January 28, 2012


[Below we post two excerpts forwarded tonight from Kathmandu against federalism and  Maoists political maneuver in the Himalayan country of Nepal. In the first article the author shares his view that ethnic federalism is no good for Nepal. He questions - should we offer  right to self-determination to the 24 Koch individuals in proposed Kochila State, would they be sticking  to Nepal or merge into Indian Kochila ? His  argument as Dr. Hark Gurung being the first to talk of federal state for Nepal is not  correct; neither was NEFEN ( Nepal Federation of Nationalities - नेपाल जनजाति महासंघ founded to garner votes for the Maoists. He has lacked offering any viable options for those disadvantaged peoples basically.   In the second article, the other author decries dethroning of the former king. He lashes out  the opposition becoming worthless and  being whipped by the Maoists to their game plan. - The Blogger]

By Bishnu Pathak PhD
Google image.
In order to address prevalent social problems  related to class, caste, gender, region including the political, economic, social and cultural patterns, seven political parties which  later became known much as SPA and the Communist party of Nepal (Maoist) had signed a 12-point peace accord on November 21, 2005 for a progressive state restructuring of the Himalayan country of Nepal. It now seems,  that course was taken too early. Without any political transformation taking place in the country and economic development being achieved thereafter, now the party leaders are all out seemingly to resolve the outstanding socio-cultural issues incorporating identities of limited groups in federal states in the forthcoming constitution.
To secure vote in general election, the pro-communist forces established NEFEN ( Nepal Federation of Nationalities - नेपाल जनजाति महासंघ ) and later a separate organization named Akhil Nepal Janjati Sammelan ( All Nepal Indigenous People's Conference - अखिल नेपाल जनजाति  सम्मेलन ) was also founded in November 1994 and which was convened by Maoist leader Mr. Suresh Ale Magar. The initial 40-point Maoists’ demands tossed on the table of then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai on February 2, 1996, exclusively stated that  they would offer right to self-determination and autonomy to the ethnic communities in the country once they emerged  victorious at the end of the war.
The idea of regional and ethnic autonomous states was initially floated by Dr. Harka Gurung which later received international prominence in that  an Indian Professor S.D. Muni and some other US scholars admired it. It happened under the watch of  Prime Minister Prasad Koirala. Moreover, the issue was publicized far and wide in the country by the Maoists to allude the ethnic populace who would raise arms for them to carry on people's war. The rights to self-determination, ethnic and regional autonomy, and secularism were raised particularly by the Maoists, but now those rights' issues  have become prime agendas of all ethnic, regional, lingual, and cultural groups in the country. It seems none of the political parties in the Constituent Assembly has any clear understanding of  ethnic, cultural and  autonomous states except for the Maoists. The Maoists proposal of ‘autonomous state’ is itself a minority concept.  This is what I presume.   
For instance, a Limbuwan State comprises of 27 % Limbus, who make up only 1.58 % of the total population of the country. There are just 24 Koch individuals in Kochila State. Kirat State is also a minority federal state of 2.6 %  of Rais and Limbus combined  together. The 5.5 % Newars are still in minority   in their native Kathmandu valley. Rapid urbanization of Kathmandu valley may have reduced the Newars population size around 22 %. Tamangs also make  just 30 %  of the population of the Maoist-proposed Tamang-Saling State. Gurungs are in a minority (27 %) in the Tamuwan State. Magars with 7.1 % of the national population, are also in a minority with 28 % in Maoist-proposed Magrat State. There are few other state demands of  Mithila, Bhojpura, Awadh and 'One Madhes One Pradesh' etc. A matter of serious concern  and which therefore should transpire to all  that about 75 % of Mithila lies in India and about 78 % of Kochila in West Bengal. If  Mithila and Kochila become autonomous states with right to self-determination, would these states keep sticking to Nepal? This is a million dollar question  not satisfactorily answered yet .
Should we have federal states in Nepal as demanded by various ethnic groups; it would surely bring in division,secession and total collapse of Nepali nationhood. For example, Nigeria left federal constitutional rule despite a series of people’s movements for regional autonomy. When Nigeria achieved independence in 1960 from Britain,  three of its  federal regions that had already become autonomous became independent states when the country declared itself a Federal Republic in 1963. It has now more than 36 federal states. Likewise Sudan, which had three ethno-federal states, now has been divided into 26 such states in its 50 years'  history. India's federal states were initially16 in 1975 and now there is  a Union of 7 with 29 States. India's 22 states are suffering from 'identity and violence'. Pakistan seceded from India on religious ground  and Bangladesh from Pakistan in the name of culture.
The Kusundas of Nepal, for instance, consisting of 164 people in western Nepal, have asked for their own autonomous homeland. Will Nepal be similar to Palau/Balau whose population is just 20,842 but is divided into 16 states?
The major problem of Nepal is not caste and ethnicity but it is a "class" domination. Brahmin and Chhetris are as equally poor and vulnerable as other ethno-cultural groups in the country.  For example  I myself come from a Brahmin family. My octogenarian  parents  are  also not educated  because of poverty. I studied and reached at this stage struggling a lot with poverty, without any support from the Government. Even though, I am trying to make good history of Nepal in the world, why should I be victimized in the name of being a Brahmin?
It is understandable that 40 % of the world population in 30 countries live in  federal system of government. Both federal (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Switzerland, the USA,) states and unitary (China, France, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, North Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, etc.) states are equally developed and underdeveloped. Both of these unitary and federal states in the world face violent conflicts currently. Thus, development (right to food and freedom) does not depend on unitary or federal system of governance, instead it depends upon vision, mission, morality and discipline of the leaders.
The government has formed a nine-member State Restructuring Commission (SRC)  to recommend the CA a best  model for a federate Republic of Nepal. Except a few, neither of the members of SRC does have expertise in the subject frankly.  I have reservation that they would make a remarkable contribution towards the goal other than putting party stamp they belong. The blueprint they produce for federalism would be blurry  as they seem to be not  focusing on the need, desire and benefit of the people and the nation on the whole.  
Therefore, there is no other option for big parties to forge a compromise on such contentious issue. The CA should  reach a decision that best suits the country. The best way to protect national sovereignty and integrity is to carve the province north border with Tibet (China) and South to India considering the identity, geography and resources available. We do not want communal violence flare up in the country. If right decisions are not made, the country will certainly experience dreadful communal, cultural and regional violence than the protracted People's War in the past.

(For more please click the link at http://www.telegraphnepal.com/five-questions/2012-01-26/nepal:-announcement-of-federal-states-is-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-country.html).

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Madhukar <madhukarsjbrana@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 12:48 AM
To: The Himalayan Voice <himalayanvoice@gmail.com>

Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattrai  Bhattarai has said that if we don't become a transit-state, we will be merged either into China or in India. As an ethnic federal state, even if we are a transit-state, Nepal will be integrated with India not as a state but as parts of Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, UP and Uttar Khand. One does not expect the Himalayan belt people to opt for China given the Tibet issue. One may wonder if the Newa state will remain independent and if so it may be the transit state as in medieval times

The forces underlying these predictions for the new ethnic Nepal are these: division of UP and the creation of a united Gorkhaland with the merger of Darjeeling and Sikkim. Expect division of Bihar too that will trigger the integration of Madhesh into India. Given the state of the economy and benefits accruing to India from Nepal's water, energy and forest resources ( who knows what minerals lie underground?) India can easily afford attractive welfare and business incentives to motivate the hapless ethnics who will see merger better than a self destructive ethnic civil war. 

Madhukar SJB Rana,
Kathmandu, Nepal.


[The opposition parties now seem to be mounting pressure on  the government to take the decision back but which otherwise has already resulted in the much hyped 'peace process' to get stalled further. There is no head start for 'promulgating constitution' . The major parties blame each other for not contemplating what was desired or agreed upon. The common phenomenon to watch from a distance is the opposition parties disrupt the house proceedings as usual.]

By Deepak Gajurel
The opposition ( Nepali Congress and CPN-Unified Marxists Leninists) has received another blow from the Maoist leaders. The Maoist vice-chairman Dr. Bhattarai led government is all set to legalize the ownership of seized lands that were certified by the 'People's' government' during the conflicts. Thousands of such land dealings, as 'grab and own' or certified by the Maoists during the decade-long armed conflicts have now become flatly legal following government's recent decision to this effect.

The opposition parties now seem to be mounting pressure on  the government to take the decision back but which otherwise has already resulted in the much hyped 'peace process' to get stalled further. There is no head start for 'promulgating constitution' . The major parties blame each other for not contemplating what was desired or agreed upon. The common phenomenon to watch from a distance is the opposition parties disrupt the house proceedings as usual.

Various works to be carried out under 'peace process' are stalled already because of the Maoist's intra-party disputes. Months have gone by, but no progress as such has been achieved  yet. Oppositions, especially the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, are in a doldrums. They neither give up all stocks to the Maoists, nor they are in a position doing  anything tangible.

By now, the Maoists have achieved what they desired, especially after the Constituent Assembly election, or after the non-political and non-ethical abolition of Monarchy from the country.

The parliamentary parties, who believe in ballot, in a loud voice, used to claim 'bringing the terrorists (read Maoists) into the mainstream political process.' Yes, Maoists came into  helm in Kathmandu through people's ballot, bagging majority of the votes in the CA elections of  2008. The Maoist, the largest party in the CA with more seats than Nepali Congress and CPN-UML combined, is in a position to drive the political parties the route they wanted since last four  years. It's parliamentary parties' turn to push 'demands' to the perusal of the Maoist for its implementation. And the Maoists do not even see the need to pay heed to their demands. Obviously, the Maoists have been successful in using others by dragging into their own terms of references.

The so called 'Loktantrik forces' as they boast for themselves, NC and the UML, are  tossed into an awkward position, politically and morally also. It is because politics is the game of power. Whatever a powerful does become correct. And  the Maoists are doing just that; keep it going !

The Maoists are contemplating as per their declared policies and strategies. One should therefore be reminded of that Maoist's declared 'official policy' was to abolish Monarchy, its main enemy, from Nepal and establish 'people's republic.' In addition, it was, and still is, the Maoists' declared policy to 'destroy' old Nepal's all systems, political, cultural, economic and otherwise to create a 'New Nepal', meaning  that People’s Republic in line with what the North Korea is doing at the moment. Most importantly, the Maoists have not renounced violence yet. In principle, this party is still holding guns. The shadow of the 'gun culture' can be seen everywhere in the country, even NC and UML, others also not spared.

By now, it should be clear to any sane person that 'Loktantrik' parties are hanging out in fantasy. And it is them who are creating an illusion that Maoists have entered into the 'mainstream political course.' The outcome of an illusion is never real. Thus the situation for parliamentary parties, especially for Nepali Congress and Unified Marxists Leninists is miserable.

It is no surprise that the Maoists are working hard on their own party line. All others are cornered and forced to reach a 'national consensus' on their terms and conditions. And simply the Maoist's terms and conditions are to annihilate their declared 'enemies.' Since Monarchy has already been uprooted, though undemocratically, it's now the turn of  new 'enemy,': the parliamentary parties, those who believe in people power and ballot, and  more importantly denounce violence.

It seems that Nepali Congress and UML, including other newly born 'republican' parties, have not yet realized the Maoist strategy of destroying all its enemies, real or virtual. So, it appears the days ahead are going to be interesting to watch.