In an effort to reduce tensions between their two nations, Nepalis and Indians come at a border point to hoist their national flags, sing their national songs and pay respect to their martyrs. But Indian Border Security Force’s harassment continues in eastern border (see box)
By Janak Nepal
Flags were hoisted, national anthems sung and tributes paid to martyrs of both countries—Nepal and India— in no-man’s land at Jamunaha border point near the Nepali town of Nepalgunj on Saturday (30 Jan) for a reason. The people from the two countries exchanged roses in a show of friendship and harmony.
Finally, the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu last week did what he was primarily supposed to do: promote his country rather than poking his nose into internal affairs of the hosts. “Some people talk about possible Biharisation of Nepal,” Rakesh Sood reportedly said at a programme organised to mark his country’s Republic Day in the Nepali capital on Jan. 26. “But look at Bihar, the economic growth there has crossed 11 percent.” The ambassador blamed Nepal for its growing trade deficit with India, arguing that market was of no use if there’s no production. He might be correct in his assessment. But I wondered how Prachanda and his company took the statement that came as a response to the Maoist’s ‘we don’t need Bihari-style republic [that rest of the parties and India want to impose] in Nepal’ rhetoric.
Why blame only the Maoists? For many in South Asia, the Indian state of Bihar is synonymous with lawlessness, poverty and underdevelopment. Not only in Nepal but in India too, I have found, the word Bihar(i) is taken as a mark of insult and humiliation. I have met many Biharis who hesitate to identify themselves as Biharis, including those who are highly educated. The problem is with the image of Bihar that was largely shaped by the politicians who ruled the state until 2004. Since, with Nitish Kumar assuming Chief Minister-ship, that rusty image has slowly been changing. Continue reading Nepali Maoists and Bihari Republic→