6 17 3 2 39
12. Forest Service 12 4 12 - 1 29
Total 178 65 157 41 15 456
Percentage 39.03 14.25 34.42 8.99 3.29 100
Source : Nijamati Kitab Khana (quoted in contemporary Nepal, 1998:122)
Till December 1991 there were 456 senior level officers (Joint Secretary and above), both administrative and technicals. Of these 30, 34 and 392 were in the ranks of Secretary, Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary respectively. Hill Brahmins, Chhetris, Newars altogether holding 87.7% of high position. The Madheshees are only 8.99% and highly dominated. At present there are 178 senior officials (first class) but only two are Madheshee in government service.
Table - 2
Caste/Ethnic compositions of Senior Officials including those of under Secretary (Administrative Service) level.
Post Brahmin Chhetri Newar Terai Others Total
01. Secretary 12 5 8 4 1 30
02. Add. Secretary 16 5 11 1 1 34
03. Joint Secretary - - - - - -
04. Adm. Service 56 9 17 5 3 90
05. Health 22 9 36 4 2 73
06. Education 11 2 12 4 1 30
07. Judicial 3 10 3 3 1 20
08. Audit 1 2 2 - - 5
09. Legislative 1 - 2 - - 3
10. Engineering 33 13 36 17 4 103
11. Agriculture 11 6 17 3 2 39
12. Forest 12 4 12 - 1 29
13. Total 178 65 157 41 15 456
14. Under Secretary 238 83 177 44 9 551
Grand Total 416 148 334 85 24 1007
Percentage 41.33 14.7 33.16 8.4 2.38 100
Source : Nijamati Kitab Khana (Qoted in contemporary Nepal, 1998 : 122)
If the number of officers under secretary level of administrative service is added the total goes up to 1007 officers. Olinf these 41.33% are hill Brahmins, 33.16% Newars, 14.7% Chehetris and only 8.4% are Madheshees.
Regarding geographic representation. Kathmandu dominates other geographic areas 51.95% representation. The hill region represent 29.22% and the Terai (including both Madheshee and hill people) 18.83% respectively. The Terai people or Madheshees have genuine grievances in so far as they are not adequately represented in power structure of Nepal, be it in army, security forces, administration, national legislature or the cabinet.
Table - 3
Geographical representation of Senior most officials
S.No. Post Kathmandu Hill Terai Total
1. Secretary 14 7 9 30
2. Additional Secretary 21 7 6 34
3. Joint Secretary* 45 31 14 90
Total 80 45 29 154
Percentage 51.95 29.22 18.83 100
*only those belonged to the administrative service have been included.
Source : Contemporary Nepal 1998 : 123
b. Security Forces :
Inspite of existence of ethnic groups in Nepal higher posts as Senior Officers in army and police forces have been monopolised by hill people.
Table - 4
Position of Madheshee Community in Security Forces :
Department and Position No. of Officers No. of Madheshee
1. Most Senior officers in
Royal Nepal Army (RNA) 18 0
2. Chief of Police, armed
police and national
investigation department 3 0
Police AIGP 4 0
Police DIG 16 0
Police SSP 41 0
3. Armed Police AIGP 3 0
Armed Police DIG 8 0
Armed Police SSP 13 0
Armed Police SP 37 0
Source : Madhesh : Social demography and discrimination, 2004 : 48
Madheshee People have no acess to the Royal Nepal Army. A similar situation prevails in the police force too. The Madheshee people share only 2-3% in lower rank of Nepal police.As a result, the Madheshee people are excluded from high post responsibility of the Security Forces of their own motherland. Certain elite groups in Nepal argue that none but the Gorkhas (hill people) belong to martial race. Therefore other communities are not relished as capable for the army without reliable logic behind it. It is a historical fact that Harisimha Deva an eminent Karnata king of Terai region had recruited a number of Madheshee people in his army. He was a historical personality. It is also a fact that when Prithvi Narayan Shah attacked Jay Prakash Malla, the latter had twelve thousand strong Madheshees recruited in his army who were called "Tirhutia Army". The Tirhutia army fought very bravely against the organised force of Prithvi Narayan Shah. Following the defeat of Jay Prakash Malla Prithvi Narayan Shah intentionally discontinued the Service of Madheshee Army. After that there is hardly any evidence of recruitment of Madheshee people in the Royal Nepal Army (RNA).
c. Political Participation
In regard to representation in Parliament, the number of Brahmins and Chhetris of the hilly region is comparatively high. Both in the panchayat system and in the current multi-party system. Brahmins and Chhetris of hilly region are dominant political elements in national politics.
Table-5
Madheshee MPs in Parliament








Source : Himal, May/June 1992, Election Commission bulletins 1994 & 1999.
Above mentioned table shows that the representation of Madheshee MPs in Parliament in 1959, 1978, 1991, 1994 & 1999 elections. Madheshee MPs in Parliament accounted 22% in 1959 which fell all the time low to 15% in 1978. The foregoing observation about advantaged and disadvantaged groups in national politics of Nepal can bronage and got civil service, opportunities foe substantiated with a reference to data available on communal representation in national politics. A comparision of membership in two elective bodies, the 1959 parliament and 1967 National Panchayat is highly instructive. An increase was marked in representation of hill people from 78% in the Parliament to 90% in National Assembly and corresponding decrease from 22% to 8.30% of Madheshees. Of all, the people who had been member of the national panchayat from 1963 to 1988, 380 out of total 501, 76% hailed from the upper caste groups Brahmin, Chhetri etc. of the hilly region.
One foreign observer remarked that "during the past decade, the crown had became the pivot around which the traditional interest groups, the sacred elite, the military and the landowning aristocracy still revolve. These groups gain access to the Royal palace through their supporters and representatives on the staff of the palace secretariat. The palace secretariat has become the nerve centre of administration and the political structure in Nepal, even though its dominant policy and decision making role is not defined via law or within the constitution of this country. The functions of the palace secretariat can be closely compared with previous, all powerful functions of the hereditary Rana Prime Ministers Office".
Table - 6
Representation in the House of Representative by caste and Ethnicity (Total no. 205)
Caste/Ethnicity Ratio of population 1991 1994 1999
Election Election Election
Hill High Caste 7023220 114 129 122
(30.89%) (55.61%) (62.93%) (59.51%)
Hill Dalit 1616592 1 - -
(7.11%) (0.48%)
Hill Ethnic 5011631 34 24 28
(22.04%) (16.59%) (11.71%) (16.66%)
Newar 1245232 14 12 14
(5.48%) (6.83%) (5.85%) (6.83%)
Inner Terai Ethnic 251117 1 - -
(1.11%) (0.48%)
Terai Caste 3464249 18 22 29
(15.24%) (8.78%) (10.73%) (14.15%)
Terai Dalit 904924 - - -
(3.99%)
Terai Ethnic 2814927 18 14 10
(8.11%) (8.78%) (6.83%) (4.88%)
Muslim 971056 5 4 2
(4.27%) (2.43%) (1.9%) (0.97%)
Women 11377556 7 7 12
(50.04%) (3.41%) (3.41%) (5.85%)
Men 11359378 198 198 193
(49.96%) (96.56%) (96.56%) (94.15%)
Source : CBS 2002 and Election commission, 1991, 1994 and 1999.
If we look at the pattern of representation in both the houses of Parliament, House of Representatives and National Assembly (see Table 6 and 7) in each of the elections, it is apparent that the experiment with democracy could not address the problems of exclusion of Madheshee, deprived caste and communities. The dominant caste groups are over-represented in both houses.
Table-7
Representation in the National Assembly by caste and ethnicity
(Total no. 60)
Caste/Ethnicity 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001
Hill High Caste 33 37 33 33 33 36
(55%) (61.37%) (55%) (55%) (55%) (60%)
Hill Dalit 2 2 3 3 4 3
(3.33%) (3.33%) (5%) (5%) (6.67%) (5%)
Hill Ethnic 8 7 5 7 8 9
(13.33%) (11.67%) (8.33%) (11.67%) (13.33%) (15%)
Newar 8 5 9 9 8 5
(13.33%) (8.35%) (15%) (15) (13.33%) (8.33%)
Terai Caste 6 6 6 5 5 4
(10%) (10%) (10%) (8.33%) (8.33%) (6.67%)
Terai Dalit -- -- -- -- -- 1
(1.67%)
Terai Ethnic 2 3 4 2 1 1
(3.33%) (5%) (6.67%) (3.33%) (1.67%) (1.67%)
Muslim 1 -- -- 1 1 1
(1.67%) (1.67%) (1.67%) (1.67%)
Women 3 3 5 7 7 7
(5%) (5%) (8.33%) (11.67%) (11.67%) (11.67%)
Men 57 57 55 53 53 53
(95%) (95%) (91.67%) (88.33%) (88.33%) (88.33%)
Source: National Assembly Secretariat.
The House of Representative has 205 member elected on the basis of adult franchise. The National Assembly, the upper house of igation department 3 0
Police AIGP 4 0
Polithe Parliament is a 60 member house and the member come from different constituencies: 35, including Three women members elected by HOR on the basis of proportional representation; 15 i.e. Three each from five development regions elected by the representatives of the local bodies and 10 nominated by the king.
Although the major political parties, particularly the Communists, often insist that National Assembly should be made the house of nationalities in order to compensate for under-representation of Madheshees and various other groups, the candidates they field do not comply to that position and the house remains dominated by Brahmins and chhetris of hilly region, who occupy more than 50% of the total seats. likewise ethnic groups, women and dalits are least represented.
Table-8 Shows that the Madheshee ministers in the council of minister during the panchayat regime between 1960 and 1989 was 16%. The situation has not improved even after the restoration of multiparty parliamentary democracy in 1990.
Table-8
Representation of Madheshee Community in the council of Ministers



Ministers (1960-1989) 35 16% 181 84% 216 100
Ministers (1992-1993) 4 17% 20 83% 24 100
Cabinet ministers
(1994-1995) 0 0% 9 100% 9 100
Deuba's cabinet ministers
2004 nominate by king 5 20% 20 80% 25 100
Source: Ethinicity in democracy (paper), Nepal Rajpatra 2051/814 B.S and Gorkhaptra
The share of the Madheshee ministers in the council of ministers headed by Prime minister G.P. Koirala account for 17%. But in the council of minister headed by Prime minister so called communist leader Man Mohan Adhikari on behalf of CPN (UML) government Madheshee minister was nil in his cabinet.
Table-9
Representation of Madheshee Community in the central level
organisation/committee of political parties.
Political Parties Total Central Madheshee
Committee Member Member
Nepali Congress 35 3
CPN (UML) 65 1 (alternate member)
Nepali Congress (D) 35 3
RPP 45 7
Janmorcha Nepal 51 1
Source : Madhesh : Social Demography and Discrimination, 2004:51
The representation of Madheshee community in central working committee of larger Parliamentary Political Parties e.g. Nepali Congress, Nepali Congress (D), CPN (UML), RPP in Nepal was inadequate. The hill Brahmins & Chhetris controlled the central leadership of major Political Parties. This is one of the reasons why Madheshee working in these Political Parties are treated with distrust by the hill leadership. Qualities as talent and self-respect have been disqualifying rather than qualifying factors for the Madheshee. Persons having talent and self-respect have been discouraged and sometimes even punished. There is no any vital role given to Madheshee leaders in these political parties.
d. On the decline of employment condition :
According to the various studies, the number of unemployment is larger in Madhesh/Terai than mountain and hilly regions. In Madhesh unemployment rate is 6.5%, mountain 2.1% and hilly region 3.7%.
Table 10
Unemployment rate of different geographical regions
Geographical regions Unemployment rate (%)
01. Mountain 2.1
02. Hill 3.7
03. Madhesh/Terai 6.5
Source : Living standards survey report 1996.
e. On the decline of per capita income of Madhesh/Terai :
Yearly, per capita income of Madheshee (plain's people) is slightly much than inhabitants of mountain but more less than hilly people. Yearly, per capita income of the people of mountain is Rs. 5,938 and hilly region is Rs. 8,433 but Madhesh is Rs. 7,322. According to the International Standards 66%, people of Nepal are living below the poverty line. Whereas 64% are in hill and 68% in Terai. ll High Caste 7023220 114 129 122
(30.89%) Which shows that Madheshee are economically most deprived. Because one-third of the total population of Madhesh are landless and unemployed.
Table - 11
Per capita income (yearly) in Rs.
Geographical regions Per capita income (1995-96) in Rs.
01. Mountain 5,938
02. Hill 8,433
03. Madhesh/Terai 7,322
Source : Living standards survey report 1996.
f. Threat for livelihood.
The socio-economic condition of the Madheshees in Nepal is deplorable, along with the loss of their national and cultural identities such as language and culture due to unbearable domination of the hill people. Although forest is the main source of livelihood - especially to certain Madheshee People like Satar/Santhal, Jhangar etc., the growing deforestation in the last years caused enormous environmental degredation and a threat to their sustainable living. Additionally poor sanitation, poor health, illiteracy and unemployment are common phenomena in the Madhesh. As a result, the Madheshee people are increasingly entering into the labour market in Nepal, India and abroad.
The racial discrimination practised in Nepal also contains elements of genocide. Which may also interpreted to mean "extermination of the race or a nation", after the conclusion of world war II when the horrified world learned of the extermination of whole peoples by the Nazis. As we see, in fact, genocide is committed in four ways : physical genocide, i.e. physical extermination of whole groups of the population for racial, national, caste/ethnic or religious reasons; Social and economic genocide, i.e. deliberate creation of living conditions for such population groups, that lead to their complete or partial extermination; biological genocide, i.e. measures preventing child-birth among members of such groups, and, last but not least, national and cultural genocide, i.e. acts calculated to destroy the cultural and other spiritual values of the groups in question. All these methods were extensively employed by Nazi Germany during world war II against Slavs, Jews, Gypsies, and other people. According to the international law genocide is a crime against humanity.
10. Problems of national integration
The Gorkha Conquest had given Nepal a single name and strong centralised administration and government. Even the people from the Terai region of Nepal needed a permit from their own government to visit Kathmandu. They were not employed in the military services, few of them were accomodated in the civil service. It created for them a problem of identification in psychological terms. The problems of national integration in Nepal, becomes more serious as the demands for an equitable allocation of developmental resources to different region acquire force.
In Nepal territorial expansion in the second half of the eighteenth and the first decade of the nineteenth centuries provided a sense of emotional unity and identity among the people of various ethnic and linguistic groups who had just been brought together into one kingdom.
Similarly, in the changed circumstances people living in the Madhesh, mountain and hill can be imbued with a sense of identity, if inhabitants of those regions are allowed to participate without discrimination in the administrative, political and economic process of Modernisation.
For physical, psychological and historical reasons the government in Nepal has failed to enforce an equitable distribution of goods and services. For a long time the vision of the government at Kathmandu did not extend beyond the confines of the valley. More than half of the development budget has for a long time been spent entirely on the Kathmandu valley and its environs. Indeed the Kathmandu valley alone was treated as Nepal for all practical purposes. Madheshees have not been recognised as the Son of the soil, even today. The exploitative nature of the old political style still presists unchanged.
The Madheshee people of the Terai have their identity problems, similar to those of people who have emerged from colonial experiences. Neither Nepal's history nor Nepal's hill culture or the ruling elite satisfy thier identity needs, because they have not been associated with either, National symbols with which the Madheshee people could easily identify are missing. The Nepali language, perhaps even more than crown itself, is a powerful and pervasive symbol of Nepalese nationalism in the hill region. Nepali is spoken by relatively few Madheshee people, even as a second language. Hindi, the common language or lingua franca of the region and a significant symbol for many Madheshee people, has been rejected as a second national or even one that is recognised for government use at the regional level.
The present political system and the constitution of the kingdom of Nepal 1990 is itself defective in promoting national integration. Under existing system, it is the mountain, river and land that are represented and not the people. This is so because representation is not held on the basis of population but on the basis of the geographical area. As such, in a district like Manang or Mustang where population is only 6,358 according to the voter list of 1991 having one MP. But in the district like Sarlahi, Saptari, Siraha in the Terai, there is a provison to have an MP on the basis of at lest 75000 to 100000 population. National integration cannot be promoted so long as election for the house of representative is not held on the basis of population. Present system is a mockery.
Rs. 5,938 and hilly region is Rs. 8,433 but Madhesh is Rs. Until the citadels of privilege, higher education scholarship abroad, the higher ranks of both the civil and military services are made accessible to the disadvantaged ethnic groups, unless the structure of power reflects the rich diversity of our nation, the process of national integration will be incomplete. There are deep structural inequalities in the nation. The privileged castes and classes of hilly region must rise above their narrow interests to promote the cause of the disadvantaged and unprivileged, to provide them with not merely equal but enhanced opportunities for improving their lot. Thus representation and distribution are the major mechanism required to resolve the conflict of this phase of 'Created Nationalism' in Nepal. Multi-party democracy must create a multi-ethnic power structure, for this new state structure is essential.
All this, however, Presupposes a change in the attitude of the dominant minority power-elite. unless the legitimate grievances of the hitherto neglected majority are properly needed and a greater oppertunity is provided for the upward mobility of various ethnic groups, the process of development may create a highly explosive situation in the country.
11. Conclusions
The Madheshee population is subjected to extreme national oppression, poverty and exploitation, lack of all democratic rights. Madhesh is the internal colony of hill people's ruling class. It is the combination of the worst features both of racial discrimination and internal colonialism within a single national frontier which determines the special nature of the Nepalese polity.
The Madheshee people of Nepal have been politically economically, socially and culturally depressed and are under the threat of extinction. They have been strategically forced to migrate to India, their landholdings have been confiscated, their linguistic and cultural identity is under crisis. They have been kept out of the realm of power sharing and decision making bodies. They still do not feel integrated into the Nepali natioality. Mal-nutrition, poverty, illiteracy and unemployment including political and economic discrimination are their major problems. Fundamental human rights such as (i) civil and political rights (ii) economic, social and cultural rights of the plain's people (Madheshee) in Nepal are not well respected. Madheshee peoples of Nepal have been subjected to domination, exploitation, discrimination and supression of their human rights and fundamental freedom since the foundation of the state of Nepal, still continue at all levels.
The government has not yet developed any specific policy and programme in this regard or they are discriminatory, and ineffective. There is a strong need for the recognition of the human rights, national identity, languages and culltures of the Madheshee people and the adoption of a fair national policy to recognise their role in the national socio-econmic and political mainstream.
We, the Madheshee people of Nepal, declare for all our country and the world to know that Nepal belongs to all who live in it, Madheshee and non-Madheshee. There shall be equal status in the bodies of state for all national groups, races and caste/ethnics; all people shall have equal right to use their own languages, and to develop their own culture and customs; all national groups shall be protected by laws against insult to their ethnicity, race and national pride; the preaching and practice of national and racial discrimination and contempt shall be a punishable crime; all discriminatory laws, policies and practices shall be set aside constitutionally.
Nepal is a landlocked semi-feudal, multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi- religious country. Current constitutional and political system of the unitary system of government cannot solve the Madheshee and other ethnic crisis of the country. So there should be a radical change in the state structure and current socio-economic and political system. Constitutional provision for regional autonomy or autonomous states within federal system and the right to self -determination, complete multi-party democratic system, proportional representation in polity, secularism, reservation and multi-lingual policy is a crying necessity for its development, democratisation, modernisation, maintaining national integrity and strengthening national unity. The country should be demarcated into different political autonomous states or units on the basis of similarity in matter of language, culture, customs, appearances, economic way of life, social structure and geography. Madhesh should be a political unit and should be declared an autonomous state or province. This will go a long way in correcting the regional imbalances and in ending the racial, cultural, political, linguistic and administrative discriminations.

- Jayprakash Gupta
General Secretary
Madheshee Janadhikar Forum,

3 Comments:

At 7:02 PM, Blogger C. Alexander Brown, Canada said...

Jayprakash Gupta, I wish to commend you for your article which delienates the social and political situation and its recent history so clearly. It is my hope that problems will be resolved peacefully, and that the burdens imposed by the remnants of feudalism and by cast discrimination will be eradicated. Obviously this will take effort; internation reports state the Nepal is the most caste-ridden country in the world. So Human Rights legislation will have to be drafted, and discrimination outlawed in the same way that Apartheid and racism has been removed and outlawed by South Africa. I suggest that Nepal ask the Government of South Africa for advise and assistance in drafting its Constitution and also its Human Rights laws and regulations. I am sure help will be forthcoming. As for the people from the communities that are poor and suffering, I must say the outside world does not know about you...!!! So organize yourselves, form NGOs and strive to contact NGO's and official development aid organizations in Canada, Japan, the Scandanavians countries, Germany and Ireland. Learn about programmes of the World Bank, The World Food Programme, The Gates Foundation and other foundations. Work seriously and work HARD on this. As the saying goes, "God Help Those Who Help Themselves."

 
At 11:40 AM, Blogger dipesh said...

why nepal has large voilence in the world ? is there problem in leader ? and people knows the out put. not the reason

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Bijesh Sah said...

feeling proud to have our problems exposed to the international community .Thanks bro !Keep it up.

 

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