Tag Archives: Nepal

Did India deceive or did Madhesi Morcha misunderstand?

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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.”

#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]

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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.

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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”.

Did UN official accused of bias by Israel protect Maoist violence in Nepal ? (Book Excerpt)

– by NepalForeignAffairs.com team

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Former senior UN bureaucrat Kul Chandra Gautam’s book is already creating a lot of ripples.

Ian Martin was the head of Amnesty International before serving as UN special envoy to East Timor and Nepal. He acted as the inaugural head of UN Mission In Nepal (UNMIN) from 2006 to 2009. UNMIN was established to assist Nepal’s peace process following the peace agreement between Nepal government and Maoist rebels in 2006. Martin is a Cambridge educated Briton, whose controversial role in Nepal led the Nepal government to reduce UNMIN’s mandate, before finally ending the mission in 2011, on a rather bitter note.

Martin has been heavily criticized by Israel for a report prepared by his team in 2009. He led a UN committee of four to investigate incidents during the Gaza War. Israel was joined by the US in calling the report as biased. Israel’s criticism stated, “in both spirit and language, the report is tendentious, patently biased, and ignores the facts presented to the committee.”

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Ian Martin was the head of United Nations Mission In Nepal (UNMIN) and led a committee to investigate incidents in the Israel-Gaza conflict. (Picture: ictj.org)

For the first time after the time of UNMIN, some of their activities and unreported incidents have been brought to light in a book by a former senior UN bureaucrat. Kul Chandra Gautam, who served as Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, has been involved with Nepali civil society and in the peace process. His book, “Lost in Transition: Rebuilding Nepal from the Maoist mayhem and mega earthquake” is out tomorrow. It has already created a lot of ripples in Nepal, including very approving reviews for its counter-narrative to the dominant view in Nepal that eulogizes violence and undemocratic means to grab power by destabilizing the state.

What follows is an exclusive excerpt from the book, detailing some role of UNMIN and its high officials in Nepal that very few people other than Gautam have been privy to.


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Kul Chandra Gautam, a former senior UN official details some of the unknowns regarding UNMIN’s role in Nepal. His book is out tomorrow (Picture: ipsnews.net).

… People began to see that UNMIN was unable to restrain the massive pre-election threats and violence by the Maoists against candidates of other political parties. Following the elections, and the installation of the Maoist-led government, people saw many illegal and criminal activities taking place in Maoist cantonments or by Maoist combatants outside the cantonments. UNMIN’s seeming inability to control or even monitor such activities began to erode the public’s faith in UNMIN.

A video-taped speech by Maoist Chairman Prachanda at a party training event in the Shaktikhor cantonment just prior to the 2008 CA election revealed how the Maoists had hoodwinked the UN into accepting much larger number of combatants than was actually the case, and how the party intended to use its cadres, including its ex-combatants, to influence the election. UNMIN’s credibility nosedived, when instead of protesting the Maoists’ cynical remarks disparaging it, UNMIN sought to defend itself and the Maoists by saying that Prachanda’s remarks “needed to be understood in a certain context”.

Some dramatic cases of criminal activities in the Maoist cantonments; the free access and use of the cantonments by Maoist leaders for political training and indoctrination; and the seeming inability of UNMIN to do anything about such actions, led to serious disappointment with its performance, especially given the Nepali public’s very high expectation of UNMIN. Increasingly a growing number of leaders of the non-Maoist political parties, civil society and the media became critical of UNMIN’s performance, many attributing a certain pro-Maoist bias on the part of UNMIN.

Worried about their poor judgment, in early 2010, I wrote a long memo entitled “Quo Vadis UNMIN?” and shared it with Karin Landgren, Ian Martin and Tamrat Samuel. I cautioned them about giving undue benefit of doubt to the Maoists and unfair criticism and pressure on NC/UML to be more flexible and compromising. I have retained copies of my long private exchanges with them – mostly by emails – in my files.

In essence, the UNMIN leadership listened to my views politely, but generally chose to ignore them.

UNMIN became so influenced by the circle of self-proclaimed “progressives” that it ignored and dismissed the views and advice of many Nepalis who had a much deeper understanding of and respect for the United Nations, including those who had served in senior positions in the UN system …

In September 2010, UNMIN had prepared a report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2010/453) on the status of Nepal’s peace process recommending further extension of UNMIN’s mandate. This report was so unbalanced and objectionable that four former Foreign Ministers of Nepal coming from different political parties – KP Sharma Oli, Chakra Bastola, Ram Sharan Mahat and Prakash Chandra Lohani – wrote a joint letter of protest to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

As former foreign ministers, and strong supporters of the United Nations, they registered their objection to the tone and content of the whole report and pointed out several specific paragraphs which were against the letter and spirit of Nepal’s Comprehensive Peace Accord and related agreements. They objected to the report’s treatment of Nepal’s national army on par with the former rebel force, whose members were in temporary cantonments awaiting integration and rehabilitation. They also objected to the report essentially treating the Government of Nepal on par with the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

Indeed, neither the UN nor most Western diplomats insisted with the Maoists that if they wanted their cooperation, they had to unequivocally renounce violence, accept political pluralism (not just “multiparty competition”), and abandon their declared objective of “state capture” through either ballots or bullets.

Martin’s implied assertion that Nepalis … could not think for themselves, reminded me of the former Singapore Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani’s book entitled “Can Asians Think?” Yes, I argued, Nepalis can think for themselves.

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Karin Landgren replaced Martin as UNMIN head in Nepal. UNMIN has been controversial and accused of protecting Maoist violence in Nepal (Picture: frontpageafricaonline.com).

Biased Narrative of HRW Report on #Nepal

Prem Dhakal

Does Human Rights Watch (HRW) believe that people migrating within Nepal have no say about provincial delineation of the place where they live now, while those coming from India like Rajendra Mahato should have a greater say over delineation of the whole stretch of Terai?

Why is the narrative of Human Rights Watch (HRW) report biased for me? 

First of all, I must accept that I have not read the whole report. But from whatever I have read, I strongly feel the narrative was biased. I can make no claims about the incidents, anyway, as I am not witness to any of the incidents. So, my issue is only about the narrative which does not look neutral.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) Report on Nepal that serves a side in the political narrative war of Nepal. It is also conspicuously silent on the economic blockade that’s resulted in grave humanitarian crisis in Nepal.

1.

The title is ‘Like We are not Nepali’ Protest and Police Crackdown in tarai of Nepal, with ‘Like We are not Nepali’ displayed prominently.
I find the title biased and provocative. I believe it’s a report prepared by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and not agitating Madhesis. Has HRW concluded that Madhesis are not treated like Nepalis? Has the state said so? Does the constitution say so? I believe one can’t give such a strong headline to a report investigating killing of civilians and security persons during violent protests.

I have always strongly condemned violence by both the state and protestors anywhere. But the Madhesis have been killed in places burning in protest, and the security persons have turned atrocious after the Kailali incident where security persons were brutally killed, as the HRW report also accepts. Madhesis have not been chased and killed, say in Kathmandu for example.

[Related: Like we are not human enough to deserve rights; was the HRW’s Nepal report meant to serve one side of a polarized political-narrative war?]

I’ve not seen HRW or any other HR organization, bringing a report titled ‘Like we are not American’ when black Americans have been killed, at peaceful times, by police on as trivial an issue as a routine traffic stop as in the case of Samuel DuBose on July 19 in Cincinnati. So, why such strong and provocative headline on death of Nepali citizens during the course of violent protests?

2.

I don’t like to be personal. But I still find citing Prashant Jha’s work thrice to construct the context of violence and history of discrimination a little surprising knowing where he stands. But, HRW deems him to be neutral and I trust the HRW judgement.

“Some parts of Nepali society regard Madhesis as “Indian” due to their community’s close cultural and linguistic ties with India and their frequent intermarriage with communities in neighboring regions across the border, and some have questioned Madhesis’ loyalty to the Nepali state.”

I don’t regard Madhesis as Indians and am not here to refute Jha’s claims in the book. But the HRW uses this extract to build the narrative and then decides to not use the claim of Indian Union Home Minister Raj Nath Singh, who is a former BJP president, that there are one crore (10 million) Indians in Nepal. Singh also promises that Indians will be protected in Nepal. Here is the link

His claim has yet to be retracted. Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, though, has issued a statement saying the comments attributed to him do not represent the government position.

Singh’s comment was widely covered in Nepali media and social media. I can’t believe HRW missed that. My question is why did HRW decide to cite Jha to build a narrative to prove that Madhesis are not treated like Nepalis (rather like Indians) while ignoring claims of Indian Union Home Minister that seem to claim they are indeed Indians. It could at least have mentioned it to inform the readers, especially the uninitiated international ones, and let the readers decide themselves.

[Related: Debunking Dr. Karan Singh’s misinformed comment about Nepal in Indian Parliament]

3.

“The Madhesi movements of 2007 and 2008 were largely peaceful but also involved some acts of arson and other violence, while numerous protesters were shot dead by the security forces.”

The report says Madhesi protesters were shot but does not mention 28 Maoists killed by Madhesis in Gaur at the start of the movement. The movement was also directed against people of Hill-origin living in the Terai region- a large number of uninvolved Hill-origin people were forced to flee, if they could escape the violence and arson.

“These movements also gave rise to new Madhes-based political parties, which prospered in the 2008 Constituent Assembly election. However, these parties suffered multiple splits, resulting in their winning far fewer seats in the 2013 Constituent Assembly election.”

The HRW, after taking trouble to trace centuries of discrimination, seems to be economical with the CA Election 2013. It does not want to add why the Madhes-based parties split. It also ignores a crucial fact that the Prime Minister of that time, Baburam Bhattarai described the second CA Election (he announced elections for the second CA while dissolving the first) as a sort of referendum between those supporting ethnicity based federalism and those against it. The first CA was dissolved primarily due to the issue of ethnicity-based federalism after the parties were unable to garner enough support on either side to draft a constitution. The ruling coalition support ethnicity-based federalism, but did not have enough places in the Assembly. They wanted to increase their strength through the second elections. HRW, for some reasons, seem to not accept that the result of the second CA was not only because of the split in Madhes-based parties and the Maoists. The mandate was a resounding rejection of the ethnicity-based federalism and other issues that the Maoists and Madhes-based parties were supporting before the election.

4.

“The Tharus were opposed by the Akhanda Sudur Paschim (United Far West) movement, largely composed of people who live in Kailali and neighboring Kanchanpur district but whose origins lie in the hills to the north.”

The HRW, citing it, seems to make a point that those who have migrated from hills to the plains are prevailing over the indigenous people. But then, the report does not mention that Rajendra Mahato, one of the top leaders of the current Madhes movement, was an Indian before becoming a naturalized Nepali. Mahato now is demanding that not just the district where he currently resides, but even Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari should be included in the Madhesh province. The right of naturalized citizens, particularly those coming from India, is one of the major agendas of the movement.

Does HRW believe that people migrating within Nepal have no say about provincial delineation of the place where they live now, while those coming from India like Mahato should have a greater say over delineation of the whole stretch of Terai?

5.

“On that day, three Madhesi political leaders from the eastern plains—Upendra Yadav, Rajendra Mahato, and Amresh Singh—made speeches at a rally in Tikapur, Kailali’s second largest town, which were widely said to have included inflammatory language, angering Akhanda supporters.” (to watch these videos with English subtitles, click here)

Why is HRW using the expression “said to have”? Does HRW not find such language inflammatory? I find it hard to believe that HRW cannot find footage of the videos that the media has played widely, and verify authenticity.

I’ve not read the whole report but I didn’t find any mention about the announcement of incentive of Rs 5 million to the family of anyone who is killed in what I have read. I even searched the whole report using the key words million, 5 and 50, but found no mention of that incentive.

6.

The HRW says security forces have used racial slurs against protesters. This no doubt is condemnable. The police personnel attacked, injured and lynched by the protestors include many of Madhesi origin too. But I find it surprising that the report does not mention Madhesi protesters using racial slurs. Did HRW try to learn from the security persons if they also have been racially insulted by protesters? Do the HRW want us to believe that Madhesi protesters protest with their mouths sealed or they are so controlled that they don’t retaliate even when security forces hurl racial slurs against them?

7.

It is also surprising that the HRW does not talk about Indian blockade in the report. One of the editors of the HRW report, Tejshree Thapa tweeted that blockade is a political issue, therefore out of scope for HRW. So, if HRW does not acknowledge political issues, why build the narrative by citing centuries of discrimination by hill elites and so on? Are the violent protests in Nepal of apolitical nature? Isn’t the blockade on Nepali population a grave humanitarian crime? If political history has to be connected while investigating killings by police and protesters following differences over political document like constitution, why ignore an issue that can have (currently having) serious humanitarian repercussions?

The most surprising thing is HRW mentions

“The Nepali government has blamed India for the shortages, claiming that India is imposing an unofficial blockade in order to force the government to amend the constitution in line with the Madhesi demands. India has denied this charge, claiming that the shortages are due to protester blockades and a general lack of security for the trucks ferrying the goods.”

[Related: A controlled Indian Blockade on Nepal, a BBC Report from a border town]

But does not send its men to visit all the border points to see if all of them have been obstructed by protesters or not. I would like to remind that goods were coming unhindered from Bhairahawa to Kathmandu before India started the blockade even as the border point in Birgunj was closed due to protests.

I believe HRW cannot be stretched for resources to send its men to see why the border points are obstructed, and adding one line to the above lines would not have completely transformed the report into a political one from that about human rights. I also find it surprising that the report, again in the parts which I have read, does not mention about protestors hurling stones from no man’s land.


Originally posted on Twitter by Prem Dhakal, directed to Human Rights Watch (HRW) and an editor of the Nepal report, Tejshree Thapa. The tweet can be viewed at this link. This UWB post has been published with Mr. Dhakal’s permission.

 

Debunking Dr. Karan Singh’s Misinformed Comments on #Nepal at Indian Rajya Sabha

– by Nepalforeignaffairs Team

Dr Karan Singh, speaking about Nepal in Indian parliament
Picture: @subhash580‘s twitter feed

Dr. Karan Singh’s statement (click here to watch his full statement) in Indian parliament yesterday is full of factual errors and lies. Perceived as a person who’s knowledgeable about Nepal, Singh’s understanding of Nepal’s complexities and nuances appear to be very insufficient and based on a distorted view on Nepal’s situation, probably fed by a few sources who do not understand Nepal very well. Here is a point-by-point evaluation of his claims versus the facts.

[Related: Pictures show how Nepal is coping with the inhumane blockade by India]

1. The constitution alienates a large section of the population

Fact: The constitution was voted for by almost 90% of all members of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, the elected body that was drafting the constitution. It has been approved by a large section of the population, including many Madhesis. A large majority of Madhesi elected representatives voted for the constitution.

2. Madhesis are 51% of Nepal’s population

Fact: Madhesis constitute less than 20% of Nepal’s population (see this factcheck article on the widely misreported Madhesi population statistics). Nepal is a diverse country and Nepal’s plain area, called the Terai/Madhes is home to various groups. The total number of people living in the Terai is about 50% of the country’s population, but it includes a large number of non-Madhesi people.

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

3. If the present constitution is continued, identity of Madhes is going to be destroyed

Fact: The constitution ensures a separate province for Madhesis, thus protecting their identity (although majority of Nepalese expressed in last elections that there are better ways to protect identity than through such ethnicity-based provinces). The constitution has provisions for multiple languages to be used in local bodies. No province has been created for other ethnic groups including Gurung, Magar, Tamang, etc. Madhesis are treated specially by the constitution, which many argue, is against the spirit of equality in democracy.

[Related: Did India deceive or did Madhesi Morcha misunderstand?]

4. The eight-point agreement in 2007 with the government headed by GP Koirala has been jettisoned

Fact: Previous governments have made such agreements with many ethnic groups including Tharus, Limbus, Chure-Bhawar society and so on. Like explained in point 5 below, multiple groups live together and have competing claims. It has been a subject of long political debate in Nepal and so far there has been no consensus. The arrangement proposed in the current constitution is the only one that has received least opposition and was accepted by about 90% members of the Constituent Assembly. The constitution ensures a separate province for Madhesis, while other groups’ demands for similar provinces have not been respected. There are voices within Nepal who think this special treatment to a small section of Madhesi politicians is unfair for the rest of the groups who share these regions.

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

5. Madhesh has been sliced up in such a way that they are marginalised in all but one province

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Geographical distribution of some major ethnic groups in Nepal, from among more than 100 different groups (based on 2001 census data)

Fact: Nepal is a diverse country with more than 100 ethnic groups and languages (see this post for a statistics on some of these groups). The settlements in Nepal are mixed (many ethnic groups live close together) and it is extremely difficult to carve out provinces that is exclusive to each group, while still being fair to others. There are competing claims by different ethnic groups for provinces in the same areas. For example, in the Eastern Terai, Madhesis constitute less than 20% of the population but some Madhesi politicians (most of who have lost elections there) want it to be named as an exclusive Madhesi province. Other ethnic groups like Tharus, Limbus, Rajbamshis, Chure-Bhawar society also demand similar provisions in the same region. For over 8 years, this discussion has been going on in Nepal, including during two elections for the Constituent Assembly, that were dominated by this very debate. Finally, various parties agreed on the current federal solution that has the least amount of opposition. During the election of the Constituent Assembly, the agenda of ethnic-based provinces was defeated by huge margin. Similarly, the previous constituent assembly failed to draft a constitution because the ruling parties of that time wanted ethnicity based provinces while the opposition disagreed.

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

6. Proportional representation theory has not been accepted

Fact: This is wrong. Please see Article 50 of the current constitution. More details on this can be read in this article about the many factual errors in Indian External Affairs Minister’s speech.

7. In marriage, discrimination regarding citizens as far as citizens marrying Indians

Fact: This is also wrong. Please see Part 2, Article 10-15 of the current constitution. More details on this can be read in this article about the many factual errors in Indian External Affairs Minister’s speech.

8. Madhesis have been looked down in that country for many centuries

Fact: Madhesis have been treated specially in Nepal’s history. They used to be part of the Royal court in Kathmandu. Today, 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. Madhesi is not a single homogeneous population group.

9. The current constitution goes back on the provisions made in the interim constitution

Fact: The current constitution is drafted by an elected Constituent Assembly that was sovereign. The Assembly was elected to replace the interim constitution based on the popular will expressed through elections. Current constitution ensures more progressive provisions including for language, women and minorities. It includes affirmative action provisions for additional groups like disabled and poor, which the interim constitution lacked. The current constitution ensures federalism, and a separate province for Madhesis. which the interim constitution did not have

#IndiaBlockadesNepal: Evidences that Prove #Nepal’s Madhes Problem Fuelled by India

Here is collection of concrete evidences, which prove this is a blockade India has imposed, creating troubles in Nepal’s Madhes region: (From: Nepalforeignaffairs.com)

  1. Sadbhawana Party is a key member of the agitating coalition. Its president Rajendra Mahato has unequivocally shared with the Indian Express newspaper, on 4th October, that he and his colleagues were instructed by Indian leaders to start agitation. Mahato admits, “We were told to start border demonstrations by BJP leaders..…What is good for India is good for us.” Read more here
    The question: Why take help of a crude lie if not guided by an ulterior motive? If Mahato is wrong, why not refute his statement? After all, Indian Embassy in Kathmandu is issuing rebuttals of the statement of every Tom, Dick and Harry.
  2. Member of the Upper Chamber of Indian parliament and opposition scholar Mani Shankar Aiyar believes the “Hindu State” intention, and adds that dirty politics was another reason why Indian government chose to blockade Nepal. In one of his most widely read columns with NDTV, Aiyar wrote on September 26:
    “With Madhes running along the entire border with northern Bihar, Modi wants to score political points to push his party over the edge in the crucial coming Bihar election. He believes a pro-Madhesi posture will resonate with the Biharis who have strong ethnic ties with the Terai”.
    Our request to PM Modi: It was a wrong move. Please see that a humanitarian crisis is building in Nepal because of the blockade. School are closed for months, hospitals are running out of medicines, life-saving is becoming difficult. Nepal blockade is being compared with the Nazi Gas Chamber. This is an ominous prestige you will have. This is going too far.
  3. Praveen Swami, another noted Indian Scholar, writes clearly that India is colluding with Madhes protesters to impose the blockade:
    “Nepal’s police action is, in essence, a shrewd poker move: by raising its bet, it has forced India to either escalate, or leave the game. Ever since protests against Nepal’s new constitution began in the Terai region, New Delhi has been claiming the threat of violence is deterring truckers carrying fuel and supplies from crossing the border. Kathmandu, noting that India wasn’t using its influence to clear the road, claimed it was colluding in the blockade — an allegation that New Delhi has stoically denied”.
    This leads to another question: Why not leave Nepal on its own and let it solve its problems?
  4. After the blockade has been imposed, India’s former ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shankar Mukherji writes:
    “Criticisms of India’s policy, in Nepal and here (In India), are misplaced. India should ignore the fulminations of armchair analysts, parachute pundits, and continue what it is doing: Point out to Nepal’s leaders that we’re concerned solely because instability in Nepal directly affects us across an open border.” In the same article he went on to incorrectly saying that Nepal mobilized half of its national Army in the Terai region, in his eyes, “to suppress the Madhes agitation”. But the fact had been that the Army was only securing vital installations as protesters were using brute violence. Total number of security personnel, including Nepal Police and Armed Police forces, mobilized in the 11 violent districts at the time was roughly 20,000.
    This brings a fact: India has been advised by a powerful bureaucracy to use “strong-arm tactic” like blockade against Nepal. In doing so, they briefed falsehood to their political leadership.
  5. Just before the blockade started, see the flood of the statements of India’s Ministry of External Affairs. After the Indian Special Envoy S Jayashankar returned without success to stop the political process, India ominously “noted” the promulgation of new constitution in Nepal. Then the next day, comes another statement which says Indian transporters had been refusing to travel to Nepal for the fear of violence, a veiled threat to start the blockade: (). There are many other statements in the ministry website on Nepal.
    This gives us a conclusion: Blockade was a well-planned policy prepared by India’s Foreign Ministry bureaucracy. They didn’t study Nepal’s constitution or had no interest in it since Indian advice was not entertained.

(Read full article in Nepalforeignaffairs.com Link: http://nepalforeignaffairs.com/ten-evidences-which-prove-nepals-madhes-problem-is-fuelled-by-india/)

Nepal Earthquake: How can private businesses provide help?

Ashutosh Tiwari

How can private businesses — which provide jobs and taxes, and goods and services that people need and pay for — provide help?

(Please use these points ONLY as broad suggestions. Obviously, each business has its own context, limited resources, and limited capabilities to do what it can for its employees, customers, investors and stakeholders.]

IMMEDIATE:
1. Check to see/confirm whether ALL the staff members, including factory workers, are accounted for and are indeed physically safe. [If not, ask about access to medical care and see if you can arrange it in some way.]
2. Check to see the extent of harm/damages, if any, to physical structures (office buildings, factory spaces, etc).
3. Visit staff members who have lost their loved ones and/or whose dwellings have been destroyed or demolished or have cracks on walls.
4. Offer the victims (i.e. your staff members) immediate relief in the form of cash and/or non-cash materials (i.e. tents, sleeping bags, water purification tablets, water, etc) to the extent you can. Remember, this is a major once-in-a-century type of an emergency that we are facing — so, think a bit creatively as to how you can allay people’s concerns. Check with the affected staff and their families daily or once every two days. Continue reading Nepal Earthquake: How can private businesses provide help?

Liars! Nepal’s Politics Suffers from a Trust Deficit

The trust deficit among major political parties and their leaders continues to exist even after the election of the second CA and the new Prime Minister by the parliament last week. Leaders continue to spit venom at each other.

By Siromani Dhungana

By now it is clear that the consensus between two major political parties –NC and UML– has become an elusive pursuit. They have failed to win confidence of each other. Evidences suggest that their journey ahead will be full of distrust and discomfort. After the election of the second Constituent Assembly (CA), the two parties are at loggerhead over power sharing deal.

The all-powerful Home Ministry has become the bone of contention between two parties. Nepali Congress has been dismissing the UML claim that there was a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the two parties to give Home portfolio to UML. NC’s veteran leader Ram Sharan Mahat, who is the sole minister but without any portfolio in the Sushil Koirala cabinet, tweeted on Wednesday (12 Feb): Who says there was a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’? False news has been disseminated intentionally.

On the other hand, UML leader Bamdev Gautam who has been proposed as Home Minister by the party, continues to claim the existence of such agreement. In an exclusive interview with Setopati, he said: ‘Congress dumped the gentlemen’s agreement.’ Continue reading Liars! Nepal’s Politics Suffers from a Trust Deficit

For the Record: Sushil Koirala Elected the Prime Minister of Nepal

By The Kathmandu Post

Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, who has never held a public office, was elected prime minister on Monday (10 Feb) , garnering more than a two-thirds majority in parliament.

A seven-point deal signed between Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, the two largest parties in Constituent Assembly, on Sunday paved the way for 74-year-old Koirala to become the country’s 37th prime minister.

During a poll, Koirala—the sole candidate—got 405 votes in his favour. The third largest party, UCPN (Maoist), and some other parties voted against Koirala. Votes against his candidacy numbered 148.

PM Koirala’s priorities

Just before being elected, Koirala presented a list of his priorities to the parliament: Continue reading For the Record: Sushil Koirala Elected the Prime Minister of Nepal

Why do you need Ushaft’s election updates for Nepal?

Ushaft says:

“I have repeated many times that the English language media circuit in Nepal is an echo chamber, consisting of a very narrow group of privileged and detached people who always agree with each other, often to imply that the Maoist war was the greatest achievement in the history of Nepal. As it is, relying on most of Nepal’s English language pundits can end up in very embarrassing situations for yourself. As was evident in one instance from last week, a very vocal “Nepal expert” English language writer was found criticizing a New York Times article because, according to her, the article was making fun of the Maoists in Nepal by calling them “Dashists” and “Cashists.” In fact, the Nepali language press and the streets of Nepal have long been using these terms coined by the Maoists themselves. In the past, the Maoists have made public remarks like calling the third largest party “an eunuch party,” and the echo chamber didn’t even produce as much as a whisper for this insult (or joke for them) that would be unacceptable in most of the civilized countries.”

“Take another example. We had an election for the constituency assembly in 2008 too. The run up to that election was full of violence, intimidation and countless other incidents that could have influenced the result in the end. However, election observers and foreign press, watching elections in the polling centers near the highways, and from the eyes of Nepal’s English language commentators, were unaware of all that was going around. In the end, a very violent polling campaign was termed as completely free and fair, even before polling had closed at all centers.

“Nepal’s politics and society is much complex than it seems. The English language press can make you believe in a very simplistic picture of good guys vs bad guys (with Nepal’s radical forces always being their good guys), but you will be left very ill informed with sources like these, which can be both ignorant about the issues and manipulative and driven by their vested interests at the same time. It is no surprise that many commentators, writers and columnists do not provide full disclosure in Nepal, often hiding their affiliations with interest groups, which however, are of common knowledge to many others inside Nepal.”

We agree with Ushaft. We will reblog him as soon as he comes up with informed analysis on the site.

Ushaft's Blog

More info (22nd Nov): Followups to this blog post can be seen here: How was the polling day? and Citizens’ Statement about Maoists’ walkout from vote counting. After polling closed across Nepal, I have made some revisions about my prediction made in the initial posts of this series. The results that are coming out right now confirm the general mood in Nepal I had described in one another post and the vested interests and ignorance of the echo-chamber.


Starting today, I’ll cover some of the discussion from the Nepali social media circle related to the upcoming election. Because of the discussions being in Nepali, many outside observers will miss the real pulse of Nepal as we draw very close to the election. The aim of this blog-series is to narrow this gap and let everybody get a feel of how it is like here at present. Many such reports…

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