Being Nepali Citizen: Bill Brings Madhesis Joy

nepali citizenship bill brings madhesis joy

Bill brings hope of citizenship: Satyendra Prasad Gupta, 38, (left) of Bara with his mother Sudhamadevi (center), children and younger brother Birendra (right). Pic by Updendra Lamichhane

By Updendra Lamichhane in Nijgadh, Bara

This has become the most controversial bill in recent times and was endorsed by parliament last week with an overwhelming majority. That was first time when a bill was passed with a majority instead of consensus after the restoration of parliament in April. Some people say this bill will endanger Nepali nationalism by giving citizenship to foreigners (read that Indians) where as supporters opine that the bill will grant a chance to those hundreds of thousands of Nepalis who had to live in their own home country without the status of citizen and were deprived of various opportunities because of not having the citizenship certificate. Amidst this debate, implementation of the bill has started (government has decided to speed up the process of formulating regulations) and many in Madhes are celebrating. Here is a report, published in the Kathmandu Post, from Bara:

Satyendra Prasad Gupta, 38, from Jitpur of Bara is in an euphoric mood since Sunday. It’s the Citizenship Bill passed by the House of Representatives that day which has brought joy to this man from the Madhesi community.

The Bill has great meaning in his life: He can now claim citizenship of this country. “I faced many obstacles in my career due to lack of citizenship,” he said, adding, “Hope my kids will not meet the same fate; hope they will be eligible for jobs, business or other work like any other ordinary citizen of this country.”

Satyendra, who was born in Nepal and has been staying here ever since, was deprived of a citizenship card just because his father was a citizen through naturalization. His mother Sudhama Devi, who was born in Jitpur, married an Indian national. They stayed in Nepal after marriage. Satyendra could not acquire citizenship on the basis of his mother’s citizenship. The Bill ratified on Sunday will make him eligible for citizenship as a child born of a Nepali mother. He still has to pass through some stringent procedures though.

“I used to feel very bad being deprived of citizenship rights even though I was born in this country,” said his brother Birendra, adding, “Now, with the new legal provisions, we are upbeat.”
Dinesh Sah from Chorni of Parsa district, whose situation is similar to the Gupta family’s, is equally glad with the new provisions. His mother was a Nepali citizen by descent while his father acquired naturalized Nepali citizenship. Dinesh was, however, denied citizenship.

Likewise, Amrit Raut and Malati Devi, who have three sons, are all smiles. “Our sons, who are in the age group 30 to 40, were denied various opportunities due to lack of citizenship,” Amrit said, adding, “Now, they can prepare to compete for any opportunity.”

The Madhesi community in Bara, Parsa, Rautahat and other districts have welcomed the new law, and organized various programs to celebrate. “This is a decision taken by the loktantrik government in favor of the madhesi community,” said Ganesh Prasad Sah of Nepal Sadbhavana Party (A), Bara, adding, “This will help solve the citizenship problem for thousands of madhesis.”

Meanwhile, reports from Saptari, Udaypur, Bardiya, Sarlahi and other districts state that eight political parties and other people are celebrating the government’s landmark decision.

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34 thoughts on “Being Nepali Citizen: Bill Brings Madhesis Joy”

  1. In a country filled with extreme political anxiety and low level of empathy, an opinion is either pro-people or reactionary.

    In spite of this, allow me express my disstisfaction to the recent bill approved by the parliament.

    The approval of the citizenship bill and the Maoists’ support to it illustrates India’s hidden interest behind the transformation of Nepal’s violent conflict and their protection to the Maoist leaders in India.

    The new sanctioned bill may provide citizenship rights to the thousands of poor and deprived Madhesis living in the terai. But this will also provide citizenship to nearly a million Indian people who have been living here since 1990. There could be other more practical ways of providing citizenship to the real Nepali citizens, but our lawmakers denied any efforts to seek the alternative and more practical ways under the influence of Indian governmet.

    Will the citizenship bill solve the conflict between Madhesis and non-Madhesis who are living side by side in the terai?

    I think not. I have recently visited some terai districts such as Janakpur and Saptari in which non-Madhesis living in terai from time immemorial have been tortured mentally and sometimes even psychological. There is an independent Madhesi state in the Making in terai, and this has been caused by our corrupt, vote loving politial leaders like Prachanda, Hridayesh Tripathi, Jaya Prakash Gupta and so on.

    A simple example: extreme and provocative demonstrations like Lathi Julus are routinely organized in districts like Dhanusha and Saptari where Madheshi demonstrators chant slogans like Pahadiya Chor Madhes Chhod. In these demonstrations, the so called Pahadiya people are manhandled, beaten and abused. Out politicians at the center are not unaware of this, but they are actively promoting such behaviour.

    The state of Nepal is failing.

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  2. Your post is well said and addresses universal concerns. I have an admittedly personal objection to the new citizenship bill. I am a foreigner married to a Nepali woman. Our son was born in Nepal, raised in Nepal, went through school here, but can’t get citizenship through his mother. My wife wants to leave her land to our son when we pass, but Nepal law prevents that.

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  3. Sanjeev,

    who cares about Nepal, except power? So your logic is not going to work here. You maybe tagged as royalist or ISI agent for this. It is right to get citizenship for the genuine people but decision within a month or two without good homework definately bring the crowd from India. It took almost 20 years and still not getting citizenship Nepali residing in Bhutan. They are living as refugees in Nepal in their own country. But it took just one hour to decide it for 4 million to 7 million people for citizenship with the pressure of India. Aren’t we brave enough to decide so quick?? In future it might take 1 minute to decide to merge into India.

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  4. With pro indian Girija on the hot seat and prachanda a raw agent as his supporter india is successful to materialize its dream, it won’t take much time now when madeshis will be fighting for a separate land (don’t forget Goit is still alive), I still remember Nehru not being happy with Mahendra because of the citizenship theory of Nepal what Nehru could not do ManMohan has done it. We are badly Fuuuccckkkked up by Indians, are we gonna wake up after our sh!t hole turns to a tunnel???

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  5. Hello Sanjeev:

    While visiting to Saptahari and Jankapur you witnessed the certain anti pahadiya demonstrations. Did you try to figure out the cause for it? You should have done that before posting your message.

    Let me tell you something, a person born in Nepal and who holds Nepali citizenship has equal rights, be Madhesi and Pahadi, the HMG of Nepal envisages equal rights to both. But as you said Madhesi or the Indian community residing in Nepal has always been a target of hatred in their own country Nepal.

    Do you have any view point for Hritik Roshan Kand? Do you also realise more than half of tourist influx in Nepal is Indian based. Do you also realise most of Nepali business including the industries are owned by Indian origin people who you address as Madhisay or Made. And you still have enimosity against India.

    What if India expells all Nepali residing in India, just like what Bhutan did. Do you realise India is also responsible to provide food to many people in Nepal. The Monarchy of Nepal of Shah rulers or infact Ranas marry members of royal families in India.

    Theres no point argueing with you. You will never realize it. All you do is talk and talk but look at India, it is one of the largest developing economy in the world and Nepal is ranked as one of the poorest. I am sorry to say this but this is the hard truth.

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  6. Jhapali,

    You are right in many points but not all. But these minor points make the differences in our politics and sovereignity in future.

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  7. Citizenship is just an example.
    There is discrimination against people of Terai
    in every field. That means half of the Nepal
    is denied to prosper and that has ultimate effect
    over the WHOLE NEPAL. If it were not so Nepal
    would not be this much far behind in economy. There
    is NARROW MINDEDNESS theory working in Nepal. People of
    Hill (not all) sees people of Terai as INdian and
    uses slang words to address them.

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  8. Jhapali:

    Your pathetic comment deserves nothing but a crude smile. But I could not help responding to it.

    I am not unaware of the problems facing Madhesis of the terai. The poor and the Dalits have been the victims of Nepal’s obnoxious bureaucracy in getting the citizenship certificates. Nor am I an anti-Indian. India has its own policy of foreign relations and it has every right to adopt its strategy to maximize the interest of the Indian people.

    What I was trying to say and which you unfortunately could not understand is that an intense sectarian conflict is in the offing in the Nepalese terai. People who have been living in peace and harmony for decades if not centuries have now become enemies. They are fighting for something which they don’t know. This conflict has been created and fuelled by our corrupt leaders, and you could be one of them. These leaders work for the interest of India.

    Every country has its own principles for distributing citizenship. The US has its own and your India too has its own principles about giving you a citizenship. I was just raising a simple question, why we are violating the basic principles of giving away the citizenship?

    I respect your love and respect for India. I am also not a die hard nationalist, and I know that I would still be a human being if I were born in India. But boundaries matter, once you are within them.

    A small unsolicited suggestion: why don’t you migrate to India, after all you love that country so much, even more than Nepal.

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  9. Sanjeev:

    Yes you are right, there is an ongoing conflict in Nepal but unfortunately it is not limited to Terai. There is a sense of enimosity against India and Indians residing in Nepal throughout the country, be it Jhapa, Birgunj, Janakpur, Kathmandu or any place to name it. The political leaders have feulled this animosity but not because they work for the interest of India as you mentioned. They are short sighted and easily bullied and bought by big nations – be it India or China or USA or Pakistan or any other country or an organisation or a person.

    Citizenship is not the issue that will resolve this conflict between Madhesis and Pahadiyas. The attitude has to be changed, be it Madhesi or Pahadiya. The anti Indian attitude has to be changed, be it Madhesi or Pahadiya. This will definitely resolve the conflict.

    You are true that boundaries matter, and I am proud to be born in Nepal and be called a Nepali and also to hold a Nepali Passport. Yes I love India because of its tremendous economic growth. Had I not cared about Nepal, I would not have known about this blog site, I would not have cared to even reply to your post. I love my mother nation and will put in every effort to fix things I can, be it by hook or by crook.

    And yes India is not my personal property, it belongs to the – planet earth and it is our neighbour and so is yours.

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  10. ANOTHER GOOD NEWS:

    Govt, Maoists Sign Arms Management Accord

    THT Online
    Kathmandu, November 28 – The government and Maoists today signed an agreement on management and monitoring of arms and armies of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army and the government’s Nepali Army.
    The agreement was signed after extended negotiations for the last few days in the presence of UN representatives.
    The agreement was signed between Home Minister and government talks team coordinator Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Maoist spokesperson and Maoists’ talks team coordinator Krishna Bahadur Mahara amid a press conference at around 7:15 pm at Hotel Shangri-La. A copy of the signed agreement was handed over to Jan Eric Wilhemson, military advisor to Ian Martin, the personal representative of UN secretary general to Nepal peace process. Martin will sign on the agreement after looking into legal and technical matters in it.
    The 12-page agreement, divided into seven sections details about the models, phases and other processes in arms management and monitoring. While section one talks about the models of arms management, section two details about the phases of arms management. Section three is about reporting and verification process and section four is about gathering of Maoist soldiers in cantonments. The fifth section details the process for arms monitoring, sixth section is about implementation of the accord and the last section details about the UN’s responsibilities.
    Earlier, the agreement on arms management model was delayed after the government and Maoists locked horns over the issue of military exercise by Maoist armies in camps and the number of Maoist armies to be provided for their camp security. The details of the agreement are yet to be made available to the Press as the contents were not read out at the press conference. Minister Pradip Gyawali said the copies will be distributed to the media and put into the web site. Earlier today, the tripartite team held intensive discussion on a draft of arms management model.

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  11. Bedeshi:
    Why are you in such a hurry to get your son a Nepali citizenship? So what he will need to get a visa to travel everywhere and be inspected throuhly at all the airports?

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  12. this bill really creates waves in the country
    many nepali citizens deprived of nepali citizenship will be happy with this but many are raising questions that this will pave road to make a foreigner a nepali citizen
    And giving nepali citizenship to people born before 1990 increases nepali population by 1 million among which 400000 are thought to be non-nepali
    grave thing to be thought of

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  13. Dineshji:

    Thanks for this post. This is a great decision in deed. Our country can’t continue to practice discrimination against sons of her own soil, and it was hightime we address the problem of our Madhesi population.

    No country can prosper without making its population proud of her. To develop our country, we need proud, high achieving, and hard working citizens. We need to tell our citizens that sky is the limit for all of them, and that there are no artificial barriers against them. Madhesi people are hardworking and intelligent, and we all can be very proud of them in the future.

    I have read some of biased comments here, and that is natural given the poisonous current environment in Nepal. However I know that good soul will eventually prevail. Hopefully, our children will not live in a biased and hatred filled society. The first step has been taken.

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  14. I don’t see any Indian involvement at all. This is all Nepali Politics and the bill has done immense benefit to the unity of nepal.

    Would we like to risk the popularity of people like the Madheshi Mukti Morcha by still treating people from Tarai as if they were non-nepali? The hard won peace would be shattered in no time if this bill were not passed.

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  15. Why not have open borders and welcome any people who want to be a citizen of Nepal to come here and make a living?

    Let us see how many people will apply. Consider how many people are leaving Nepal… and their reasons for doing so.

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  16. Ever since I was a child I have felt that our citizens from the Terai or madhesis as we call them have been discriminated against. They have been prevented from joining the army, government posts for them in the centre are restricted etc. Although I come from Kathmandu, I have regularly visited the south, and have always been amazed at the the work ethics of our people there. I think this citizenship act was a long time coming, too bad it came so late when according to estimates there could be up to 4 million waiting to get our citizenship.

    People talk of Indianisation due to this act, but what are we if we are’nt immigrants down the line from one region or another. Many migrated from China many many years ago but we don’t go on about Chinesesisation. Granted, the process to give the righful people the citizenship has to be as fair as possible, what with corrupt officials trying to make a quick rupee, we need monitoring teams to look at the process. On the other hand, one could question how many people who are Indian would want a Nepali citizenship?

    The fact of the matter is let us accept that there maybe 4 million Terai citizens who are going to get a citizenship, and being a citizen does not come without responsibilities of taxes, patriotism and a commitment to the laws of this nation.

    No doubt inefficieant and corrupt politicians of the bygone years are nervous, because this just increases the human resource for people who are eligible to oust them and their inefficiencies with the added competition. If we can hand citizenships to marwari buinessmen who have relatively recent migration records why not to people who have been the children of our land for much longer?

    I do agree with a comment here above though that the children of Nepali women married to foreigners should be granted citizenship through the mother no matter where they may be born. After all if we are to say women and men are equal on the eyes of our law, then we better put it to practice as well.

    We talk so much of janjatis and dalits and people being discriminated against in the political arena, if one is to really believe the words of the politicians, then talk of an Indianisation or foreignisation is to me as discriminatory against other races as the ones they claim they fight for. If Nepal is really to set an example to the rest of this world in an era of great divide, then we had better go all the way and not get stuck in a constipated state half way.

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  17. st, well said.

    You are very right that Terai people are discriminated and often referred with words like – Madhisay, Dhoti, or Made. This discrimination is not just political, it is there within every aspect of Nepali society. It will take time to change but government has to plan it out accordingly. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

    I am a third generation Marwari and hold a Nepali passport. When I was in US, I always had a feeling of being a second citizen. None cares what I do. But when I am in Nepal, my own country, words like “Muji Made”, “Muji Dhoti” are commonly heard out of small kids accompanied by their parents. I am young I dont mind, but of course it hurts when the same words come out for an elderly person.

    We in Nepal lack a basic sense of desceny for even old people who do not look typical Nepali with Mongolian looks, I guess. Old people are respected everywhere despite what they look like – Nepali, Indian, Black, White, Brown. Old people are simply old. Then why such discrimination in NEPAL.

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  18. Citizenship discrimination is not just against the Madeshi, most obviously it is against women but if you guys care to note a lot of the other non mainstream communities in Nepal have also suffered at the hands of the mainstream community bureaucrats who are responsible for handing out citizenships. The first time I went to Humla most of the locals there had the surname Lama. This was intriguing…in Nepal it is only people from the Tamang community who claim this surname and they certainly don’t come from Humla. When I asked one of the educated locals how come their surnames were all Lama, he simply replied that if they did not state this surname they would not get a citizen certificate. Same thing with a Tamang guy I knew quite well whose surname was Pakhrin-he is from Nuwakot. When he went for his citizenship cert he was told by the CDO of his area it would either have to be Tamang or Lama-Pakhrin was not acceptable. I wonder do people from the Bahun, Chettri and Newar community have this problem? We from the Kirat community don’t have too much of a problem-I wonder whether that’s because we are quite agressive and would probably cut the bureaucrat to pieces if he refused us a proper citizen cert.

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  19. Kirat.. you are right.

    It is not just against Madhisays or Terai people. Its all over and reason is curroption within the bureaucracy of our country.

    I remember soon after 1992 democracy, the then CDO had a fixed price tag for Nepali citizenship. Who ever had that amount could get it very easily.

    Everyone knows this fact but not much is done, coz everyone is involved in this racquet, from the Home Ministry in Singha Durbar to a peun in the CDOs office.

    It is pity that a nepali citizen has to bribe a fortune to get his citizenship documents and passport. Its just shameful.

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  20. Does this mean the Bhutani’s Children born in Nepal will now be Nepali and hence they are not alligible for going back to Their Homeland , is this the backdoor solution for bhutani refugee solution by INDIA . it seems so for me…

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  21. Kirat and Japali you are both right. And it is indeed sad that Japali has to hear such words. Even from kids that is totally unaccpetable! In fact it’s even worse because they will foster and develop these attitudes later on into their lives.
    I think this is also a reflection of Nepalese ‘leg pulling’ discriminatory culture. If you look closely at our language you will find so many discriminatory words. In fact we have a discriminatory word for everyone. If you have dark skin they will refer to you as “dothi” or “Madeshi” if you are fair skinned they will call you “kuirai”. If you are short they will say “bam purkei” if you are tall it’s “lambu”. It goes on and on.

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  22. St., Jhapali,Budhai
    Well said.

    I have seen in Kathmandu children addressing
    vegetable seller from Terai as MARSIA.
    Of course
    these children come from so called CIVILIZED class.

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  23. Now I came to the conclusion that Nepal is a country where the leaders are fools, stupids and rediculous. There is no point in discussing any political issues in a blog. All the people are aligned with one party or other even the intellectuals. There is no any single person who has nuetral or impartial views of pro Nepal nature. All are servants of one leader or another e.g.lawyers, journalists,police, army, civil servants etc. So the country is completely devided. I am saying good bye to everybody. Chiao

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  24. I really could not help coming back again to thank Mr. Satya Mohan Joshi and his 13 colleagues for selecting the beautiful National Anthem.If we do everywork like this way, our country will be really develop. “Vyakul Maila”- Mr. Dil Kumar Rai is the person who was selected by means of impartiality.This is the way we need to work. best people should selected in every field to develop our beloved country.

    Fianl Chiao.

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  25. sathi haru.. yettika barsa samma bharat ko daupech ma muchiyera sansaikai sabai bhada garib muluk ka jant aharu bhayera bachnu bhadna ta aaba bharat mai samahit huna thik hola.. Bharat ko swarth ale garda hamro simana michiraheko chha… hamro jagga ma dam banayera dubaiyeko chha.. tara hamra neta haru le..say hami le..kinaki ti neta haru are supposed to represent us.. kehi garna sakenau.. yadi hami sikkim jastai bharat ma milyou bhane hamra manchhe haru lai chimeki le badh banauda ghar dubla ki bhanne ta chinta hudaina.. aakhir swatantra nepal bata hami janata ko lagi ke bhayo ra… sikkim ma herne ho bhane.. 1975 bata kati bhayeko chha… measurable chaina…

    sikkim bharat ko north east ko sabai bhanda wel developed state bhayeko chha.. teha ka janta haru le sukh subidha payeka chhan..

    aakhir des bataa hami le asha garne bhaneko facilities ho,identity ho.. nepal bata hami le kehi payenau..kinaki bharat le tyo kahile pani hunadine chaina..ra hami haru le suffer garirahanu parnechha… practicaally hami delhi batai ruled ta chhau ni feri.. baru sikkim jastai india ko banne ho bhane at least hamro mugu ma bato banda south block ko rejection le govtle fund cancel ta gardaina..

    Malai RAW agent bhannu hola….. je nai bhannu hos..tara sakni hunchhabhane nepali janta lai rahat milne aaru kehi practical upaye dekhaunuhos…

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  26. jhapali and bibas Nepali
    well said.

    I am from Janakpur and i have gone through all the feeling discussed in words here. i just want to make my janakpur Visible from moon. and that is what i want and i dream and i will do that before I die. what ever a lot these undeveloped and short sighted pahadies (this does not imply to all, some of them had good knowledge of this earth and fair political policies and also of who and what they are) or these government. for this whatever i have to do no worries, i would put every single drop of my blood if my construction lack water. I wont try to establish a respect in Pahadies to madhesies, since I only bother preaching the one who’s knowledge is worth this human civilization not just a part of this Eco-system. and one with better know how of world. Yout may say me i am getting constricted to my place Janakpur, It is only because i want u too to be so constricted with obsessive passion.

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  27. Dear All.

    I wish to have some suggestions. I am Indian National (Mukesh, male) and married a Nepali national on 22nd. June.’03 in Delhi. My wife belongs to Medical Profession(MBBS) and she is neither able to work here within Indian Medical Institutions/Colleges/Hospitals nor apply for POST GRADUATE Medical examination(DNB – CET, etc.) studies. Medical Council of India – Delhi treats her still as a FOREIGN NATIONAL and refuses to give a REGISTRATION NUMBER to practice/study in India. MCI or Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) doesn’t think to bring seperate law both for FOREIGN NATIONAL or FOREIGN NATIONAL married to an Indian citizen rather considering same in both case. How could such a bad, a law would be when it fails to define Legal things as per requirements or situations. Don’t people of India feel or know that Constitution speaks of amendement of Laws as need comes but still why it doesn’t happen ?

    A Foreign National married to an Indian Nationals should be liable to avail all facilities as per Indian Constitution under limitations being defined until unless complete citizenship is not granted.

    We follow USA Consitution and UK Parliament Act System, but in USA when a FOREIGN NATIONAL is married to US citizen they are liable to have all facilities restricting to few only from the day of marriage, so why can’t Indian Constitution provide?

    I am much aware that Laws should/has been defined but people never think of taking the pain to implement it nor think of amending it.

    Probably, Law must have been defined for acquiring citizenship for people from countries like Nepal, Burma, SAARC countries but can we open and think to make it enforced for betterment of people.

    Union Public Service Commision(UPSC) does recognises citizen of Nepal & Burma to appear for UPSC examination, so why can’t provilege be given to person from these countires when they are married to an Indian National.

    Looking forward some positiveness.

    BR

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