Identity politics has taken centre stage in Nepal, and the debate is getting increasingly polarised. There are those who are suspicious and think it's blasphemous to raise the identity debate and those who will settle for nothing less than ethnically demarcated provinces. However, both sides seem to have missed the point. The only way to resolve the growing hostility is by engaging in healthy debate. We all have multiple, intersecting identities, of which region, language, religion, and culture are important elements. While language, culture and customs are at the centre of the indigenous movement, in Madhes regional and linguistic identities are of major concern. Hence, any federal model must take these nuances into consideration.
Names of future federal units are secondary; the discussion should instead be focused on whether the new states can ensure equal rights and opportunities for people living within the boundaries and how to promote equal cultural and social relations among the residents. However, in order for this conversation to take place, people standing on the opposite sides of the identity debate must come to a compromise.