Sunday, January 21, 2007

Anand Jha: Slugging It Out At SEBS

Topic: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680 Anand 1/9/2007 7:57:38 PM EST
I thought I will post this article written by a fellow Nepali in Nepali times.

Open your eyes
We can choose to fight with words in the constituent assembly, or guns on the streets


NICE GESTURE, BUT NOT NEARLY ENOUGH: Peace rallies and marches, such as this one in Nepalganj on Wednesday, do not address the root causes of madhesi grievances.

The largest Nepali-language newspaper in this country recently criticised the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi) for its ‘dual’ characteristics. The paper alleged that the NSP was resorting to agitation even as it enjoyed the fruits of government. The 25 December Madhes banda called by the NSP, and the riots that followed in Nepalganj have raised the hackles of mainstream media, and civil society organisations have also been quoted expressing similar sentiments.

Nepal’s senior editors and civil society leaders noticed what the NSP was up to only when the party called a banda. No one has thought it necessary to ask what their demands are and why they are being raised. Who even realises that the NSP isn’t isolated in wanting constituencies delineated differently—the entire madhesi community wants that. There’s been little written about fully proportionate, representative elections, and no informed analysis of why madhesis feel the interim constitution gives them a raw deal. There is instead verbiage and venom against ‘disruption of normal life’ in the tarai.

This myopia is scary. Nepal’s mainstream press and civil society regularly fail to report and analyse madhesi grievances. What reports exist are alarmist and ill-informed. In part, this is because these groups are pahadi-owned and led, and pahadis have a narrow, uni-dimensional conception of who madhesis are.

Such journalism and civil society activism is a disservice to the country. As members of a society we all need our grievances listened to. How else can we confront, conquer—and then transcend—what are called ‘divisive’ tendencies.

Yes, the NSP deserves sharp criticism for the violence its banda unleashed.

Nepalganj was smouldering with communal strife days after it ended, and the hills-plains divide was strongly reinforced—madhesi and pahadi groups alike lamented that their businesses, shops, and vehicles had been vandalised by the other side. Such actions should be condemned strongly.

But forming a probe commission, as the government has announced it will do, or appealing for communal harmony, as almost all politicians are doing, will solve nothing. It’s hypocritical to appeal for social harmony without addressing the reasons for the grievances.

The vicious Maoist conflict is winding down, but a new one is beginning, rooted in the exclusion and alienation of madhesis. There is a new, legitimate madhesi nationalism taking shape. If it can find proper expression and is engaged with, Nepal will only become stronger. But if it is met with knee-jerk stereotypes and ignorance, then Lord Pashupatinath help this country.

We Nepalis have shown that we can deal with seriously divisive issues in a mature manner—the current peace process is a prime example. Since the mid-1990s, we’ve managed to put aside our knee-jerk response to janajati identity politics. We desperately need to engage similarly with the Madhes. The first step is listening to why madhesis—and members of every other excluded group—feel the way they do.

The proper place to do that is the forthcoming Constituent Assembly. But the eight political parties have written the rules of the game so lopsidedly, madhesi participation will be limited. Maybe you didn’t notice, but the NSP wrote a Note of Dissent precisely about this when the interim constitution was signed. Janajati groups have similar reservations and burnt copies of the interim constitution this week. Add these two populations and it’s a real majority. Doesn’t look as if the parties are listening.

With all due respect to the parties for their long democratic struggle, they’re mis-stepping in a big way. Jana Andolan II revived an exclusionist parliament elected in 1999, and still the members behave as if the constituent assembly is their own, and not the people’s. This is why janajati and madhesi groups are so riled.

We better listen up. The choice is fighting with words in the constituent assembly, or taking it to the streets, as happened this week in the

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
800b (Newar Madhesi) 1/9/2007 9:24:18 PM EST
Thanks Anand Dai for posting such a nice article on Sebsonline. I am a regular reader of Sheetal Kumar's column on Nepalitimes.
I hope our short-sighted leaders can rise above petty politics and address one of the greatest problems facing our country today.
Here is another great column by the same author that came out earlier this week.

Draw the line
It’s not just pahadis that need to change their mindset

From Issue #330 (2007-01-05 - 2007-01-11)

Prime Minister Koirala recently announced that he was in touch with, and ready to talk to, the Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (JTMM). The JTMM is a radical splinter of the Maoists, and is demanding an independent madhes. The JTMM has itself split into two groups—one led by Jay Krishna Goit and the other by Jwala Singh.

Whatever differences between the two, their aim and tactics are similar: both groups have led an anti-pahadi campaign in several eastern and central tarai districts, sowing terror and mayhem.

Koirala’s offer of dialogue looks perfectly fine on the surface. How best to nip a brewing crisis in the bud than by calling for dialogue, right? But consider why this ‘Nobel Peace Prize-worthy’ leader doesn’t issue a similar call to the moderate madhesis pining to talk to him and other senior leaders of the SPA government?

Maybe they have not noticed, but madhesi civil society leaders have still not received that call from Baluwatar so they can brief the prime minister on tarai issues. Yet the prime minister makes a conciliatory gesture to the JTMM. What message does this send?

To me, it seems pretty straightforward: no talking to you folks unless you pick up arms, sow mayhem, and call for secession, a la the JTMM.

If this is what our leaders want, it may not be too long before they get it, unfortunately. What we witnessed in Nepalganj last week was not merely a law and order issue. Neither can it be dismissed as instigated by ‘regressive elements’ or ‘religious fundamentalists’, though their possible role cannot be ruled out.

Nepalganj was, in essence, a clash of cultures and identities that has long been in the making. No matter how much religious or royalist colour you bestow on it, the underlying fact is that the violence was rooted in madhesi grievances and pahadi fears of subjugation.

It is tragic that Nepal’s politicians, media, and civil society have all failed to draw the proper conclusions from the riots. The probe commission, peace marches, and calls for communal harmony will have little effect until the real issues are dealt with.

Pahadi leaders may be completely ignorant of madhes dynamics, but we don’t see madhesi society trying to broaden its vision either. They are content to play the politics of victimhood, and prone to exhibiting the same knee-jerk reaction they accuse pahadis of.

Just last week, a pahadi bus helper was killed by JTMM radicals in Saptari for violating their transport strike. And yet, no madhesi group or intellectual specifically condemned it. There has been no sustained criticism of the anti-pahadi campaign by the JTMM in Siraha and Saptari, though it has been going on for months. The madhesi blogosphere today is full of anti-pahadi venom, and still there is no attempt to douse the flames.

No doubt, the discrimination against madhesis is genuine and pahadis would do well to address it now, before it’s too late. But madhesis need to realise that they too must change their mindset and view criminality for what it is. Remaining silent in the face of anti-pahadi crimes perpetrated in the name of madhesi liberation reinforces the worst stereotypes and fears. And it does their cause little good because, in the end, if positive change is to come in this country, it can only be achieved when the majority moderates on both sides reach out and forge a common cause.

So let’s hear madhesis denouncing anti-pahadi violence, and pahadis denouncing anti-madhesi prejudice. And Mr Prime Minister, before you make that call to the JTMM, how about talking to the moderates?

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
Kamal813 1/11/2007 5:59:04 AM EST
The feudal and aristrocratic mindset prevents us to look at the Madesi issue from a neutral angle. We sneer and boil with anger and frustrations even with a slight thought of empowering the "madhises" and come to a premature conclusion that the issue is nothiing but a seperatist agenda that would sabotage the territorial integrity of our country. This is what has been the prime factor of the pervasive sufferings- social, cultural and economical, the people of Madesh have been forced to endure for the last 137 years. The majority of the people, mostly those whose first language is not nepali, have been deprived the political rights in a true sense. They have been under-represented in all three state apparatus and viewed as the second class citizens. We in Kathmandu have been accultured in taking all those with dark skin and selling vegetables to be no more than Marshya or Dhotis. We never give a damn to realise that they may be from a remote village in Siraha or Dhanusha where they proudly call themselves Nepali. And still we feel the land they are toiling for generations to earn a meager living with a mimimum dignity and decency belongs to us once they demand for better livelyhood and proper representation in the state governance!! What moral rights have we got to protest the Madesis in this regards?? They have every right to be heard by the sasaks of the Singadurbar and Narayanhity (if its still functional). If the state fails to address their dissent, whether peaceful or violent, responsibly then their demand of self-rule or independence may also be justifiable on political and moral grounds. We urban "pahades" can not escape from this fact anymore.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680Anand 1/13/2007 2:19:40 PM EST
Its nice to see that not only many well known journalist, but also some politicians have started to accept that fact Madhesi have been discriminated by the rulers of Nepal, be it by the Shah Dynasty or the temporary pseudo democratic government. It is time to make some bold decision regarding to how deal with problem. Madhesis represent a significant population of Nepal to be taken lightly. The conservative estimate is about 35-40%. Actually, they might be more that 50% ( Hindu rulers of Bengal believed that Hindu were the majority in Bengal before independence, only to find out later after independence when there was a fair census that Muslim represented 63% of the population).

The main demand of the JTMM has been to have a separate state. The Maoist got support for Madhesis mainly based on this agenda. I do not think the majority of Madhesis are going to feel assured that such discrimination will not happen if unless they are given their own state (I do not mean a separate country). I for one will definitely not feel assured unless Terai is divided into one or more states with significant power (like collecting revenue, police, and decisions about where to spend the money and so on).

No head of any political party except the Maoist have publicly accepted that Madhesis have been discriminated in the past. It is very important that Girija Prasad Koirala, Madhav Nepal and Deuba talk about this openly. If they think discrimination doesn’t exist they should say so. Keeping quiet on this issue isn't going to solve the problem. If the politicians in capital are serious about solving the problem, they need to start making concessions fast. The more the time they take, the more they might have to concede (Just like what happened to Gyanendra). Just like Gyanendra is on the verge of losing his throne forever, rulers sitting Kathmandu might wake up to realize that they could lose the Terai forever.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
889Jay 1/14/2007 5:01:55 AM EST
This is not only a social or a political issue, but also a moral one.  It is the lack of respect and lack of trust on the people of Madhesi origin prevalent
amongst the so-called “Pahadis” that is the root cause of the problem. The immediate solution may be a political one, but the long-term solution to
this problem has to come from within each one of us.
The political leaders have shown their incompetence in the past.  We have seen how they helped exacerbate the Maoist war by seeking the wrong
remedy to the existing problems. I am afraid that the Maoists and the rulers in Nepal have not learned their lesson. The demands of JTMM and
other Madhes-based groups are valid and their grievances are genuine. Their demands to have a say in the political future of the country needs to
be understood by the political actors of the country.
I am surprised (or not) how the intellectual civil society inside Kathmandu has not been vocal enough on this matter.  If the demands of the Madhesis
are not heard and acted upon amicably at this time, this issue will spread like a wildfire a la the Maoist’s People’s war, with casualties and devastation
that, according to a prominent Nepali journalist, “will make People’s war look like a picnic.”
The oppressed population of the Madhes has every right make the demands for self-governance.  They are justified in expressing their anger and
frustration. And if the discrimination persists, they even have the right to demand secession.
We as students living outside of Nepal can positively contribute to this issue.  The blogosphere is filled with radicals from both sides hurling insults at
each other. Places like <> are filled with hateful messages from both sides. We as informed members of the population
must make an effort to start a meaningful dialogue.
In the past, usually when the Madhesi issue surfaced on the SEBS Online Forum, somehow the discussion descended to personal attacks on one
individual. Maybe it is because of the manner in which some people choose to present this issue for discussion on this forum. We as a community
need to see this issue as something that is above any individual, and contribute to the discussion meaningfully.
(889B Newar Madhesi)

Last edited on 1/14/2007 5:19:18 AM EST
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
Background Voices 1/14/2007 2:15:48 PM EST
This is a serious issue which has been ignored for long enough that it might explode some day if we don't change ourselves. I too think that most "Madhesis" are not teated as equal citizens of Nepal. Its the time in Nepal when everyone is talking about representing people from all parts. I think this is the right time when the Madhesi issue can be solved peacefully. But we have to make it heard to the "arms and ammunition stimulant" intellects of our country.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
1/14/2007 6:44:20 PM EST
I think as the first step, we should stop the open border with India.

My understanding on most Terai people is that they think that they are neither in Nepal nor in India but in that border, taking advantages of both sides. This is their moral problem. They have to understand that Nepal is different from India and you cannot be citizen of both the countries morally/legally. Nepal does not support dual citizenship, morally and legally.

For me personally, if somebody can convince me that he 'loves' Nepal, then I believe that he should be respected in Nepal. I hate fake lovers.

I am not from Terai.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680Anand 1/14/2007 9:56:15 PM EST
Nations are constructed; not people. Nepal was not democratically created, taking into consideration the loyalties of the various groups in the Terai. What was born of the sword, not merely in Nepal, but in most countries of the world, has in the recent past been legitimized via elections and referenda. If such is not the case in Nepal then the present government has as much right to rule the population in the Terai,
whose population was initially brought into Nepal via conquering and subjugation by the Ranas and Shahs, as the politburo of the 'former' Soviet Union.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
Cool Fire 1/14/2007 10:25:06 PM EST

It is unfortunate that such a significant part of our population (35-40%, Anand) is ignored in the current political processes, especially when we are claiming to be all-inclusive.

I think the Maoists should be given the chief responsibility of bringing the Goit and the Singh group into the mainstream politics. Not only would it give the Maoists to be on the other side of the table and look into the demands of ‘rebels,’ but it would also give the break-away factions a strong voice in the current political scenario.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
MLK 1/16/2007 12:07:14 PM EST
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, that in spite of the, I still have a dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day even the zone of Janakpur, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680 Anand 1/16/2007 3:34:10 PM EST

This response is to the person who questioned the loyalty of Madhesis to Nepal, and pointed out that Madhesis should first be loyal to Nepal and then ask for equal status (respect).

Here is my response:

You got any evidence? Are you making some assumptions? Or, are you just throwing some hot air?

If you have any evidence that Madhesis have betrayed Nepal, please let post it on the thread. To be more precise please give me some evidence that shows that Madhesis have betrayed Nepal more than Pahadis.

If there is any assumption you are making, please let us know. Since you do not have any evidence I assume that you are making assumption that since there culture the Madhesis, wearing dhoti, and speak language that is widely spoken in language in India and since they consider Hindi as the unifying language of the Terai, they are perhaps more loyal to India then to Nepal?

Everyone is automatically loyal to their own, like we are loyal to our family and friends, we are also loyal to the place where we are born, the language we speak, our culture ( in short, our identity). Just like you are proud of speaking Nepali, I am proud of speaking Maithili.

The problem hear is Madhesis culture, language and heritage is not considered " Nepali". The language spoken in Pahad, the dress worn in the Pahad, and the Pahadi culture is considered Nepali, while that of the Madhesh is considered Indian. This idea of Nepalipan has been imposed on us. Now, should I be loyal to Maithili, Dhoti or should I be loyal to Nepali and Daurwa Surwal?

Does being loyal to my culture make me loyal to India? I don’t think so. There are many Nepalese whose culture is westernized or even speak English with their kids and among themselves, does it mean they are more loyal to Queen of England?

As far as Nation goes, why should a Madhesi love India more than Nepal. There is no reason to. Many Madhesis profit from the free border by going to India to work, and so do many Pahadi's, you ever thought that the people of Pahadi orgin who work in Delhi might be loyal to India instead. You might be thinking, Oh that many Madhesis actually get married Indians?...( you are right…for example, my mom is from India, and so are my aunts, and so will my wife, probably) you think that affects loyalty?

You ever questioned the loyalty to the Nation of the King, Ranas and top brass of the Army who marry Indians? Just recently, the Army Chief's daughter married an Indian. Pashupati Suhsmer is married to an Indian. The Ranas and Shahs have a legacy of marrying families in India. So have many people Phadi who live the border of Nepal ( e.g Darchula). You ever questioned their loyalty?

Just like questioning the loyalty of the King and the army top Brass, and Pashupati Sumsher is absolutely ridiculous, I think your allegation that Madhesis are loyal to India is equally ridiculous.

I do not appreciate your view about the Madhesis, but I do appreciate your honesty. And you are not alone! The vast majority of urban Pahadis have the mindset like you do. The vast majority of the people who control power happen to be urban Pahadis and not surprisingly they have the ditto mindset. That is precisely the problem.

This mindset has to change. Madhesis have tried ( Sadhvana party) and should continue to try that civilized way ( dialogue), but as someone in the previous thread pointed out our leaders need stimulants of violence.

The violence needs to be stepped up! The leaders in Kathmandu need some spanking, Kudos to Jwala Singh and Jaya Krishna Goit.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
l 1/16/2007 6:30:48 PM EST
Do you agree women are discriminated in Nepal?
Hell ya eh!
Be careful, one day your wife might kill you, or it might be your mom raising 'violence' against you, following the teaching of 'women' version of Maoists and Jwala Singh.
You know that your mom cannot kill you, because she loves you.She'd rather chose other means than hatred and violence.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
student 1/17/2007 1:00:39 AM EST
680 Anand,

You have pointed out very important thing that is missing from what we really want things to be. That is to define the term 'Nepalipan' in new way. So that it does not only mean wearing Dhaura and Suruwal as well as wearing Jung Bhadur Rana's Black coat. It should also mean speaking maithili, bhojpuri, tharu, gurung, tamang, limbu, and so many other languages that i don't know of. It should be extended mean the culture that extend in Terai. But if you don't want to be the part of the word 'nepalipan' itself then we other Nepalease should seriously think that whether you are loyal to Nepal or not.

As per the loyalty of those high class pahades and normal pahade's from darchula marrying to india is considered I seriously think that they are less loyal to Nepal then those folks who are purely and entirely Nepali leaving in Nepal for past couple of generation. There is no doubt that they will have less loyalty. And I seriously think that you might be less loyal to Nepal. Because if there is no Nepal - i am doomed but you will still have place to go. That is why you will be less loyal to Nepal.

As per Jwala Singh and Mr. Goit are considered I want to know whether they are simply fighting in the name of Madhises and they hold nepali citizenship or family histroy of more than 5 generation or are they some Gunda's from bihar who were criminilized there and are just spreading terror here in Nepal. if they have very short family histroy in Nepal then they must be send to India. I wanna hear more about this from some people who consider themselves loyal Nepali and madhise.

I have no grudge against anybody who's family is living in Nepal for past 5 generation. I consider them to be purely Nepali even if they might have migrated from Bihar or Jharkhand

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
kamal813 1/17/2007 5:46:27 AM EST
Anand dai's suggestion that Maoists got support from the Madeshi's for their seperatist agenda is incorrect and misleading. Infact, Maoists pushed forward the idea of establishing federal system of governance in Nepal creating automomous regions to empower the indigenous population politicaly, socially, culturally and economically. Against the present notion that Madesh encompasses the entire Terai region, they had established 9 autonomous regions of which Madesh, Tharuwan, Seti-Mahakali and Kirat(Limbuwan) autonomous regions fell wholly or partially in the Terai belt. Creating autonomous regions based on demographic composition rather than a loose geographical boundry will best help identify, consolidate, represent and defend the legitimate interests of the people of Terai. The Maoists never promoted communalism as it is being done lately by some groups claiming to be the saviors of the Madeshi interest.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680 Anand 1/17/2007 8:06:13 AM EST

I am first loyal to my identity...madhesh, maithili, dhoti and blah blah. I am not integrated to the "Nepalipan" as it is right now. And you agree that it has to change. But between India and Nepal, there is no reason to be loyal to India instead. So by defualt I end up being loyal to Nepal. I think this is the story of virtually all the Madhesis be it 5th generation or 1st generation.

Do you think you or your children should be mistreated in the US or any other foreign country after you acquire their citizenship but because you are the first generation? They ought to be treated the same and you ought to be loyal to the country whose citizen they are.

This five generation argument is a bit too much. We have seen the difference between Indian kids who are born here. They like to think of themselves as Americans with an Indian heritage. And thats how it should be. Do you think the Nepali mercernaries that fight for Indian and British are not loyal to them?? I think you are confusing between loyalty between love . I do not love the "Nepalipan" has defined right now in Nepal. Its not mine and I can't identify myself with it. Any it comes to loyalty? Who should I be able loyal to? Its more of a common sense that I would be loyal to Nepal than any other country in the world. Why do you think I will choose India, please give me some reasons? What does India offer me that I should look upto them?

You agree that the definition of Nepalipan should be changed? Lets change that first and see if Madhesis feel integrated in the nation. If madhese have part in the decision making and if wearing dhoti, lungi and eating pan because as Nepali as eating dhindo and saag and wearing a Nepali cap, they will assimilate faster and since you think assimilation has a lot to do with loyalty, they will be "loyal" too.

I don't care if Jwala Singh has been in Nepal for five generation or 2 generation, but they are not fighting for India. They are fighting for themselves. To have their own identity.

The way I see it is that Phadis want to be continue believe the idea that Madhesis are disloyal mainly to have an excuse to continue to continue the oppression.

Why isn't anyone giving me any evidence that Madhesis are disloyal to Nepal comapred to Phadis. I really would like to see it rather listening to this baseless racist arguments about who you "think" is more loyal and who you "think" is less loyal.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680 Anand 1/17/2007 8:31:47 AM EST

You misunderstood me. What I meant was Maoist are the first political group to publicy accept that Madhesis have been discriminated by the ruling elites of Nepal for centuries. It was the Maoist who came up with the idea of federalism. If you look at the division that they had and on which they been silent right now, it is based on ethincity. I don't think it is separatist, but rather a division of power such that every community has a sort of of self rule and the probability to being taken advantage of another community decreases.
Thats why I do think Tharus should be seprated from Madhes too.

The Maoist want to separate the Madheses into two. Jaya Krishna Goit thinks of this has Phadi conspiracy to weaken the Madhesis state. The Maoist intially had only one state for the entire Madhesh. Maybe Jaya Krishna Goit is right, but I prefer the Maoist division of Terai into two. More specifically, the Madhesis of the Western Nepal should be asked if they want to be in one Madhese or be separate. They would probably choose to be separate. I am with Prachanda on this one, not Goit.

I would not like the Madhesis to start opressing the rest in the future, that would be equally bad.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
ricko 1/17/2007 9:57:12 AM EST
This "5 generation" argument fails me as well. It seems like an arbitrary number to justify one's flawed thinking. There is no question that people hold the madhesi's Indian looks and culture against them. I doubt that the loyalty of a "nepali looking" person from darjeeling who has been in nepal for a few years would be questioned in the same manner as a third generation madhesi's loyalty to nepal. there is something wrong here.

i have never understood why indian pop culture is so popular in nepal and yet there is this inherent suspicion of everything indian.

that being said, i reject the notion that violence is the answer to this. 680 anand made a lot of sense in his arguments until he said "the violence needs to be stepped up". is this the world we live in today - where you don't know how to make yourself heard without killing and hurting your own. is nepal destined to be embroiled in a cycle of violence forever?

nothing makes me sadder than to hear people refer to each other as madhise and pahadi instead of nepali. this thinking needs to change - from both sides.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680 Anand 1/17/2007 10:56:55 AM EST

It is important to make a distinction between Madhesi and Phadis in Nepal today. Because Madhesis are being discirimnated against in Nepal and in order to talk about it , we need to calrify what being a Madhesi means.

But you right, refering as Pahadis and Madhesis doesn't sound nice and its like creating a division between Neaplese. However, to think in those terms in absolutely important today. The whole idea of being a Nepali is has to be revised and in this regard change of heart has to be from the Phadis side. Its them who control power and its their idea of Nepal that is being imposed on us.

Its like Phadis constructing a nation based on their identity and then telling Madhesis that since your culture is not the same as that of "NEPAL" , but closer that to of India, you are loyal them, not to us. Leave us and go to India.

Jaya Krishna Goit argument is, redifine what Nepali is and give us equal share in the power, or leave us alone and you guys go back to the hills.

Asking Pahadis to go back to the hills is just as nonsense as asking the Madhesis to go back to India, the sensible comprimise redefine Nepalipan and share power.

As far as violence goes, I hope you also noticed that I consider dialogue as the more civilized way. However, As our history shows, some degree of violence is necessary to gain visibility. Even Nelson Mandela did it, Subash Chandra Bose did it, Malcom X did it.

Violence is ugly, but there is no denial that it accelerates the process and the moderates will be then taken more seriously.

I wouldn't be advocating violence in Madhesis were 2 % of the population, that would mean being crushed easily. I think we are at least 35-40%, if not more. This is a large enough number to put up a violent fight, if it comes to that.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
student 1/17/2007 1:58:50 PM EST
680 Anand,

My first question is clear - are you guys fill dizzy with the term that somebody calls you a Nepali? I really understand that the term defined as being Nepali in Kathmanduties way really does satisfy me as well and I want it to be changed to include what I am. I hope you feel the same. If you are not for inclusion but a separation then there is no way you will be able to achieve it.

5th Generation Nepali:
This is very important. Because Nepali never had a policy of adopting Nepali citizenship. Not at all by just living in Nepal for past couple of years. So if you came to nepal and start staying there does not make you a nepali - if you came from india - you are indian, if you came from america - you are american - Just go back. but suppose if you came to Nepal long ago and you having living in Nepal then you are obviously a Nepal. Number 5 is important too. Let me define the generation before that. If my father is a Nepali, I will say - i am second generation Nepali, if my grandfather is a nepali - i will say i am third, and so on. If Mr. Goit is just a second generation Nepali then he came to Nepal only couple of years ago (may be ran away from indian police to escape some crime charges). This should not allow him to claim himself to be a nepali. But if my grand grand fathers were Nepali then the my generation will have no idea that why he came. I will have no connection to that past what so ever. If you don't agree with this number then what about Living in Nepal (for 90% of the time) for past 15 years. Does that make you feel as good criteria or you want all the Biharis to get nepali citizenship and cast vote for another bihari gunda.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680Anand 1/17/2007 2:57:45 PM EST

I do realize that there has to be a cut off and you don't want people across the border to get Nepali citizenship. The 5th generation works against a Madhesis whose grandfather came to Nepal from India in search for better life and is grossly unjust. What the government has done right now sounds quite fair. I have no complains. The other methodology you suggested:” If you don't agree with this number then what about Living in Nepal (for 90% of the time) for past 15 years. " is actually more lenient than what the government has set. You have either accepted that 5th generation argument is nonsensical or you just contradicted yourself.

Why should I want Biharis to get Nepali citizenship? You got to get rid of this illusion that Biharis want Nepali citizenship in this day and age. India is booming, economic opportunities are better India, law and order condition is better and it has a matured democracy. Its Nepalese who are flocking to India for work. It is Nepal where God Knows whats is going to happen phase, with royalist waiting to come back as soon as they get any opportunity, and with possible large scale civil war between Pahadis and Madhesis. The political stability in Nepal is worse than in India.

If you talk about respect around the world, being an Indian has a better identity. Within India Biharis are made fun of, and to certain degree looked down upon, but not as much as a "Nepali". So I think you are grossly mistaken to believe that Indians from Bihar and UP want to come to Nepal to get citizenship. This either is plain ignorance on your part, or an excuse to continue the subjugation of Madhesis.

I don't get irked at being called Nepali. I am a Nepali, and nobody can take that away from me. Like I make it point to tell people that I am from Nepal and not India, I also make it point to tell them that I an Nepali who speaks maithili, wears dhoti and loves the bihari culture. I make it a point to be vocal that I am not the Nepali speaking Nepali but rather a Bihari speaking Nepali. I don't want anyone to confuse me with the Nepali speaking, I like my own identity which is different from people commonly perceive as a Nepali.

By the way, I am asking for inclusion (inclusion of Madhesi culture in the idea of being a Nepali), not to maintain the status quo (which of exclusion of Madhesis identity at moment).

If this inclusion is denied, then we have every right to fight for a separate country and no separate country is created by table talks. We have the numbers and the economic might to fight for a separate country if it comes to that, and I glad that such nationality has begun to shape up among the Madhesis. It was long overdue.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
bad syntax 1/17/2007 3:25:44 PM EST
All the red-necks here should probably read this:

"The Hand takes his amusement where he finds it. When local friends wax darkly about giant neighbours coveting their motherland, he points out that no one sane would annex a country bereft of oil, assets, and honest civil servants. Xenophobia is a pointless, dated exercise when the liability of absorbing your illiterate, impoverished masses outweighs any possible strategic advantages."

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680Anand 1/17/2007 3:34:40 PM EST
Thanks you for posting a great article bad syntax.
I would have been better off just posting that article as a reply !
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
me 1/17/2007 3:44:51 PM EST

Whatever way it might be defined but I seriously think that Nepalipan should strictly refer to Nepal. My definition of Nepalipan is the Nepali-pride/ego, not Daura-suruwal or Topi. If you are proud to be born/raised/heritage, then you are Nepali.

Just one example, if I meet anyone from Nepal who has got American citizenship and lives in America, I do not consider that person a Nepali because he lost the pride of being a Nepali. He is an opportunist. Or, he does not deserve to be a Nepali.

If I meet anyone who resides in USA but still posses Nepali passport but when somebody asks where are you from he answers like, I am from Dallas. If he tries to hide his nepali-identity in that way, then I do not consider that person as Nepali. Or, he does not deserve to be a Nepali.

If I meet anyone living abroad introduces himself as Indian and starts talking in Hindi, where possible, then I do not consider that person as Nepali either. He is not proud to be Nepali. Or, he does not deserve to be a Nepali.

Do whatever you want, speak whatever language you want, but if you are not proud of being Nepali, then you do not posses Nepali pan. Saying this, I believe it is clear that the examples of 'dhoti, lungi and eating pan' are redundant. It is not this that created the difference. It is the loyalty, the love for the country.

The main reason, my personal reason, is that the ability of Nepalese living in Terai to differentiate themselves from indians. By this, I do not mean by looks, dressing or language or eating or culture. It’s the pride and loyalty.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
Blah 1/17/2007 3:59:17 PM EST
That article is a joke. the "hand" is not a voice of the marginalized. he (or she) is just full of himslef and nepali times loves him for he is a rebel with good english. "outcaste by predilection"??? and of course his mockery is pathetic. one has to grant all foreigners citizenship because you are hospitable to outsiders? And of course no one would want to annex a country bereft of this and that. god knows how desperate india is to control nepal's waters. what a fucking idiot.
and Mr. Anand, you may like to think no one (from Bihar) cares enough to acquire nepali citizenship but that's not true. India's overall increase in prosperity is rather irrelevant. Bihar (and the whole belt adjoining nepal) is the poorest region in india. ideally there would be no borders anywhere. but since there are and since we are a poor fucking country, we will need policies. You can't mock immigration policies of nepal just because we're a poor country and you think no one wants nepali citizenship.
Having said this, I must say I am no supporter of this idiot called "Student" who comes up with some 5th generation bullshit. and what's with loyalty?? who gives a fuck? it's like all these americans saying you have to love america to be a citizen. i think that's an idiotic demand. millions of americans (whose ancestors have been here for more than 5 generations, did you hear that Mr. Student?) hate america. Should their citizenship be rescinded? there are thousands of nepalis who mock nepal, its politics and its people and its "nepali mentality" and choose to live abroad.. i see no loyalty there. should their citizenship be rescinded?
the point being: yes discrimination exists and pahadis have done some really fucked up stuff for centuries to the madhesis and that needs to be addressed. it's just the arguments and counterarguments that are being thrown around are embarrassingly unrefined.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680Anand 1/17/2007 4:14:27 PM EST
I was just saying that Nepalese have an exaggerated view of how desperately Biharis and UP folks want to be citizens of Nepal. I backed my arguments with reasons as to why poor peasants of Bihar and UP are better off migrating Delhi, Bombay or Bangole for better opportunities and respect, compared to trying to be citizen of a equally poor, if not worse nation where they are going to treated as Madhesi, at best.
Yes every nations needs policy, poor or rich, and Nepal has one. The old policy had problems and now it has been ammended. And I support it.
Madhesis in Nepal are different than Biharis or UPs For example, they can speak Nepali, they care about the politics and economics of Nepal more than they about in India, because its the Nepal's government polict that affects them. But yeah they do share the same culture as millions of bihari living across the border.
The problems of differentiation lies in your mindset. You choose not to see the difference. Its in your interest to accuse of Madhesis of being loyal to India, so that you can continue the oppression that has existed for so long.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
biots 1/17/2007 8:37:57 PM EST

"The violence needs to be stepped up!..." ???????????????????????
Anand, this is not the way to raise your madise issue; violence may get you your goals temporarily but in the long-run, it will always fail.
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
biots 1/17/2007 8:43:24 PM EST
"When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood it is hard to shake hands with her."
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
ma 1/17/2007 10:38:54 PM EST
Will it be possible to close the border between Nepal and India?
Will it solve the problem?

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give me pointers: what is there to live for? What is the goal?
lost 1/17/2007 10:56:22 PM EST
Hi everyone, I just needed to talk and get input. Perhaps it will be of use to all.

Here's the thing. I was always a good student. My goal while in BNKS really, was to get into the US and secure a "good life" for myself. And in that I have largely succeeded I guess. I went to an elite college. I didnt over/under achieve in college. I had 'fun'. I drank. smoked. had sex. all the gamut of adventures and what not. didn't feel like going to grad school. had no goal. decided to get a job. got a job. have a decent job. with decent job security. am decent at my job. pay taxes near the highest bracket.

Here's the problem. I feel this void. This feeling that this isnt what life is supposed to be. I don't understand how it can be so. For everyone else, I guess I'm pretty successful and should be happy. but I'm not. I dont know why. I had a nice girlfriend for a while. I got tired. After getting over the hot sex part it was banal too. I mean I care for her and what not but I couldnt see how a relationship could possibly be the most life has to offer. Afterall, sex is trivial. Easy to get. Law of nature. Routine commonality. Everyone, heck, every animal will do it. There was pleasure, but no sense of satisfaction, achievement. I don't want to have kids. I dont see the point. I almost felt bad for her. And myself. Career and wealth wise, once I had quite lofty ambitions. After realizing I couldnt get to most of them, and even if I did wouldnt really make much of a difference, I dont have any goals.

Let me repeat that. I think that is the crux of the problem. I dont have goals. Perhaps because many of the aspirations that made me work hard in Nepal have now been achieved, I dont know where to go. I dont have a fire. I dont have passion for life. I can't even see what I should live for. I mean I'm not like depressed and suicidal, I have just thought at some great length as to what I cherish in life. And there aren't many. I of course would never kill myself, but I can't see what difference it would make, or any compelling reasons to not do so. Perhaps if I were religious it might have helped. I have, on the other hand, considered giving all this hard earned privilege up, and wandering around the world. Perhaps I'll wait till I get my greencard and then embark on that journey for financial safety. I dont know.

So. I dont know how you guys are living your inner lives. But perhaps you could tell what drives you, what motivates you to live. What you cherish in life. What makes you want to wake up in the morning and welcome each day. or not. I dont know. sometimes I feel like I'm missing out some secret of life. So please divulge yourself. I welcome all truthful expressions, especially more so from the more mature sebsers who have seen some of those life stages I am relating. Its been a while since I was in this site. hopefully there is still an environment of constructive effort.

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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
biots 1/18/2007 12:59:33 AM EST
congratulations lost!
you are now experiencing what i would term as a "premature midlife crisis"
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Re: Why Madhesi Issue is so important?
680 Anand 1/19/2007 10:08:51 AM EST
Community identity doesn’t preclude belonging

From Issue #332 (19 January 07 - 25 January 07) | TABLE OF CONTENTS
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This is not a saga of victimhood. To think of it in those terms would be an inaccurate representation of my life. I was born into an upper-class Kathmandu family. My parents are well ensconced in the capital’s professional and social circuit. I went to good schools here, moved to India for higher education, got a job in Delhi with a Nepal-based magazine, and have rarely been made to feel like an outsider, at least publicly.

But things are never quite that simple. My forefathers on both sides are from Bihar, where we still have deep family links. My paternal grandfather settled in Rajbiraj, became a Nepali citizen six decades ago, and made the great leap to Kathmandu as it was getting out of the Rana rut in the 50s. I speak a mix of Hindi, English, and Maithili at home, in that order. My spoken Nepali is heavily interspersed with English and Hindi words. Reading the national language is a struggle and I don’t plan to attempt writing in it anytime soon.

Language is a more substantive marker of distinction than we often acknowledge. In school, anticipating the move to India for further education, I opted for Hindi over Nepali. In class six, the significance of that hit home. While eating lunch, a friend said, in a mix of seriousness and jest, “You are a dhoti”. When I discovered that the term—definitely derogatory—was associated with madhesis, who in turn were equated with Indians, I tried hard to run away from my identity. I hung around with Kathmandu kids, called the other Indians in school ‘dhoti’, and rationalised studying Hindi by saying it was what my parents wanted.

But I couldn’t run too far. The differences were too many: we went vegetarian during Dushera as Kathmandu feasted on meat; we didn’t do tika; Tihar was the one-day Diwali for me. My father, short and on the darker side, made it a point to wear kurta-pyjama. It was a dress I took to later and that, with the accented Nepali and the surname, often provoked the remark that we don’t look Nepali.

Telling people constantly that you are indeed a Nepali citizen is not pleasant.

It’s taken me time to come to terms with my identity. My liberal education and understanding of how the homogenising tendency works in society, and a sense of security, no doubt helped by the present political discourse of inclusiveness, allows me to be candid about my background. It gives me the confidence to give the brush off to those who question my ‘Nepaliness’. In the last few years, I have reported occasionally on Nepal politics, which also gives me an added sense of citizenship and belonging.

My story is not representative. My family migrated from south of the border, while others’ ancestors have been in the tarai for centuries. I was comfortable in English, the language of power, and moved out, which together allowed me to escape the handicap of not being Nepali enough for the self-appointed guardians of nationalism in the Valley. Besides some taunts and subtle insinuations, I was never deprived of opportunity. But spare a thought for the person who speaks only Maithili, Awadhi, Bhojpuri or, at best, Hindi, who lives, in the tarai, with the stigma of not ‘being Nepali’, has cultural practices distinct from the mid-hill mainstream, does not have access to the power structure, has memories of being mercilessly exploited through history, and whose identity brings discrimination and deprivation even today. Don’t blame them for being alienated from the system.

Understand the anger. Empathise with the bitterness.

A few weeks ago, a columnist in these pages, in a style reminiscent of national integration Panchayat textbooks, carped against the ‘divisiveness’ sparked by politicians, and asserted that he was a ‘Nepali first’. Whatever that means. How about creating conditions for those down south to have the comfort of saying that?

Prashant Jha is the Delhi-based assistant editor of Himal Southasian.
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