Representation In The House of Representative

By Shree Shrestha
UWB received this article in email

At present there are 205 members in the House of Representative. Talks are going on in different circles on how to change the system of election so that every ethnic group will be represented in the new House. I read many articles regarding this issue. Most of the ideas presented are too complicated to understand and implement in the present context. I am trying to give simplistic solution to have proper representation in the House.

1. Keep the present 75 districts and 14 zones as is.

2. Each district will elect 1 member for the Upper House (National Assembly).

3. Each district should have electoral map divided into electoral map comprising of 100,000 people.

4. The electoral map should not be drawn according to geographical boundaries like hills, rivers and others.

5. Electoral map will be drawn according to ethnic inhabitants in the respective areas.

6. In general 100,000 people will choose 1 representative.

7. In case there are less than 100,000 of certain ethnic group they will be still allowed to elect 1 representative for the House.

8. If there are very small group of certain ethnic group residing among larger ethnic group it is not necessary to break them.
They will simply vote with the majority.

9. This way there will be fair representation of the people in the House. For example: there could be Chhetri (36), Brahmin (29), Magar (16), Tharu (15), Tamang (13), Newar (12), Muslim (10), Kami (9), Yadav (9), Rai (6), Gurung (5), Damai (4), Limbu (4), Sarki (3), Teli (3), Koiri (2), Kamai (2), Sanyasi (2), Dhanuk (2), Musahar (2), Sherpa (1), Thakur (1), Rajbansi (1).

10. There are other groups comprising of more than 50,000 but less than 100,000. All of them should be able to elect 1 representative in the House.

11. This way our House of Representatives will look like Nepal.

One foot note in my suggestion: For example most of the Muslims live in Nepalganj. So Nepalganj Muslims will elect their representatives according to their population make up. At the same time, if there are less than 100,000 Muslims in Kathmandu they will not be able to send Muslim representative. They will vote with Newar if they happen to reside within Newar electoral area. Newars will be able to send their representative from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Patan, Kirtipur, Sankhu, Bharatpur, Dharan, Dhankuta. But Newars from Biratnagar (for example) will not be able to send their representatives if they happen to reside outside Newar electoral area.

Shree Shrestha lives in Madison, Wisconsin. He could be reached at edeja1 (at)charter.net

Published by UWB

Pioneering blog from Nepal...since 2004.

96 thoughts on “Representation In The House of Representative

  1. Sorry to see us all being caught up in another mirage and trickery! How can we just forget that it is not about what ethinic background an under-previledged person comes from. It is about getting him or her out of that under-previledged situation, irrespective of ethnicity. Can we ever get above ethinic divides and focus on the issue, objectively?

  2. Hahaha,
    Shreshtha Jee, Thats just funny. How can you slect brahman and chhetry out. they are living together in any society so highly mixed. where can u find an isolated brahmin and chhetry community? Same is the case for Sarki, Kami, Damai. These are the group of people living together with Brahmin and Chhetry and working for them.
    Yes that works for the society like Limbu, Sherpa, even for Newar who are highly confined in a specific loaclity or region.

    Pramod
    USA

  3. While the logic presented of ethnic groups representation in the parliament is good, it would be really difficult to put into practice.

    What really can happen and should happen is that large parties can follow the idea in selecting their candidates following the norm of ethnicity. As far as winning and loosing is concerned, we should live to the masses to decide. Otherwise where is the lokatantra.

  4. Seems idealistic but very difficult practically. And, Sherpa is given a single seat quota, but if capable, why not 4 or 5 of them be selected?

  5. Liberty Group Nepal
    Nationalistic Armed Forces
    Public Relations Office

    Subject: Press Statement
    2006 July 22, 2006

    To all Nepalese Brother and Sisters,
    With decades of oppression and inequality Nepalese people have suffered enough. The very basic foundation of humanity and civilization has been uprooted. Communist barbarians have left the people with no choices to fight for the right to freedom. There must not be any more delays to end this suffering and fight for freedom.
    To serve this very cause bringing full fledged freedom and to establish a democracy and rule of law, today, 22nd of July 22, 2006, the Nationalistic Armed Forces (NAF) has been formed under the Central command of the Liberty Group Nepal. We want to congratulate all of you on the historic day of the formation of the Nationalistic Armed Forces (NAF).
    Liberty Group Nepal (LGN) is committed to the establishment of a prosperous and peaceful democratic Nepal. We express our sincere commitment to the establishment to state where people rights to speech and congregate are guaranteed. We are also committed to the rights to free press and the rights to personal and economic freedom. NAF under the command the LGN is committed to achieve these goals by all means and at any costs.

    Secretary of Public Relations

  6. Shree Shrestha, commendable effort. I do not think that Chettris and Brahmins make 36 and 29 per cent of the Nepali population though. Also providing quotas on MPs on ethnic lines seems like a terrible idea. I am for reservations for certain ethnic minorities in govt. colleges and govt. jobs for a certain no. of years but reservations for elections according to the population of each community is going a bit too far. Logically taken to an extreme it could spark a population explosion, each community trying to outdo the other in the numbers game. That would not be good for an already overpopulated country. Besides MPs have a lot of power and dividing power into ethnically distinct identities is asking for trouble.

  7. Numbers in the parenthesis are not quotas. They are just arbitrary numbers. They will differ according to the population make up in the electoral area. Main idea is to have one representative per 100,000 people. Whereever possible the map should be drawn to include majority of ethnic group of that electoral area.
    Where I grew up the population is mixed among Chhetri, Newar, and some other minority group. We always voted for Chhetri.
    I understand it will be very hard to include only one ethnic group in some electoral areas. But there are places in Nepal where most people with distinct ethnic background dwell.
    We need to avoid some rich Ranas (for example) or other group buying the land in the Sherpa (for example) community to be elected to represent that group. At the same time we need to avoid people like Girija running from two separate electoral area.

  8. Shree Shrestha-you said you always voted Chettri. I hope you do not mean that you were always voting on communal lines-you know rather a Chettri than one of those wild janajatis.

  9. Why only divide parliamentary seats on the basis of ethnicity?

    There were strong voices in this blog few days back that provided ‘evidence’ that there was centuries of discrimination and regression resulting from ‘ekikaran’ of Nepal by King Prithivi. In fact, they pointed that the present status of Nepal is the result of wrong ‘policies’ initiated by the King Prithivi. Unintentionally, those voices strongly stressed that concept of ‘Nepal’ as of now is completely wrong. And to correct that discrimination and repression, why not take it to the situation that was before ‘ekikaran’ of Nepal – such as Baise and Chaubise Rajya? Perhaps there was no state-sponsered repression or discrimination at that time. Since they have already ‘proved’ that Janajatis were forced to be part of Nepal, why should they continue to suffer such injustice and live in ‘Nepal? So lets break-up the present ‘Nepal’ and return it to the old situation. Then dividing seat on the lines of ethnicity or state-sponsered discrimination will have permanent solution.

  10. What a great racial profiler, surprised to know he lives in the US.
    How could a democratic society flourish with racial limitations and confinement.

  11. what about educational level and basic judgement capacity of the lawmakers? no matter what arrangement you do, with SLC fail idioits you cant expect much , be it a brahmin or magar or tharu MP

  12. Shree Shreshtha,

    Thanks for advising Nepalese Nepali by American Nepali from Winconson. Independence by human being is so much loved that every family likes to have its own state as a private property. Otherwise, Yugoslavia could not be balkanized. Every tribe in Africa wants to be an independent state which is quite impossible to achieve. If Abe Lincon had not used brute force, USA could have been fractured to many an un-united states. If one starts a country to divide ethnically or caste, colour or religionwise, the end will never come. There may be many sects under one religion, many clans under one ethnic group, many sub-castes under one caste, many religions under one language group or many language groups under one religion and never ending so on. If one looks at present scenario in Nepal, presence of Newars in every sector is beyond their ethnic protortion (except in army) after Bahuns, though demographically they are around 5% of total population. They are so because they are educated and get opportunites being urbanites. So, there should be no objection upon who is elected where from. People should get better opportunities to develop oneself. If nationality, ethnicity was so much sacred, Nepalese would never had gone to USA, even less Shree Shreshtha, a person of well-to-do family by Nepali standard.

  13. My idea is not to do ethnic profiling but to have fair representation in the House of Representation. We can not eliminate the racism as long we live in this world. But we have to learn to live harmoniously in the society. In this context I always believe that Sherpa, Tamang, Magar, Rai, Limbu and others will be well represented by their own ethnic leaders. If we are idealistic people ethnicity will not matter. But we are not perfect.
    There are few ideas floating in the political circle in Nepal like not changing the rules in electing the members in the House of Representative but in addition to nominate 20 to 30 percent from the different group. In the democracy nomination is bad word.
    General perception is this that Newar and Bahun rule Nepal. So why don’t we change the rule by which other ethnic group will have fair chance in the government.
    One more thing JANJATI is such a demeaning word implied to other ethnic group by the group who think themselves as of higher ethnicity.

  14. Why only divide parliamentary seats on the basis of ethnicity?

    There were strong voices in this blog few days back that provided ‘evidence’ that there was centuries of discrimination and regression resulting from ‘ekikaran’ of Nepal by King Prithivi. In fact, they pointed that the present status of Nepal is the result of wrong ‘policies’ initiated by the King Prithivi. Unintentionally, those voices strongly stressed that concept of ‘Nepal’ as of now is completely wrong. And to correct that discrimination and repression, why not take it to the situation that was before ‘ekikaran’ of Nepal – such as Baise and Chaubise Rajya? Perhaps there was no state-sponsered repression or discrimination at that time. Since they have already ‘proved’ that Janajatis were forced to be part of Nepal, why should they continue to suffer such injustice and live in ‘Nepal? So lets break-up the present ‘Nepal’ and return it to the old situation. Then dividing seat on the lines of ethnicity or state-sponsered discrimination will have permanent solution.

  15. this dude went to US and thinks he knows everything. Newars are the most previledged bunch of Kuwa ko Bang and communal of all the groups. Lets help Kami Damai Sarki and other communities like Gurung, Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Madeshis NO to NEWARS

  16. Shree Shrestha

    Like Pramod, I would also like to know , where are these ” Bahun ” and ” chettri” areas ? and what is the basis of allocating so many high number of seats for them ?

    I am not anti any castes but I only see status quo from you for this quagmired seats of House of Representatives’ solution.

    Any anthropologist at UWB ….., can u please come up to solve this jumbled question ??

  17. I am not proposing allocation of any seats by their ethnicity. My numbers are only hypothetical. Main point is choosing one representative per 100,000 people and whereever possible electoral areas should be determined by the majority of ethnic group reside in that area. I am for proper representation in the House by Rai, Limbu, Tamang, Gurung, Sherpa and other groups. In the present electoral system these groups do not have fair chance of getting elected.
    In the end local politicians have to get involved in drawing the electoral areas in each districts.

  18. Dividing the national electorals on ethnic lines is an impossibly difficult process. What we must understand is that when talking of such national assemblies we should not restrict anyone from contesting for the elections no matter what their ethnicity. Infact we should be moving toward a system where there are fewer national parties contesting for elections. India is always in a fix when smaller parties dictate policy.
    Also, in a free country one hopes the citizens will become richer as we move forward, when this happens one cannot restrict people to their natural ethnic boundarties, migration to areas of choice is inevitable.

    However, we have to build up a system of decentralisation where regional and local governments are given far more authority then they have today. For this we have to re draw the zones and districts with the different make up in mind. The taxation and revenue generation system has to be recast so that regions can collect their own taxes while providing only a portion to the central government. Central governments should effectly only have ownership with regard to defense,foreign policy and certain finance aspects. Other areas have to be decentralised as the requirements and needs of different areas in the country is obviously different. These regional governments should also be given the full authority to attract investment directly and if need be the input of donor nations as well.
    But to have the national assembly look like a quota system where probably all of the representatives who are elected on ethnic lines and not on party lines would be in the centre will serve little purpose for his or her people back in the area concerned. This is why regional governors have to be given more authority, because these are the people physically present in their areas.

  19. India: Charm that Hurts Nepal
    By Munna Singh

    For me the hardest thing to digest has been India’s role in all this – heretics such as S.D. Muni and Yechuri all make trips and consult their henchmen (SPA and Maoist), in India – we all seem to know about this but act nonchalant. Nepal is becoming a remote controlled nation.

    I read Kantipur sometimes, I abhor it, and find news as if doctored by the South block. For me they represent India rather than a credible newspaper. A friend who works in a Himalayan Bank innocently squealed that Kantipur Publishing House deposited Rs. 64 crore in four banks, one being his.

    More or less, most people agree that the way things are, it only means a civil war. Even if Maoists stay on the backs of SPa take over, resistance will crop up, to defeat unilateralism and draconian laws and policy that the Maoists espouse, with definite curtailing of speech, freedom and individual rights. The endgame for them and to COMPOSA is to make a Nepal a model communist state. Now, the quandary is – knowing all this India is hell bent on supporting the Maoists and SPA. What gives? The logic can be only one thing – Nepal is not a country but a puppet regime under and by South Block. It shows that for India, anything is ok and can be handled except the Monarchy. In their eyes, a true Nepal is one without the King, and the rest is within their realm by hook or crook.

    It is quite naiive to chit chat only about the SPA and Maoists because at the end of the day – it is India who is running them both. I do not suspect this, I take this to be the truth. Nor is it a question of India bashing or being anti-India! But somewhere in retrospect – I see a well defined map by India with total disregard for the people of Nepal. Not a good move even by the standard they have set for themselves with all the neighboring countries.

    If there is a concerted effort by the powers-that-be then I see Maoists making a hasty retreat with compulsion to join the main stream without arms. The effort must be on making a level playing field for everyone, not just big parties or a renegade party but for all without the chance of affording parties (big, renegades) to hijack the better interest of the nation on behest of a Foreign country.

    I see less chance of better judgment prevailing in India in regards to Nepal and the necessity of Monarchy in Nepal. So it is upon us to set the stage whereby in a gradual process we create a platform that propagates nation building from within, practically putting our house in order that can rebuff unwarranted and unnecessary foreign intrusions. To achieve this, I assume we must share the burden in all aspects to formulate a charter that is all-encompassing in terms of ethnicity, social, political and economic aspects. The task is uphill but the time to start is now before it is too late.

  20. Let me just make one thing clear before we all jump the gun:

    The maoists have to lay down their arms before even joining the interim government. They say they are interested in multi party democracy, and the SPA have given them great respect and fulfilled numerous of their demands. The maoists on the other hand except for a cesefire announcement have not given an inch. It all boils down to the arms issue. Maoists have to now start palnning to lay down their arms for good, otherwise there is no use talking about elections, fair representation or anything for that matter. The maoists can say what they want about them being a state in their own right, but the majority don’t buy it and the world do not regocnise them as such. This same stubborness dragged down a constitutional and world acknowleged King, what makes the Maoists think they can find legitamacy with their arms in tow?
    It is either this or we might as all carry arms and gear up for a civil war.

  21. Shrestha,

    You say incase there are less than 100000 people in an ethnic group then they will still be allowed to vote in 1 representative.

    That is great, now that Sujata Koirala’s (Jost) daughter is married to a Bengali, and we are allowed to give citizenship to a child via the mother then I guess Sujata’s daughter and grandchildren will have confirmed seats in the house as the daugter is half German – this is definitely a new ethnic group and the grandchildren will be of German, Nepali and Bengladeshi origin – I am sure this is unique and therefore they should be allowed their own seat as well. If you want to talk ethnicity, you have to account for all groups including half breeds and mixed breeds after all it is only fair and only they understand their problems in this narrow minded nation.

  22. Also not to mention the a whole new group of intercaste and interethnis offsprings, like a cross between a Brahmin and a damai – they are shunned by their own communities – they also should have their own representation.

  23. the proposed system is not going to work. it is difficult to implement and goes against the very principles of democracy. furthermore, it will evolve into a system which will cause nepalese society to disintegrate and will deepen the rift between members of various ethnic groups.

    instead, i am of the opinion that the best form of democracy will be that of proportional democracy, whereby the number of constituencies is decreased, but each (now larger) constituency elects say 3-4 members, with the various parties being represented according to the percentage of votes they win. once again, this method is not much more expensive to implement as compared to the majoritarian democracy that we have in place in nepal.

    this will ensure that the minorities are not under-represented in the house of representatives.

  24. The problem with ethnicity based elections as opposed to national party based elections ,is that the house will now be filled with people with specific groups and interests in mind and not with people who look at the nation in a wholistic way. It is alright to have this in local and regional representation, but at the national level we need people with a vision to take the country forward with the interests of the nation in mind and without trying to be populist. Representatives who are savvy at dealing with not only national issues but regional and international issues as well. We have to avoid the Laloo Yadav syndrome, he may or may not be fine for his state (his people can choose), but he is definitely not representative of a nation with so many ethnicities, one billion plus in population and the idea of a multi party, sovereign democracy.

  25. I am not for doing away with national political parties. They are here to stay. May be down the road we will have few parties rather than 100. Girija congress and Deuba Congress could become one. Communist Party will include Maoists. This is not just wishful thinking.
    In this piece I am just putting forward an idea by which Rai, Limbu, Tamang, Gurung, and other groups will have fair chance of representation regardless of their party affiliation.
    I am not talking about ethnic based poltical parties.

  26. I’m sorry M/s Shrestha but what you propose is very much divided among ethnic lines. How can you claim that you are not proposing ethnic political divisions?
    Further, if national political parties are here to stay what makes you think that muslims from Nepalgunj will vote in a muslim and Newars from Kathmandu will vote in a Newar? Therefore why can’t 100,000 muslims in Kathmandu not be able to send in their representative? I think these restrictions is against the very fooundation of democracy. I think as someone suggested above that national elections should be open, and powers should be allocated to regional governments and districts. A person from say amongst the Nepalgunj muslims if voted in (this is highly probable but caanot be 100% certain, as other people from the area should be allowed to partake if they wish) is probably the best person to decide on issues related to the area, but is this person was to represent them from Kathmandu, he or she would most likely be a fish out of water. National parties have to set the agenda for the nation and regional politics has to set the agenda for the region. It is no use talking about halal with Sherpas and Mani Rindu with Tharus. And if there is a leader who can encompass all our people, great, that leader should head for the national assembly.

  27. 100,000 Muslims will be able to send their representative only if all of them reside in the same electoral area.
    I am not talking about the representation by ethnicity if they are not in the same electoral area. My idea is to draw electoral area in each and every district comprising of 100,000 people. But wherever possible draw the line in such a way that majority of the same ethnic group will be within one area. This has to be reviewed at each election cycle.
    As for the National assembly each district will elect one representative. Right now we have 60 members selected in very complicated method.

  28. This is about the most unfeasible idea I have heard. I am sure only “st” will appreciate it since it’t outside the box. However, this is too outside the box for my taste.

  29. “But wherever possible draw the line in such a way that majority of the same ethnic group will be within one area.”

    So you are encouraging ethnic groups living in one area if they require representation from one of their own?

    What are you planning? If this is’nt a proposal to divide the country under ethnic lines, then I don’t know what is!!!

    The better idea M/s Shrestha has already been proposed above by someone else, who proposes that regional governments have to be formed and empowered.

  30. Really,

    We have an opportunity to get thing’s right for the first time. Instead of talking about reforming institutions so that they serve the people whether it be the army, judiciary or which so ever institution, we are talking about how to cut a cake so that the chocolate is represented in one piece and the vanilla in the other and so on. Fair representation of our people will only happen when these institutions are reforemed to serve the people and where power is decentralised as much as possible. A Newar electing a Newar in Kathmandu will not ensure good governance. However, I do agree with comments above to leave regional management and administration to the regional governments as these people are there and understand the problems of the region better.

  31. Yeah, I have said it before. Nepal is like a turkey in Thanksgiving Day dinner. Carve it up to serve or dump it in a dumpster- choice is open. In order to show we are in par if not above in democratic credentials- we are killing the very thing we hope to build- a nation.

    Realization must be setting in for some that things taken for granted does have some value, a critical one, in independence and sovereignty of nation and its people. Populist rhetoric and ideas run dry quick but established norms of centuries will survive for this is the backbone of a nation. This makes us what we are. Lets stop lying to ourselves, stop believing what we are not, and stop thinking divisiveness in ethnicity,social standing, and political colors.

    Whew, I said it.

  32. Dear friends,

    what kind of stupid are entering on this comment ? If you dont have any nice comment, at least dont discourage to a writer. I am really surprise on some of commenter, please try to comment critically. Dont comment nonsense, its a very popular site to share our views, dont try to spoil the environment.

    Sandesh

  33. Sandesh,

    Please clarify and be specific. Ambiguity is another stupid way of expressing oneself.

  34. Sandesh,

    One more thing – It’s not a question of giving “nice” comments. This is not a beauty pagent.
    Commenting critically includes the good,the bad and the ugly. Please understand this before you make silly remarks.

  35. buggerwugger (???)

    I am indicating a person who is just mentioning the view as a stupid and childist.

    Sandesh

  36. Sandesh,

    So you mean “justice”, you could have written that earlier. Without a reference, it’s just too puzzling!!!

  37. buggerwugger,

    yeh, you are correct. Actually the writer has written his view and we may not agree some or all of his ideas but he is giving his polite resoponse to all. Suddenly i found such a comment, i felt this is not a supportive to a contributor. If i have got such a response, i will be upset on such a comment and hesitate to enter in the site.

    He can post his view through critical comments but only saying foolish and stupid, i think no one like such a comment, anyway. Do you?

    Anyway it is a very geniune issue of our society, at least we have to address this if we want to make our society prosporous. People are feeling supress by some community whether we agree or not, its true.

    Sandesh

  38. Sandesh,

    Nobody likes to be called foolish and stupid, atleast that’s what I believe, but at the same time I would’nt get carried away too much by such comments on an open blog with people called “justice” or “buggerwugger”.

  39. shree shrestha,

    i have written about proportional voting in a democratic set up in place of the majoritarian set up that is currently in place. in that way, while the majority communities will win more seats (in all likelihood), the minority communities will also have the opportunity of seeing themselves represented in the house of representatives. i hope you know how the system works, i’m wondering whether you thought about it or just chose to ignore my earlier comment on the issue.

  40. I am not suggesting to uproot and mobilise the population to have 100,000 people in the electoral area to gain the right to elect representative. I am just suggesting to look at the ground reality. In the end local politicians will have a say on how to draw the electoral area.
    Just to give an example: Newars are all over the country. To begin with Prithvi Narayan Shah relocated Newars after the victory in the Kathmandu Valley. They were told that they are good in business and were given opportunities to do business in other parts of the country. All in all most villages received 100 Newar families from Kathmandu Valley to do business and build towns. I think Prithvi Narayan Shah did not want any revolt from Newar after difficult win of the valley. During Rana time most newar families were expelled from the valley when any body in the valley received small pox so as not to spread the small pox.
    You will find Kami, Sarki also residing with Brahmin, Chettri in most places. Same way Muslims are all over the country but in minority except in Nepalganj and in surrounding areas. The people who have visited the country also will find that Magar, Rai, Limbu, Gurung, Sherpa are concentrated in one area. I am only suggesting for the inclusion of all the ethnic groups in the democratic process. Since we have to draw some line I suggested 100,000 people per electoral area. As population increases number of members in the House of Representation will also increase. But the numbers of members in the National Assembly will always remain 75 representing 75 districts.
    Decentralisation of the government is a great thing for the development. We are talking about this since 1950 and we are still talking about it. Neither the government of 60’s nor 90’s did anything about it. I very much doubt whether new government will do anything about this. So it’s up to the representatives in the House to develop their electoral areas. If they can not help build schools, hospitals, roads, bridges they will be voted out.

  41. Does anyone know why Ranas,Brahmins, Chettris, Kamis and Damais are not geographically restricted to one area like the other ethnicities? Just a question…nothing more.

  42. We should promote the inclusion of capable, honest people who will put the best interests of Nepal first regardless of ethnicity or any other consideration. We don’t want token representation unless they are also competent. There must be an absolute end to corruption. If the most capable government servants are Chetris, so be it. If they are Chepang, let it be also!

  43. Kirat if you know how and why parasites like bacteria and viruses spread and suck the life out of others, then you have the answer to your question. Surely, you must have caught cold one time or the other…I have ;). It just makes me sick everytime…however, let me clarify that not all parasites are harmful for example Cuckoo, which lays its eggs in the nests of other birds.

  44. Ranas, Brahmins, Chettris, Kamis and Damais are not geographically restricted to one area because they move around and they are not afraid to settle in new areas. I think it’s good thing. One example: if Ranas, Chhetries from the hill have not moved to Terai we have had lost Terai to India. One time there was a big movement called Terai Mukti Andolan. This movememnt was not successful because most of the land owners were (and still are) from Hills.

  45. To change the topic a little, shouldn’t we thank the Indians for getting Nepalis out of Lebanon?

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