View Full Version : Unity, not ethnic division

27th March 2009, 23:01
Source: www.nepalnews.com
Unity, not ethnic division
By Dr Tilak Shrestha (Write to the author: tilakbs@hotmail.com)

What will be the status of Magars in Kirati Rajya and vice versa? If they are almost same, then why even bother with ethnic division? If a Madheshi wants to live in a Gurung rajya, will he require a work permit? Newars make minority even in Kathmandu and spread out throughout business centers – Gorkha, Palpa, Narayanghat, Bhojpur etc. What is the logic behind forming a Newa rajya in Kathmandu Valley? This ethnic division of Nepal will create only ethnic leaders, not national leaders.

The problem of marginalization of many sub-groups in Nepal is well recognized and many solutions are suggested. Some even suggested the ethnic division of Nepal. However, it does not address the real issues, rather fossilize the problem and creates more. We are Nepali brothers and sisters but the ethnic division will make us Bahuns, Madheshis, Gurungs, Newars, Limbus etc., except Nepali. Our needs are protecting minority’s culture and language and inclusiveness in education, economy and politics. The solutions are recognizing overlapping multi-cultural and multi-lingual zones, and targeted application of education, economic opportunities and political inclusion to the most underprivileged sub-groups. The added political tools like ‘decentralization’ and ‘affirmative action’ are useful and important. In general, the strategy must be ‘unity’, not ‘division’, for success of all.

(1) Overlapping cultural zones can satisfy all the ethnic maximalist positions, will help in ethnic cohesion without negative political fallouts. (2) Consider a case of Dalit women in Madhesh, she is in a triple disadvantage. If she is given easy access to education, job and political participation, we will see an independent woman standing on her own feet. The process does not have the element of violence and may not sound enough revolutionary, but this is how society is transformed. The worst scenario is to invoke some Marxist mantra to force her to carry gun, tear apart society and have petty leaders holding on to power merely by pointing at her plight. (3) Appropriate decentralization will bring the sovereignty, authority and responsibility, closer to the people. A person may start as a local leader but does not carry ethnic branding and may grow being a national leader. It also will lessen the competition in the center and help in leveling playing field for all the regional and ethnic diversity. (4) The affirmative action must be designed to uplift sub-groups at the bottom. The parameter must be income, education and recognized micro-minorities, but not ethnicity. It should not be about so called class struggle or creating perpetual hostility between ethnic groups.

The motivation of this demand of ethnic division is not from nationalist perspective of betterment of all Nepalese. It is due to the perception that somehow Khas (Bahun\Chhetri) group has dominated other groups. However, there is no objective study for the reasons and careful strategy to address it. Therefore dragging by-gone King Prithvi Narayan Shah and demand separate ethnic states are forwarded. The motivation is basically anger and inability to think through all the consequences and ramifications. The ethnic equality is a noble goal, no doubt. Obviously we need well thought out strategy. But a medicine cannot be worse than the disease.

Ethnic marginalization has been exacerbated by Maoists to weaken the center and get support especially from Janajatis. They have pressed our every social fault lines without any regard to the negative effects on the nation. However, they do not have solutions to it. Our ethnic issue is not solely based on system of means of production. A conservative Bahun will not marry a Dalit girl merely because the capital shifts from private to public ownership. To begin with, a marriage is a personal issue, not political. If a Bahun wants to marry a Dalit girl by force, then it is. Even then it is a law and order issue, not a cause for armed revolution. Such bigotry could be addressed by education and social interaction, not by ethnic division. The Marxist interpretation of society does not include ethnicity. Marxists are for strong central government where the party or the party supremo dictates. Only democratic system allows for airing ethnic or other grievances. However, Marxist government and nationalists will agree, though coming from different approach, in one issue of keeping Nepal united.

I find every proponents of dividing Nepal harping on the policies of King PN Shah. But, why the King and the medieval Nepal are the frame of reference? Have we gone far ahead? Are we trying to resurrect by-gone Kingdoms: Malla, Sen, Baise, Chaubise, Vijaypur, Palpa? Or are we talking about equal citizens in a republic Nepal? It is really about getting hung up to the fact that PN Shah conquered parts of Nepal. To me it is merely history. Nation cannot be sacrificed to satisfy bruised egos. We should learn from history, but it should not be the sole criteria for shaping a new future.

There are many suggestions of ethnic division of Nepal into two, five, eleven or even take your pick. What historical or political criteria are they based on? We have more than hundred ethnic groups. Think of the demand for ‘One Madhesh’ and the eight sub-groups within Kirati-Rai community. How do we ascertain, which level of groupism (nascent nationalism) is valid? Can we have ‘One Madhesh’ by ignoring all the difference within, or divide Kirat to eight states? Tharus want separate state, Madheshis want single state. If a husband and a wife do not get alone, will that justify one more division? It merely leads to never ending strife.

What actually are the boundaries of these states? Remember the proponents of all these states will not and cannot delineate. ‘Nepal Mandal’ includes all the area ruled by by-gone Mallas, including the Tamang inhabitation. What if Tamangs have different idea? If you look at the history, the boundaries of those states did change around. Obviously every group will claim a maximum share.

What will be the status of Magars in Kirati Rajya and vice versa? If they are almost same, then why even bother with ethnic division? If a Madheshi wants to live in a Gurung rajya, will he require a work permit? Newars make minority even in Kathmandu and spread out throughout business centers – Gorkha, Palpa, Narayanghat, Bhojpur etc. What is the logic behind forming a Newa rajya in Kathmandu Valley? This ethnic division of Nepal will create only ethnic leaders, not national leaders. Their criteria of effectiveness will be judged by what they can bring to the specific ethnic group. It may be at the detrimental to other groups, a source of perpetual hostility. It also will preclude formation of national leaders.

A small group of Madheshi individuals have floated the idea of Nepal as a dichotomy of Pahad and Madhesh, and separation as the solution. Without commenting on the absurdity of such claim, let us examine other dichotomies. How about Indo-Aryans (Bahun, Chhetri, Dalit, Madhesi.) vs. Janajati (Tharu, Rai, Limbu, Gurung, Managar, Tamang etc.)? Or between high caste and low caste, or men and women, or rich and poor, literate vs. illiterate, or flat nose vs. pointed nose?

How about sub-groups like Dalits and women? Historically they have been marginalized. Will separate Dalit and women states help their cause? In Terai, there are high caste Madheshis exploiting Dalits and Tharus. How a separate Madhesh state would address Dalit and Tharu interests? As a matter of fact, they will be locked into the worst situation. Recently some Muslims demanded separate identity and a body like ‘Muslim Personal Laws Board’ of India. But Muslims are just defined by religion, not by ethnicity. Should Nepal have religiously-blind laws, or have separate states and laws according to religions?

Basically, the voices of groups indulging in terrorism are considered facts and offered political compromise to satisfy their every legitimate or illegitimate demand. That is the sure invitation for every imaginary sub-groups to come up with some slogan and practice terrorism.

Let’s look at Europe. All the countries have separate languages, cultures and history. They have been fighting over millennia and millions have died. Yet they come together to form ‘European Union’ and have single ‘Euro’ for economic betterment of all. In Nepal, there is no history of ethnic army fighting. I have not heard about the existence of any Bahun army against Tamangs. The criteria for this century will be the education and the economic progress of all the citizens. If Nepal can unite together and invite prosperity for all, we will survive. Or else we will not. Harping to by-gone eras will not do.

It brings the political processes in India, USA and Yugoslavia as examples. The state systems in both India and USA are not ethnicity based and are working fine. The basis is geography and language in India, and geography and colonial history in USA. On the other hand, states of Yugoslavia were ethnicity based. It led to ethnic civil war. Today Yugoslavia has been disintegrated. The ethnic quotas over 50 years in India did not help consolidate unification. In fact, many political parties there harbor ethnic bias and some are formed on that basis. The historical discrimination against African Americans in the USA needs no introduction. Yet, no prominent African American leaders demand race specific concession. They are all for education and job opportunities for poor Americans, regardless of race. Because making it a race issue will fossilize the issue in the society along with attendant tension and division. It will not solve the basic problems of African Americans, rather will add problem to every body. Therefore demanding progress of poor Americans, both white and black, is much wiser politics. It is the platform where all Americans can come together. It does not divide nation by race. And of course, majority benefiting from such policies will be African Americans. It will not allow petty politicians benefit by harping on race issue. The assistance goes directly to the targeted sub-group where it is most cost effective. As the social integration progresses the race issue will become redundant. And there are no race-based political parties.

Let us not be blinded by the divisive forces. Nepal also means unity in diversity. Let us be clear that our nationhood is not defined by the superficial ethnicity or Marxist interpretation of economy; but by our tradition, roots and values. This is what connects us. The inner light of Dharma essentially defines us. Our roots go beyond the time of King Janak and King Yalamber. Let us not forget our forefathers and mothers who left their legacy as temples, Chaityas, Chauth, Sundharas, Pati/pauwas, pagodas, Kumari dance, Sakhewa, Lhosar, Teej, Binayos, Madals, Guthis, Mha puja, Dheme bajon, rice terraces, Thankas, philosophies, traditions and pride of being a Nepali.

Thus, solutions to our ethnic marginalization need to be sought in the framework of betterment of all the Nepalese. That is, again, by recognizing overlapping multi-cultural and multi-lingual zones; and targeted application of education, economic opportunities and political inclusion.

(Write to the author: tilakbs@hotmail.com)

27th March 2009, 23:03
Unity is the way forward for humanity.

Keep Nepal United.

Jhanjati samaj
28th April 2009, 12:18
Whatever you say doesnot have any effect on Jhanjati people who have waited and looked forward to there own equal rights for so many years. You are not shrestha, maybe not original Newar, because original Newars are Jhyapus who hold to there history and forefathers realm and there gift to there descendents. Until now every jhanjati people were under chaytri and bahuns rule and managements. They make the rules favor to there own kinds but not country or other ethinic but only to there own advantages. You thought until now every rule and laws that passed by there government were for country? How can you say that when atlast jhanjati people are on the verge of equal rights and power. You certainly not shrestha, I dont believe you. You are one of them, who always want there kind to be in power and possess every authority to decide who live and who dies. Every Newar jyati now on there rights so does every jhanjati people. To have own ethinic state doesn't mean to divide country but to unite Nepal with equal rights and understanding. Until now there was only chyatri and bahuns and there government, now since new system will allowed the ethinic state there will be no corruption, no misunderstanding and certainly not people of mind like you. Budget will shared equally amoung states and not controlled by one man but jhanjati people will use it for development of there state, prime focused can be given into single matter and development is possible then. Look at present situation. One person controlled the budget and what to do with it. No one know how much being spend or being taken out or already fall under corruption. But that will not be the option when jhanjati will take responsibility of there own state. I am a medical student not doctor yet, but I know if body is infected by viral symtom in micromini scale inside the cell, host dies. Well now compare that condition with Nepal. If government denied the rights of jhanjati and state was not formed, you know civil war will start. Every jhanjati are united as one for this rights. At first I thought you must be out of your mind to even think like what you wrote but now I assuming that you lived outside my country Nepal too much. Come to Nepal and place you thoughts amoung your own people, and see if they will agree with you.

You know why jhanjati are all forming and gathering and organising together. We all are fighting corruption and those who corrupted our country from root to top. We are not dividing but fighting to save our unique country.

29th April 2009, 01:05
It's quite sad for an educated man like yourself you have to resort to such rebelious views. OK, I can understand, you may have some rage against certain a group of people, but whatever their ethnic group (which are not just Baun and Chettri, but other ethnic groups as well) is not a representation of everyone in that group. They are politicians - with their own ways of working irrespective of caste. You have to avoid that tunnel vision view of the situation. Secondly, whatever happened during the end of the Malla dynasty, is beyond everyones lifetime and fault, so you can really blame anyone for that, it's a lost cause. You have to accept that's history, like every bit of history in the world.

I'm on no ones side here because I don't feel the need to take sides in a situation like this. I observe things from both sides and come to a middle ground or a rational solution.

" They make the rules favor to there own kinds but not country or other ethinic but only to there own advantages."

I'm no political scientist but based on reoccuring comments, hearsay, whatever ...

...I shall continue later. Got to go to sleep.

Jhanjati samaj
29th April 2009, 04:26
Who told you under ethnic state other people from other ethnic group need to live under that particular ethnic state rules and need work permit. We all are gathering under one banner, either its Newar, Tarus, gurungs, limbus, rai, shrepa, tamang, dalits and so many other jhanjati people even chettri and bahun who supported our cause. State or not state we always are Nepalese people, but to see our country fall under the same system who ruled our past, we better fight for the rights then see Nepal once again remain in Dark Age. Like Sir Obama said, we really do need CHANGE. And united states of America, for the first time choose African American person, sir Obama. Jhanjati not dividing Nepal but united the feelings, thoughts, suggestions, claims, and safety of millions of minds together. But until now there was only one person running this country, only one person allowed to think, one person was allowed to decide, one person not to be question by authority and that one person was allowed to point us. This one person system is corrupted and that we want to change, we will change, we will decide, we will suggest, we will unite and we will run this country. Just imagine would it not be historical moment when every people have equal rights in Nepal rather then one person rules.

29th April 2009, 12:23
NO. Ethinic state will divide the nation. If you give ethinic state to one group, tomorrow another group will pop up and they will have every right to demand for the another state.

I really don't know why this demand have crop up. Demand for health, water, food, electricity , education and we will support whole heartedly. But this ethinic division of state is like Pandora's box. Once you open it will bring a lot of trouble.

It is completely unacceptable for me. Whats wrong with current 14 zone and 75 Districts. We should concentrate on more pressing issues. Ghari ghari nachahido kura nikalera janta uchalera k garna khojya ho .

Janjati samaj, Obama ko dailogue bolera yaha kehi pani hunna. CHANGE should be for better but not for division. For the demand of ethinic state I will give thumbs down.

I am too from a minority community. But I have not such demand.

Jhanjati samaj
2nd May 2009, 07:31
ha ha ha who cares what Mr Obama said, I was just trying to make some point. You know it doesn't matter either ways you comment or approve or disagree. What happening is in Nepal and I am here right now not in UK. Everyone spoke already. Now can you change it, if not, your thumbs down is no meaning. But you know those who are racist often hide behind there good comment and disguise there identity. For if you see politics even deeper then what seem outside, know what, china is involved and it chinese who assist the maoist and every decision that been taken is approved by chinese government. I just want jhanjati rights, which have been taken from us. We do not want civil war to owned that rights. Well what is to come will pass sooner then we expect. I wont say anymore on this matter because if Nepal falls so do we all, and I know this much that you people who living in UK doesn't know this, but china is entering our country and its them who back up the maoist cause. Well truth to say, I wont asked for jhanjati rights or ethnic division if that will be price.

But still it will be very unwise to neglate what Mr Obama said. We cannot stop change and those who try to stop, will have no place in mankind.

I placed my comment and I end it here, for what we think or what we want doesn't make any change now, maoist have already made a move and we big mouth, we all are late, infact century late.