In between birth and death

Struggling to achieve unwanted goals, and walking to reach undecided destination

Madheshi Murmurings January 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — rammanohar @ 6:00 pm

Here is an article, which I wrote on 16-17th Jan 2007. It was just the beginning of madhesi andolan at that time. After that movement, time doesn’t remain same. It has changed every political calculation. This article was published on 19th Jan 2007,in nepalnews ( an online portal).


Madheshi Murmurings

— By Ram Manohar

 

Modern Nepal movement started long back around 250 years ago, with the movement of King Prithivi Narayan Shah. Nepal was unified into a single string by many peoples, among them King Pritivi Narayan Shah is supposed to contribute the most. But at the same time, it was King Pritivi Narayan Shah, who sown the seed of regionalism and ethnicity. Prithivi Narayan Shah, who married first time with a Teraian Princess Indra Kumari [Daughter of Maharaja Hemkarna Sen, Maharaja of Makwanpur, Simraongarh][1] had taken military help of Teraian in the initial movement[2]. But King Pritivi Narayan Shah, never ever considered Teraian for top most administrative or military post. As soon as King Pritivi Narayan Shah conquered Vijayapur Kingdom in 1774 AD, it was divided into pahad & madhesh[3]; based on ethnicity. This was the first separatism move on the ground of ethnicity & regionalism, which has culminated to today’s madheshi-pahadi conflict.

Tharu had proper kingdom and setup in Dang in 1843 BC. Dang was conquored and handed over to Salyan[4], and thus integrated under the flag of Nepal. For some historical period, some portion of Tharu land (Banke, Bardia, Kailali and Kanchanpur) moved to Indian territory[5]. After it was reintegrated into Nepal, it was treated as personal property by ruling Rana Class[6]. Tharu, original inhibited of Dang, was displaced from the place using coercion, and thus was compelled to become Kamaiya[7]. The freed land was then filled with people from a specific ethnic group.

For the administrative purpose the word “Madhesh” was promoted in the past ruler[8]. “Madhesh bandobast adda” was constituted, with different set of laws, rules & regulation, to monitor districts as western Terai[9], Morang, Saptari, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Bara, Parsa and Rautahat [10] during Rana-rule. This administrative structure to divide Madhesh with rest of the country was prevalent there till Rana-rule. Madheshi has to take visa to enter hilly region, including kathmandu in Rana’s period[11]. The discriminating administrative attitude toward Madheshis has thus given rise to different identity among Madheshis other than being attached to Nepal.

Till this point, it seems that Nepal Government (Dominated by Rana’s rule) was influenced by British ruler in India, and was governing Madhesh as colonialism.

Even the Post-Rana regime has not created conductive environment for Madhesis. Nepal Government continued to have separate administrative block for Madhesh (“Madhesh Goswara Ain“) till 1955 AD[12]. After the Malaria eradication in 1954 AD, then Nepal Government initiated special movement of rehabilitating & settlement, through distributing land to landless. This project was aimed at benefiting a certain set of people along the ethnic line, and was termed as “paharization of the Tarai” by N. R. Shrestha[13]. In the name of land reform, Nepal Government confiscated lands from Teraian farmers by imposing ceiling in 1964 AD[14], and was distributed to people from different geographical region, neglecting the local landless peoples[15]. These incidences only promoted the ethnicity and regionalism. The spirit of land reform is increasing productivity of agriculture goods, which require consolidation of land holding, rather than redistribution to many farmers[16].

If Madhesh was part of Nepal, then why Madheshis has not been given any chance to prove its patriotism in Nepal Army, the most patriotic institution of country ? As noted by a former Nepalese PM, Madheshi was not suited for army because Madheshis are not healthy and fit[17]. If this argument stands true, Madhesh (said to be rice bowl) are facing “hidden hungry” (in-taking nutritious deficit diet) and need nutrition and health care from Nepal Government.

Maoist respected Madheshis, in contrast to Government belief, and gave them military responsibility in PLA (People Liberation Army). But unfortunately, Maoist reiterated the same theme, as rest of the previous rulers. Maoist used the same word “Madheshi“, the most hated word among madheshis. Madheshis need more respectful words for its identification, not “Madheshi“, which sometime even become worst word, “Madhesiya” and “Marsiya“, with the twisted tongue.

Madheshis had a lot of expectations from the recent Janandolan-II. Madheshis expected more than mere announcement of distribution of Citizenships certificate to eligible Madheshis. Madheshis expected at least fulfillment of promises (Federalism & Participation in all sphere of institutions) from all power players & policy makers. But the constitution of all the recent high level political teams, political appointments & negotiation teams has re-iterated the Old Testament. On the frontal note, the so called involvement of Government mechanism in Nepalgunj has not received any convincing clarification from current care-taking Government[18]. This collective act has created breeding ground for likes of JTMM.

Even after the cry from madheshis MP’s, Nepal Government has not initiated talk with JTMM (either factions, Goit & Jwala). Government has not even reciprocated the call from JTMM to sit for negotiation. DPM Sherchen discloser of handling JTMM issue to Maoist, itself raise many questions in itself[19]. First, whether Government is incompetent to take-up national issue on its own. Second, why Maoist should handle JTMM issue, when both of them had problematic relationship between them? Third, whether Government has given green signal to Maoist to show its bulling act to JTMM. If we consider, Maoist strategy of letting Government reinstall police force in Madhesh, then the whole issue of Madheshi further complicates, in the light of opposition of such strategy by JTMM[20].

JTMM is now calling for the separate country based on ethnicity & regionalism line[21]. JTMM has used the same ethnicity & regionalism issue, as it was there at the time of King Prithivi Narayan Shah, Rana Rule, Post-Rana rule. JTMM came into existence two years back, but people have only started to notice now, when it has landed up in bloody conflict. Whole county is fearing about division along ethnicity & regionalism, but the timing is wrong; the issue which would have been discussed long back in 1774 AD is starting now, but it’s not late yet. But, is the Government serious? If not armed JTMM, is Government finding any serious group among Madheshis, with whom Government want to discuss Madheshis needs? But the recent concern of ONCHR (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)[22], regarding arrest and detention of Madheshi activists from peaceful protest organized by MPRF (Madheshi People’s Right Forum)[23], shows un-seriousness of Government.

Post-Rana rule, Nepal has seen a lot of development. A lot of National and International investment happened in different sectors of country. But Nepal Government has never asked Madhesis of their need. Government of Nepal has always used “Madheshis” in the opportunistic way, be it as faculties in Kirtipur, or as teachers in different schools, or as agriculturist for feeding rest of the country, or revenue from madhesh as remittance for rest of the country.

Madheshis need sound economy, which will act in symbiotic relationship with rest of the country, but don’t need host-parasite relationship. Madheshi needs agriculture infrastructures, which can produce surplus food grains above national requirements that can generate FOREX for country. Madheshis need more and more employment opportunities in its land, where they can still accommodate job aspirants from rest of the country. Madheshis need administrative power; to make Madheshi society based on its local value, ethos, culture and identity.

Its not the only Nepal Government, but the whole country, which has to show confidence in Madheshis. Madheshis need more respectful acceptance in Nepal, before Madheshis finds some meaning in JTMM preaching. Madhesi need more respectful words for their salutation, than word “Madheshi“, which gives a connotation of being away from own homeland.

End


[1] http://4dw.net/royalark/Nepal/nepal5.htm[2] http://www.infoclub.com.np/nepal/history/history_unification.htm[3] “Notes On The History Of Morang District”, http://www.thdl.org/texts/reprints/regmi/regmi_03.doc[4] Mohan Bahadudr Malla, The Baise and Chaubise Principalities ,, http://www.thdl.org/texts/reprints/regmi/regmi_11.doc

[5] Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, WHAT IS SUGAULI TREATY?

[6] http://www.freenepal.org:8080/FreeNepal/action/discussion.do;jsessionid=489FCEDFAD90C5EDAFAE1280B587D1CB?currentContentId=53

[7] Mahesh Chaudhary, Pre-history about Dang valley and Tharu in generous People, http://www.merodang.com/dang_history.htm

[8] More Adminstrative Office of the Rana Period, http://www.thdl.org/texts/reprints/regmi/regmi_07.doc

[9] http://www.thdl.org/texts/reprints/regmi/regmi_12.doc

[10] Administrative Arrangements in the Eastern Tarai Region and Chitaun, http://www.thdl.org/texts/reprints/regmi/regmi_13.doc

[11] Krishna B. Bhattachan, Indigenous Nationalities & Minorities of Nepal, 2003

[12] http://www.moha.gov.np/about.html

[13] N. R. Shrestha, Landlessness and Migration in Nepal (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1990)

[14] Poshendra Satyal Pravat, Keela University, A History of Forest Politics in the Terai, Nepal: A Case of Equity or Ecology? 2006

[15] Dennis Conway, Nanda R. Shrestha and Raja P. Velu; Frontier Migration and Upward Mobility: The Case of Nepal, 1993

[16] Nanda R. Shrestha and Raja P. Velu, Dennis Conway; Frontier Migration and Upward Mobility: The Case of Nepal

[17] CK lal, madheshi mudda ko rastriyakaran, http://www.nepalihimal.com/2063/paush-1-15/bishleshan_madhesi.html

[18] http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/331/FromtheNepaliPress/13096

[19] http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=97104

[20] http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=97270

[21] http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0701/S00020.htm

[22] http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2007/jan/jan18/news02.php

[23] http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2007/jan/jan16/news03.php

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