October 19, 2011


[The post below was made already on May 2, 2011. It still holds some water, however, the author stands very critical of few leading experts of Nepalese social history. He has at least thirteen different questions so far to those who are opting for federalism in the country. The Himalayan Voice would like to share them with its readers one more time  again and welcome comments also, if any.  Thank you. - The Blogger]

                              “A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand." - Abraham Lincoln

By Vijaya K. Sigdel
Nepalese IPs brandishing Khukuris - Gurkha knives- during a protest 
march in Kathmandu.
Reading an article 'Intense Ethnic Strife Likely in Nepal' - Says An Expert’ posted at The Himalayan Voice by Prof. Krishna Bhattachan of Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, I shall write here about what we should be doing towards a common goal of making Nepal peaceful and prosperous and common home of us all, the Nepalese people. In the article, he has been glorified  as an expert of Nepalese socio-political issues, however, reading what he has said, I found him to be a chaff haversack or total hollow. So I am sorry, I would not take him seriously as an expert. He is an activist on the side of the so-called progressive or revolutionary group and the extreme sectarian elements of our society. These fringe groups would like us to believe that there is nothing good about our country. Moreover, Mr. Bhattachan appears to be an ethnocentric demagogue. His ideas are based on dogmatic ideology, not the national creed of a unified Nepal. Can we expect him to be intellectually honest here? Not a chance. If he were, he would not insult our people’s intelligence by making such a preposterous proposal, one which would completely unravel the basic fabric of Nepal.

Sure, he may possess a high academic accolade from a prestigious university, but so what? A lot of people get certificates without getting any real education and, eventually, they turn out to be simply duds or, worse, even evil. Our examples in Nepal are too glaring; I need not cite any. They may be endowed with book sense but lack common sense.  With a big I-told-you-so smirk on his face, Voltaire from his grave is undoubtedly uttering, “Common sense is not so common.”

Let’s face it, our problems have originated from this tiny number of so-called educated, vocal individuals and some organized groups. It is not the vast majority of common folks who have very little or no formal education. They cannot afford to be rabble-rousers because they must do the back-breaking work required to maintain our society – day after day, year after year.

What is also so remarkable about our common people is that they are deeply religious and spiritual. They have an abiding belief in their cultures and traditions. By virtue of their strong faiths they are good natured, honest, kind, generous, compassionate and tolerant people. Their lives are guided by righteousness and propriety. To whom “beauty is truth and truth beauty.” In actuality, they are creating the real building blocks of democracy in every hamlet of our country, while the goons and their allies who have grabbed power in Kathmandu are busy dismantling it. These great people are the true custodians of our society. They are the heart and soul of Nepal. They are Nepal and Nepal is them.

It is a paradox that these educated men, unlike the ordinary citizens of Nepal, are sleek, clever, cunning, outright dishonest, self-righteous and arrogant. In contradiction to the rest of the people, they show no morals and virtues. After all, their parents and our country invested so heavily in terms of time and resources on them to make them better people so they could work for the advancement of our society. Tragically, they have turned out to be not Nepal-centered but self-centered. Now, they are doing everything they can to impose their ideological will on us in the name of democracy. They are promoting themselves by taking advantage of our people’s innocence. They want to continue living by skimming and sapping our precious resources.

They have no imagination for Nepal. What is worse, now they are offering a concept of institutional ethnocentrism or tribalism so that they can carve out a fiefdom for themselves in the peripheries. This falls in line with what the Maoists want. They already have the center. Now they want to create weak-periphery fiefdoms so that they can rule Nepal with iron hands for a long time to come.

These people may talk about democracy but not of, by, and for the people. It is hard to imagine any higher objective than this. The people need and want a national council, not a tribal council. They want to live together, work together, enjoy life together and sing Jai Nepal together, not live separately singing their own song.

More to the point, Mr. Bhattachan maybe Berkeley-smart, but not Nepal-smart. He may have a modern education, but his solutions to solve our problems are primitive. He is demonstrating very little understanding of the intricate inner workings of our ethnic makeup, how it works for the people’s mutual benefit despite inherent strains and how it is absolutely essential to the evolution of a better society in Nepal. He and others want to end all the progress we have made so far towards social equality. This would be like strangling the chicken that lays golden eggs. Therefore, it did not surprise me that he is demonstrating poor judgment in solving some of our problems, real or perceived.

Having said that, I would not take his dangerous prescription for Nepal so lightly. If adopted, this so-called federalism will destroy Nepal in no time. A bloodbath will begin the minute it is adopted. Mr. Bhattachan would like us to think otherwise in order to put pressure to have this legislation codified in the constitution. He is appealing to our worst fears and instincts rather than to our best hopes and aspirations. Nepal's salvation lies in rejecting this supreme nonsense, which has enveloped our political landscape for too long now, once and for all.

I am impelled to ask a few questions of my own:

To begin with, shouldn’t we be talking about Nepal baad rather than jaati baad?

Multiculturalism is a blessing for us, not a curse. Indeed, it has been a very rich and rewarding experience for us. It is the essence of Nepal. Hence, shouldn’t we be working towards creating more of the same ethnic harmony rather than discord?

Shouldn’t our ringing cry be for unity rather than planting the seeds of division and erecting the walls of separation?

Shouldn’t we be seeking cooperation to solve our gigantic problems rather than laying a foundation for aggression, confrontations, revenge and ultimate retaliation? After all the death and destruction the Maoists brought to the country, shouldn’t we be saying “enough”?

Haven’t we done enough harm to our country already?

Shouldn’t we be drinking from the deep wells of goodwill that springs from multicultural harmony rather than the poisonous pond of ethnic partition that leads to hatred and animosity?

Shouldn’t we start having a dialogue rather than a monologue, “My way or no way?”

Shouldn’t we start listening to the sweet symphony of brotherhood and sisterhood nurtured by the multicultural mosaic of Nepal rather than the depressing solo drumbeat of ethnocentrism which will ultimately denigrate our entire humanity?

Shouldn’t we call ourselves Nepali first and our ethnic or tribal identity second?

Am I supposed to return to the caste-based system of yesteryear and proclaim myself to be above my fellow brothers and sisters who are citizens of the same country as I am?

Should I be seeking an ethnic or a regional standard rather than a national standard?

Is division the hallmark of the new Nepal?  Is this how we intend to establish a reign of freedom, a rule of justice, equal rights and dignity for all in Nepal?

Is this how we are going to transform today’s dark midnight into tomorrow’s high noon? Instead of seeking cooperation are we proposing to build a legal foundation for permanent hostility and conflict?

Shouldn’t we be taking the high road instead of this low road?

Well, you get my point. Before I rest my case I must let each reader know where this is going to lead us.
Heaven forbid this proposal ever sees the light of day. If somehow we lose our senses and allow Nepal to be partitioned and converted into different ethnic enclaves, we will be taking a giant leap backwards. We will be building our own Berlin Wall.  We will be introducing the Apartheid of South Africa to Nepal. It will be our version of the cruel racial segregation that existed in the United States until 1964.

Consequently, it will eradicate the racial and ethnic harmony we have enjoyed since Nepal’s inception. A long night of suffering for generations to come will begin in earnest. Do we really want to leave the awful burden of rising up to end this barbaric system to future generations?

During the Civil Rights Movement to end racial segregation in the U.S., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told the American people, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” I have this unflinching belief that most Nepalese would say “Amen” to that in a unified, resounding voice.

Call me an idealistic fool, but I have seen the best of Nepal. Call me an eternal optimist, but I have stood at the majestic height of the mountain top. I have walked through the high plains. I have crossed many valleys and mighty rivers. During my unforgetable journeys, I have had the privilege to meet some of Nepal’s finest citizens – from all ethnic groups. Each time I have stumbled into the best of humanity among the poor, illiterate and despised.  I have seen the promises of Nepal, what we could be. I have this audacious belief that I am defined by my national character and ethos, not by ethnic chauvinism. Yes, this village bumpkin still keeps an abiding faith in “All in one and one in all.”

Nepal, this five-letter word, has stood the test of time throughout its history. Our forefathers have overcome the mightiest of struggles and kept our country safe and secured.  Although we are in the middle of a difficult struggle now, we will eventually overcome and become stronger and a better country.

To that end, Nepal does not need any other name attached to her celebrated name now. But, I hope that every Nepali keeps an enduring faith. Nepal cannot fully realize her full potential and shine with her scintillating beauty without her people’s unity and strength.

Each year at this time, mother nature brings her own renaissance to planet earth through regeneration and renewal. First comes the invigorating spring followed by the soothing warmth and rain of summer. May this spring season instill a new spirit and new thinking in our hearts and minds. Let this monsoon season replenish each of our souls with floods of righteousness so that we can right the wrong, make the unjust just, in Nepal.