Friday, August 28, 2009

A DaMaJaMaKha Panel

(article sent to USNepalOnline)

I am honored to be a panelist for the United Nepalese Democratic Forum
event Sunday, August 30, at 11:30 AM at Yak in Jackson Heights. My
good friend Tek Gurung, the UNDF president, is hosting it. I have been
to many Nepali events in NYC the past four years. This might be the
first panel that has a DaMaJaMaKha presentation, as in Dalit, Madhesi,
Janajati, Mahila and Khas, and that is no small achievement. I can't
wait to show up and participate.

The topic for the discussion is New Constitution and Fundamental
Issues of Nepal. I think the number one issue is obviously federalism,
and there is the not so small matter of army formation.

On the army formation, I think it is for the parliament to discuss and
shape a Security Sector Reform bill. That bill will decide if Nepal
should have an army, if yes, how big, what should be the gender and
ethnic composition of that Nepal Army, how that composition has to be
achieved, and how to smoothen the transition of the leftover soldiers
from both the NA and the PLA into the private sector of the economy.
The US did that on a much larger scale after World War II.

On federalism it is a good thing that we have already decided we are
going for it. Now we have to work to decide on a map for it, and we
have to decide on the power distribution between the center and the

I am for a eight state federalism: Tharuwan, Madhesh, Khasan, Magarat,
Tamuwan, Tamasaling, Newa and Kirat. Rapti to Mechi would be one state
Madhesh. That demarcation comes from the original Maoist map. After
the first Madhesi revolution, the Maoists decided to punish the
Madhesis by sending Chitwan off to a Pahadi state, and breaking up the
rest of the Madhesh into three sub states. That is not going to fly.

As for power distribution, there are a few key items on the agenda.
One, should we or should we not have a directly elected president? I
think we should. If no candidate gets at least 50% of the votes, a
second round election would be held between the top two candidates. We
need that arrangement for political stability, for a robust
federalism, and for a clear separation of powers between the three
branches of government. All budgets and bills will still have to be
passed by the parliament.

As for directly elected members to the parliament, half of those will
have to be from the Terai. So if we have 250 such MPs, 125 would be
from the Terai. And then there would be the indirect, proportional
election part to ensure a proportionate DaMaJaMa participation. This
is about one person, one vote. That is what democracy is about.

Writing a new constitution is not really that complicated. We have to
get it done and move on to the larger task of an economic revolution
for Nepal that will last a few decades. The country can be
fundamentally transformed for the better in 20 years.

(with John Liu, candidate for NYC Comptroller)

(at India Day Parade 2009, the largest Indian event outside India)

(at a Bill Thompson event, Bombay Palace, K Lounge)

(with Bill Thompson, first black NYC Comptroller, candidate for NYC Mayor)

(Madhesi Picnic, August 2009)

(an email from Madhav Nepal a few days before he became Prime Minister)

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