All posts by Siromani Dhungana

I am a Kathmandu-based economic journalist (currently with The Himalayan Times), researcher and lecturer of Journalism and Mass Communication at Tribhuvan University. I have also been appointed by the Ministry of Education’s Curriculum Development Center to revise the journalism syllabus for grade nine and ten as well as to rewrite journalism textbooks for the secondary level.

Did India deceive or did Madhesi Morcha misunderstand?

Five Madhesi Morcha Leaders with Bihar (India) politician Lalu Yadav at his residence (Picture: Kantipur)

While talking for about an hour in Anamnagar, the leader’s two mobile phones rang continuously. He mostly ignored the calls, but when he did pick any one up, he would answer with exasperation, “Please wait a few days. We will sit and take a joint decision.”

The end of Srawan (mid-August) is the deadline for renewing government licenses, factory registrations and the like. By that time, the Morcha had already started its protests against the constitution-writing and federal demarcation. The Government offices in the Madhes plains were closed, making it impossible to renew any document. The cadre and supporters have been pestering the harried leaders to get the Government to cancel the fines slapped in the intervening six months.

Then there are the ordinary citizens, who have nothing more than their lives, their families and children, and perhaps a little plot of land. Among them, there are many who have been maimed or disabled. The Morcha does not have a count of how many died or were wounded during the movement.

The leader said, “If the talks (with the Government) had reached a certain point, we would have been in a position to make strong demands on all these matters. But right now, our self-esteem does not allow us to approach the Government. After all, we are in a movement.”

A general strike had been called in the plains by the Federal Inclusive Mahdesi Alliance on 15 August and by the Madhesi Morcha on 16 August. When the Constitution was promulgated on 20 September disregarding the Morcha’s displeasure and hectic Indian lobbying, India decided on its own to stop the transport of petroleum from the border points into Nepal.

[Related: A controlled Indian blockade on Nepal (BBC Report) ]

After India started the blockade on 22 September, the Front felt pressured to act. In informal meetings, India asked the Madhesi Morcha leaders to formally declare the blockade.

“The fact is, in earlier meetings we had ourselves suggested obstructing the border after violence escalated (against) Madhes. We had even gone to Raxaul to ask Indian officials to prevent passage of goods,” said one Morcha leader. “At first, the Indians did not come forward, fearing financial loss. Later, it was they who forced us to take the formal decision to blockade.”

A debate ensued among the Morcha members at the Rajbiraj meeting, which got extended. The meeting ultimately declared the blockade on 24 September, but by then transport of petroleum products had already been halted (by India) at all border points.

Leaders of Madhesi Morcha (Picture: Kantipur)
Leaders of Madhesi Morcha (Picture: Kantipur)

By the time of the Chhat festival, all the transit points had been closed, barring some consignments of fruits and grain that were allowed across. Thereafter, however, only the Birganj-Raxaul transit point was completely blocked while the others were all open.

Today, the Morcha’s senior leaders are pained to ask, “Why did India, after urging us to declare the blockade, proceed so enthusiastically on its own to lift it.”

[Related: Debunking Dr. Karan Singh’s misinformed comments on Nepal at Indian Rajya Sabha]

The second-rung leadership of the Morcha is even more confused: “At the Bijuli Bazaar meeting in the middle of January, our senior leaders had already announced that they would change the nature of the movement after 1 February. So why did India deceive our leaders? Or did our leaders fail to understand India’s suggestion.”

The ongoing turbulence within the Morcha today is the result of India’s diplomatic carelessness, maintains a leader of Sadbhavana Party. He is also perplexed as to why India opened all the other border points and kept only Birganj blocked for such a long time.

The Morcha has come out with its new schedule of protests, but they seem merely symbolic. Meanwhile, differences within the Morcha are escalating. On 3 February, TMLP Chair Mahanta Thakur went to stage a sit-in at the Miteri Bridge on the Birganj-Raxaul border, together with Vice-Chair Brishesh Chandra Lal and General Secretary Jitendra Sonal. There, Thakur said the blockade would continue.

[Related: India puts Nepal on Ventilator Support by blockading the country’s imports (BBC Report)]

The Sadbhavana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato arrived in Biratnagar the next day, on 4 February, and proclaimed there was no logic in keeping Birganj closed. This created a furor within the Morcha. When in a 8 February meeting the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Chair Upendra Yadav and TMLP leaders demanded that Mahato retract his statement, the latter staged a walk out. He has since threatened to start his own grand coalition or front.

TMLP’s Sonal said he did not believe Mahato would be able to start an independent front. He said, “We have asked him to correct himself and join the common platform. He has yet to announce his plans. Meanwhile, we will analyse the situation gravely and go before the people.”

Sadbhavana Party General Secretary Manish Kumar Suman said that while there were some misunderstandings within the Morcha, his party would not be diverted from the movement. Even though there is propaganda that the blockade was conducted by India, he claimed that in reality it was the Morcha’s doing.

[Related: Nepal- Madhesi groups have the highest representation in government jobs]

Said Suman, “If the border sit-in and general strike has benefited the Madhesi people, we will get the credit. If it has done harm, we will have to accept the blame. Why talk of others? There is no need to feel disheartened for having lifted the blockade. We should not forget that the other leaders had already announced their intention to change the nature of the movement before Sadbhavana’s Rajendra Mahato spoke up.”

आफ्नै छोराछोरीलाई ‘ठूलो रक्तपात’मा होम्ने ताकत छ संग्रौलाजी ?

पारु लिम्बु
युडब्ल्युबी/गेस्ट ब्लग

Popular writer Khagendra Sangraula saying there will be a bloodbath without an autonomous Limbuwan province. Paru Limbu challenges him to shed the blood of his own family and asks Sangraula not to entice violence from ordinary Limbus.

सामाजिक सञ्जाल पनि बडो अनौठो लाग्छ । यसो केही लेख्यो प्रतिक्रियाहरु थुप्रिने । तर आधिकारीक भने नहुने ।

प्रगतिशील भनिएका लेखक खगेन्द्र संग्रौलाको झण्डै ३ महिना पहिला छापिएको एउटा अन्तर्वार्ता आँखामा ठोकिन आईपुग्यो । अन्तर्वार्ताको हेडलाईन थियोः “लिम्बुवान स्वायत्तता नभए ठुलो रक्तपात हुन्छ˝ । अन्तर्वार्ता पढ्नासाथ मेरो मनमा थुप्रै प्रश्नहरु ओहिरिए ।

कति सजिलोसँग हिंसाको लागि उकास्न सकेका यी मनुवाले भन्ने । अर्कोतर्फ फेरी यही हेडलाईन मनमा खेलाएँ र सम्झिँएः के यो अभिव्यक्ति हिंसाको पुजारी बाहेक सामान्य मानिसले दिन सक्छ? अझै गहिरो प्रश्नः ठुलो रक्तपातको लागि त रगत बगाउनुपर्छ । रगत कसले बगाउने? संग्रौला परिवारले? के संगौला परिवार रगत बगाउन तयार छ? के होसहवास् मै यस्तो बोले त खगेन्द्र संग्रौलाले?

यसपछि मेरो मनमा थप प्रश्नहरु उठ्दै गए । संग्रौलाजी जस्तो “आर्दशवादी” व्यक्तिले आफू र आफ्नो परिवारलाई रक्तपातमा नहोमी लिम्बुलाई रक्तपातमा होमिन कसरी आव्हान गरे होलान र?

यस विषयमा जान्ने इच्छा तिव्र भयो र मैले संगौलाजीलाई प्रत्यक्ष सम्बोधन गरेर ट्विट गरेँः तपाँई उग्र क्रान्तिकारी भएकोले सबैले सोधिरहेका छन्ः तपाईँका सबै सन्तान यहि देशमा छन्? की अमेरिका युरोपमा? जवाफ दिनुस है मान्यबर ।

ट्विटगर्ना साथ टिवटे प्रतिक्रिया शुरु भयो । मोटामोटी रुपमा ट्विटमा (टाईमलाईन र डिएम)मा के कस्ता प्रतिक्रिया प्राप्त भए भन्ने म यसरी प्रस्तुत गर्न अनुमति चाहन्छु:

तपाईँका सन्तानहरु विदेशतिर छन् । तपाईँ पनि केही समय अमेरिकातिर बस्नुभएको थियो । त्यता बस्न गाह्रो भएर नेपाल नै फर्कनु भयो । तपाईँले छोरा विदेश गएपछिको दशैंमा दशैंको प्रतिकात्मक महत्व दर्शाउँदै छोराछोरी विना दशैं मनाउन पर्दाको पीडा समेटेर लेख लेख्नुभएको छ ।

कतिपयले भने तपाईँको उमेर पुगेका छोराछोरीको उनीहरु अनुकुल जीवन बिताउनु अधिकार हो । यसमा सार्वजनिक बहस जरुरी छैन । भन्ने प्रतिक्रिया पनि व्यक्त गरे ।

म व्यक्तिगत रुपमा तपाईँको छोराछोरीको गोपनियताको हकको उच्च सम्मान गर्दछु र यो देशका हरेक बयश्क नागरिकले आफ्नो व्यक्तिगत निर्णय गर्न स्वतन्त्र छ भन्ने पनि विश्वास गर्दछु ।

सँगै म सम्झन्छु माहात्मा गान्धीलाई । उनी भन्दथे जुन कुरा तिमि तिम्रो जिवनमा लागु गर्न सक्दैनौं त्यो कुरा अरु व्यक्तिमा लाद्नु ठिक होइन । उनी यतिसम्म आदर्शवादी थिए की आफूले चीनी खान छोड्न नसक्दासम्म गाउँका बालबालिकालाई चीनी धेरै खान हुन्न भन्ने अनुरोध समेत गरेनन् । अर्थात आफुले नै कार्यान्वयन गर्न नसक्ने आदर्श अरुलाई सुनाउन हुन्न भन्ने ठान्दथे गान्धी ।

ठुलो रक्तपात भन्ने शब्दले बोकेको अर्थ के हो पक्कै थाहा पाएर नै तपाईँले अन्तर्वार्ता दिनुभयो होला । रक्तपातको “आदर्श” छाँट्नु अघि तपाईँले एकपटक आफ्नो छोराछोरीको रगत बगे के हुन्छ भन्ने कल्पना गर्नुभयो? की तपाईँलाई कथित प्रगतिशील र क्रान्तिकारी बनाईदिन जनताका छोराछोरीले मात्र रगत बगाउनुपर्ने हो?

यदी म तपाईँकी छोरी भईदिएको भए निश्चय नै भन्ने थिएँः बाबा सोझा जनतालाई रगत बनाउन आव्हान गरिएका विचार छाड्नुहोस् । तपाईँ आफ्नै सन्तानका अनुहार सम्झेर भएपनि मर्ने र मार्ने कामको वकालत छाड्नुहोस ।

मलाई आशा छ तपाईँको छोराछोरीले पनि तपाईँलाई यो अनुरोध गर्नुभएको छ । तपाईँको छोराछोरीलाई यो महसुस पक्कै होला की यो देशमा “ठुलो रक्तपात” हुँदा साना मान्छेहरु अर्थात गरिब मान्छेहरु नै मारमा पर्दछन । उनीहरु जस्ता सयौं छोराछोरीहरुको विचल्लि हुन्छ । ज्यान जान्छ ।

गोपनियताको हकको सम्मान गर्दै, व्यक्तिगत प्रश्न भएकोमा माफी माग्दै म नम्रतापुर्वक प्रश्न गर्न चाहन्छु कृपया एकपटक आफ्नै छोराछोरीलाई सोध्नुहोस्ः मैले गरेको ठुलो रक्तपातको आव्हान कसको लागि हो? यसले सोझा जनताका छोराछोरीको हित गर्छ ? गरिब लिम्बुहरुको हीतमा छ ठुलो रक्तपात?

संग्रौलाजी काठमाडौं निर्मम छ । निर्दयी छ । टाठाबाठा बाहुनक्षेत्री र टाठाबाठा जनजाती नेताहरुको एकता छ । हिजोका शाषकका सन्तानहरुसँग केही टाठाबाठा जनजाती नेताको मुद्धाहरुमा एकता जस्तो देखिन्छ । खास त्यो स्वार्थको एकता हो । धनी र शाषक बाहुन र धनी र अग्रभागमा रहेका अन्य जातजातीको मिलोमतो छ । टाठाबाठा बाहुनलाइ गरिब बाहुनको सत्तोसराप गरेर “प्रगतिशील/क्रान्तिकारी” देखिनु छ भने टाठाबाठा जनजाती नेताहरुलाई पनि टाठाबाठा बाहुनको समर्थनमा मुलधारमा उपस्थिति देखाउनु छ । तपाईंकै दर्शनमा हिजो देशका गरिबलाइ चुसेर पढेकाहरु आज अचानक “क्रान्तिकारी” हुनु कत्तिको प्राकृतिक हो? आफैं बुझ्नुहोला ।

सबै क्षेत्रीबाहुन शाषक हुन भने तपाईँ पनि शाषक नै हो नी होईन र? सबै क्षेत्रीबाहुन शोषक हुन भने तपाईँ पनि शोषक नै हो नी हैन र? की तपाईँजस्तो बिचार राख्ने बाहुन मात्रै “प्रगतिशील” र फरक विचार राख्ने गाउँको हली पनि सामन्त हो र? गोलमोटोल शब्द प्रयोग गरेर धनी बाहुन र वास्तविक शाषकहरुको चाकडी र गरिब पहाडे बाहुनलाई सत्तोसराप गर्नुको फाईदा के?

संग्रौलाजी तपाईँको जस्तो लामो अनुभव त मेरो छैन । कहिलेकाँही सुन्थे तपाईँ बामपन्थी विश्लेषक हो भन्ने । वामपन्थि विश्लेषकले वर्गको कुरा कस्तो भुलेको?

वर्गको कुरा भुल्नुस ठिक छ । तर जातजातिकोबीचमा फाटो ल्याउने काम नगर्नु होला । हरेक पटक बोल्दा सम्झने गर्नुस तपाईँका छोराछोरी र अरु बाआमाको छोराछोरीको जीवनको मुल्य बराबर होईन र?

अन्तमा, व्यक्तिगत टिकाटिप्पणी हुन पुगेको भए माफ पाउँ। अप्रिय र बिझ्ने शब्द परेको भए नि माफ पाउँ। यो मेरो व्यक्तिगत भावना हो। तपाईंको छोराछोरीको उदाहरण प्रस्तुत गरे पनि म वहाँहरुले यो देशका आम मानिसका छोराछोरीले जस्तो द्वन्द र हिंसा भोग्न नपरोस भन्ने कामना गर्दछु।

(हाल: लाहान)

#Nepal: Madhesi groups have the highest representation in government jobs

The dominant narrative promoted by a section of ethno-centric activists and intellectuals is that Nepali civil service is dominated by Hill Bahun/Kshetri and that the Madhesis are excluded and underrepresented.

This is the mixture of lies and half truth. A comprehensive research considering caste, ethnic and gender dimensions of Nepali society shows a different picture. The Nepal Social Inclusion Survey 2012 (NSIS) ranks different caste groups of Nepal on the basis of their representation in government services in proportion to the size of their population.

[Added on 21st December for clarity: the research states, “on the basis of percent of households with access to government jobs”. See Note below for more]

[Additional Note on 22nd December: The second picture below is a ranking based on representation compared to the size of population. The table is from the same study. The first chart is based on percent of households.]

Three high-caste Madhesi groups are at the top of this list.

Population groups by access to government jobs. Madhesi groups are ranked higher than others.
Population groups by access to government jobs. Madhesi groups are ranked higher than others.

[Related: The findings of the report were also published in Nepali in Setopati.निजामती सेवामा सबैभन्दा बढी प्रतिनिधित्व राजपूत, कायस्थ र तराई ब्राम्हण]


Top 10 ethnic groups over-represented in Nepali civil service when compared to their share of population. Madhesi groups rank at the top. Picture source: Setopati [Picture added on 22nd December].

The study reveals that some Madhesi communities: Rajput, Kayastha and Tarai Bahun have more representation in Government jobs than their share of population and are among the top seven most represented population groups of Nepal. Among the top seven ethnic communities, only two are Hill (Pahadi) communities. The remaining are Madhesi groups.

“The Madhesi B/C [Bahun/Kshetri] has the highest percentage (29.1%) in government jobs, which is followed by the Newar (26.3%), Hill Chhetri (21.5%) and Hill Brahmin (15.8%).” The findings of the multidimensional study state, “Dalits, including Madhesi and other caste groups, are well below the average.”

The study very specifically points out that Halkhor and Dom, two other Madhesi groups (ranked at positions 1 and 3), are mostly involved in public services of a low level (cleaning jobs). This suggests that other groups at the top level, including the Madhesi groups like Kayastha, Terai Brahmin, and Rajput do not share such characteristic.

It is important to remember that Madhesi (representing 20% of Nepal’s population) is not a single homogeneous population group. There are huge disparities within different Madhesi communities and their levels of progress. Several Madhesi groups (like Dalits) are among the most backward and disadvantaged in Nepal. At the same time, several other Madhesi groups (like Madhesi Brahmins, Kayasthas, Rajputs) are ahead of all other ethnic groups in Nepal in terms of Human Development Index (HDI), education, wealth, access to government services and opportunities.

[Related: Debunking Dr. Karan Sinsh’s misinformed comments on Nepal in the Indian Parliament]

Top ten ethnic groups in Nepal based on access to government jobs. Three Madhesi groups (Kayastha, Terai Brahman and Rajput are ahead of Hill groups like Chhetri (ranked 10) and Hill Brahman (ranked 14).
Top ten ethnic groups in Nepal based on access to government jobs. Three Madhesi groups (Kayastha, Terai Brahman and Rajput are ahead of Hill groups like Chhetri (ranked 10) and Hill Brahman (ranked 14).

The study reports that Hill Dalits, which is a broad group, are in the lowest position and Muslims only slightly above them.

NSIS shows that there is no domination of a single caste in Nepali civil service. Out of 98 individual caste groups covered by the survey, 20 castes have more representation in civil service than their shares of population.

According to the study, “Government jobs” covers employment by the government at both the national and local levels, according to the survey. “At the local level, it covers jobs in VDCs, municipalities, DDCs and other government line agencies. However, the level of job is not specified, therefore, including all levels from sweepers to officers.”

It is important to understand whether there is inclusion in government employment, because it is one of the pertinent institutions for governance, the survey states. The study was carried out by Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology of Tribhuvan University and published in March 2014.  It was funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy (RNE) in Nepal through Social Inclusion Research Fund (SIRF)/SNV. The list of people who led the study can be seen in the picture below.

The team behing the research
The team behing the research


Note (Added 21st Dec 2015):

The study cited in this post is based on the number of households having access to government jobs. Our initial post missed this detail. All questions regarding the study and methodology should be directed to the concerned research teams. For more clarity, we are adding some statistics of some ethnic groups below.

According to the Population Census of Nepal 2011, average household sizes for some ethnic groups are:
Kayastha 5.1, Madhesi Brahman 5.1, Rajput 4.1, Thakuri 4.9, Newar 4.5, Chhetree 4.7, Hill Brahmin 4.2.

The Human Development Index (HDI) values (published by UNDP) for some ethnic groups are: Hill Brahman 0.557, Hill Chhetri 0.507, Madhesi Brahman/Chhetri (includes Rajput and Kayastha) 0.536, Madhesi Other Castes 0.460, Newar 0.565. The chart is included below for reference.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 10.19.01
Human Development Index (HDI) values by major caste and ethnic groups of Nepal (2011, UNDP). Madhesi Brahmin, Rajput and Kayastha are included as “Madhesi Brahman/Chhetri”.

#IndiaBlockadesNepal: A serious humanitarian crisis Looms over Nepal: WFP

WFP Release: Nepal: Extreme Hardship Expected To Worsen As Food Prices Soar

KATHMANDU – Major disruptions in food and fuel imports across its southern border with India have severely affected Nepal’s supplies and caused a worrying increase in food prices, says the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

A border blockade to protest Nepal’s new constitution began in September. Trade has now slowed to a trickle in the landlocked country, causing a food and fuel shortage that is in its third month. With Nepal heavily dependent on imports, especially from India, severe shortages are now being felt in local markets. The cost of some basic food staples, such as cooking oil, rice, lentils, sugar and salt have soared in recent weeks as supplies dwindle.

“If trade remains restricted and food prices continue to rise, a serious humanitarian crisis will be hard to avoid,” said David Kaatrud, WFP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

“People are struggling to feed their families as the cost of food rises beyond their grasp. Coming so soon after the recent earthquake, this crisis could severely test people’s ability to cope, and may lead to an increase in malnutrition.”

On average, the prices of lentils, pulses and cooking oil have increased by more than 30 percent since August and more than 50 percent since last year. In remote areas, including parts of the country worst hit by the 25 April earthquake and aftershocks, the price of food commodities has increased even further, doubling in some cases. For example, in Gorkha, a community close to the earthquake epicenter, a 25 kg sack of rice now costs 5,000 Nepali Rupees (US$46.80) – up from 2,500 Rupees (US$23.40) before the blockade. The price of cooking oil and sugar has also doubled in the town.

At the same time, the price of fuel has sky rocketed across the country. The cost of refilling a cylinder of cooking gas has increased from 1,500 Nepali rupees (US$14.00) before the blockade to between 8,000 and 11,000 rupees (US$75 and US$102) today, an increase of as much as 630 percent.

“WFP urges all sides to once again allow the free flow of food items across the border to ensure that Nepalis, especially those who struggle on a day-to-day basis to feed their families, are not the ones who bear the burden of this protracted political stand-off,” said Kaatrud.

A quarter of people in Nepal live on less than US$1.25* a day, and on average spend 60 percent of their income on food. This means that most have only a limited capacity to cope with shocks such as disasters and soaring food prices.

Last month, WFP warned that the fuel shortage caused by the border blockages was hampering earthquake relief efforts. There have been severe delays in WFP efforts to provide food assistance to more than 224,000 earthquake-affected people. WFP has only been able to deliver one-third of food supplies earmarked for distribution by the end of the year. The delivery of non-food items, such as medicine and shelter material for winter, has also been severely affected by the dispute.

#NepalConstitution Guarantees Basic Rights that We Esteem in #Europe: German Ambassador

The constitution which has been adopted by almost 90 % of the deputies is a big success and a proof that after years of conflict and struggle, the way to a new and modern society is paved. The constitution comprises all basic rights which we in Europe esteem essential for a free and democratic society. Nepal can be proud of this document which symbolizes a cornerstone in its development.

How do you see the current situation in Nepal following the promulgation of new constitution?

Photo: Spotlight news magazine

First of all allow me to congratulate Nepal for the promulgation of its new constitution. The constitution which has been adopted by almost 90 % of the deputies is a big success and a proof that after years of conflict and struggle, the way to a new and modern society is paved. The constitution comprises all basic rights which we in Europe esteem essential for a free and democratic society. Nepal can be proud of this document which symbolizes a cornerstone in its development. Unfortunately, there seems to be a deficit in communicating its substance to the people. In my eyes, there is a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding about some of its articles. Moreover, as someone who has studied law, I can assure you that in the years to come, many of the clauses will be reviewed and clearly defined by the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court. There will be, as well, amendments of the constitution in future according to the needs of the society. It needs responsible political leadership to communicate this to the minds of the people instead of allowing the spread of rumors that create an atmosphere of public confusion.

As an Ambassador to this country I can assure you I would be happy if more would be done to inform the broader public about rights and duties of the new constitution and I appeal all relevant parties, after three months of different forms of protests, to reach a political compromise and bring an end to the ongoing horrible crisis.

People have already suffered too much, particularly all those who were affected by the heavy earthquake and are still fully dependent on support from the outside world. The present situation with its strangulation of people in need, children, elderly people and those living under harsh conditions in the mountains is showing signs of a violation of human rights.

With the promulgation of the new constitution, there is unrest in Madhes with border blockade; the supply of essential commodities is negatively affected, which is developing into a major humanitarian crisis. How do you look at it?

From my point of view, there is no doubt that the international community should raise its voice to prevent a major humanitarian crisis which will go beyond the suffering of the people after the heavy earthquakes in April/May. The borders to India must be opened as soon as possible to allow in medical supplies and shelters needs for the people living under critical conditions. By opening the borders, the transport sector of the country which has almost come to a complete stop because of the shortage of fuel, should start activities again and secure distribution of all essential goods to the people in need. It cannot be accepted that suffering people are held hostage in the name of a future design of the country. I’m very worried about the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable people of Nepal.

As Federal Republic of Germany has been supporting institution building at Municipal and VDC level for last many years, do you have any plans to support developing provincial institutions in the present context?

I really hope that the ongoing supply crisis will end soon and leaders will thereafter focus more on reconstruction of the country and implementation of its constitution. Both efforts will show if Nepal will be capable of proceeding to a brighter future and safeguard stability. Institutions will have to be strengthened; there should be more delegation of decision-making processes. Nepal needs a service-oriented administration; wide-spread practice of immunity for misbehavior on all levels of the society should end. This requires a strong and independent justice system.

Regarding your question on a possible support to the development of provincial institutions, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that a federal system in its true sense needs a sound foundation of well-functioning municipalities. It is the municipalities to which citizens have the closest and direct contact with administrative structures. It is the municipalities from which citizens expect the best services for their daily needs such as access to water, waste and waste water treatment, health care, school facilities and much more. These services can be replaced neither by provincial nor by federal authorities. It is therefore obvious that first of all administrative structures on municipality level must be strengthened so that they can operate to everybody’s satisfaction.

In my eyes, a federal system finds its justification only if it leads to an improvement of services to citizens. The functions of provinces are focusing more on rules and regulations of regional matters. There is less direct contact of provincial authorities with citizens, same as for federal institutions. Therefore I’m convinced that the process of implementing federalism into the Nepalese environment could only and should start with all kinds of support for the municipalities. Since Germany and Nepal have a longstanding cooperation in support of institution building at municipal and VDC level, there is every reason to look into continuing this support.

As the new constitution demands new institutions and new legal system for its implementation, what do you suggest?

In discussions a team of German experts recently had with representatives of Nepalese authorities involved in the process of implementation of the new constitution, the focus was on three fields of possible support from our side: support of the legislative process, training of judicial staff and advisory services for establishing well-functioning administrative structures. The German IRZ, Institute for Judicial Cooperation, will be in charge of defining future projects in shaping new federal structures. There might be as well support for training facilities for trainers of administrative personnel. For the time being we have not yet concluded specific projects of cooperation but we are preparing them in the near future.

One of the problems in Nepal is the weak institutions at all levels. How is the German experience in this, from which Nepal can benefit?

Weak institutions are an obstacle for the development of a country. Progress and success of a society very much depends on qualified staff on all levels of the administration, on a set-up of rules and regulations understood and respected by the majority of people and a clearly defined mechanism for self-rule and availability of financial resources on municipal level. These are some of the most important sectors for stabilizing a country bottom-up.

Federal Republic of Germany has been providing much needed support to earthquake victims, how do you support in the post reconstruction phase of build back better?

The German Government has supported Nepal from the very beginning after the earthquake. In addition to 5 Million Euro humanitarian aid, amounts of 30 Million Euro for recovery and rehabilitation- on top of our ongoing bilateral programs- have been granted. Our rehabilitation support will mainly focus on three districts: Nuwakot, Dhading and Rasuwa and support primarily the health and energy sectors. We will, for example, ensure the reconstruction of several district hospitals and construct more than 40 health posts. We have also agreed to rehabilitate the central Load Dispatch Centre in Kathmandu and will work on the repair and extension of electrify transmission lines in quake-hit areas. For the past six months, we have also supported shelter and immediate needs of affected communities. Now it is important to move from recovery towards long-term rehabilitation.

As the Reconstruction Authority is yet to establish, has it made any difference in implementing the projects?

German Development Cooperation focuses its recovery and rehabilitation programs on those sectors in which we have been engaged in for a long time, such as health and energy. Hence, we have been fortunate to benefit from already-existing partnerships and networks. This has allowed us to deliver faster than others and to effectively support the people in need immediately after the earthquakes happened. However, the lack of an effective coordination mechanism and the lack of GoN guidelines for the reconstruction process severely limit the impact of what the international support could achieve. It is urgent that the authorities in Nepal step up efforts to put in place the institutional framework for a coordinated, accountable and effective reconstruction process. Otherwise, “Build Back Better” will remain only a slogan and the lessons learned from the recent disaster might quickly be forgotten.


Is Germany providing additional support to Nepal along with regular programs?

The commitments made for recovery and rehabilitation after the earthquakes came on top of our ongoing programs and will be implemented mainly in three of the earthquake-affected districts as I have already stated. At the same time, it is important for us to maintain our existing projects in the energy, health and economic development sectors with a geographical focus on the Mid and Far West.

What are the priority areas for German support in the context when Nepal has been facing a lot of challenges like poverty, food insecurity, climate change and disasters?

With the current priorities of Nepal-German Development Cooperation (health, renewable energy / energy efficiency and economic development and trade), we hope to contribute to addressing these problems and challenges that are most pressing for Nepal’s development. The ultimate goal of all our programs is poverty reduction and a more sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development of the country. Let me take the example of our long-standing support for renewable energies and energy efficiency in Nepal: progress in these areas translates both into positive social and economic impacts, while at the same time also addressing the issue of climate change.

(Courtesy: Keshab Poudel, Editor, Spotlight magazine)



#IndiaBlockadesNepal: UN aid agencies & partners appeal for access to life-saving medical supplies

Millions of children at risk this winter due to severe shortage of essential supplies, UNICEF warns
Ban expresses concern over blocking of essential supplies on Nepal-India border

4d544f5c-91c6-499c-8909-684687524e35.jpgUnited Nations agencies and their aid partners based in Kathmandu have expressed their deepest concern over critical and growing shortages of lifesaving medicines and supplies across Nepal.

The agencies urged all sides to address restrictions on the import and free movement of essential supplies including vaccines, drugs and other medical goods as a means of respecting and facilitating the human rights to access quality health care services.

“The health and humanitarian implications of the present scenario are grave,” reads a joint statement by World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Department for International Development (DFID), German Development Cooperation (GDC, GIZ, KfW), and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

“In recognition of the right to timely access to quality health care services, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and as detailed in the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment No. 14 on the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, we emphasize the seriousness of the present situation and its humanitarian implications,” the statement said.



Know Your Country(#Nepal) And about Its Diverse 125 Social & Ethnic Groups

Vol 1: Population Dynamics:…/Population%20Monograph%20of%20Nepal%202…
Vol 2: Social Demography:…/Popula…/Population%20Monograph%20V02.pdf
Vol 3: Economic Demography:…/Popula…/Population%20Monograph%20V03.pdf

(Originally posted as facebook status by Dr Swarnim Wagle)

#Nepal: A Big NO to Caste, Ethnicity, Religion-based Federalism

Mitra Pariyar

The Nepalese Government MUST NOT accept the type of caste-, ethnicity- or region-based federalism – despite the continued protests by Madhesis with direct support from the Hindu extremist Modi Government of India. Such a long Indian blockade has not been easy, but we should not sow the seeds for further ethnic/caste violence in the future by accepting the demand of a few parties representing the south/South.

धन्यवाद माओवादी! तिमीले सुरु गरेको जातिवादी राजनीति र हिंशाले कालान्तरमा देशै टुक्रने पो हो कि भन्ने खतरा बढेर गएको छ। तात्कालिन सत्तास्वार्थका निम्ती सबै जातिलाई राज्य दिन्छु भन्दै हिंड्ने र अनेक मोर्चा निर्माण गर्ने गर्दा आज सिंगो मधेस र देशको स्थिती यहाँ अाइपुग्यो। र यो सारा चिज समिक्षा गर्ने, मुल्यांकन गर्ने र आवश्यक परे क्षमायाचना गर्ने हिम्मत यिनमा छ? के कुनै वाद वा विचारको नाममा देशै टुक्र्याउन पाईन्छ? अझ यसको जिम्मेवार बौद्दिक नेता झन नयाँँ शक्ति भनेर सर्लक्क पाखा लागेका छन र अझै जातीय द्वन्द फैलाउने उद्देश्य राखेका छन्। के नेपाल भट्टराईको प्रयोगशाला र मानव बधशाला बनिरहने हो? भट्टराईहरूले जति नेपालमा अरु कुनै पनि तानाशाहले हत्या हिंशा मच्चाएको रिकर्ड छैन, राष्ट्रको संपत्ति ध्वस्त पारेको छैन। र यिनीहरूले यति हत्या र यातनाको योजना बनाएर नेपालीलाई सखाफ परेका छन् कि आजसम्म उनीहरू पश्चिमा मुलुक भ्रमण गर्न डरले सकिरहेका छैनन्। तैपनि अझै कतिपय यिनीहरूले नै देश बनाउछन भन्ने कल्पना गर्दछन्! नेपालीको आँखा कहिले उघ्रन्छ?

(This article was originally posted as facebook status by Mr Mitra Pariyar. We have reproduced here with his permission.)

#IndiaBlockadesNepal: Appeal to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon from Nepali Students

Appeal Handed over by students to UN Resident Coordinator for Nepal, Jamie McGoldrick (Photo: Kanak Mani Dixit)

Nepal – 27 November 2015: On behalf of the more than hundred thousand high school and college students gathered peacefully today in various parts of Kathmandu Valley, we would like to draw the attention of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to the humanitarian crisis facing Nepal.
This humanitarian crisis is the result of the blockade against our country by India. The blockade has resulted in the loss of educational opportunities for millions of students like us in all parts – mountain, hill and plain. This humanitarian crisis adds to the difficulties already faced by schools and students as a result of the earthquakes of April-May 2015.
We believe we speak on behalf of young Nepalis everywhere when we ask you to ensure that this blockade ends. We students of Nepal must be allowed to get schooling and live like students everywhere else. This is why our slogan today has been ‘baanchna ra padhna deu’ – ‘give us a chance to live and receive education’.
Thank you!

Signed by:
Grishma Adhikari, Kaushal Adhikari, Pabitra Khatri, Kerina Maharjan, Prakash Neupane, Aaakash Pant, Alaukik N. Pant, Manish Sapkota, Shardul Sapkota and Rajshree Upadhyay.

#IndiaBlockadesNepal: Demystifying #India’s Propaganda on #Nepal’s Madhesh

Nepal Foreign Affairs – Some of the top myths Indian government and media have been spreading to justify the ongoing Madhes agitation against Nepal’s new democratic constitution. These myths are also utilized to convince the Indian people so that the ongoing economic blockade against Nepal is not opposed inside India.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”, taught Joseph Goebbels, the German Minister of Propaganda for 12 years during which Second World War had taken place.

The War ended, perpetrators punished and the idea debunked; but states have picked his education by choice. The recent and glaring instance has been India, whose diplomats and experts seem to have outdone Goebbles in dishing out Goebblean “Big Lies” with regards to Nepal’s Madhes agitation and secular, new constitution.

It is no secret by now that India’s ruling Hindu Right detastes Nepal’s democratic constitution for its secular character, and therefore, wants to shoot it down spreading all kinds of myths.

But more problematic is a recent joint statement between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron, suggesting how far this propaganda has reached and how India might have duped the “Great” Britain as well. We are sure India will continue it lying spree while imposing an economic blockade against Nepal, creating an unforeseen humanitarian crisis in the absence of fuel and medical supplies.

We have gathered some of the top myths Indian government and media has been spreading to justify the ongoing Madhes agitation against Nepal’s new democratic constitution, a reason forwarded also to justify the ongoing economic blockade.

Lie Number 1: Nepal’s Madhesi population is 51% of the total population of the country.

Fact: Nepal’s Madhes has half of the country’s population. Ethnic Madhesi population is 13%. Muslims are 4.4% and Tharus are 6.6%

This is a statement one finds in almost every Indian commentary and report on Madhes agitation. Read an example where Indian Home Minister claims to protect the interest of ten million Indian-origin Hindus in Nepal.

However, the truth about it is something different. Nepal’s Madhes region comprises of its southern plains. It has 22 districts of Nepal’s total 75. The people living in Madhes are not all ethnic Madhesis as opposed to many in India and abroad tend to think. The region is as diverse as the rest of Nepal. Ethnic Madhesis make up a large share of population but majority of the people there don’t want to be identified as Madhesis.

According to the 2011 Census, the population share in Madhes is 48.4% of the total.

Yadav community, the biggest Madhesi group, has the population of 1,054,458 (4%); other Terai groups (OTG), which also includes dominant caste groups of Bramhin, Rajput and Kayastha is 4% (the populationof each caste groups is mentioned in the census data), Muslims are 1,164,255 (4.4%)and Tharus are 1,737,470 (6.6%) and Terai Dalits make up 5% of the total population. (See here the population monograph of Nepal 2014)

Rest is the population of Terai Aadivaasi and people of hill origin. The census data has been processed, refined and used by the UN also.

By this account, even if one clusters the Dalits, OTG including dominant community, and Yadavs, the actual population of ethnic Madhesis stands at 13%. This is the share of Indian-Origin Madhesis Rajnath Singh, India’s Home Minister,  is referring about. Tharus and Muslims don’t want to be called Madhesis as their fight for separate identity runs parallel with Madhes movement. If one puts all of them together in the same basket, the population share is 23%, almost half of the total population of Madhes. This argument is not to say that the voice of smaller section of population has to be ignored, but to prove that the population claim on Madhes is wrong and is a propaganda created to give a false notion that Nepal’s new constitution is challenged by majority.

Lie Number 2: Tharus and hill Janajatis are with Madhesi parties against Nepal’s new constitution.

Fact: Tharus have a separate identity. They have their own demands incompatible with the Madhesis. Hill janjatis are in support of the new constitution.

Another non-stop myth spewing out of Indian media as well as its government bureaucracy about the current agitation claims that the Tharu indigenous people and the hill Janajati groups stand with Madhesi parties in this agitation. This is an out and out lie.

It is true that the Tharu people have demanded greater autonomy. Like the Madhesis, their demand is for a province without adjoining hill district in the west of Madhes region. While saying so, clustering them together with the Madhesis is a huge injustice since their claim of a separate identity from that of the ethnic Madhesis has a long history.

For an example, Arjuna Gunaratne has done an extensive research on Nepal’s Tharu community. His work“Many Tongues, One People: The Making of Tharu Identity in Nepal” is an outstanding academic work that appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies 2003. See a UN assessment how Tharu movement differs from that of the Madhesis.

Most importantly, the largest representative of the Tharus at present is Madhesi People’s Rights Forum-Democratic led by Bijaya Gachchhadar, who has remained the part of the constitution making process and is a Deputy Prime Minister in the current coalition led by Prime Minister KP Oli.

Many of Gachchhadar’s detractors would love to say he has been discredited recently, but they close their eyes to the fact that he is the only Tharu leader who has NOT lost an election since 1991. There is no single Madhesi leader of his stature at present.

The claim that hill Janajati groups have rejected the constitution does not sustain at all as there are no signs as such. On the contrary, Janajati leaders have stood as the most vehement defenders of this constitution. They reject the Madhesi demand of clustering eastern Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari districts in Madhes state.

Lie Number 3: Entire Madhes is agitating against the constitution.

Fact: Madhes has 22 districts. In seven of them, there is a reverse agitation building against Madhesi parties. In another seven of them, there is a somewhat agitation. Eight districts, which have got a province they wanted, are agitating.

Nepal’s Terai region has 22 districts: Kanchanpur, Kailali, Banke, Bardiya, Dang, Kapilabastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Chitawan, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Dhanusha, Sindhuli, Siraha, Saptari, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Udayapur, Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari.

Among them, Kanchanpur, Chitawan, Sindhuli, Jhapa, Udayapaur, Morang and Sunasari have a very small share of Madhesi population, 6.3%. They have Tharu population at 13%. There is a reverse agitation brewing up in these districts against the Madhesi demands.

Kailali, Banke, Bardiya, Dang, Kapilbastu, Nawalparasi Rupandehi, have Tharus, Muslims, Madhesis and hill people. These areas were initially somewhat agitated but have returned to complete peace now. With Muslims and Tharus getting Constitutional Commissions, one of their major demands has been addressed by the constitution. India is provoking the Tharus by extending an alliance with the Madhesi parties, so far unsuccessfully, to demand a plains-only province. A fulfilment of this would be used to whip up the expansion of province-2.

This limits the current agitation strictly within the eight districts: Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Dhanusha, Siraha, Saptari, Sarlahi, Mahottari. This is also the precise Province 2 according to Nepal’s new constitution. So the demand of the agitating parties here is an expansion of the province as it became small for them. What they are saying is like this: My house is small, but my neighbor’s is big; so I want that one too. This is the reason why many in Nepal say Madhes agitation has no genuine political demands but they are used only to serve India’s strategic goal: keep bargaining with Kathmandu.