Spring Thunder In Nepal…Glorious But Inconclusive-II

By Govinda Neupane
Rejoinder to the previous article.

[UWB published an article by Neupane on May 30 (Spring Thunder in Nepal: Glorious but Inconclusive) which was equally appreciated and thrashed by fellow bloggers. Here in this esay, Neupane defends his article and responds to criticism. Govinda Neupane is one of the founding members of the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist). Neupaneg.com is his personal web site and he could be contacted at neupaneg1987@yahoo.com.]

Excerpt from previous article:

The so-called national consensus on holding the election of the constituent assembly may not necessarily provide synergy only for forward movement. The situation is fluid and complex and it is natural that the Maoists will maintain their army and even they may expand and strengthen their fighting capacity….Therefore, the polarization between the parliamentary forces and the Maoists sounds imminent. Hence, in all probability, the people have to live in a situation of civil war till the unjust upper class Khas rule becomes history…

Khas Domination:

In Nepal, there are five nationalities – Madheshi (31.53%), Khas (30.89%), MangolKirat (23.05%), Dalit (7.87%) and Newar (5.48%). Besides, there are some small unclassified groups (1.19%). The Khas has four sub-groups. They are Bahun, Chhetri, Thakuri and Sanyasi. The Khas-Hindu rulers used the caste system, cultural invasion and Hindu administrative as well as legal system as the basis for suppressing the cultures of other nationalities. The process of Khas domination had started long ago and the state provided the leadership.

Therefore, the role of the state in creating favorable environment for Khas domination and centralization of available resources, opportunities and power around them is the primary reason for all sorts of inequalities among nationalities. In 2005, Khasas having a population of 30.89% had been occupying 59.18% of the powerful leadership positions in four major areas – state, political parties, private sector and civil society. (For details, please see my book “Nepalko jatiya Prashna: Samajik Banot ra Sajhedariko Sambhavana“, Second Edition – 2005, Center for Development Studies – Nepal, Kathmandu. The first edition of the book in English titled The Nationalities’ Question in Nepal: Social Convergence and Partnership Building through Multiculturalism and Federalism” is available for download here). In reality, if we wish to build an egalitarian, civilized and prosperous Nepal, we should end the Khas domination in every aspect of national life.

Land Issue:

There are four issues involved – ownership, communal relations (i.e., nationalities’ ownership pattern, such as who controls the former Kipat land in Limbuan), value of land as per its location and productivity. In Nepal, land brings prestige, provides insurance cover and ensures livelihood for a large majority of people. Therefore, one has to appreciate the role that land plays. Moreover, it is the most important means of production. Also, the land has contributed to class conflicts, court cases and corruption opportunities for the bureaucrats including in the legal system who are called judges. Therefore, resolution of the land issue has been critical and central.

The issue is not that everybody has to share poverty, rather everybody should have equitable share on prosperity. Therefore, the traditional land reform alone may not solve the problem, though it is true that there is the need of redistribution of land particularly based on “land to the tiller”. Hence, one has to be creative, innovative and willing to accept the mechanism of collective problem solving. Cooperative farming particularly horticulture in commercial scales in the hill areas by bringing land and labor inputs together as shares could be one among such initiatives. In some areas, reverting to communal ownership as an upgraded Kipat system may help. In fact, the most important issues are to ensure equity, justice and prosperity. Let’s collectively continue to search for better and better options to resolve the issues related to land, which is one of the most important productive resources in Nepal.

Maoist Movement:

After the historic people’s movement of 1990, the expectation was that the pace of change would be faster. The aspirations among the people heralded that the political forces should move in an unprecedented speed so as to bridge the political, social, economic and intellectual gap created by overall underdevelopment, injustices and irresponsible governance. After the movement, one or the other party formed the government. Unfortunately, they not only overlooked the people’s aspirations and the national development agenda but also nearly all the leaders and influential cadres of the parliamentary political parties accumulated unimaginable wealth through all sorts of corrupt practices. As a result, disappointment and frustration among the people run high. In the mean time the Maoists took arms.

The politico-economic and social agenda have centered on the armed confrontations, battles and war since 1996. Since then, the society has been passing through a difficult phase of transition. In fact, feudalism has been fast disappearing in the villages. The towns and cities also are passing through socio-political change, speedily. The awakening among the oppressed nationalities has been unprecedented. And, hope has been generated among the people. The “Spring Thunder of April 2006” has opened up the opportunities to realize the dream of a new Nepal. Now, the Nepalese state and people could address the issues of fundamental societal transformation.

Therefore, there is the need of a superstructure, which is compatible to the transformational agenda. If the society has to move forward, there should be a progressive state which operates with dynamic political processes. Obviously, pluralism with a difference (please see my article “Pluralism with Difference” for definition and characteristics on this page.) provides the synergistic environment to all political parties, social and economic forces and mass organizations to function as centers of excellence. Also, it makes them accountable as the people could judge them continuously. The important factors are the orientation of the state power and the choice of a mechanism by which the power is exercised. When the interest of the common people, their values and visions occupy primacy, rest will fall accordingly.

It is important to institutionalize those primacies in the form of constitutional provisions, and for this purpose there is the need of a duly elected constituent assembly. When there are such provisions in the constitution drafted and adopted by the constituent assembly, the armed forces and the bureaucracy need overhaul. A surgical process can insert the new state values within a new operational framework. The amalgamation of two armies into one could provide the opportunity for such surgical process. To create such opportunities, many individuals, groups, parties and forces fought resolutely. Certainly, the Maoists are one among the major players. Therefore, it is normal and natural to appreciate the Maoists for their value adding contributions in this historic process.

Validation of Conclusion

The consensus that has built around the constituent assembly could be the new departure point in the endeavor for building a new nation, a new Nepal. But, if this process gets obstructed, the course may turn again into a violent one. We should not forget this probability only because of the euphoria of optimism. Being impulsive is good, but keeping the head cool is better.

Related Blog:
1. Spring Thunder in Nepal: Glorious but Inconclusive

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136 thoughts on “Spring Thunder In Nepal…Glorious But Inconclusive-II

  1. if Yahoo or anyone else has any questions regarding my post please address me directly because i am not willing to gratify Kirat’s juvenile prompts even though it might make me seem week.

  2. Bideshi,

    I am not so certain if Nepal should rely being the land corridor of India and China as the prime way of enhancing Nepalese economy. Nepal should concentrate on taking advantage of the Global economy so that if India and China cosy up to each other and try to manipulate Nepalsese politics to their interest, we will not come under too much pressure.

  3. culture ji
    thank you for taking your time and elaborating on the questions i had raised.

    you seem to be a man of insight/wisdom and you propound your arguments with personal experiences, nothing can beat that–no amount of any ideological carp any from book can beat the personal experience when it comes to local level.

    it is a very wishful thinking that gov would pick the individuals ranther than the whole community, in need, and help them accordingly. personally, it would be ‘the’ gov to have, tailored for individual needs of citizen. i have only read such governance in fairy tales–king solomon or our jaisthiti malla.

    but, when it comes to policy making, regardless of developed or 3rd world country, thier respective govs lack resources to carter for the individual need of the citizens, so they have to rely on the statistic and lump the deprived ones within one catagory, and which they usually for some reason neatly fall in the same catatory.

    for instant– if you pick a tamang from the hills, it is highly probable that he/she is illitrate, even though he/she had an easy access to school, now pick ten tamangs from different hills around KTM, there are good chances, of 7 being illitrate. Now, in no ways that means, all bahuns and chettris of the same community are prosperous, there will be some of them illeterate among them, but the number wont be as stagaring as with Tamang community. Just an example to illustrate my point.

    so, what does gov do?– it looks at the stat and comes up with some kind of incentive for the disavantage groups within the cross section of population. for instance in India ‘reservation quota’.

    so, is that kind of program in nepal bad? not at all. there is nothing wrong with giving equal opportunity to the disadvantage and that is the duty of any the government which taxes it’s citizen.

    but, is that the final solution, NO!! not at all, it is just the initial step to give a push so that they come come to level ground to compete. and, mind you, there is always a danger of the program being politicized. and that’s the end of it. And, we nepali are the virtuoso when it comes to screwing things up.

    so, should we not try it at all because, it has strong chances of going bad, politically? No, infact, gov must implement such policies and even try it harder to keep it in track, in check, so that no one takes an advantage of the ‘program’ to benifit its own agenda.

    No, matter how viscious and evil Maoists of Nepal have turned out to be, but the root cause itself was the problem and their fuel to stoke their propoganda was the ‘enquity/injustice’ to the certain section of the population.

    And, I do agree, Mr. Neupane, in my opinion, is not advocating for equity/justice of ethnic groups for its merits, but for their own AGENDA. AND THAT’S WHAT I MEAN BY BAD POLITICS.

  4. well I hope I am not devoid of any humour too. you need it to live in nepal-especially when your fellow Nepalis call you ‘bhote’.

  5. kirat

    empathy here, i fall in the same braket {Bhote}!
    and i totally understand what you mean.

  6. Empathy-that’s what we Nepalis lack and what we need most-not just for our own kind but for people a little different from us. Sorry can’t help but get serious. It’s in the genes.

  7. yahoo, off topic but if you like humour read the reviews of Superman Returns on Guardian Online. Classic British humour. Especially the review by John Patterson.

  8. I can see what you mean and it does hold true that a country that cannot manage the basic processes of the nation is in no way going to be able to manage the responsibility of individual needs. I am not against reserves for certain groups but i am against financially or socially well to do’s exploiting it. Even if at the start exploitation is neglected at start, we will need to incorporate a check system to make sure that the truly needy of a certain community are catered. It might seem like fanciful thinking but the same was thought of SPAM, however flawed they are. Nepal is a small country and I am more hopefull and than sure that with a persuit for proper management and tranperancy we can achieve atleast half our dreams if not all. Once again, and I am not trying to be difficult, and state “I think” and people may have a different feeling, education is the key to Nepali progress. So when infrastructure and communication is established we have educated intellectuals to grab the opportunity. If it wasnt for the increased education “I think” the JanaAndolan would have been impossible. Again “I believe” ignorance and illiteracy is the key to complacency and corruption. The Ranas new that if they were the only ones educated the likely hood of uneducated individuals overthrowing them would be less likely.

  9. then again we will fight over his (superman) enthicity. everyone claiming him to be his own kind.

  10. yahoo, well perhaps we can make him a mongrel of all ethnicities? You know a maternal grandmother being quarters of Bahun, Damai, Tamang, Nyeshang- paternal grandmother being quarters of Magar, Shah, Newar and Tharu etc until all ethnicities including the really marginalised Chepangs and Rautes too are covered?

    Hey by the way, why no Chepang Liberation Front or even Chettri National Liberation Front? These Maoists are quite discriminating too! Well with the bahuns in charge what can we expect, right?

  11. Mr Dhoti “Ji”-z,
    Why do some of you like to add “Ji” after a person’s name you direct your comment to? Why do you like to Indianize English as well as Nepali political discourse? Can’t you be a bit discreet about your nationality in your choice of words and assert that you can exist on your own, especially against an encrouching neighbor that does not hesitate to wear an imperialistic outfit when chances arise?

  12. yahoo n kirat u guys rock, that is the kind of revolution but in non- violence n fair way. we r always on ur side bros.

  13. Anti-Nepali ‘JI’

    since i have been using ‘ji’ all along my posts, all the burdens fall on me to expalin–why?

    by nature, i am not a contencious person, but when arrogance rubs you on your face, then, i can’t help it.

    you are a shriveled up stinking-arrogant twat, i will tell you why,you are just that!

    Hindi and Nepali are derivative of Sanskrit, as most of the westerns languages are derivative of Latin. So, most of the words in(hindi/nepali) are similar in phonetics, only difference is the composition of words. so, how is ‘ji’ gnikcuf (reverse) a ‘dhoti’ word. with the same argument ‘namaste’, ‘suv-ratri’, ‘pani’ et al are all ‘dhoti’ words. give a gnikcuf (reverse)nepali translation of those.

    and what’s with that idotic/illogic abhorrence towards southern neighbors, i don’t which world you live in? most probably you have not corssed ‘thankot’ check post ever in your life.

    no doubt, india has its own agendas, but you just can’t dismiss it just beacuse you don’t like ‘dhoti’.

    methane gas that you cook your every gnikcuf (reverse)meals come from india. evey ‘thal’ of gnikcuf (reverse) rice you have, it comes from india. most of the vegetables and fruits are from india.

    when you have a gnikcuf (reverse) head ache, the gnikcuf (reverse) pill you pop in your mouth comes from india. you would be walking but naked if it was not for indian textile. these are just few to name.

    but you can always argue that you have not used all these indian products, you wear levis to cover your butt, have cough syrup from glaxo in london, you cook your food by drying them up in sun and so on, i guess you got my point.

    but, no matter how muchever you hate them, they are the closet to us religiously/culturally and it’s a sad truth they control most of the basic amenities of life.

    if you have nothing sensible to say, shut your trap.

    suva ratri and naku na! (in newari)

  14. Kirat,

    The point is renting or leasing or selling, its not in any case Foreign Direct Investment.

    FYI, Lease contracts can have buyback option or sell option. Everything depends upon exact contrat executed. I will stop my comments here. This guy Dr. Neupane doesnt deserve that much attention. Its better to talk about plights of Ex Kamaiya now.

  15. This is all moot if the Maoists take over. There will be no private property to rent, lease or sell. Doesn’t anyone understand communist ideology?

  16. santosh, let’s not argue about the obvious. I have already stated in my post #90 that leasing an aircraft is not the same as FDI. But even with a purchase option it is still a huge risk. Look at what Necon Air did to the ATR42s.

    Replying to Mr. Neupane’s post is optional I guess.

  17. Sitaula will be the end for us all. Who knew that his father in law is a senior leader in the Assamese maoist/insurgency movement.

  18. Yo man I like sitaula, he is one my prime candidates for prime minister along with baburam bhattarai.

  19. culture,

    Good for you. But your endorsement of Sitaula does not make him something he’s not.

  20. Someone just forwarded to me, read it and judge for yourself:
    MP Tripathy worked for Bablu Srivastav


    There always have been rumours of how our politicians have been bought by foreigners, but few probably know that our leaders are directly linked with the Indian underworld as well.

    In a book that he wrote while in prison, notorious Indian gangster and Don, Bablu Srivastav has revealed how he has directly paid Nepalese members of parliament and how they worked for him.

    It is more revealing that an MP who was in regular touch with him and who helped him get an illegal passport while on the run after a kidnapping case, is none other than Minister for Industries Hridesh Tripathy.

    In the book “Adhura Khwab”, which literally means Unfinished Dreams, Srivastav has given two whole paragraphs of his conversation with Tripathy.

    In one section, phoning him from his headquarters in Dubai, Bablu has ordered Tripathy to get him a Nepali passport. Tripathy tells the gangster to go to Bangkok and meet a Nepali official at the Nepalese Embassy there, and get the passport. Bablu escapes with that passport. It is not mentioned how much the Indian gangster pays to the Nepali MP. However, in the book, Bablu is seen giving a quarter million rupees even to his underlings.

    In the other section, Bablu writes how Tripathy called him and he asks what help he can extend to the Don. In quotes, Bablu writes about the call.

    The Don has revealed all the secrets of how he used to kidnap the rich and famous and extort billions of rupees from them. His network of gangsters, who kill two people in Nepal as well, are also described in detail.

    Srivastav also tells how he paid 10 million rupees to Mirja Dilshad Beg, the RPP MP who was himself assassinated by Indian gangsters. Beg is mentioned throughout the novel, in which he is seen as a key Underworld contact, who is in touch with virtually all the Indian dons and how he helps all gangsters on the run after they have committed a crime. But he always sells his services for money.

    Bablu has informers in the police, among businessmen, builders, contractors and he also has women working for him. He also describes his getaway tactics in detail. He proudly describes an incident when he fooled the police by acting like a police officer. Bablu eventually is arrested in Singapore after a tip-off. He still is in jail in New Delhi, but according to reports, he still carries out extortion through his network from within the jail as well. It can be guessed how many other Nepalese politicians are under his guidance.

  21. Mr. Sitaula just meet two generals of India and had good lunch in Nagarkot. Nobody knows what were their understandings. Now Indian ambassador is inaugurating different funding sectors like our prime minister, and we are just watching and clapping it. The ambassador is planning to organize seminar of their all Indian ambassodors of this region without even informing our concerned authorities. Many foods are preparing inside without tranparancy by this government. Even the prime minister sent the letters to UN without informing even its colleque (maoist). We are sure that congress might be the one who is suggesting US embassador and EU group to give pressure for not to involve maoist in the main stream without surrendering arms. Once the maoist surrender the arms they will be looser like king. The Congressi leaders know how to ride the horse in need, and throw it after the work is finished. These people know how to blackmail by using Indian card and fund. So, congress needs to be changed to gain popularity among the people. Otherwise 20-30 years congress cannot stand his head in the election if all the leftist join hands.

  22. I feel sorry for Nepal. No matter what we banter- Nepal is in threshold of being puppet regime, if not already. Blame all or not blame at all but cannot deny this. Maoist are with Indians, SPA is hanging unto Indians and we, the people, are watching drama that is unfolding that has earth shattering reprecussion to our welfare but are passing comments and gossips. A sense of numbness and state of shock is creeping in. Hurray for Maoist and SPA and their vocal supporters. coming days we will be called Nepali Indian just as Sikkimi Indian.

  23. uf]ljGbf hL

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    Madan Parajuli

    Please read in Preeti font

  24. Kirat,

    Rebutt me with contrary rather than with one-liner. Try to open wide rather than be a tunnel visioned man of 35.

  25. dieaheard, I am afraid your thick little brain cannot comprehend too much. You must be a teenager.

  26. Kirat, learn to spell right before you start a banter with me. Man of 35 but running on 10.

  27. diehard I guess you have never heard of something called typo? and yet you call me juvenille?

  28. Discrimination ……………… how far? How long?

    Nepal is a multi lingual and multi cultural country. Geographically, it is divided in to three major regions the Himalayas, the Mountains and the flat region called Terai. Terai is also called Madhesh. Madhesh is fertile and provides sufficient favorable conditions to live.Therefore about 50% population of Nepal live in this area. This is a fact that Madheshis are living in this region for the generations. In fact they are living here far before the time when Nepal was united as a single nation. It means they are also the native Nepali people. After the unification of the many small countries of Himalayas, Mountains and Madhesh regions Madhesh was always used and exploited for the benefit of the very few people or the rulers. The state never realized that this region is also a part of Nepal. People at this region have been treated as second grade citizen and many are yet to get the citizenship. About four million people are stateless. The rulers always tried to pick some of the Madheshi leaders and use them to exploit their own people. This is a bitter fact that Madhesh never got any chance to represent their true leaders in the government or any other area who would directly or indirectly benefit the Madhesh and Madheshi people. The long time conspiracy and discrimination against Madheshi are still going on and none of the Government has shown genuine interest in these issues rather they have tried to ignore it. What state believes is they need Madhesh but not the Madheshi people. They need vote but not the Madheshi candidates. They need grains but not the Madheshi farmers. The Madhesh provides more than 80% of the total revenue but investment is still far less than what mountain and Himalayas receive.
    The discrimination is still on .How far and how long?……………..

    · It is very unfortunate to mention that out of one thousand employees in the palace there is not even a single Madheshi working there. Answer?
    · Why does government always seek to share the lands only in the country?
    · Why not the property of the people no matter whether there is land or any other properties? Answer?
    · What is the position of Madheshis in the national security systems?
    · How about beaurocracy and diplomats, political appointments? Answer?
    · How many Madheshi leaders get chance to represent in the central committees of the national political parties?
    · Why is there only one secretary out of 67 in the country?
    And more yet to come. Please wait……..

  29. Akky,
    You have raised very important points. The Madhesis are treated badly. They have been discreminated. Therefore, it is high time to correct the unjust past and unequitable present. The issue of power sharing is paramount. Similarly, the issue of citizenship is also criticle. Many amomg the Madhesi people are stateless in strict legal sense. There should be new registration of all citizens, who have no citizenship certificate and they should get their right of nationhood. The attitude that the hill faces are Nepalese and the tarai faces are Indian is racist, antipeople and antination.

  30. Kurt W. Meyer and Pamela Deuel, Kathmandu, March 1997
    all text and images © Kurt W. Meyer and Pamela Deuel

  31. We can not ignore this realities:-

    There are two coomunities in Terai region, one is madhesi who entered Nepal only after in 18th century in search of food and shelter. Other is Indigenous Tharu community,an aboriginal people of nepal.Tharus have their own culture, language, traditions.only recenty, when DDT eradicated the Malaria, many madhesi entered low land of nepal fron Madhya- desh of INdia, which is now located in UP,Umbala, Bihar.So as hilly people also migrated in Tharu’s Area and subjucated their lands.
    mtDNA results have shown that tharus have high frequency(0.8)of alfa -thal anti- maleria genes amongs tharu than non tharus and also proved that they’re mongoloid. This results stronly supports the notion that Indeed the Tharus are only single community of that part of Nepal who are living since over the millenia.They mainly practiced buddism before Hinduised by Aarya Madhesi and hilly brahman and Kshatri.
    For further Information: please see the books of Arjun Gunratne, Kurt Mayer Or you can Found so many Facts and Proofs about tharus people on google site, when you log on about Tharu People.
    ( Note: Madhesi are trying to prove themselves as a indigenous people of Nepal , Which is not true, Only Tharus are only single Indigenous community who are living in terai since over the millenia.Tharus are not Madhesi, They are Indigenous People of that part of Nepal, Terai is not Madhesh, Madhesh is LOcated IN Indian Teritory, People Came from Madhya -Desh (madhesh) is popularly known as -Madhesi)

    Tharus are Indeed, a single community, living in malaria -infested terai forest since over the millenia. Indeed. They are not Madhesi but indigenous people of that part.Tharus have their own language, culture, traditions that vastly different than Maithali or Madhesi culture.Many Clever Madhesi and Hilly people subjucated their lands after Malaria eradication.They popularly known for their honesty, meekness. even among non tharus community. so that, Indeed , They are not Madhesi and above mentioned facts shows that Madhesi is those people who entered in low lands of Nepal only after the 18th century and malaria eradication from Madhaya -desh of Indian Territoty.
    I know about Janaki Mandir, It is build by Tikamgad Ki Maharari(Queen), When she visited the calm place of Terai.Tikamgad is now in India. Later, This Temple became famous among hindu, thenafter, Maithali community migrate this place as a Purohit brahaman and setteled there.Even now maithali brahaman has been deputed as a purohit for among tharu community. This evidence stongly support the notion that Tharus deputed and sheltered Maithali Community in Terai. Because Most of Maithaly communities have their relatives in India. And They can not go beyond this reality.
    Thank You.

    A minority number of Rajbanshi, Dhimal, Danuwar, Jhangad, Dhanuk, Mushar, are the ancient castes of Terai. Who living in terai along with Tharus.They are also Indigenous people of terai. Because of majority of Tharus in 23 districts of Terai and Inner Terai are Popularly Known as THARUWAN (THARUHAT) even in these days among Indigeous and hilly community. Terai is not Madhesh. Madhesh term is derived from Madhaya- desh. People migrated from madhaya desh has started to use this term later.you can see the Tony hegan’s book about nepal, Dr. hark Gurung’s reseach book and many more authoritative book’s about Nepal, You can not find the term Madhesh instead of Terai. You can read the book of Nepal’s scholar Rewati raman khanal,In this book he has mentioned that Rajya laxmi devi had chased daljeet shah abroad Madhesh, and in 99 page of this book, He has cleary mentioned about the Terai Administration , So its proves that Terai and Madhesh are two different geographical region.
    Thank you.

    • Some evidences on Tharu’s identity

    • Terrenato L,
    • Shrestha S,
    • Dixit KA,
    • Luzzatto L,
    • Modiano G,
    • Morpurgo G,
    • Arese P.
    Department of Human Genetics, University of Sassari, Rome, Italy.
    The Terai region of Nepal has been known to be heavily malarious since remote times, and it has, therefore, been regarded as uninhabitable by most Nepalese people. The Tharu people, who have been living in the Terai for centuries, were reputed to have an innate resistance to malaria. Following successful control of malaria by the Nepal Malaria Eradication Organization (NMEO), a large and heterogeneous non-Tharu population now inhabits the Terai along with Tharus. By analysing NMEO records, we have found that the prevalence of cases of residual malaria is nearly seven times lower among Tharus compared to sympatric non-Tharus. This difference applies to Plasmodium vivax, which is now much more common, and to Plasmodium falciparum. We suggest that the basis for resistance to malaria in the Tharu people is a genetic factor yet to be identified.
    • Modiano G,
    • Morpurgo G,
    • Terrenato L,
    • Novelletto A,
    • Di Rienzo A,
    • Colombo B,
    • Purpura M,
    • Mariani M,
    • Santachiara-Benerecetti S,
    • Brega A, et al.
    Department of Biology, University of Rome, Tor Vergata, Italy.
    We have previously reported that the Tharu people of the Terai region in southern Nepal have an incidence of malaria about sevenfold lower than that of synpatric non-Tharu people. In order to find out whether this marked resistance against malaria has a genetic basis, we have now determined in these populations the prevalence of candidate protective genes and have performed in-vitro cultures of Plasmodium falciparum in both Tharu and non-Tharu red cells. We have found significant but relatively low and variable frequencies of beta-thal, beta S, G6PD (-), and Duffy (a-b-) in different parts of the Terai region. The average in-vitro rate of invasion and of parasite multiplication did not differ significantly in red cells from Tharus versus those from non-Tharu controls. By contrast, the frequency of alpha-thalassemia is uniformly high in Tharus, with the majority of them having the homozygous alpha-/alpha-genotype and an overall alpha-thal gene (alpha-) frequency of .8. We suggest that holoendemic malaria has caused preferential survival of subjects with alpha-thal and that this genetic factor has enabled the Tharus as a population to survive for centuries in a malaria-holoendemic area. From our data we estimate that the alpha-thal homozygous state decreases morbidity from malaria by about 10-fold. This is an example of selection evolution toward fixation of an otherwise abnormal gene.
    • Passarino G,
    • Semino O,
    • Pepe G,
    • Shrestha SL,
    • Modiano G,
    • Santachiara Benerecetti AS.
    ISMEC CNR, Cosenza Italy.
    Tharus–a population of Terai (a region with a severe malarial morbidity in the past)–can be subdivided into three main groups: Western, Central and Southern Tharus. They have usually been considered a Mongoloid population and this has been further substantiated by mtDNA findings on Central Tharus. Studies on the distribution of malaria-related genes have shown an extremely high frequency (0.8) of the alpha-thal gene among Tharus. In the present investigation mtDNA markers were studied in the same sample of Eastern Tharus previously examined for the alpha-thal gene. The findings were: 1. the same three features which confirmed the classification of Central Tharus as Mongoloids (i.e., the common occurrence of HpaI-1/HincII-1 and HaeII-5 morphs, and the lack of BamHI polymorphism) were also present in this sample. Since the only neighbouring population accessible to Tharus, until recently, has been Hindu (Caucasoids), this result strongly supports the notion that Tharus are indeed a single anthropological entity; 2. two statistically significant differences between Eastern and Central Tharus–namely, a much higher HaeII morph 5 frequency among Central Tharus, and the absence in the same group of the mutation at 15.487 bp (very common among Eastern Tharus)–together with the results on alpha-tal gene, suggested that Tharu subgroups underwent an effective reproductive isolation.

    ”’Tharus”’ Tharus pervade all along the east-west lowland Terai belt as well as in the inner Terai valleys of Chitwan, Dang, Surkhet and Udaipur. They are considered the first native people of that part of Nepal. According to the regions of their inhabitation, each respective Tharu clan has its own ethnic identity, dialect and culture. Tharus have their own languages but the respective Tharu languages are thus influenced by Awadhi, Bhojpuri and Maithili languages, depending on the regions of their inhabitation. Because of their facial and physical features, they are considered Mongoloid. They mainly practice Buddhism.. Their main occupation is farming, and Tharus enjoy many similarities with the agro-based Newars of the Kathamandu Valley. (Traced from the article nationalities of Nepal)

    Asian Arts | Exhibitions
    The Tharu of the Tarai
    Kurt W. Meyer and Pamela Deuel

    The exhibition organized by the Indigo Gallery in Kathmandu brings to the public’s view for the first time the material culture of the Tharu, the indigenous population of Nepal’s lowlands along the Indian border.
    For the last one hundred years peoples around the world have been fascinated by Nepal because of its magnificent mountains, the towering Himalayas. Closed off from the outside world by its potentates, this kingdom lived in secluded splendor until the 1950’s, when its doors officially opened to the outside world.
    The isolation of the Tharu in the Tarai was even more complete: living in villages located in the malaria-infested jungles of the Gangetic plains, they rarely encountered outsiders. Over the millennia they developed a unique culture free from the influence of adjacent India, or from the mountain groups of Nepal. Only recently, when DDT eradicated the malaria, did the Tarai begin to attract settlers seeking to escape the harsh and little productive lands of their own ancestors.

    We have spent the past four years exploring the material culture of the Tharu, ALL of the Tharu of Nepal. Seaching the Tarai for remote villages untouched by modern life, we have scoured its full 600 mile length, from the western edge to its eastern border. Our search has taken us to nearly 300 villages, where we have discovered a rich and varied mosaic of Tharu culture and folk art.
    The most striking aspect of the Tharu environment is the decorated walls, partitions and rice containers of the houses.
    For generations Kochila Tharu women of the eastern Tarai have transformed the verandahs and outer walls of their homes into colorful outdoor canvases dedicated to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity and fertility, at Tihar, the festival of lights.

    The third day of Tihar is devoted to worshipping Lakshmi. According to Tharu legend, on this night she circles the earth on the back of an owl, inspecting homes to see that they are properly purified with rigorous cleaning and newly painted walls. At twilight, villagers burn small oil lights to attract her attention to their houses, fields and farmyards. If she is pleased, she pays a visit and grants the family prosperity throughout the coming year.
    While some of the patterns on these houses are simply decorative, others contain auspicious elements. Important in South Asian mythology, the peacock adorns more painted houses than any other bird. Sanskrit literature associates it with human happiness, passion and bliss: Ram and Sita delighted in the company of peacocks, and when Sita was abandoned by Ram, it is said that the peacocks ceased to dance. Many Tharu believe if they spot a peacock when they first step out of their home, they will be favored with good luck that day.
    Another beloved god in Nepal is the blue-skinned Krishna, whose feats of magical strength, prowess as a bewitching lover, and devout compassion are passed on in legend from generation to generation. In the western Tarai, Dangaura Tharu celebrate his birth each year with the creation of an ASTIMKI painting in the interior of the Dangura longhouse by the male elder.

    An abstract outline of a human body contains drawings and symbols which tell the stories of Krishna’s many deeds, including scenes from the Mahabaratha and the Ramayana. The family (or village) elder who paints the astimki is a farmer who has no education in the arts. Even today few can read or write, but that presents no barrier to passing down the knowledge of Krishna’s feats from one generation to the next. These pictures show different episodes in Krishna’s life: his birth, his marriage, life in the forest, the river and the fields. The legendary five Pandava brothers march across the top of the astimki, going to battle against the forces of evil, the 100 Kaurava cousins. To the side of the Astimki, sons try their hand at depicting elements of Krishna’s life, preparing to carry the tradition along.
    Once the day of prayer is past, these visual offerings to Lakshmi and Krishna are ignored, scuffed or brushed against during the comings and goings of daily life.
    While much of this art is rooted in devotional activities, todays’ artist seldom knows the significance of the designs, but still clings to the graphics of the elders, occasionally introducing contemporary designs such as a bus or airplane. When we ask about the meaning of the graphic and abstract designs, we are most often simply told by the artists: “It is the tradition.”

    This art is ephemeral, designed for a specific devotional purpose. The richness of the design, using only available materials – clay, mud, dung and grass – always astonishes us. It has been passed down from generation to generation within the rural family, usually – but by no means always – carried out by the women. There are no schools, no art colleges, no teachers who tell them what is “right” and what is “wrong” – it is for this reason that we call it

    Is this truly “ART” in the western sense? It is not the inspiration of an individual and it has no commercial value: it is never considered to be the intellectual property of the artist who created it. The work is one moment in the continuum of time. The anonymous artist borrows from the elders, makes some changes, is free to improve on it – within the constraints set up by the culture, and this culture belongs to all.

    Kurt W. Meyer and Pamela Deuel, Kathmandu, March 1997
    all text and images © Kurt W. Meyer and Pamela Deuel

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