Nepali Times
PRASHANT JHA
Plain Speaking
Federal realities


PRASHANT JHA


What do the following have in common: the grand old man of Nepali politics Girija Prasad Koirala; neo-liberals Ram Sharan Mahat and Binod Chaudhary; orthodox Marxists like Chitra Bahadur KC; ethnic entrepreneurs like Laxman Tharu and Kumar Lingden; Panchayat veterans like Surya Bahadur Thapa and Pashupati Rana; perennial revolutionaries like Matrika Yadav; anti-Maoist crusaders like KP Oli; progressive young Turks like Gagan Thapa; Madhesi messiahs like Upendra Yadav and Mahant Thakur; respected lefty scholars like Pitamber Sharma and Chaitanya Mishra; VDC level government servants; and most of Kathmandu's media owners and journalists?

None of them agree with the 14-state model proposed by the CA's state restructuring and power sharing committee.
One group fears the disintegration of the country. This is a flimsy argument. National maps can't be altered so easily. Federalism will only make the state stronger by giving marginalised citizens a sense of ownership. It will connect the country in ways like never before. In fact, the possibility of a conflict and a weakening of the state is much higher if Nepal does not federalise. In any case, federalism has already been decided upon, and the decision will not be reversed.

Other critics, including technocrats, believe the state does not possess the institutional capacity to sustain such a model. This view has some merit. Fourteen states will mean fourteen separate legislative, bureaucratic, police, and judicial machineries. Do we have the required financial and human resources for such a gigantic enterprise? If states lack capacity, federalism may become merely ornamental. Some Maoist leaders privately agree, and have been toying with the idea of six provinces.

Bureaucrats argue the present debate on federalism risks reversing the achievements made by local government. In the proposed delineation of powers, local bodies have not been granted powers much beyond the Local Self-Government Act. The additional complication is that there is a great overlap of functions with the provincial government. Will the latter usurp the role of the grassroots bodies, making the state even more distant for those in rural areas? The Indian experience shows the reluctance of state governments to share money and powers with Panchayats and municipalities. More thinking is clearly required to delineate the local-provincial authority interface.

Planners also point out that east-west federalism, instead of the north-south zones, will mean inadequate utilisation of resources. This may be technically true but politically, north-south is not feasible given the Madhesi sentiment. Also, there will inevitably be inter-state co-operation. It is flawed to say that the Madhes cannot use the water resources of the hills, or hills cannot use the agrarian and industrial strengths of the Madhes. In federal set-ups, states can build on each other's comparative advantages through joint mechanisms.

The third, and most vocal, school of skeptics includes 'national' (mostly Bahun-Chhetri) politicians who believe that the map is too ethnic-centric, ignores Nepal's mixed settlements and is a recipe for riots. This view too has some merit but tends to present a highly distorted and alarmist picture. The present model is not entirely ethnicity based. And as Mahendra Lawoti argues, whichever way you carve out the provinces, some groups will have a majority.

For those worried ethnic provinces will favour those they are named after, the logic of electoral politics should be reassuring.

Take the present Madhes map from Jhapa to Birganj. Six demographic blocks will control the politics - Yadavs, Tharus, Muslims, Dalits, OBCs and guess what, pahadis. If any Madhesi party adopts a chauvinistic, hate-mongering approach, they will lose the pahadi vote entirely, and will be defeated. The same argument applies everywhere, and means new multi-ethnic alliances will emerge in all provinces.

This is not to defend the present map or underplay the dangers of ethnic chauvinism, but to highlight that there is space for compromise. Incorporating ethnicity is a political compulsion, but we need to avoid making ethnicity the sole determinant of political choice.

The good news is that the map can only get better from now on. The bad news is whichever way it turns out eventually, there will be plenty of people ready to burn the constitution.

READ ALSO:
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1. jange
Let's face it. No one knows what they are talking about. Federalism was a sop offered to the Maoists so that they could show some "achievement" for the 10 years of terror that they carried out. This article is full of NGO-speak that may be OK for grant applications but have little real meaning. Example 1- "Federalism will only make the state stronger by giving marginalised citizens a sense of ownership". If you are poor it makes little difference what the structure of the state is. Federalism is being offered as a cure all and all things o all people. It will end in tears and disappointment. Example 2 "In fact, the possibility of a conflict and a weakening of the state is much higher if Nepal does not federalise." And how exactly will the state be weaker or stronger because of federalism??  And having failed to make a coherent argument the author ends up with- "In any case, federalism has already been decided upon, and the decision will not be reversed" .  So, we are going for a federal structure because it has been already decided and we can't go back on it and not because it is what is best for the people?? There's more. The author should look at each assertion that he has made and see if it makes any sense. 


2. Patriot
Prashant, great analysis, except I wish i was a bit more optimistic about federalism working in Nepal as maybe you are. there are a lot of pros and cons and it seems due to current inaction and brinkmanship of these so called bahun-chettri leaders, the racial distrust and resulting ethnic chauvinism will eventually lead to federalism.

Had there been more equal distribution of socio-economic justice, political representation blah blah, there wouldn't be need for federalism at all. but these so called leaders and crack heads like jange (who i think must be a B-C chauvinist), their fear and arrogance is polarizing everyone into ethnic assertion for federalism, which may or may not deliver the ever elusive equality and justice. if it comes to that, so be it, coz really the ball is in the B-C court and if they continue behaving the way they are, federalism will eventually happen, which may either prove great or disastrous for Nepal. hence the B-C clan, incl idiots like jange preaching against the cons of federalism are utterly Hypocritical. it is they who are creating the conditions for such a fatalistic demand i.e. federalism.

p.s. - i would never generalize anyone and when i say B-C, i only mean those ultra-racist, chauvinistic, chettri-bahunists who form much of our ruling class, they give a bad name to their entire clans.


3. Singapore
One could argue why needed a new national anthem. The old anthem was all about the king, and not about the nation. 

But pray, tell: What is so vitally wrong with the existing model of 14 zones and 75 districts, an arrangement crafted by late Tony Hagen, with assistance from late Harka Bahadur Gurung that we really need to change it lock, stock and barrel? 

The only demerit one sees in the existing set up is that the arrangement was done during Panchayati period, and (drum roll, please!) anything and everything done by/during/in Panchayat was ispo facto bad. If this is the only argument implicitly made by media mavens, then we are in trouble. 

Decentralization and devolution of power do not come by parceling out existing land in many pieces. If things work out, we may end up like Switzerland. But what if they don't? Since none of us can see the future, what if we become the next Yugoslavia (broken up) or Afganistan (broken from within?)?  

Columnists like Jha whose academic training is in neither geography nor economics come across as intellectually dishonest medicine-peddler so long as they don't put forth arguments about what is wrong with the present set up so that we really need to get on with this federal mumbo-jumbo. I am all for the idea of devolution of power and decision-making authority, but increasingly skeptical about these new proposed new means.


4. jange
Mr. Patriot- It's all well and good to ride the emotional wave and have feel good stories. But all I want is rationally laid out , cogent arguments as to why and how federalism is good (or not good). It could be good, it could be bad. I haven't a clue, and it looks like no one else does either. But when someone like Prashant who is given a powerful platform such as the NT I expect and demand better. Saying "In any case, federalism has already been decided upon, and the decision will not be reversed" is simply not good enough. It is an abdication of responsibility.


5. jange
Mr. Singapore said- "But pray, tell: What is so vitally wrong with the existing model of 14 zones and 75 districts, an arrangement crafted by late Tony Hagen, with assistance from late Harka Bahadur Gurung that we really need to change it lock, stock and barrel?" As I explained in post #1 it was offered as a sop to the Maoists as they could not be seen to be giving up their weapons without having "achieved" something.  And now we are at the stage, as Prashant points out, where we are saying,  it's been decided so we have to do it.


6. KiranL
Prashant Jha should now get a job with UNMIN. They'll love him. And we don't have to read such half-baked, quasi-academic NGOism like this. Not only do we need ethnic federalism like a hole in the head, we don't even need federalism. We just have to make sure that decentralisation works.

7. Singapore
Jange, I am a female with penname Singapore. No assumptions, please. 

8. Patriot
jange - good to hear you try sound rational, i had quite written you off as one stark raving status quoist bahunist, as all your previous posts seem to point. Unfortunately the masses ride on the emotional wave and that is what matters in politics unlike the way you are trying to downplay this factor, and anti B-C ism seems to be the flavor of the season. i am just as skeptical about federalism as any rational person should be, but your seemingly cogent argument incl mine about what could & should have been will come to nothing. the fact IS and REMAINS that the behavior of our leaders is giving rise to ethnic chauvinism. you may have many rational explanations and why we shouldn't be jumping into this blindly, and i may agree with you, but your good suggestions mean nothing in the face of current climate of extreme distrust and racial polarization. again, the ball is in the current leadership's court hence the game will play out the way they play it. you cannot holler and preach to the other side for trying to defend their goal posts!

9. hange

Lots of good feedback here.  Mr. Jha has, once again, written a fairly good article albeit with his usual "south-first" attitude.  There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why north-south states cannot be made- other than some radical tarai political groups stating so in an attempt to elicit some form of political capital.  As has been pointed out here, there is also no reason why our existing anchals, from Mechi to Mahakali, cannot be used.  Federalism or not, areas carved out based on ethnicities is a recipe for disaster- even the Maoists seem to realise this though they seem to have been forced to carry out their "ethnic state announcements" anyway to fulfill promises to the cadres. 

The closest we can get is districts based on linguistics but even this is a powder keg.  Ultimately, states in a federal structure must be economically sustainable.  Furthermore, Mr. Jha makes the mistaken assumption that these newly delineated areas will have no problems with sharing resources between one another.  Looking at India as an example, as Mr. Jha frequently tends to do, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are still fighting over precious water resources with the case dragging out in the courts.  We have enough problems without adding new ones.  Finally, as has been "elegantly" pointed out, stating that we should proceed with federalism simply because that's what has already been decided is a simpleton's approach to logic.  Though painful, we as a nation must examine every decision- even those already made.  Moving forward by simply stating, "Yo garne- kura sidyoe" is simply unacceptable. 

Mr. Jha, you write well but the content is seriously flawed.  Not to sound flippant but perhaps you should harness your considerable literary prowess for simply reporting the news as opposed to offering up political solutions.  I do enjoy reading your articles though.



10. jange
Singapore ji- Thanks. Henceforth I will use the honorific "ji".  Hadn't realised the inadequacies of the English language.


11. suresh
we brahmin are the new jews of south asia now everybody wanna put us in a gas chamber.soon we will be punished for what most of dint do or our ancestor  did 200 years ago or long time ago. now we are exactly like the Jews  just before the world war 2 . we are stateless when everybody is getting the state. any way our biggest weapon is discipline and hard work same as those jews.

12. Sameer
Between the line-- dishonest article.  It is logically twisted and childish like article.  Whenever Prashant writes something without any interest of the South, he does a fairly good job.  Minute, there is any hint of southern interest, he begins to bring all kinds of "south-first" biases.  And, talk about Mahendra Lawoti...?  Give me a break..  this guy, who lives in a comfy American college, has no interest of being a fair minded intellectual, and likes to make a name for himself by pushing racist agenda for Nepal at the cost of pushing the country into an ethnic civil-war...


13. Budabaaje

When king was still in power the government used to constantly say that a new constitution was a recipe for disaster. But our politicians, media, civil society everyone ran after the Maoists and their idea of new constitution without much thought. Now we are stuck up with a can of worms, pro-federal, anti-federal, pro-ethnic, anti-ethnic, bahunist, non-bahunist and what not pointless nitty-gritty things. On the other hand, our neighbors are fully focussed on important economic questions that takes them ahead of us in leaps and bounds. Trash the monarchy as much as you like, but during its time (both pre and post 1990) though Nepal was poor but we were not so far behind our neighbors. Since 2000, however, we are being left far, far behind. Monarchy and its ideas really weren't so bad for Nepal. But politicians and their followers were so power-hungry that they made everything about it seem really evil to get to power themselves. Monarchy has been unjustly and senselessly thrown out. Monarchy needs to be restored. And its views/ideas should also be used if we are interested in building a strong, secure, stable Nepal.

 



14. Chhetri ko chhoro

This is to suresh. If it's ok to blame the monarchy for what it did 200 years ago and throw it away, why not fair to blame bahuns for the same? All these party leaders who threw away monarchy and who are the leaders of "New Nepal" are bahuns. Prachanda, Baburam, jhallu, makune, girija, sitaula whatever.. they all said monarchy screwed us for 240 years and threw it away. amazingly enough the people who advised monarchy to impose caste system and make different ethnic groups unequal in nepal were also bahuns. but blame goes to monarchy only? bahuns are the greatest 'afai boksi, afai jhakri' of Nepal. Now they gonna play victim too. the jews of asia, huh? well, there's only one thing I wanna say: as a chhetri i'm sick of being a tag-along to bahuns. bahuns take the max advantage but when time comes to place blame, it's always bahun-chhetri, bahun-chhetri. just look around you, all party leaders are bahuns. very, very few chhetris. all jornalists, media-owners, civil society leaders, judges, lawyers, senior bureaucrats, sachivs etc are also bahuns. very, very few chhetris. so bahuns take the maximum advantage, but when time comes to place blame, they always add us chhetris from behind. and when time comes to play "victim" like suresh is doing, again it's only bahun who are the victims. real truth is chhetris are the ones who have been most exploited by the bahuns. we are supposed to be their 'protectors', we have to 'dhogo' their feet as our 'gurus', and we gotta be the soldiers who give up our life to go around imposing their beliefs and systems all over the place. (basically isn't this what the monarchy did?) my message to all chhetris is just this: chhetris of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but the shackles that bahuns have put on you for millenia! and to all commenters: bahun is bahun and chhetri is chhetri. we are not the same. don't put us in same basket! 

 


15. Wave
I got the opportunity to see the opening ceremony of Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. The inclusion of indigenous tribal performances such as the Metis, Iniuits, and Francophones from Quebec in welcoming the athletes, and with tribal leaders in their native costumes sharing the same podium with the Canadian Prime Minister was a wonderful sight. All the natives and francophones embraced the diversity of the country and looked proud to be Canadians. Our own Dachhiri Sherpa was representing Nepal in his Sherpa attire.

The point being, "Federalism will only make the state stronger by giving marginalised citizens a sense of ownership," I am giving an example of Canada because unlike China, it respects its minority groups and not just make a showcase of its ethnic groups beside Han-Chinese. If European Union can have peaceful co-existence with different nationalities, and if Great Britain can embrace Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Cornish with their unique identities, then why is federalism such a big no-no for the elites and the privileged sections of Nepalese society. If different nationalities within Nepal were to view themselves being only used by the politicians for political game, and have no agency of power in the post-April revolution,
"in fact, the possibility of a conflict and a weakening of the state is much higher if Nepal does not federalise."

The adoption of identity terms such as Asian-Americans, African-Americans in America is a refleciton that one's ethnic/racial identitity comes first before the national one, one is Madhesi before he is Nepali, and one is Gurung, Tibetan, Tharu before he/she is Nepali, a dilemma that bahuns and chettris don't have to grapple with because the national identity and language: Daura Suruwal and Nepali language, was theirs to start with, and like everything else, everything was dictated in their favor since the formation of Nepal as a modern state.

When panchyat, monarchy, the old national anthem glorifying shah dynasty were thrown out, bahnus and chettris did not have any issues whatsoever because it was in their favor, and now their comfort zone of being once a Hindu country; the education, administrative and even legislative layouts, is being questioned, the literate (but not educated for it means wise) bahun-chettris simply don't understand the ethos and pathos of different nationalities. The nationalities for the first time in history have proposed to the what they really want, and the nation, the master, as typical in the master-servants relationship, denies the very thing that offers freedom to servants. And as has been witnessed in world history, when push-comes-to-shove the results were breakdown of Soviet Union, Indian independence, Civil-Rights War, Tamil Tigers etc. and as someone said before, the ball is in bahuns and chettris court!
 
           


16. R. R. Misra
 " Incorporating ethnicity is a political compulsion....." and
  
"...... whichever way it turns out eventually, there will be plenty of people ready to burn the constitution." 

These truism from Prashanta Jha is most insightful. Glad that we have such good analysis. The responses obtained above to his article does give creditibility to the latter statement.... in that, there will always be dissatisfaction from one group or the other. 

Traditionally, it was only for the Chhetris to rule. By 1950, mostly the Bahuns wanted to participate in the polity. Today, not just the Bahuns,  but all Jatjatis (caste/ethnic groups) have shown their desire to participate in the polity. How to accomodate this desire is the main issue. If such all-ethnic participation is not accomodated, then the deprived groups will emulate the Bahuns of 1950 and 2006 to gain power through arms and agitations... that is all. 




17. Satyajeet Nepali
Agree with Budabaaje. As I've often said, the Peace Agreement was done for purely parochial, political interests, not with NATIONAL INTEREST at heart. It was in the interests of the unholy alliance (SPA, Maoists and India) to get rid of a political rival, the monarchy, and that was the primary aim of the so-called "peaceful solution". The promise of a 'naya sambhidhan' was a DECOY to take the public's eyes away from the incompetence and failures of the parties during the 90s, and from the violence and terror of the Maoists. There's no reason why Nepal's political and social inequities could not be resolved from within the parameters of the 1990 constitution itself. No constitution is perfect at first. They are perfected with time through amendments. The American constitution has some 25 or 30 amendments. Our 1990 constitution died a virgin death. No amendments at all, none! Its own creators (the parties) orphaned it without making any serious effort to defend it. Instead they went to bed with its killers (Maoists) to conceive a BASTARD child called the 'barha-bunde' peace agreement! ..I can only hope that the Nepali ppl, particularly the parties and the agra-panthi, will have the COURAGE to face and admit this truth soon. If they do so, then it's still not too late. Ackowledging this truth, they should apologize for their great BETRAYAL of the people's trust by giving power and sovereignty back to the people themselves. Hold a REFERENDUM on all major changes that political parties have currently IMPOSED on us in the name of "Naya Nepal"! Whether Nepal is a republic, unitary or federal, secular or not and so forth are decisions to be taken by ALL Nepali people *directly*, not by a few Bahun men in secret rooms in FOREIGN lands!! 

18. jange
Wave ji- I would go one step further regarding identity. We are humans before any other label. Problem starts when one forgets this. Regarding the constitution, most people are stumped if you asked them what was wrong with the 1990 constitution; what was it lacking that couldn't be fixed by an amendment, including removing the monarchy and federal structure? I did ask one "intellectual" who was vociferously arguing for a new constitution the same question and after a minute's thought said "Nothing."  Interesting times ahead!!!


19. Arthur
Singapore asks: "What is so vitally wrong with the existing model of 14 zones and 75 districts...".

I think it is well suited to the interests of the people who want to keep it. It was designed for administration of a centralized Hindu Monarchy, with an "extractive" state oriented to extracting resources from people throughout the country and concentrating the wealth in the hands of an elite in Kathmandu. So officials responsible to Kathmandu were sent to remote parts of the country to collect taxes and enforce "order". Boundaries between the jurisdiction of these officials are purely for administrative convenience in collecting taxes and enforcing order, with no connection to development of the local economy and culture let alone politics - the latter being strictly a monopoly of small circles surrounding the royal court.

The system was designed for extraction so there was little development and the people ended up having to live off remittances from workers sent abroad - with little left over to extract from them. The elite itself ended up living off donor funds intended for development. The patronage system meant that officials had to put their main efforts in the time they were posted to a particular position in collecting enough in extra bribes from below to recover the costs of bribes to buy their position from above and pay for a more favourable posting closer to Kathmandu as soon as possible.

In short it is the completely corrupt dysfunctional system that everyone is still complaining about, rendered more absurd by having to support a larger number of "elite" since "democracy" and having lost the ability to enforce "order" in the villages.
 
Boundaries for autonomous federal states would necessarily be established on different principles since the aim would be to make officials responsible to (and drawn from) the people in the area they serve rather than rule. They would need to speak the same languages and share the culture and mindset of the local people or peoples.

To enable local people to function as political communities that determine their own policies and priorities and choose their own governments it is important to have the boundaries that reflect actual communities as far as possible - bringing together people with common languages, culture, economic relations and so on rather than arbitrarily dividing them administratively.

Nepal's various nationalities and national minorities are still developing both individually and into a single nation (which in turn is becoming part of a globalized world). Suppression of various groups in the name of "one language, one religion, one dress" etc has acutely retarded national development and erected barriers between different groups of Nepalese - especially in the Terai. Ending the political monopoly and allowing the political development of other communities along more natural boundaries is the only way to reduce the importance of "identity" issues and focus people's concerns on the common  problems of development.

Naturally those who benefited most from the Panchayati system are the most ardent opponents of federalism, as can be seen from the braying of the open Monarchists in this discussion.

Actually they are rather short sighted even in their own interests. It seems obvious that the national government of Nepal and most state governments will be led by Maoists in the relatively near future. How many of the old 14 zones would not have a Maoist majority and even a two thirds majority?

Kathmandu Valley and the central Terai "Madhesh" districts are about the only places where one could might be surprised if the Maoists got a two thirds majority and unsurprised if they did not get an absolute majority at all.

Yet the anti-Maoists are so blind in dreaming the old order can be restored with them ruling from the center that they adamantly oppose federalism, with the only likely result being centralised Maoist rule in all districts!

In reality the assumption behind all this noise against federalism is that upheaval and chaos could enable army rule with no elections. That is the only point of the noise. Its really rather silly. The sheer absurdity of imagining that the anti-Maoists could solve their problems by preventing elections far into the 21st Century is what underlies the simple statement that: In any case, federalism has already been decided upon, and the decision will not be reversed.

The decision to accept transition from the old order to an actual democratic system, including federalism, was made when the army failed to win the civil war and accepted confinement to barracks and elections for a Constituent Assembly. That was the time to fight for the old order. Those who supported it did fight and did not win. It is far too late to reverse that now.

jange and Satyajeet Nepali etc have to keep venting their indignation about the decision to accept defeat that they opposed by repeating endlessly that this decision was taken and that it is hypocritical for those who advocated accepting defeat to now complain about the consequences. Eventually even they will realise that they are only reminding themselves that they lost and should stop wailing about that and aim to "get a life" in the future New Nepal.


20. jange
Thanks you Arthur ji for the armchair revolutionary perspective. Your last post is too far from ground realities to make it worthwhile to respond.


21. Anonymous
So what exactly are the ground realities, Jange? Is there no way of getting credible statistics on Nepal, any information that would support a case that is contrary to what Arthur has built so well?

 Nevertheless, bits of what he says is bull. The idea of communists defending culture is simply laughable. Nevertheless I have to admire what he has done,  that post is quite astute.

 Now, here are a few things that I did notice in that note that do not quite stand up to reason. Note the first paragraph, the case is built on a Hindu Monarchy setting up an extractive system.

 Funny, would someone bother getting some stats on which system of governance is not extractive if looked at with that perspective? All administrative systems flow upwards when it comes to collecting money (taxation), that money is aggregated at the center and then - according to the budget - dispersed for development. Money is utilized for administrative functioning etc, you know the works. To suggest that this was in any way to benefit a Hindu Monarchy or was a consequence of one is baloney. It was a system of governance that was designed to deliver certain goods that the rulers of the time thought was their duty to deliver.

"Nepal's various nationalities and national minorities are still developing both individually and into a single nation (which in turn is becoming part of a globalized world)."

Will someone throw some sense into this argument in the name of God - Hindu or otherwise. Various nationalities -  exactly which communist government was it that permitted various "nationalities" to survive and thrive unless it served the purpose of them staying in governance. Just a note, Chechnya was emptied and not by a Hindu Monarchy.

 Still staying with the idea of nationalities, if any of you are interested in history and more particularly in political history, please help here. Which king of Nepal actively sought to hurt a particular community, and most particularly their culture and in any way at all sought to convert them to another persuasion? Which community was displaced? Would somebody once again refer to the founding principle of Nepal and see if that helps in this argument - I am convinced it will? (I am trying to find it on the net and can't)

 Arthur constantly uses insulting word's such as braying of the monarchists to start off an argument .

 The people most opposed to federalism are the people endowed with most common sense who can see through the consequence of this, they are monarchists because god has been kind enough to grant them the brains to see life as it is. They depend on their everyday experience to understand that no political theory can ever sort out peoples problems. The way forward is not to fight the war of ideology but to fight the fight for family, security, efficiency and the idea of good, clean governance.

 Instead of reading the holy book of Marx, and his latter day saints Mao etc, and thence transplanting each one of those ideas into any land, just to get to power through hyperbole. They depend on the fact that if given cultural independence not just in name but action, and effective governance


22. R RAI

I found comments 11 and 14 interesting.

No doubt, bahuns are the smartest community in Nepal.No wonder, they are far ahead of other communities.I personally think they desrve it because they have proven themselves smarter than others. Hard work,simple life-styles and old culture have helped them (other communities must learn these positive attributes from them).What has also helped them is their traditional belief in the power of brains rather than brawn.

My only request to bahun brothers is it is time you started sharing with other communities, otherwise the gap will increase further with its terrible consequences i.e. sharing and inter-dependence will be in the best interest of all the communities.



23. Nirmal

24. suresh
yeh you are right R  RAI  i don mean to say we are the smart people.like everybody we have some short comings. we bahun are really bad in politics.historically there was no any bahun ruler in nepal before 2007. i don know how we evolve as a politicians. and we did really bad. no brahmin ruler realise the socio ethnic problem of society and or they dont wanted to. i think  before everything  i m nepali first then only brahmin hindu blah blah so there is no point any good thinking brahmin will oppose the policies that will help this country and this whole community i mean whole nepalese to move forward to properity with equal oppurtinity.  as personally i never thought about these things i was brought up always in really secular society my friends and even my girlfriend is also from ethnic community. i hope there will be better society for my children . i hope no body will ask him are you bahun or newar or any other caste in future. 

25. Nirmal

26. rishav
Not entirely clear why our tiny Country has been declared a federal state. I guess the strong advocate and will for the formation comes from the MJF, with their,"one madesh  and one pradesh," stance. Then there is the rise of the voices of different ethnic groups wishing for their own regions or little nations, which has probably come as consequence of what is happening in the Madeshi regions. I guess both loud voices and declarations comes from the feeling of being marginalized and suppressed for sometime. I would also like to point out in Nepal the real caste or divisional system is this, for all those foreign readers with preconceived ideas - poor, very poor, extremely poor and starving. People may feel resentment if they are very poor whilst looking up to someone who is just poor and feel that may have been disadvantaged for many centuries. If some of you foreign readers just went to the villages you will see so many poor, impoverished brahmin farmers barely able to feed their own families this is the true ground reality of what brahmins face on a daily basis. No one however is interested even the NGOs or academic researchers in them as they were the "suppressors," in their preconceived idealistic ways. In Nepal if anything goes wrong they always blame India, the then King(monarchy) and now it is the fashion to attack Brahmins. Us Nepalese, whatever ethnic background were from, have to stop blaming others and start looking at ourselves, take the responsibility for our own failures otherwise progression will never be made.

I am always weary or those leaders or people who shout the loudest and bully their way to get their demands through. Those people, who actually have no real reasons of being suppressed usually make the most noise where as those people who truly have been suppressed like the damai, sarki, kamai and tharus make little noise or impact what so ever which is my real fear. The weak are too weak to raise their voice and force their issues. Just remember what happened in Haiti, whilst watching the tv seeing how the aid packages were delivered it was the men weilding cutlasses which got the aid leaving the weak and impoverished aside. Similarly this could be the fate in Nepal for all those individuals who have been truly suppressed and too weak to raise their voice inorder to be noticed, taken seriously by politicians. So that one day they get the correct help, support owed to them and not bypassed by some very loud leader claiming to be disadvantaged with a gun/stick/knife in his hand.


27. Nirmal
There is an abundant evidence that people in Nepal share plurinational
areas and have multiple identities. Sometimes, most or large minorities
have dual identities that can relate more to one or another nationality
but very often have the same identity. This is not only due to the
presence of minorities in the nation "holder" of the larger state, but
extends to those using primordial criteria as nationalists( potential
chauvinists and the Maoists) identify with a nation that is presumably
seeking seperate identity ie political, economical and cultural
independence. A fact quite surprising when we consider the network of
group affiliations, generated by cohabitation for a long time, by
interracial marriage, by relations of friendship and interest. This
dichotomous decision which implies that the plebiscites ignores or
destroys necessarily that network.

In this context, presumably Prashant's and others democratic idea of
"let the people decide", generates almost insoluble problems. It
requires, before presenting the issue to be voted, someone has to
decide who is the people. It is likely that this 'someone' has not been
elected democratically. Moreover, this decision is already quite
contentious. What territorial unit should be used when making the decision? Does each
municipality, the existing administrative divisions inherited
historically, the whole area claimed by the nationalists, the alleged
ethnic or linguistic map? Who can take a binding decision like that on the
drive where people can choose? Even after making this decision, "how the
vote should be binding for those living in areas where a clear majority
has decided against the will of minority? These areas can range from
administrative districts or municipalities to entire provinces, which
would mean that the wishes of nationalists on both sides would have to be
ignored. The borders more or less arbitrary, often based on natural or
historical boundaries should be agreed by politicians, forced to ignore
the preferences of many people. Moreover, can a decision as momentous as
the demarcation of a Federal State, or creating a new state, left to a
majority of 50.1 per 100 of those who vote, or at least a similar majority
of those who have right to vote, which would leave the decision largely in
the hands of those who have abstained? It has been said, and it can be
said that such momentous decisions are required qualified majorities, as
Baburam Bhattarai and Sujata Koirala were asking for in case there is
disagreement on the modality of the federal units and its essence so there
can be the establishment of a qualified majority which will predetermine
the outcome of the referendum.

Prashant as how the concept of ethnicism is set out in Nepal, with its
classical classification of different races and casts being followed by
nationalists of both sides, democrats, and now so called leftists aka the
Maoists, I think this model of 14 autonomous provinces would further
complicate our goal to end racism in our land. I would say: The bullfrogs
become lethargic with first cold nights. Just look at people like RRai, he
thinks that all of us have our racial tags after our names. Ours is just a
surname and not any racial tag, RRAI.




28. Nirmal
my previous comments have not been published, I don't know why? May be it is deleted on the way to your reception space. Or is it Nepali Times which reserve the right to do so?


29. Satya Nepali (2)

Rishav, let me try to answer your question about why Nepal is being declared a federal state: (1) The Maoists needed guerillas to fight their war (while the top leaders (mostly Bahun) all lived in hiding in India, one might add). So they allied with ethnic groups, fanning ethnic disconent, rousing ethnic hatreds, promising ethnic states and so forth so that they got enough soldiers to fight their war. (2) The other political parties wanted political power at any cost. They conveniently blamed the king/monarchy for all of Nepal's failings and went to bed with the Maoists turning a blind eye to all their activities. They didn't care abt the future consequences of their actions. They too played the ethnic card, making promises of autonomy, federalism etc. whether they meant it or not. They agreed to federalism in the CPA and Interim Const. without giving it due consideration. Ethnic groups are now only demanding what they were promised.



30. Satya Nepali (3)

..A third point is worth adding: (3) Ethnic groups have learnt to distrust the political parties through bitter experience due to the parties' evident Bahun-bias. The monarchy was removed from power in 1990.  Bahun-led parties showed indifference toward ethnic grievances and aspirations after coming to power. Of all groups, the Bahuns benefitted the most in the post-90 polity. Ethnic groups are not going to be fooled again. They no longer believe that removal of monarchy and 'loktantra' under Bahun-led parties will give them full freedom. They want their own states. The parties can't backtrack on their promises - although some are looking for excuses to do so.

I don't mean to suggest that there's nothing else but politics in all this. Many ethnic groups have faced historical injustice, which has to be corrected. I fully acknowledge this. But is federalism the only way to do this? This was a question that should have been considered seriously *before* the parties decided to go to bed with the Maoists and their agenda. It is why I repeatedly say that the peace agreement was done purely for short-term political gain, not with long-term national interest at heart.



31. Anuj
I wonder why Mr. Jha blantantly use the term as "ethnic entrepreneurs like Laxman Tharu and Kumar Lingden" without any due consideration to their role that we Janajatis appreciates. Now, I convinced more than ever that Mr. Jha is discriminatory while it comes to Janajatis issues. And Mr. Jha what if i was to state like..  'ethnic activists like Laxman Tharu and Kumar Lingden, and Indian agent like Mr Prashant Jha". Mr Jha, write more responsibly please.

32. Battisputali
Ahh! My eyes! My eyes! Could Nepalitimes go back to the old non-formattable comments? The ability to have multiple paragraphs is great but the blods, underlines,separate fonts etc. are a little difficult to read.

33. Chhetri ko chhoro

To R Rai (#22): if a certain community monopolizes access to knowledge for millenia then no wonder they end up becoming smarter than others. If, after generations of reading and learning, and telling others to go fight, make clothes or shoes, beat iron, or clean dirt, such a group is still less smart than those other communities then that would be quite unnatural indeed! No matter how poor a Bahun may be economically, socially he/she is always at the top for everywhere, in every corner of Nepal, they are the ones who have monopolized knowledge for ages and ages. Reading, writing, numeracy has been their express preserve. Even if bahun children don't get to go to school they'll still learn some basic literacy from their parents and family. They have generations of advantage over other communities. If other communities had same access to sources of learning and knowledge as they did, maybe they too would have been as smart and develop good culture like them.. such things are not just in the genes. They are developed and passed on from generation to generation. While bahuns passed down knowledge and good culture, they told others to pass down different kinds of values. For example, chhetris encourage their children to be brave and warrior-like, kamis may encourage their children to be physically strong and so on. This is because bahuns themselves set up a system where other communities were supposed to follow these other paths whereas they monopolized the path of learning and training the brain. In today's world brain-power is more important than bravery, physical strength etc. So bahuns who have been at it for ages and ages have a natural advantage over everyone else who're just catching on...



34. Chhetri

But my main problem is that bahuns try to get away by blaming all this on the monarchy and dragging along chhetris into a 'khaadal' that they created! Monarchy didn't come up with this unjust caste-system. Neither did chhetris. Bahuns themselves did. And they have benefitted the most from it. Yesterday they stayed on top in the name of religion. Today they are on top in the name of democracy, human rights, development etc. Top politicians, civil society leaders, judges, lawyers, sachivs etc are all bahuns. All this is because of their tremendous generational advantage. But they want to blame the past injustice on someone else and get away scot-free by capturing the top echelons of the modern-day religion i.e. democracy, human rights, development etc. My god what cunning! I don't care that bahuns do well. Let them. But to all my chhetri brethren I say: throw away this yoke that bahuns have placed on you for ages and ages and ages. You have been exploited for far too long. Yesterday in the name of god and religion, and today under the guise of things like democracy, human rights etc. But no matter what mantra they use, bahuns will always stay on top and exploit you. Cut yourself completely from those bahuns now. Other communities are getting their own states. Good for them. But if ever there is a talk for one state for bahun-chhetri, stand up and say NO! If we are to get a state, let


35. suresh
at chhetri  we nepalese always spend time glorifying ourself and love to let other down. thats why we are always back. instead of making a society where we can coexist with dignity and equality we wanna take revenge and fight with each other bahun did this they did that is not the answer for the current situation do we want to be in status quo or we wanna move forward? i think biggest imperfection is to find imperfection in others so each of us start thinking positive and start to work hard in the things in which we are bad then i think we can compete to eachother in a healthy way yes it is true that govt should support each of them equally . so neither bahun nor chhetri or any body is perfect. everybody is learning in this world  i think we bahun are learning from this experience and the bad impact we left in our society. 

36. save nepal
like any bahun, suresh has nothing to offer. 

bahuns can still play important role in rebuilding nepal, as they are most educated. but they can never lead because they have scant regard for the multi-ethnic fabric that this country is. they have built walls with their supposed superiority complex, sense of entitlement and tendency to look down upon the rest. they utterly lack empathy toward other communities and only look out for themselves and their kind. they are mostly responsible for everything bad in our country. they have taken us to the brink of survival. the course can be corrected only once the country is emancipated from the ruthless clutches of this group.


37. R RAI

Chhetri ji and Sureshji, I think both of you love our country very much. Therefore, let us unite for the sake of our country and people ( I mean all the people who love Nepal).

There were / are honest and good monarchists. There were/are great democrats.There were/are bad monarchists. There were/are so-called democrats who only preach but do not practice.Similarly there are good leftists and bad ones.

Does not matter where on the spectrum you are, or I am. What matters is do we really and honestly care about Nepal.If we do, let us unite.

We can not change the reality that we belong to different ethnicity or castes - we are a plural country. Let us talk about what can unite us,not divide us while being proud of our identity.

I have no right to comment on the relationship between our bahun and chhetri brothers.I have very close bahun chhetri friends and family members married to bahun and chhetri.I truly and honestly wish you both and your communities well.

What is slowly but surely destroying our country is unchecked crime.



38. Chhetri

@suresh, yes, yes, we know your 'meetho boli'. always on top and lecturing others. typical bahun mentality. you think you are born to moralize and teach and preach to others.. it's easy to say 'let's forget the past, now we need to move forward' when you are on top. when you are the ones who've always got max benefit and are certain to get even more benefit in future... "govt should support each of them equally", there! that sentence shows just how much you have "learnt from this experience" and just how little you're sorry for the "bad impact" you left in society. your hollow words are exposed right there! the last thing anyone should do in naya Nepal is trust bahuns. I hope chhetris have enough brains to demand their own state like all the other janajatis who have been smart enough to do so!  



39. manohar budhathoki
i generally don't like committing myself along ethnic/caste lines but all that is happening now in Nepal is a bit too much. Chettris are by far the largest 'caste' in Nepal any way you look at it. Bahuns, Tamus and others are much much smaller numerically if you go across Nepal from Karnali to Seti to Mahkali or any other district. Chettris in the mid and far west are among the poorest and most backward any way you look at it.The upcoming national census should make that clear. I also agree with the chettri ko choro that we chettris should have a seperate identity from bahuns. Another perplexing thing is how Nepal is going to have 'minority rule'.  It would be one thing to try and bring marginalised groups into the mainstream and to have plans and scholarships to encourage them but to design minority rule over majority? How will these minority groups like Sherpas and Limbus rule over other groups that outnumber them in the very provinces? Unnatural like Saddam Hussein's sunnis ruling over majority Shias, ain't it? Is Nepal another Iraq in the making?


40. suresh
i feel so sad for myself i was not trying to be bahun or chhetri in this forum but u know how all we are. we never rise above that so plz dont say anything personally ok i m neither nepali as a citizen or nor bahun or anything. this country will never rise because of the low standard thinking people we have.

LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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