Saturday, February 25, 2006

India, Europe, US For A Constituent Assembly

India and the European Union appeared to be positive on the Maoist ceasefire and the constituent assembly. You have been isolated on this count.

Moriarty: I do not feel isolated at all. In my conversations with the Indians, the Europeans, they all stress that giving up the weapons has to be the part of the settlement. It is not that you are going to put the arms under the supervision and you are going to grab them back later on which is what Prachanda is saying. The Indians, the Europeans all join me in saying, ‘no, once there is a movement towards constituent assembly, you do not get the weapons back, you don’t get to terrorize the villagers with threats.’

Can you believe this? I can't believe my ears. The Maoists just scored a coup. Who could have imagined? I am not suggesting this is a new position on the part of the foreign powers. But this is the first time I came across it.

America is for a constituent assembly. India is. Europe is.

I am not surprised. It is just that I think the Maoists should cash on this fast. They wanted a constituent assembly, and now they got it. If they have been wanting to isolate the king, they never had a better chance.

But this is no free lunch. The Maoists have their part to play. I urge Prachanda and Baburam to see this opportunity for what it is.

Actually I am a little surprised the foreign powers came around to the idea before the king did. Because they have been at pains to try and not give the impression that the foreign powers are calling the shots in Nepal.

On the other hand, the king did come for the idea of such an assembly right after February 1, 2005. It is just that these days he gives one bland speech, and then for the next six months you just see his pictures, then he gives another bland speech. I mean, if you are president, prime minister and king all rolled into one, why will you not let Rabindra Mishra grill you? Chairman Mao did not have that many titles as this king.

If Moriarty had been strong on the constituent assembly idea before the political parties in Nepal, the Maoist might have had a reason to accuse him of representing some country that might have imperialist designs on Nepal. That also means Moriarty has been listening to the Maoists. Because the Maoists use the "I" word, Moriarty has been careful not to act too intrusive in the country's affairs. He has been respectful of the opinions of the political leaders in Nepal. He has routinely deferred, even when I thought he was in the right and maybe some of these cat politicians were not making much sense. In the same interview he has also made it very clear that India has provided more military aid to Nepal than the US. And he has ridiculed the idea that the US might looking to have a foothold in Nepal to check India and China. The suggestion is so ridiculous it is not worth commenting upon, he said. And I believe him. America wants trade. India wants trade. China wants trade. All three powers want to grow off of each other. And if America intends to contain India and China, I would advise it to look for a better foothold than Nepal. Nepal just does not have that kind of a reach.

The Foreign Powers Need To Come Clean On The Constituent Assembly Question (September 25, 2005)

The whole point about sovereignty is it is not for America or India or Europe to decide if Nepal should get itself a constituent assembly. That decision is for Nepal's domestic forces to make. I don't remember Moriarty ever taking a stand against the constituent assembly idea. He has been disciplined. He has known it is not his place to be for or against the idea.

But now he has given a clear hint. All the big powers are for a constituent assembly.

But the Maoists are going to have to transform into a political party with no armed cadres before that happens. And the Maoists have several legitimate options to that same end. So now it is for the Maoists to prove they really mean a constituent assembly when they say a constituent assembly.

My personal first choice is to get rid of both the armies. Just plain get rid of them. Demilitarize the country. But I am not the only one talking. And all concerned parties should voice their opinions. And I am open to the idea people might disagree with me.

If the Maoists wish to pull a Lenin or a Mao in Nepal, that is not likely. They don't have the military capabilities to do so. And whatever political goodwill they earned through their four month long ceasefire and the 12 point agreement, they stand to squander it all.

Do I believe the Maoists are trying to pull a Lenin or a Mao? As in, Lenin used a constituent assembly as a tool to weaken the "autocrats" and rope in the democrats. Once the autocrats were out, he promtly got rid of the democrats. Mao used the Nationalists to fight the Japanese. As soon as the Japanese were off the radar screen, he promptly went after the Nationalists, and that is how you end up with Taiwan.

No, I do not believe the Nepali Maoists are trying to pull that stunt. I really don't. Nepal is not 1917 Russia or 1949 China. Nepal is a different country. This is 2006. Geopolitical realities are vastly different today. We live in a world were America, India and China genuinely want to make as much money off of each other as possible, as all of them realize deep in their bones that trade is not a zero sum game, it is a win-win.

But some of the recent Maoist rhetoric can lead you to believe otherwise, or that they are at some level confused.

This is what I understand to be happening. Look at some of the recent things they have done. Look at their unilateral ceasefire. Mao never did that. Lenin never did that. This was not in the books. Look at the ideological leap from a communist republic to a democratic republic. That is a huge jump. And look at the 12 point agreement. They have committed to things like rule of law, freedom of speech, and so on. It has not been easy for them. And they are still struggling. They have a few relapses here and there. It is like you grow up a Christian all your life, a devout Christian, and then in your 50s you decide you are going to become a Buddhist. All your Christian thoughts are not going to magically vanish out of your mind. Habits of mind die hard.

And the king has made a real nuisance by not reciprocating the ceasefire. The entire world expected him to, but he refused. He has his own bad habits of the mind. That made it really hard for the Maoists.

So, no, I don't believe the Maoists are trying to doublecross. I just think it is very hard what they are attempting. And they need help.

This is very important that all the major powers have put down in so many words that they are for a constituent assembly. This will help the Maoists talk more reason.

Now it is for the Maoists to do the right thing. It is unrealistic to think they can declare a ceasefire now, or that they can disarm. But they should come around to some revisions to the 12 point agreement. It is high time the seven party alliance and the Maoists again entered talks. I think they should agree to demilitarize the country before it goes through a constituent assembly.

For a long time I criticized the seven party alliance for not having enough political clarity. Now I would like to criticize the Maoists. They need some clarity of their own.

And the foreign powers are not even talking in terms of a conditional constituent assembly like I sometimes do. This is huge.

And I continue to have a standing challenge to the smartest person in the Maoist camp, Baburam Bhattarai. See if you can draw a more progressive constitution than this: Proposed Republican Constitution 2006. And I am talking of the poor, the powerless, the marginalized. What I am proposing is not something that America has, not something that India has. Tell me if you like it, tell me if you don't.

I mean, look at it this way. If Ambassador Moriarty and I were to start discussing American politics, we would have more disagreements than Prachanda and Baburam in early 2005. Only neither would end up in "protective custody."

Congress Not Yet For A Republic

The Nepali Congress is a democratic party. And so it may decide not to go for a republic, but it will have to explain why. I hope the two factions reunite. But after they do, they are going to have to face this question. Are they or are they not for a republic?

Reunification Formula

Girija tried the amnesty formula last year, and it did not work, predictably so. You start by accepting the fact that there are two separate political parties. And then you give a formula. It could be 50-50, or 60-40. Or it could be one formula for the central committee, and one for each of the district committees. I think it will be simpler to have one formula nationwide. I would go for 60-40.

Form a reunification committee under the chairmanship of Krishna Prasad Bhattarai. 11 members, 6 from the Koirala Congress, 4 from the Deuba Congress, and Bhattarai chairing it.

A new central committee would be formed, and a new district committee in each of the 75 districts. 60 percent would be from the Koirala Congress, 40 percent from the Deuba Congress. That would also percolate down to the town and village committees.

The name would be Nepali Congress. The flag and election symbol would be what the party originally had. Girija woud still be president. But Deuba would have to be Vice President, and Bimalendra Nidhi General Secretary, or at least one of them. For a party that has its base in the Terai, you need a Madhesi at the top.

Reunification For The Movement

If Nepal were an electoral democracy and not a hijacked one, I would have loved it if the two Congress factions stayed separate. I am a Sadbhavana person. But these times are different. The two Congress factions need to become one for the sake of the democracy movement.

After reunification, the Congress regains its status as the largest party. The bogus claim that it still is larger than the UML despite the vertical split could rest.

And then the Congress could really lead. After all, the Congress is the first political party in Nepal to have demanded a constituent assembly. They asked for it half a century ago.

The Repubic Question

My home is in the democratic camp. And the seven party alliance is the legitimate leader of that camp. And I am not in Nepal. So I defer to the seven party alliance. I might offer my suggestions and rationale, I might agree, disagree, praise, criticize. But at the end of the day it is the seven party alliance leadership that decides. And I come around to the decisions they take. I support in all ways I can.

The country and its political parties deserve that kind of respect. The people deserve that.

This thinking also colors my stands on the republic question.

If the king were to accept a few things, I can still imagine a small role for the monarchy. One, the army has to be detached from the monarchy for good. Two, the 1990 constitution has to go.

At this blog I have even managed to design a monarchy that sticks around, but costs the country nothing without any stoppage to its state allowances. I guess I am just trying to aid the process of thinking through on the burning question of a republic.

On the other hand, if the king is going to keep going down his so-called roadmap, if he is going to keep arresting leaders, if he is going to keep talking nonsense, if he is going to keep trying to split up the seven party alliance instead of inviting it for an unconditional, respectful dialogue, then the democratic camp will have no choice but to go for a republic. And the Nepali Congress will have to become a republican party at that point. Or it would be unfit to lead the movement.

The political reality is if the king keeps acting unreasonable, the country will have to become a republic before it takes itself through a constituent assembly.

His first step towards reason would be to release all political prisoners.

They Will Follow

If The Congress were to go for a republic, the smaller parties like the NMKP and Sadbhavana (Anandi) will follow, I think. But it is unrealistic to expect the smaller parties to take the lead.

In The News

Security man killed, three injured in Nepalgunj clash NepalNews
Maoists seize nine oil tankers in Banke
“We Want To Prevent Nepal From Becoming A Crazy Totalitarian State .”
Alliance unveils fresh protest programmes
NBA asks HM the King to be ready to resolve present crisis
Positive environment for parliamentary polls: Home Minister Thapa

Maoists attack security post in Nepal, one killed Hindu, India
Nepal's opposition alliance to launch fresh round of protests Hindu, India
Nepal's Maoist rebels mock king World Peace Herald, DC
Can US Candor Spur Realignment In Nepal? NewsBlaze, CA

BBC Nepali

प्रकाशमान सिंह, सशांक कोइरालासंग-22.02.06
जेम्स मोरिआर्टीसंगको वार्ता-19.02.06
प्रचण्डको अन्तरर्वार्ताबारे-15.02.06
प्रचण्डको अन्तरर्वार्तामा आधारित-13.02.06
काठमाण्डौं निर्वाचन बहस-12.02.06
माघ ७ को कर्फ्यु-20.01.06
गिरिजाप्रसाद कोइरालासंग-18.01.06


25 February06:20Rovaniemen kaupunki, Rovaniemi, Finland
25 February06:33Bharti Enterprises, India
25 February06:58MetTel, Inc., New York, United States
25 February07:26ONPT, Morocco

25 February08:10Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, India
25 February08:14Planet Internet, Netherlands, The
25 February08:55NTT Communications, Japan
25 February09:29ProXad, France
25 February10:35Chello Broadband GmbH, Austria
25 February12:08Tufts University, Medford, United States
25 February12:22Shaw Fiberlink, Calgary, Canada

25 February13:36Middlebury College, Middlebury, United States
25 February13:39Middlebury College, Middlebury, United States

Video Clips

Thursday, February 23, 2006

March 2 Event In New York City

Alliance for Democracy & Human Rights in Nepal, USA


The South Asia Forum (The New School)

Cordially invite you to a discussion:

Nepal at the Crossroads: People Matters

Speakers and sub-topics:

Kanak Mani Dixit

"Chairman Gyanendra vs. The People of Nepal"

Mr. Dixit is a prominent Kathmandu-based journalist who is the editor of the Himal Southasia and publisher of the newsmagazine Himal Khabarpatrika. He is also a children's author and a cultural activist.

Rhoderick Chalmers

"Prospects for Peace: International Perspectives"

Dr. Chalmers is the Deputy South Asia Project Director at the International Crisis Group.

The program will start with a 10-minute performance art by Ashmina Ranjit, a prominent Nepali artist and activist, who is currently a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University.

Moderator: Professor Carol Breckenridge, Founder, The South Asia Forum

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

6:45 PM - 8:30 PM

Wollman Hall, The New School

Entrance on 66 West 12th Street,

(between 5th and 6th Avenues)

Nearest Subways: F (6th Avenue Line) train to 14th Street Station; 1, 2, 3, 9 (7th avenue line) trains to 14th Street Station.

Free Admission!

February 1st, 2006 marked the completion of the first year of King Gyanendra's direct rule in Nepal. To many, this day is seen as a black day since, in the name of the "war on terror," the government of King Gyanendra has resorted to curbing civil liberties and heavy-handed crackdowns on the democratic forces in the country. Apart from highlighting some of the key aspects of the political and human rights situation in Nepal, the speakers will reflect upon the effects the political crisis has had on ordinary Nepali lives. Questions and answers will follow the presentations from the speakers.

This event is co-sponsored by: Nepalese Democratic Youth Council, USA


Ashok Gurung:, Ph. 646-421-5795

Sanjay Parajuli: parajulis@, Ph. 917-602-2667

Anil Shahi: anil_shahi_et@, Ph. 917-670-1057

Anand Bist:, Ph. 917-442-7405 1

In The News

Ball now in parties Court: FM Pandey NepalNews
CPN-UML mulls on forming broader front
ADB reminds minister Dhakal of the debt
Nepal has urged India to resume military supplies: Indian Minister
NHRC asks govt to release detained leaders, rights activists
Rights, Democracy and Inclusion Fund (RDIF) launched
Statement by Nilamber Acharya at the launching of the RDIF

EU Debates 'Smart Sanctions' Against Nepal OhmyNews International, South Korea
Nepal Recruits Female Officers to Army OhmyNews International
Nepal courts free 17 leaders Daily Times, Pakistan
Police Arrest Nepal Opposition Leader Houston Chronicle
Nepal opposition leader arrested BBC News
Police arrest senior opposition leader in Nepal Hindustan Times
Nepal Villagers Trapped in the Middle of Conflict Voice of America
Nepal's Kingdom of Discontent Asian Tribune
Nepal at crossroads Khaleej Times
Nepal parties skeptical of King's dialogue offer Hindu
Nepal Asks India for Resumption of Military Assistance NewsLine Nepal, Nepal
Nepal requests India to resume military supplies Kantipur Online
Nepal asks India to resume arms supply Nepaleyes
Nepal has urged India to resume military supplies: Indian Minister
NEPAL: Grave danger for civilians due to the conflict Reuters AlertNet
NEPAL: Overview analysis: A people’s war?
NHRC urge for Nepal's release Nepaleyes, Nepal
UML for a joint democratic front Kantipur Online
Nepal Army Promises Compensation to Civilian Victim Nepal human Rights News, Nepal


22 February14:04United States (
22 February14:09United States (
22 February14:17United States (
22 February15:00San Francisco State University, San Francisco, United States
22 February16:17Canada (
22 February16:34Sify Limited, India
22 February17:20Coditel, Belgium
22 February20:58University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States
22 February21:08Saitama City, Japan (
22 February21:30Harvard University, Cambridge, United States
22 February21:53Infogrames Melbourne House, Melbourne, Australia
22 February22:19New Zealand (
22 February23:20United States Army, United States
22 February23:39North Dakota University System, United States

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

हृदयेश त्रिपाठी: मधेसी समस्या र राज्यको पुनर्संरचना

(Source: Kantipur)

Govind Shah: Social Inclusion Of Madheshi Community In Nation Building


Shree Govind Shah, Ph.D.
Ecologist and Policy Analyst
8 February 2006

This paper was presented at the Civil Society Forum Workshop for Research Programme on Social Inclusion and Nation Building in Nepal Organised by SNV on 13 February 2006, Kathmandu, Nepal


The Madheshi community, in spite of having a long history of origin and habitat within the present day Nepal, is practically considered outsiders and they have been mostly marginalized and face exclusion in active political participation, administration and governance, decision-making and policy planning, and moreover, they face serious humanitarian problem i.e. of their true identity in their own native land. The Madheshi people feel highly discriminated and has almost lost ‘the sense of belongingness to this nation’. Since the early 1990s, Madheshi people have organized community groups and formed societies or organizations for the cause of Madheshi community. The issues of Madhesh and Madheshi community have been time and again raised by Jha (1997), Lawoti (2001), Shah (2002) Yadav (2003), Gupta (2004) and few others. Most of the Madheshi people feel that the entire Madhesh region and its inhabitants do not practically exist in Nepal’s consciousness and certainly in the consciousness of most of the donor community and much of the outside world. Lawoti (2001) reported a very low level of Madheshi people (11.2%) in the integrated index of governance with none in culture, academic and professional leadership.

The exclusion of Madheshi community from the national mainstream, which shares 32% of the country’s total human resources, has been the negative factor for the sound economic development in the country. Moreover, the spirit of harmonious partnership between the two groups of Pahadi and Madheshi community has never been developed. Socio-political and economic inclusion of Madhesh, initially considered as ‘bread basket’ and the major source of revenue generation, and the Madheshi people is what the country needs for building a more inclusive nation based on democratic norms and processes. This paper analyses the current status of Madhesh and Madheshi community, the emerging socio-political and economic issues, and recommends relevant research agenda on the issues of social inclusion and nation building. All the issues discussed here are data based; there are many minor issues talked very often but data and information related to those issues are not available.


2.1 Tarai Districts

The term Tarai is of recent origin describing the plain areas on the southern side of Siwalik range in South Asia. Tarai region, situated in the Outer Himalayan Zone, has been created by orogenic activity as well as by alluvial action in the Siwaliks and the Himalayan ranges (Spate and Learmonth, 1967). It has unique ecological features having tropical to subtropical climatic conditions. In Nepal, Tarai is geographically divided into ‘Outer Tarai’ and ‘Inner Tarai’, the later is also called ‘Vitri Madhes’ – the low lying river valleys north of Siwaliks.

In 1963, government established 75 districts in the country and the previously 17 districts in Tarai were restructured into 20 districts which also included part of Siwalik range and hills. District demarcation was not based on ecological or social basis, which could have then included only the outer Tarai and Vitri Madhesh area. All the Tarai districts have varying proportion of Siwalik and mid mountain areas, the highest being 77.5% in Nawalparasi district, 51.5% in Chitwan district, 50.8 % in Banke district and 41% in Kailali district to the lowest 8.9% in Sunsari district and about 7% in Jhapa district; the average being 32.4% for the 20 districts.

It appears that the well calculated government decision including part of hills in Tarai district aimed at gradually increasing the dominance of hill people and their distinctive culture, practices, language and architectural style of the hill region in the plains. Gaige (1975) reported the hill culture and more flexible social traditions and practices penetrating the plain region where the people practiced vegetarianism, observing dietary restrictions and considering inter-caste marriage as social taboo. The inclusion of hill areas in Tarai districts increased the number of hill people in the district reducing chances of plain people to play decisive role in political arena and the governance system in their own area. It also made the holistic planning very difficult for the Tarai districts, which since 1963 are ecologically heterogeneous.

2.2 Area and Population

The total land area in the 20 Tarai districts is 34,109 sq km which accounts for 23.1% of the country’s total land area (Table 1). In 2001, 48.4% of the country’s total population of 23.2 million lived in Tarai districts with a density of 329 persons/sq km. Tarai plain and Vitri Madhesh together covers 15.6% of the country’s total area.

Table 1 Land Area in 20 Tarai Districts

Ecological area Sq km Percentage (%) of Nepal
Mid mountain and Siwalik 11,041 34.2
Tarai plain including Vitri Madhesh 23,068 67.6
Total 34,109 100 23.1
Source: ISRSC (2004)
Note: Population for Nepal in 2001 was 23.151 million and 11.212 million for Tarai districts.
Country’s total area is 147,484 sq km.


3.1 Madhesh

The term Madhes implies to the Gangetic plain and the Vitri Madhesh area bordering India on the southern side and spreading north up to the foothill of Siwalik range. The word Madhesh is derived from Sanskrit word ‘Madhyadesh’ which extends from the foothill of the Himalayan region in the north to the Vidhyachal Parbat (mountain) in the south situated in central India. Though the terms Madhesh and Tarai are used synonymously, it is important to note that Madhesh does not cover all parts of Tarai districts; it excludes Siwalik and mid mountain areas. Madhesh is a well defined ecological region, which is approximately 885 km long from its western boundary, the Mahakali River, to its eastern boundary, the Mechi River while its average width along its entire east-west axis is only 26 km varying from 4 km to 52 km.

3.2 Madheshi

Madheshis are the non-hill origin people living in Madhesh region. The Madheshi community is composed of the traditional Hindu caste hierarchy such as Brahmin, Kshatriya, Baisya and Dalits, and indigenous Janjati ethnic groups, other native tribes and Muslims. Gaige (1975) used the terms ‘hill people’ and ‘plains people’ living in Tarai districts, and defined a) “plains people are those who speak plains languages as their mother tongues or first language, whether they were born or live in the plains or hills”; the plains languages being Maithili, Bjojpuri, Awadhi, Urdu, Hindi and Bengali, and dialects of these languages used by Janjati groups, and b) “hill people whose mother tongue or first language is one that predominates in the hill region of Nepal such as Nepali, Newari, Magar, Gurung, Rai and others. Sociologically, hill people belong to Hindu caste groups, hill Janjati groups and Newars. The hill people are also called ‘Pahadi’ or ‘Pahadiya’. Dahal (1996) divided Madheshi community into four groups a) Indigenous Janjati ethnic people living in Madhesh for generations, b) people belonging to traditional Hindu caste hierarchy, c) businessmen of Indian origin e.g. Marwadi, Sikh and others, and d) Muslims.

3.3 Historical Background

Madhesh has a long historical background dating back to the kingdom of Videha or Mithila established in eastern to central Madhesh and a part of the present day north Bihar, India (Malangia, 1997). In the mid western Madhesh, Shakya kings ruled in 600 BC, the Buddha belonging to the Shakya dynasty was born in 563 BC. Similarly, kingdoms were established in Simraun Garh in the present day Bara district. In Madhesh, several kingdoms were established and ruled by many dynasties (Thakur, 1956), which all perished with time and were abandoned and the land converted into forests. Gaige (1975) concluded: “the ancient and medieval history of this region is a cyclic one in which men and forests have dominated in terms”. Many ruins which are still to be identified and properly studied would tell the ancient history of this region. The history of Kathmandu Valley and some hill regions have been studied and reported by Pahadi scholars and historians in much detail while they ignored Madhesh region. Again, there are very few Madheshi historians and scholars who due to lack of resources have not yet studied in detail the complex ancient history of Madhesh. In recent decades, Lumbini area in Madhesh, the birth place of Buddh, received worldwide recognition and support for meaningful excavation, detail study and renovation of key sites.

The Madhesh region was annexed to Nepal during the Nepal unification period beginning the mid 1770s by Prithivi Naarayan Shah, however, much of the ancient Madhesh areas ruled by various kings and principalities for centuries are now in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states of India. Again, the Anglo-Nepalese war between 1814 and 1816, and the resulting Treaty of Sugauli and subsequent treaties with British India reduced the Madhesh region. The outer Madhesh areas south of Dang and Chitwan valleys are under the Indian territory.

3.4 Migration and Population Distribution in Madhesh

Migration in Hills

The historical evidences indicate that most of the hill people excluding the indigenous ethnic groups migrated from various parts of India (Bista, 1967). During the Muslim invasions of the 12th-14th centuries in India, the Kshatriyas and Brahmins migrated to the mountain regions of the present day western Nepal and they established principalities in hills. They accommodated some aspects of hill tribe culture to their owns and developed the hill culture of to-day. Around the 12th century, there was eastward migration of people speaking a Sanskrit-based language – which later on developed as Nepali language (Clark, 1963). Comparatively inhospitable and resource poor western hills, and gradual overpopulation and agriculture deterioration pushed the hill people, both the migrants and the indigenous people, to eastern hills up to Darjeeling areas and Sikkim in India, which were less densely populated and were wetter (Gaige, 1975). This could be the reason of accepting speakers of Nepali and hill tribal languages from Darjeeling, Sikkim and nearby areas as ethnic Nepalese, who largely enjoy both the Indian and Nepali citizenship.

Migration to Madhesh

Between 1860s and 1951, government encouraged and made efforts to vertical migration of hill people in Madhesh region. The response was not much favourable due to the alien climatic conditions in Madhesh to hill people (Paudel, 1980). There were settlements in Madhesh region south from the dense forest area and Vitri Madhesh was inhabitated by indigenous Janjati people. As land, water and forest resources were abundant in Madhesh, people from the densely populated Indian districts bordering Madhesh region having similar cultures, tradition, practices and languages migrated to various parts of Madhesh between mid 19th and the mid 20th century.

Overpopulation, agriculture and economic deterioration, natural calamities resulting famine and many other reasons pushed the hill people of both Hindu castes and indigenous Janjati groups to out-migrate in Madhesh region. Better economic opportunities, abundant land and forest resources and the malaria eradication programme launched by the State encouraged involuntary migration into Madhesh (. People migrated mostly to northern Madhesh region and Vitri Madhesh areas, which were forested and had smaller settlements; large areas of forests were cleared for farming and settlements, which gradually reduced access to forest resources for Madheshi people. Hill people established settlements and farming areas along East-West Highway under construction. Very few hill people migrated to already established towns such as Janakpur and practically none to the large Madhesh settlements.

Table 2 Linguistic Characteristics of Population in Madhesh Districts

People speaking languages % of population in 1961 1/ % of population in 1981 2/
Eastern Mid western Far western Eastern Mid western Far western
Hill languages 2.1- 24.5 1.2 - 6.3 3.2 – 5.8 12.1- 86.2 28.9- 66.3 46.1- 80.7
Plains languages 75.5- 97.9 93.7- 97.8 94.2 – 96.8 13.8 – 87.9 33.7 – 71.1 19.3- 53.9
Source: 1/ Census of Nepal, 1961 (as cited by Gaige, 1975)
2/ Census of Nepal, 1981
NOTE: In 1963, Madhesh districts were restructured and their number increased from 17 to 20; pars of Siwaliks and mid mountains were included in Madhesh districts.

The linguistic characteristics of population in Madhesh districts significantly changed between 1961 and 1981 due to influx of hill population in Madhesh as well as inclusion of some parts of Siwaliks and mid mountains to Madhesh districts. This marginalized the population speaking plains languages. This resulted in dominance of hill culture, tradition, practices and languages in Madhesh region particularly in Jhapa, Chitwan, Dang and Kanchanpur districts where about 67% to 85% of the district’s total population consist of hill linguistic groups. The current trend of changing cultural equation indicates that in two to three decades time most of Chitwan, Jhapa, Kanchanpur, Dang, Nawalparasi, Kailali, and Morang districts, half and more of Sunsari, Rupendehi, Banke and Bardia, and the northern third of Sarlahi, Bara, Parsa and Rauthat districts the plains culture, tradition and practices would gradually reduce.

Population Distribution of Madheshi Community in 2001 (% of total population) is as follows:

Low 15.3 - 47.5% Chitwan, Jhapa, Kanchanpur, Dang, Nawalparasi, Kailali and Morang (7)
Medium 58.7 – 61.3 Sunsari, Rupandehi, Banke and Bardia (4)
High 77.5-93.5 8 districts between Koshi and Narayani rivers, and Kapilbastu
According to 1952/54 population census, only about 6% of the population in Madhesh districts was of hill origin and the rest 94% population was composed of Madheshis of Hindu caste hierarchy, indigenous Janjati groups, Muslims and other tribes. The population dynamics significantly changed in 1981 increasing the percentage of hill people from about 6% in 1952 to 43% in 1981. The Pahadi population increased many fold from merely 142,000 in 1952 to 4.1 million in 2001 while the Madheshi population increased just over two fold from 2.5 million to 5.3 million over the last 50 years (Table 3).

Table 3 Changes in Madheshi and Pahadi Population
(Population in ‘000)
Year Highland group Lowland group Total % of lowland group
1952/54 142 2,246 2,388 94.1
1981 2,795 3,762 6,557 57.4
1991 3,444 5,262 8,706 60.4
2001 4,120 7,092 11,212 63.3
Source: Gurung, H. (1998). Social Demography and Expressions, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1998
CBS (2001). Population Census.
Highland people = people of hill origin; Lowland people = people of plains, Madheshi

3.5 Madheshi Community in Nepal

The 59 castes and ethnic nationalities identified in 2001 census are broadly grouped into Hindu caste hierarchy, Indigenous Janjati and Muslims and their population both in 20 Tarai districts and in other remaining 55 districts are given in Table 4.

Baisya, Yadav and other Hindu caste group share 44.3% of the total Madheshi population followed by Indigenous Janjati (27.5%), Muslims (13.2%) and Dalits (11.9%). Indigenous Janjati, Dalits and Muslims are socio-economically more disadvantaged compared to other Hindu castes. Brahmin, Kshatriya and Kayastha are in minority but they are relatively well-educated, resource rich and more aggressive in politics, governance and in leadership role.
Table 4 Madheshi Community in Nepal

Madheshi Community Population in ‘000 Nepal % of Nepal
Tarai districts Remaining districts
Hindu caste hierarchy
Brahmin/Kshtriya/Kayastha 215.7 13.3 229.0 3.1
Baisya, Yadav and others 3,126.6 168.9 3,295.5 44.3
Dalits 874.1 12.7 886.8 11.9
Indigenous Janjati 1,940.1 106.4 2,046.5 27.5
Muslim 935.5 41.7 972.3 13.2
Total 7,092 343 7,435 100
Source: CBS (2001)

Madheshi community tends to be less migratory in nature compared to hill people and they prefer to remain closely in their traditional settlements. This reduces their chances of integrating with new socio-economic environment as well as with other communities. In general, 95.4% of the Madheshi people live in Madhesh region while the remaining 4.6% live in hills and mountains. Whereas, about 18% of the hill people live in Madhesh region and they out-migrate more easily from their settlements. The hill Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars are well-educated, resource rich, more land and capital and they have achieved leadership dominance not only in their settlements or regions but also in Madhesh region.


Most of the data and information available on natural resources such as land, forests, productivity and production, economic activities and general economics are given at district level. The data available for Madhesh region is briefly described here.

Table 5. Agriculture Land and Forests in 20 Tarai Districts

Area Tarai districts Madhesh region Hilly region
Total area in Tarai districts 3,411 2,307 1,104
Arable land 1,414 1,234 180
Forest land 1,364 486 878
% of arable land 41.5 53.5 16.3
% of forest land 40.0 21.1 79.5
Source: ISRSC (2004)

The 20 Tarai districts have in total 1.414 million ha of arable land; 87.3% of the total arable land is in Madhesh region and the remaining 12.7% in hills (Table 5). Arable land covers 53.5% of the Madhesh region while only about 16% of hills in the Tarai districts are cultivated. This unbalanced arable land distribution could exert more pressure on Madhesh region for farmland resources.

Although the irrigation facility developed in the last 100 years or so cover about 62% of the total farmland but due to various technical and management problems only about 46% of the total farmland is actually irrigated at least during wet season (Shah and Singh, 2001). It has been estimated that only about 22% of the farmland is irrigated during winter months and just below 5% in spring. Multiple cropping and commercial crops would require water throughout the whole growing season. This would put barrier to economic development of Madhesh people whose economic activities are mainly agriculture based.

There is unbalanced forest distribution in Madhesh region; only about 21% of the Madhesh region is forested compared to about 80% in hilly areas of the 20 Tarai districts (Table 5). People in Madhesh region has very little access to forest resources, and again, a large chunk of the forests are located in national parks and wildlife reserves.


Nepal has become to a greater extent an unequal society in which some people or community and geographical area have prospered while many other communities and districts have not. There is strong conceptual debate around the notions that exclusion either social, economic, political or geographical have been the main causes of unequal society. Exclusion results in poverty, unequal distribution of resources and development initiatives, and inability of certain community or geographical area to participate in socio-economic and political development processes.

Social exclusion is defined as “the inability of our society to keep all groups and individuals within reach of what we expect as a society and the tendency to push vulnerable and difficult individuals in the least popular places”. Education, skills, social behaviour, social network and groups, social contact, welfare, health, child poverty and isolation and vulnerability are the key social exclusion indicators. Children living in poverty may enter a cycle of poor educational achievement, unmanageable behaviour, unemployment and homelessness.

Economic exclusion would primarily include unemployment, income, economic opportunity, social and support services such as health and drinking water and basic infrastructure. There is positive relation between social exclusion and economic exclusion; illiterate and poor individuals are even more excluded because their low ability to read and write prevents their adaptation, professional conversion and their social mobility (Layachi, 2001).

Political exclusion inhibits basic citizenship rights and when done on a large scale, it prevents communities and even geographical areas from participating in political arena, which inhibits democratic process. The key variables are basic citizenship rights, participation in political life, making public policies, decision-making process and representation.

5.1 Geographical Exclusion

In Nepal, there exist strong geographical inequalities in developing basic socio-economic infrastructures and facilities and providing development opportunity. In recent years, few researchers have linked the results of geographical exclusion such as wide spread poverty, inequality in resource distribution, increasing vulnerability and marginalizing the local inhabitants particularly in the mid-western and far-western region of Nepal with the Maoist insurgency (Nayak, 1998; Panday, 1999; Kumar, 2000; Upreti, 2002; and others).

There are examples of geographical disparity in other parts of the world e.g. Sri Lanka, Ireland, Bhutan and many other countries; in most of these countries the disparity is between the northern and the southern parts of the country. Tarai districts are located in the southern part of Nepal where 95.5% of the total Madheshi people (7.435 million) live. There are 20 districts in Tarai administrative area and 55 districts are located in hills and mountains where 82.2% of the Pahadi people live. Resource Endowment Ranking Index values are used to measure geographical disparity in the country.

a) Social Exclusion


Worst poverty prevails in the Tarai districts. About 45% of the 20 Tarai districts have worst poverty rankings and only 25% are ranked as ‘best’ compared to 35% districts in hills and mountains are ranked as ‘best’ and 29% are ranked as ‘worst’. The Tarai districts having good access to transportation and marketing systems are also reported to have rich natural resources endowment rankings particularly the cultivated land (Table 6).

Table 6. Poverty and Natural Resources Ranking Index

(Number of Districts)
Index Ranking Group Poverty Ranking NR Ranking
Tarai districts H/M districts Tarai districts H/M districts
Ranking 1-25 Worst 9 16 0 25
Ranking 25-50 Intermediate 6 20 3 19
Ranking 51-75 Best 5 19 17 11
TOTAL 20 55 20 55
Source: Sharma and Shah (2002), ICIMOD (1997)

There appears to have ethnicity and poverty interaction. Rauthat, Siraha, Mahotari, Dhanusha and Sarlahi districts, where about 78-94% of the total population is Madhesi people, are ranked as having worst poverty cases; the poverty ranking index ranges from the lowest 4 in Rautahat to 13 in Sarlahi district. The poverty level is reported to be very low in Jhapa, Chitwan and Morang districts where majority of the people are of hill origin.

b) Education

About 90% of the Tarai districts have a large number of educationally deprived populations compared to only about 13% in hills and mountain districts (Table 7). Siraha, Bardia, Dhanusha, Mahotari, rauthat and Sarlahi have the largest number of educationally deprived people.

Fifty percent of the Tarai districts have ‘worst ranking’ for child literacy rates compared to 29$ in hills and mountain districts. Rauthat, Sarlahi and Mahotari are the worst in child literacy index values. Again, 40% of Tarai districts have lower overall literacy rates compared to 31% in hill districts.

Table 7. Educationally Deprived Population and Child Literacy Rates

(Number of Districts)
Index Ranking Group Educationally deprived population Child literacy rates
Tarai districts H/M districts Tarai districts H/M districts
Ranking 1-25 Worst 18 7 10 16
Ranking 25-50 Intermediate 1 25 7 17
Ranking 51-75 Best 1 23 3 22
TOTAL 20 55 20 55
Source: Sharma and Shah (2002)- New ERA, ICIMOD (1997)

b) Economic Exclusion

There is disparity in per capita budget allocation between Tarai and hill districts; 10 out of the 20 Tarai districts have ‘worst’ index values compared to about 17% of the hill districts. Similarly, more number of Tarai districts has lower primary sector development compared to hill districts (Table 8).

Table 8. Per Capita Budget Allocation and Primary Sector Development Index

(Number of Districts)
Index Ranking Group Per Capita budget allocation Primary sector development
Tarai districts H/M districts Tarai districts H/M districts
Ranking 1-25 Worst 10 9 8 16
Ranking 25-50 Intermediate 5 18 8 14
Ranking 51-75 Best 5 28 4 25
TOTAL 20 55 20 55
Source: Sharma and Shah (2002)- New ERA, ICIMOD (1997)

The data and information so far available indicate that the Tarai districts having higher proportion of Madheshi population have much lower socio-economic index values compared to districts where hill people are in dominance. However, there are no information and data available for comparing hill people and plains people living in the same district; the hill people generally live in the northern part of the district, along the highways and in growth centres whereas plains people mostly live in the rural areas with less accessibility to education, health and other development parameters.

Government and political organisations have been advocating and focusing poverty reduction programme mostly in the hills and mountains, and they have been advocating the donors that only the hills and mountains have large number of poor people. It appears that the politicians, policy makers, decision makers and national planners who are mostly of hill origin ignored the socio-economic development issues of Madhesh and the Madheshi community. The fact is that the Madheshi people are not in the right place and their voices are not heard or considered.

c) Political Exclusion

Electoral Constituencies

The average population per constituency is considerably higher in Tarai districts (127,414) than in the mountain (73,026) and 109,081 in the hill districts (Table 9). This reduces the number of parliamentarians representing Tarai region where about 96% of the country’s total Madheshi people live while increases their number from hills and mountains where 82% of the country’s total Pahadi people live.

Table 9. Political Constituency Delineation in Nepal

Mountain Hills Tarai Total
Districts 16 39 20 75
Population (‘000) 4,141 10,398 8,644 23,183
Constituencies 23 94 88 205
Population/Constituency 73,026 109,081 127,414 103,174
Population/Constituency Range 9,587 to 121,996 67,434 to 154,549 114,056 to 157,349
Source: District Demographic profile of Nepal, Informal Sector Research & Study Centre, 2002, Kathmandu, Nepal

5.2 Exclusion of Madheshi Community

About 96% of the Madheshi community lives in 20 Tarai districts and 15 of these districts have intermediate to worst poverty situation. Although there is no authentic data available, the general observation indicate that the Madheshi people living in traditional settlements in rural areas have nominal access to social infrastructure and facilities and, moreover, the induced economic opportunities are practically non-existent in their habitats. Many of the modern day basic facilities have not yet reached Madhesh villages.

Nearly 40% of the Madheshi population is Dalits and indigenous Janjati who are inherently disadvantaged in many social and economic aspects. Again, poverty is very high among the Muslim population living in rural areas; they have average low rate of literacy and their socio-economic development voices have reached nowhere; they share 13% of the total Madheshi population

In fact, the Madheshi community has never been fully integrated in the overall political, socio-economic and human resource development agenda of the country. They have been excluded from the national mainstream. There is widespread feeling among the Madheshi community that they have been strongly discriminated and are not given proper opportunity in the country. They lack proper share in development activities and are not represented in politics or decision-making processes. Education facilities and job opportunities either in government or international organisations functioning in the country are not easily available for Madheshi people. They are not allowed to work in military service and very few people work in police service.

a) Social Exclusion


Poverty line in Nepal is currently estimated to be 31%. However, about 46% of Dalits, 41% of Muslims and 33% of indigenous Janjati population are below the poverty line (World Bank, 2006). Together these three major ethnic groups have 52.6% of the total Madheshi population. The rest 47.4% of the Madheshi people have lower poverty level. The above poverty data indicates that a large proportion of Madheshi households are excluded from the mainstream development. Poverty itself is the main factor of exclusion; the poor people could not afford basic education, primary health care, sanitation practices and decent housing.

Land Assets

Landlessness has become a major problem among Madheshi community. The recent report indicates a grave situation particularly in Dalit, Janjati and Muslim ethnic community; about 37% of Dalits, and 32% of Janjati households do not own agricultural land while 41% of Muslims are landless. About 79% of Mushar, a Dalit community, do not own land; they have the lowest literacy rate of 7.3%.


About 79% Dalits, 68% Muslims, 54% indigenous Janjati and 42% mid caste population are illiterate. The female literacy is very low, below 11%, among Dalits and Muslim. A large Madheshi population has been excluded from basic education. Again, the level of education in rural Madhesh is of much lower grade.

b) Economic Exclusion


Three castes/ethnic groups namely Brahmins, Chhetri and Newars have dominated the civil service in the country. In 1991 these three castes constituted 36% of total population in Nepal but occupied 89.2 percent of position in civil service, while Madheshi community accounted for 32% of population but occupied only 8.4% of position in civil service (Table 10). This indicates that Madheshi people have highly discriminated in government services. It is interesting to note that in 1971 these three castes had occupied 89% of posts in civil services. Thus the pattern of civil service had not much changed over the past twenty years having these Brahmin, Chhetris and Newars dominating the civil service over the years and it is very unlikely that this trend will change in near future.

Table 10. Representation of different Caste/Ethnic groups in Civil Service

Caste/Ethnic Group % of Population in 1991 Share in Civil Service (in Percent)
1971* 1991**
Brahmins 12.9 32.0 41.3
Chhetri & Thakuri 17.6 21.0 14.7
Newar 5.6 36.0 33.2
Tarai (Madheshi) 32.0 7.0 8.4
Hill Social Group 22.4 4.0 2.4
Others 8.3
* Pashupati Rana’s Nepal’s Fourth Plan: A Critique. (Yeti Pocket Book Ltd 1971) pp 18-19
** D.N. Dhungel’s article “ The Nepalese Administrative System” in Contemporary Nepal .P.P. 122-123.

Manpower involved in International organisations in Nepal and projects implemented under these organisations is given in Table11. About 81% of the total manpower involved in the 30 multilateral agencies working in Nepal and 61 projects funded by these agencies are from Pahadi community, 14.1% are foreigners and the rest 5.2% are Madheshi people.

Table 11 Manpower Involved in International Organisations in Nepal

Organisations/ Agencies No. Manpower Ivolved, 2001
Foreigner Pahadi Madhesi Total
International (Multilateral) 30 121 (15.8%) 608 (79.2%) 38 (5.0%) 767
Projected implemented by Multilateral Agencies 61 21 (8.6%) 209 (85.3%) 15 (6.1%) 245
TOTAL 91 142 (14.1 %) 817 (80.7%) 53 (5.2%) 1,012
Source: UNDP (2001). Directory of the United Nations and Its related Specialized Agencies in Nepal, September 2001, UNDP, Kathmandu


Just over 8% of the total judges in the country are from Madheshi community, while the rest 92% are from Pahadi community (Table 12). Participation of judges from Madheshi community at the Appeal Court is about 13.0%, which could be considered a ‘high level of participation’ compared to 6.1% at the District Courts. The lower number of judges could probably be due to a) discrimination of Madheshi community to enter into the judiciary agencies, b) low number of law graduates from Madheshi community, and c) unwillingness to join the judiciary services for various reasons.

Table 12. Man Power Distribution in Judiciary, 2001

Type of Judiciary Pahadi Madhise Total % Madhise
Chief Justice & Supreme Court Justices 18 2 20 10.0
Chief Justices of Appeal Court 10 2 12 16.7
Judges of Appeal Court 64 9 73 12.3
Judges of District Court 123 8 131 6.1
First class officers in judicial services 18 0 18 0
TOTAL 233 21 254 8.3
Percentage 91.7 8.3
Source: HMG (2001). Nyaya Parishad Bulletin, Nyaya Parishad Secretariat, 18 December 2001 (3 Paush 1958)
Employment in Higher Posts

The Pahadi people particularly the Brahmins and Chhetris control most of the positions of power and influence the government, other governing institutions in their action. They consider Madheshi people as ‘non-Nepali’ or ‘less Nepali’ and the later gets excluded from a higher post unless a Madheshi person is in their high level of confidence. Table 13 shows a very low level of involvement of Madheshi people in constitutional bodies and in higher posts – these people make national policies, and are the key decision makers and policy implementers.

Table 13. Madheshi Representation in Cabinet, Constitutional Bodies and High Official Posts

Post and Organisations Posts Pahadi Madheshi % Madheshi
Ministers 24 21 4 16.7
Royal Standing Committee 8 7 1 12.5
Judges in Supreme Court 21 12 2 9.5
Chiefs of the Constitutional bodies 7 7 0 0
Members of Constitutional bodies 19 17 2 10.5
National Human Rights Commission 5 4 1 20.0
National Planning Commission 6 5 1 16.7
Ambassadors/Consulate Generals 23 22 1 4.3
Secretary/regional administrators 37 36 1 2.7
Vice-Chancellors 5 5 0 0
Vice-Chancellor RONAST, Royal Nepal Academy 2 2 0 0
Chief of Security forces 3 3 0 0
Dept. heads of HMG’ 47 43 4 8.5
Chief of Govt. Corporations and Committees 56 52 4 7.1
Chief of Govt. Information and Communication agencies 4 4 0 0
Heads of Parliamentary bodies & committees 15 12 3 20.0
Source: Singh, A. (2003) Restructuring of Nepali State: A Madheshi Perspective
Note: Number of Minister is of Girija Prasad Kiorala cabinet in 2001, all the other data are before October 2002.

c) Political Exclusion

In the two houses of parliament composed after the 1991 election, Brahmins held 38.1% of the seats and Newars 8.3%, the highest proportion in all four legislatures which were the products of adult franchise (Table 14). Similarly, they continued to retain their numbers even in the election of 1999 where Brahmins and Newars held 39.6% and 8.3% respectively. Brahmins, Chhetri and Newar dominated the seats in combined upper and lower houses of parliament constituting 65.2% of seats while they represent 36% of population. On the other hand, Madhesh community constituted only 17.4% of seats while representing 32.0% of population. Thus one finds a serious imbalance in the representation in our law-making body so called national legislature.

Table 14. Representation of Various Caste and Ethnic Groups in National Legislature
(In per cent)
Caste/Ethnic Groups National Legislature Population
1959 1981* 1991 1999 1991
Brahmins 27.5 13.3 38.1 39.6 12.9
Chhetri/Thakuri 31.2 36.3 18.2 17.3 17.6
Newar 3.7 8.1 8.3 8.3 5.6
Subtotal 62.4 57.7 64.6 65.2 36.1
Madheshi 22.0 18.5 19.6 17.4 32.0
Hill SocialGroups 15.6 23.0 14.7 14.7 22.4
Others — 0.7 1.2 1.5 8.3
Source: Pashupati Rana’s Article “The Evolution of Nepalese Nationalism” in Contemporary Nepal, pp 83
IIDS, The Fourth Parliamentary Election.
· Gurung, Harkha, The Sociology of Election in Nepal:1959-81, Asian Survey, Vol XXII, March 1982, p.313

The structure in the political parties is mostly centralized and is largely non-inclusive. Again, the major leaders in any political party are the hill Brahmins and Chhetris and normally they discriminate the Madheshi people in most actions. Central Committee of any political party is vital for formulating policies and the members make collective decision for important action. It appears that the Pahadi leaders do not have confidence over the Madheshi people and they tend to exclude the latter in policy formulation and decision-making jobs. Nepali Congress and the UML are the major democratic parties in the country but they have included only few Madheshi as members in their Central Committees (Table 15). They advocate the proportional representation but in action it does not happen.

Again, representation of Madheshi politicians in both Upper House and Lower House is considerably low (Table 16). This could greatly inhibit the democratization process in the country. The findings clearly indicate that Madheshi people are highly ignored and are under represented in the current political arena, which may, in long run, create vulnerable situation in the country.

Table 15. Central Committee Members in Major National Political Parties
Political Parties Total Pahadi Madheshi % Madheshi
Nepali Congress 38 35 3 7.9
Communist Party of Nepal (UML) 69 65 4 5.8
Nepali Congress Democratic 30 25 5 16.7
Jan Morcha Nepal 44 43 1 2.3
Source: Ahiraj (2006): Madhesh Vani, January 2006.

Table 16. Number of Madheshi Member of Parliament in 1999

Political Parties Total MPs Lower House Upper House
Lower House Upper House Pahadi Madheshi Pahadi Madheshi
Nepali Congress 113 24 90 23 21 3
Communist Party of Nepal (UML) 69 20 59 10 19 1
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party 11 5 7 4 5 0
Nepal Sadbhavna Party 5 1 1 4 0 1
Rashtriya Jana Morcha 5 0 5 0 0 0
Nepal Majdoor Kishan Party 1 0 1 0 0 0
United People’s Front 1 0 1 0 0 0
King’s Nominees 0 10 0 0 9 1
Total 205 60 164 41 54 6
% Madheshi 20.0 11.1
Source: Parliament Secretariat Records, Singha Durbar, Nepal, 1999.

Involvement of Madheshi People in Media
Both the government and private sector or non-government media sector have excluded Madheshi people from their management committee similar to the political parties (Table 17). Media seldom raises the socio-economic, development and political issues of Madhesh and Madheshi people positively. The voices and the grievances of the common Madheshi people unless they hold a major position are lost.

Table 17. Involvement of Madheshi people in Media

Total Pahadi Madheshi % Madheshi
A. Government Media: Management Committee
Press council 13 10 1
Radio Nepal 5 4 1
Gorakhapatra 5 5 0
Nepal Television 5 5 0
Rastriya Samachar Samiti 5 5 0
Subtotal 33 29 2 6.01
B. Non-government Media
Nepal Patrakar Federation 24 23 1
Press Chautari 21 21 0
Nepal Press Union 12 12 0
Press Group 23 22 1
SAAF Nepal 25 25 0
Nepal Environment Media Group 13 15 0
Federation of National News Media 13 12 1
Subtotal 131 128 3 2.3
Source: Ahiraj (2006): Madhesh Vani, January 2006.


Madheshi community in general has been marginalized and the people suffer from a combination of linked problems such as illiteracy, poverty, poor skills, unemployment in public sector and the average low incomes. Undoubtedly, there is affluent society in Madhesh community such as Brahmin, Kshatriya and Kayastha who are relatively educated, well off, prosperous and lead a comfortable life, but they are in minority in number – just 3.1% of the total Madheshi population. The majority of the population belonging to Dalits, Janjati, Muslims and other caste groups living in rural areas are facing acute hardship. Poor investment, unplanned management of already deteriorating land resources, poor socio-economic infrastructures and facilities and lack of socio-economic planning have adversely affected the majority of the Madheshi people.

There have been little efforts to prevent social, economic and political exclusion and to reintegrate those who have become excluded through unemployment, landlessness, homelessness and so on. The past discriminatory public policies and the general unhealthy attitudes of the hill people who are in governance towards the average Madheshi have been detrimental to national integration. Their problems have not been solved or rather ignored by the State. The major emerging social, economic and political issues which need immediate to short term action are briefly described here.

a) Social Issues

1. Identity and Recognition

Most of the Madheshi people are loosing their identity since they are treated as ‘less Nepali’ or ‘non-Nepali’ by Pahadi people. One of the main reasons could be attributed to their socio-cultural, linguistic and physical affinity with the communities living immediately on the other side of the border in India, which historically was a part of Madhesh. Culture, tradition, practices and language have great influence on ‘identity’ of a person e.g. a Nepali or hill language speaking person from Darjeeling or Sikkim, who have been living their for generations, is readily accepted in Nepal as a Nepali and he or she enjoys all the socio-political benefits. Whereas a Madheshi who does not speak Nepali or any other hill language and who does not follow hill tradition and practices is not easily accepted as Nepali by hill Nepalese.

2. Illiteracy and Poor Skills

There is mass illiteracy among the Dalits, Janjati, Muslims, and the other caste people living in villages. Female education is practically non-existent among many communities living outside the urban centres. The traditional society has very little changed in the last fifty years or so and doe to the non-migratory nature they have little interaction with other community. Again, the level and quality of secondary or higher secondary education in Madhesh region is quite inferior compared to education in hill areas. Consequently, the Madheshi people getting all their education in Madhesh could not compete with Pahadi people having their education in hills where it is comparatively superior; they loose opportunities.

3. Poverty and Vulnerability

There is widespread poverty (45% of the Madhesh districts) among Madheshi community particularly Dalits, Muslims, Janjatis and other caste people living in traditional settlements who are nearly landless. They lack assets for economic production and the lack of food security has many widespread effects influencing health and nutritional standards as well as child education. It also forces them to have less concern for environmental considerations. Poverty and illiteracy increases vulnerability and in vulnerable society democratic values and democratization have very little meaning.

b) Economic Issues

1. Unemployment and Under Employment

In the absence of off-farm economic opportunities in villages, most of the people are under employed. In recent years, uneducated teenagers and the young people have temporarily migrated to India for economic opportunity – this has unbalanced labour supply to farming in many parts of Madhesh region. Again, there is unemployment for the educated Madheshi people in government or non-government organizations or in INGOs or international organizations working in Nepal primarily due to the exclusion behaviour of these institutions towards Madheshi. This is a serious issue to tackle.

2. Weak Social Organizations and Support Services

In the past two decades, social institutions advocating and working on social, economic and political development in Madhesh region have been formed by Madheshi community. Such entities are of varied natures and are based on castes and ethnicity, language, research and studies, human rights and advocacy, political rights, and socio-economic works. These organizations find hard to get financial and working support from the State as well as from the donor communities. In general, most of these organizations are committed to the cause of Madheshi community, but lack of coordination among them, missing unified vision, divided opinions, and unfocused objectives have made them inadequate in yielding desired results.

Again, the government support services are dwindling and have not yet reached in many villages where most of the households are Madheshi. Most of the project implementers at the district level are of hill origin and they tend to implement their programme in areas dominated by hill people due to various reasons such as good communication, high level of programme adaptation and so on.

3. Low Level of Investment and Lack of Economic Opportunity

Although government collects most of its revenue from Madhesh region, there is very little return in the form of investment in rural areas where majority of the Madhesi people live. Investment both from the government and the donor community in rural Madhesh appears to be very low. Most of the industries are located in urban centres and they could not much help the local rural people. Again, the agro-based industries established in the Madhesh region are not tied up with agriculture farming; they import raw materials from other countries which could be technically produced in Madhesh.

The issue of renovation and reconstruction of the Hulaki Road has been raised on many occasions. This road was constructed in early 20th century and connects the inner part of Madhesh region from Jhapa in the east to Kanchanpur in the west.

c) Political Issues

1. Basic Citizenship Rights

This is the major political issue still unresolved by the State or the political parties. Many of the Madheshi people who are landless or homeless – a large number of Dalits, Janjatis, Muslims and other caste people are landless- are denied of citizenship certificates. The government law and the public policies are not very clear and positive, and moreover, the persons at district level authorized to give citizenship certificates that are mostly high caste or affluent hill people usually show negative tendencies while granting citizenship. Denial of citizenship means no rights to get job in government, corporations or even private companies, can not get government support or loan from the bank or purchase land for housing or farming. Many Madheshi people have lost right to vote and it prevents them to participate in political life even at the village level. This is humiliating for the Madheshi people who are denied of their natural right.

2. Demarcation of Madhesh Districts

The current demarcation of Tarai districts does not follow any scientific, ecological or social basis. Amendment is required and a new demarcation needs to be done, which would include only the outer and Vitri Madhesh region for efficient socio-economic planning for holistic development. This would increase participation of Madheshi community decision-making process.

3. Participation in Political Arena

Low level of participation in policy and decision-making body of political parties such as central committees and lack of proportional representation in parliament are the emerging issues. The political parties have so far ignored emerging issues of Madhesh and Madheshi people and the under representation prohibits advocacy for betterment.

4. Census Mechanism

Many people believe that the results of the past census are not satisfactory; the data on Madhesh population and the resources they use do not seem to be accurate. Some sample survey done in the Madhesh area indicates much higher Madheshi population than shown in the last census.

5. Migration of People in Madhesh

Madhesh region is already over crowded and the resources are dwindling to maintain the increasing population. The issue of discouraging population to permanently migrate from hills and from the adjoining areas in India to Madhesh region has been very often raised.


The inclusion of Madheshi people in the national mainstream would be the main drag on the country’s economy. People believing in integration of societies often ask a question – how to achieve that goal? Social, economic and political exclusion exist in many countries and within a society or geographical area. However, there are some good examples of positively integrating the varied societies and nationalities within a country, which are all initiated at the economic and at the political level.

There is continued conceptual debate around the notions of exclusion and inclusion. How an excluded community or group could be included in the mainstream for nation building. Firstly, we need to understand the dynamic processes taking place which encourages different forms of exclusion in Nepal. The is lack of data and information on various sub components of social, economic and political exclusion. And then to investigate the institutional aspects which could prevent exclusion and promote recovery, regeneration and inclusion. These fact finding attributes would form the research agenda and discussed in a group before finalizing them.

The Inclusion of Madheshi community (33% of the country’s human resources) in the national mainstream would be the main drag on the country’s economy.

l We need to fully understand the dynamic processes taking place which causes different forms of exclusion or which could facilitate inclusion.

l There is lack of data and information on various sub-components of social, economic and political exclusion.

l Need to investigate ways and means to unite non-politically the scattered Madheshi social organisations representing all the ethnic Madheshi community for achieving the common goal of holistic development of Madhesh and Madheshi community.

l Data base to quantify strengths of Madheshi community: social organisations, studies and researches done in various field, literatures, people working in different area including physical, biological and social sciences.

l Need to investigate the institutional aspects, which could prevent exclusion and promote recovery and regeneration of the society and their inclusion.

l Need to investigate ways and means to unite non-politically the scattered Madheshi social organisations representing all the ethnic Madheshi community for achieving the common goal of holistic development of Madhesh and Madheshi community.

l Data base to quantify strengths of Madheshi community: social organisations, studies and researches done in various field, literatures, people working in different area including physical, biological and social sciences.

l Need to investigate the institutional aspects, which could prevent exclusion and promote recovery and regeneration of the society and their inclusion.

l Status of Madheshi women and children from all the castes and ethnic communities. Data base and authentic information to quantify the reasons for their backwardness in education, health, natural rights and in other relevant aspects. There is no or very little information on Madheshi women and children. This would be the major research agenda involving at least 70% of the total Madheshi population and needs to be funded adequately.

l All the major issues described earlier are the research agenda.

Dokhadol, Sanepa, Lalitpur
P.O.Box 8975; EPC 1830
Kathmandu, Nepal

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संघीय गणतन्त्र
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