Anarchy of Elites: A Case of Mismanaged Political Transition in Nepal

By Govinda Neupane

Center for Development Studies, Nepal

Kathmandu

First Internet Edition – August 2012

Contents
1. Nepal inside Dark Tunnel: Anarchy of Elitist Oligarchy
2. Seeds of Realignment of Social and Political Forces in Nepal
3. History Repeats Itself: Launching a New Mass Movement in Nepal
4. Adivasi and Janajati: Indigenous People and Nationalities in Nepal
5. Federalism in Nepal: Why and What Type?
6. Nepal: Disparately Waiting for the End of Darkness
7. Nepal in Transition: Short Euphoria, Long Journey
8. A Cursory Look on Political Developments in Nepal
9. Tenure of the Constituent Assembly: Extension, Extension……
10. New Political Masters Enthroned: Hopelessness and Upheavals Continue
11. Nepal: Hopelessness to Vibrancy
12. Nepal in Crisis: Long Live Nepal!

1. Nepal inside Dark Tunnel: Anarchy of Elitist Oligarchy

Where to start from? This is a very difficult task. Anyway, there should be a beginning and that could be the signing date of the second Delhi Agreement of 2006, generally called as 12-point agreement. The first Delhi Agreement was signed in 1951. Strangely, both times, the domestic Nepali political forces went to Delhi to conclude agreements between them seeking guidance, direction and mediation from India, a regional hegemonic power.

There was some sort of euphoria both the times. However, the euphoria, generated both the times, evaporated immediately, leaving space for hopelessness and frustration. Several people have already analyzed the factors that made the revolutionary zeal and fervor evaporating in no time in 1951. The agreement failed to make democracy functioning. As a result, we suffered for decades under the anarchic or authoritarian regimes till 1990. Even from 1990 to 2006, either there was another anarchic parliamentary regime or a totalitarian regime for a brief period of Gyanendra’s rule. That is all history now. However, we need to look deeper into the scenario that has been continuously unfolding since 2006.

We have been living in a situation of full blown political anarchy. We have no constitution, no polity, no constitutional government and no fully functional democratic institution. We have all-round corruption of unprecedented nature, scale and intensity. There is competition in pocketing state resources among different vested interest groups including the political actors at the high offices. We have no guardian. We are trapped in a politico-economic and social mess. Powerlessness, anger and frustration have become the governing feelings of millions of ordinary Nepali people. Really, we are somewhere deep inside a long, dark and narrow tunnel. I believe that independent analysts, political actors without colored vision, thoughtful professionals active in different fields and ordinary people surviving in a very hostile environment will agree with this depiction of the reality.

Either the Unified Maoist or the seven party alliance partners or both of them together have been at the helm of the state power since 2006. They are ‘powerful’ rulers. However, in practice, not the parties but a few leaders snatched power from their respective parties and established an oligarchic regime. In the ‘august galaxy’ of this oligarchy, there are twelve persons. Among them, four are from Unified Maoist, four from Nepali Congress, three from CPN (UML) and one from Madhesi front. All of them are of Khas origin (eight Bahuns and two Chhetris) except two (a Newar and a Tharu). All of them are male. All of them are new super-rich except one (a Koirala). Hence, this is the oligarchy of new super rich-Khas-male elites. This oligarchy made the party system dysfunctional. They made the Constituent Assembly non-functional and irrelevant and finally finished its existence. In de facto term, they snatched power from the polity in the name of political consensus.
The oligarchic regime continued with support of and blessings from the council of foreign ambassadors. It is interesting to note that the regime got legitimacy by executing wishes of the Indian, American and European ambassadors.

The United Nations, in case of Nepal, played quite dubious role. Its mission, from the very beginning, was governed by the American agenda – finish Maoism as an ideology, finish Maoist party as an instrument of communist upsurge and demobilize and disintegrate Maoist army as a fighting force.

The council of ambassadors actively provided political support to the UN mission called UNMIN. UNMIN provided cover for all wrongdoings of the Maoist and encouraged them to venture into new wrongdoings so that people could get alienated from them. UNMIN succeeded in this mission. Moreover, the council of ambassadors together with the UN mission, bilateral aid mechanisms and Bratton Woods institutions motivated, encouraged and made ready to the oligarchic regime to venture into the path of ‘consensus politics’. This consensus politics is anti-democratic as it discourages the formal democratic mechanism of “majority-minority in decision making”. Hence, a few leaders started to assemble, interacted and went back to their respective parties just to explain. This explaining was part of a political ritual. The party mechanisms became fiefdoms of a few leaders. The Constituent Assembly that was tasked to draft, finalize and promulgate a new constitution had been made paralyzed, and finally it was slaughtered at the middle of the night.

The remaining task of derailing the constitution making process was accomplished by the donation -hungry northern NGOs and their Nepali counterparts including the human rights groups. They got fund from dubious northern or UN sources, organized several meaningless workshops, and arranged foreign trips to Constituent Assembly members to show them as beautiful dolls and to milk donor-cows. Several Nepali interest groups also jumped in the flood to catch a few fleshy fishes. Intellectuals and media are naturally smell-sensitive. They also grabbed their share of the booty. In this way, the state invested billions of Rupees in an exercise that brought into reality Franz Kafka’s “Kafkaesque”.

In this way Nepal was thrown inside a deep, dark and long tunnel.

The class factor in Nepali politics became weak after 2006 as the Maoist party was converted to Unified Maoist and changed its class orientation from working class to upper middle class. Now, after the emergence of a few political instruments of working class forces, the class politics will get prominence once again. The most powerful force could be the force of working class people and the political process that could bring them into forefront of transformational actions would prevail over all other forces on the long run.

The non-Khas nationalities are on the war path. The Khas domination in all organs of the state is being challenged. The oppressed nationalities are asking for equity, justice and equality. Now, federalism has become the standard bearer of inclusion and power-sharing. The oppressed nationalities want federalism with ethnic identity and right to self-determination so as to mainstream oppressed nationalities and marginalized sections of people. This movement has been gaining momentum.

If the political forces of exploited classes, oppressed nationalities and marginalized sections come together, they could build a formidable force that would lead the process of radical societal change and progressive restructuring of the state. Now the political polarization has started to take shape rapidly. On one side, there could be the forces of status quo lead by the oligarchy of elites and their fragile party apparatus as mentioned above. And, on the other side there could be the political instruments of the exploited classes, regional forces, oppressed nationalities’ political instruments and associations of marginalized sections.
Now, after the dissolution of the duly elected Constituent Assembly, if there is no strong pressure, there is not much chance to have a constitution that is different than the constitution of 1991 with two exceptions – republic and nominally federated state structure. Hence, the progressive political forces including that of class, region, nationalities and marginalized sections should form, at least, a loose alliance and should create a mass movement which could generate strong pressure to make a progressive constitution. These forces must accept the challenges in any front whether that is round table conference, referendum or election. They should oppose the attempt of short cuts, particularly drafting a constitution by a super rich-Khas-male oligarchy appointed commission.

It is true that the tunnel is deep, dark and long. However, determined, sustained and collective journey will take us to the light that is at the other end of the tunnel. Daring to challenge the super rich-Khas-male oligarchy is the new departure point of this long journey. All movements, actions and endeavors, which have been continuing from the past or even from distant past, should get aligned with this historic journey, this new mass movement.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2. Seeds of Realignment of Social and Political Forces in Nepal

The political course, now, has taken a new turn. The forces of status quo and the forces of change, once again, are in search of new baskets to put them separately.

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Establishment Faction or MEF) has taken new stand on federalization and system of governance. The structure long advocated by the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) has prevailed. The MEF, NC and UML are on one side and they are advocating for 11 ethnic identity-free federal divisions, non-executive president (however, to satisfy MEF ego, directly elected one), sovereign parliament (jumbo sized), provisional constitutional court (that too cosmetic type with 5 years life), and many other attributes of a parliamentary system. Now, the MEF has overtly expressed its political gender that it is a parliamentary political force fully committed to western values, ideals and system.

The change of ideological stand, political line, strategy, tactic and modus operandi of the MEF has influenced several stake holders. The major forces, which are affected by this change, are the progressive political forces, working class including agrarian workers and poor peasants, oppressed nationalities and marginalized social forces including the Dalits and women. The hopes and aspirations of these people have got severe jolt because of the parliamentary forces mentioned above serving the same wine produced in 1991 in new bottles and with new labels. Content-wise, the base would remain the same and form-wise it will look slightly different. There will be a president in place of the king; there will be 11 provinces in place of 14 zones and a few other things.

Now, it is a big challenge for the forces who have been advocating for substantial to radical change in the society, polity and spread of wellbeing among people. The forces that are still committed to their progressive causes are in a challenging situation. Now, they are at crossroads. They should decide whether they go to reformist path or take the path of radical change. The reformist path has been travelled by the UML and MEF and if the progressive political as well as social forces decide the same path to travel through, it would be futile for them to talk loud. If they are genuinely committed to change the society, then they must go for radical change. The progressive political force is not alone as there are other social forces who are feeling betrayed. Particularly, the oppressed nationalities, suppressed social sections and federalist forces could very much shoulder the responsibility of transforming the Nepali society, politico-social relationships and polity and they could work together for equitable spread of wellbeing including wealth, access, power and opportunities.

The forces representing class politics and identity politics, now, are coming closer as these forces are either exploited or oppressed or both. The same is true for the marginalized sections. The problem is that the class politics is heavily influenced by reformism and the identity politics has been under the influence of northern NGOs and western bi-laterals. The marginalized sections are also heavily infiltrated by the western governmental or non-governmental agencies. Therefore, it is a challenge for them to free themselves from these trends and actors first. If they succeed in freeing themselves from such trends and forces, then they could effectively change the prevailing socio-economic order, which has been standing on a sandy ground.
These progressive forces could create the tempest of movements and could transform Nepali society and the state. These forces may include but not limited to the revolutionary faction of the UCPN (Maoist), oppressed nationalities organized collectively or separately such as Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, Madhesi parties, Janajati Parties, Dalit associations, women’s associations, etc. The unity among such forces has been seen in the movement to realize identity based federalism in these days. If this unity in action which has attracted even the Janajati and Madhesi Constituent Assembly members of MEF, NC and UML takes institutional form, this broader alliance of exploited class, oppressed nationalities and marginalized social sections may lead the new mass movement, which seems inevitable.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

3. History Repeats Itself: Launching a New Mass Movement in Nepal

A newly discharged patient from a government hospital reached limping at the office of the ministry of foreign affairs in German capital Berlin and asked the minister to note his dissent that he will not accept the accord between Germany and France as it was too humiliating for Germany, though it effectively ended the First World War. The man was Adolf Hitler, a wounded Corporal of the German army. In his political profession, Hitler was known for all his wrong doings. However, as a protesting solder, who had already contributed litres of his young blood for his country and tried to defend his nation; his role was remarkable.

In retrospection, when I peep into the situation of Nepal in recent past, I feel proud. There were villains at the helm like Gyanendra and Girija. However, there were heroes too and that too in many in numbers. The society was changing and it was changing very fast. The process of societal transformation could be felt and observed vividly. The powerless were busy snatching power, the marginalized were marching to take respectable place in the mainstream and the ever exploited lots were coming out of the shackles of exploitative socio-economic fabrics of the old society. Everything unscientific and outlived was being challenged and scientific and new one was emerging. When the transformational course was on full swing; the people had started to believe that the roses were blooming everywhere around them. Although, they had to pay a high price, they had consolation that there could be a better tomorrow. There was hope and there was hope that was instrumental in making them believing that all their endeavors have worth. Hope was on the air and hope was inside their mind.

After the loss of several thousand lives and properties of billions of Rupees, a new situation was created when the April 2006 mass movement succeeded in taming Gyanendra, the autocratic ruler. In that new situation, the yesteryears’ villains put on new furs and projected themselves as heroes. It happened partly due to Gyanendra as he kept them in five star detention facilities that made them ‘freedom fighters’ without sacrificing anything substantial, and partly due to the Maoist leaders’ appetite for power for themselves that made them too accommodative and compromising. The Maoist leaders learnt tricks from the Congress and UML leaders to cheat and steal money from public and governmental coffer and became one among them making corruption as rampant as it could be. On the other side, the Congress and UML leaders sharpened their skills and borrowed courage from the Maoist leaders so as to stage corruption of unprecedented nature and scale. Corruption through change in policy instruments that sounds perfectly legitimate became one of the prime source incomes for them. Inflating the number of PLA fighters at cantonments, increasing the number of CA members to 601, appointing ministers and advisers as many as that could go, are some of such practices. The levy the top leadership got from PLA, CA members and advisors/ministers was their prime source of income which has been amply clear from the financial statements the Maoists, Congress and UML have submitted to Election Commission. The hidden money in the form of commission, bribes etc what they collected is huge. The donation drive from individuals and companies is another area from where large amount of money was snatched. The program funds that were sent to local bodies simply were pocketed by the local leaders and their bosses at national level. Hence, in these post-monarchy five years, the amount looted either from the state coffer or from private source is difficult to estimate.

The never ending power game and ever increasing corruption have impacted heavily negatively in the lives of Nepali people and Nepali nation. The difficulties of people are increasing every day. The price rise, deteriorating law and order and terror created by the anti-social elements under the protection of political forces have added to already existing difficulties of people including managing their lives in a very difficult economic environment. The worst that happened in Nepal is that the people have no HOPE at all. Hopelessness and powerlessness govern the mind of people. From east to west, from north to south, the prevailing majority felling, particularly that of common men and women is that of hopelessness. In leaders, they see the face of villains. The new drive to make new Nepal has been aborted wholly and totally.

Now, it is simply foolish to expect that a bull will deliver a calf. The state is at the verge of collapse, the people are bewildered as their dreams shattered and Gyanendra is there looking at things with all smile. All these three factors add on frustration of people. However, frustration is not the remedy of any problem and here too the people must overcome this frustration. Although they are a few in numbers today, still there are leaders with vision, courage and commitment to cause. They should dare to lead. They may not so strong today; their sustained efforts could make them and their parties champion, credible and large.

There are three forces they could fill the vacuum created by the departure of United Maoists and other forces which were standing with the people in the past. a) The first forces are the communists, particularly who are still struggling against the party apparatus inside the Unified Maoist party – Mohan Baidhya-led platform together with Matrika-led party. b) The second force could be that of democrats who are inside Congress and UML or other parties or independent. They should come together to form a democratic force that would challenge the orthodoxy of the Congress and opportunism of the UML. c) The third force could be the inclusions as well as federalist forces that could uphold progressive agenda as a united front or as an alliance if not as a party.
The Nepali society must not stop transforming itself neither it will. The Nepali nation must not stop advancing itself and Nepali people must not stop dreaming a dream of a new Nepal – the future abode of prosperous, civilized and happy people. Similarly, the progressive, democratic and nationalist political forces also must not stop renewing, reorganizing, rediscovering and reorienting themselves so as to play their historical role of leading the people and nation to new height. They should succeed in providing new direction that makes
Nepali people confident, happy and hopeful and that makes Nepal a proud member among the comity of nations.
With all my reservation about Hitler, I referred him at the very first paragraph to communicate some strong sense of responsibility and some sense of urgency though that could be small and insignificant to begin with. We should dare to start our journey from scratches. Let’s not follow the Hitler of later years, but recognize his act of boldness when he was neither Fuehrer nor warlord Hitler that time in 1918. We need leaders and parties that may not be necessarily too large and too strong now, but they have the potentials to grow fast with progressive vision and purposeful actions and who dare to start from scratches. A mass movement that could mobilize hundreds of thousands of people only could ensure positive change and could sustain it.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

4. Adivasi and Janajati: Indigenous People and Nationalities in Nepal

There are two words that are used in Nepali more frequently recently. These words are Adivasi and Janajati.
Let’s first discuss about Adivasi. They are the original inhabitants of a land mass. They are not immigrants, and if they are, they are the very first settlers of that area. They did everything to make the area inhabitable. Hence, they cleared forests, arranged protection from wild animals and initiated economic activities that included but not limited to hunting and gathering as well as agriculture. They put their energy, skills and resources whatever insignificant it was to develop the very first settlements.

In this way, the Adi Kirats, Magars, Tamangs, Gurungs, Sherpas, Tharus and many other branches of Mongol race are the Adivasis of central and eastern hills of modern Nepal covering the area between Limbuvan in the east and Magarat in the west.

The Aidi Khasas are the Adivasis of Khasan region. The Aidi Khas included present day Matawali Chhetri, Thakuri and Hill Dalits residing in Khasan region till today. The Khasan region covered the hill areas of present day Karnali, Seti and Mahakali zones.

The Tharus moved to several areas in the Tarai as first settlers together with other Madhesis including Yadavs, Rajbanshis, Satars etc. All of them are the Adivasis of southern plains of Nepal.

The Nepar Kirats (originally a branch of Kirats with whom many immigrant groups assimilated afterwards), who were later called Newars, were the first inhabitants of Kathmandu valley. Hence, The Newars are the Adivasis of the valley.

The Sherpas were the first to reside in the Himali region (mountain region) from East to west, and they are the Adivasis of the Himali region.

In brief, Nepal had nine Adivasi regions in ancient times. They were Kirat, Nepal Mandal or Nepaa, Tambasaling or Tamsaling or Tamangsaling, Tamuvan, Magarat, Khasan, Tharuhat (Kapilavastu), Madhes (Mithila) and Himali region. The names of the regions might have not been used during that time as they are mentioned here. Here, the regions are mentioned by these names to know the areas, which were the clusters of certain indigenous people. Hence, Kirat, Newar, Tamang, Magar, Gurung, Tharu, Sherpa/Lama, Aidi Khas, Yadav, Rajbanshi, Satar, etc are the ADIVASIS of Nepal. The list mentioned here is not inclusive of all Adivasis.

In the ancient time neither there was a unified Nepal, nor a single branch of people had a spread that covered the land mass, we call Nepal now. Hence, all inhabitants who had settled or had been roaming around within a certain area of today’s Nepal are the Adivasis of Nepal. And, they have every reason to ask for the rights and privileges of indigenous people.

It is interesting to note that the Bahuns, Chhetris and Sanyasis were the immigrants, who came to the Hills from Aryavarta, the Gangetic plains or from Kumao-Gadhwal region. The process started in the 2nd century. They became part of Khas nationality after assimilation of Aidi Khas and these new immigrants. Some, earlier immigrants in the valley like Lichchhivis submerged within the culture of civilized Newars of that time residing in the valley. The assimilation of Lichchhivis into Newar is a good example of this process. Hence, they became part of Newar nationality. The Madhesi sub-nationalities such as Bahuns, Rajputs, Kayasthas were also the immigrants in Madhes and they assimilated within the Madhesi nationality. The immigrant groups such as Bahuns, Chhertis, Rajputs, Kayasthas etc do not belong to indigenous people.

The new immigrants particularly Bahuns, Chhetris and Sanyasis from the Gangetic plains or from Kumao-Gadhwal adopted Khasakura as their language and also converted many Aidi Khasas into Hinduism. Thus, a hybrid nationality originated. This nationality primarily adopted the customs and language of the Aidi Khas, but also included many branches of Bahun, Chhetris and Sanyasis into its fold. Hence, a Khasakura (afterward called Gorkha Bhasa and finally called Nepali) speaking nationality called Khas came into existence.

Some of the branches of Khas who were socially outcaste from the Khas separated from them and developed gradually as a different nationality. Their socio-cultural and psychological state that originated from extreme humiliation, inhuman exploitation and extreme marginalization made them developing as an independent nationality called Dalit.

Regarding Madhesis, there is still debate going on about Tharus. In my opinion, they are part of the larger Madhesi nationality who have a spread from east to west of Tarai. They are the very spinal cord of the Madhesi land mass and they are very much the driving force of the Madhesi nationality. And, if they think that their Tharu identity has nothing to do with Madhesi identity, they could claim as an independent nationality. They should decide on this issue. It is their internal matter to be settled by themselves.

The Tharus emigrated from the hills to Tarai, the Yadavs and many other sub-nationalities of Madhesis emigrated from the Gangetic plains. Neither the Tharus originated in Tarai or many other Madhesi sub-nationalities. However, they were the very first settlers of Tarai-Madhes and they have every right to claim it.
The Muslims also sometimes consider themselves separate. However, they are religious minorities and not another nationality. They are part of the larger Madhesi family there. However, the Churautes could be classified as “others” as neither they are Madhesi nor Khasa nor Janajati (MangolKirat). They are Muslim by religion but not Madhesi as nationality.

There is lot of debate about the fifth nationality. Many sub-nationalities within this nationality have a long history of inhabitation in the hills. Their spread is between Limbuvan in the east and Magarat in the west. They are several branches of Mongol race. Part of them is Adi Kirats. These two together formed a distinct nationality. Naming them was difficult. Janaklal Sharma was the first to use a common term called MangolKirat to address them. Some scholars named them simply as Kirats and many categorized them as independent nationalities and grouped them as Janajatis together with Newars and some indigenous sub-nationalities of Madhesi including Tharus.

The term Janajati was invented by scholars including Harka Gurung and Krishna Bhattachan when they were in need of finding some common name for people outside of Hindu caste hierarchy. Their interpretation was, “Generally the words Janajati (nationality) and Adivasi (the indigenous people) are used as synonyms. Of course, Janajati is related to social composition and Adivasi has its relation with time period. The word Janajati or Jati refers to the group of people outside of caste system and Adivasis are the ancient inhabitants or the indigenous people.” (Gurung et al, Janajati, Janajati Vikash Samanwaya Kendra 1999: 1). Their attempt was for connecting oppressed nationalities and groups together who had been suffering at the hands of caste-Hindu ruling elites. However, now this term Janajati has become interchangeable with Adivasi. Both reflect the characteristics of indigenous people.

I followed Janaklal Sharma and accepted them collectively as MangolKirat nationality. Now, the word Janajati has become irrelevant in the sense that the term Adivasi is being used exclusively for indigenous people. However, the term Janajati is quite popular and is being used by people of MangolKirat nationality affectionately. Therefore, I have been thinking to propose to use the term Janajati that replaces MangolKirat. Hence, there would be two distinct terms – Janajati as nationality (replacing MangolKirat) and Adivasi continuing as usual as the Nepali equivalent for indigenous people.

In summary, Adivasi meaning indigenous people is well accepted. Hence, that is already a settled issue. Regarding nationalities, we have to continue discussions. In my opinion, they are five – Madhesi, Khas, Janajati, Dalit and Newar.

In this case, Janajati would replace the term MangolKirat that I had used in the past. The Newars and some sub-nationalities among Madhesi could be together with Janajati as Adivasi but they will no longer be part of the Janajati nationality.

It also should be noted that the term Dalit is used for a nationality and a community too. When it is used for nationality, in Nepali it is used as Dalit Jati, whereas for community, it is used as Dalit Samudaya. Within Dalit Samudaya (community), there are some sub-nationalities of Madhesi and Newar nationalities too.
Now, it is high time to understand our social composition, dynamics and processes that are continuously creating new reality, establishing new relationships and rejoining the disjointed parts and sections. We should continue endeavors that could dig out our social realities so as to bring harmony in the society and create social infrastructures that support unity in diversity. Being different is our reality, coming together is our strength. Hence, we should understand multiculturalism not only as a social process but also as an important value adding political ingredient that brings transformative actions into play and generates synergy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

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Notes Posted on 05/01/2012
P. S. I got some queries regarding the status of reservation as I have proposed something that would bring new scenario to deal with. I reviewed the lists of Janajatis and Dalits. I propose the following changes.
1. The list of Dalit community is fine. They deserve special rights.
2. The list of Janajati needs three changes. a) Newar is a highly developed nationality. Hence, they have to say “Good Bye” to the reservation provision. b) Matwali Chhetris and a few other similar groups of Khas nationality in Khasan region should be included in the reservation list as they are extremely marginalized. c) The name of the list of the groups that is for reservation should be changed to “List of nationalities and groups qualified for Reservation”. In Nepali, it could be called as “Arakshan Paune Jatigat Samudayaharuko Suchi.”
Moreover, in this situation the term Janajati would be completely free to be used exclussively for a nationality. It would replace the term MangolKirat, which I also had used in my previous writings.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012

5. Federalism in Nepal: Why and What Type?

When I was finally editing my first book, “Samajik Bikashko Vivechana” (Social Development in Nepal), I realized that there is a great need and urgency to know the composition and characteristics of colorful nationalities in Nepal and the way they could build better social harmony. It was 1999.

I started to prepare notes on nationalities, social compositions, conflicting values and behaviors, and ways and means to address existing discriminations so as to make Nepal a harmonious place to live in.

Once, I even thought of leaving the task of studying, analyzing and determining the nature, number and historical context of different nationalities as it was too complex and too controversial. However, I finally stick to it as I had done some foundation building exercises already. After months of review of literatures available during that time, I prepared three working papers – a) nationalities in Nepal: their composition and standing, b) relationships among them, and, c) superstructure that provides platform for mutually beneficial and harmonious partnership.

I encountered hostile circumstances as many experts, leaders, activists and professionals had highly diverse views on nationalities and many among them were hostile to any superstructure that challenges the one existing that time. A large majority among this crowd was too critical of federalism as they consider that that structure of governance would disintegrate Nepal. They discouraged me saying that that exercise would harm Nepal. I continued my field work for another six months and arrived at a conclusion that the hostile crowd was that of Khasa, the ruling nationality. Many among the leaders of Khasa origin of all major parties were against multiculturalism and federalism.

After a year, I concluded that there were five nationalities in Nepal – Khasa, Madhesi, MangolKirat, Dalit and Newar. I was in two minds about using the term MangolKirat. Many intellectuals among indigenous groups were using the term JANAJATI that included but not limited to MangolKirat. Janak Lal Sharma had first used the term MangolKirat. Harsha Bahadur Budha had used simply the term Kirat that included Magars. In my first draft, I had used Kirat only. However, after consultations with some of the authorities on indigenous people in Nepal including but not limited to Parshuram Tamang, I was convinced that the term MangolKirat better represents that nationality. Although, several advances have been made in researching the nationalities’ composition in Nepal, still there is no consensus. It may take some more years or decades, and that is only natural. However, after a decade of that research, I am more convinced that the findings of that research stand correct.
In the past decade, my book, “The Nationalities Question in Nepal: Social Composition and Partnership Building through Multiculturalism and Federalism” has been widely used as reference material for evidences to highlight socio-political discriminations in Nepal. It has got wide recognition in area of study on discrimination of nationalities.

The decade-long Civil War created upheavals in the society. The values, belief systems and practices had to pass through scrutiny. Several old values were discarded, belief systems were challenged and the society had gone through the painful process of initial restructuring. However, the process got stuck when the Maoists entered into a new path that included negotiations, give and take and compromises. When the Maoists changed their strategies, they needed different political traits that had similar value ingredients as that of their new brethren, the Congress and CPN (UML). Hence, the process of societal transformation faced new road blocks as the lead actor disappeared from the scene. Thus, the Maoists became friendlier to status quo and gradually sidelined themselves from exercises that needed confrontation against the creamy layer of the society including the most influential Khasa politico-intellectual fraternity.

Many popular agencies formed and led by oppressed nationalities and their activists either were trapped by the Khasa-led politico-governance mechanism or by the western donors as their projects. Now, on the horizon, there are not many agencies or individuals available who truly represent the dreams of oppressed nationalities. Krishna Bhattachan and a few scholars and activists like him could be seen in the wilderness still defending the cause, still putting their intellectual richness, energy and time to champion the dreams of an egalitarian Nepali society that is free from prejudices and discriminations.

In this context, new breeds of champions of federalism have emerged. They are the yesteryear’s die-hard opponents of federalism including the Congress and UML leaders. Many anti-federalism professors and professionals are raising voices in favor of federalism. However, their model of federalism is the second edition of Panchayati geographical set ups of zones or regions. Adding a few cosmetics, they want to reintroduce the same politico-administrative mechanism in the name of federalism.

Why federalism was considered a need in Nepal? The oppressed nationalities had concerns in three primary areas –cultural identity, end of discriminatory practices related to nationalities and equitable access to power, opportunities and resources. To address these concerns, they raised the voice for multiculturalism and federalism. Putting together these two attributes with geography, economic viability and governance, the appropriate federal model could be evolved. However, the new Mullahs of federalism are advocating for splitting the federal units from north to south to suit their interests. Mahendralism or Birendralism with some cosmetics added by Congress-UML-Maoists will not be federalism, if it would not address the core issue of multiculturalism that too with autonomy and the right to self-determination. Moreover, the federalism that has its functional base on co-operation or if it is a cooperative federalism, only that model could absorb the shocks and could provide sound platform for dialogue so as to sustain development, cooperation and harmony.

Now, there is a commission that is tasked with recommending the model. Before any meaningful discussion inside the commission, the coordinator of the commission has started to advocate for Mahendralism or Birendralism. This is another futile exercise that would simply legalize the thoughts, plans and designs of the Khasa leaders. Without addressing the core issue of multiculturalism, any state restructuring exercise would not address the aspirations of oppressed nationalities and thus, could not solve the problem.

Now, the transformational socio-political and economic course has been put in the back burner. It is quite unfortunate. The interests of working classes, oppressed nationalities and marginalized sections should get proper attention and priority. If that will not happen, the radical transformational course would get acceleration, once again, sooner or later. The wise men and women could see it, the average type could sense and the fools have no idea. Irrespective of having any idea or no idea, the radical course correction is inevitable.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

6. Nepal: Disparately Waiting for the End of Darkness

The ‘last’ extension of the term of six months of the constituent assembly has many interpretations. Some of the cartoonists have already sensed that the leaders, who have no credibility and moral obligations to abide by laws, rules and norms would again propose for another ‘final’ term extension after six months as the Supreme Court has used the term ‘last’ and not ‘final’ in its verdict. Some parties have even rejected the jurisdiction of the court in the ‘extension business’, which they consider is their fiefdom. Moreover, some party cadres present in the parliament have asked to impeach the judges for ‘encroaching’ into their politico-legislative territory.

Similarly, the verbal barbs have regularly been exchanged between Prachanda-Baburam Faction (PBF) and Baidya-Badal Faction (BBF) within the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The two line struggle of the present essence and form that had originated from the Chunbang meeting has been polarizing them and has established two de facto Headquarters. The management of the Maoist fighters or rather, in essence, the demobilization, disarmament and rehabilitation of the organized Maoist’s military force could be the last axe that would split the party into two.

The non-Maoist parliamentary forces have downsized their roles as cautious observers. The issues they were championing in the past that included disarmament of Maoist fighters, return of seized property, end of barrack-system of Youth Communist League (YCL) and acceptance of pluralism by the Maoists have been taken over by PBF. When PBF replaced them as the lead parliamentary force, the leaders of the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) have plenty of time to shine their cheeks, dresses and shoes. Hence, now they look as the products of high quality manufacturers. Really, they are the new brand of Nepali leaders – wealthy, healthy and elegant. The Madhesi leaders are neither far away from them nor could they be so. The parliamentary Panchas, organized under a democratic banner called Rastriya Prajatantra Party, could be seen ruminating at one corner of the luxurious balcony. Hence, the fire-fight between PBF and BBF has provided opportunities to relax to the conventional parliamentary forces.

The social forces with several organizations, natures, colours and agenda are making their presence felt through their acts, actions and movements. Among them, the prominent forces include the indigenous people, different nationalities and marginalized sections. Two issues – federalism and rights of their respective constituencies are being debated vigorously.

Some forces including the Kirat Janabadi Workers party, different factions of Tarai Janatantrik Mukti Morcha, Samyukta Jatiya Mukti Morcha, etc are carrying out their social-political activities by being involved in violent means. The Matrika-led Maoists also are in the picture, though with limited visibility.

The foreign forces, particularly India and the United States are busy in pampering PBF so as to complete disarmament of the Maoists fighters. Dismantling the organized formation is what India and the westerners are after. For them everything including human rights, stability, progress and development etc. are non-issues. When the nonperforming constituent assembly got extension, the Secretary General of the United Nations pours flowers on them. Non-performance is being rewarded. What nonsense!

In such background as briefly discussed as above, the fundamental challenges that include societal transformation and structural rearrangement have been out of sight and they are no longer considered as priority issues.

The gains, which the people had made during the transformative period of civil war, are in question in regard to their sustainability. Poverty, illiteracy, social inequalities and marginalization have been continuing, as if they are part and parcel of Nepali life.

When the PBF came to power with some mysterious arrangement with Madhesi forces, there was some sort of euphoria. Baburam had an untarnished image, further shined by his academic brilliance. He was one of the last available leaders of high stature. When he became Prime minister, during that time people had high hopes and expectations from him. In the course of reaching to power and staying there for a longer period of time, he sacrificed most part of his political and intellectual assets. This phenomenon thickened the darkness. And, the frustration among ordinary people contributed to further hopelessness. Now, the political process has lost its way and nobody knows where it reaches to.

Lawlessness and anarchy are the twins that govern everything in Nepal. Criminals have a field day. Criminalization of politics or rather politicization of crime is a course that has been accepted as normal as sun coming out from the east every morning. For two grams of gold, women are being murdered. Small children are continuously being abducted in want of ransom and several of them have been murdered. Nepal has been witnessing hundreds of events that make commoners very sad.

The complex and fluid situation, which is full of anarchy, lawlessness, corruption, and many more negative phenomenon has been called ‘transition’. It is full of darkness. Nobody knows how and when this darkness ends. There are not many alternatives or alternative forces that could generate hope among people. The BBF together with social forces such as indigenous nationalities has the potential to develop as an alternative. However, they too are behaving like a talking club. In strategic sense, yes, the darkness will end; but right now it is too gloomy to see the end of the tunnel. One most probable course could be an unpredictable one – spontaneous uprising of people, the Nepal Spring.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

7. Nepal in Transition: Short Euphoria, Long Journey

Formation of the new Unified Maoist-led government has created hype among intelligentsia in Kathmandu. A large majority of them dislikes Unified Maoist but likes Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai. It is strange but true. Dr. Bhattarai has been considered a genius for a long time. The support available for him is primarily based on his background, particularly his academic records and his tax collection ability during his tenure as Finance Minister. After being the Prime Minister, he has taken some steps, though cosmetic in nature but quite popular among the intelligentsia. These steps include the Mustang Jeep, lunch at Sigh Durbar cafeteria, announcement of a few relief measures etc. Individuals could play important roles. However, an individual could not transform a society. The politics they represent makes the difference. Hence, leaving him alone here, I like to explore probable course of Nepali politics.

The Unified Maoist got the opportunity to lead the government, second time. The first Unified Maoist-led government is known for selling dreams of all-round transformation and buying political compost to nurture parliamentary sapling inside the party. Prachanda’s government never seriously concentrated in any real issues, rather he was spreading everywhere. He sounded a man in hurry. During that time, his control over the party was intact as he was still the superhero of the revolution. Gradually, he demystified himself. His party also contributed to demystify him. The Unified Maoist party tried to look communist to its base and democratic to its new found galaxy. The new galaxy of parliamentary fame incorporated it with some serious pre-conditions. The pre-conditions included that the Unified Maoist had to renounce violence, disband their fighting force, which they call PLA, revert to old societal structure in economic relationships by surrendering the land they seized during insurgency, and finally accept pluralism in all sphere of socio-political values, systems and practices. Gradually, the party opened its doors to individuals, groups and smaller parties to get a majority to meet the conditions put forward by the great galaxy of parliamentary fame. The leadership used two types of fodders to feed its cadres and supporting grassroots on one side of the divide and to convince its new national and international friends on the other side. The first was a basket of anti-India rhetoric and strikes, including the suicidal ‘indefinite general strike’ and several industrial closures. It helped the party to maintain the revolutionary posture. The second was accepting “made in India” political course more indirectly and attending to meet the pre-conditions as mentioned above. The first course helped to soften, deform and disband the hard core revolutionaries gradually and the second course broadened the acceptance among new national and international friends like Nepali Congress, Unified Marxist-Leninist, India, Europe and America.

Now, inside the Unified Maoist party, the line struggle has centered on demobilization of the PLA either through integration with Nepal army or by rehabilitating them in the society. The leaders are fighting, the cadres are joining them and the public at large are watching the fight with bewilderment and scepticism. The side the Unified Maoist camel will sit is already clear. The majority will go for demobilization as this is a major condition put forward by the parliamentary forces together with India, America and Europe to fully submerge itself into the democratic world. The course of minority led by Kiran-Badal combine is not clear. The minority leadership has not made public any specific tactical or strategic line till date. Anyway, the new government formed over a sandy foundation may continue till it implements “made in India” political course.
The old parliamentary political parties will sit in opposition and utilize any available opportunity to create more pressure on their new Unified Maoist friends to meet the conditions as soon as possible. They also will continue to harvest financial benefits and other opportunities as far as possible. Happy India could use its new found financial muscle to accomplish the task of PLA demobilization by supporting to offer an attractive package or also may provide finances to fund infrastructure projects, though in a cosmetic way. We could even see the development that followed the merger of Sikkim with India. The western countries may throw their hats on the ring. Scandinavian countries, particularly Norway may provide finances as it could project Nepal as its success story in its peace initiatives. It may compensate its failure in Sri Lanka. The Americans, though they are in difficulty in managing bread for themselves, may throw a few million dollars by printing money as they always do as one of the most undisciplined nation in the world. Hence, we could have a euphoric environment exactly similar to the post-1990 days. During that time, we were waiting for a giant Russian cargo plane that could bring Singapore to Nepal. The Prime Minister of that time had promised to make Nepal Singapore in no time. That did not happen that time, nor will this happen this time.

More than 1400 people sacrificed their lives either in establishing a new order or protecting the existing socio-political order. However, what we achieved?

The grassroots is more aware of their conditions, prospects and the hostilities that surround them. The social hierarchy has started to crumble down. The social power structure in the society has got changed drastically. The mouths are open. The spirit has been reinvented. The sense of power has empowered the previously marginalized and economically oppressed. The women are not only dreaming equality but also demanding to bring it into practice. The oppressed nationalities have come forward and are asking for greater access to opportunities and are striving hard for establishing their shining identities in a federal Nepal. The monarchy is gone. These are remarkable achievements. However, when we compare our achievements with that of other nations, sadness governs our thought processes. Poverty, illiteracy, ill health, oppression, marginalization etc continue to challenge our conscience.

A large percentage of people are still surviving under extreme poverty. The progress what we have attained has been grabbed by a tiny minority mostly composed of the upper middle class and urban elites. Inequalities exist in their extreme. Hence, the society has changed in incremental term, but is the same in structural term. The structures of the old society have started to crumble. However, they are very much dominant even today. Hence, there is the need of transformational ideals, actions and arrangements.

But, how the process moves ahead that addresses the need after such a major setback? The Maoist (not Unified Maoist) left the course at the middle of the journey. Yes, there is scarcity but it is still not a situation of disastrous famine. Be they minority inside the Unified Maoist or some new entities to take the lead; the endeavors that once the Maoist initiated, championed and developed would continue.
The euphoria originated due to the formation of new Unified Maoist-led government will be over sooner than later. The new endeavors will take shape and different organized forces would emerge. The new heroes will appear. And, the class confrontation will continue till a fundamentally different society comes into existence and a new progressive state power is established. The oppressed nationalities will continue their struggle to meeting their aspirations that will help them getting greater access and shinning identity. The Dalits will never sit idle till their emancipation is attained. The people have no option other than to continue their forward march. We took rest for about five years; it is time to start a long journey, once again.

Monday, September 12, 2011

8. A Cursory Look on Political Developments in Nepal

Even after a long and painful waiting period of more than four years, the Nepali people could not see rays of hope and the mile stone where the transition ends. Frustration has become the talking agenda for a large majority. The leaders are busy building the personal empire and ensuring luxury and comfort for them. The people are seeing the leaders and their notorious acts and have become speechless. They, particularly the disciplined cadres, who still cherish the dream of a new Nepal, have been slowly recovering from their own disbeliefs. The most revered leaders and most loved party headquarters have moved 360 degree in all areas encompassing ideology, politics, tactic, strategy and practice. This phenomenon is more true to the cadres and supporters of Unified Communist party of Nepal (Maoist). The change, there, is phenomenal.

Now, it is important to have a cursory look of the political developments, particularly reviewing the developments of recent past so as to have some glimpses of the future.

The 12-point agreement between the Maoist and the parliamentary parties had created new expectations. The Nepalese people were waiting to get rid of many difficulties. Although, the people’s movement of April 2006 succeeded in electing the constituent assembly and abolishing the monarchy, but the new ruling elites utterly failed in generating hope among the people. They talked loudly about the birth of a New Nepal, but that Nepal was neither moving towards peace nor stability nor prosperity.

The Maoist people’s war was naturally violent. During the war, they not only practised armed transformational course of the society, but also imparted skills on the use of weapons, build strong attitudes towards organized attempts to attain goals and generated hope among people that a shiny new day is closer to their lives. So, the expectations had been created aggressively. The failure in materializing the expectation resulted to the emergence of several armed groups.

The parliamentary parties were accustomed to lethargy, cynicism, brinkmanship and greed. They were in a state of rotten potatoes. Simply, they were involved in certain regular rituals, which could be constructed as ‘peaceful struggle’ at times of need. They lined up at the opportune moment together with the Maoists and with India and are continuously harvesting benefits.

The king was an outdated autocrat, who was not only extremely unpopular but also was a useless brat who did not know even the basics of governance. Naturally, the monarchy accumulated all negatives at one point of time and initiated its own downfall.

The anti-monarchy role India played at that particular moment was critically important. India was unhappy with the monarchy as the monarchy was considered as anti-India, historically.

Hence, the Maoists with the strength of people’s power moved ahead in collaboration with the parliamentary political parties as these parties had certain degree of legitimacy on their side. Both of them together joined hands with India to overthrow the autocratic monarchy. India also represented the western power centres. Finally, they formed a coalition to overthrow the monarchy and they succeeded to accomplish that goal.

The days after the success of the movement, brought some honeymoon between the changing Maoists and the parliamentary political parties. They formed an interim government, drafted an interim constitution, organized election for the constituent assembly, abolished monarchy legally, formed government under the Maoists’ leadership and gave some impression that things will move to right direction and a New Nepal could be there sooner. But, that did not happen. The Unified Maoists failed miserably in all fronts, which could initiate radical change in the society. Hence, the Unified Maoist-led government collapsed. The UML-led spineless governments were no different.

After a few years of the success of the mass movement, the scenario got drastically changed. There is all-round frustration. There are tensions in the society. There are clashes of interests. The contradictions between and among nationalities is one particular feature of serious concern. The constitution drafting is facing serious roadblocks and the nature of federalism is one among them.

In political front, there are three forces in full play.

The first camp is that of regressive forces. The former monarch is the de facto leader of this camp. The regressive forces are not that well organized in form but have tremendous power in substance. They are thinly spread within political parties, bureaucracy, army, police, intelligence networks, so-called civil society groups and so on. They sometimes cover themselves as nationalists, in some other occasion as anti-federalists and in some other times present them as Hindu zealots. They sound sometimes as peace preachers and sometimes as human rights defenders. So, they are omnipresent. They work on the basis of issues and try everything to create obstacles in the advancement of the society in all its attributes – values, ethics, beliefs, attitudes, progress etc. These dark forces play skilfully and create platforms where the forces of reform and the forces of transformation clash among and between themselves. These regressive forces have played vital role in maintaining the.

The second camp is composed of reformists. They are in a difficult situation as their cadre base is composed of idealist change activists and their leadership represent the interests of semi- reactionary or reactionary classes. Many among leaders who are at the helm of the political organizations in this camp are overtly foreigner’s darlings. They talk loud to pacify their cadres, to blindfold common people and to camouflage themselves. Hence, this force, which is at the centre stage of the state power, is a coalition of progressive bottom and part-regressive top. The Nepali Congress, UML and Unified Maoist Establishment Platform (UMEP) belong to this reformist camp.

The third camp is that of transformational forces. The Mohan Baidya-led Maoist platform, Matrika Yadav-led Maoists, Mani Thapa-led Maoists etc belong to this camp. There are others also such as Kirat Janabadi Workers Party in this camp. They are in a state of setback and are again rearranging raw jute threads to make a rope. Hence, they are, at this point of time, creeping babies in the sense of their organizational strength. Still, they could turn into a formidable force anytime soon as there are plenty of raw materials available for them to process.

The regressive forces were the regressive forces in the past too (prior to 2006). The transformational forces were the transformational forces in the past too. Among the reformist forces, the Nepali Congress and the UML were the reformist forces in the past too. Hence, there is only one entity that got changed is the Unified Maoist’s establishment platform (UMEP). All other forces except the UMEP have been travelling following their stated roadmaps. They are predictable. However, the political behaviours of the UMEP are most unpredictable. This platform swings to all directions and climbs up and down in no time without any understandable reasons. Hence, the UMEP has been instrumental in making and breaking promises, structures and functions. It is primarily responsible for what has been happening today in Nepal. Understanding this reality is no less than attaining half of the solutions of the problems the country and the people are facing.

The sudden change of the politics of the UMEP made the process of societal change gloomy and messy. The state and society have every right to ask UMEP to behave according to their newly acquired political philosophy. The transformational forces also should recognize the fact that they are fundamentally different and should take their course accordingly. When, the roles would be clear, the mess will start getting cleared. The clarification of their roles automatically clears the ways for political alliances based on their ideological affinity and class base. Gradually, the thick fog would disappear and the road ahead will be visible to drive to.

Monday, August 22, 2011

9. Tenure of the Constituent Assembly: Extension, Extension……

Why the Constituent Assembly (CA) again failed to complete the constitution writing process? Many people believe that due to fighting among political parties and infighting within them are the major reasons. Some others say that it is due to Unified Maoist’s reluctance to detach itself from its combatants. Some fertile minds cultivate reason and tell us that there is foreign hand. Some leaders say there is conspiracy to dissolve the CA and they are creating hurdles to stall the constitution drafting process. Hence, it would be absolutely necessary to look deep why the constitution is not ready.

The major issues that had contributed to the starting of the decade long “people’s war” and the people’s movement of 2006 included but not limited to political freedom, economic development and social justice through inclusion and participation. To institutionalize these strategic objectives, it was agreed that a new constitutional mechanism should be designed and for that purpose the election of a CA would be the best course. Hence, the election was organized and a grand CA came into existence. The tenure of this assembly was of two years, and when the assembly failed to produce the desired result the life of the assembly was extend for another year.

After sidelining the king, the CA declared Nepal a republic. Also, it concluded that Nepal will be a federal state. However, it failed to state on what basis the federal structure will stand on – geography, economic viability, nationality/ethnicity clusters, and combination of all or something else.

Hence, inability in agreeing on the restructuring of the state by designing a system that insures social inclusion and no interest in creating an operational framework that brings into full play the rights of indigenous and/or oppressed nationalities, marginalized sections and working class people are some of the major factors that have been contributing for the failure to finalize the constitution. In such background, federalism becomes one of the issues of prime importance.

The people, particularly the indigenous people and Madhesis have been facing discrimination in areas of language, ownership, opportunities, representation and governance. They want their rights back. To ensure that their grievances are addressed appropriately and positively, they should get the opportunity to govern themselves in a very autonomous way with the right to self-determination. Unfortunately, nearly all top leaders of major political parties are high caste hill Hindu Khasa males, who have failed to feel the discriminations against and sufferings of the oppressed sections of the people. Moreover, their control over power may erode, and thus, they are most reluctant to design a federal system where power is highly decentralized. Now, they need time to dilute the aspirations of oppressed people with frustrations so as to design a system of their likings that could be a nominally federated mechanism more in line with Mahendra’s zonal system or Birendra’s regional system.

The other unresolved issue was the reservation or special rights for marginalized sections of the society including Dalits, indigenous peoples and Madhesis, and women. Inclusion of marginalized sections into the mainstream needs bold steps to incorporate in the constitution. The reservation for women and Dalits and reparation for the Dalits are some of the critical issues. The Khasa male mindset of the troika prevents them moving forward. At the same time, they cannot deny the needs of such provisions, and they simply prolong the life of the Constituent Assembly to buy time.

Similarly, the large working class majority has been expecting change in their conditions. This needs a constitution that overtly favors working class majority, excluded sections and oppressed nationalities/ethnicities. However, the leaders either have come from higher class back ground or have amassed wealth and have elevated to higher class. They are not in need of the change which is transformative and creates environment for radically new power relationships. If there is no new constitution, the leaders could pretend that they are with the people whilst enjoying lives of aristocrats.

Democracy is one of the most misunderstood political terms in Nepal. Nepal, as a country, was never democratic, neither it is today. The Shahas had the dictatorial rule that followed by similar rule of Ranas. When such rule finally was over in 2006, the people got a dictatorial rule of a new troika (sometimes a gang of two or sometimes only an individual lord). This troika collectively and/or an individual behind the curtain or openly have been ruling Nepal for more than four years. The brigade of 601 at Baneshwor is functioning just as the participants of a public gathering. They are there to listen and to clap. Due to the troika or the individual lord taking all decisions, the CA has been functioning as a rubber stamp. May be a large majority of the CA members feels powerless, sees their role ornamental and experiences humiliation when the people throw stones on them. Designing democratic constitution by the most undemocratic troika is an uphill task, if not impossible.
Every big leader has turned to be a liability for him. This has created fear factor within them. In the same degree, their parties also are not confident that they will be able to grab better opportunities next time as their credibility factor is too low. In any case, there will be much less number in the legislative assembly, if a constitution is finally ready. Hence, slaughtering the constitution writing process and prolonging their stay in power is in the interest of the parties of the troika.

Also, the Unified Maoists are being composted and they need time to go through the decomposition process. They have taken the familiar UML route with much better speed. However, the compost needs time to be ready to be used to make the parliamentary system greener. The westerners know this better and as experts of time, space and processes, they are advising to extend the tenure of the CA and are funding too.
Due to the reasons as mentioned above, the government has proposed to extend the tenure of the CA for one year now, and the future extensions are open.

Is there any chance that the people or parties or parliamentarians could snatch power from the troika and complete the constitution writing process?

The people are very much frustrated. Hopelessness, generally expressed as “Jun Jogi Aaye Pani Kanai Chireko” (everybody is the same), has been encrypted in their mind. May be, not because of no constitution, as it is too abstract for them, but because of anarchy, lawlessness, scarcity of essential commodities and sky rocketing prices, the people will come out boiling with rage. When the lion is out of a cage, it is really out. Similarly, when parties start becoming parties and not the fiefdoms of the patriarchs, they may revolt against.

And, when the parliamentarians start feeling really as a humiliated lot – powerless and frustrated, they may start ventilating their anger that could progress to some sort of revolt. These three are the positive factors that could help bringing out a federal, inclusive, democratic and progressive constitution. The alternative is foreign instigated or locally staged coup. This will add even more darkness; however, the troika rule is heading towards that direction. Let’s try to bring synergy and build collaboration among people, parties and parliamentarians to prevent further darkness and to take our country to peace, progress and prosperity.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

10. New Political Masters Enthroned: Hopelessness and Upheavals Continue

The election of the prime minister has significantly polarized the political situation. The Congress has felt betrayed. A large majority of the Madhesi parties saw the play, a process that further marginalizes them. The so-called small parties have splinted vertically between left and center. The Unified Maoist party has faced near revolt as their 51 legislators expressed their disagreement on the standing committee decision that supported the CPN (UML) candidate. The UML is one in its look but when somebody goes beyond their physical being, it is the loose network of two entities clubbed together. They are in constant fight against each other. The center-right faction saw the biggest surprise of their political journey, when the Unified Maoist supported the UML candidate, who represents center-left faction of the party. The exercise conducted to elect the prime minister sounded a conspiratorial drama designed to checkmate the other side of the divide. It had everything – conspiracies, cover-ups, excitements, frustrations and many lows of political characters.

The new government will have several push and pull factors together. The most critical factors include but not limited to integration and rehabilitation of Maoist fighters, constitution writing and concluding the peace process logically. The Unified Maoists will not agree to break the chain of command of their fighting force. They will try to keep it as it is now under one or the other cover. The day when they agree to demobilize and disintegrate their armed force, they will be toothless. Hence, neither they will lose control of their PLA, nor will they change the status and modus operandi of operation of the Young Communist League nor will they return the property seized during the time of war. They consider that, now, they are free from these obligations as they are not leading the government. Therefore, at best, the new government could preserve the status quo. “Integration”, “rehabilitation”, “concluding peace process” and “constitution writing” are simply the phrases to use repeatedly without any operational obligations. Therefore, expecting any outcome, which could be termed substantially progressive, is just a mirage.

One of the major qualities of the new prime minister is that he is considered a weak and vulnerable leader. A government where the Unified Maoists are in majority in the cabinet, certainly they will promote their party’s interests. The PM will have no other option than to abide by the Unified Maoist’s decisions. The UML, minority in the cabinet, will be utilized to further the Unified Maoist plans. In outer appearance it sounds all great for the Unified Maoist leadership. The critical question is for what the Unified Maoist will utilize such opportunity? The Maoist agenda of societal transformation has been kept in the back-burner, since they became Unified Maoist. Hence, naturally, this opportunity will be utilized for some handsome gains for a galaxy of their core leaders.

The Unified Maoist leadership has clear objectives now. First, sideline or even crush the internal opposition. Second, maximize benefits of the barter they have done in the form of offering the prime minister’s chair to a UML faction. Third, implement already devised strategy of getting the prime minister’s chair for their chairman. And, finally get a constitution that has presidential form of government and ensure its chairman could get that position. In that day, they will integrate or rehabilitate their PLA, finish barrack system of the Young Communist League and may even return the seized property, if that would help them.
Many people have already started to speculate how long the government will survive? It depends on two critical issues – first, what will happen to constitution writing? Second, how far the prime minister could bear the load of ever increasing pressure? The sources of the pressure include the Unified Maoists, arch-opponents within and outside his party, the southern and northern neighbors and the western world.

There is no two-third majority with the governing coalition. To have the constitution finally approved, they need two-third majority. Therefore, there is a great need of give and take. However, in this environment, where the trust factor has been vanished, it is too difficult to finalize the constitution by the deadline. In that situation either the Constituent Assembly will be dissolved and election for a new assembly will be ordered or again the parties will extended the life of the existing assembly for another year. In such phenomenon, the never ending period of transition will frustrate the people more and there is most likely situation of people revolting against the ruling coalition. This will not only effectively seal the fortune of the government but also it will end the position of the Unified Maoist as powerful party. This way, the government will go by people’s revolt. This is not the revolt the Unified Maoist talk often. This would be a revolt against them too. In a distant scenario, the constitution will be drafted, new election will be held and the new government will take over from this government. This is most unlikely to happen.

Now, let’s see the second factors. The Unified Maoist chair is just ready to jump on the chair of the government. He will do everything to ‘cordially’ and ‘comradely’ oust the PM. Even there are people who say that the new prime minister is a stop gap official as their ‘secret’ seven point agreement hints that the PM’s chair will revolve. In such case, the PM will simply warm the chair for the Unified Maoist chairman. Hence, the pressure from the partner could be unbearable. Equally important is the crucial role that could be played by Baburam Bhattarai camp to bring down the government. Once again, he is cheated as his political line has been implemented excluding him. The Congress and Madhesis are just restless to revenge the ‘betrayal’ of the UML leaders. The arch-opponents inside the prime minister’s party will leave no stone unturned to dethrone him. When the Unified Maoists start prevailing over all government decisions, they will get fodder to feed their own comrades. Frustrated without getting any position of power, many UML MPs may turn against the prime minister. This could lead to the downfall of the government. The Unified Maoist at the center of power, that too, checkmating it, the famous South Block together with the mighty westerners will do everything at its disposal to dislodge the government. This “everything” includes designing splits within the governing parties, particularly within Unified Maoist and UML, convincing the President to stage a soft coup or provoking the army to militarily dethrone the government.

The new government, thus, is simply a change of guards. The guards are that of the same species but with different motivations regarding their self-interests. Their tilt is different. The previous one was tilted towards center- right and this new government has its tilt towards center-left. However, Nepal is a unique case for years. The society remains the same irrespective of the change of governing parties, ideologies or polities. This has been applicable this time too, which simply contributed to continue the existing crisis. There is just the change of custodians but hopelessness and upheavals continue. No medication has been working. Probably, our society and the governance have to go through surgical processes that include rapid transformation through genuine revolution. When the revolution with all its colors and vibrancies starts descending rapidly, the gamblers of the political casinos will be washed away and the people, individually and collectively, will celebrate the dawn of a new age.

Monday, February 07, 2011

11. Nepal: Hopelessness to Vibrancy

(The following text is part of my reply to a friend’s email. The personal references are taken out. I had sent the reply on 12 September 2010.)

More recently, collectively the Nepalese people have started feeling hopeless. The leaders, as individuals and collectives, failed to generate hope among the people. This all happened, I think, not as an accident. This sounds designed by someone skilled, interested and powerful. In our case, they are the external powers – easterners and westerners. I believe that the design was conceived around their need of disarming the Nepali Maoists so as to prevent the resurgence and spread of communism. The immediate objective was to effectively prevent the Maoists taking over power in Nepal until they become same as the Communist Party of Nepal- UML (the center-left liberal parliamentary party that still carries the word “Communist” in its name). Aware or unaware of such design, the leaders (including the “overtly anti-India but covertly nobody knows type” Unified Maoists) sound just a part of the external powers’ support mechanism in implementing their design.

In the distant past, the Ranas had resisted external designs somehow and to some extent. The Panchas followed the Rana’s line. However, the parliamentary system of government, particularly, the one after 1990 movement followed pro-external power line, aggressively. Moreover, the mid-wife of the new political course, which started in 2006, as people believe and some external powers claim or agree with, is Delhi. Therefore, the external powers (not only India) remained most important, influential and dominating in today’s political scenario. What we are seeing is just the dance of our leaders under the conductor’s gestures. These conductors are in Washington, New York, Delhi, Beijing, London and Oslo. The roles of the ambassadors and their diktats reveal a ton.

Our socio-economic foundation is very weak and politico-educational attainment is in its infancy in regard to the formation of a critical mass. If the common men and women as the human products of such foundation behave in the same way as that of their base, it is understandable. But, when the leaders, who claim as the vanguards, behave in such fashion, it makes no sense. Hence, there is something seriously wrong in them. They may not be that bad as individuals but the environment made them subservient to its objective whole, and many among these leaders demean themselves to the lowest extent possible. As a result, even the infamous former king has started dreaming that he could revive his throne. This is a day-dream, but the new messy environment provided ground for him. I agree with you that the major parties and their leaders are responsible for this mess.

I agree that we are passing through the most difficult phase in our nation’s history. The independent decision making power as a sovereign state has been compromised. The Nepali state is in crisis. The hope generating side of the Maoist movement has been evaporating. And, frustration among a large majority of people has been running high. However, as a diehard optimist, I believe that there is light on the other side of the tunnel. These leaders could be thrown out. The parties of today may disappear. There could be the need of another difficult journey. New sets of leaders may emerge. New (or radically reoriented existing) political parties may come up. This is quite certain that there would be a day full of sun-shine. You and I may or may not see that shiny day. However, the energetic, enterprising and visionary youths of today or even small children of today will bring that day, will see that day and will celebrate the birth of a shinning Nepal. As Anton Chekhov (1860–-1904) has narrated in his famous short story, “Ward No 6″, we should enjoy the imagination of that pleasant day though it may arrive in distant future. After that historic break, there would be the creation of tranquillity, peace and prosperity. Our motherland will be pervaded by the lovely yellowish light of the baby sun. I salute in advance to those politically, economically, socially, intellectually and culturally emancipated, enlightened and empowered citizens of that vibrant Nepal!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

12. Nepal in Crisis: Long Live Nepal!

The political parties are repeating the same wrongful acts and activities as they did in 1950s and 1990s. They were after power and now they are again after power. They ignored people’s problems and prospects completely in the past when they were at the helm of affairs; they are doing the same today. Being a participant of the parliamentary political system, the Unified Maoist party has been claiming itself as a revolutionary force. This role was played by the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) in 1990s. Lack of alignment between the form and content is what the Unified Maoist party is sick of. Similarly, the CPN (UML) is a party that represents the interests of middle class people. Still, it declares that it is the party of proletariats. The Nepali Congress, at best, is a centre-right party, but it proudly declares that it is socialist. Hence, all three parties have been suffering from ideological illusion. Their philosophical lenses are no more working. However, they pretend that their lenses are all right. Hence, the major Nepali political parties are in crisis in regard to their approaches as their practices are totally detached from the ideology they love to talk about. The other smaller parties are in the same condition or if some of them are okay, still their roles may not have much impact in the larger political amphitheatre of the nation.

All the main leaders want to grab the high office of the Prime Minister. There is total irresponsibility on their part. Two of the leaders representing two major parties are contesting an election which has failed to produce result for six times in a row. The third largest party knows nothing other than hatching political conspiracies to get the highest seat of the state power. This time ‘consensus’ is their mantra to cover their ill intensions. They want to sit at the driver’s seat whatever way it is available. The Madhesi parties, notorious for their splits and doubtful practices, are at the bidding place and the bidders are bidding for their votes. Therefore, the political circus, which is one of the worst in the history of Nepal, has been continuing. The end result of the collective political behavior of the political actors has been confined to petty interests of the political lead-actors/villains or their parties. Similar to their ideological chit-chats, the nation and the people are simply means to attain power and prosperity for them.

The social forces also are overly reactive. They are just reacting to both issues and non issues. Coming to street has become the order of the day. There are several “forced closures” of market, transport, industries and educational institutions as and when a small section wishes so. Stone throwing crowd could be seen all over Nepal. Bewildered with all sets of chaos and anarchies, the indigenous people in some areas have started to demand greater role including a nominally federated state system. The demand of Limbuvan autonomous state is an example.

The law and order situation has been deteriorating continuously. People are feeling insecure as anytime criminals could strike. Their lives and properties are in danger of all sorts of harm. The criminals have a field day. The crime graphs including the daring cases of rubbery, abduction and killings are increasing many folds. Particularly, the central Madhes is seeing such events most regularly. The people in Madhes are the worst affected lot. A Tim, Dick or Harry comes with a gun, loots a few, kills a few and disappears. They are living in a disparate situation where the forces of the state have become onlookers. The parties and the leaders, who claim to represent Madhes and Madhesi people, are busy making their fortune in Kathmandu.

Moreover, the people all over Nepal have become virtually powerless and they have become pessimists. There is the other side of the coin. Therefore, there are high chances that the patience of people disappears and a situation of total anarchy pervades the country.

The youths all over Nepal got an escape route in the form of foreign employment. Skilled or unskilled, rural or urban, male or female and healthy or not so much aspire for going out, particularly in Gulf countries, Malaysia, South Korea , Japan, USA, UK and Australia. This large scale migration of labor has been helping the national economy breathing as remittance income is 22% of annual GDP of Nepal. However, in the absence of youths and their vigor, vision and spirit, the societal as well as political changes have suffered.
The gap between the rich and poor has been widening. The recent Oxford report says that there is a large majority of people under poverty line (Multidimensional Poverty Index Poor 64.7%). The national wealth is mostly under the control of a few super rich families. The economic contradiction has been fierce. The strikes in industries, though ignited by political aspirants have reflected the workers’ desire for a better life.
At macroeconomic level, the situation is fast approaching to full-fledged characteristics of a failed state. The legislature is unable to pass the annual budget as there is constant fight among the major political parties in the parliament. The Balance of Payment is quite negative. The foreign currency reserve has been decreasing. Trade deficit is alarmingly high. The growth rate of economy is nominal. Nobody knows exactly what the rate of unemployment/underemployment is. No new macro development projects, which could add wealth to national economy and provide infrastructural foundation, were implemented during the last several years. Prices of essential commodities are skyrocketing. Corruption, nepotism, favoritism, malpractices and black-marketing have become regular features.

On the nationalism front, Nepal has been in the weakest position after the war against the British colonizer (1814-1816). This fact also has been rightly pointed out by Pashupati Sumsher Rana and Baburam Bhattarai in their television appearances. They were unanimous comparing today’s situation with that of aforementioned period. When Nepalese are so much divided, it is only natural that the foreign powers start meddling. Not only big countries like USA or big neighbors like India or China, but also small European countries like Norway try to diktat. The resources they provide and their nationals who are international professionals and hold high offices in Nepal are the instruments of their meddling. Together, India, European Union, USA and United Nations are over stepping on Nepali sovereign rights in an unprecedented manner. These over stepping, meddling and interferences have contributed immensely to make Nepal a strong candidate for failed state. Now, survival as a nation and as a people has become the first and foremost concern for us.

The situation is too gloomy. The nation is too fragile. The people are too weak. This mess is what the ‘big’ political leaders and their party apparatus have created. Their lust for power, money and luxury is the main cause of this sorry state. The problem is that we do not have any strong and organized progressive political force to snatch the initiative and start doing something to generate synergy for a rapid political change. Hence, Nepal is virtually at the stage of either power take-over by the regressive forces or fragmentation of its territory to deferent nationality/ethnic units or losing its sovereign national status. Alternatively, the process could be reversed if nationalists (do not equate to royalist), leftists and democrats within all major parties rebel against their Headquarters. If the rebels could take control of their parties or form separate parties and create a united front with other like minded parties, they could keep Nepal united. This endeavor offers hope to people, creates positive environment to reverse the fate of being failed state and opens up new horizon to move forward.

Now in Nepal, there is possibility of two types of coup d’états. The first is regressive coup d’état, which could be staged by the army. The other is progressive coup d’état, which could be staged by nationalist progressive democrats, who are functioning as second layer leaders or cadres within the major parties. They could stage the political and organizational coup d’état against their own party Headquarters. If this happens, people could see the ray of hope. The third option is disintegration of Nepal into several smaller nationality/ethnic units. If this option gets acceleration, there would be bloodshed of unprecedented nature and scale. The solution is not several smaller nationality/ethnic units, but a nationality/ethnicity based cooperative federal system. The fourth option is Nepal being a protectorate either ruled by western powers through a United Nations mechanism or directly by India. Hence, the situation is grave.

We have not many choices available. Therefore, all who love Nepal should be alert, active and organized to challenge the Bhasmashurs (the notorious destroyers). Defeating or sidelining them, at least, makes space available to initiate the process of societal transformation and national renewal. Therefore, all patriotic, progressive and democratic Nepali political and social activists should contribute most meaningfully to make sure that our beloved motherland overcomes weaknesses, acquires strengths and starts shining. Strategically, only “people power” movements could realize this goal. The “People power” movements could include but not limited to mass information initiatives, political awareness campaigns, cultural programs, diplomatic lobbying, literary works, pro-Nepal internet information endeavors/campaign/networking, dissemination of well-researched facts/truths and direct actions including demonstrations. Let us create the sound of thousands of Vuvuzela aiming to energize the grassroots and encourage the pro-people, pro-Nepal activists. A person or a group or a mass of large number of people, individually or collectively, could contribute in these “People Power” movements. Hence, wherever we are, this is our duty to organize or participate in these movements and contribute positively whichever way we could. Long Live Nepal!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Upheavals in Nepal – Transforming the State and Society

 

Upheavals in Nepal

(Transforming the State and Society)

By Govinda Neupane

Center for Development Studies, Nepal

Kathmandu

Year of Publication: 2001 (In Nepali language)

Revised English Edition – 2004

Center for Development Studies, Nepal

 Kathmandu

General Note: In Nepal, the Bikram calendar is in use instead of Gregorian calendar. Therefore, in this book, particularly in the publication date of the references, the Bikram Sambat (B.S.) is quoted. The difference between B.S. and A.D. is 56 year 7 month and 17 days in ordinary year and 56 year 7 month and 18 days in leap year. Therefore, the calculation is – A.D. + 56 year 7 month and 17 days = B.S. in ordinary A.D. and + 1 day in leap year.  All dates used in this book without mentioning B.S. are in A.D.

Table of Contents

S.N.                                                                     Title                                                                        Page

Chapters

1. Historical Context and Mass Movements

2. Parliamentary Politics

3. Role of Political Parties

4. Achievements and Limitations of Parliamentary System

5. Maoist Movement

6. Socio-Economic and Political Issues and Observations 

7. Constituent Assembly and Pluralism with a Difference

9. Winding up

Experiences and Feelings (in boxes)

1. Kudos to Nepalese Democracy which is shapeless.

2. Change Upward, Change Downward

3. People Walk with Visible Commotion

4. Walls Speak

5. Seminars and Speeches: Employment of Marginalized Leaders

6.  Democracy Lives in the Pockets of Leaders

7. Discussion on the Maoists and the Context of Change

8. Maoist Movement: Different Interpretations

9. Newness in Environment and Continuity in Belief

10. Be Aware of Nongovernmental Organizations

11. Sale of Quotations

12. Intellectual Community and Intensity of Fear

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Upheaviels in Nepal

(Transforming the State and Society)

 

Chapter One

 

Historical Context and Mass Movements

The Nepalese history is the saga of bravery, courage and valor. It does not lack in effort for entrepreneurship, new experiments, reconstruction and progress. The present day Nepal woes its existence to the great role played by its people, community and class who have added contribution in the flow and momentum for changes. It is also true that the hindrances, obstacles and scandals created by reactionary forces have retarded our advancement. Following the emergence of the greater Nepal in 1768, our country had to go through the Rana rule, the Panchayat rule and that superstructure has taken the form of parliamentary system today. However, the changes that have been introduced in the superstructure have not resulted in the transformation of the basic structure of the society. Although these tasks remain unaccomplished, many important steps are found.

The first settlements and the villages developed by the Kiratas, introduction of farming and animal husbandry by the Lichhavis, expansion of the kingdom and evolution of military strategy and war policy by Prithvi Narayan Shah, the heroic campaigns, bravery and sacrifices of anti-British warriors, efforts in retrieving the New Territories from British-India, reform measures of Dev Shamsher, abolition of Sati system and slavery are a few fine examples. Similarly, the awakening brought about by Krishna Lal’s “Makaiko Kheti” (the book on the cultivation of corn which indirectly criticized the all powerful Rana rule indirectly), effort of courageous political activists made under Prachand Gorkha for a change, establishment of Biratnagar Jute Mills and the Nepal Bank Ltd., birth of Praja Parisad, the strike of September 1, 1940 for the first time in the Nepalese history1, contribution of literary geniuses including Laxmi Prasad Devkota and Gopal Prasad Rimal, the movement of Jayatu Sanskritam, the first workers movement of Biratnagar, establishment of the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal and the historic people’s movement of 1950 constitute some fine, strong and positive aspects of the Nepalese history. Similarly, the armed resistance of Ram Prasad Rai and Dr. K. I. Singh against the Delhi Agreement of 1950, the peasant’s revolt of far western Nepal organized under Bhim Dutta Pant, the peaceful resistance of 1958, the armed actions mounted by the Nepali Congress in 1961, the Jhapa Movement of 1971, the pre-referendum movement of 1979, the armed actions of the Janabadi Morcha in 1985, the People’s Movement of 1990 and the Maoist People’s War started since 1996 are such events of Nepalese history, which have made important contribution in the progress and advancement of the Nepalese society. Clearly,  there is a series of political, cultural and professional movements of classes, and other social forces.2 Today, it is necessary to undertake a systematic study of these cumulative values contributing to a radical change of the society. With this in mind, an attempt will be made for a review of this process and the role of various strata of political, professional and other communities and their dynamism.

Political Renaissance

In 1920 A. D., a new event took place in Nepal’s social, literary and political sphere. That year, a book on agricultural science called “Makaiko Kheti” (cultivation of corn) was published. This was not only an unexpected event in the Rana regime characterized by a dark epoch of savagery; it was also a rehearsal for the opening of the renaissance. On the importance of the publication of the “Makaiko Kheti” the Praja Parisad comments, “It was almost impossible for the poor and ignorant people to oppose the Rana rule. But no one could stem the flow of time. In spite of control on education by the Ranas, some Nepalese started to receive education living in India. From there, they studied about the people’s revolutions of America, France and Russia apart from learning many things about the Indian Independence Movement. Some Nepalese who had become conscious in this process published the book called “Makaiko Kheti“.  This book contained an oblique criticism of the Rana regime. (Praja Parisad, 2043 B.S: 27-28)

The importance of “Makaiko Kheti” was in its containing dual meaning. It could be used symbolically to interpret the social condition of that period. The political connotation of the book can easily be understood from references such as “the red headed insects and black headed insects”, “domestic and foreign dogs”, the devils entered since 1846″ and the “Chandrodaya is not as good as mother’s milk to a child” etc. (Pokhrel et al 2000 B.S: 4) A victim of the anger of the Ranas, Krishna Lal Adhikari was awarded a prison sentence of nine years in a court decision of August 2, 1920. The nature of this punishment was political. Another characteristic of this book was to try to teach how to cultivate corn technically and scientifically. Although 1000 copies of the book were printed, 999 copies were confiscated and burnt down by the Ranas. The remaining one copy has not been traced as yet. (Paudel, 2040 B.S: 89-100, ‘Samarpan‘ without page numbers, Pokherl et al, 2000 B.S: 4) The legal action taken against nine people including Krishna Lal who were involved in the publication of this book and the upheaval it brought is known as the “Makai Parva“. Krishna Lal who had been awarded with a rigorous prison term of nine years died in jail after three years.

After ten years of the publication of “Makaiko Kheti” some enthusiastic youths organized “Prachanda Gorkha” in Kathmandu in 1932. This was the first political organization formed with the objective of overthrowing the Rana regime. The founders included Khadga Man Singh, Khanda Man Singh, Umesh Bikram Shah, Nanikaji, Ranganath Sharma, Krishna Prasad Wagle etc.  According to Khadga Man Singh, “Bhim Shamsher, the Rana prime minister was the Maharaja in 1988. He stayed in Tangal. Commander- In-Chief Juddha Shamsher lived in Jawalakhel. At that time Putali Sadak (one of the main city roads) did not exist. One had to go to Tangal from Jawalakhel via Kalikasthan and Dilli Bazar. The bend of Dilli Bazar was quite narrow at that time. The four youths had planned to wipe out the Rana rulers by lobbing bombs at that very point while they were traveling on horse carriages. In this case only one ‘Maharaja’ would be left in Tangal and one Nati Kaji (grand son of Bambu Colonel); a soldier in his barrack had been assigned to finish Juddha Shamsher off there. We had a detailed map about the number and whereabouts of the children and grand children of the Ranas. After the incident in Dilli Bazar, no mercenaries of the Ranas were likely to come out for resistance. If the soldiers of any barrack had the gut to resist, we had planned to make bomb attack against them also. We had a plan to finish of the Rana clan just as Jung Bahadur had killed all royalists, patriots and enlightened people in Kot massacre.” (In Shrestha, 2057 B.S.: 31) In the process of searching for a person to establish link with the King, Laxman Raja was found out by the activists. But he had deep differences on the procedure of executing the plan with the members of Prachanda Gorkha. As a result Laxman Raja betrayed them and informed it to the Ranas. After that all the members of the Prachanda Gorkha were arrested. In the words of Puspalal, the exchange of words that took place between the then Maharaja Bhim Shamsher and the activists of ‘Prachanda Gorkha’ during the ‘trial’, makes it clear that these revolutionaries were inspired by the principle of the socialist revolution.  During the trial, Bhim Shamsher said to his courtiers, “Such rebels used to be trampled under elephants’ feet under the Tsar regime in Russia; what should we do to them?”  Before the courtiers could reply, the revolutionary leader replied,” The Tsars have been already overthrown.” (Rawal, 2047 B.S.:23) Although these young braves and dreamers of change did not have any clear picture about the future, they had a deep feeling about the pains, persecutions and suffocation of the prevailing society. Of them Maina Bahadur, Khandaman, Khadgaman and Ranganath were awarded a life sentence including the confiscation of their property. Being the member of the ruling family, Umesh Bikram was held in home detention in Dhankuta. Nanibabu Sijapati was banished out of the valley. Ranganath was released after 2 years and four months with the help of the queen of Shreepur Palace. Khandaman was taken to Pashupati Aryaghat (cemetery) when he was terminally ill and died there on April 9, 1936 after battling with death for a week. Maina Bahadur also fell seriously ill and died in the dungeon on August 21, 1938 at the age of 33. Khadgaman Singh was not released even in 1996 when 19 political prisoners were released.  He was released only after the successful movement on 1951 bearing all the hardship of incarceration. (Praja Parisad, 2043 B.S.:51, Shrestha, 2057 B.S.: 31-32)

A second attempt of political significance was made on June 4, 1936 when five youths assembled in the house of Martyr Dharmabhakta’s uncle in Ombahal and decided to form a political party. They came upon the decision after consultation to name the, “Praja Parisad“. This was formed with a view to overthrow the Rana’s arbitrary rule and to establish a democratic system as the king its constitutional head. Operating slowly keeping its activities underground, Praja Parisad distributed extensively the political pamphlets in 1941. This pamphleteering started political movement in Nepal for the first time. This not only surprised the people, it also astonished the Rana rulers. If this sprouted hope among the people, it engendered an extraordinary anger and fear among the Ranas. Of those who were arrested in connection of this case, 4 were given death sentence, 2 were given life imprisonment with confiscation of property and the shaving of head, and 30 got prison terms from life to 2 months including the confiscation of property and 37 were given sentences ranging from economic fine and banishment. (Praja Parisad, 2043 B.S.: 30-34, 39-42)

The anti-Rana movement did not have the unified nature. It was developing as a spontaneous movement launched in the field of politics, society, culture and religion. Yog Maya’s reform movement was also one of them. Yog Maya was a religious reformer and her demand for a religious rule and her consequent Jalsamadhi (drowning in water to death) constituted one of the important events of that time. Born between 1861 and 1864 in Bhojpur of eastern Nepal, Yog Maya had raised voice for social reform and religious rule or good governance. When she realized that the movement she had led was on the brink of failure, she and her 68 disciples drowned in the Arun River in 1942 as a supreme pressure in the form of a spiritual rite. (Himal, 2057 B.S.: 4-21, Neupane, 2057 B.S: 133-137, Timsina 2057 B.S., 138-174; Aziz, 1993).

In 1942, the Ranas arrested and imprisoned in Hanuman Nagar Jail some Indian leaders such as Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohiya who had come to Nepal and were clandestinely leading the independence movement in India. The Ranas had done so to please the British government.  Some Nepalese youths broke the Hanuman Nagar Jail to free them and thus to contribute in the Indian Independence Movement. The Nepalese youths were successful in freeing them and to escort them to India. This was the first case of prison break in Nepal with political objective. Later, the Ranas initiated legal case against more than 140 persons and awarded rigorous prison sentences to 22 of them. (Praja Parisad, 2043 B.S.: 47)

On April 30 and May 4 and 6 in 1947, huge demonstrations were held in Kathmandu. Slogans like “Inquilab Zindabad! Release Political Prisoners! And We Want Civil Rights!” gave birth to new hopes and aspirations. As the effect of the demonstration, Rana Prime Minister Padma Shamsher announced on May 16, 1947 that he would institute constitutional reforms within 12 days. He promised that he would invite experts to consult about constitutional reforms and released the demonstrators who were arrested. (Praja Parisad, 2043 B.S.: 51)

On 31 October 1946, “All India Nepali National Congress” was established. A representative assembly convened in Calcutta on January 25-27 in 1947 to ascertain its goal and programme, considered the name inappropriate and renamed it as “Nepali National Congress.” It had the objective of establishing representative rule in Nepal with the king as its constitutional head. Later, the Nepali Congress was established merging the Nepal Prajatantra Congress and Nepali National Congress. Concurrently to this, the Communist Party of Nepal was also established in 1949.

For the first time, a people’s movement started in Nepal in 1951 with an extensive participation of the people. Soon the movement assumed the form of armed struggle. This movement, which was able to mobilize the people extensively, ended in the Delhi Agreement. This was the first power sharing among the ruling classes in the name of the people. On the one hand, this stunted the wishes of the people for liberation and on the other it ended the possibility of developing equal relation and trying to regain the Nepalese territory lost in the Treaty of Sugauli by a review of the treaty with the new Indian rulers in the context of the British withdrawal from India. As a consequence a base was created for an anti-Indian environment in Nepal. During the visit of Nepal by Inidan Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, various sister organizations of the communist party of Nepal demonstrated black flags against him on 16 June 1951. This was first time in which India’s view towards Nepal and her unequal treatment was met with a mass rebuff. This was in fact a continuation of the armed protest to the Delhi Agreement mounted by Ram Prasad Rai and Dr. K. I. Singh.

Despite the promise by King Tribhuwan on February 18, 1951 following the Delhi agreement and the stipulation in the preamble of “Interim Constitution – 2050” that “the government of Nepal would be run in accordance with the provision of the democratic constitution prepared by a constituent assembly” (In Vaidya et al, 1996:232), no initiative was taken for a long time to hold the election of the constituent assembly for drafting the new constitution. Consequently, a civil disobedience movement started demanding for a constituent assembly in 1958. However, a constitution was drafted and enforced by creating a parliament with a strong presence of the king without an election for the constituent assembly. The King engineered a military coup on December 15, 1960 on the basis of the provisions of this very constitution.

Following the royal military coup of 1960, people’s movements were trampled under military boots. As a result, no cases of people’s movement were seen till 1965 apart from minor exceptions. After 1965, however, the history of Nepali people’s movement is full of the glorious sacrifices by the Nepalese youths and students. In fact the students’ movement seems to the mainstream of the opposition politics from 1965 to 1971 when the political parties had become ineffective. During this period, large student struggles such as Valley Student Struggle, struggle against the misdemeanor of D. I. G. Narayan Singh and the Susta Movement. The movement of 1979 was also basically a movement of the students. The student movement which was influenced by the Jhapa Movement that started from “class enemy annihilation” in Jyamirgadi of Jhapa district on May 24, 1971, made the Nepalese monarchy yield for the first time before the people’s movement and compelled it to hold the referendum. Although it was able to bring the result of the referendum to its favor with the misuse of state resources the monarchy in the guise of Panchayat could not prevent the people’s movement. As a result, the People’s Movement of 1990 took place. This movement ended the party-less system which was in existence for a long time and restored the multi-party system. It helped to change the absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy and widened people’s rights to some extent. This movement had not taken place only as a consequence of previous political movement but as a culmination of entire mass movements. It is therefore desirable to discuss briefly about these mass movements.

 

Mass Movements

The movements of various classes and communities of the Nepali people include those movements launched by the Nepalese peasants, workers, youths, students women, oppressed and down trodden people considered untouchables, low salaried employees, teachers and progressive intellectuals. It is, therefore, necessary to review these movements, briefly though, and to subject them to general appraisal and review. With this objective in mind, these movements will be subjected to an evaluation and review.

Experiences and feelings-1
 
Kudos to Nepalese Democracy, which is Shapeless

 

I was busy for about a year meeting with various outstanding democrats to ask after the health of democracy, which rules the country in the form of parliamentary system today. Although I met very many people, I am planning to present the excerpts of talks only with three of them. They have also represented the ideas of other people I met. One social democrat leader having a long history did not see any relevance of such question. In his view, this was the best system; only the terrorists (Maoists) and conspirators had gone against it. But he also was not satisfied with what was happening in Nepal today and felt that the leadership of the present government, which was the root cause of the distortions, needed replacement. I repeated the same question to a youth leader of the same school of thought who is considered an outstanding intellectual. He said “since a long war was fought against party-less system, we call multiparty system a democracy. Multiparty system was restored but democracy has not been established from the point of view of ideas, practices and culture. Therefore, the health of democracy is not good.” I repeated the same question again with a leader of the second category, who was a little more sentimental. He said, “My ideal was this multiparty democracy, and it has come. I am no more worried about whether we would win election or not because we won the election and formed the government. Those very leaders whom I considered my ideal came to power also. We lack in experience in the beginning but we have now gained experience also. The worry as to whether I would belong to the group of policy makers is also irrelevant now because I belong to the team. What surprises me is that the ideal of democracy, which I had dreamt about, was not realized. There is no possibility of this being realized also. The decision of our own government to regularize 30,000 teachers without competition can be taken as a case in point. This was utterly undemocratic decision. Failing to prevent our own government from taking such a decision we have knocked the door of the court.” I felt that one outspoken leader had at least seen the blurred face of democracy. Many other leaders of the same school of thought did not seem to have seen the face of democracy in Nepal. It is not surprising, therefore, for ordinary Nepalese people and poor me not to have seen it. Kudos to Nepal’s shapeless and incomprehensible democracy, which may be seated somewhere in its divine throne. 

 

Peasant Movement

The system of land holding that existed in the various principalities annexed in Nepal remained intact for a long time. These systems included Raikar, Birta, Jagir, Guthi, Kipat, Ukhada, Mahajani, Rajauta etc. In all these systems, feudal relation of production remained dominant. The peasants were powerless and they had no control over their product. In general terms, the landlords were the real decision makers. The state and law always favored them. The peasants, therefore, had to mount struggle against this unjust system several times.

The movement launched by the peasants of Gaur in November 1950 was the first such movement by the Nepalese peasant which was planned. On November 18, a massive demonstration of the peasants was organized in which 10,000 peasants had participated. The army indiscriminately fired upon the demonstrators. Many peasants including their leader Shiva Prasad were killed in this shooting (Sharma, 2008 B.S.:422). The glorious movement of the peasant was a part of the great people’s movement that was going on inside the country, which succeeded in bringing down the Rana regime and inspired the people to continuously march forward on the path of class emancipation. This peasant movement has its own place in the various other movements that took place in 1950.

On May 3, 1961 the government opened fire killing a number of peasants in a peasant struggle against landlord in Bardia. On August 4, 1953 it murdered Bhim Dutta Pant who was a strong and popular peasant leader of western Nepal. In the terror that was unleashed by the Indian army called by the government two other peasants also died from the bullets of the Indian army. In this movement about 50 peasants were injured and about 200 were taken prisoners.

The peasant movement that had started from Rautahat expanded to Bara, Parsa, Sarlahi and Mahottari. In this movement the peasants tore the unlawful debentures and took defaulting landlords for a donkey ride after blackening their faces with soot. During the movement debentures worth 6.5 million rupees were confiscated from the landlords and were torn to pieces.  But the government quelled the movement due to various causes including the passivity of its leaders (Baidya, 2047 B.S.: 56-57).

The Peasant Association of Bara had raised the issue of human dignity strongly. During those days, people from rich families used degrading terms while addressing the people of poor families. The peasant’s Association demanded that dignified terms be used in addressing the poor people. This was something, which the feudal landlords could not tolerate. The peasants of Bara and Parsa district plunged into the struggle. It soon changed into clashes between the landlords and the peasants. The police sided with the landlords and the movement took an anti-government posture. The momentum and height of the movement compelled the feudal lords and the police to yield. Although with a lot of bloodshed and difficulties, the peasants won victory and the feudal lords were compelled to sign an agreement promising to use honorable term of address to the poor people. (Jyapu, 2046 B.S.:19-21). Similarly, a progressive study association of Ratamata in Puthan district had organized a training camp for its workers in 1953. In this camp, 150 cadres were provided training and were taught to do exercises. Some peasants complained about the injustice and atrocities being meted out to them before a team of cadres who had gone of Narikot in connection with the training. When a negotiation with the landlords failed to find solution, a movement was launched with general participation of the people. During the mass action many cases of attacks and counter attacks took place there. At the end, the feudal lords were compelled to fulfill all the demands against injustice and atrocities. (Singh, 2046 B.S.: 9-17)

In 1979, the peasants of Sindhupalchok launched a struggle against the exploitation of the Guthi and the oppression of the police. In this struggle, crops were captured and the crooked persons were punished. The peasants of Dhanusa launched movement for raising the wages in 1980. The protesters from 20 villages and numbering in thousands were able to get a slight increment in their wages. In 1981, the jute-producing peasants of Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari launched a struggle demanding increase in the price of jute, expansion of market facilities and the increase of the quota of jute purchase by Jute Development and Trading Corporation. The government took violent measures to suppress these peasants and opened fire against them at Urlabari of Morang. Many peasants were injured in this incident. The peasant movement of 1984 launched in Jhapa and Ilam was also significant. In this movement in which a more organized initiative was taken collecting the demands of the peasants from the village level. The peasants were able to collect 30 thousand signatures in support of their 14-point demands and submitted them to the government. The government arrested 49 peasants in this event.

The peasants of Sindhupalchok were struggling against injustice since 1969. A massive demonstration was held in Barabise in 1972 demanding food for the hungry people. In 1979, a militant struggle was launched by the peasants against a notorious landlord demanding social prestige and the increase in the wages of farm laborers. In 1981, a struggle was also organized against the oppression and injustice of a foreign aid program called “Intensive Hill Development Project.” The peasants of this area continued to launch struggle on major and minor issues. Due to these events the local bullies and administration set about suppressing the people on the pretext of the “growth of extremists.” As a result the police opened a discriminate fire upon a crowd of the people who had gathered to celebrate a traditional festival at Piskar village in 1984. Two peasants were killed and more than a dozen were injured in that incident. In the suppression campaign that followed, three more peasants were killed. Numerous peasants were arrested in this incident. (Himali Prakasan, 2041 B.S.: 189-194). This incident was condemned throughout the nation.

In 1979, the government unleashed an extensive suppression against the peasants of Chhintang in Dhankuta. In this suppression campaign launched by the rulers, several peasants had to lose their lives. Similarly, the peasants of Jugedi of Chitawan also launched a brave struggle against the government. One peasant was shot dead in this incident.

Slavery was abolished in Nepal in 1926. But it did not abolish the practice of indebtedness and bonded labor. As a result, the practice of bonded labor continued in Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur districts of the western Terai. According to official statistics, the number of the bonded families was 17000 in 1994. (Susasaa, 1995) A movement was started for the abolition of this infamous practice after the restoration of democracy in 1990. Organizations such as Backward Society Education (BASE), Bonded Labor Eradication Forum, Bonded Laborer Concerned Group, and INSEC etc. were involved in the movement while the struggle launched in June and July in 2000 under the Committee for the Struggle of Bonded Labor saw them in a different situation. The government declared their emancipation on July 17, 2000. Although, this is their great achievement and success, their life has not become liberated and free in the real sense of the term. They have however, reached to the status of other farm laborers.

Gaining experiences from these struggles and taking negative and positive lessons, the Nepalese peasants have been marching forward on the path of their emancipation. The progress may be faster or slower, but it has not come to standstill.

 

Workers’ Movement

The Industrial Council was established in 1935. After some time, Gharelu Ilam Prachar Adda (cottage industry promotion office) was opened under it. It was changed into the department of Cottage and Small Industries in 1939. The Company Act was brought into force in 1936 for the first time. With the establishment of Biratnagar Jute Mills in 1936 and Nepal Bank Limited in 1937, conditions were created for the emergence of new classes and a new relation of production in Nepal. From this specific point, from where the capitalist relation of production started, a change occurred in social, political and economic role of classes in Nepal. With the emergence of new industrial class, it was bound to have more decisive ideological and political role than all other classes. It was also appropriate to have an expectation of a militant struggle from the working class. As a result, the first workers strike in Nepalese history started in Biratnagar Jute Mills and Cotton Mills from March 4, 1947. The strike went on peacefully until March 24. Dialogues were taking place between the leaders of striking workers and the owners of the mills. But a contingent of 250 troops sent by the Ranas to suppress the strike reached Biratnagar on March 24 and the strike was mercilessly suppressed the next day. The leaders of the workers and other political leaders were also arrested. (Praja Parisad, 2043 B.S.:48)  Similarly, 9 workers were killed and 51 others injured when the government opened fire on the workers on April 28, 1950 even after the overthrow of the Ranas. The same year, the government again opened fire killing five workers who had risen in struggle in Birgunj demanding for higher wages.

A cursory look at the industrial management of the country reveals that it had started to take some momentum after the introduction of the First Five Year Plan in 1956. An Industrial Policy was announced 1957. The Factory Act was brought into force in 1959. The same year, the Industrial Development Center was changed into Industrial Development Corporation. Industrial Entrepreneur Act was enforced in 1961. In 1981, an act was brought into force concerning foreign investment and technology transfer. An economic stabilization program was implemented from 1985 and a structural adjustment program was implemented from 1986. The number of factories established in private sector from 1936 to 1995 was 71,405. (CPN-UML, 2053 B.S.:41)

In April 1979, about 25,000 transport workers launched a strike. They had a partial success in getting their demands fulfilled. In 1979, workers from various industrial sectors launched a strike putting forward 27-point demands. This strike assumed a nationwide character. The government, which had come out with a policy of suppression, was not able to attain its objective. It was compelled to fulfill the demands of the workers, though partially. It instilled them with a consciousness of an organized strength and prompted them to form a national level free workers’ union. In 1980, the workers of Kathmandu, Biratnagar, Birgunj and Hetauda launched a struggle putting forward a 34-point demand.  This strike went for fourteen days. The strike could not be successful for lack of adequate internal preparation, failure to forge unity and a severe crack down from the government. In May, 1981 the workers of Biratnagar rose in struggle again. One worker was killed during the movement. But the workers were able to get their demands fulfilled staying firm in their struggle. In November 1981, the workers of Hetauda succeeded in getting their demands partially fulfilled through a 22-day long strike. Similarly, the workers of Balaju were also able to get their demand for a better life through their 25-day strike in January 1982.  The workers of Balaju again plunged into struggle in 1982. The strike, which had started with a four-point program, ended in failure. During this movement 336 workers were expelled from different factories. In 1985 the movement of the workers of the Hetauda Cement Factory also ended in failure. 350 workers were expelled from the factory. In 1989 the strike of the Kathmandu Textile, however, was successful. They were able to get a number of their demands fulfilled.

Taken as a whole, the workers movement of Nepal is still in its infancy. There are four causes for this: 1) Limited number of industries owing to sluggish rate of industrialization and industrial services. 2) Dispersal of strength owing to division of workers between innumerable leftist and centrist groupings. 3) Helplessness created by the concept of fatalism prevalent among the workers. 4) Effectiveness of the suppressive measures of the industrialists and the rulers. Despite this, the extent to which the workers are participating in the movement with partial success carries a serious and long-term importance. As they have already acquired enough negative and positive experience, they are bound to overcome their weaknesses and engage in the task of class emancipation with the strategic thinking, a long-term plan and a militant struggle. Their present day status compels them not only to participate in the movement to bring about a change in their situation, but also to fulfill their historic responsibility by providing leadership to it.

 

Women’s Movement

Women’s awakening is found to have started in Nepal with the publication of the book “The Women’s Education” written by Durga Devi Acharya Dixit in 1897. The “Women’s Committee” formed by Dibya Devi Koirala and Yogmaya Koirala in 1918, however, constitutes the first attempt for women’s movement. During this period, Sati System (according to this system a widow was brunt live in the funeral pile of her dead husband) was abolished from Nepal. Establishing Padma Kanya School in 1945 institutionalized the women’s education. “Nepal Women’s Association” was established in 1947 under the chairmanship of Mangala Devi Singh. A pro-communist “Nepal Women’s Association” was established in 1950. At the same time, “All Nepal Women’s Association”, “Women Volunteer Services” and “Birangana Dal” were also established under Punya Prabha Devi Dhungana, Kamal Rana and Rohini Shah respectively. After 1960, the pro-Panchayat women activists formed “Nepal Women’s Organization.”  In 1980, the “Nepal Women’s Organization” set up in 1950 was reorganized into “All Nepal Women’s Association”. (Nemansangh, 2055 B.S., Pradhan, 2052 B.S.; 53-57, Subedi, 1991)

The Nepalese Women started to acquire their legal rights after “equality before law” was theoretically guaranteed in “Nepal Government Act-2004″. Women are found to have given equal status after “Nepal Interim Constitution-1950″ recognized the equality between men and women stressing the need for the state to make special provision for women and children.(Sangraula, 2052 B.S. :75-91). Even the constitutions promulgated after that have recognized that theory. The Nepalese women got their right to vote in 1947. This right was given to them after the demands set by women on the election of municipalities were fulfilled. (Subedi, 1991: 21) A woman candidate was also elected in the election of the Kathmandu municipality held in 1953. There was a woman minister in the government formed by the Nepalese Congress in 1959. Despite this, the awareness movement of women was not effective. Most of the women’s organizations mentioned above were attached to one or the other political parties or were their sister organizations. Their main objective was not to study the life standard of women, explore their potentialities and to launch an organized struggle but they were merely used as a tool for political parties to gather women around them.

The Nairobi Conference, International Women’s Decade, Beijing Conference as well as the change of 1990, provided momentum to women’s awakening and their struggle for liberation. A great discussion started on the status of women and their right to paternal property after the Supreme Court directed the government to change those laws that came into clash with the constitution or restricted the equal rights of women. This historic event could have changed the women’s movement hovering around the women of higher middle class into an emancipation movement of all women. But the political parties and the NGOs, which encouraged the “sick culture of holding seminars”, did not let it happen.

At present the classical Marxists deny them a change in their present status on the plea that their emancipation would come only after the class emancipation and the centrist political formations are bent on creating an ironic situation of equating women’s emancipation with the problems and potentialities of educated middle class women.

The issue of basic concern in the Movement of Nepalese women is to empower them politically, socially and economically. Moreover, the awakening, organization, development and empowerment of the vast majority of poor women, especially the women of rural areas should have been at the center of the movement. It is not possible to bring about a change in the status of peasant and working class women from the “kitchen garden” of the NGOs.3 Lately; however, a change is being witnessed even in the situation and the initiative of women.

In view of the transformational situation created by the Maoist movement, three salient features have been noted in the present day women’s movement. 1) The women’s movement has forged an alliance with the class emancipation. It has, therefore, become a part of people’s liberation. 2) The women’s movement has acquired an extraordinary militancy. Now, it has taken the path of transformation, which is full of sacrifices. 3) It has assumed the form of peasants’ and working women’s movement surmounting all the trappings and ceremonies of the INGOs, NGOs and the women of higher classes.  Despite the effort of western desire and their impersonated representatives – the NGOs and INGOs – to make the women’s movement serve the interest and aspiration of urban and the higher middle class women, this movement is moving forward in the form of emancipation of all women.

 

Nationalities’ Movements

 

The newly established greater feudal Gorkha State, which was later called Nepal, was a state of Khas domination. From the very inception, this state was whole-heartedly engaged in Hinduisation of the society. We can cite Prithvi Narayan Shah’s calling it “Asali Hindustana” (a real Hindustan) and his injunction to ensure the presence of one Pundit in each Kachahari (legal hearing) and his order to banish “Newar” Christians from the country after the conquest of the Valley as examples.

Experiences and Feelings-2

 

Change Upward, Change Downward

Four of us, co-travelers of Jhapa Movement, had a coincidental get-together some times ago. We were in a mood to listen and make other listen each other’s ideas. In fact, a lot of ups and downs were witnessed in the country during the last 25 to 30 years. Practices changed, ideals altered and the worldview also underwent a great transformation. During that period some people considered worthless proved capable and those considered promising relapsed to passivity covering themselves with the mantle of falsehood and absurdity. Those biologists who never thought that lions would eat grass were surprised to see for themselves them eat grass. It also provided some sociologists a fertile field for research. This upheaval changed great heroes into villains. What is strange is that these heroes did not sense this change nor did they have the ideological level to accept it. They even lacked the olfactory faculty to take stock of their present situation.

Even among us (the “ex-Jhapalis”) assembled there, we found that we still had the remnant of adventurism of the Jhapalese in us. One among us said “our classes have changed. So have our class characters. The character of our class politics is also no longer the same. Some of us had a transition to upper class and acquired class character accordingly. I and some other friends declined from our previous level from the class point of view. The character of our class politics also changed. It is clear that our roles also changed. I have come to hold the view that the duty of my class politics is to strengthen the present day Maoist movement. I may sympathize, assist and support them according to my situation. But I should side with them.” The speaker, ex-Jhapali, who had spent more than twelve years in prison thus expressed his views and relapsed into silence. The conclusion of this former comrade who was rich in experiences but poor in financial position astonished some of us while it upset and disturbed others.

 

Nepal’s feudal regime established a high class Hindu-Khas domination in the political, cultural and economic field through ideological basis of Hindu religion, dissemination of social psychology about the cultural supremacy of the Khas people, Making Khas language which is now known as the Nepali language compulsory in all kinds of official works and the establishment of Khas control through Birta and Jagir system in land management and its ownership. The opposition of high class Hindu- Khas domination, however, had started from the very beginning. The war between the Kirat states of  Chaudandi, Hatuwa or Bijayapur-Morang and Gorkha Khas state whose capital was shifted to Kathmandu was not only a war between two states but was also a war between the Khas and the Kirat nationalities. Some people have depicted it as a war of national unification on the basis of the fact that the Khas army also contained some Magars and Gurungs in its ranks. But the facts are different. In 1806, an order was given that all the Gurungs should send at least one member of their family in the war of Kangada. Many Gurungs went to fight that war completing a long journey but they were unaware of the political cause of the war. (Pignede, 1966: 490). In MajhKirat, some rebels (Kulyaha) staged a revolt against the Khas-Gorkha expansion in very early years. According to Gyan Mani Nepal, Atal Rai, Bharat Singh Rai and Kanthabir Rai were executed and 15 others were subjected to confiscation of property and other punishment. (Yakha Rai, 2053 B.S.: 345) According to Parsuram Tamang who has ascribed his information to Harka Gurung, Maheschandra Regmi, Janaklal Sharma and Durgahang Yakha Rai, the expulsion of the Kiratas in 1770, the revolt of the Tamang and the Limbus in 1793, the revolt of Lakhan Thapa in Gorkha in 1870 and the revolt of Supati and Sukadev Gurung in 1877 were revolts and movements with ethnic overtones. (Tamang, 2054 B.S.: 122)

The oppressed people were under such a pressure that they were compelled to live without voice, organization and movement for a long time. During the Panchayat regime they opened some cultural associations such as Dalit Janabikas Parisad and initiated some works in the field of unity of the nationalities and their uplift. “Nepal Oppressed people Liberation Society” is one of its developed forms.

After the Khasa rulers of Kathmandu distributed land in the Terai to their relatives in an indiscriminate way to army personnel, civil officials, their sycophants, stooges and various other people under their favor and specially after the wave of migration to Terai increased following the control of malaria an atmosphere of mistrust, suspicion and animosity increased between the people of Madhesi nationality and other people. Even before this, the Khas rulers used to treat the Madhesi as right-less second-class citizens born for the fulfillment of their duty. Although the Terai looked calm from the point of view of conflict and clashes among nationalities, it was due to lack of strength on the part of oppressed nationality and not an expression of social well being. The Terai Congress tried to some extent to give expression to it. The Terai region of Nepal is beset with the problem of citizenship. The landless people have no proof of citizenship. It has made them stateless. The Madhesis bear justifiable grudges against land reform (specially the distribution of land confiscated from the Terai landlord to other people), the government’s arrangement about language and culture as well as the solution of the problem of squatters (specially the distribution of public land in the Terai to the families of non-Madhesis), and discrimination in employment. Although questions have been raised on these issues on a number of times, their solution has not been found yet. (Yadav, 2054 B.S.).

The movement of 1950 had brought the concept of self-governance to the fore. This is proved by the following incident described by B. P. Koirala, which was said to have taken place in Majhkirat during one of his visits there.

“As I looked to the other side of the river (a river near Bhojpur Bazar) there was a crowd of eight to ten thousand people. I had to go there. I went on horseback. Crossed the river on a boat. The crowd was excited. We were in front of them. Brahmins and Kshetries were hiding in fear. The followers of Bhudev Rai were demanding their right over the territory and they were demanding statehood. Some slogans were even raised demanding for self-governance.” (Koirala, 2055 B.S.: 162-163)

In the 1970s, pamphlets were again distributed in the Majhkirat calling for a movement against the thread wearing Khasas. During the Panchayat regime, an attempt was made though reluctantly, to bring together Sherpas, Tamangs, Magars, Gurungs, Rais and Limbus in the name of “Setamagurali.”   Limbuan Liberation Front was formed demanding for the self-governance of Limbuan. Similarly, various nationalities’ liberation movements such as Khumbuan Liberation Front, Magar Liberation Front, Mongol National Organization, and Newar National Movement came into being. Even Mangol-Kirat also organized in political groupings such as National People’s Liberation Party, Nepal Jana Party, and Janamukti Morcha Nepal and started to raise voice in favor of nationalities’ rights and equality. Similarly, the Nepal Terai Congress in its new incarnation as Nepal Sadbhawana Party came into existence for the rights of the Madhesis. Now Madhesi Rastriya Mukti Morcha has also been established putting forward its view that the liberation of the Madhesis is possible by linking it with class liberation movements. Lately, even the oppressed people are found to have declared their organized presence establishing “Nepal Dalit Shramik Morcha.”

In this process the reorganization, awakening and expansion of nationalities’ cultural organizations and social movements also took place rapidly. Manka Khala, Kirat Dharma tatha Sanskrit Utthan Manch, Kirat Yakthung Chumlung, Nepal Tamang Ghedung, Nepali Maithili Samaj, Newa Rastriya Andolan, Akhil Nepal Janajati Sammelan, Nepal Janajati Mukti Andolan, Maithili Bikas Manch, Awadhi Sanskriti Bikas parisad, Nepal Bhojpuri Pratisthan, Tharu Kalyankari Sabha are some of its examples. Ever since the Janajati Mahasangh (Federation of Nationalities) came into existence, it has tried to act as a backbone of ethno-cultural unity of the oppressed people. The Nationalities’ Development Coordination Center is also found to have started a serious effort to find ways of solving the nationalities’ problems of Nepal including revisiting the Nepalese history. In fact, it has become necessary for reinterpretation and rewriting the history of social classes. (Tamang, 2054 B.S.: 112) What the Khas rulers call history is, with minor exception, only the glorification of Khas superiority and the stories of the victories and luxury of their Kings.

The People’ Movement of 1990 gave birth to an aspiration of freedom and emancipation among all the classes, groups, communities and nationalities. The above-mentioned organizations and movements are also the expressions of the very aspirations. But these aspirations of the people were stunted due to vile character shown by the ruling political parties, indecent political culture, insensitive works of the government in the field of culture, skyrocketing price and growing cases of corruption. In the meantime the continuity of Hindu religiosity in the constitution, controversy over compulsory teaching of Sanskrit and broadcast of news in this language and the stay order from the Supreme court restring the use of nationalities’ languages in their local bodies further deepened the acrimony of the non-Khas people.

The feelings, thinking and practices created by Nepal’s nationality scenario, presented a dichotomy in which the Khasas and other people had their identification as the oppressor and the oppressed respectively. As for the Newars, they hold equal status in political, economic and social structure and in the use of opportunity. But they have also been victim of the rule and cultural interference of the Khasas.

In essence, the major contradictions of the Nepali society are made up of the contradiction of oppressed nationalities against the chauvinism of the Khasas, the contradiction of the so called “untouchables” against the anachronism of social untouchability and the contradiction of women against patriarchal social system. There is desperation, anger and the feeling of revolt. If this suffocation and revolt does not find a way out within constitutional arrangement, it is certain to take a non-constitutional path. (Neupane, 2000)4. In the view of Lok Bahadur Thapa Magar, “It is impossible for the oppressed nationalities to get self-governance without forging an alliance with the liberation struggle of the workers. A great unity, therefore, has become inevitable to achieve the great objective of acquiring emancipation from class, national and regional oppression.” (Thapa Magar, 2056 B.S.: 19) This, in fact, has paved the way for the path of liberation.

 

Movement against Untouchability

In a society with predominance of conservative ideas, the effective values of society are often based on the value judgment of the rulers. Therefore, the religion, social system, family and individual practices and the criteria of civilized behaviors of the rulers are given such a status that they can be accepted as something distinct and superior. The distinct faiths, values and social norms of the present day Nepalese society are also governed in this way. This means that the Hindu-Khasa practices have served as the basis to govern the social and ruling value system of the country. One of the worst arrangements of these practices is the caste system whose anarchic form can be seen in the untouchability prevalent in the society. In fact, there are some ideas that equate classes with castes. (G. Berreman in Sharma, 1999:39). The difference in it is that a person’s class may be changed in accordance with the achievements he or she makes in his or her life, but the caste the person is born into can never be changed through out his or her life. (Kingsley Davis in Sharma, 1999: 15-16)  This difference indicates the influence on individual as well as social psychology and general behavior of these people. This creates a condition of managing the responsibilities of the society and state to these communities. Caste system is a criminal practice and the Hindu-Khasa priesthood has demonstrated brutality by giving continuity and respect to this stigmatized practice. In the view of Swami Dayananda, leader of Arya Samaj Movement, “Caste system is a cancer which is slowly poisoning the life blood of the nation.” (In Sharma, 1999:34) The Hindus had brought this cancer from the Gangetic Plains during the Lichhavi period. But feudal kings like Jayasthiti Malla (1360-95), Ram Shah (1605-36), Prithvi Narayan Shah and Jung Bahadur Rana institutionalized it. It acquired a status of directive legal principle after Junga Bahadur made it the main basis of the penal code of the nation through the provisions of Muluki Ain in 1854. This very law made caste system and untouchability part of the legal system of the state. Although the new Muluki Ain of 1963 has mainly tried to remove this unwholesome practice, it continues to get recognition in society and various provisions of law.

It is difficult to pin point the date of the beginning of the resistance of the oppressed people against the Hindu-Khasa oppression for lack of reliable research. But we have information about such attempt having been made after 1947. In 1947, Bhagat Sarbajit Bishwokarma started an organized movement against untouchability but it ended in failure. The successful entry to Pashupatinath temple in 1954, the struggle launched by Tikhe Nagarchi and Tikaram Parki to enter the Shaileshwari temple of Doti, the petition submitted to the King in 1962 by Rastriya Dalit Mukti Parisad under the leadership of Sahashranath Kapali, the successful entrance to Shidhakali Temple in Bhojpur in 1965 constitutes the first stage of such struggles. The movement of filling milk in the container of milk collection center of Udiachaur in Syangja, the entrance in the Nawalparasi Temple in 1991, the milk movement of 1994 in Chitawan, the struggle launched to enter the Gorakhkali Temple in Gorkha, the struggle to bring water from the Sipapokhari pond in Sindhupalchok constitute major struggles launched after the People’s Movement of 1990. (Bishwokarma, 2000: 23-24. Khadka, 2000: 33-34) The Oppressed People’s Liberation Society launched a successful struggle against the discriminatory treatment of Milk Collecting Cooperative in Gaidakot in Nawalparasi district demanding the right of the oppressed people to collect milk.

The oppressed people of Nepal are struggling against ‘higher caste’ Hindu chauvinism and Khasa domination. The struggle of the oppressed people has been effective and meaningful in recent years but they have not been successful to compel the Hindu-Khasa state regret for its heinous crime committed for centuries. It is, therefore, natural for them to include in their demand of struggle the apology from the state, Hindu religious authorities and the Khasa nationality as well as the demand for reservation for the oppressed people on the basis of the principle of affirmative actions. The movement of the oppressed people seems to have been directed towards these goals.

 

Student’s Movement

Banaras Hindu University Nepali Students’ Association was established in 1946. This was the first student organization of the Nepalese students. In this very year, Himanchal Students’ Union was also established in Calcutta. In 1947, the students of Tindhara Sanskrit School had launched struggle demanding the inclusion of geography, history, economics and political science in the syllabus. This is known as the movement of Jayatu Sanskritam. This incident had taken place on June 15, 1947. The suppression by the government provoked the movement and the students started to go from door to door for alms shouting “Jayatu Sanskritam“. This mustered support for them. As a result, the government was compelled to accept their demands promising to fulfill by Dashain festival. In Nepal, however, the first students’ union was “The All Nepal Students’ Federation” established in 1950. The Student Federation had acquired the membership of International Union of Students in 1954. In 1951 an organization called “Nepal Students’ Union” was established but it could not be activated.

First time in Nepal a student was killed in a demonstration in 1951. The government opened fire in the procession that came out on November 6. A fourteen-year old student, Chiniya Kaji, was killed in the shooting. (Prajatantra, 2046 B.S.:5-6).

In 1963, the government gave birth to a flunkey organization called “Nepal Students’ Organization”. After this event the student struggle broke out. The main objective of the struggle of 1964 was the acquirement of the right to form students’ union. This was the first, effective, glorious and successful movement. In the process of this movement, the government was compelled to release all the students arrested earlier and to give permission to form free student union.  The first “All Nepal student Conference” was convened in 1965. Both the anti-Panchayat pro-communist and pro-democrat students participated in it.

On August 23, 1966, the students of National College organized a cultural programme in Rastriya Nachghar. While the programme was going on, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr Narayan Singh entered the make-up room and tried to mistreat some female students there. The students launched a strong protest about the incident. This great student’s struggle, which was launched against the police atrocity, marched ahead and was successful in removing the police officer from office.

When a division took place among the leftist and democratic students, the “All Nepal National Free Students’ Union” and “Nepal Students’ Union” came into existence in June 1968 and June 1971 respectively. In 1972, the government founded an extreme rightist student organization called “Rastrabadi Swatantra Bidyarthi Mandal.” This organization, which was formed among the young and arrogant Panchas among the students, terrorized the whole educational institutions. This organization, which was notorious with the name of “Mandale”, collapsed only after the movement of 1979.

The most important movements that took place during this time are the struggle against the unjust war mounted by the United States against the people of Indochina, protest demonstration held during the visit of American Vice President Spiro T. Agnew to Nepal, the widespread movement against Indian encroachment of  the Nepalese territory in Susta in 1968, the movement for the removal of the Indian check posts, voice raised for the solution of the squatters’ problem, movement against the Khampas, struggle against the new education system and the protest against annexation of Sikkim in India.

A four month long student movement took place in 1976. This movement had an objective of bringing about reform in education system. This movement ended in failure owing to massive police atrocities and the lack of internal unity. On April 6, 1979, a procession of students was marching towards the Pakistan embassy to handover a protest letter against the execution of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Julfikar Ali Bhutto by the military administration. The police intervened.  Many students were injured and many more arrested. The student movement, which started after this incident, created an upheaval in the country. Violent clashes took place in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Kalaiya, Hetauda etc. Hundreds of students and opposition leaders were also arrested. The movement however took more serious turn. According to the then Prime Minister Kirti Nidhi Bista, one policeman and ten other civilians lost their lives in this incident. (Devkota, 2039 B.S.: 45). This movement ended only after the promulgation of referendum on May 24, 1979. The participation of students carries great importance even in the movement of 1990.

So far as the students’ unions of Nepal are concerned, the students’ unions have emerged concurrently with the number of leftist political groups. Thus, innumerable student unions such as Nepal National Students’ Federation, The Progressive Students’ Union of 1981,5 Nepal National Progressive Students’ Union of 1980,6 Nepal Revolutionary Students’ union,7 Nepal revolutionary Students organization,8 All Nepal National Free Students’ Union (Ektako Panchau)9, All Nepal National Free Students’ Union (Chhhaitaun)10 came into existence during the later period.  In more recent years, more than half a dozen of student’s organizations came into existence having a prefix of ‘Akhil’. Following 1990, there has been comparative decrease in the role of students as political organizations themselves are enjoying greater freedom. In the present context, Nepal Students’ Union, the sister organization of the Nepali Congress, All Nepal National Free Students’ Union, the sister organization of CPN (UML) and All Nepal National Free Students’ Union (Revolutionary), the sister organization of the CPN (Maoist) constitute major student organizations. Other students’ organizations are oriented towards extinction with the decline in the strength of their mother organizations.

In essence, the youth students who were rich in courage, activism and imagination, remained the most effective characters of oppositional political stage during the Panchayat rule. The anti-Panchayat political mechanisms were gradually pushed to the background. The main task of these organizations was reduced to the control and mobilization of students. Although there were intermittent political ripples in the country such as the armed actions of the Nepali Congress, the Jhapa Movement and the armed revolt of the Nepal Janavadi Morcha (Nepalese Democratic Front), they were the students who remained at the forefront of struggle from the view point of effectiveness. During this period, the students carried the torch, both, of political resistance movement and the educational and academic reform movement. At present, once again, they appear to have been oriented towards such an important role again. The movement organized by All Nepal National Free Students’ Union (Revolutionary) in 2000 is an example.

 

Progressive Literary Movement

Starting from “Makaiko Kheti“, the literary movement has played a great role in the social awakening of Nepal. The awakening movement that started during the period of Rana rule played a significant role in bringing about a change in the world outlook of the Nepalese people. Due to intolerant and repressive cultural policies of the Ranas, action was taken against “Makaiko Kheti“, Dharanidhar Koirala’s verse ‘Naibedya‘ was banned, youth literary figure Laxminandan Chalise was pushed to premature death, liberal scientist Gehendra Shamsher was put to death, the establishment of library was restricted and the youths trying to establish Mahabir School were punished. The essence of this policy was to frighten the people in general and to terrorize the Nepali intellectuals in particular. (Bhatta, 2054 B.S.: 7)

The cultural and political awakening movement that started from “Makaiko Kheti” assumed an institutional form from the establishment Mahabir School. It had started classes from 1938. But it was forced to close down when twenty-eight of its teachers were arrested and awarded long prison sentences. Similarly, people trying to open a library were also punished. The publication of Yuddha Prasad Mishra’s “Jabiko Chara“, which called for freedom in a symbolic way, constituted an important event of this period. Similarly, Laxminandan Chalise was imprisoned for writing critical comments on the Ranas in his examination papers and was released when he was terminally ill of tuberculosis. Baburam Acharya’s ‘Shikchya Darpan‘ was banned. During this period, the works of Laxmi Prasad Devkota and Gopal Prasad Rimal represented the awakening of the time. Laxmi Prasad Devkota went to Banaras to participate in the revolution and published ‘Yugbani‘ in cooperation with other people. This magazine had started publication from February 1948. ‘Nepal Pukar’ was published in 1949. It was banned in Nepal.

In the relaxed environment brought about by the change of 1950, a new zeal and zest was noted in the field of progressive literature. During this period, Laxmi Prasad Devkota composed excellent poems like ‘Dal, Bhat, Duku’ and ‘Pagal.‘ In 1953, the Progressive Writers’ Association was established in Nepal. The progressive literature and cultural stream after that, is found to be moving ahead along the path of creation, struggle and organized self- mobilization. It has helped in the transformation of Nepalese society. Be it in the dark nights of Panchayat regime or the repressive moments of parliamentary system, the progressive literary stream and its creators have participated in the liberation struggle of the people. Various creative people are still languishing in jails and the state is engaged in stunting their talents. The struggle of the literary creators against the suppression of talents by the parliamentary regime indicates infinite loyalty of the progressive literary creators towards the people.

Unfortunately, the progressive stream of literature had also its limitation. From the point of the limitations, it is found to have developed along four trends: 1) hollow, insipid, unpalatable and vituperative sloganeering. 2) Impersonation of progressivism out of hypocrisy and pretension devoid of faith and conviction. 3) Staging a so-called ideological and literary race on the surface in the absence of research, investigation and analysis, and 4) Absence of coordination between the progressive creators and the wish, needs and desire of the people and their continuously changing belief system. Obsessed with the race of quantitative production, the progressive literature could not shake itself off the chronic disease of beginning from the enthusiasm of new comers and ending in a cycle of writing for the sake of writing. The victim of this disease is not only thousands of ordinary new writers but also many talented and prestigious figures. Many fine minds of the progressive literature have made an unimaginable misuse of their talent because of their compulsion to live with variegated daily, weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines. Moreover, they also plunge into unnecessary, uncultured and undignified political duel against activists of their own rank if requested by their close associates. But they do not represent the main trend of progressive stream. In spite of these limitations, the progressive creators are found engaged not only in the field of creation but also in the forefronts of struggle.

 

Teachers’ Movement

The teachers’ community has been entangled in problems since the old teacher and disciple relationship was replaced by a new teacher-student relationship. Before, they were not organized; they were not collectively aware of their problems and potentialities and had not reached a consensus on taking a path of struggle. But they took to this path taking advantage of the temporary relaxation of the referendum of 1980.  Consequently, the movement of the teachers plunging into struggle with 15-point demands on May 1980 assumed a nationwide proportion. It not only generated a sense of unity, organization and struggle among the teachers but also got their demands fulfilled. It was also able to create a nation-wide teachers’ organization called “Nepal National Teachers Organization.”

They again plunged into struggle in April 1980 with a 9-points demand. This struggle continued for 38 days. They were able to get most of their demands fulfilled even in this struggle. In 1982 the teachers’ struggle with a seven point demands ran for 104 days. This struggle, however, was not successful due to split within the organization and a severe crackdown by the government. The teachers launched another struggle in January 1985. They had assumed a periodic form of struggle. Nationwide strike with a slogan “let’s go to Kathmandu” and Nepal Bundh (nationwide general strike) were major forms of struggle. The government was set to suppress the movement. The inner split was growing within the teachers and they could not rally the support of the people of other sectors to their struggle. In this specific situation, the bomb explosions of 1985 took place in the country. The teachers’ movement was then automatically suspended. While evaluating the teachers’ movement, we find a number of strong points in it. It made a concrete contribution in the awakening, unity and organizational work of this community. It was successful to a great extent in bringing the improvement in the life standard of the teachers. They also manned the field of struggle when other forces had grown passive following the defeat in the referendum. In fact, it effectively filled the gap between the period after the referendum and bomb explosions. Their movement also inspired the people of other walks of life to organize and struggle for their rights and welfare. But the political parties who were blankly staring into the space failing to organize and conduct professional and political movements, over-politicized the teachers’ movement to preserve themselves rather than linking it to the fulfillment of their professional welfare.  Because of this, it was pushed to division and erosion of strength at the later stage. Another negative aspect of this movement was that the over-politicization of their movement made their academic role secondary and it badly affected the educational standard of the students. The remedy of this negative effect has not been found till 2000 A. D.  It is because of this that the teachers are not strong and able to muster people’s support. In view of the positive role they have played in the past and the environment of movement brought about by the Maoist movement, however, it seems possible for them to remove their shortcomings, play a responsible role in making the future of the students, and acquire support of guardians and launch struggle to bring about improvement in their lives.

 

Employees’ Movement

Nepal had military administration during the period of expansion of the Gorkha state. It means that there was a feudal military rule and the king was the head of the government. When the Rana rule was established, this place was preserved for the Ranas. Junga Bahadur is found to have formally started bureaucracy by establishing civil and military administration. Later toward 1900, Dev Shamsher fixed the time for offices and instituted a system of quarterly and annual leave for the employees. (Sharma, 2008 B.S.: 342, 353). The high level employees worked as the courtiers of the Ranas. The low level employees were called functionaries and their work was to serve the Rana regime and to terrorize and exploit the people. Since these courtiers and functionaries worked only as slaves, servants and sycophants of the Ranas before 1950, the real bureaucracy started in Nepal only after 1951. After 1951, the employees, known as the servants of the nation started to search for the possibility of improvement in their living condition.

The low salaried employees started to launch organized struggle after the movement of 1950. “All Nepal Low Salaried Employees’ Association” was established on January 1951. The employees launched a movement in February 1953 demanding a rise in their salary. The government suppressed this movement. After this, the organization remained virtually defunct.

In 1983, they tried to organize again. But the suppression of the Panchayat regime aborted it in the very beginning. After the People’s Movement of 1990, the employees, like the people of other walks of life, started to make an organized effort for the improvement in their lives. As a result, “Nepal Civil Servant’s Organization” was registered on November 5, 1990. Immediately after the registration of the organization, a movement started demanding equality between the pay scale of the employees of corporations and other government offices. The government called the employees for talks and agreements were made on salary, allowances and other facilities. In the meantime, the government also registered another organization of the civil servants called “Nepal Civil Servants’ Association.” A law was then enacted preventing the officer level employees to acquire membership of any employees’ organizations. In the meantime, the employees launched a movement putting forward a 4-point program.11 The government resorted to strict suppression of the movement. Consequently, an employee lost his life in Khotang and 393 employees were dismissed from office. Other 18 employees from Nepal Rastra Bank, Nepal Oil Corporation, Nepal Construction Company and Radio Nepal were also dismissed for helping in the movement. (Rijal et al, 2051 B.S.: 1-15, 44-69)

The low salaried employees are generally found to have engaged in struggle for the change in their life standard. However, the general people do not have positive attitude towards the employees. People feel that employees, do not work, ask for bribe and regard their job as a gift from the rulers. So far as their productivity is concerned, they are considered less productive than other social and economic classes who are more imaginative, aware, and adding in values. Instead of refuting this accusation, it is better for the employees to launch a movement to bring about an inner change and to link these movements with the efforts to attain the goals of their lives. The low salaried employees are the part and parcel of the people. But no one will accept this that easily. One should guard against a situation in which the society has changed but the changed society considers the employees as being criminals deserving penalty. This situation will be bitter, but if this takes place, there may be very few people to help them. It is necessary for the employees to correct the impression about them among the people and to struggle against the injustice meted out to them by the government. The struggle they launch on these two fronts with a view to bring about amelioration in their lives will certainly make a positive contribution in the transformation of the society as a whole.

 

Impact of Political and Professional Movements

Apart from those described above, many other movements have also taken place in the past. They include the movement to reject the milk contaminated with radiation following the Chernovil atomic accident, movement against the expulsion of the Nepalese people form north-eastern region of India, movement that took place against the death of more than 70 people at the stampede of the National Stadium and the movement against the Indian blockade in 1989. All of them have a positive impact in the direction of change of the Nepalese society.

While analyzing the force of classes, community and society from the movement starting from “Makaiko Kheti“, we can see that despite various weaknesses’ these movements have been successful, to break the silence, giving momentum to the change of society, howsoever slow it may be, and to open the gate of new possibilities. These movements have also made fine contribution in preparing the base of total social transformation and will have an extraordinary role in bringing about a qualitative change of the society. In fact, these class, community and professional movements have become the vehicle of mass awakening and struggle amidst the major political movements that have taken place in Nepalese history. It is only on the strength of political awakening and the class and professional movements that the tasks of social change have occurred. It is because of the extensive environment of change created by these movements that the political change of 1950, the referendum of 1979 and the change in the political system in 1990 became possible.

 

Chapter Two

 

Parliamentary Politics

Many small and big changes have taken place amidst various important achievements made by different class and professional movements. The movement of 1950 has an important place in the history of Nepal. This movement tried to open the first gate of change representing the aspirations of the people.  This movement ended in the Delhi Agreement owing to lack of clarity in the leadership, involvement of India and the state of infancy in which the class awakening movements were in the country. This agreement affected a new balance of power among the ruling class instead of bringing a social transformation. As a result, the previously lost right of the royalty were partially restored. The Ranas‘ hereditary rights were forfeited. Those civilians whom no high posts were given previously got opportunity to be in the government. This change was mainly psychological but since the representatives of higher classes were included in the government, there was basis enough to make propaganda of a new change. There was people’s participation in this movement, there was a basis for a link between their aspiration and the goal of the movement and it gave a feeling to the people that they had acquired strength. These were the strong points of this movement, whereas its weaknesses were its failure to bring about a change in the basic structure of the society, the increase of the Delhi Durbar owing to its mediation in the agreement and to pave the way for India’s interference in Nepal’s internal affairs by using India’s armed forces to quell the opposition to the Delhi Agreement.  The mass upsurge and the armed struggle were terminated in partial and ineffective achievements.

The monarchy which was able to partially restore its rights through the change of 1951, started to stage various farces, demonstrations and maneuvers. It is because of this that the country remained in a state of flux from 1951 to 1960. The monarchy was able to restore its autocratic rule of the days of Prithvi Narayan Shah through a coup of 1960 following a series of events like induction of stooges in the government, conflict among ruling classes, concoction of a political literature called the constitution and the scenes of the general elections. The thirty years following this were the years of struggle of the people and an extreme suppression by the government. The armed resistance mounted by the Nepali Congress in 1961, the Jhapa movement of 1971, the unsuccessful armed operation of the Nepali Congress that was started from Solukhumbu in 1975, the students’ movement and the referendum of 1979, the armed action of Janawadi Morcha (Democratic Front) in 1985 and the joint people’s movement of 1990 constitute some of the important events. The royalty, which was living under the chrysalis of Panchayat system, was forced to lose its privileges. It again returned to the status of restriction of the Rana era.

Parliamentary system of government was ushered in Nepal when the absolute monarchy established after the overthrow of the Ranas was brought to the status of constitutional monarchy in 1990. Many people have called the period between 1951 and 1960 a period of parliamentary system. But only eighteen months out of that period can be partially called parliamentary system in which the rights of the government were restricted. The rest of 102 months were under the direct rule of the king. In essence, the arrangement during the above mentioned 18 months was also an indirect extension of direct rule. In fact, that period can only be called a period of rehearsal from the point of view of establishing parliamentary system. Therefore, 1990 should be regarded the starting point of parliamentary system of government in the country.

The united movement of 1990 played an effective role in creating a new political atmosphere. In Nepalese history, the Nepali Congress and the leftist forces constituted separate streams. The class base of the Nepali Congress, its anti-communist mindset, the mechanical class outlook among the communists and the divisive policies of the Panchayat System were responsible for this. When they slowly realized the importance of each other’s cooperation or at least each other’s usefulness, some of the communists and Congressites started to draw closer. Also, the decline in the rank of the Nepali Congress and the class deviation in a dominant section among the Nepalese communists had caused them to come together. As a result, an agreement was made between them for a united struggle in January 1990. The movement, which started in February 1990, became weaker and at one time it seemed that it would collapse. But various class and professional organizations contributed to the revival of the movement. These class and professional organizations had been active in the transformation of the Nepalese society for a long time.

Experiences and Feelings-3

 

People Walk with Visible Commotion

It was 1990. A meeting of Professional Solidarity Group was going on. All were worried about the uncommon low ebb of the movement. Political parties were pushed to the farthest background. The agenda of the meeting was to find a way out of the impasse. One engineer friend said – we should look for a form of the struggle in which everyone can participate in the movement even being inside his or her home. Put forward the idea of ringing dinner plates or switching off the electricity light simultaneously which he said could be effective. The idea of switching off the electricity bulbs was deemed appropriate and was decided to use it as a form of struggle. The program was a success. It at least broke the silence. The possibilities of struggle increased. A seminar was organized in Kirtipur. The people started to become active in favor of the movement. A people’s upsurge was created and we got an opportunity to participate in a rebellious demonstration of hundreds of thousands of people. We witnessed a part of successful movement. In fact, people want to move with commotion, which is collectively seen at a particular time. The activism created by such collective consciousness takes the form of an upsurge, which can sweep away even formidable mountains.  This is true not only in people’s movement but also in armed struggle and not only in the quantitative change of the society but also in the campaign for transformation. The growing attraction towards the present day Maoist movement also reflects the same collectively seen mass activism to move along a new long march. 

The parliamentary system was established as a cumulative affect of anti-Rana struggle starting from the revolt of Lakhan Thapa Magar and developing through Makai Parva, Prachanda Gorkha, Praja Parisad, the 1950 movement, and other political, class and social movements including the movement of 1990. The interim government established after that, had given a feeling of a new dawn. This period was different in the sense that monarchy was not active, there was a great enthusiasm among the people and political parties were in a more conducive environment to implement their ideals and imaginations. It had started as a honeymoon period for the people, political parties and parliamentary system.

 

Constitution

 

The promise made by the king in 1950 for a constitution drafted by a constituent assembly of elected people’s representatives had not been fulfilled and 1990 would have been the best opportunity for getting the promise fulfilled. But collusion among the monarchy, Nepali Congress and some dominant left parties united in a left front deprived the people of their rights of selecting the type of government of their choice and to draft a constitution accordingly. This right of the people was violated and a commission was formed to draft a constitution on the basis of sharing of power. In this way the concept of the “power sharing” was institutionalized in Nepalese politics.

The Constitution of Nepal -1990 has made the adult franchise, parliamentary system of government, constitutional monarchy and multiparty system as unchangeable (Constitution, 2047 B.S. : 2 and 104).  The constitution, which follows the West-Ministerial pattern, provides the separation of power of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary and defines their scope of authority. It has also made a provision of other constitutional organs. They include the Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority, Auditor General, Public Service Commission and Attorney General. It has also incorporated fundamental rights and the directive principles of the state, which are included in all the modern constitutions. In essence, it has incorporated all the elements that are found in the modern parliamentary system. When it was implemented, those who were committed to the parliamentary system welcomed it whole-heartedly, whereas those who were being trained in this system only extended critical support to it. The Nepali Congress represented the first category, whereas the leftist parties, which were aligned in the left front, represented the second type. Some other political and social forces opposed it. The then United National People’s Movement was most prominent of all.

According to Bishwonath Upadhyaya, Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee and former Chief Justice “The constitution is a contract. We put the contract among the power centers of that period in writing. We put down only those points over which we could obtain consensus.” (Upadhyaya, 2057 B.S:41) It shows that the basis of the drafting of the constitution is a tripartite agreement. This is, therefore, a political contract for mutual power sharing signed by the then dominant political and social power centers in the name of the people. At that time some political and social forces had opposed the constitution or some of its provision. The point of criticism included the following:

a) Hindu Supremacy: The Article 4 of the constitution stipulates, “Nepal is a multi-national, multi-lingual, democratic, indivisible, sovereign and constitutional monarchical Hindu kingdom.” This retains the provision of “Hindu kingdom.” It projects Nepal as a theocratic state. That is why, aggressive Hindu fundamentalist organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parisad and Shivasena are kicking off the propaganda that Nepal is the only Hindu kingdom in the world. It has its influence among the people in general. The adherents of non-Hindu religions had protested it and this process continues even today.

 

b) Provision for the Inviolability of Property: The Article 7 (2) stipulates, “Except for public welfare, the state shall in no way forfeit or expropriate any individual’s property nor shall it create any kind of right over such a property.”  Similarly, according to Article 7(3), “The basis or procedure of compensation of the property of any individual forfeited or expropriated for public welfare shall be as prescribed by the law.” These provisions completely proscribe the redistribution of land in the country. Moreover, they also guarantee that the present social structure based on exploitation and inequality remains intact. In essence, these provisions of the constitution ensure the continuity of the status quo.

 

 c) Provision for unchangeable subjects: Article 116 (1) stipulates, “The bill for the amendment or annulment of any article of the constitution may be tabled in any house of the parliament in a way it does not clash with the spirit of the preamble of the constitution. But this article shall not be subject to amendment”. The preamble of the constitution mentions, the adult franchise, parliamentary system, constitutional monarchy and multi-party system. It means that these four subjects are unchangeable. It does not conform to science to hold anything unchangeable. When anything cannot be changed through a peaceful and constitutional means, any one wishing for a change must pursue an armed and unconstitutional way. In this way, this constitution leaves way for provoking violence and restricts the sovereign rights of the people to change all the provisions that do not suit their interest.

 

d) Language: Article 6 of the constitution defines the Nepali Language as the national language and the languages spoken as mother tongues in various part of the country as the languages of nationalities. The status of these languages has not been specified. Therefore, the feelings of the non-Nepali speaking people have been hurt and the possibilities of their development have been restricted. It is being opposed by various organizations relating to languages and dialects.

e) Provision for Emergency Powers: Article 115 stipulates, “His Majesty the King can impose emergency throughout the country or over a certain part of the country, if the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the security of any part of the country is seriously threatened by a war, external attack, armed revolt or an extreme economic crisis.” It has been made possible that a simple misuse of this provision may lead to military rule over the whole country or over certain area of the country.

In this way, the constitution makes enough provision for the safeguard of the welfare, aspirations and the possibility for development of higher classes, preserves Hindu-Khasa pride and maintains the status quo through addition of parliamentary cosmetics. But the workers of the country are not taken care of. No mention has been made of the wishes and aspirations of those communities and nationalities that need social emancipation. The constitution has been drafted to make it a functional document of unitary-parliamentary-male dominated-higher class-Hindu-Khasa state. Thus, this constitution provides legal validity to the rule of minority over the majority. The people’s representatives were not allowed to draft the constitution.  It has also not been endorsed by a referendum. People were not only deprived of their paramount rights but the parliamentary system was enforced without giving them any kind of opportunity for endorsement or refusal. This system is, therefore, not a system endorsed by the people.12

People were granted the right to vote under the constitution drafted on the basis of tripartite agreement. Such a right was given even under the Panchayat system but there was no feeling of collective competition because political parties did not exist then and the defeat or victory would be decided on the basis of local issues or the influence and capacity of individuals. Under the new system, parties were able to contest election on the basis of their own programs and to form government by attaining majority in mathematical terms or by mustering majority with the help of other parties or by forming a minority government in case no party had majority or there was no possibility of a coalition government also. It was the structural aspect of the management of political affairs of the country. So far as the basic change is concerned, it was hindered, restricted or discouraged by the constitution. It is natural for this kind of constitution to advocate status quo. The constitution, which was prepared by the representatives of the palace, the Nepali Congress and the Left Front, represented in essence the continuity of status quo in the basic social aspects by implementing parliamentary multiplicity and tripartite understanding. The triangular government, which was given the responsibility to review the draft of the constitution, was perhaps the most powerful government in Nepal’s history. All the dominant political forces had participated in the government and an energetic environment created by the movement was also available. Unfortunately, the government took initial steps for the first time to institutionalize the politics of sharing of power, acquitted the criminals put behind bar by the previous system, rewarded inaction and sowed the seed of anarchy in all aspects. The government misused tens of millions of rupees in the name of providing relief to political sufferers. It is the interim government, which sowed the seed of perversion and anarchy that are prevalent today. Thus, the boat of parliamentary system, which had lost balance from the very beginning, started to sail into the sea terrifying all the passengers in its hold.

Function of the Main Organs of State: 

 

It will be relevant here to evaluate the results of the constitution after ten years of its implementation. Under this topic, I shall review the role of the organs of state, their function and their superiority in order to analyze the role of the executive, legislature and judiciary following the establishment of multi-party system in Nepal.

Nepalese legislature has two tiers and three units. His Majesty the King, National Assembly and the House of Representatives are included in it. The inclusion of the king in the parliament appears purely decorative as no use has been shown in practice. The upper house has no significance and this is only a luxury to decorate those tired and defeated leaders and cadres of the parties, friends and relatives of leaders and those having loyalty to the palace. It will, therefore, be a useless endeavor to try further analysis instead of questioning the very rationale of this upper house of parliament. We should also not forget the burden on the state revenue from the remuneration, allowances and other facilities needed to make it breathing. If the upper house is to be removed at the present condition and the scheme of things, there is no possibility of a negative impact on the governance of the country. So long as the lower house or the House of Representatives is concerned, it requires to be dwelt in greater detail.

It does not have the importance just because the government is formed on the basis of majority in the House of Representatives.  It is influential and powerful. It has 205 members. Under the constitution of tripartite agreement, the first election for the House of Representatives took place in 1991. The people, who had become hopeful from the change in the form of governance, gave a comfortable majority to the Nepali congress. The election results of the first general election were as follows:

  Congress CPN(UML) UPF RPP(both) Sadbhawana others
Seats 110 69 9 4 6 7
vote percent 37.75 27.89 4.83 11.64  4.1 13.7

Source: Khanal, 2056 B.S.  24

As a result, the Nepali Congress formed its government. The people had high expectations. The most important assurance that Nepali Congress gave to the people during the election was the economic development. The enthusiastic way in which the government was formed further heightened the hopes of the people. This government put emphasis on physical development.13

The priority of the Nepali Congress was to increase production and to expand facilities. Some issues of social justice were also included. But no attention was given towards the emancipation of productive forces, establishing new relations of production and bringing about a change in the basic structure of the society. This means that there was nothing new with the program of the Nepali Congress regarding the change in the system of distribution. In this aspect, the Nepali Congress had given continuity to the policies of the Panchayat system. Further, Nepali Congress not only failed in giving expression to the expectations of the people but also implementing what it had promised.

In fact, the Congress leaders, who were individualist in culture, retrogressive in character and comfort seeking in philosophy were bound to fulfill unlimited desire of their hangers on, relatives and new converts. This task was performed with such single mindedness that all the shame, dignity and moral vanished. Not only the ruling leaders, but also the opposition seemed desperate for honor, money and overseas journey for themselves. As a result, they resorted to tricks, conspiracy and overt and covert machinations were staged and the first Nepali Congress government was forced to declare a fresh poll within three years. The tenure of this government mired as it was with the airlines (Dhamija) scandal, treaty with India regarding Tanakpur barrage, murder of teenagers like Anish, the stampede of the opposition for share in power and the deviation of the forces fighting for real change will be remembered for a long time. Thus, not only the government collapsed under the weight of individualist party-less character, failure to meet the aspirations of the people, imbalance in the internal share and bargaining but also the same practice became a catalytic for restarting a fresh cycle again and again. All the parties expect United People’s Front joined the election fray. United People’s Front, which was a mere spectator of these dramas and had decided not to contest parliamentary elections. No party was able to secure majority. The result of the 1994 elections was as follows:

  Congress UML UPF-Vaidya RPP(both) Sadbhawana others
Seats 83 88   20 3 11
vote percent 33.38 30.85 1.32 17.93 3.49 13.o3

Source: Khanal, 2056 B.S.  24

The CPN (UML), which emerged as the largest party and was in favor of parliamentary practice, formed the government. The people had too high an expectation from this government of the UML but the leaders had also their own needs. The UML government, which moved heaven and earth to balance these two interests, could survive only for nine months. It did not take up the role of bringing about a radical transformation but took up the easy path of parliamentary popularity of distribution of resources. We can take its “build your village yourself” campaign and the “old age pension schemes” as a case in point. It also made itself stand on the line of the corrupt leaders by letting itself to be mired with the Letter of Credit scandal. UML was planning to stage a comeback by holding a fresh election but was not successful.

During four and a half years after that, the Nepali parliamentary politics rapidly plunged to the depth of notoriety owing to the astounding, unusual and inappropriate activities of the ministers and the lawmakers, inaction of the government and its irresponsible and amazing behaviors and the role of the people as mere spectators. The people, who were astonished to see during this period many shameful acts such as the red passport scandal, Mahakali Treaty, buying and selling of Member of Parliament (MPs), the scandal of supplying women and wine to satisfy MPs,  flight of some MPs to Bangkok as part of a bribe to keep the government surviving, holding of MPs in “detention” in five star hotels, fertilizer and sugar scandals, receiving commission and black marketeering, heard a sound of a new explosion which is known as the Maoist movement in popular parlance. This topic will be dealt with later on.

To  collect wealth by scurrying across party floors in a rat race,14 to arrange for themselves most sophisticated vehicles like Pajeros and Prados under legal cover for corruption, to take 300,000 rupees from state revenue (it was increased to 1 million in 2000) in the name of development of their constituency, to scatter the resources under mellifluous  program like “build our village ourselves” or “local self-reliance program”, to get disbursement of medical bill by male MPs involving medicine which is generally given to lactating mothers, to send a whole group of ministers to Bangkok under the pretension of sickness misusing state revenue and to engage in hundreds of other scandals like smuggling and red passport etc. are the most shameful issues of that time. No parliamentary parties engaged in division of share have remained untouched from such shameless irregularities and scandals. In the scramble for feathering their nest, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and the CPN (UML) split, the Nepali Congress MPs dismantled their own government, the MPs of Nepal Workers and Peasants’ Party crossed floors and the Sadbhawana Party is seriously sick of division.

In the words of Professor Krishna Khanal and Krishna Hachhethu “the constant making and dismantling of political equation in the House of Representatives that came into existence after the election of 1951 and the aberration attached there with, not only brought a situation of political  instability, but also reduced the parliamentary system to a near laughing stock. During that period the governments changed hands six times. The politics of the country was in a state of confusion and everyone felt that it had reached to the point of an unexpected accident.”  (Khanal, 2056 B.S.: 6-7) In such background, the Nepali Congress attained majority in the third election held in a very disappointing situation in 1999.

The result of the election is as follows:

  Congress CPN(UML) UPF RPP(Both) Sadbhawana others
Seats 111 71 1 11 5 6
vote percent 26.14 30.74 0.83 14.06 3.13 15.1

Source-Khanal, 2056 B.S.: 24

The division in the communist party and the RPP came as a boon to Nepali Congress. Nepali Congress was able to attain the majority presenting itself as the only party capable of running the government and making a good use of the money and muscle it could muster while in the government. The characteristics of this election were that 79 percent of the lawmakers were new faces and the parliament was not triangular. These new faces were even seen as the symbol of the people’s wish for a change. (Khanal, 2056 B.S.: 28) But the new government of the Nepali Congress, formed in a situation was characterized by misuse of power, corruption, criminalization of politics, foreign dependence, shirking of responsibility, valueless ness etc., could not enthuse a positive hope among the people. The leadership of the party soon changed owing to internal groupism. But the government single-mindedly kept to the old path where it could not give anything except despair, state terror, corruption, staging of various antics and extreme misery to the people. What is surprising is that the people are destined to worship the parliamentary system, as a new God, to pretend faith in it and to be grinded under its tyranny. One section of the people who is desperate from the situation is engaged in an effort to search for an alternative.

So long as the dignity, impartiality and the respect of the court under Nepal’s parliamentary system are concerned, it is not different from the general politics and the prevailing culture of governance. With great difficulty, one has to say that the judicial decisions are not impartial and justice is not easily available. The judiciary enjoys the immunity against criticism. If that shield of immunity is removed, they will emanate the same stench that assails one in the colony of parliamentary political leaders and high government officials. So much so that the general people quip the courts are also shops where court verdict is available for sale. The only difference is that the transaction here takes place through a specific chain of contact and bidding of prices. Some times, these courts do dispense justice owing to individual honesty and uprightness of some judges or when there is no chance for indulging in corruption. But this often remains a powerless inscription in front of the totalitarian government and the violent wrath of the police and the administration. The re-arrest of the prisoners of conscience from the very premises of the courts which set them free in Ilam, Butawal, Hetauda and other places can be taken as examples.

In this way, we can see that all the three organs of state are found to have engaged in the establishment of absurd values, norms, conviction and practice amidst the distortions and inaction of the parliamentary system. As a case in point, they also raise alarm about the palace trying to usurp power. But the situation is so compelling that even the possibility of such an event would hardly raise any eyebrows. This is so because the weight and the possible result of such an action are not found to have electrified anyone. To sum up, the parliamentary system of Nepal is dragging itself along as a glaring example of failure. To be more precise, it is in existence not because of political reason but because of pure technical reason and the role of strategic forces and their alignments. 

 

Chapter Three

 

Role of Political Parties

Prithvi Narayan Shah said that the country would be strong if the people were rich. Though he used the term ‘people’, the kind of policy he had taken would make it more appropriate to say that the country would be strong if the courtiers were rich. If this quotation is redefined today, it would come to mean, “The country will be strong if the leaders are rich.” The practices of the parliamentary parties are, in fact, geared towards making leaders of various level rich (in terms of positions, money and false prestige). Thus, the leaders are found to have engaged in a role different from what was expected of them. It will be dealt with in the following chapter.

 

a. Nepali Congress

The establishment of the Nepali Congress had given a new height and energy to the awakening of the Nepalese people. It started to be controversial from the very 1950 movement because of class character of its leaders, their inconsistencies and opportunism. The Delhi Agreement of 1951 not only deprived it of a unique opportunity of leading social transformation, it also started to lose people’s confidence. Because of this compromising character, it participated in the election accepting the catastrophic constitution of 1959 and discarding the important demand for constituent assembly. There were limited choices before the people. Nepali Congress had the history of leading the movement of 1950 and the charisma of leaders like B. P. Koirala was also appealing to the people. The Nepali Congress, therefore, gained majority. Even if it reached to the government, its program was not geared towards social transformation. It had taken the path of gradual development. For some time it took the path of armed struggle after being overthrown in 1960, but it soon relapsed into peaceful resistance. It again weakened the resistance movement by entering into compromise in 1968. It briefly launched an armed struggle in 1975, but soon took the path of compromise in 1979 under a vague slogan of ‘national reconciliation’. In 1990 also, it did not lead the movement towards total victory but took the path of concluding it through a compromise.  This party is, therefore, always liberal, inconsistent, vague and wavering.

Nepali Congress acquired majority and formed the government even after the people’s movement of 1990. But its government was compelled to declare a mid term election owing to its own internal quarrel, personal interests of the leaders and party workers, amazing instances of misconduct, staging of undignified farces and inaction. The CPN (UML) ran a minority government in the hung parliament that emerged following this election. The government of the Nepali Congress, which was formed following the UML government, will be talked about for a long time in history for its corruption, naked misconduct and appalling inaction. All the coalition governments formed after that remained confined within this pattern of function.

The Nepali Congress brought about a little change in its priority after it came to power following the election held in 1999. Unlike earlier, other issues were given priority rather than development. Further, another of its government formed after the change of leadership in the party made control of corruption, law and order and good governance its priority. In practice, however, the Nepali Congress government continued to unleash reign of terror, let corruption thrive unabated and allowed its hangers on to enjoy in the heaven of plunder. It has become a character of the Nepali Congress to parrot socialism, move heaven and earth to usurp power and to set a trail of murder, terror and corruption as soon as it reaches power. The Nepali Congress, which presents itself as the mainstream of democracy, has turned into a force, which limits people’s rights, unleashes state terrorism, creates economic chaos and engenders corruption. This party is one of the most organized forces responsible for the failure of the parliamentary system. It has a past to glorify about but the infamy it has earned at the present has made its future very bleak.

 

b) Communist Party of Nepal (UML) 

 

The Jhapa movement of 1971 had taken place under the influence of China’s Cultural Revolution, Naxalite Movement of India and as a revolt against various liquidationist, comfort seeking and rightist trend, ideology, practices and political lines of different brands of “communists.” It had followed the political line of “class enemy annihilation” propounded by Indian communist leader Charu Mazumdar. It was not organized in a conscious and planned way. It had assumed class struggle as the path of Nepalese revolution. This movement made a unique contribution not only in assuming the path of liberation full of sacrifices but also in determining the class base of the communist movement. The serious mistakes that remained in the movement were the blind imitation of Naxalite movement, indifference towards mass movement and mass organization and the petty bourgeois romanticism that was rife in the organization. The movement started the unification process of the communist movement, generated the positive optimism and initiated the path of armed struggle. But the inter party controversy starting after 1981, and the inner party struggle between the programs of “political freedom” and “party freedom” gave birth to parliamentary line and helped “multi-party democracy” to take form as a parliamentary program of action. To be more specific, this very force became the main stream of parliamentary communist politics aligning itself with other rightist communist forces. Various small communist groups joined the parliamentary streams under the cover of “multi-party democracy” and other political expediency. UML provided leadership to them all. The UML, which was the largest cadre based party of the country, was also in a position to play an extremely impressive role in the mobilization of the people. This party, which had become a virtual leader of various other left political groupings, merged some groups into itself and provided ideological orientation to others. Although it has not forsaken its communist brand, it is, in fact, a non-communist force.

It is not even a revisionist communist party in the strict sense of Marxist terminology. To be a revisionist party, it is necessary to be in favor of revision on one or the other fundamental tenet of Marxism. However, this party is not practicing Marxist ideology, theory and practice regarding the tenets of class struggle, state of the working class, armed transition of the state power, continuity of revolution, social transformation or progressive management. This party is essentially a parliamentary party. It is its limit. Despite minor change in the color and form of this system, it will not create any essential difference. This party is also not in favor of introducing any substantial change.15

 

UML, which was a successor of the Jhapa Movement, “All Nepal Communist Revolutionary Coordination Committee (ML)” and “the Communist Party of Nepal (ML)”, took the line of mass movement since 1981. The party completely embarked on the path of peaceful transition after it assumed the line of united mass movement being advocated by Puspalal for a long time. At present its main trend has been to distribute dreams of communism to its cadres, to incite people to acquire land and homestead, to give entrance to the infamous Panchas to inflate its size, to resort to all kinds of tricks and stratagems and to defend the interest of its leaders of various levels. The UML occupies the second position in bringing the parliamentary system to disrepute.

 

C. The Communist Party of Nepal (ML) 

 

Except for a separate name, a separate list of office bearers and the separate characters in the ups and downs that take place occasionally, this party is, in fact, the very same CPN (UML). In view of its ideology, principle, norms, practices and future, this party cannot be other than the CPN (UML) or, at most, nothing more than a sister party of CPN (UML). The proposal16 it has now raised for another kind of multi-party may constitute an agenda for the improvement of parliamentary politics, but it is difficult to establish its blood relation with the transformation of the society. This party which forged a coalition with the Nepali Congress in its early period of existence, manifested the ideology and practice typical to the CPN(UML).This party, whose militant cadres are preparing to go to “jungle” and the phrase mongers and comfort seekers readying for entry to the UML, appears to be fighting a war of existence.

 

d. Rastriya Prajatantra Party

 

This party of the former Panchas, who have appeared in the political arena for competition in a new appearance, is rich in the experience of governance and resources. It has not only established its existence in multi-party political stage, it has also reduced the Nepali Congress, which claims a ‘sole dealership’ of multi-party system and the CPN (UML) which claims itself a grand master of ‘multiparty democracy’ to the level of a valet not only once but several times. It is understandable why this party is indifferent to social transformation, consolidation of parliamentary system and the all round development of the country. This party is being blamed of advocating stagnation and even regression when possible. This party, whose main role is to preserve the interest of higher-middle class, is liberal in economic policy and traditional in politics. The RPP, which was compelled to play a defensive role during the early period of parliamentary system, became a major player during the term of the hung parliament, which was formed following 1994-election.  Nineteen of its parliamentarians crossed floors several times in their rat race for power, made good use of the ministerial posts and foreign trips and harassed almost all the parliamentary parties by forging alliance with them one by one. The former Panchas who had a background of working in a party-less system gained skill in the use of multiparty system in a short period. Keeping the question of agreement or disagreement on their activities aside, one must admit the fact that they succeeded in climbing several ladders of their success in a short period. This is, however a different matter that their success posed a question mark on the rationale of parliamentary system.

 

e. Nepal Sadbhawana Party

The Sadbhawana (Goodwill) Party, which aims at establishing an equitable society by abolishing economic, political, linguistic, cultural discrimination and exploitation (Sadbhawana, 1990:3) has raised constitutional monarchy, federal system of government, equal linguistic rights, real projection of statistics and the solution of the problem of citizenship as the main political issues. It has given emphasis on the development of the Terai and the Madhesis. Many political parties are starving for political issues. These political parties dish out the nonsense uttered by their leaders as a variety of delicacies in the form of policy, program and manifestoes often prepared by dishonest scribes. And, that is a part of their regular activities. In such a scarcity of issues, it is always positive to have issues, good or bad, to have commitment towards them and to make the contents of these issues known to others. In this sense, the Sadbhawana Party appears different from many others in this regard. This party carries a blame of being pro-Indian. It may be true during pre-democracy days, but it is almost inconsequential for a small party like Sadbhawana to become pro-Indian especially after the signature on the Mahakali Treaty when the first and the second largest parties themselves have been vying for a pro-Indian status. So far as strongly siding with the people is concerned, this party too did not seem different from other parties. It assimilated itself better with the culture of loot and plunder. Even its leaders have shown competence in the race of collecting material benefits for themselves. In spite of this, this party appears successful in enthusing hopes among the people of Terai and to raise the issues of their rights continuously. These issues not only constitute the strong points of this party but also form important political agenda in Nepalese politics.

 

f. CPN (Masal) and CPN (Unity Center)

Some other “middle of the road” communist parties have also taken the parliamentary path. CPN (Masal) and CPN (Unity Center) are the largest of those parties, which have entered the parliament under the veil of fronts. The fundamental character of Masal is to curse the relatively weak force in power (its sharp opposition of the Nepali Congress prior to 1990 and that of the royalists now can be taken as an example), show too much attachment with unreliable allies such as UML obviously to remain close to power, see its future in the destruction of the Maoists and to ride the dreamy chariot of the revolution. It has not yet reduced itself to naked parliamentary force but its alternative paths are progressively growing narrower. As for the CPN (Unity Center), which is eroding rapidly, has also become a prisoner of indecision. This party, which has not reached the point of deviation, is still engaged in the primary task of the revolution, is still not completely submerged in the trappings of parliamentary system and possesses a rank of loyal cadres even if small, is facing a serious crisis of existence. It is, therefore, found sometimes sowing a dream of ‘third stream’, and is heard to have been intensely trying to unify with Masal only to divide again.

CPN (UML)’s giant size, trickery and destructive attitude on the one hand and the expansion of Maoists’ strength and reputation, has led to sharp erosion to Mashal’s rank. If this process goes on increasing, it is likely that these parties shall be turned into “generals without a rifleman”. Even the Unity Center is likely to follow this path, but the way it is indulging in the self pleasure of opposition to the Maoists, there is more possibility of its being swallowed by the CPN (UML).16 So far, these parties lack vision, are living under the spell of self-pleasure and are going through the agony of their mere existence. In their view, revolution is on its way staggering like a lactating buffalo along the main road lying somewhere between the naked parliamentarism of the CPN (UML) and ‘ultra-left deviation’ of the Maoists. It is difficult to say how much they believe in that but they are actively engaged in propagating it. Whenever there is a great possibility of change, they oppose it or feign support organizing an elaborate ritual of opposition. Cursing parliamentary system and trying to die for it while crying wolf about Maoist ‘extremism’ and royal regression are their understandable appearances and physical forms. This “middle path” has been becoming more and more irrelevant in the context of social transformation and its independent existence is sure to be jeopardized in the speed proportional to the polarization of other political forces or that it will be forced to conserve its strength or protect by entering into the alliance with other parties.

 

Chapter Four

 

Achievements and Limitations of Parliamentary System

 

It is necessary to bring under review some important issues in order to evaluate the effectiveness of parliamentary system in Nepal and understand the direction of present political development. In this context, the role of parliamentary system will be subjected to review in the context of people’s political rights, patriotism, development and people’s prosperity and social justice.

 

People’s Political Rights

Whenever the question of democracy arises in Nepal, there is a tendency to define and implement it linking it with the interest of urban intelligentsia. If we follow the modern values and consciousness, the end of Rana oligarchy was defined as democracy. The Rana – rule was abolished but democracy was not established. After that, the end of the Panchayat system was called democracy. Panchayat was overthrown in 1990, but were the people empowered? It is necessary to search for the answer to this important question.

During the 104 year long Rana autocracy about 248 persons had to lose their lives due to political cause. Of them, 193 persons were killed during internal clashes for power among the Ranas. These people were killed in the processes of political push and pull. If we remove the contestants for power among the Shahs and the Ranas from the list of those killed, the number of murdered people in the opposition is not so large. During that period, the number of political opponents who were murdered while making conscious effort to bring about political change was 55. Similarly, 312 political personalities were killed during the rule of absolute monarchy covering the period of 1961 to 1990. During this period 34 political activists were recorded as missing. At the later period of the present multi-party system, 961 people have been murdered by November 2000 (A detailed list is available in the Annex-1, Neupane; 2001, Nepali version of this book). While analyzing the statistics as to which political system killed how many opponents due to political reason, one finds that the Rana regime killed 2.38 people including those who were killed in mutual power struggle, the Panchayati rule killed 10.7 persons, the interim government killed 7 people and the parliamentary system of government killed 101 people per annum. Further, the people killed in the later period of the parliamentary system have reached 1300, which indicates a terrific situation. During this period, hundreds of people have also been missing. During the period of 1997 and 1999, more than 127 people made disappeared by the government. (INSEC, 2000: 141). In this way, not only is the number of the opponents killed by the government staggering, the number of those missing is also astonishingly high.

Every tier and agency of the structure of society and the governance are engaged in the practice of undemocratic norms, values, faith and practices. The so-called ‘mainstream’ political parties, which are engaged in the propagation of the illusion that the multiparty form of government is democracy, have been playing the role of wholesale traders of so-called democratization. Today the rural society, particularly in western part of Nepal, is living in terror as never before. The state is engaged in the destruction of the life and property of its citizens by violating all the norms of civilized state. The people are forced to live under the shadow of state terror. It seems that the definition of Nepalese democracy only includes the luxury of the affluent, arbitrary domination of the corrupt political leaders and high officials and barbaric control of the police over the life and property of the people.

While talking about the extent of corruption, the irregularity committed under legal cover (provision of pension for lawmakers which was later declared illegal by the Supreme Court), corruption practiced by influencing the policy (the exemption of custom on expensive vehicles for MPs and other high government officials), corruption perpetrated to fulfill individual and partisan interest during the implementation of a policy (the instance of commission grabbing while taking aircraft on lease) and other inappropriate use of public property  have taken the country under their claws. If a leader dies, it becomes like a lottery for the ones who are living. Leaders, big and small are found to be sucking state revenue by establishing a memorial academy in the name of one or the other dead leader. “B. P. Thought Forum”, “Madan-Ashrit Memorial Academy”, “Ganeshman Academy” and “Puspalal Memorial Academy” are some of the examples. Most of these academies are engaged in earning by trading in sentiments. The facilities given by appointing supporters in the boards of corporations and the provision to allocate 1 million rupees to each MP in the name of development of constituency are corruptions indulged under the cover of legality. The withdrawal of non-political cases or the waiver of prison terms of the convicted criminals and the misuse of state revenue in the name of providing relief to political sufferers are those stigmas of history, which the multiparty system is not likely to be able to wash out. If we only analyze the burden on the state revenue brought to bear by the cost of maintenance of the ministers and parliamentarians, the ministers and MPs under democracy are found to be living a more luxurious life than their counterparts in the Panchayat era. These events have made corruption more of a rule than exception. Because of this practice of the people in higher echelon of government, corruption has become inalienable cultural practice in the daily life of ordinary people too. In fact, the parliamentary system has left the Rana regime and the Panchayat system far behind in the expansion and intensification of corruption and debilitation of the people. An environment has been created in which it has become compulsory to tread the path of moral and economic corruption to get service from any kind of legal and semi-legal agencies and administrative functions of the government.

 

 

Experiences and Feelings-4

 

Walls Speak

 

One can see the slogans like, “the parliamentarians are bandits” and “the constitution is for the bandits” written on the walls of the premises of Singh durbar. Similar types of slogans are also found on the walls of drinking water office at Tripureshwor and Bhadrakali in Kathmandu. One can also see slogans, like “O King! come and save the country” and “Down with multiparty system” written on the walls of the Department of Housing near Ramlila Maidan in Nepalgunj.  Occasionally, processions of the Panchas are also seen being taken round. I have been engaged in limited but intensive, concentrated and open discussion to find out whether such things have been written with a real belief that the King will save the country or it is a rash act of some anti-multiparty elements or an expression of extreme despair. After talking with more than 25 political workers and ordinary people, I have come to the following conclusion.

 

            1. The leaders are naturally hungry. Since the majority of them are new to the trade, they have no idea of reaping benefits out of their position. The high officials are, therefore, involved in the process. The officials make necessary arrangement and the leaders take actions. As a result, money vanishes from the state exchequer, people are dislocated and foreign loan reaches mounts. Whatever the motive behind it, it is, therefore, an act of robbery. It is an exception if some ministers, parliamentarians, politicians and high officials are free from guilt.  Their number is definitely small. It is also not strange for the constitution, which is powerless to stop it to stand accused. Therefore, what has been written is correct.   

           

            2. The king also draws on facilities from the state exchequer. Naturally, he also should take up responsibility against all the works of destruction. In this sense, it is also natural for the king to be called upon for help. Instead, it looks unnatural for the king to look helplessly at the present day injustice, aberration, terror and degeneration. Even if the motive of the slogan or the graffiti writer may be regression, it is not unnatural for him to call upon the king for intervention.

           

            3. When there is anarchy everywhere, how can it be surprising for such slogans to appear on the walls of the Singh durbar? There is no reason to doubt the person who is doing this has great anguish over the situation. He may be a hero or a villain, whatever he is speaking through these walls against this anarchy, this mismanagement, and the undisciplined offspring of this miraculous “democracy”, is very necessary.  Kudos to that hero!  Be he an army personnel or a Maoist, he is speaking the truth. That is why he is doing right.

 

            4. This is an act of a Maoist. This slogan writer is definitely a Maoist or his accomplice who is bent on fulfilling his ambition of creating a split between the king and the supporters of the parliamentary system. What is right is that what has been written is a fact. It is true that the constitution has been used for the fulfillment of extraordinary wishes of limited number of individuals. So it is natural that the slogans have opposed the  use of the  constitution, laws and acts for the loot of state coffer in a judicial, semi judicial and extra judicial way.

After documenting these reactions, I did not feel it necessary to add anything on my own.  Why is it necessary to explain anything if the walls speak for themselves?

 

The leaders, who are not tired of talking about making the people sovereign, have not gone beyond the level of thinking of middle class Nepalese who enjoy the status of relative strength and benefit. A neo-rich class is emerging in the country and is getting richer amassing wealth in a wrong and unusual way. Culturally too, they have the temptation to demonstrate their transformation. These upstarts have even started to use the language of aristocracy. For some people belonging to aristocratic class, this may mean continuation of their own way. But for other neo-rich class, it is only a clumsy display of unusual weight of the newly found luxury. Similarly, the discotheque, dance restaurants and massage centers have also started to fall within their priority.

It is also necessary to analyze here the primary expectation of the people about their basic needs and the desire for change in their state of marginalization. In fact, the people had hoped that their expectations would be fulfilled after the establishment of parliamentary system of government. By the term “people”, primarily we should understand those persons living below the poverty line in the rural and urban areas and a large majority of common folks. Their primary needs are very simple – fulfillment of minimum basic needs for livelihood. It is luxury for them to think beyond that. But we find only a negative picture when we think whether some positive efforts were made to fulfill them during the last ten years. According to a statistics published in 1995 the percentage of the people living under the poverty line is 82.5 percent on the basis of internationally accepted standard income of per day 2 dollars per person (World Bank, 2000). It means that the parliamentary system was not been able to create a condition of work for the people to make their lives easier. It is true that literacy and average life span increased. But this situation created without a change in the condition of people’s poverty was relative rather than absolute and was like a harvest in an oasis of a desert. It means that one class in the Nepalese society is becoming rich very fast. At the first row, there is a class, which is in a position to grab the benefits of the society. This class includes big businessmen, agents of multinational companies, high level corrupt officials, deviated leaders of the parliamentary system, commission agents, smugglers, the chiefs of some non-government sectors and other varieties of people representing foreign interests. In the second row, there is a class, which is capable of bargaining for getting a larger share of benefits. This includes, teachers, professors, lawyers, journalists, high-level technicians (such as doctors, engineers etc.) mid level employees and organized businessmen.  Apart from the above two classes, there is a third class which at least aspires for these benefits. There is another fourth class, which is compelled to eke out a living in a state of marginalization. Within the last two classes there are a large number of people who are struggling for mere subsistence.  The 82.5 percent of the people living under the poverty line belong to the third and the fourth classes. For these people for whom even the minimum subsistence has not been possible, democracy is no more than a right to cast vote to a candidate fielded from the higher classes. Thus the benefit of this system has been received only by a small section of the people of upper classes who are still moving upwards. Some people say that there is democracy for all the people. But for the people who lack the capacity to exercise democratic rights and whose participation in governance has been limited by a number of obstacles, democracy has been no more than a spectacle.

The civic society is in its infancy in Nepal. A large section of it is seriously sick of definite political bias, sensation, advertisement and the malaise of self-fulfillment. In a society like ours, in which there is no large number of population, who is equipped with critical consciousness and with a domination of feudal values, norms and practices, parliamentary system becomes a means of fulfilling the aspiration and ambitions of those who are clever and advantaged. Thus for some intellectuals, the civic society has become a means to exploit the government, to demonstrate the plight of the country to the foreigners and to earn wealth and reputation by selling the disadvantages of the nation.

In this way, the claim that the people have been empowered with democratic rights, they have been made sovereign and that their rights have been ensured lacks concrete basis. For a large number of people of the agricultural and non-agricultural fields, it has brought nothing but despair, disappointment and debilitation. The superficial developmentalists, quite a few intellectuals, high level officials and parliamentary leaders who are also chiefs of smuggling rackets, will create a din about development and say – ‘schools have been built, roads have been constructed, health posts have been opened’ etc. However, this will be clear when we compare with the loan that has been received from foreign countries. Can this modest development be justified in proportion to 172 billion rupees received in loan during nine years from 1990 to 1999? (NRB, 1998/99: 79 &table 36 & NRB, 1989/90: Table 33). Furthermore, it is necessary to see that empowerment, wealth and justice are the indicators of development not some modest changes in physical infrastructure which automatically takes in course of time. In this dark period when the power is concentrated in the hands of higher classes, wealth is under the ownership of the rich and justice has been made to serve the interest of the privileged, it is not necessary to get confused by the false reasoning of so-called development workers, corrupt persons and sycophants. There are only two things that the parliamentary system has provided to the people – to shout hoarse at leisure and to cast vote to the representatives of higher or middle class once in every five years. It may be a great democratic opportunity from the western standards but for the Nepalese people who are deprived of basic means of living, it is like a French Shampoo displayed at the departmental store in Tripureshwor but is beyond the purchasing capacity of the ordinary people. This means that there is no essential difference between the Panchayat system and parliamentary system for the common Nepalese. In fact, these two are the only different forms of superstructures. Both of them were not responsible towards the people. Comparatively speaking, Panchayat was simpler, more transparent and easier to understand, while the parliamentary system is more complicated, less transparent and difficult to understand. Both of them are the forms of government, which represented the higher classes. The practice of present day parliamentary system takes us to this conclusion.17 Furthermore, the long list of those killed and missing mentioned above, clears even the remaining doubt about it.

Patriotism:

The independent characteristics of the Nepalese state has been deprived by the situation in which Nepal has to be dependent on important factors concerning its status and decisions on foreign affairs. It is clear that Nepal has never been a colony of any power. But it does not lead us to the straight conclusion that it was in a position to make independent decisions. It is, therefore, desirable to undertake a study of the history of Nepal’s foreign affairs, its impacts and influences.

Nepal came into an existence in 1968 as the greater Gorkha Kingdom. It went on expanding till 1914 acquiring a size double as much as it is today. At that time it was defeated by the British and was limited with minor alteration to the present boundary losing half of its territory in the course of war. Because of the leading role of the Shah dynasty of Gorkha in the making of Nepal, monarchy has remained as a center of strength and legitimacy.  While making a historical review of the history of Nepal’s monarchy, it becomes clear that though it had started since the Lichhavi period (fifth century), the shah dynasty established after about 1300 years was the fully developed monarchy. Not only did it rule over an extensive territory, it was this dynasty, which was able to build the first centralized military strength. The feudalization of land system, development of bureaucracy and full control of the king on state administration was the characteristics of this monarchy. The Rana dynasty, which was established following the Kot Massacre of 1846 by weakening the Shah dynasty, ruled over Nepal for 104 years. During that period, the power of the state rested with the Ranas, though the crown of honor and legitimacy remained with the Shah kings. This dual monarchy was not only strange; there was also an odd kind of feudal unity and contradiction between them. This dual monarchy gave continuity to conflict, conspiracy and killing on the one hand and the possibilities of people’s resistance were relegated to improbable optimism on the other. The people, who were angered by the Rana autocracy, remained expectant towards Shah dynasty. In this specific period of dual rule, the British colonialists who were already knocking at Nepal’s door in course of empire building took advantage of this quarrel and people’s passivity. Following its defeat in anti-British war of 1814 -1815 and signing the Treaty of Sugauli, Nepal not only lost a large portion of its territory, she also underwent a change in her sovereign state character.

Although Nepal has always been independent, its freedom has been limited. Facts shed light on it. According to “Abrogation of Treaty with the Terai”, compiled by Narahairnath, when Makwanpur came under the control of the Gorkhalis in 1769, the king of Gorkha sent Dinanath Upadhyaya to call on an English officer called Major Kilik in 1771. Before that he had promised the British that he would continue to pay the tribute, which was being paid to them by Makwanpur. In this way, a beginning was made to slip under the control of the British. In 1792, King Rana Bahadur Shah had put forward a proposal for a trade treaty with Britain in front of English officer Duncan. King Rana Bahadur Shah had also enclosed a courteous letter to Duncan along with the draft of the treaty. He had also sent a lot of gifts to the English officer. (Naraharinath, 2022 B.S.: 21-22) During that period, gifts carried a great meaning in diplomacy.

Article 6 of the Treaty of Sugauli stipulates, “The King of Nipaul shall never incite the king of Sikkim to engage in revolt and destructive acts with a view to occupy his territories.  In case of differences, however, between the kings of Nipaul and Sikkim or the peoples of these countries, these differences shall be subjected to British arbitration and the King of Nipaul undertakes to abide by the decision.”  Similarly, the Article 7 of the treaty stipulates, “The King of Nipaul undertakes not to employ any British citizens, Europeans or Americans without the permission of the British Government.” (Naraharinath, 2022:82) It indicates that the circumscription of Nepal’s freedom awarded a semi-colonial status to Nepal. Further, let us examine the moment of Jung Bahadur’s audience with the British Queen as described in Jung Bahadur Rana’s Journey to England – “Nepal’s Prime Minister, his colonel brother, Kajis, Sirdars, captains and lieutenants had gone to England. The Empress called the Prime Minister and asked if he would like to have some refreshments. But the Prime Minister said that it would be improper for them to eat in front of the Empress. She smiled and requested him to sit on a chair. The prime Minister then sat down.”  (Dixit 2014 B.S.; 27-28)

This quotation also proves that Jung Bahadur Rana had also practically accepted British subjugation. Similarly, the clause 2 of the Annex containing royal seal addressed in the form of a letter to the resident by Nepal’s king in 1839 states: “The government of Nepal undertakes not to form alliance with the British protectorates across the Ganges. These countries are, according to this treaty prohibited from undertaking the above negotiation without the consent of the Resident.” The second clause of this very document states: “The landlords and the Baboos living on the other side of the Ganges and having matrimonial relation with royal dynasty of Nipaul, can undertake correspondence with the Nipaul government and their traffic can be maintained for the people as usual.” (Naraharinath, 2022: 123)

The British monopoly over important natural resources, forest and other products had been accepted on a number of occasions. The second clause of the of the accord of 1829 on the preservation of forest along the border of Gorkha and British India states: “As Captain Musuli Saheb has been permitted by a royal degree to cut timber within the fixed boundary of the forest of Madhubar, only his carts should be allowed to carry timber from Patli Madhubar forest. No other Indians should be allowed to cut down trees.” The fifth clause states: “As for our own villagers, permission should be given to cut wood only to meet the need of daily utilities. If you allowed supplying timber for the purpose of trade, you will be subjected to severe penalty.” (Naraharinath, 2022: 116)

Jung Bahadur dispatched Nepali troops to quell the Sepoy mutiny of India in 1857. This troop suppressed the mutineers at Lucknow. This was a wrong deed of the Ranas to please the British. The recruitment of the Nepalese citizens in the British army also proves an indirect British control over Nepal. Although the British left India in 1947, this attitude towards Nepal remained unchanged. The Indians replaced the British. The Indians gained control over Nepal through 1950 in the name of special relationship. Jawaharlal Nehru says: “To be candid, we cannot tolerate any kind of foreign interference in Nepal. Even a small child understands that the only way to Nepal is through India. Therefore, we have closer relation with Nepal than with other countries. The Himalayas has been our borders from time immemorial. We will not allow that boundary to be broken. This is a major boundary line even for India. When we stand in favor of Nepal’s freedom, we won’t allow any disturbance to occur there nor shall we allow anyone to cross this border or weaken it.” (Nehru, In Rawat, 1974: 30)

Apart from these treaties, and ideas regulating state relationship, Nepal also constituted an unlimited market for British-India from economic point of view. This very colonial mentality seems to have been at work even in the use of Nepal’s natural resources. In this context the Koshi Agreement of 1952, the Gandak Agreement of 1960 and the Letter of Understanding on firearms signed in 1965 are all motivated by this sentiment. These treaties have protected Indian interests. Nepal has been a victim of inequality. It indicates the 200 yearlong activities designed for circumscribing Nepal’s independence. These activities prove the correctness of the communist analysis that Nepal is a semi-colonial country.

In the history Nepal’s continued independence is taken as a mater of pride. Although there were occasions of partial restrictions on Nepal’s independent decision making power, it did not have to come under complete foreign subjugation. Nepal had taken symbolic suzerainty over Tibet following victory in a war with it in 1789. However, it was reduced to a country which had to pay tribute to China after being defeated in another war in 1792. It not only had to lose half of its territory after being defeated in Anglo-Nepal war of 1914, it also had to accept an indirect domination of the British. The Treaty of Sugauli of 1815 and the Treaty of 1923 prove that. On the one hand these treaties restricted the country’s independence, on the other; the conflict of the dual monarchy also had a serious effect on the country’s self-respect. The dispatch of troops by Jung Bahadur to help the British in quelling the Indian independence movement constitutes an example. Recruitment of the Nepalese in the British army was also an act of lowering the country’s honor. So long as the question of the comparative study of the time frame of actions strengthening Nepal’s patriotism is concerned, there always is space for differences as it is a question not of numerical but qualitative study. Taking this into account, an attempt shall be made for an evaluation in the following paragraphs.

It is difficult to enlist the good works performed during the Rana period. It must be admitted that the return of the lost new territory was a good work done at that period. In their 104 year long rule, the decision to help the British in quelling Indian Mutiny, to agree for the recruitment of the Nepalese youths in the British Army, the Nepal-India Treaty of 1950 and their failure to try to obtain the land lost through the Treaty of Sugauli during Indian Independence can be cited as their acts of disservice to Nepal.

The acquirement of the UN membership, observance of a non-aligned foreign policy,  putting forward of the “Zone of Peace” proposal and removal of the Indian check posts were the positive works done during the period of absolute monarchy reigning from 1951 to 1990, while the continuation of 1950 Treaty, the secret letters exchanged in 1965 concerning the import of weapons, Koshi Agreement, Gandak Agreement and the negligence shown during the construction of the Tanakpur Barrage were the works performed against national interest during the same period.

In this context it is now necessary to assess the parliamentary parties and their roles. It is more contextual to start their study from the eve of 1990 movement rather than stretching too far into the past. In March, 1989 India closed 13 border transit points leaving only Raxaul and Jogmani open on the plea that the duration of trade, transit and unauthorized trade control treaties had expired. For want of fuel and other goods of daily necessities, the public transport system of Nepal nearly came to a standstill. Schools, colleges and hotels started to close down. There was a drastic fall in the arrival of the tourists. As the goods of daily necessities began to be scarce, long queues of people became common sights for securing stocks of things like kerosene. Serious crises loomed large in the life of the people. In an interview given to the Times of India, the then Nepalese ambassador to India said that it was an economic blockade against Nepal. (Bhattarai et al, 1993; 63-65) In fact, it was the bitterest period in Nepal-India relation. The Nepalese people were in a state of panic. It also presented a severe test to the Nepalese patriots. On the one hand there was a need to launch struggle against the barbaric Panchayat system, on the other there was a need to organize a movement against the economic blockade. This blockade was not like the one imposed against the apartheid policy of South Africa. It was rather a blockade against Nepal’s natural right for an access to sea. It was therefore, a blockade imposed against Nepal’s sovereign right to take independent decisions. For Nepal’s political opposition, there were only two alternatives available. Either they had to support the initiative of the government to resolutely face India’s blockade or to organize democratic movement considering the blockade an opportune international situation for a democratic movement. There was also a possibility of creating a patriotic democratic movement against both of them. But the dominant parties of that time did not embark on that way. These parties considered the possibility of raising an anti-Panchayat movement to better advantage. Leader of the Nepali Congress, Mr Girija Prasad Koirala said, “This stalemate has come because of differences in ideologies. This was destined to happen because there is democracy in India, whereas Nepal has autocracy.” He asked for help with Indian Congress and the opposition parties for the establishment of a system with supremacy of parliament. He also requested Indian leaders to consider democratic aspirations of the Nepalese people before reaching to any agreement with the Nepalese government. (Bhattarai et al, 1993: 103) These initiatives clearly violated the patriotic aspirations of the people. Nepal’s political opposition started to praise the unjust role of India directly or indirectly. As a result the Indian leaders raised voice for the continuation of Indian blockade created a sustained pressure. Also, deprived of the support from the people, the Panchayat government was overthrown.

India tried to take an undue advantage by cashing in its support after parliamentary system was established in Nepal. As a gratitude for this help the Nepalese side presented its first gift to India by not including the “Zone of Peace” proposal in the directive principle of the constitution.18 The proposal was included in the directive principle of the previous constitution. This proposal was a fine equipment of Nepal’s foreign policy and an important tool that could be used in favor of patriotism. But this had been an issue of dispute between Nepal and India. (Bhattarai et al, 1993: 160) That is why it is clear that it was removed from the directive principles because of the pressure from India. In this way the parliamentary leaders of Nepal handed over to India the “Zone of Peace” proposal that had received support from 116 countries (Nepal Pachchhik 2057: 29). This was continued even in the Mahakali Treaty. It should, therefore, be admitted that the strong opposition comprising the Nepali Congress and the Left Front had committed a mistake by failing to pursue patriotic path in the movement of 1990. As the days pass on, history will gradually separate itself from the exaggerated glorification of the People’s Movement and in the same proportion, the leaders shall be reduced from heroes to villain for fawning upon the Indians even at the most painful moment of economic blockade by India.

Experiences and Feelings-5

 

Seminars and speeches: Employment for marginalized leaders

On the one hand lawlessness, corruption, anarchy run rampant, the heat of the movement continues unabated. There are rumors of regression. Seminars are being held. These seminars have become life saving schemes for unemployed leaders and intellectuals. They run for an opportunity from one forum to another. It has become the daily routine of these leaders. These leaders and intellectuals can spend years making speeches remaining indifferent from the context, dignity of participation and the aspiration of people for difference. It seems speech making is a specific dramatic genre in which they have achieved mastery. Those affiliated to the Nepali Congress are engaged in creating an ocean of voice remaining completely detached from word, metaphor and ideas. The leftists on the other hand engage in self- praise imagining that they have carved a new height for them by communicating bombastic nonsense learnt during their secondary school days. The people have become audience to their speeches not the committed loyalists. Those who organize such seminars do not have the problems and their solution as their priority but are doing so for an opportunity to get access, earn money, develop public contact and launch propaganda. Moreover, foreign money has entered through non-governmental channel to embellish such political seminars. A similar seminar was reportedly held by a non-governmental agency in a semi-secret way at dhulikhel. Now, these ‘non- governmental organizations’ have started to show interest in such political seminars.  Foreign money will have an increased flow. When they start shooting infallible weapons named “dialogue”, and “peace”, it is only natural that foreign money flows non stop. So long as these Non Governmental Organizations’s fulfilling their words is concerned, when have NGO’s ever-fulfilled words so that these NGO does also have to do it? The future of seminars, however, looks promising. Thus, the country is overflowing with seminars and speeches.

 

The history, however, will not forgive the leaders for these serious errors. In this way only those individuals, groups or parties, who have benefited from the parliamentary system established after 1990, may be able to find out and prove the positive works accomplished during that period. So far as the list of negative work are concerned, the advocacy of the concept of the common river, Mahakali Treaty and the continuation of 1950 Treaty can be taken as examples.

Today, the United States of America has emerged as a single superpower in the world. It is engaged in various unjust and aggressive acts of war, and has been launching aggressive campaigns through military alliance and is maintaining military presence in areas of strategic importance. At present, a strategic alliance is being forged between the US and the neighbors of Nepal including India and Pakistan. This new development has created a situation in which the Nepalese patriots have to rally up for conscious and resolute struggle against the aspirations and practices of big power domination.

In the analysis presented above the merits and demerits of all the political systems have been briefly summarized. The comparative assessment shows the parliamentary system as the most unsuccessful one. Those who have assumed the responsibility of the country’s security, not only lack transparency, responsibility and sensitivity in their assumption, ideas and practices, they are also deviated from the patriotic feeling, stand and duties. Mahakali Treaty constitutes the most glaring example of this. It has become a routine for the masters of these farcical shows to stage hypocritical dramas and to sacrifice the cardinal interests of the nation for the fulfillment of their vested interests. Today, instances of foreign influence, interference and domination are growing in different fields. Our cultural life is gradually becoming polluted. The NGOs and INGOs are circumscribing the people’s rights to independent choices in their cultural, economic and political life. An attempt is also being made to beg in the name of the people and to turn the image of the nation to dust.

The real democratic movement in Nepal should stand against all kinds of conditions, provisions, treaties, intrusions and aggressions. It should stand against any kind of internal or external activities that go against an untarnished image of the country. It means that Nepal’s democratic movement must accept a patriotic path. It is an important touchstone to measure the strength and weaknesses of Nepalese democracy. The parliamentary system utterly failed to play the role of a flag bearer of democracy if viewed on the basis of this touchstone.

 

Development and People’s Prosperity

 

Nepal belongs to one of the most backward countries from the point of view of development. Although, all of the political forces staying in power in various times are responsible for this, specific financial and economic indicators must be analyzed to find out which one is comparatively more responsible for it. The exchange rate of the Nepalese rupees with the Indian currency was Rs 1.04 in 1951 immediately after the fall of the Ranas. Now, in 2000 the same is 1.6. In 1960, the exchange rate of one US dollar was Rs 7.60. That same US $ exchange rate was Rs 29.10 in 1990, the year of the people’s movement. Today, in December 13, 2000, this rate is Rs 73.95 (Maskey, 2000: 18, 24, 66), Kantipur, 2000:11). It shows a continuous decline in the purchasing power of the Nepalese currency.

So long as the acceptance of loan by the government is concerned, the government had not accepted foreign loan during the Rana period. Following the downfall of the Panchayat System, in mid July 1990, the total government debt amounted to Rs 51.5 billion rupees. (NRB, 1989/90, Table 33). Of the 51.5 billion rupees the internal loan amounted to 14.7 billion and foreign loan amounted to 36.8 billion rupees. This very loan increased to reach 223.5 billion rupees in mid July 1999, out of which internal loan was 49.7 billion rupees and foreign loan was 173.8 billion rupees. (NRB, 1998/99: 79 & table 36). The Ranas used to fulfill their needs and luxuries from the exploitation of the people. During absolute Shah rule attention was also given to the tapping of external resources. The 9 years of the parliamentary system incurred a loan of hopping 172 billion rupees, which is enough to hold the entire future of the state at stake. Today, the rulers are trumpeting about development on the basis of increase in services and facilities. But it is necessary to look at the loans. The major part of this loan has been used in creating glitter and wealth for leaders, making a paradise for high officials, obtaining opulence for senior level bureaucrats and building of bungalows for bosses of non-governmental organizations. The old system of feudal exploitation of the people can be seen in the rural areas even today. But the large part of the spoil grabbed by these villains should be looked into these foreign loans and other “assistance”, “grants” and development investment. To buy their present at the cost of the country’s future has become the daily activities of these hypocrites, leaders, high level officers acting as their accomplices, big time peddlers working in the field of judiciary, brokers, businessmen and the so-called development bosses working in the non-governmental organizations. It has become the duty of all individuals and the parties working for social change to understand this phenomenon.

A general review of the trend seen in the field of economy reveals that there is an appalling level of unequal control over the means of production. The role of agriculture is still very important in the field of Nepalese economy. The agricultural sector of the country is entangled with the problems of productivity. Even after the land reform program of 1964 only 10.6 percent cultivable land was in the hand of 63.1 percent families, whereas 10. 4 percent families owned 60.5 percent of the land. (Zaman, 1973, 29). There is no substantial change in the situation even today. Because of this situation of ownership, a large segment of the population is unable to manage the basic minimum needs of life, whereas a small segment of higher class is leading a luxurious life with all kinds of comfort and amenities. Instead of engaging itself in the task of emancipation of agriculture laborers and the establishment of ownership of the tillers over the land, solving land problem, promoting employment in that area and establishing a system of social justice, the government is only maintaining the status quo. A constitutional arrangement has also been made to give continuity to this status quo. Article 7.2 of the constitution of Nepal stipulates, “Except for public interest, the state shall not expropriate, requisition or create any kind of right over such property.” Similarly, Article 7 (3) of the constitution stipulates, “While expropriating of and requisitioning or creating right over the property of an individual, its compensation, basis and procedure should be as determined by the law.” These provisions have completely blocked the possibilities of redistribution of land in the country. Moreover, they also guarantee the preservation of the present structure of the society based on exploitation and inequality.

The government is completely indifferent towards the initiative and infrastructure for building an independent economy. This has turned Nepal into a consumer’s market for foreigner businesses. In Nepal, privatization means sale of government owned corporations taking commission in the process. Such privatization has had negative impact on productivity, social justice and management. Similarly, the interests of the nation and the people have been discarded in the name of liberalization and globalization, which have only served the interests of the rulers.

Water resource is one of the most important resources of the country. Apart from that, high snow capped mountains, forests, minerals and rare animals also fall in this category. Foolishly, accusations are often leveled at nature for the poverty of Nepal, whereas the blame should have gone to unjust political system, erroneous economic policies and the infamous practices of individuals and forces in power. In the country a situation has been created in which the people’s life has been made difficult by price rise and unemployment, national development has been hindered and the country has been pushed to regression.

Private sector is naturally an area to run on risk, use entrepreneurship and make profit. These characteristics are found only in a very small segment of Nepalese private enterprises. The most serious impact after the establishment of multiparty system was seen in the field of business. It created a sort of economic anarchy. In the competition for spoilage of the future of the people and the nation, a series of vile activities such as emptying national exchequer with an unholy, fatal and astonishing alliance among the statesmen, high officials and businessmen, stigmatizing the nation by creating black economy and committing thousands of scandals for one’s gratification still goes on. Only a small portion of private sector belongs to national bourgeoisie. But they are gradually becoming weak due to harmful influences of liberalization and globalization. The role of state in nation’s economy is guided by an absolute privatization and exclusive use of commercial enterprises under the ownership of the state. Foreign investment is very limited. The Nepalese representatives of foreign business transactions have run Nepal’s private sector. Today, the country’s economy is at the hand of comprador bourgeoisie. The comprador bourgeoisie is bent on taking advantage out of the fluid political situation of the country.

It is necessary to analyze the character of the Nepalese society. In fact, there has been the existence of pre-feudal to capitalist relations of production. The subsistence agricultural economy, capitalist agricultural system and comprador bureaucratic capitalism are some of the various factors, which determine the present relations of production. Comprador bureaucratic capitalism is becoming more extensive and intense. With reference to Sabir Amin, Hari Rokka writes on such comprador and bureaucratic capitalism – “In order for the capitalist class to be able to become a national force capable of developing productive force with a minimum of freedom it has to establish control over the circuit of productive forces, national re-production in agriculture and industry and the collection of capital.

Experiences and Feelings-6

 

Democracy Lives in the Pockets of Leaders

 

Those leaders who think that speech alone is not enough to glorify them are busy in collecting gems and jewels by assigning their valet to extol democracy. I don’t know as to how many episodes Ramayana, the Hindu epic, has.  Similarly nobody knows how many scandals the leaders are involved in. They are in, both, the ruling and opposition benches. As the rulers have committed the cases of corruption, the leaders have been mired in scandals, weaker leaders and intellectuals on a queue to power have had chances to organize feasts of seminars against corruption. Many sons and daughters dreaming for a social change are being made to disappear, imprisoned and killed. Taking advantage of this situation these leaders and intellectuals are again organizing seminars to sing elegy for human rights and to make their relevance felt. An effective way of movement does not generally figure in their agenda of action. Sometimes, they are organizers. At others, they are guests. In this way this exchange of roles continues. As this exchange of roles goes on, the rulers are staging farces. They often say there is democracy in the country. In their democracy, prisoners of conscience are going missing, scores of people are killed in the name of ‘encounters’, people released by courts are abducted from the very premises of the courts and unsavory dramas are enacted to pressure people to change their conviction. Dinseh Sharma was recorded as missing for eleven months. But when he was brought to view, he was made to read a statement suiting the rulers’ interest. He took the road to the “jungle” immediately after that. One minister said he was in custody and the press meet was in accordance with his wishes. The government had shown goodwill by releasing him. Another minister said he was never arrested. As he himself approached the government for such a press meet, the government had done so to oblige him. There is absolute democracy for the rulers, democracy to blurt out whatever they want to say and to do. People are surprised to see these leaders who are carrying democracy in their pockets. I am surprised to see the marginalized leaders and intellectuals who are feeding on the seminars and statements based on the rituals performed by these statesmen. The Nepalese people and I are surprised to see the plight of the poor bird called democracy. The weak democracy is on the deathbed. So it does not sound unnatural for the voice of change to rend the sky.19

 

if it could not control over, it will change into a stooge. It cannot fulfill the expected historical role. In other words, 1) it does not allow the workers to join the markets, 2) it does not expand the domestic markets, 3) it is operated from outside, 4) it is corrupt, 5) it invests in black markets and not in productive areas, 6) it reduces production and controls it, 7) it does not allow the feudal culture to develop into pure capitalist culture, 8) it weakens the state and encourages the bureaucracy, 9) it looks for new buyers for products, and 10) it demolishes the indigenous industry and destroys the capital with nationalist character, etc. (Roka, 2057 B.S. :7)

This makes it clear that the present day capitalism which we see in Nepal today is not an independent capitalism but bureaucratic capitalism. It is appropriate to call such capitalism as parasitic capitalism. Thus the type of capitalism which we have in Nepal today is not the type of capitalism that had evolved in Europe but a dependent and parasitic capitalism which has hindered the building of independent capitalist society.

While talking about the country’s development and building of independent economy, it is necessary to refer to the role of international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which represent, primarily, the interest of American multinationals. These institutions are interfering into the independent initiatives, decisions and development priorities of all developing countries, are imposing their wishes on the developing nations and are limiting these countries into the markets of the groups of western capitalist nations. In this difficult international situation the parliamentary rulers are prepared to stoop to any extent in the name of “foreign assistance”, consider the loan obtained by selling the country’s future as “great achievement” and misuse such money in their personal interest in an unimaginable way.

It is clear that the parliamentary system has not been able to bring a remarkable change in any field ranging from the infrastructure for economic development, social as well as structural base of development to the material prosperity of the people. Instead of leading the process of transformation of the society, the rulers are engaged in the work of pushing the people towards dependence, subjugation, pessimism and misery. It has become the character of these rulers to curse the previous system and shirk responsibility for any kinds of failures. In this way, the parliamentary system has not been effective both in the people centered development and the general prosperity of the people.

 

Social Justice

While considering over social justice, Hindu superiority in the governance and the domination of Khasa male members of the society must be taken into account. While dwelling on such topic, the steps taken by the government in favor of the poor, the disadvantaged and those made victim of injustice naturally come to the fore. Social justice cannot be achieved so long as the situation of economic exploitation, social deprivation and the restriction of efficiency exist. If we evaluate the situation against these criteria nothing but misery is seen here, be it under the Rana rule or absolute monarchy. There is no substantial change in those fundamental areas even under the present day parliamentary system. The speech of freedom, which is generously dished out today, is limited only to a tiny number of urban middle class and those who are advocating this system. The fairy tale of the freedom of speech has not led to solution to any of the real problem of those rural people whose ovens rarely see fire, who do not have clothes to cover their bodies and who have never seen anything called facilities. So long as the difference which the urban middle class makes through its right to speech is concerned, though it is effective to some extent to protect its personal interest, it has not made any essential difference in the life of the general masses or of those people who are living in poverty nor has the middle class paid any attention towards it. One of its sections, which consider publishing of indignant articles in daily and weekly newspapers as their great achievement, is also using these indignant expressions as the means to inch towards happiness and comforts of power. At present there is a kind of serious illusion amid this group. It has also started to express pride about being a catalyst of social change in the Nepalese society. Even the limited amount of liberal atmosphere created by parliamentary system has been used by limited members of urban higher middle class instead of using it in the welfare of the   general masses. The middle class who is acting as a priest to perform various kinds of rituals in the field of social justice is also wholly preoccupied in misappropriating the funds provided by the government and foreigners. All the whimsical talks about social justice that we hear in the society are the rumors set afloat by this group.

                        Class, racial and gender discrimination are found in the society in an intense form as the conservative social thoughts, convention, practices and beliefs have created a very complex form of social system. The society has a system of patriarchy made up of higher class and Khasa nationality. The poor, deprived, downtrodden, and oppressed and women are experiencing an extraordinary condition of misery and are in a state to launch a united struggle against it. The voice of their protest and revolt are also rending the air. In such situation, it becomes mandatory for any forward looking progressive and future oriented forces to stand in favor of the poor, deprived, oppressed people and women’s empowerment. Similarly, questions of language, culture, religion and nationality have also been raised. Nepal is a country with cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Only by realizing this fact, a concrete long term and appropriate solution for the people’s problem can be found on the basis of social justice.

The only positive atmosphere, which the present parliamentary system has given to the people, is the right to raise a voice on these issues. The way the government resorted to an indiscriminate firing on the people at a peaceful gathering of women at Bharatpur in Chitawan, indicates that the government is not in a mood to allow the people to enjoy these rights also.20 Similarly, the government is against autonomy for the nationalities. The government also does not appear cooperative towards bringing improvement in the life of downtrodden people through the provisions of the benefit of positive discrimination such as the status of respect, the right to reservation and reparation. These issues indicate that the parliamentary system is either indifferent or against social justice.

 

If we make a list of fundamental problems of the society, poverty, inequality, injustice and the restriction of development opportunity figure out prominently. The government has taken   “poverty alleviation” as an attractive slogan. Poverty has become a good source of income for the government. Wherever there is a chance getting grant and loan, the government reaches there with its begging bowl. While implementing the ninth plan the government said that the problem of poverty could not be solved because of failure in lessening unemployment and economic inequality. (NPC 2055 B.S.:1) The government has mentioned the poverty alleviation as the long-term goal of the ninth plan and has expressed the commitment for bringing the people living under the poverty line down to 10 percent. (NPC, 2055 B.S., 61-62) After the failure of small-scale integrated rural development projects, this slogan can only be a means to deceive the people and a vile act of the government to amass ill-gotten wealth. Lack of political wills as well as widespread corruption and all the wrong development priorities vindicate this conclusion. Poverty cannot be eradicated without structural changes and there are no basis left to hope that such structural changes are possible through the medium of the present system. (Neupane, 1999: 32-39)

In the view of Edward Mueller, if democratic system is established in a country where there is a great inequality in the distribution of income, that great inequality may weaken the legitimacy of the state and dictatorial institutions may replace democratic ones. In this way the duration of democratic practice of any country is reduced by any kind of great inequality. If such a situation is not to be allowed to emerge, democracy should be established in a country where the level of inequality is moderate. Otherwise a strong party with a commitment to redistribution should run the government during the initial years for a considerable length of time in order to lessen the inequality of income and to implement its policies. (Mueller, 1988: 66) Although, Mueller has talked about the atmosphere needed for the establishment and development of western type of democracy, what is particularly true of his statement is that such type of “democracy” is not likely to survive in the society with the type of economic inequality that exists in our society. Similarly, the inequality prevalent in the society cannot be removed without the presence of a strong political party, which has redistribution, as its   goal and is prepared to work for it. Nepal’s experiences also vindicate these conclusions.

There is inequality not only in the field of economy but also in every field of social management, every aspect of social practice and in every context of individual and collective advancement. Be it the status and right of women, fulfillment of aspirations of various nationalities or the case of  an unpardonable social injustice such as untouchability, it is always  the high class Hindu-Khasa male chauvinism that is issuing the arrays of decrees from the seat of power. The shameless and self-gratifying parliamentary leadership, which is never tired in advocating equity and justice in the society, is preventing social, economic and political advances.

In the society, injustice and corruption have been presented as part of a natural process. The government takes it with ease and the leaders earn income either through an inappropriate way under the cover of legality or get it staging a naked drama of embezzlement. By way of example, we can take the decision of importing expensive Japanese vehicles for ministers, parliamentarians and high officials in disregard for the welfare of the people living under uncommon hardship for lack of minimum provision for food and shelter. Similarly, we can take the one million rupees given to each parliament member supposedly for the development of his or her respective constituency. It is necessary to study the way the money allocated from the state exchequer has been spent. For example, we can consider the relevance of an MP from Rautahat district providing money from the constituency development fund for setting up World Hindu Center in Kathmandu. This was announced during a Hindu religious function in open theatre in Kathmandu in 2000. Is not this an act of anarchy, misuse and shamelessness?

The parliamentary system has lured the educated urban middle class. This class is also effortful for an influential position in the government. Some of them have got the chance while others have not been able to fulfill their wishes. That is why a considerable section of this class has gone against the government aggressively. Its critical role can be ascribed to its classical status, realization of responsibility, individual anger and extension and intensification of its “self-interest.” Of these critics, one section is engaged in the battle of share, the second section is indulging in the sloganeering such as “Oh King! come and save the country”, the third section is indulging in purposeless criticism out of desperation, the fourth section is a mere spectator as it considers itself weak and the fifth section has started to express support to the Maoist movement. Only a very small section of this class is aligning to the ruling class loyally. The cause of their loyalty to the government is its commitment to western values; reap benefit by aligning itself with the ruling and the opposition parties and to make their garden bloom with harvest of opportunism. Apart from these power-protected middle class intellectuals and their boon givers – the higher-class rulers, the people of middle class, workers, and farmers and the people of other classes do not have any reason to stand in favor of this system. The first, primary and important reason for this is that this system has not given even a faint signal of bringing a positive change in the life of people of various classes. The over all transformation of the Nepalese society is not possible until a basic change in the life of these people attained. This means that the life of this system can be prolonged by mounting Goebelian propaganda, merging one opposition after another in one’s own unworthy crowd by corrupting them and suppressing the rebels in a brutal way. The present day serious situation can be termed as mature a parliamentary anarchy.  Even a powerful telescope will not be able to see a faintest probability of a social change in its continuity. The shameless behaviors of the rulers are responsible for the rapid unpopularity, indignity and inaction of the parliamentary system. It will not be surprising to say that this system has been defamed beyond repair. It is, therefore, true that the continuation of the present parliamentary system means the continuation of the status quo. If viewed in the context of belief, value and progress, it means the continuation of the governance oriented towards regression. This is also a continuation of anarchy in the field of economy, society, culture and people’s security. This system is, therefore, against the need of transformation of society and its advancement. However, the end of parliamentary system alone will not bring about the social transformation just as the fall of the Ranas and the Panchayat System along with the absolute monarchy could not transform the Nepalese society. This serious fact must be admitted and the issue of change with transformational alternative should be subjected to serious thinking, analysis and review. In today’s specific time frame, individuals, community and a section of the elite supporting absolute monarchy are raising voice for its restoration whereas those supporting the Maoist movement raising the clarion call.

Experiences and Feelings-7

 

Rumors about the Maoists and the Context of Change

 

After a trip to Itahara area of Biratnagar one of my politically inactive friends working in a development organization said that embezzled money could be recovered only after a white paper was prepared and the Maoists notified about it to the embezzler. Those who were provided with money for making furniture for a school were not making furniture according to the requirement of the concerned children. People have therefore begun to tell that Maoists are required to tame corrupt persons. Similarly, a leftist leader who has differences with the Maoists told another leftist leader after coming to Kathmandu from northern Khotang that the public schools in northern Khotang had become like boarding schools. Teachers are disciplined, teaching-learning process is smooth and the parents are happy. The education policy of the Maoists and its implementation is very good. A farmer from Banke feels that the life of the peasants has already changed in Rolpa but it will take long time for their lives to change because it is easier for the police to mount operation there because of plain topography whereas the Maoists have a considerable difficulty to maintain control over the area. I had been to Holiya of Banke district on October 28, 2000 in connection with the inspection of Laxmanpur Barrage. While I was taking a photograph of the dam, four Indian cops rushed towards me, seized my camera and threatened me to bundle off to custody. This bundling off perhaps meant sending us to higher authorities. After a long discussion with my local friend working in Banke, they unloaded the film roll and handed back the camera and set us free. These Indian policemen said: “The Nepalese Maoists have threatened to blow off the barrage with bombs.” They also said that security had been strengthened in view of the possibility of clashes between the Maoists and the Indian police. Divulging the secrecy behind the success in getting the Dalits’ demand with the milk collection center at Gaindakot, one of my non-Maoist friends said that the participation of the Maoists had facilitated the fulfillment of these demands. That friend of mine is one of the   important leaders of Dalit emancipation movement.21 In this way; the Maoists have started to have some sort of link with the process of change in the society.

 

If we ask as to who is responsible for the present mess of things, we come to the conclusion that it is not any individual or a specific party but the existing ruling ideology and political system which is the main cause of this situation. It is difficult to imagine the extent of suffocation; injustice and anarchy the Nepalese people are to go through. Today, the country is amidst the dark night of parliamentary anarchy. One does not feel surprised to see ‘Parliament Members are Bandits’, ‘ Constitution protects the Bandits’ written outside the walls of Sing durbar but one feels appreciation towards the writer of these graffiti for his or her courage. What is the relevance for people to bear all kinds of meanness of this system for the right to speech for a limited educated people of the society, and the bungalow, vehicles and the increase of bank balance for leaders and high ranking officials?

The past ten years have remained extremely controversial from the point of view of judicial dispensation also. There was no doubt in past also that corruption took place even at the Supreme Court. But the anarchy seen during the present day has further exposed its nakedness. It began to be proved that judges are the peddlers of ‘justice’ and are supporters of political parties. The judges enjoying immunity against the criticism of ordinary people became armor for corrupt persons.   Be it the law suit regarding fertilizer scandal or the case on language or the case demanding that the midterm election be declared void or the giving of verdict on ordinary civil or criminal cases, there are increasingly few people who believe that the behavior of the judges was appropriate and that they were loyal to the dispensation of justice. The environment is so vitiated that there is little difference between justice and goods or services for sale. Courts are instruments of class rule.  It is natural that the courts of Nepal are also important organs of state to maintain status quo. From the point of view of nakedness, however, these courts have less scantily covered their nakedness than the courts of our neighboring countries that fear law and keep their irregularity at least thinly veiled.

When we include the plight of a Nepalese who is poor, deprived, marginalized and living under the poverty line in the review of the present situation of the country, we feel a kindness, pain, hatred and a rumbling of an erupting volcano against injustice. Anyone who sees, tries to understand and expresses sensitivity to the desolate future of the poor people living in the rural areas, the painful stories of their being made victim of exploitation, injustice and all kind of stagnation cannot but feel amazement, pain and horror and is inspired to look for the villains responsible for this plight of the people. Who, in fact, is responsible for this situation? A serious investigation reveals that the present day parliamentary rulers who represent the higher classes of society are the main hindrances of the transformation of the Nepalese society.

The monarchists who are encouraged by the rampant anarchy have entered the arena lately. This force had started to express its dissatisfaction secretly by writing anti-multiparty slogans. Gradually, they gained confidence and have become strong enough to take out processions in Kalaiya and Kathmandu. Its latest example is a seminar held in the auditorium of Tourism Board in July 2000 in which the parliamentary rulers were held to ridicule. The way the MPs in the Parliament raised uproar against this, just in the old Panchayat style, expresses the sense of their insecurity. It is clear that the parliamentary leaders understand their evil acts and reach to the conclusion that the protection of the parliamentary system is their protection. But it is clear that if on the one hand, their evil acts should not go unpunished, regression should also not be condoned with in the name of change. But the people are so impatient that he, who comes first and seizes power from these villains, will be their Alexander, the Great. This anti-thesis appears to carry too much negative trend but this is emerging as a dominant one. Investing their time in the guesswork about the turn of public opinion, the absolute monarchists with an experience of more that two hundred years of governance, are encouraged, optimistic and active. Their preparation to join the fray in the expecting people’s negative or positive support being towards them does not appear surprising. The powerful international wave in favor of multi-party democracy and the skepticism of these absolute monarchists towards India are the only factors limiting their optimism. In addition to this, the leadership of constitutional monarchy also does not appear ready to run the risk of putting its constitutional status, history and facilities at stake. These are the reasons, which make translating these possibilities into practice difficult.

Even if the change of power to the palace translates into practice, there is no possibility of its contributing to social transformation. There are three reasons for this. First, this will be, again, a high caste-Hindu-Khasa-male dominated state. Second, It does not have a background of progressive management of governance. Third, it does not represent social and cultural forces for transformation. It, therefore, cannot be a logical system to reintroduce. In reality, an alternative should encompass ideological philosophy, system of thought, social transformation and fundamental positive changes.

Socrates was killed because he was for change. Materialists Charvak and Lao-Tzu were harassed. Gangalal, Netra Ghimire and Ratna Kumar Bantawa were killed because they were for qualitative change in political system. Rana rule and Panchayat system claimed to have been without alternative. From this, it can be seen that established social life and political systems are regarded sovereign, timeless and undying, whereas the advocacy for alternative have been deemed untrue, unobtainable and condemnable. All the ages have their flatterers.  They are ready to go to any extent of nakedness and work overtime to propagate falsehood as truth. This is clearly seen being repeated even at the present context. In brief the politics of parliamentary democracy in Nepal has been degraded to, at the best, the politics of stagnation, if not that of regression. Thus, while talking about alternative, we should not be influenced by what the flatterers are saying but we should discuss in relevance with the progress and advancement of the society.

            In short, it is not a sweet dream but a compulsion to look for an alternative of the parliamentary system. Some people have started to look at the palace as the center of their hope. It is natural for the common people to become hopeful to the palace, which has been the traditional seat of power for a long time. The royalty has more than two hundred years long experience of governance gained from various levels. It has a status awarded to it by the people’s   religious and cultural value system and moreover there is a general belief that it has an unbreakable commitment to patriotism. From practical point of view, the Nepalese army is loyal to this institution. So long as its limitation is concerned, it has represented the interest of high caste aristocratic class, has misused its opportunity to rule and it has not acted for social advancement, but of long history of regressive ideas, norms and practices. It is therefore, monarchy is not likely to become a progressive alternative, though it may serve us an option amidst the misery and indignation of the people created by the anarchy of parliamentary system. In fact, the palace has been the leader of the politics of regression. If the palace captures power that would serve nothing other than taking the society backward. Therefore, that type of regressive transfer of power would be unfortunate, if it happens. Today, another alternative is also rapidly gaining credibility. That is the alternative provided by the Maoist movement. As the first alternative has already been experienced and is fairly easy to form opinion on this, we will discuss the second alternative of a new system comparatively in detail. For this purpose, I will make a review of Nepal’s Maoist movement, first, as the source of motivation and basis of change before evaluating the feasibility of the alternative they may offer.

 

Chapter Five

 

Maoist Movement

 

Nepalese politics, now, has been full of violent events, use of armed force by the holders of state power or state sponsored force, use of force by oppositions or whoever they may be. It is difficult to keep exact records of violent events that have taken place in the Nepalese history considered even only from Kot and Bhandarkhal incidents. In the modern age, Prachanda Gorkha had planned the use of violent means in 1932. Prachanda Gorkha was an underground leadership and had a central plan to overthrow the Rana regime through violent means. But all the planners were arrested before the plan had been implemented and they had to suffer torturous imprisonment.

            Later, armed struggle was launched under the leadership of Nepali Congress in 1950. The Nepali congress by its Bairganiya conference held from September 26 to 28, 1950, made a decision to end Rana regime through armed struggle. King Tribhuvan took shelter in the Indian embassy on 6th November 1950. He left for Delhi on 11th November. Armed struggle started from Birgunj on the same day. The rebels attacked Biratnagar on 5th November. The armed struggle was gradually expanded to different parts of the country. The Rana administration was defeated one after another in Jhapa, Ilam, Bhojpur, Parasi, Nawalpur, Palpa, Gorkha, Okhaldhunga, Dhankuta, and Chainpur and so on.  At the critical time when the armed struggle was speeding up, India mediated an agreement in Delhi between King Tribhuvan, the Ranas and Nepali Congress by crushing down the heightened people’s struggle through Delhi agreement. Many people lost their lives in this movement. The height of great success of the 1950 people’s movement could not be measured. This movement ended the Rana regime but strengthened the monarchy. Dr. K.I. Sing and Ram Prasad Rai led armed revolt against Delhi agreement but the revolt was suppressed even by using Indian army. Later on, in 1953, the peasant revolt, which was led by Bhim Datta Pant in far western Nepal, was also ruthlessly suppressed by inviting Indian army. As a result, King Mahendra who was playing a trick to gain strength became successful to consolidate direct rule of monarchy through military take over in 1960. The Nepali congress staged opposition through armed action. The armed action was started from 1961 but later it was withdrawn. Nepal Communist Party was also in favor of armed movement. So, it had tried to collect arms and manage arms supply system after the 1953 peasant movement in the central Terai. Much later in 1971, one section of the communist party started armed movement in Jhapa. This movement continued for about 10 years. This movement was different from the armed movement of Nepali Congress in three factors; it had an objective of capturing local state power, effecting social transformation and launching guerilla warfare. The armed movement conducted by Nepali Congress had the objective of capturing central state power, achieving multiparty system and launching conventional type of armed struggle. Nepali congress started armed movement for the 3rd time from Solokhumbu in 1975, but it ended in failure. In 1985, Democratic Front (Janabadi Morcha) also carried out some armed actions in a romantic style and helped raise a new hope in the people. All these facts show that violence in Nepalese politics is not new.

 

 

Experiences and feelings– 8

Maoist Movement: different interpretations

 

A son, whose father is an ex-minister and who had recently been released from Maoist custody, tells his experience – “I found that Maoists hold much respect to the people so much so that they take care for the human necessities of even those who they have taken in their custody for action. They handed over the money sent to my father and the other things like clothes, which they could not hand over to him due to technical reasons, were returned back to the family. With this it became clear about the honesty of the Maoists.” This friend of mine felt happy from his father’s release. Moreover, he appreciated the Maoists for not  torturing him while under their custody. 22

             One day I had gone to see one of my friends. We were talking about the Maoist movement.  The wife of my friend was also taking part in the discussion. She is herself a writer. She did not like my description about the Maoist movement as a reaction against the prevailing disorder and anarchy in the society, and she strongly reacted – “Is any one allowed to run wild butchering the people in the name of the solution of social misery?” I could not find a chance to explain that this movement might have been for the basic social transformation of the society. Another leftist leader took the Maoist movement as individual killing and claimed that the problems of Nepalese people could not be solved this way. Likewise another leftist leader expressed his fear that if Maoists got chance to rule over the country they might do more than what had been done in Cambodia. Another friend who works in an international development agency expressed his great concern for the reported child recruitment in Maoist red army and he said “his agency has taken initiative to find out the reality and solve this problem.”  Another friend from Nepalgunj said that he did not see any possibility of success of this movement. He opined, “It is only a politics of terror and murder.”  He claimed, “Maoist bracing of muscles will finish when the army comes out to the field.” The critics of Maoists are found mainly opposed to the violence.

            Now, other kinds of reactions are also found. These reactions are generally from intellectual friends. These individuals seem to have been of chameleon nature. Such individuals and forces that have made opportunism as basic norms are seen fast changing. Now they fear to speak against Maoists. Such individuals having a strong power to smell the wind of change have possibly realized the growing strength of Maoists and have become alert to this party. Moreover, the white color service providers known as “Civic Society” have begun to think such a support to an unbreakable shield for their security. Very perfect in acting and hypocrisy, these people who have earned a paradise for themselves by utilizing the disorder and confusing situation created by parliamentary System. These people who run away from difficulty and jump to grab benefits in easy situation have become successful to use short-term security cover. They become Maoist supporters and Maoist opponents alternately at many times a day, according to the changes in the surrounding politics and the strength of that politics.23 Indeed, the Maoists today have become the first point on the agenda of talks, they have become like protagonists of a story and a alternative force.  

 

            Now, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has started ‘People’s war’ by synthesizing the historical context and Marxist arts of popular war. Its strategists with great caution and detailed plan have started this protracted people’s war. This means the thought, explanations and practices of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) prove that this party has shown commitment to protracted war. According to them, this war is a kind of holistic war in which inspiration, motivation, transformation and war activities go on together. So, it is necessary to evaluate and describe the main three aspects of the Maoist people’s war in detail – guerilla war, preliminary signs of base areas and the united front they have proposed for.

 

a) Guerilla war :

The then “United People’s Front”, the open organizational machinery of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) submitted 40-point demands to the government on January 4th, 1996 ( NeRaBuSan, 2054 B.S.: 20 – 22 ). The demands, which were presented with a general review of the real situation of the nation, were related to nationality, democracy and people’s livelihood. In the demand the condition was also categorically mentioned that “If the government does not take positive steps, we will be compelled to come out to strong struggle against the prevailing power of state” and a deadline they set February 17, 1996 for the positive response from the government. The time duration given to the government for “positive response” sounds only a formality, because the Maoists started the “people’s war” from February 13, 1996, four days before the given deadline. The demands were submitted to fulfill the formality after the party had taken decision to wage “people’s war”. About the start of the people’s war at that specific situation prevailing then, chairman of CPN (Maoist) Prachanda says – “In a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country like Nepal, there always remains objective situation for the development of strategy for a protracted people’s war. The main problem is to prepare subjective situation. Preparation of subjective situation is the responsibility of the party endowed with the virtues of revolutionary principles and the revolutionary political line. The predominant rightist and neo-revisionist forces in the Nepalese communist movement state that the objective and subjective reality in Nepal are the same as they are in imperialist countries and claim that it is necessary for a protracted people’s war. In this way, they are plunging into the dirty pool of reformism and parliamentarianism. The subjective situation became ready through intensified ideological struggle against such opportunism. When the crisis in the reactionary state–power began to be politically expressed, the CPN (Maoist) took historical initiative to lead the people’s war on 13th February 1996 after evaluating the overall situation. (Prachanda , 2054 B.S. : 5 ) He tried to clarify their side of assessment that could be summarized in the following five points.  1) Objective situation always remains ready in the country like ours, 2) Minimum subjective preparation had been fulfilled. 3) Rightist and revisionist ideas were rejected after serious consideration. 4) At that specific time, serious political crisis had surfaced in the reactionary state power and 5) The CPN (Maoist) had decided to start people’s war by assessing the whole situation.

            Several incidents took place in different parts of the country on the night of 13th February 1996.24 Among these incidents were symbolic armed actions for the people’s awareness, actions against local feudal lords and corrupt persons, actions against the presence of multinational companies in the non-priority areas for the building of free national economy, actions against the plans and projects conducted with the assistance of governmental and non-governmental organizations like (save the children) etc. The Maoist people’s war is found to have identified its allies and enemies through such actions. But the most important action was the armed attacks on the police force of the government, which gave a new birth of possibility in the analytical viewpoint of power-taking strategy. Indeed, it was the new phenomenon in the Nepalese class struggle, which had never taken place in the history of our country. Jhapa movement was limited to the armed action only against landlords. So the new situation emerged from these events. The class struggle in the rural areas has achieved the level of class war and has taken the way of protracted people’s war to capture the state power. This new situation intensified great changes, division, reorganization and polarization in the classes, communities along with social and political forces. It was said that the then feudal and corrupt persons of Jhapa would, every morning, first feel their heads to find whether that was intact or not. In the present day Nepal, the feudal lords, corrupt persons, policemen, informers and similar others have felt the same situation. After 1990 movement, the new parliamentary rulers with different flags, who have created heaven from looting the public assets, became angry at such events, began to seek new role and remained busy in dreaming how to shatter new hopes of the people through speeches. Seeing such an unprecedented “national consensus” among their political leaders, the police administration took a rash action of oppression creating a reign of terror.

On the other side, the Maoists remained resolute and active in working on its own way against the state. Many cadres sacrificed themselves in this campaign. The Maoists assessed and concluded that despite some weaknesses and limitations, the Maoists, by evaluating the situation brought about by the emergence of the new power, started this initiative to be historically successful (NeRaBuSan, 2054 B.S.: 28 ). And their politburo meeting held in March 1996 adopted second programme with the slogan of “Let’s develop guerilla war in a planned way”25

    

         In course of implementing the second plan, policemen were caught into an ambush for the first time at a place along a jungle road of ward no 7 of Tak Village Development Committee, in Rukum. Two policemen were killed in that incident. The incident had taken place on September 22, 1996. During that period the main targets of the action were secret agents, police and local corrupt persons. In Baglung district, Burtiwang based office of INF, an INGO, was also attacked.

            The first major Maoist military action after they started “People’s war” was the attack on the Bethan based police post, in Ramechhap. This attack signaled that the Maoists had gained a new level of offensive. This incident stirred nationwide reactions. After that a clear-cut polarization among political individuals and forces started.

            The plenary meeting of the central committee of the communist party of Nepal (Maoist) held in July 1997 endorsed 3rd strategic plan with the main slogan of “Let’s develop guerilla war to a new height”. The party actively engaged in educating the people with revolutionary awareness and expanding people’s organizations for the implementation of the 3rd strategic plan. With these works the party continuously marched. (NeRaBuSan, 2054 B.S.: 33). The above-mentioned works carried out during the beginning stage demonstrated qualitative stride to the party’s commitment to sustain the momentum by mobilizing support from the people and continuously working for the preparation subjective conditions. As a result, the guerilla actions of Maoists spread through out the country. The party has implemented five strategic plans until now and has clamed that it got additional success in every alternate plan. It has gained a different height after Dunai attack, in Dolpa. Not only did it attack on the District headquarters but also captured it for hours by which they proved their resoluteness, will power, strength and skill in war. The party has already overcome Nepal police, psychologically through successful military actions.

            Three new dimensions have become apparent in the guerilla war conducted by the Maoists. 1) Art of war in attacking enemy, rebellious nature and coordination of people’s participation. Such actions include huge participation of armed people, artful war led by skilled-armed military squad and participation of huge mass of people and the different roles of people’s militia seem to have been totally different from the art of war in other countries. 2) This war characterized by “sleeping deeply and getting up smartly” seems to have been a rare phenomenon. Perhaps it is very surprising kind of war technique. Several kinds of simultaneous military actions take place in different parts of the country but the guerillas or Maoists cannot be found anywhere. And, there is a period of total silence. It is not clear whether this kind of artistic war is really a part of well-planned strategy or it is only a sheer coincidence. A new method of guerilla war has been used. The art of war characterized by “sleeping deeply and getting up smartly” is used to bring slackness in the enemy camp in the preparation for retaliation. 3) Providing employment to wavering individuals and forces through talks and pacify mild opponents have become effective practices. Although this is a political work, it has helped in widening organizations and developing new skill of war by bewildering, isolating or making less offensive the forces who would go against the Maoists. In Nepal, it has been proved to be successful not only from the political viewpoint but also from the military point of view. The confusions, disputes and delay in the question of military mobilization against Maoists are successful results of their war-skill and techniques. In fact, the Maoists have, so far, been found successful in conducting guerilla war. This success has transmitted a wave of trepidation in the hearts of their enemies in the rural areas. As a result, they have established military base and a system of parallel governance.  

b) Base Area :

    The 3rd plenary meeting of the party held in 1994 had drawn a simple plan about the prospects of a protracted people’s war and building of base areas. The next plenary meeting held in 1998, adopted a concrete policy of building base areas with the slogan of “Let’s stride forward to the direction of establishing base areas.”  In establishing base areas in Nepal, the Maoists have proposed building more than one base area in different regions at the same time, to establish relationship between local and central power, to protect local people’s power by organizing the united front, to build nationalities’ autonomous regions and to handle national contradiction in an effective manner etc.

      According to their analysis in building of such areas need revolutionary people’s base, a revolutionary party, a strong people’s army, selection of suitable geographic region and sufficient economic resources. (Bhattarai, 2057 B.S.: 9, 13 – 15). The Maoists war plan to capture central state power through gradually capturing local power is the first war plan based on the new thoughts and strategy in the history of Nepal. Although the resolution for the establishment of base area is not new to the communist politics and Marxist military science, this is new in the Nepalese context.  Although, in disordered, immature and dogmatic form, signs of such thoughts could be found in Jhapa movement. Those thoughts could not get maturity in planning and implementation.  Base area is a big laboratory of new philosophy, new politics, new culture, new economic creation and new management, new norms, values, beliefs and behaviors. This new system gives the people new rays of hope and makes them self-confidant on the one hand and the people’s governments get more experiences in the art of governance on the other. The base area, whether it may be permanently or temporarily won, becomes very important not only in psychological viewpoint but also in the enjoyment of people’s rights and opportunities.

            The development of people’s war, people’s participation in it and continuous petering out of government’s presence in Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Salyan, Kalikot, Dolpa, Puthan districts of western Nepal have indicated that there is a possibility of establishment of Maoist’s administration there. The practice of proletarian governance, start of economic activities with new production relation and creation of people’s culture in these districts have also given a sign of new hope to other districts. The “principle of more than one Chingkagsang ” ( Bhattarai, 2057 B.S. : 13) and the rapid expansion of the people’s war at present make it clear that the base areas can be kept intact only on the basis of the expansion of other guerilla zones, intensification of guerilla actions in  cities, and the capacity to decentralize enemy forces. In reality, the situation has been developing in the same direction. In the present specific context, temporary base areas have been created and the influence of the Maoists is sweeping across the country. As a result the Maoists have created a wide field for popular works. It has got temporary base areas as political laboratory to work in all aspects of political power and has got opportunity to implement its policies. Many works related to social, cultural, educational and other areas have been conducted by utilizing the same opportunities. The movements against domestic violence, gender inequality, social evils like gambling, alcoholism, movements for democratizing education, the actions against corrupt persons etc. include in such works. Now these movements and works have positively affected the daily life of the people. The people are also eager to see such actions against the corruption that are rampant in the sectors of health, agriculture, administration, courts etc. This means actions against corruption and works in favor of people are possible not only in the base areas but also in other areas.

C: United Front :

      On the one hand the class aspect of united front is very important and on the other it is necessary to coordinate responsibilities with progressive forces for the participation and cooperation in the revolution. In the specific social context of Nepal, one of the major social forces is the oppressed castes and communities. These people, who have been deprived of development due to Hindu-Khasa predominance, have burning desire for changes and are eager to involve in the process to bring social changes. So it has been an urgent need to coordinate the caste and social contradiction and the movement against social anarchism of untouchability with the class struggle. Such coordinated unity with the social communities organized for the development and participation of oppressed nationalities and backward regions is found within the Maoist’s concept of united front.     

The Maoist leader Prachanda has stated that in the Nepalese communist movement there is no absence of reformist tendency of emphasizing the need for working with different reactionary, rightist and revisionist political parties by focusing only on legal movement. And, there is the tendency of narrow-minded dogmatism in forming a “united front” by involving just the party members. But, united fronts are the means of class struggle under the party leadership and the seeds of new people’s state. So the party must pay attention to establish united front of anti-imperialist, anti-feudal, patriotic, democratic and leftist forces as the means of class struggle and as the seed of new democratic people’s power. (Prachanda, 2057 B.S.: 8 – 9). In this way, the theme of the creation of united front seems to have been forwarded to make it as an effective and meaningful mechanism of patriotic and conscious people to play the positive roles of different oppressed classes, castes, nationalities and oppressed communities.  The fronts should not be formed as the mechanism of imparting ineffective corrupt political harangues of the demagogues and their self-contentment, which are limited only in the mass meetings and seminars in the urban areas. In fact, it is not necessary to have unitary central form and shape of united front. More than one united fronts can be formed on the basis of local situation, density of diverse communities at regional level, geographically limited backward areas and on the basis of special objectives. After a long period a working together, a single central united front or federation with representation of all such united fronts can be formed. The more grass-root level front there is, the more effective it can be at local level. This kind of united front can play an effective role not only in mobilizing the people and conducting united movement but also in conducting united government of different classes, communities and political parties. The united front organized at the regional level can bring a possibility of nationalities’ autonomous governance in real practice along with the role of being a laboratory of new thoughts and ideas.

The central level united front can effectively interfere in the functioning of the existing central state-system.  And, also can provide common working ground to the forces involved in the united front to work for progress and changes. In this way a necessary organizational infrastructure for the people’s government and a base for common role in the building of state culture also develop. No different level united fronts should be used as tools to implement any ready-made plan, rather they should be taken as the effective forces for playing vital role in bringing equality, justice, progress and should be taken as the revolutionary forces for social, organizational and governmental transformation. Indeed, the New Pluralist Democracy to be established in Nepal is the rule of law or the lawful administration conducted by the united front of the oppressed classes, exploited nationalities, oppressed castes and other progressive forces of the society. This should be taken in the same sense and in the same context. As for the ideas and programmes related to the united front made public by the Maoists, they have not given clear picture of the role of united front. So it is necessary to seriously study and analyze the subject of the united governance of the people during New Pluralist Democratic Phase. Moreover, the failure of different “Models” of New Democracies experimented in different countries has suggested that it is necessary to find out non-conventional way of New Pluralist Democracy and its use for social progress and justice. In view of finding out the new way and its use, it is also necessary to have studies into the possibility of the creation of New Pluralist Democracy in which the united front can be given responsibility of handling the power of state during the transition. In this way, it is necessary and reasonable to take the united front as an important element for the conduct of united movement during armed struggle, running of administration in base areas and proper management of central government after the victory of revolution. This kind of foresightedness is necessary in all the progressive classes, oppressed castes, communities and social forces for the liberation of the people.

 

D: Review of Weaknesses

 

It is necessary to asses the weaknesses that have appeared within the Maoists in course of leading the movement. The weaknesses are of the practical and political nature. There are mainly six types of such weaknesses.

i) Class Structure of Nepalese Society:

            Analyzing land problem of China, chairman of the communist party of China, Mao tse-Tung reached the conclusion that the rural Chinese society was simply divided into three classes. First, high class of big and middle level landlords, second, middle class of rich peasants, third, lower class consisting of middle and poor peasants (Mao Tse-Tung, 1966: 35). In his analysis of the classes in the Chinese society in 1926, Chairman Mao tse-Tung said – “Landlords and their agents, middle class capitalists, petty bourgeois class, semi proletarian class (in which include a large number of peasants who own some land and work on wages in other’s farms, poor peasants, small scale handicraft professionals, helpers in shops and small retailers) and proletarian class. In this way, there were five classes in existence in the then Chinese society. (Mao tse-Tung, 1962: 1- 9). There are no such big landlords in the Nepalese society as were in the then Chinese society. There was no such large number of estates of landlords even in the past. There were different systems of land ownership in Nepal till 1950. Among them lease hold land was 50%, revenue free land 36.3 %, trust land 2 %, free hold land 4 % and another 7.7 percentage of land was  under state/ service/tax contract etc. The number of peasants cultivating land under half-share system was 68 %. Under this system, food-grain productions would be equally divided between the landlord and the tenants. Twenty percent land was under contract system and other 3 % land was under service-contract (Zaman, 1973: 7 – 8 ). So, in modern Nepal, there was no existence of such land holding system in which the peasants work as slaves or semi slaves. This means, there were small landlords and rich peasants, but there were no big landlords as stated by chairman Mao tse-Tung. However, there were some big estates, of whose relationship was regularized by certain system such as half-share ownership contract, service tax etc. Among these systems, more particularly, under service contract system, the peasants were dealt as slaves or semi slaves to some extent, but such land was less than 3 %. So it is necessary to pay attention to the differences between Nepal and other countries while looking at the land problems of Nepal. The “land reform” enforced in 1963, made further division of land and expanded land ownership.  In this way, the number of peasants to own and till the land for themselves grew higher. Big estates were either dissolved or changed into industrial estates. The tea estates of Eastern Nepal are the examples of this process. Either the agricultural laborers were changed into industrial labors or began to work as agricultural laborers. The Nepalese society is rapidly shifting to capitalism.26 There is a great number of semi-proletarians in Nepal. Villages are linked with market system and affected by the wave of world capitalism. So, what it shows is that the conventional type of agricultural revolution will not be the central element of socio-economic transformation. So, Maoists should pay attention to make correct analysis of classes in the Nepalese society, historical analysis of the development process and ascertainment of class contradictions. Only conventional or traditional way will not help for the proper handling of contradiction of the present day transitional Nepalese society. The Maoists should make methodical study, analysis, and synthesis and should take a realistic way in utilizing them. The Maoists do not seem to have done such works in an appreciable way.

Experiences and Feelings– 9

 

Newness in Environment and Continuity in Belief

 

            I had the first meeting with a renowned leftist leader and my friend of Eastern Nepal in a paddy field near Biratnagar at a dark night. It was in 1975. After then I could meet him only three or four times. These meetings were only formal. Today, about 25 years later, in very different environment, I could get an opportunity to meet him and have serious discussions on some subjects. He said – “The country is trotting towards ruination. The so-called parliamentary leaders and parties have become awfully corrupt, worthless and ideal-less. In this new environment, only the Maoists seem to have circulated new rays of hope among the people. Now, our work should be to assist the Maoists but not to pull their legs down”. This conclusion of my friend, who has small hut in a small fallow land, has a small business for his livelihood and is advancing to an old age, did not surprise me. My friend, who was militant in his young age and was endowed with class sentiments, is good in generating ideas and in artistic creation. The conclusion of my friend, who is respected as an ideal for experience, thoughtfulness and dedication to the people, made me feel that he has represented the sentiment of both the old and the new political activists.

 

ii). Mechanical thinking in conducting local class struggle,

 

            There was mechanical or dogmatic concept in handling the violent class struggle during the Jhapa movement. Leaving aside some exceptions, the “Class enemies” who were given death penalty did not really deserve such punishment. Some of them even belonged to ally classes. In our country the wealthy businessmen look as social worker whereas their local managers (Munims) seem to be oppressors. The workers have direct contact with managers (Munims) and at the same time there also grows deep hatred and contempt for those  managers (Munims) in them. A responsible political force should have learned this reality and educate the peasants and workers with this information. But just opposite to this, the party was adversely affected by the already seated violent concept of the people due to which many inadmissible incidents also took place. For example, at a meeting held for selecting a “class enemy” the peasants made a conclusion to annihilate a person who was a middle class peasant. Their argument for such decision was that he was a “cattle trafficker”, and had troubled the farmers by trafficking oxen to India across Gorsingavitta, the village in Indian side. In fact, there were not any oxen with the poor and landless peasants. In this sense he might have been “enemy” of rich peasants or opulent middle class peasants. This case was not examined with a correct angle. Then a guerilla squad was organized and the “class enemy” was annihilated. Such types of dogmatic ideas affected the Jhapa movement. Looking from outside the same type of incidents seemed to have taken place in the beginning of Maoists’ “People’s War”. Now such incidents seem to be minimized but whether they are stopped or not has not been clear as yet. A person may be an exploiter in certain local sense, but from the class viewpoint he may be a simple agricultural capitalist or a rich peasant. In these issues, decisions should be made on the basis of objective reality, broad revolutionary approach and class-consciousness but not on the basis of momentary sentiments. The same principle is applied to those who are suspected to be ordinary secret agents. Suspicions, which are not based on genuine fact, may not be true. Examining both the nature of event and experience at a time can draw real conclusion. So the Maoists need to consider this aspect seriously.

iii) Initiative to stop unnecessary sacrifice

            Sacrifice can’t be measured or decided to be of greater or lesser in its significance on the basis of number. Rather, it is a subject of assessment and decision whether it was necessary in a particular context for the achievement of the goal or not, whether the sacrifice was really needed for the particular purpose or not and whether the sacrifice was a result of euphoric thinking or was highly valuable. However, number also can provide substantial basis to reach a decision on whether it is necessary to make judgment, to look back, and whether the purpose of the sacrifice should be evaluated or not. Today, the Maoists have established an ideal of sacrifice. It has rallied a large mass of people filled with readiness to sacrifice them for the bright future of the nation. This is undoubtedly praiseworthy. Even then, looking at the long list of the martyrs, what is urgent to say to the party is that it should check every possibility of unnecessary sacrifice by seriously thinking over what really deserves. It is said that people’s militia freely walk in daytime with arms in villages of eastern Nepal where there is little or no influence of the party. The situation of that locality might have been safe enough to do so or such fearless walking with arms might have been thought necessary to develop combative sentiment in the people or it might have been a kind of camouflage against enemies or it might have been only a guesswork of the common people or it might have been the result of militarist thinking and behavior. So it will be fruitful for such a fighting force like the Maoists to investigate and make necessary rectification in their working style. The party should see that thousands of lives may perish due to unnecessary as well as careless sacrifice in the war that may run for years to come.

iv)                       Euphoria over Success and Lack of Seriousness over Losses.

        In 1974, the Jhapa movement was suffering a heavy loss. Party shelters were demolished, many cadres were killed, and many faint-hearted party workers fled to India and many leaders and party workers were kept in prisons. The movement was on the verge of collapse. But again the cut-off connections of the party were reestablished. Some new political workers entered the party. Connection with different parts of the country reestablished. In June 1975, “All Nepal Communist Revolutionary Coordination Committee (Marxist and Leninist)” was formed. Then the movement revived again. Not only did the rays of hope penetrate the people but also the glamour of possibility began to appear. A feeling of pride began to overwhelm the leaders. The leaders and the workers, who used to feel happy to tell and hear the story of escaping from the police, of victory over the police by fighting with courage and other stories of heroic deeds, began to take heroism and courage to be the means of success. Because of such feelings and perceptions of heroism among the leaders, expansion of party works and need to use facilities (like bus riding) by the leaders and workers, the government’s campaign to arrest the leaders and workers that was started from December1975 became successful. During the one and half year’s time, out of the total eight members of the central committee including the secretary of the Coordination Committee, five were kept in prison. It was the time that the leaders could make “objective analysis” of their carelessness and weaknesses being behind the bars.

       Now,  the Maoists also have made public that  it has no contact with many of its leaders. Dinesh Sharma, Danda Pani Neupane, Matrika Yadav and Ishwori Dahal are either disappeared or killed or kept in unlawful custody by the government. There may be a large number of other leaders and cadres of different levels who may have been not known to the party or are behind the bars. This situation reminds that euphoria over success gives birth to carelessness and slackness, which becomes very costly to the force which happen to be waging war. It is not the subject of discussion whether this is a weakness of the Maoists or not. Some facts have been found to point out that there are some people within the party who are careless and euphoria takes with them some time. So the Maoists should be serious in these matters.

v)                         Dubious Operations

They have destroyed several physical infrastructures without any military significance attached to such facilities. The facilities may need to restore even when they seize political power. Similarly, it has been widely believed that they have recruited several youths forcibly. If it is the case, they may not succeed in building a disciplined armed force keeping ideology as its main motivating factor. Asking for excessive donations is another area of concern. Privately, many people complain the large size of donation they were asked for. These are a few examples of many petty dubious operations. The Maoists should listen to people rather than continuing such practices which the people do not agree with and even protest against.

Future Course:

         Diverse views are found about the future course of the Maoists, which is presently leading the violent movement to bring revolutionary change in the class-state power. Some researchers say that it will follow the same steps of CPN (UML) and enter the parliamentary politics. Some others say that it is working to strengthen its armed force and is likely to take a way of sudden armed insurrection. In present day Nepal, class contradictions are sharpening, social contradictions have developed a situation of conflict among social forces and bitterness, distrust and wrath have been growing in the relationship between the people and the government. The political, social and regional communities are in disorder. These signs show the possibility of power transition. In the same period the Maoists have been leading armed struggle. Now there are three possible ways. The Maoists may take any of them.

            a) The 1971 Jhapa movement left an experience that a communist party can make itself strong for entering into parliamentary politics. Such party begins to be delighted in playing roles as elated recruits of non-communist camp in the “luxury hall of parliament” after reaching there by inventing any magical principle and calling it by one or the other name. The then CPN (ML) changed itself into a first class parliamentary party no sooner than it became CPN (UML). In the same way, the Maoists also may enter the parliamentary arena for competition by mortgaging the strength it has gained now. This possibility has not been ended and it will not end for a long time. Due to the presence of persons from the middle class in the leadership rank, their intention and effort for going to parliamentary politics remain always natural.

            b) Today restlessness, confusion, hopelessness and frustration prevail over the society. The basic needs of the people like food and shelter are neglected on the one hand and the mainstream anarchist leaders of all levels, who have forcefully grabbed the so-called rights to reach the power through tricky game of elections, have been competing for corruption. Naturally, the people have linked the solution of their problems with the downfall of the reign of these leaders. It is not because of personal revenge against any body but because of the growing contradictions among the classes. So, the people are continuously siding with violent resistance or at least expressing support to Maoist movement. This has intensified the class contradiction even more. Currently, all the parliamentarians from those of the high echelons to the lower henchmen are shouting against the violent war of the Maoists. They are not ready to remember their own history of violent activities or they try to prove the past activities to have been done in different situation. Until now, not any fundamental social change has taken place for the improvement of the life condition of the poor families either of the far eastern Mangtewa village of Sankhuwasabha or of the oppressed families of Syadi of Bajhang or of the plight of Rajbanshi families of Balubari of Jhapa or of the indigenous families living in Rajhaina of Banke. When the people have to suffer dire poverty, deprivation, government’s inability and intensified marginalization, how can it be unnatural for their protest to take a violent form? So, it is very natural for the people to take a way of revolt and to lead such revolt by a radical political party giving it an organizational shape with plans of protracted people’s war and make a strategy to take over the central power of state by means a mix of military offensive and popular uprising.

            Although not experimented, this seems the most feasible way in the situation of Nepal. In the Nepalese history, all the movements till now are found to have concentrated themselves in capturing the central power. The 1990 movement also could take that way. But that was blocked due to the deviation that happened on one side of radical force at the critical time and insufficient subjective strength on the other. Nepal is geographically small. The society is in the condition of rapid transition in economic structure. There is a tradition of targeting the central power in every administrative change in different historical periods.  So, these facts also indicate the possibility of success for Maoist movement, if it selects this path.

            c) Until now we have found two military strategies taken by the revolutionaries to bring change in class oriented political power. The first is socialist revolutionary offensive and the second is the way of protracted people’s war of New Democratic Revolution. There are three characters of the protracted people’s war – revolutionary civil war, national liberation war and long-term guerilla actions. In general, all of these characters have been found mixed together at different stages and situation of war. In China, the revolutionary civil war had changed into national liberation war in the later period. In Vietnam, long-term people’s war was started with the character and form of national liberation war and was liberated while it was still maintaining the same character.

            In Cuba, the war was started in the form of long-term guerilla actions and the revolutionaries got victory with the same method. They did not need to wage national liberation war because of the support and commitment of the then Soviet Union to defend Cuba from American attacks. Therefore, it is necessary to consider different possible ways, character and nature while talking about Marxist military science. This kind of war starts, develops and achieves victory on the basis of objective situation. Nepalese war also becomes different from the wars of other countries because of its nature. This war either takes new way or possesses different character or at least it becomes of different style. The features of the war to be accomplished in Nepal are to be mainly based on the people. The Maoists can continue in this course of protracted war.

In summary, Maoist movement has been creating some sort of wave in Nepal. Although, the people may not be so well understanding politics of the Maoists and the political impact if they capture power, but they are very much sympathetic towards the Maoists. Perhaps, the Maoists themselves are a very confused lot regarding the political course of construction but at this moment they are very resolutely leading the movement which has created waves, generated hopes and offered an alternative, though it is still in abstract form. Therefore, the most important issue at this moment is to clarify what the system will look like, how that will function and how that would be different from parliamentary system and the conventional model of communist rule.

Chapter Six

 

Socio-Economic and Political Issues and Observations

 

                         Critics say “traditional Marxism and Leninism has become incorrigibly infamous due to its economic failure and people’s antagonism towards it” (Numberger; 1998: 105). To totally disagree such arguments as reactionary, will be against the rule of dialectics of knowledge. Communist philosophy had become very popular in the world. The communists were in power in a large part of the world and had influenced millions of followers all over the world. The communist ideology, which continuously widened its influence from 1917, began to experience defeat after the ideological difference between China and Soviet Union in 1956 surfaced. It is urgently necessary for the communists of the world over to analyze and find out the causes why communism has to face such major set back from its extraordinary height, widened influence and worldwide popularity. Instead of taking self satisfaction by pointing out that it has been so due to revisionism, it makes sense to conduct an intensive evaluation of the objective and subjective causes of the set back and the weaknesses whether they are in the fundamentals of Marxism or its implementation. The Paris workers’ revolt, which captured the state power, first gave the tiding to the world workers’ movement that workers can capture the state power. The revolution was the beginning of building of a new world. But unfortunately, the achievements of that revolution could not last long. Lack of ‘proletarian dictatorship’ was found as the cause of failure. So, Proletarian dictatorship was thought to be inevitable for the continuity of the communist led state. Wrongly, this was meant that the proletarians should be conscious against any attack on the proletarian state, ban should be imposed on any activities against such state and the proletarian state should be protected by enacting laws against any anti proletarian attempt. Indeed, the main objective of the revolution is the liberation of productive forces. The proletarians need their own class-state and political leadership for providing the strong base to the liberated proletariat for all round initiative for creating and building of a new nation. The basic character of such state must be workers’ democracy. But, while naming the character of such state, it was called “proletarian dictatorship.” Naturally this term highlighted “dictatorship” and overshadowed “democracy”. As the dictatorship, which meant for a handful of anti-people forces, was wrongly got explained to keep control over the people, communist party workers and even the communist leaders with differing views. In some countries people’s voices were not heard, nor taken into consideration. And even such an environment in which no free expression was allowed, was created in some countries. Communist party leaders began to behave as new Gods. In this way the practice of the scientific communist philosophy was degraded as religious rituals.

         In fact, the principle of new democratic rule does not support monopoly of communist party. As there are opportunities for capitalist ideology, organization and other capitalist activities to stand for competitions in the capitalist political system, there is no reason not to have the same kinds of opportunities for workers and its ally classes and even for the opponents to organize, to express and stand for any activity and competition according to their diverse interests. The communists need to act for the establishment of workers’ democracy not in the form only but to ensure the practice of competition as its main feature. The Maoists has given signs to follow the non-traditional path, however, the full sketch of it can be realized through the practice made in its base areas. There is no reason for Marxist to deny coexistence of the social peace and freedom of expression.

            Ensuring people’s sovereignty, freedom of expression and organized power are the basic needs for any kind of political system. But, in fact, all the models of socialist states that have been experimented for the transition to communism until now, could not accept people’s role as their inherent power. People’s sovereignty was taken as cosmetics. The leaders of the former socialist states non-dialectically supposed themselves to be the people’s real representatives, who understand their views and aspirations. So, the leaders who had mobilized the extraordinary power of the people during the revolution in overthrowing the old state became isolated from them no sooner than the communist party got to the power. The people were not provided with any means for control, nor they were granted freedom of expression and nor freedom to be organized in any power mechanism. That means the communist parties put themselves above the people’s control and established their rule over the people in the name of “people’s state.” As a result, the gap between the party workers and the people continuously widened due to which the party declined to be a mechanism out of the people. So, the argument that the communists lost the power due to revisionism may be partially true for some countries but the major causes of failure are inability of the communists to ensure democracy, to bring people’s sovereignty into practice and to put the leadership above the people’s control. These factors widened the gap between the communists and the people. Even, in several places these factors made them hostile against each other. So, the communist parties of Nepal should learn  this seriously as a lesson.

           The communist leaders put emphasis on the development of state capitalism in the name of new democratic economy in several communist led states. As a result, bureaucratic character developed in those countries, where feudal values, beliefs and feudal social conducts were predominant and controlled the productive forces, obstructed utilization, initiative and creation. Nationalization of the capital, bureaucratizes industriousness and controls the productive forces under a new mechanism in the society in which capitalism has not developed, especially in the comprador bureaucratic and dependent capitalist society like in Nepal. One of the influential Maoist leaders, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, has said, “New democratic economy is organized mainly on the private ownership over the means of production. However, we should pay proper attention towards cooperatives form the beginning to organize production, mainly in the lands in the rural areas, where smaller holdings are common. And, because it needs to organize large-scale production to achieve socialism and communism, apart from this, the need of social or state sector ownership, even in the limited form should not be forgotten. “(Bhattarai; 2055 B.S.: 28). In this way, propositions for initiatives of the people, private capital, private ownership over the means of production and mobilization and limited ownership of the state have been proposed for the development of new democratic economy. This view indicated that a lesson has been learnt from the failure of the traditional economic system of putting emphasis on state’s role. The main objective of the economic policies and related activities should have been to create opulence in the society and to end the acute inequality by linking the wellbeing of life for all with the economic progress. This is more important than the slogan of romantic equality. One should accept that the creation of basic equality needs considerable time. Time can be shortened, but to try to end inequality at once is only a romantic thinking. This should be accepted and an economic system mated with justice, diversity and productivity promotion should be resolutely implemented. Experiments and creativeness are the necessary elements for such system to function well.

             Similarly, in cultural front, the fatalistic beliefs and values should be challenged. The philosophical proposition based on the Brahmanism that the God decides everything before a child gets birth and the child comes with such fate has not only affected the caste system but also has corrupted the whole society psychologically and behaviorally. A tendency of “what is destined can be obtained not what is seen or done” has developed to depend on the invisible power for the solution of any problem rather than trying to find out objective causes of the problems. A large part of the Nepalese society believes in such predestines due to which the concept of the people cannot be changed easily through a short course. It is not only the rural peasants deprived of the new knowledge and technology but also the educated and knowledgeable people of the cities are also not free from these predestines. Although, they have new knowledge and some of them do not believe in fate, fatalism has heavily influenced their values and practices. Due to the concept of predestines and its value-influences, a poor thinks poverty a natural phenomenon. In this way, the pace and progress of the society have been adversely affected. (Neupane, 1999: 19). This means our social psychologies, behaviors, cultural lives, living styles and concept building and efforts to find out proper solution of any problems have been badly affected by fatalism. Even living within such environment many people have been striving to build people’s culture.

      The main elements of the social anarchy perpetrated by the Brahmanism are the caste system and untouchability. The forces which are fighting in favor of the people must be active to end such vicious systems remained as a part of the Nepalese culture. It is necessary to be organized to fight for the rights and to assist the suppressed people to attain social liberation. It is also necessary to launch a cultural movement to educate the backward people to raise consciousness for their rights and privileges.

Experiences and feelings – 10

 

Be aware of Non-governmental Organizations

              Today, the non-governmental organizations (NGO) have become the most reliable tools of the westerners in bringing change in the society. Many western agents under the NGO banners have penetrated into communist and democratic movements. It is also said that some of the leaders and workers of different parties have unknowingly become victims of their “help”. Such organizations have deceived the leaders. It would be contextual to mention about an event before 1990 democracy movement. Some political leaders had been released from the prisons. They were like synonym of all sorts of needs. They could anyhow manage to have rented residence but no other facilities were available. A sister organization with a signboard of “human rights” reportedly got 8000 dollars as donation. Giving a receipt of an equivalent amount in Nepalese currency to the donor, the dollars were sold to an illegal currency dealer.  Although a little amount, that could become beneficial. A radio cassette player was bought and was given to a needy leader as a gift. The leader, showing a bit of reluctance, accepted that gift. Such gift accepted by the leader for the first time followed to be party wide. Later on, gift was developed to a large amount of cash. A Kathmandu based ‘non-governmental’ American organization reportedly poured a large amount of money in the name of “human rights” with the intention of shattering a communist party. Perhaps, this was the most cost effective investment of the American government that could corrupt a powerful communist party. This is an effective method used by the westerners. Reportedly, an NGO took some leaders and intellectuals to Dhulikhel in  December of 2000 for finding out the possibility of dialogues between the government and Maoists. This NGO also organized a so-called seminar recently in Nepalgunj searching for ‘peace’. “It is necessary to launch a movement against such NGOs and INGOs working as agents of western powers to psychologically suppress the emancipation movements of the people by filling pockets of some leaders and intellectuals with money. We should be careful in time from such organizations, which divert the attention from the social as well as class contradictions and forward an easy solution of all problems through implementation of programs such as knitting, tailoring, basket making, buffalo keeping etc. In fact, the NGOs and/ INGOs can easily divert the existing contradictions in the society” (Rahul, 2055 B.S.: 37.  I fully agree with this statement and advise friends to be seriously careful in time towards the role of such NGOs and INGO.

 

           Of course, Nepalese culture is the creation of the Nepalese people. It took many centuries to craft it. There is reflection of arts, experiences and special values of different nationalities in it. This culture has been continuously invaded by western capitalist norms, values, beliefs and practices. A large number of Nepalese intellectuals also have played a role in it. In fact, new social and psychological base is being created for the new cultural behavior by propagating the western model as a universal one. After the base has been created, the youths and young intellectuals can be attracted to such foreign culture and behavior. When this attraction demanded a physical base, they had to find out something by any means. In such condition, there remain three options for finding the base. They are – utilization of family resources, seeking legal medium for extra income, and illegal medium for extra income that includes corruption, swindling, cheating, stealing etc.

        Among the three options, there is very limited number of people of the first category. Those who take the second path generally become hopeless. As for the third way, it can be very easy and reliable medium for such dealings. In this way, the persuasive source for hankering after wealth, desire for highly luxurious life and grabbing any opportunity are influenced by the western capitalist life style. The Nepalese cultural life has been badly affected by the same. What is surprising is that the invasion on Nepalese culture has been made not by neglecting the feudal values, but by harmonizing it with the capitalist culture. All kinds of the feudal ‘respects’ and capitalist facilities can be found in this new mongrel culture. The urban high class culture has been widening its own base on the one side and the unscientific feudal cultural remnants of predestines of the Brahmanism can be seen everywhere on the other side. Such cultural situation has adversely affected the large number of agricultural workers, peasants and agricultural capitalists living in the villages. So, they have become the psychological victims of predestines and fatalism. Their understanding and behavior are limited, controlled and ruled by fatalism. As a result, they take any change as a reward of the invisible power but not as the fruit of human efforts. Very little part of the society has become free from such cultural psychology. So, all the progressive forces, specially the activists of scientific people’s culture and progressive intellectuals should engage themselves in building scientific culture against both the mongrel and dependent culture of the urban areas and feudal culture of the rural areas. As this is a long-term process and the most important task, it needs patience, skill in expressing artistic views and ability of grasping the trend of the age.

                 Now, in the society, there are various inequalities. So, there are conflicts. One such conflict is between a groups of people educated from highly developed educational institutions of the developed countries or from similar institutions within the country and the general Nepalese people living in the condition of marginalization, under-development and deprivation. The contradictions between the interests of urban educated middle class and urban as well as rural poor and deprived class is nothing new and surprising. Many intellectuals seem to have diverted their thought from this fact and have been hankering after their vested interests. They even brag that change in the society depends only on the efforts of intellectuals. They have remained busy in filling pages of newspapers on the topics of ‘the great role of rising middle class’. In fact, the general people are facing difficulties, poverty and marginalization on the one side and many intellectuals are hankering after luxurious life on the other side. The country needs technology, skill and high quality knowledge, services and research centers. That means, the country needs knowledgeable and skilled manpower, entrepreneurs and intellectuals. Therefore, they should not be overlooked. But, on the other side, the large section of the population is suffering misery and wretchedness due to lack of basic needs. Balancing these two contrary interests is not an easy task, but it is not an impossible one. This complicated task should be accomplished by placing first priority to the interests of the working class people. It will be possible to find out such type of contradictions of the present transitional society and solve them in a right way only after understanding the specialties of the differences and complications.

The difference in the social life between cities and villages, their economic condition, psychology, the level of physical development, pace and attitude is also one of the several contradictions prevalent in the Nepalese society. The rural life is crawling ahead with pains, infliction, difficulties, helplessness, pathos and frailty. The rural social life living under discrimination, injustice, inequality and backwardness has based on feudal social values, norms, conducts and rules. The saying that the rural life is easier than the urban life is a folly of the self styled intellectuals, where as the rural life is full of all kinds of personal, social, political, cultural and psychological affliction. It is doubtless that their priorities are clear and choice is limited. They are compelled to suppress their ambitions, aspirations and desires within the limitations of all kinds of physical and non-physical priorities of living conditions and choices. To think that they are know-nothing is just wrong assessment. Whether they are peasants or other workers, or petty businessmen, or intellectuals living in the rural areas are conscious about themselves, their environment, problems and solutions. Soon after they realize the power of organization, new signs of solution use to appear, new way opens and the huge castles of unjust activities and corrupt system starts crumbling down. Today, the quake that has come in the Nepalese society, especially in the rural society of western Nepal, is the result of the power consciousness originated from the organized mechanisms. The innumerable rural people who have involved in the movement have knowledge about feudal oppression, capitalist looting, state sponsored and protected injustice, slavery, terror, and about the state machinery engaged in the interests of urban as well as rural upper classes and the discrimination between cities and villages.

         Of course, they use different phraseology, the information filtration system is different and methods of reaching conclusions are also different. A part of those urban intellectuals who have failed to understand this reality has been creating an uproar saying as ‘Innocent people’. Disagreeing to realize this strange reality, huge groups of neo-capitalist are busy in covering their vicious deeds with the mask of favoring and working for ‘innocent people’. But now, the definition of power is changing, definition of knowledge is changing and the definition of civilization also is changing. So, it is sure that the long-standing injustices shall meet their doom and the bright days shall come. So, the major duty of all the progressive forces is to contribute to the enhancement of the momentum towards changes. They should stand firm for the people living in the undeveloped condition of rural areas who are kept socially and economically backward.  Until the power is decentralized, addressing the real problem would remain a distant possibility.

 

             

The existing supper structure in Nepal has represented centralism. Central control has been established in every sector of administration. Either it is geographical remoteness or peculiar nationality composition, in every sector central norms of upper class Khasa monopoly and bureaucratic predominance have been practiced. Local structure have been made powerless and kept under central control. Every decision, development policy and resource management have been controlled by the center. This system should be changed and powerful national autonomous regions should be established on the basis of nationalities composition, languages spoken in the area, historical background and geographical viability. Such regions with elected provincial legislature, provincial government and their own administrative machinery should be given autonomous rights. This new system does not only fulfill the nationalities’ aspirations and local necessity but also lessens the load on central management system, liberate the center from thousands of daily administrative works and provide ample time for preparing national plans. The state affairs in the 21st century can be easily conducted by using new methods and technologies but not by practicing the outdated feudalistic system. When we talk about revolution in the administrative system, in fact, that is to introduce decentralized autonomous system. The autonomy shall guarantee justice to all nationalities and shall lead them towards cooperative federal system. Also, this will discourage any ideas and activities towards disintegration and division of the country. 

Experiences and feelings– 11

 Sale of quotations

       Generally, there is a competition among all kinds of the Nepalese communists to show as them revolutionary by presenting contextual or non-contextual quotations from several books of Marx, Angels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. The parliamentary communists are farther ahead than the others in doing so.  They use such quotations to spoil and rule the party workers and people who are weak in Marxist Philosophy .The parliamentary communists use the quotations more than the others. They have already tasted the benefits of parliamentary political system directly and indirectly. So they use the quotations to show pedantry and to intellectually dominate the party workers. Their next characteristic is to condemn all the subjects, persons, classes, events and periods, which are not in their vested interests and against their feudal thoughts, capitalist practices and communist phraseology. Similarly, their next specialty is to put themselves and their group interests above all in any negative or positive propagation. The parliamentary communists can play a role as world representatives to make hotchpotch of pure Marxist terminologies and neo capitalist’s life style. On the other hand, there are also strange patients of revolutionary romanticism and dull bookish within the communists. But their sacrificing ideal, character, sentiment and simple lifestyle are imitable. The character of the parliamentary communists is that they do not remain drowsy like the Congress Party, rather they remain active, high spirited and demonstrate rebellious nature. They do so mostly for their vested interests. Their combativeness becomes relative to the situation. When they are in opposition bench, they fight raising voice for the sovereign rights of the parliament and for the special rights of parliamentary committees and when they are in the government they fight for the prerogatives of Prime Minister. They champion the cause of the freedom of judiciary at the time when they have become successful to keep the supreme court leadership under their grip as their semi slave and they oppose the same when a verdict has been awarded against their wishes. This is their remarkable nature. They are committed and are also sincere. But their sincerity is of physical nature. They are clear towards their physical goal and the achievement of their goal is the basis of their sincerity. It is easy for them to define ‘Marxism’ as they benefit defining that way. So they have pocket full weapons of quotations from Marx to Mao to use anywhere they need.

           

One of the most important objectives is the creation of prosperity and opulence. Just behavior in the creation of prosperity is also an essential factor. Liberation of labor, making labor productive and skilful, expanding possibilities and managing opulence but not redistributing poverty should be the issues on the transformational agenda. Making of such agenda and its implementation demand enlightened new leadership and a political machinery with a large number of creative workers. This process should not derail by the nonsense artistic speeches of the leaders, and that should not be overloaded by the meaningless rules and regulations. They demand a new state system imbued with the skill, creativity and ability to lead towards radical changes. Building of such system and its proper functioning need to be philosophically rational, socially favoring equality and justice, technically be research friendly and experiment oriented. The political system needs to dedicate itself to changes and commit to the welfare of the people. Keeping in mind the need to develop such system, some points have been proposed below for consideration. Also, the following points will summarize the observations made and are presented as an executive summary of the discussions we had throughout the chapters above.

1.         There cannot be seen any possibility of social progress through the parliamentary system. This system has become just a cosmetic. In reality, the parliamentary system of Nepal has been working as the circulation channel of the interests of international capitalism. And Nepal has become a fertile land for the nefarious activities of their agents. This system could not ensure social progress, justice and equality. So, it has already died in terms of politics, morality, justice and value. It has been breathing with the help of armed forces and international popularity of multiparty system. At the best it will maintain the status quo. Therefore, this force will strive for political stagnation. So, it has been an urgent need to seek an alternative of it. The palace represents the traditional forces and if it would succeed to capture the political power, then the society will move backward. That would be nothing other than regression. In such critical situation, therefore, there is urgency and importance to design a system which can bring transformation.

 2.        There is a long history of political and class movements in Nepal. Different movements have become successful to achieve quantitative changes but the movements have not become successful to bring about qualitative changes in politics, economy and culture. Considering the present context and the situation, there is a great possibility to be successful to bring qualitative changes through such movements. The reason for this is that all the movements have been basically clustered around the movement for change or are on the process towards that direction. There is clarity about the goal, mutuality and realization of the strategic importance in the organized people’s mechanisms. The present movements have shown the possibility of establishing people’s pluralistic democratic system imbued with totally new values, foundation and social orders. Now the class and professional organizations should not be taken as the machinery to carry out instructions, but be developed as strong, capable and responsible structures of the people they represent to. They should not be kept under the grip of political leaders instead they should be left free and autonomous. Controlling them has already proved  unproductive and harmful.

  3.       The new change of today shall be as an outcome of the proper handling of the contradictions between the general people and the political power led by bureaucratic capitalism. The commission agents of multinational conglomerates and transnational private companies control Nepalese politics and economy today. The Nepalese agents are working under the cover of parliamentary political leaders, high-level bureaucrats, and non-governmental officials and in the form of big import businessman and NGO leaders. According to Prachanda, the Maoist leader, “The political power is not in the hand of feudal landlords nor is it in the hand of independent capitalists. This is under the leadership and command of the bureaucratic capitalism, begotten as an illegitimate descendents in the semi-feudal and semi-colonial country, through the insemination between feudalism and imperialism” (Prachanda, 2057: 193). As building of independent capitalism is the nearest strategic objective, it wouldn’t be possible to achieve this goal without establishing a pluralist democracy with a difference.

  4.       Not antagonism but protection of Nepalese interests through the art of diplomacy is what Nepal should follow. Making India or China angry, unnecessarily, has been the practice of Nepalese communists. This practice should discontinue and a more pragmatic foreign policy based on promotion of regional harmony and peace should be practiced. Certainly, the growing influence of communists in Nepal has become an irritating matter for India and US but overreaction from the Nepalese leftists would harm more. Keeping both of them and any other foreign power outside of the border of Nepal and reserving the right to fight against if any of them enter into should be the patriotic way of handling the relationship. The “Zone of Peace” proposal could be the sound basis for managing the foreign policy of Nepal in the 121st century and should be revived.

5.         The character of the movement shall remain within the periphery of new democracy. However, considering the clearly changed class roles of the transitional society, the developments in the communication and information technology, invention of advanced war technology and skill, the Nepalese history of the invasion on central power, the nature of the first events of the rebellious attacks and the analysis of the new experiment of the Marxist military science and art of fighting, there is a great possibility of the transition of central power through combining, both, protracted war and mass insurrections. This sounds more feasible in the context of Nepal. This conclusion accepts the continuity of the war. It also paints towards the necessity of a broad as well as strong united front. The rumor mongers and seminar attendees of Kathmandu can be provided with employment but it is worthless to hope for working together with them in a united front. Because they have no mass- base, the people do not believe in them in strategic sense. They have lost credibility as well as morality and they have more ambitions than actions. It would be proper to provide them with the employment like in the present “talks” and “dialogues” processes. But it is worthless to be optimistic to have positive results through them. The same applies to the so-called human rights workers, NGOs, and the other intellectuals engaged in fulfilling their vested interests. It would be great mistake to involve them in the united front. The united front should only be formed with the progressive classes, nationalities, communities, organizations, progressive political parties and individuals. Its main basis should be working class and patriotic people. But this doesn’t mean to deny any tactical and working unity with different forces for different objectives at different times.

6. The belief has been changing that the administration can be taken control only after capturing a region. The difference between the administration in general and performing certain administrative functions has become clear. It becomes natural to establish administration in general in the base areas, but a specific administrative function also can be conducted in other areas of influence. Today, the educational issues, changing of national anthem, cancellation of Sanskrit language as compulsory subject, free schooling up to secondary level etc. have become the topics of nationwide discussions. This has raised a new topic of discussion that administrative changes can be attained without establishing the base areas. So a proper attention should be paid towards establishing specific and relevant administration also. It proves the importance and effectiveness of mass organizations and mass movements.

7. Until now, there seems no clarity in the communist movements that what type of political power shall be established. It needs learning from the history not to repeat failures. The history has taught that proletarian class became unsuccessful to protect the political power during Paris Commune. So, the task of protecting political power got importance and the proletarian dictatorship was practiced. As a result, the political power remained in the hands of the communists for fairly a long time in Soviet Union, China etc. but they could not be successful to achieve the strategic goal of the revolution. Now, the successes and failures of these revolutions should be as the new starting point for all the communists. That means, Marxist military science or art of war is rich enough but the communist parties have no meaningful experiences and models developed through the implementation of the Marxist political science. Therefore, giving birth to a new Marxist political state is the challenge of the day. The 21st century is certainly very different and challenging. So, considering this fact, it is necessary for the communists to boldly develop such political science and the state power in its base areas. It would be useful to pay attention to the three principles as follows:

  • The aim of such political power is to protect and promote working class interests. The state practices democratic principles giving primacy to working class interests.
  • In such democracy, the rule of law gets supremacy.
  • In this democratic state, creation, freedom, productivity and other activities can flourish without restriction until they do not harm to communal harmony, social justice and rule of law. Not dictatorship but pluralist democracy should be the frame work of political governance.

 

            In fact, one of the major responsibilities is to develop a Marxist political science for conducting state affairs in this historical period. Today, Nepal has become one of the most important laboratories of the world communist movement. So, the Maoists, who are leading the Nepalese communist movement in this period, should find out the solution of the unsolved problem, and it should contribute to the development of the political science of conducting working class’ state affairs. It is certain that if the Maoists will just confine themselves to the phrase “Proletarian Dictatorship”, the party will vanish soon after capturing the state power, if that happens. Those, who restrict freedom and choices of people will never succeed in this age of information. Pluralism is what the Maoists should practice as a competitive political system if they genuinely are committed towards people’s long term progress, prosperity and development in all social, economic, intellectual and political arenas. In final analysis, multiparty system alone can provide a full proof frame work for functional and thriving pluralist democracy including that of working class inclined.

  8.       The relations among social communities are one of the major elements of concern in the Nepalese society. The Maoists and other progressive political and social forces have become conscious towards this reality. It should be successful to properly settle the conflicts between the Khasa monopoly and other nationalities and communities, women’s struggle against the patriarchal social system and struggle of the oppressed castes against the Hindu caste system imposed on them. Unless these contradictions are skillfully dealt with, the social transformation is not possible. The better the cooperation to liberate the oppressed castes and communities, the sooner the class emancipation becomes a reality. This is not only the question related to the united front but also a sincerity of the responsible force towards people’s aspirations.

  9. Today, the activities, organized for transformation, are directed to heal the pain of the people, the very thing is more important than the growing support of the people to the movement. The movement conducted by the “All Nepal National Independent Student Union (ANNISU)” against the educational anarchy, commercialization of education and feudal culture is the most important and positive campaign in the Nepalese history for improving educational standard. The similar movements need for solving the problems of other classes. It is meaningless to use the class organizations in shouting abstract political slogans as many political parties are doing. Instead they should be left free to organize themselves, make programs of movements for the solution of their problems and the party should help them in doing so. The people of the nooks and crannies have clapped hands in support of the student organization for their contribution in the educational sector. The progressive political as well as social forces should take the positive lesson from this and should give priority to address people’s needs.

Chapter Seven

 

Constituent Assembly and Pluralism with a Difference

 

                            In the recent years, more specifically, after the historic people’s movement of 1990, the expectation was that the pace of change would be faster. The aspirations among the people heralded that the political forces should move in an unprecedented speed so as to bridge the political, social, economic and intellectual gap created by overall underdevelopment, injustices and irresponsible governance.  During the in initial phase of the euphoria of the people’s movement, the parliamentary political forces in arrangement with the monarchy drafted a document and introduced the same as the constitution of the country. After the introduction of the constitution, the nation has seen three general elections. One or the other party formed the government after the elections, but they not only overlooked the people’s aspirations and the national development agenda but also nearly all the leaders and influential cadres of the centrist parliamentary political parties accumulated unimaginable wealth through all sorts of corrupt practices.  ‘The rule of law’ continued to remain a phrase unknown to the masses. Although, there was change of governments several times, but all of them failed to change the prevailing feudal values and practices of the pre-1990 state-system. The role of the people was just to elect some ‘masters’ for that very day or for some years from a ‘galaxy of masters’. As a result, disappointment and frustration among the people run high.

                    In the mean time the Maoists took arms to attain people’s emancipation and their overall development. In the night of 13 February 1996, several violent events signaled different type of attempt to realize the dream of establishing a progressive state.  After this event, hundreds and thousands of violent events, battles, actions and many more have taken place in the country. During the past seven years, more than 7500 persons have lost their lives. The entire nation had passed through the barbaric ‘emergency rule’. All political and civil rights remained suspended. The security forces and the Maoist guerillas had been involved in several battles. Therefore, the resolution of the war had become the focal point of any discussion directed towards bringing the Nepalese society to the path of development and prosperity. After the second ceasefire declared by both the warring parties, the discussion is further focused on the examination of the alternatives available in attaining the resolution.

Experiences and Feelings – 12

 

“Intellectual Community” and Intensity of Fear

 

            An extraordinary apprehension is persisting in a section of intellectual community of our country. In general, this apprehension is not due to education, knowledge, dedication to the profession, and it is not the expression of their responsibility. This community is not the least worried about responsibility. This apprehension seen in the so called intellectuals, who have been indulging in the pleasure of intellectuality for a long time, is the reaction of a sense of guilt and their response to the extraordinary sound generated by the new bands of war. This new sound has not been sweet for them to hear, but rather it has been thoroughly shaking their hearts.

            This “Intellectual” community wearing a mask of human rights has been indulging in a costly pleasure and is busy in earning dollars through the dragnet of “NGOs”. Some of them are plundering guardians of the children through boarding schools and the institutes of higher education and some others are ransacking patients’ pockets through private hospitals and nursing homes. Huge buildings have been built by beguiling western donors and their Nepalese partners in the name of human rights, torture sufferers, anti child labor, woman rights etc. Education has been ensured for their children in costly English boarding schools and several programmes have been scheduled for regular foreign trips. They think that Nepal is just for them, whatever they can grab that is their.

            The political leaders of the so-called mainstream parliamentary system and big businessmen are in the same race.  They are farther ahead than “intellectuals”. The difference between them is that, the political leaders have become infamous and are hated by the society. They have an apprehension of a danger of losing elections or being arrested due to exposure of the plots of smuggling, whereas the “intellectuals” are free from such dangers. Their dirty faces are covered with a mask of “social service”.

            They have sold the poverty, they have traded up national pride and they have mortgaged innocence and simplicity of the people. They have misused the excellence of the nation and tarnished its image. Such evil tasks of theirs have begun to appear out. It is now clear that keeping accounts of their evil deeds has begun. There is no possibility for such “intellectuals” to escape from punishment. The time shall come to line them up with corrupt politicians, cruel high-ranking officials, smugglers and black marketers and announce penalty. The fear in them is the signal of the same.

        

                    It is only natural that either one side should defeat the other side militarily, or a political process should bring all sides together in finding out the solution to restore peace. Although, the first option will continue till the parties involved accept the second option of the political process, already some steps have been taken to streamline the efforts directed to ensure resolution. These steps include the ceasefire, informal contacts between and among all major political players and the attempts to concretize the broad political agenda.

                    Today, in the Nepalese political scenario, three types of dominant political forces are bitterly competing to strengthen their power base. They are – the traditional forces represented by the king, the centrist parliamentary democratic forces represented by Nepali congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) and the leftist forces represented by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Furthermore, the king and the Maoists have their armed forces whereas the centrist forces broadly rely on the king for any decision-making role over the Nepalese army. In this way, they are divided into three major groups politically and into two fronts militarily.

                    In real term, the traditional political force is antagonistic towards both the centrist and the leftist forces and wants unconditional surrender of arms by the Maoists and acceptance of the effective role of the king by the centrist forces. In this situation, the king could hold the power effectively and the centrist forces as well as the leftists could be the wonderful masks of democracy. The traditional forces, therefore, will try to create a framework where the king holds power; the centrists hold positions and the leftists participate in a slow process of their own dissolution. On their part, the centrist parliamentary political forces prescribe dialogue, constitutional amendments to bring desired changes in the political system by maintaining constitutional monarchy and multiparty system.  Through this process, they try to neutralize the military might of the other two forces by immediately disarming the Maoists and gradually establishing control over the Royal Nepal Army. The leftist forces represented by the Maoists will try to maximize their area of political as well as military influence by proposing a course of dialogue, formation of an interim government, and election of the constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.

                    With different motives and objectives of their own, the proposal to organize the election of a constituent assembly may be acceptable to all the three types of forces. The traditional forces need such opportunity to legalize the traditional power they enjoy.  The centrist forces may see this opportunity favorable to effectively disarm Maoists and also to establish control over the army by introducing new constitutional provisions. The Maoists certainly have already seen benefits on such proposal, therefore, they proposed. They may succeed in expanding their power base without disarming themselves. 

                    The proposal regarding holding election of the constituent assembly is related to handing over the stick to the people who are said sovereign. Therefore, it is only natural to create the environment where ordinary citizens can decide their destiny themselves. This is the core political process. Really, this could be a great democratic exercise. By proposing the democratic way of redirecting the agenda in a civil war situation, the Maoists, in principle, have accepted that they will function in a competitive political framework. Furthermore, the democratic process will certainly help them and the entire nation to participate in the transformational agenda, actions and programs to build a just and prosperous society.

                    In reality, Nepal has been facing serious problems not only in the area of political development but also in the economic, cultural and intellectual fronts.  The society as a whole is experiencing the pain of transition. The traditional feudal values, beliefs and practices have been continuously resisting the new sets of attitudes, behavior and practices based on the new scientific values.  As a result, the opposing political, economic and cultural forces are in the relentless battle to expand their space and for this reason they put tremendous energy to gain control over the resources, both, human as well as material. Therefore, the situation is complex, which is going through a transitional process resulting to a new, transformed society. The problems, prospects and processes, hence, are related to the transformation and any actions will help resolving the complexities when holistic agenda has been adopted. In this context, only the election of the constituent assembly has the capacity, scope and democratic qualities to address the complexities. This exercise should have been carried out long ago. Unfortunately, never in the history of Nepal, the people had such opportunity. Therefore, to give peace a chance, to allow democracy to function and to take the nation to prosperity, the responsible political forces should come together and agree to hand over the stick to the rightful owner – the citizens of Nepal. Therefore, there is the need of a general debate on the political, social and economic agenda and a long-term vision. 27

        In any society, politics is one of the most important topics which should generate debate. Unfortunately, in Nepal, politics is considered as a well understood and already concluded issue and the debate centers around political rituals. In essence, politics is the collective act of one or more non-antagonistic economic class or classes to protect and promote their class interests by blending, programming and packaging their interests in a certain ideology, theory and a pattern of behaviors. Therefore, one has to understand the class-base and the orientation of the ideology, theory and behaviors that their collective act represents. The collective act necessarily relates itself with the existing reality of the society and interacts, influences and interferes by antagonistic or non-antagonistic manner with all other types of collective acts prevailing in that particular time.  Since its beginning, the class society is pluralistic politically, economically, socio-culturally, psychologically and organizationally. The plural values, beliefs and practices are not limited to the collective behavior of antagonistic classes; it has been seen within the same type of classes too. In reality, they differ and behave differently within a broad periphery of class interests. To promote and safeguard the class interests collectively, and to represent those interests more effectively, the antagonistic classes fight head-to-head, sometimes in the battlefield when the class contradiction reaches to the boiling point. This is what the Nepalese society is experiencing today.

                    In the Nepalese society, one can see the fiercest fight. The fight is multidimensional and complex. It has covered ideologies, politics, cultures, values and many more. The fight, primarily, is between the upper class ruling coalition and the working classes. The ruling classes are trying their level best to continue the political, economic and cultural dominance whereas the working classes want to radically reorganize the society including the change of the superstructure. At this moment, the palace has become the leader of the ruling upper class and the Maoists lead the working class majority. In strategic sense, the centrists are the extension of the ruling coalition, but today, in tactical sense, they are humiliated section of the upper class political coalition and use to cry sometimes when a ‘friendly-fire’ hits them or extreme hunger for power, prestige, wealth and opportunity compels them. This is what the parliamentary opposition’s protest movement is all about. Although, they cry to regain their lost glory, this process               

                    Retaining and even strengthening the existing behavioral, programmatic and operational supremacy in all spheres of socio-economic and political governance is the goal of the upper class ruling coalition whereas the leftists led by the Maoists are striving for radical socio-economic and political change. In this way, Nepalese political scene is witnessing a grand fight of unprecedented nature. The contradictions between the antagonistic classes have broadened the scope of struggle, which has entered into the superior level of class war. Now, there are two governing mechanisms. Although, two types of mechanism have been in practice, but that does not necessarily reflect the presence of two systems. The upper class ruling coalition has been operating under the multiparty system whereas the Maoists are going through an experiential course by making several experiments in the area they govern.

                    During the period of war, any experiment may work, but in a broader political canvas, a comprehensive system alone can provide the appropriate operating mechanism. The communists all over the world successfully campaigned for a new nature of state power. They were successful in capturing the power in several countries. Once, they were not only a dominant ideology in the world but also the counter-balancing military power. They failed to retain that place. The easy answer is – the revisionists and the capitalists recaptured the power. But why they recaptured the state power so successfully? Was it a policy failure or the failure of implementation? Or, it happened due to more fundamental structural reasons? It is not in one or a few countries the experiment failed. Therefore, the logic of policy or implementation failure doesn’t reflect the reality. This is structural failure of fundamental nature. In the beginning, one of the reasons for the failure of the Paris commune was stated as not effective implementation of dictatorship of the proletariat. This conclusion offered uncompromising stand in favor of dictatorship, which in later years was extended to people with differing views including the communist party leaders and cadres. In the process, most of the communist parties lost their vision, side-lined the values and degenerated as monolithic state bureaucracies. The failure was the outcome of the extension of dictatorship of the party exercised by its leadership. Indeed, the failure was the result of the negation of pluralistic socio-economic and political composition of the society and absence of a superstructure appropriate to address that reality. Certainly, that lesson should get importance, more particularly, during the phase of democratic revolution and reconstruction. Therefore, to address the need of an appropriate superstructure that ensures politico-economic and cultural pluralism with difference, the following provisions may provide the basis.

  • Constitutionally mandated nature of state that overtly favors working classes,      minorities and weaker section,
  • Multiparty,
  • Federal state,
  • Autonomous regions of nationalities,
  • New mixed economy,
  • Multiculturalism, and
  • State completely free from religious affiliation.

 

                    This is not the “Bahudaliya Janabad” as some centrists are busy selling their product under the communist banner. The important factors are the class orientation of the state power and the choice of a mechanism by which the power is exercised. When working class interests, values and visions occupy primacy, rest will fall accordingly. It is important to institutionalize those primacies in the form of constitutional provisions, and for this purpose there is the need of a duly elected constituent assembly. When there are such provisions in the constitution drafted and adopted by the constituent assembly, the armed forces and the bureaucracy need overhaul. A surgical process can insert the new state values within a new operational framework. The amalgamation of two armies into one could provide the opportunity for such surgical process. If this process gets obstructed, the course may turn again into a violent one and the mass uprising or protracted war will insure the insertion of the new vision and values. Finally, if the society has to move forward, there should be a progressive state which operates with dynamic political processes. Obviously, pluralism with difference provides the dynamic environment to all political parties, social and economic agencies and mass organizations to function as centers of excellence and also it makes them accountable as the people judge them continuously. Therefore, the consensus for the pluralism that has equity and justice as its core values, could be a turning point to ensure true democracy, lasting peace and ever flourishing prosperity in Nepal28

Chapter Eight

 

Winding Up

        Social transformation means specific condition of social and basic structural change where society enters a new, dynamic, just, scientific and progressive stage by breaking a conservative, stagnant, unjust, unscientific and non-progressive thought, norms, practices, management and structure. During such transition concrete and vague, relative and absolute, subjective and objective upheavals and division and polarization are bound to take place. It marches along the multi-dimensional way of destruction and construction, force and voice, armed and moral strength, number and quality. During this period, the meanings of recognition and rejection, good and evil and civilized and uncivilized change. This is a great campaign of organization and liquidation in which the birth and death walk together. This is the new construction of the future separated from its past.

In the Nepalese society, transformation means a radical change in social structure. The primary issues of this radical change include change in the relationship among classes, liberation of productive forces, establishing new relations of production, enriching people’s culture with scientific base, developing vision incorporating social justice and overall progress, support of fundamental values of life based on non-fatalistic and non-metaphysical objective outlook. This kind of change will transform the concepts, general social and individual emotions into practice and the inherent dynamism of social locomotion and structure into a clear, temporal and forward looking legal system. Therefore, this transformation should be taken as the advancement of the society having a wider meaning, capable of projecting a new quality in the context and superstructure of the society and having skill in ensuring change and continuity through the antithetical process of destruction and construction. Bringing about such change needs a serious, shaking and violent shock by gradually developing through simple actions. The duration of such shock constitutes a transitional period in which a very subtle difference can be noted between the past and present and the demarcation between the two different situations can be easily recognized. While looking at such transformation through philosophical point of view, it becomes full of risk to estimate new possibilities and present new proposals. Socrates’ questioning on the norms and values established in ancient Greece was dubbed as extremist. Various charges were laid on him. To say simply, he was accused of “corrupting the minds of youths and believing on his own invented Gods and Goddesses instead of those recognized by the state”. He was given capital punishment for weakening the already believed structure of the social life of his kindred citizens (McMurty, 1999: 3). The same implies for the oriental ancient philosophy.

            Here, it will be relevant to briefly mention something about Charvak’s philosophy. Charvak’s philosophy has forwarded materialistic propositions against the time honored Vedic norms, views and values. Let’s consider the following views extracted from “Sarvadarshan Sangraha” and “Prabodha Chandrodaya“. The followers of Charvak’s materialism say – “While you are living, live with absolute happiness. Enjoy life even at the cost of debt, how can a cremated body be resurrected?” The Charvakian materialists questioned the then established beliefs of heaven, hell and life after death and denied such blind beliefs. Forwarding the materialistic propositions, they questioned “Who has seen the separate existence of soul out of the body? Isn’t the life an outcome of exquisite composition of matter?” In their opinion, earthly evidence is the only acceptable truth and a philosophy. In this, only the evidences of what are known, seen and experienced are recognized as authentic. Earth, water, fire and air are the substances. Pleasure and wealth are the objectives of human existence. There is no other world. Death is the end of life. The Buddhist philosophy presented the notion that joy is mixed with misery. So pleasure should be abandoned. Refuting this view, Charvakian materialists said, “According to the notion of Buddhists, pleasure should be abandoned because it is mixed with misery. But, does a sensible man fling fine rice-seeds away saying that they are covered with husk? You cannot say that perceptible pleasure should not be the goal of human beings because of being mixed with misery. What is wisdom is to enjoy all the possible pleasures and should certainly set apart the misery that remains mixed with”. (In Radhakrishan, 1923: 280 – 283)

            According to the view of Dr. Radhakrishan, the opponents of Charvakian materialism have severely criticized the conception of Charvakian philosophy that – there is no soul separate from the body and perception is the only source of knowledge or understanding. Despite such floating weaknesses, this school of thought has deep-rooted effect on the establishment of the present beliefs. This school of philosophy has, at least, used its idea on an important question of philosophy by remaining independent from blind beliefs on religious hypocrisy and orders of the lords over it. (Radhakrishan, 1923: 284 – 285). It is wonderful to know that such materialistic concepts were developed in the oriental philosophy 2500 to 3000 years ago.

            Buddhist did not have the rigidity, pugnacity and logic like the Charvakian philosophy. However, its virtues, knowledge, good-deeds and belief on union–power etc. were undoubtedly progressive in philosophical point of view, if compared to the then context of social belief.  Buddhist philosophy is mainly a psychology, a logical and moral science, but it is not metaphysics. (Radhakrishan 1923: 353). This philosophy also had deeply influenced the Nepalese world of knowledge.

Traditional naturalism has a long history in Nepal, which has questioned monotheism. But, the then existing social and governmental structure was conservative and was against new thoughts and new applications. Although, such ancient philosophies of materialism had maintained a kind of continuity, they could not become acrimonious. At such time Marxist literature began to enter Nepal. Then onwards, began a study of the then internal structure and external shape in the new context of dialectical materialism based on the Marxist philosophy. Marxist philosophy and thoughts gave a new life to the norms, beliefs and practices established by Charvak’s materialism, Buddhist progressivism and naturalism with its concept of dialectical materialism. At that specific time appeared a change in Nepalese consciousness.  

The Nepalese new political awakening movement started from “Makaiko Kheti” is marching forward. Some time it has become slow, some time fast and some time it has become invisible, but it has not stopped. Different movements of class and community organizations have ever kept it luminous. Thousands of heroes and heroines have nurtured it with their invaluable blood. The Nepalese people have kept it speeding in every circumstance. As the new forces have appeared on the political and social scene, they have influenced the entire Nepalese society. The new forces also have provided a new destination point to the movements of all the class and professional organizations. This new force has raised question marks on the established norms, values, understanding, and realizations. It has also raised questions on economic, social and political practices and has been searching for new alternatives. Today, the Nepalese society is speedily advancing towards transition in all branches like in understanding, values, practices, structural realignments etc. Social values are changing. The powerful castes and nationalities are crumbling down and those who were supposed to be helpless are championing the building of nation. There has come a quake in outlooks and ideology. There are intense actions and reactions in political field. The people are no longer the passive onlookers. They have come to the forefront to lead the movements towards changes. The country has been full of new thoughts, new events and new prospects. In this, the Nepalese society seems like an untiring pilgrim marching on his or her endless path. Its speed is extraordinary. The time has really shortened. A great distance has appeared between yesterday and today. Looking such unprecedented speedy changes in ideological, philosophical, intellectual and practical arenas, the total transformation seems inevitable. Every one favoring progress has naturally felt ecstatic. Indeed, this wave in the Nepalese society towards transformation has become clear to the eyes of all, it has become easy for all the progressives forces to involve in this historic process. The makers of history can be seen advancing on the path of creation and construction. The march will continue till the society gets transformed politically, socially and economically. Those who participate in this process and help others to participate in will certainly contribute for a better tomorrow. This is nothing other than a grand fight among the forces of regression, stagnation and transformation. All progressive political, social and economic forces should understand their historic responsibilities and align themselves to the needs of a new Nepal – democracy, prosperity and social justice. 


Notes:

1. On September 1, 1940, all 1500 prisoners kept in the central jail in Kathmandu boycotted ration protesting against injustice, disorder and oppression. The Rana officers went there in the night time and assured the prisoners by telling them “your complaints shall be looked into and demands shall be fulfilled”, and then the prisoners began to take their ration from the next day. This was the first historic strike in Nepalese prison. (Singh, 2031 B.S., 147- 153).

2. See my article “Baicharik Kendrikaranko Prasanga” published in “Dishabodh”, monthly, (Asar – Saun,  2057 B.S.)

3  Also please read my book “Samajik Vikasko Vivechana “.

4. Also please read my book “Nepalko Jatiya Prasna” .

5. Supposed to be nearest to Tulsilal group.

6. Supposed to be nearest to Sahana – Balaram group.

7. Supposed to be near to Rohit group.

8. Nearest to “Proletarian workers organization”

9. Nearest to CPN (ML)

10. Supposed to be near to CPN (Fourth congress)

11. The Points include:

1) Report of the commission related to salary and other facilities be published and implemented.

2) The recent amendment of the government employee regulation and code of conduct be cancelled and a regulation is formulated to allow all the employees of all the levels to be members of the Government Employee’s Organization.

3) The registration of the so-called “Nepal Employee’s Union” is cancelled.

4) The decisions made by the first national convention of the Employee’s Organization are implemented.  (Rijal et al, 2054 B.S.)

12. See my article “Sambidhan Ra Rupantaranko Rajmarga ” published in “Spacetime Dainik” (15 Mangsir, 2057 B.S)

13. The priorities specified by the ruling Nepali Congress were as follows:

  • To provide primary health service in all the villages of the kingdom.
  • To provide pure drinking water in all the villages.
  • To eliminate illiteracy, expand primary education facility and gradually make secondary level education free for all children.
  • To provide postal service to all the villages of the kingdom
  • To develop necessary infrastructure to provide primary education in nationalities’ mother tongue.
  • To conduct special programmes to uplift the life standard of the helpless people living below poverty line.
  • To provide land to the landless squatters for their settlement.
  • To link the headquarters of all 75 districts with metallic roads and build roads to link villages and markets in all the districts.
  • To establish industries in the country maintaining regional balance.
  • To manage irrigation facility for the dry lands of both the hilly and Terai region.
  • To provide electricity facility to all the villages by developing the hydropower.
  • To conduct programmes of industrialized farming, cottage and small industries, women development, food for work, elimination of illiteracy, rural bank, cattle raising, etc. for the creation of employment opportunities in the rural areas.
  • To give priority to building of bridges, culverts, postal service, roads etc. in the Terai and to metallic roads, suspension bridges, roads linking the villages to towns and cities etc.
  • To establish tillers’ ownership over land by abolishing duel ownership and turn the trust land to lease–hold land.
  • To provide economic and social justice to the economically, educationally and socially backward and suppressed communities and classes.
  • To provide facilities to the disabled, old, unable and helpless people.
  • To enable the local bodies to identify local projects and plan as well as implement. And, to decentralize power for the solution of local problems. (Nepali Congress; 2052: 12 – 13)

 

14. This word was first used by the RPP leader Lokendra Bahadur Chand when he had to quit the Prime Ministership due to change of sides several times by the lawmakers of his own party.

15. See my article “Nepalko communist Andolanma Naya Dhrubikaran ra Sambhavanaka Sanketharu” published in “Janata”, (Bhadra, 2057 B.S.)

16 Ibid 15, Janata, Bhadra, 2057 B.S.

17. See my article “Napalma Samsadiya Sashanko Varga Sima Ra Shakti Sankramanko Sandarvikta” published in the “Kantipur“, 28 Push 2057 B.S.

18. The following points have been mentioned in the “Zone of Peace” proposal. Late King Birendra had proposed this on 25 February 1975.

  • Nepal shall always remain effortful to develop friendly relationship with all the countries of the world and especially with the neighboring countries having different political and social systems on the basis of equality and mutual respect of independence and sovereignty by following the principles of peace, nonalignment and peaceful coexistence.
  • Nepal shall not resort to any kinds of activities, which would harm peace and security of other countries.
  • Nepal shall seek peaceful solution of any disputes between herself and other countries as well as other international disputes.
  • Nepal shall not interfere in internal affairs of other nations.
  • Nepal shall not allow using her territory for any activity against the countries supporting this proposal and these countries also shall not allow any activity in their soil against Nepal.
  • Nepal shall fulfill its responsibilities by respecting all the existing treaties and agreements signed with other countries till their expiry dates.
  • Nepal shall not enter in any military pact as per her policy of peace and nonalignment, nor shall provide her territory to any country to establish military camp. In the same way, the countries supporting this proposal shall not involve in any military pact against Nepal, nor shall provide their territory to any country to establish military camp against Nepal.

 

19. See my article “Netaharuka Paketma Basne Garchha Nepali Prajatantra” published in “Prakash”, weekly, on 26 Mangsir, 2057 B.S.

20. The police intervened in the area, where the convention of “All Nepal Women’s Organization (Revolutionary)” was in progress. This was happened in Chitawan district on 27th Mansir, 2057 B.S. The police used gunfire and Gauri Sapkota was killed and many others received bullet injuries.

21. Also see my article “Nepalko Rajnitima Sashakiya Arajakta Ra Maobadi Vikalpa” published in “Spacetime Dainik” on 1 Mansir, 2057 B.S.

22. Ibid 21 “Spacetime Dainik”, 1 Mangshir, 2057 B.S.

23 See my article “Samanantar Sashanko Arambha Ra Samaj Rupantarko Abhiyan” published in Kantipur Dainik, 18 Kartik, 2057 B.S. )

24. The communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) started people’s war from 13 February 1996 with the slogan “Let’s march forward on the path of people’s war for the establishment of New Democratic Republic by destroying the reactionary state.”  There were three objectives of the first plan of the people’s war as mentioned below:

1) To establish the politics of armed struggle,

2) To bring into practice that the main form of organization is military and the main form of struggle is war, and

3) To prepare for establishing guerilla bases, (NeRaBuSan, 2054 B.S.: 25)

The type of events that took place on 13 February 1996, the first day of the declaration of the people’s war, not only revealed the new possibilities in the political situation of the country, but also heralded that class struggle entered into a new phase of armed struggle. The following events paved the way for the people’s armed liberation. Some of the events that took place on the first day of the people’s war are as follows.

  • A massive pamphleteering was made at the night of the 13th February as the first propaganda work of the people’s war.
  • Armed attacks were made on the police posts at Radi of Rukum, Holeri of Rolpa and Sindhuligadi of Sindhuli by guerilla squads. Attacks were also made on the Agricultural Development Bank  and small peasant development project based at Chiangli in Gorkha. All the debentures and other documents were destroyed.
  • A guerilla squad exploded a bomb at Manakamana Distillery of Gorkha.
  • An attack was also made on the house of Daulat Bahadur Dong, which resulted in the capture of some amount of money and the burning of debentures.
  • A petrol bomb was hurled at the Pepsi Cola factory based in Kathmandu. There was an attack on the regional office of Save the Children, an INGO The events that rapidly took place for three weeks included the statement made by Baburam Bhattarai, Chairman of the then United Front Nepal, advocating need of the people’s war, the attacks on the houses of the feudal lords, actions taken against the government, etc.

 

25. The main objectives of the plan were,

1) To mobilize the people in favor of people’s war,

2) To capture different items including weapons and

3) To concentrate armed force in order to change the main areas into guerilla bases.

26. According to Lenin, there are two ways for the development of agricultural capitalism. The first provides way for the feudal land system to gradually develop to the economic system of Junker landlords. It keeps intact the feudal slavery and bondages by changing them into capitalist form. The second way is that feudal economy no longer exists or it is destroyed by a revolution. Big feudal land estates are snatched and the land is redistributed. Peasants change into capitalist peasants. (Lenin, 1908; 239-244) What makes it clear that be it the first way or the second as mentioned by Lenin, the Nepalese society is in transition and it is moving ahead through the process of the rise of rural capitalists and the process of proletarianization is seen everywhere.  In general, in this transition, the feudal land system, production relation and the landlords themselves are disappearing in the rural areas. As it is still in the initial process of proletarianization in the context of Nepal, the proletariat neither constitutes a dominant class of the rural area nor does it have a significant presence numerically. This class is speedily appearing in the Terai region and especially in a specific ethnic people (such as Musahar, Dushdh etc.). (Neupane. 1999: 13-14)  Even then a concrete class analysis of the Nepalese society has not been made until now.

27. See my article “Democratic Resolution of Nepalese Political Impasse” published in “The People’s Review Weekly”, Kathmandu, April 3-9, 2003.

28. See my article “Pluralism with difference: A prerequisite for peace and prosperity” published in “The People’s Review Weekly”, Kathmandu, June 12-18, 2003.


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The Nationalities’ Question in Nepal

                          The Nationalities’ Question in Nepal

(Social Convergence and Partnership Building through Multiculturalism and Federalism) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By

Govinda Neupane

 

 

 

 

Published By

Center for Development Studies, Nepal

Kathmandu 

 2005

 

Year of Publication: 2000 (In Nepali language)

Publisher: Center for Development Studies, Kathmandu

Internet Edition (In English language) – 2005

(This internet edition is slightly revised translated version of the first Nepali edition)

Revised Second Edition – 2005 (In Nepali language)


Table of Contents

Chapters

 

1 Evolution of Nepalese Society: A Brief Historical Account

2 Nationalities in Nepal

3 Access to Power and Opportunities and the Gaps

4 Process of Khas Domination and Obstacles for Partnership

5 Emergence of National Liberation Movements and Response of State-Forces

6 Federalism: Management Structure of a Multicultural State

7 Observations

 

 

 

Note: In Nepal, the Bikram calendar is in use instead of Gregorian calendar. Therefore, in this book, particularly in the publication date of the references, the Bikram Sambat (B.S.) is quoted. The difference between B.S. and A.D. is 56 year 7 month and 17 days in ordinary year and 56 year 7 month and 18 days in leap year. Therefore, the calculation is – A.D. + 56 year 7 month and 17 days = B.S. in ordinary A.D. and + 1 day in leap year.  All dates used in this book without mentioning B.S. are in A.D.


The Nationalities’ Question in Nepal

 

(Social Convergence and Partnership Building through Multiculturalism and Federalism)

 

 

Chapter One

 

Evolution of Nepalese Society: A Brief Historical Account

 

The human settlement in Nepal has been believed one among the oldest as the evidences support this belief. A fossil tooth of Ramapithecus, believed to be more than a million years old, has been found in Butwal. Also the chipped stone tools, believed about thirty to forty thousands years old have been found at Nawalparasi and Kathmandu (Bista, 1991:14, Sharma, 2039 V.S.: 26, 29). In the great epic, the Mahabharat, the mentions of Biratnagar as one of the princely state and the participation in the war of a Kirat tribal chief also leads to the conclusion that Nepal has a long history of human settlement.

The inscriptions carved on stones and metals and the archeological excavations provide grounds that there was the possibility of existence of several tribal republics during pre-historical and early historical days. These republics (tribal system of primitive governance) may include but not limited to Yalakhom in Kathmandu valley and Kapilvastu, Koliya, Mithila and Kichakdesh in the southern plains. During the final years of the tribal republics, agriculture had become the major economic activity. In the course of change in the economic outputs and introduction of division of labor; social behaviors and relationships got new shape, and as a result the class society emerged. When agriculture replaced hunting and gathering as the primary occupation of the society, the old tribal republics based on such economic behavior disintegrated and the feudal states evolved. Through the process of reorganization of Kirat tribal republic ‘Yalakhom’, Tharu tribal republic ‘Koliya’, Brata-Chhetriya Lichchhivi tribal republic ‘Videha’ and many other tribal governance mechanisms; new transitional feudal states came into existence. These new feudal states included Khasan in Karnali region, Magarat in Dhaulagiri region, Nepal Mandal between Gandaki and Koshi rivers, Bijayapur in Koshi region and Makwanpur in the southern region. These new feudal states had the problems of ever changing boarders, strategically doubtful existence and never ending transitions. Hence, with its superior military strategy, leadership quality and skilled management of state resources; one of the Khasan principalities called Gorkha invaded and captured several smaller feudal states. The Gorkha rulers’ move was not a national unification campaign. This was a military endeavor. They invaded, captured and annexed the territory, and in this process a greater and more powerful feudal state came into existence. Hence, Nepal was the product of this military endeavor lunched to establish a Hindu theocratic feudal state. Three factors contributed to achieve this goal. First, cohabitation of the people for several centuries in the past provided the base. Second, development of a common administrative mechanism by the Gorkha rulers helped to create a new political superstructure. And, the third, The collective bond created by the war fought against the British colonial invasion initiated the process of social convergence. In this way, the making of the greater Gorkha theocratic Hindu state provided the ground for the emergence of Nepal as a geographical, economic, psycho-emotional and administrative unit. Still, this was not the result of a national unification campaign as some Hindu-Khas historians and politicians say. Even today, Nepal has not developed as a nation-state and in the near future too, such possibility does not exist.   

Nepal is a multilingual, multinational, multicultural and multi-religious state having a diverse geo-physical composition. The people of Mangol-Kirat, Arya, Austric and Dravid origin inhabit. Similarly, the people speak more than 69 languages of Tibeto-Burman, Indo-European, Austric and Dravidian families. The major faiths include Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Bonpo and Kirat. Besides, Christianity, Lamaism, Jainism and Sikh also are the faiths, people follow. There are followers of folk-faiths or animism and shamanism (that include worship of nature Gods, tribal Gods and Goddesses such Masto, Bhuwani, Kuldeuta etc) and such believers could be in large number. But in absence of a scientific research, it is difficult to draw any conclusion. Unavailability of data has benefited the ruling Khas, more particularly the Bahuns to project the followers of folk-faiths including animism and Shamanism as Hindus.

The socio-economic and cultural foundation laid down by the ancient inhabitants, the Kirats, was further strengthened by the new comers – Mangols, Aryans, Austric and Dravidians. The Nepalese society as it exists today is the result of several factors briefly discussed above such as geo-physical composition, human interaction of different races, their cultural specialties and coexistence of several centuries.

The internal political, economic and cultural relationships among different forces within a society depend largely upon the class composition and the nature, characteristics and intensity of the prevailing contradictions among them in any specific time. In essence, the struggle between nationalities is an extended form of the class struggle. It has been, essentially, related to controlling the state power. The important factors are the character of classes who lead such struggle, their purpose and the context. If the bourgeois or petty bourgeois classes lead the movement, necessarily, its successful accomplishment will establish a capitalist state. Instead, if the proletariats in collaboration with the peasantry will lead the movement, the success may result in the form of establishing a socialist state.  Therefore, it would be necessary to understand the relationships among classes, nationalities and the state (James Blaut and Albert Sizamanski in Berberoglu, 1995: 4, 5). Indeed, the study of nationalism and national movements is not possible, de-linking them from the structure of the society and its class composition (Berberoglu, 1995: 2). Hence, any attempts or analysis remain incomplete if the existing relations among classes have not been taken into consideration. At least, a brief overview may be helpful to know the fundamentals of the class composition of Nepalese society, the contradictions among them and their impact on the problems of nationalities. With this limited objective, a brief historical account has been presented below.

Baburam Acharya, respected Nepalese historian, criticizes his fellow historians for their absence of objectivity and says:

The Nepalese and foreign historians, who tried to study the pre-historical and Kirat-era Nepal, have followed a strange path. With temptation to bringing the historical facts to light of that unknown period, they put forward the exaggerated stories about the imaginary supernatural actors such as Manjushree, Bodhisatwa, Krakuchchhanda-Buddha, Ne-Muni, the serpent king – Karkotak nag, Vanashur and king Dharmakar as historical facts. But, such exaggerated stories which have no objectivity and normal course could not be accepted as the basis for scientific history (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 23).

The ancient historical accounts could be summarized in the following points:

  • A fossil of a tooth of Ramapithecus has been found at Butwal. It is generally believed one million years old.
  • Chipped stone tools have been found in Kathmandu and Butwal. Researchers believe these tools are thirty to forty thousand years old.
  • About eight to ten thousands years ago, the human race (nomads) had a spread in the mountain valleys and southern plains. These nomads, afterward, might have been called as Kirats. This ancient tribe sounds the indigenous tribe of Nepal (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 9-10).
  • The Kirats might have started domesticating the animals and primitive agricultural activities. In this way, they could have developed settlements around six to seven thousand years ago (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 10).
  • Around four to five thousand years ago, in this region great social upheavals had taken place. Several groups of people of Tibeto-Burman origin came to this region and assimilated with the Kirats (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 10).
  • The Aryabartiya Aryans had arrived in Butwal region around 750 B.C. In this period the Kirats of Kathmandu called Nepars got some influence of Aryan culture through their Kirat cousins of the southern plains called Danuwar, Darai or Kumhal (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 15).
  •  The word “Nepal” has been used by Kautilya, the minister of Chandragupta Maurya (321-297 B.C.) in his book “Arthashastra” (The Economics). This is the first evidence of the use of this word. Kautilya has mentioned that in Magadha, “Bhingshi”, a woolen material and some other woolen products were brought from Nepal to sell (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 63).
  •  In the Hindu epic Mahabharat which was composed around 250 B.C., it has been mentioned that Bhimsen won seven Kirat chiefs. The event may or may not be true, but the epic gives some glimpses of the political situation at the time of writing. Out of these seven chiefs, one could be the Nepar ruler of Kathmandu. Among the others, one could be the Tharu ruler of the southern plains and rest five could be Thami and Khambu tribal chiefs in the eastern hills (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 21, 65).

 

In Nepal, the nomadic life might have ended around 700 B.C. The hunting and gathering age itself, conceived a new age. At the early days of that new age, the division of labor appeared in the society.

The Kirat tribal republics took shape. They were called “Gopal” (those who keep herd of cows) and “Mahishpal” (those who keep herd of buffalos) dynasties. These were the first tribal governance mechanisms in Nepal. The tribe was none other than the Kirats. The coin as a medium of exchange was developed during that period. Three coins believed that of around 700 B.C. have been found in Kathmandu and are kept in the collection of British Museum (Bhandari, 2046 V.S.: 28-29). This evidence provides enough ground to conclude that around 700 B.C. the ancient tribal republic had existed. The republics of three tribes might have been in existence. Among them, there could be one or more Nepar Kirat republics in Kathmandu and around it, the Lichchhivi republic in the middle Terai and the Tharu (Shakya) Kirat republic in the western Terai. These ancient tribal republics played progressive role up to 5th century.   

From the period covering 700 B.C. to 5th century AD, religion had been originated as the ideological base of feudalism.  In the Kirat -Tharu tribal republic of Kapilvastu; Buddhism emerged. The Lichchhivis brought Hinduism when they moved northward from the Gangetic plain called Aryabarta. They entered inside the present boundary of Nepal from the south around 700 B.C. It took a long time for them to overthrow the Kirat rule and to establish their own administration in Kathmandu valley. The Lichchhivi chief Jayadev (1st) established his rule in Kathmandu in 250 AD. The chief of the Lichhivi tribe was called king, but there was no monarchical system. The king was an elected tribal official. Up to the end of 4th century, the Lichhivi tribal republic continued and the chief was a Buddhist. The last elected Lichchhivi chief (king) Brishdev changed the tribal republic into a monarchy and also he declared his son Shankardeva as the crown prince. The successor of the thrown was converted to Hinduism from Buddhism (Acharya, 2054 V. S.: 15, 26). From this very event, Nepal started to enter into the transitional period to move to an era of feudal system. During this specific period, the agriculture system evolved and gradually developed as the major economic activity by replacing the hunting and gathering activities. Animal wealth became secondary source of livelihood and land got importance. As a result, individual ownership over land appeared. The Swayambhu inscription, believed as the oldest available inscriptions, has the mention of donation of land to individual from the state (Joshi, 2030 V. S.: 3). The Lichchhivi king Mandeva invaded the eastern tribal republics and the western one in Gandaki region and created a sound base for a unified feudal Hindu theocratic state. In the initial period of his rule, he used to be addressed as “Samanta” (feudal lord) but after these invasions and the victory over other tribes, he declared himself a “king”. This has been mentioned in his Changu inscription. He had been addressed as “Bhattarak Maharajashree Mandeva” (the great king Mandeva) during the days of later part of his rule (Joshi, 2030 V. S.: 58). In his inscriptions, many important information in regard to the construction of temples and management of land (such as donation, provision of irrigation, land rent) are available. The system of land rent was introduced, first time.  It has been mentioned, in the inscription of Pashupati, that to continue the regular religious rituals in the temple, a plot of land was donated to use on rental basis (Joshi, 2030 V.S.: 13-49). After the development of all these new production relations, the ancient tribal republican system was finally replaced by feudalism in the sixth century AD. More specifically, this change of the nature of the society occurred during the rule of Manadeva (463-506 AD). At this point, feudalism effectively developed and became governing ideology and system of production. Hence, Nepalese society changed fundamentally to feudal society. During that period, mostly the tribal faiths were replaced by religion; hunting and gathering activities were replaced by agriculture and animal husbandry; the tribal chief was replaced by a king and the animal wealth-base was replaced by agricultural land. In principle, all the land was owned by the feudal state. In practice, its total or partial ownership used to be transferred to the individuals, families or communities through donation, reward, rental arrangement and tax-contracts. The provisions also were introduced to govern the production relations between the landlords and the peasants. The autonomous organizations of the landlords such as Panchalis also appeared. These organizations were effective vehicles for local rule. The Lichchhivi rule created the basis for feudal socio-political mechanism and strengthened the monarchy. In summary, Nepal had entered into the phase of ancient tribal republic around 700 B.C. These tribal republics continued till the 5th century AD and from the 6th century, feudalism evolved as a progressive economic and political system.

The feudal social and political system had a history of more than 1400 years. Only, after the establishment of industrial as well as financial institutions such as Biratnagar jute mills and Nepal Bank Ltd in 1937, the capitalist mode of production appeared as an alternative to feudal system. The new capitalist production relation changed the role of different economic classes. Their nature also changed accordingly. From this period, feudalism and feudal relations of production started to play reactionary role.

Today, the Nepalese society has been experiencing the transition from feudalism to capitalism. The political, social and economic upheavals are the result of this transition. The entire society is passing through unprecedented pace of transformation. The transformation is dominantly taking the society forward. But, there has been no serious attempt to understand its pace. Even today, class composition of the society has not been studied properly. Also the political parties, who claim as the advocates of class politics, go by the conventional phraseology and are satisfied with chanting the age old slogan that “Nepal is a semi-feudal state”. This phrase has neither any objective justification nor it reflects the ground reality (Neupane, 1999: 12-16). Also, in the rural areas, the rental arrangement of land has nearly disappeared. The wage system is in practice. The landlords are seen only in exception. The wage is the governing basis for labor-employer relations even in agriculture. The low wages and extended working hours are the means of exploitation of the agriculture workers. Just being agriculture as the major occupation in the society is not a valid basis to conclude that feudal relation of production is dominant. Indeed, the major character of the relation of production in Nepal has been the capitalist relation, though it is in its final stage of transition. Accordingly, the roles of different classes and the contradictions among them have changed. In reality, in the Nepalese society, both, the essence and the form of class struggle have changed. Now, the major contradiction is among the classes of capitalist society and they are fighting against each other. Of course, the progressive political scientists, thinkers and the practitioners should study the society more objectively. .

The struggles in the society in areas of ideology, politics, attitudes and behaviors, have influenced the relations among classes. Now, Nepal is experiencing the struggles between antagonistic classes. The forms of struggles include the legal or non-legal and peaceful or violent. The people’s war also is in progress. Now, the new phenomenon of consolidation of power through protracted war and capturing state-power through a final assault of mass rebellion seems a feasible option. Today, the availability of multiple options and expansion of possibilities have widened scope for the movements. Therefore, the forces committed to attaining equity and social justice in relation to nationalities; also have several centers available to form a united front.  The unity of all oppressed is the most important factor. Hence, the oppressed nationalities should have alliance with the oppressed class and oppressed section of the society such as women. The alliance will emerge naturally. The combined working class power, women power and the non-Khas nationalities’ power, will dethrone the upper class male chauvinistic Hindu Khas rule. In such movement, the progressive elements within the Khas nationality also will certainly participate.

Chapter Two

 

Nationalities in Nepal

 

The society in Nepal is multicultural as several nationalities reside. They have different cultural traits, faiths and languages. But, Khas rulers negating this reality and try to project Nepal as a nation-state and arrogantly strive to impose their Khas-Hindu theocratic ideology, codes, values, faiths and practices over other nationalities. Different nationalities came to existence through a long process centered on collective behaviors, cohabitation, common language and social interactions resulting to a common economic life. The feeling of a nationality has been expressed either through common aspirations of unity within a state or alternatively, that can be seen in the attempts to selecting a course of total independence (Tamang, 2054 V.S.: 11-12). The aspirations and attempts vary depending on several factors that may include harmony among different nationalities and the social convergence among them. Also, the feeling of exclusion and isolation contributes largely for independence whereas the process of inclusion and participation strengthens cohabitation and convergence.

In Nepal, there are differences on the definition of the terms used to refer to different nationalities. The classification of nationalities is another controversial area. One school of thought divides the people into two broad categories – Aryans and Mangols. But, these are the human races and not nationalities. The second division puts people in two baskets – Tagadhari (those who wear Hindu “sacred” thread or upper caste Hindus) and Matwali (those who consume liquor). These, also are the social groups and not the nationalities. The third classification divides the people into, again, two groups – Pahade (people who reside in the hills) and Madhese (those who reside in the southern plains). These are the location specific groups. The Central Bureau of Statistics has prepared a list of 59 communities calling as “Caste/Ethnic Groups” (CBS, 1993: 1-2). Indeed, these are the custom groups or sub-nationalities.

In the beginning of the nineteenth century, Francis Buchanan Hamilton has written extensively about Magar, Tamang (Murmi), Kirat, Khas (the words such as Khasiya, Parbate, Parbate Hindu are also used as synonyms) and Newar. He has used the term “nations” while explaining about them. He has not stated clearly what he considered about Gurung or Lepchas, though he has mentioned about them too. He has stated that Bhote nationality has a spread in Tibet and Bhutan also. Although, he has written about Tharu, Rajbanshi, Gangai, Meche and Batar of Terai, but he has not stated the status in regard to their nationalities (Hamilton, 1819: 9-60).

Tony Hagen has also divided the Nepalese people into two categories – Nepalese of Tibetan origin and Nepalese of Indian origin. He has again divided the groups into two sub-groups each. The first group of Tibetan origin has been sub-divided as Tibetan group (Bhote, Sherpa, and Thakali) and indigenous Nepalese group (Newar, Tamang, Gurung, Magar, Sunuwar, Rai, Limbu, Budha, Ruka, Tharu). The Indian origin group has been, again, sub-divided into two – Nepalese group (Bahun, Chhetri, Khas, Thakuri) and Indian group (Gadhawali, Kumai and other “Indians in narrow sense”) (Hagen, 1980: 110). It sounds that by the term “Indians in narrow sense”, he refers to other people of Terai.  

Although, it is not clear where the classification is the result of a thoughtful analysis or it is used spontaneously, the Janajati Vikash Samanwaya Kendra (Coordination Center for the uplift of Nationalities) has put the people in six categories while analyzing the caste/nationality analysis of the government officers. The six groups are – Bahun, Chhetri, Newar, Janajati, Madhise and Muslim (Gurung et al, 1999: 4).

Another type of classification suggests that in Nepal there are Khas, Kirat (Limbu, Yakha, Rai, Hayu, and Sunuwar), Langhali (Magar, Thami, Chepang, Lapche, Kusunda, and Raji), and Tangan (Newar, Tamang, Gurung, and Tharu). Besides them a few Himalis and Tarayalis are also present (Pokharel, 2055 V.S.: 633).

While grouping the data, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), has put 29 sub-groups of people from Terai and after that it has mentioned a few smaller groups as “the other Tarai groups”. Tharu, Dhimal and Muslims also are included in this Terai group. The CBS seems just afraid to give a name to this group. In the same grouping, it has stated as Pahadi (Hill people) and Uchcha Pahadi (mountain people), but has given no names. In the Pahadi group Bahun, Chhetri, Thakuri and Sanyashi are in a row. (CBS, 1993: 1-20).

Janak Lal Sharma has said that there are the descendants of six groups of people in Nepal. They are – Negritos, Austro-Asian, Mangolkirat, Dravidian, Brityamunda and Aryans or Nordic. (Sharma, 2039: 40).

Perceval Landon has accepted the complexities in determining the nationalities in Nepal. He finds complications initiating the study adopting any approach, either taking the physiological commonalities or differences or the languages they speak or religions or custom or their bravery in battlefields. For him, the Newars in Kathmandu are the easiest to differentiate. But, because of assimilation of Thakurs (Rajputs) with other nationalities, it has been difficult to classify from Khas of Aryan origin to Murmis of Mongol origin. After accepting all such limitations, he has mentioned that there are Newar, Khas, Gurung, Magar, Murmi, Sunuwar, Rai and Limbu nationalities in Nepal. Among these nationalities, he has mentioned Gurung, Magar, Sunuwar and Murmi as Mangols and Rais and Limbus as Kiratis (Landon, 1928: Appendix xvii).

The brief review presented above signals the difficulties in determining the composition of the nationalities and their classifications. The nationalities question in Nepal has remained so complex due to the absence of extensive socio-cultural studies and analysis. Indeed, the understanding of this composition would lead to unearthing the factors related to inequity and pave the way to redress.

Basically, five factors play roles in the development of a nationality. They are – common geographical setting, common language, common culture, common economic relations and common mind-set. There is no rigidity that all these factors should be present to call some community as a nationality, but at least the differences should not hinder common economic, cultural and psychological aspects of their relations. If these five factors are in a supportive phenomenon, there would be the need to consider on two more critical factors. The first one is common decent or assimilation of a longer time period and the second one is the feeling, if any, generated through resistance against a common aggressor.  Therefore, the study of several groups of people by using the above criteria that five primary common basis and two other factors of common descend and common feeling generated against foreign aggression reveal the characteristics of a nationality. Indeed, nationality provides a specific group of people a distinct identity.  The studies specific to the composition of the society by using the above mentioned criteria as yardsticks, with some exceptions, there are five nationalities in Nepal. They are – Khas, Madhesi, Mangolkirat, Dalit and Newar (Neupane, 1999: 73, 74, 152). But, there has not been a general agreement of this fact. One major contributing factor that complicated the understanding on nationality is the Hindu social code of division of castes. The Nepali word Jati (nationality) is very close to Jat (caste). Hence, there is lots of confusion and misunderstanding between nationality (Jati) and caste (Jat).

People of some of the nationalities, due to inferior psycho state, feel defensive while saying the name of their nationality. One of the contributing is that due to the divisive psycho-cultural influence of the Khas, they rather say their sub-nationalities. Therefore, an analysis to establish the historical facts behind the naming of the nationalities becomes relevant. The analysis of their evolution as nationalities will follow the brief review of evidences on their naming.

Even after the assimilation of Aryabartian Aryas and the Aidi-Khas Aryan, the nationality was called Khas. Baburam Acharya says:

In Sanskrit literature, the Aryans always put them above the Kirat, Hun, Yawn and Sak . Due to its influence, the Khas kings of Baisi and Chaubisi principalities started to say “Thakur” or “Thakuri” for themselves. Other Khas, who were not related to the ruling dynasty, also got influence from their royal cousin. … Rana Prime Minister Jang Bahadur Kunwar asked people to say Chhetriya and Khas not only to his clan but also to the clans of his relatives such as Thapa, Basnet, Karki, etc . From now on, the feeling in using the word Khas, they feel inferior. Although, Kunwar, Thapa, Bista, Karki etc  claim themselves as the “Rajputs from India”;  that is not true. The same is true for the Brahmins (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 54-55).

The above conclusion simply revels that the Khas at the helm of absolute power started to say themselves as Thakuri, Chhetri and Rajputs. This was initiated by the Khas sub-groups – the Shahas and Ranas, and that spread to other sub-groups also. They started to say themselves as Bahun, Chhetri, Shahi, Giri, Puri etc.

The noted linguist Balkrishna Pokharel has put forward four reasons why the Khas do not like to say themselves as Khas. He says:

“The first reason could be that the word “Khas” in its shorter form or “Khas” is a Nepali word meaning “to fall down” or ” to die”. The second reason could be the members of the Khas society forgot their glorious past. The third reason could be that many other people were assimilated into Khas linguistic group who were not willing to identify themselves as khas. The fourth reason could be that in the Sanskrit literatures, the Khas nationality was projected as inferior one” (Pokharel, 2055 V.S.: 1)

Similarly, the people of hills such as Khas, Newar and Mangolkirats use an inferior term “Madhise” while addressing the people of Madhesi nationality. These people of hill origin use the word “Madhise” to humiliate them. The Madhesi intellectuals still believe that the people of hill origin have such psycho-state and use the word with that purpose (Nepali, 1995: 35). Therefore, the Madheshi nationality has shown reluctance to use the word “Madhesi”.

Mangolkirats have been lured to a nationality-neutral word called “Janajati“. Janajati has been translated as “nationality” into English. If the word is used in this way, then a question arises that why Khas, Newar, Dalit or Madhesi are not accepted as Janajatis (nationalities)? In Nepali, the word Janajati is used to refer the indigenous community of people. Some prominent organizations of Mangolkirat nationality have been attempting to familiarize the word limiting its use for some specific sub-nationalities or custom groups. The federation of nationalities is the leader among them. Either this organization should be a federation of all nationalities in Nepal or they have to rename the federation as “Federation of Associations of Oppressed Nationalities.”  The narrow sub-national vision might have played a role to attract the leaders of Mangolkirat nationalities to this innocent looking neutral word. Indeed, the people of Mangolkirat nationalities have no inferior feeling in the use of the word “Mangolkirat”. They are not using the word that frequently only because they have no clarity and also the confusions created by the diversities originated from the differences of characteristics of different custom groups among them. When they use the term, again, there is the difficulty in defining and the classifying the term in right perspective.

Newars also introduce themselves through the name of their sub-groups or surnames. The Khas address them as “Nyar” to humiliate them. Perhaps, Newars thought better to create distance with this word. Another reason could be that the introduction of Hindu caste system among the Newars created the superior-inferior feeling among themselves and there was the  need to differentiate the ‘high caste’ Newar from the so-called lower castes. Therefore, the so-called high caste Newars thought to have a better replacement and started to use the surnames. The so-called lower castes also tried to find out some words which may hide their sub-group’s name. With a negative load created by such attitudes and tendencies, the Newars tried to escape from using the word.

Only the Dalits feel good while using the word of their nationality. This could be so as the word was selected by themselves for them. More recently, by taking the advantage of the similarity in their surname with the Khas, some educated Dalits have shown a tendency to project themselves as Khas. In such a way, they hide their own nationality, more particularly to escape from the pain created by Hindu social order.

This is interesting that all nationalities with exception of the Dalits try not to identify with the name of their nationality. But, this type of situation would result to more confusion. The complex situation originated from the confusion would be helpful to the clever Khas to continue  harvesting the benefits. Therefore, the Khas will attempt to magnify differences within a nationality and also among oppressed nationalities. They will feel never tired to talk about assimilation. These Khas acts will help them to prolong their control and domination. The artificial situation created by the escape of the word identifying the nationalities would not change the lives of the people of oppressed nationalities and that will not help to improve relations among nationalities. They will understand the truth, may be, belatedly.

The above analysis signals to the complexities created by the presence of different linguistic groups, diversity in cultural practices, different types of sub-groups based on descend and the multiplicity of definitions, classifications and groupings. Also, different sociologist, anthropologists and other researchers name them differently which added more confusions and complexities. The government structures are under the control of the Khas. Therefore, all the time they promote divisions. The mass psychology has also been created in such a way that by introducing with the surname, an individual feels comfort. Such influence can be seen in the use of the words as “yonjan”, “Bomjan” etc. They do not prefer to say the name of their sub-nationality which is “Tamang” and will not use the term of their nationality, which is Mangolkirat. The same is applicable among Limbus, a Mangolkirat sub-nationality. They use the surnames such as “Lawoti”, “Linkha” etc. The use of the word what they like is very good. But, the divisive tendencies are harming their interests.  All this has contributed to strengthen and continue the Khas domination. Therefore, the discussion on the silent features of different nationalities becomes one of the most important tasks. In such analysis, the similarities among them need deeper study. It has to be made clear that in this analysis the different nationalities will be addressed by their original name. The intention is not that the names should be imposed on them; rather this is the acceptance of the reality.

Nationalities

  • Mangolkirat
  • Khas
  • Dalit
  • Newar
  • Madhesi

 

Besides, the nationalities mentioned above, another 1.1% of the population is categorized as “the other”. During the census of 1991, several very small groups were put together. A large majority of them or around 1% might belong to Mangolkirat nationalities. In such scenario, the Mangolkirat population may increase by another 1%. In this study, their number is kept separate as “others”.

a. Mangolkirat:

 

According the reputed historian Baburam Acharya, Kirats were the first inhabitants and the indigenous people of Nepal. They belong to Austro-Asian groups. Some of the early trends of the movements of the people signal that about four to five thousand years ago, groups of people of Tibeto-Burman branch of the same Austro-Asian origin might have come to Nepal via Burma. These people did not come in one group but they came in several groups taking a time spread of several centuries. Therefore, they could not continue their separate identity and assimilated with the indigenous Kirats (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 9-17). In this way, the assimilation of the Mangol immigrants with the indigenous Kirats provided the basis for the Mangolkirat nationality. The process of assimilation took centuries.

Noted scholar Janaklal Shrma says “up to second century B.C., Kirats were the ruling tribe. ….. Mangols also influenced the Nepali culture. It is better to say Mangolkirat, rather than Mangol. …..There is Mongol influence on Rai, Limbu, Gurung, Magar, and Tharu and also the Kirat influence is visible among the Mangols. Therefore, we have addressed the entire nationality as Mangolkirat” (Sharma, 2039 V.S.: 39, 45, and 46).

According to historian Prem Bahadur Limbu, though the Kirats lost control over Kathmandu valley around 266 B.C. to Lichchhivis, the territory east of Banepa was under their control (in Yakharai, 2053 V.S.: 216). The Kirats of the east lost several territories to the Sen Kings of Palpa during sixteenth century and they were defeated by Gorkha king Prithvinarayan in 1831 V.S. He annexed the territories in the Nepal. Similarly, the Mangolkirat (Gurung and Magar) principalities in Gandaki region lost to the Khas kings of Gorkha. In this way, Mangolkirats did not only loose control of their territorial rule, they had to struggle hard to protect their culture, values, means of survival and the resources from the invading Khas.

The Kirat historian and scholar Imansingh Chemjong has stated that during the 4th century, a Mongol invading force of 50,000 fighters attacked the Kirat territories. The Kirats defeated the Mongol invaders. After the defeat, the Mongols spread in the hills and mountains and assembled with the Limbu-Khambu sub-groups of the Kirats. They transformed into a single nationality after a long process of assimilation (Chemjong, 2026 V.S.: Ka to Cha).

According to the reputed anthropologist Dorbahadur Bista, Tamangs, Rais, Limbus, Magars, Gurungs, Sherpas, Thakalis, Bhotes, Sunuwars, Chepangs, Thamis, Jirels and Lepchas are the descendants of Kirat (Bista, 1991: 17).

In the beginning of the nineteenth century, Francis Buchanan Hamilton has written extensively about the people of Nepal. He has stated the following:

  • In Nepal, Khat-Bhotes had their rule before Newars.
  • Magar are Tibetan descendants.
  • Gurungs have been residing together with Magars. They are same as the Magars except their movements. As they raise ships, they go to the hills during summer and come down to the low lands during winter.
  • Lepchas could be Murmies by birth. They eat beef.
  • The Rajputs compelled the Kirats to adopt the Hindu rituals after defeating them. They also had to give up those practices which were considered contraband to Hindu practices. The Kirats had to utilize the services of Hindu-Bahuns to perform their rituals. The Kirats had a major disagreement with the Gorkha Hindu Khas victors in regard to the prohibition on eating beef. The chief of Kirats was in exile.
  • Murmi and Bhotes may not have the common descent.
  • The Gorkhalis use the derogatory term “Siyane Bhote” or “Bhote” addressing to the Murmis. Due to the ban on cow slaughter, they can only eat the beef, if a cow has died naturally. They eat the delicacies with great taste when they get the opportunity of eating beef.
  • Before the migration of Rajputs; Magars, Gurungs, Jariyas, Newars, Murmis, Kirats, Limbus, Lepchas and Bhotes had inhabited on the east of Kali River (Hamilton, 1819: 25, 27, 52, 53, 54, 55, 59).

 

Janajati Vikash Samanwaya Kendra (Coordination Center for Uplift of Nationalities) has published a booklet more recently. The authors of the booklet have defined the term “Janajati” as mentioned below:

“Generally the words Janajati (nationality) and Adibashi (the indigenous people) are used as synonyms. Of course, Janajati is related to social composition and Adibashi has its relation with time period. The word Janajati or Jati refers to the group of people outside of caste system and Adibashis are the ancient inhabitants or the indigenous people. In the context of Nepal, Janajatis are the groups of people who have their own specific territory,  language, religious custom and culture, whereas Jat (caste) refers to the people who have a division of lower or upper social hierarchies, who speak Indo-European language and who believe in and practice Hindu religion and culture.   Another notable difference is that the majority of Janajatis are the Mangol/Kirats whereas all the people of Jat have Caucasian descent.  …. The invasion of Janajati’s territory, expansion of Nepali language, Hindu domination on religion and culture and politico-economic exploitation of Janajatis are the facts in Nepal today. These are the reasons that the majority of Janajatis have been in a state of backwardness (Gurung et al, 1999: 1)

The definition above accepts that the majority among the Janajatis are Mangol/Kirats. The definition has analyzed very well the development of common feeling and the common political, economic and cultural reasons behind the development of Janajatis (Mangolkirats). Indeed, the Khas invasion of their ancestral land, the suppression of Tibeto-Burman languages, Hinduization of the society and politico-economic exploitations of centuries are the reasons behind the evolution of Mangolkirat as a nationality. Indeed, the origin and development of Mangolkirats as a nationality is the psychological, political, economic and cultural response to the all out invasion of the Khas. Although, the infrastructures in the form of common ancient history, commonality of cultural practices, common racial origin, and common source of their language were already present. The factors that existed already in the form of social infrastructure and the originated out of the Khas invasion, contributed together in the formation of a modern Mangolkirat nationality. Therefore, the contributors in the formation of Mangolkirat nationality include the common historical backgrounds and the common feelings of the people against the Khas invasion.  

The above analysis provides the background of its origin and evolution as a Nationality. Most of the custom groups within the nationality are the ancient inhabitants of Nepal. All of them have experienced the atrocities committed by the invading Khas. All of them have faced the cultural domination of Hinduism. All the custom groups had the matriarchy for a certain period of time in the past. All the custom groups have descended from Mongols or Kirats. The process of assimilation continuing for centuries, took them to the stage of full fledged nationality after the Khas invasion on all aspects of their life including language, culture, custom, eating habits etc. Now, due to confusions created by Khas’ divisive actions and narrow vision originated from the deference seen on their observance of some cultural practices, they are trying to find out a neutral name for their nationality and some of the leading scholars and organizations have put forward the term “Janajati”. With some exceptions, all the groups which they say “Janajatis” are the Mangolkirat custom groups. All the custom groups within this nationality have passed through century’s long assimilation process and, basically, they assimilated with the indigenous Kirats. Therefore, if they say just Kirat instead of Mangolkirat, might be, that would be even better. They have to make the decision themselves. Harshabahadur Budhamagar, a Magar scholar, has given the name of his book “Kirat nation and the Magars”. In this book he has presented the study on the Magars. He proudly says “… Kirats have their own glorious history, culture, literature and custom. They have their own past and future” (Budhamagar, 2049 V.S.: 450). Such assessments certainly strengthen the bond among different custom groups of Mangolkirat nationality. The percentage of Mangolkirats in the population of Nepal is 22.2.

As discussed earlier, Mangolkirats have been influenced by deferent languages they speak, custom group centered narrow perspectives and some differences seen in the observance of some cultural practices. Due to such influences, many people of this nationality do not say themselves as Mangolkirats. Janaklal Sharma has placed Tamang, Magar, Gurung, Limbu and Rais within Mangolkirat nationality. Rahul Sankrityayan also has put forward his conclusion closer to that of Sharma. Sankrityayan says that Lahul, Malana (Kullu), Kanaur, Marachha (Gadhwal), Magar, Gurung, Sunuwar, Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Yakha (Nepal) and Lepcha (Sikkim) are the Kirats of hill areas who speak their own languages. The Tharus of the plains forgot their language (in Sharma, 2039 V.S., 2039: 291). Newars grouped together within Kirat nationality by Rahul Sankrityayan have developed as an independent nationality. 

The custom groups within the Mangolkirats include Gurung, Tamang, Magar, Limbu, Rai, Sherpa, Thakali, Sunuwar, Bote, Danuwar, Chepang, Thami, Majhi, Kumal, Darai, Jirel, Lepcha, Raji, Raute and Byashi. They have several languages. Among their major languages, which are spoken by more than 1% of Nepal’s population include Gurung, Magar, Tamang, Limbu and Rai languages. All these languages belong to Tibeto-Burman language group. Thami, Raji, Bote, Chepang, Majhi and Danuwar are the most backward custom groups among Mangolkirats. Their illiteracy rate in 1991 was above 75%. The women illiteracy rate was even worse, and that was 85% and above (CBS, 1993: 325-328). 

Mangolkirat people are famous for their rich culture. The Dhannach of the Limbus, Chandinach of Rais, Rodi of Gurungs and Chabrung of Tamangs are some of the fine examples traditional folk dances. The Thankas (unique form of painting) and carpets are the master pieces of their creative art work. Their individual, family and community relations are free from complications as they are liberal, flexible and have an attitude which promotes mutual respect. Women are more independent and enjoy better position compared to Khas and Madhesis. Due to extravagant custom (for example Ghewa, a ritual performed after the death of a person, among the Tamangs), too simplistic approach towards own situations, luxurious life styles and ultra heroic behaviors; they have become much sought after targets for exploitation. The Khas, Newars and Khas state and foreign colonial governments (example Gurkha brigade in British army) exploit the energy and resources of the people of Mangolkirat nationality.

Generally, they inhabit in the mountain and hill areas. Their dresses include Bhoto-Kachhad (short shirt and plain cloth covering their body from waist to knee), shirt-trousers and Bakhkhu (thick jacket) for men and Lungi-cholo (blouse and colorful cloth which covers the lower part of the body) and Sari-cholo (mainly colorful, long, unstitched garment covering the lower part of the body and full sleeve blouse) for women. Some men also wear Daura-Suruwal ((waist-folded, long sleeve shirt and tight trousers).  In towns and cities and also in rural areas, Kurta-Surwal (long frock and loose trouser) among girls and Shirt-trouser among boys have become popular, more recently. Even, a few girls could be seen wearing shirt-trouser in urban areas.

On religion, they are quite tolerant to other faiths. They perform traditional rituals. They believe either in animism or in Kirat religion or in Bonpo or in Buddhism.  A few among them are Hindus and atheists. The Khas state has projected a large number of the Mangolkirat people as Hindus just to justify the Hindu theocratic nature of Nepali state.  This is a conspiracy of the Hindu-Khas state.

Agriculture is the major occupation of a large majority of people. Collection and processing of forest products, production of traditional agricultural implements, labor work, recruitment in the army (including in British and Indian army) are other occupations. A small number of people have started to appear in the civil service, private sector and academic areas.

The Hindu-Khas classification places this nationality at the bottom of the social hierarchy. They are grouped together as Sudras. But the provisions applicable to other Sudras such as untouchability have not been implemented for them. This may have happened due to either the Khas did not dare or they did not found it fit to implement. Therefore, they were clustered as touchable Sudras or Sudras of a higher status. The reasons contributing to such arrangement may include the fear factor among the Khas originated from ultra heroic tendencies and behaviors of the Mangolkirats, the attraction among the rulers of the beauty of Mangolkirat girls and a few Mangolkirats’ (Gurung, Magars) participation in the Gorkha-Khas rulers’ military campaign launched for the expansion of Gorkha state. Therefore, by calling them Sudras of higher status, in practical sense, the Hindu-Khas Bahuns have put them in the place equal to that of Baishyas. Today, a large majority of people including the progressive elements among the Khas reject such classification and are firmly standing in favor of equality among nationalities.

Mangolkirats have more objectivity in regard to their outlook whether that is the reality of their own life or something which is related to the larger outer world. The Khas in Majhkirat (a region in eastern Nepal) use to tell a story to show the stupidity of the people of Manolkirat nationality. According to them a Rai (Mangolkirat) lady was weeping in the month of January. One Bahun (Khas) lady asked the reason of her weeping. The Rai lady replied that her husband died in the month of August. But, that was a busy month for planting paddy. Soon after, several festivals followed. Then, the time of harvesting kept her busy.  Therefore, she could not get time to mourn and now she is doing so. Although, this is an imagination of Bahuns to project the Rais as arrogant, but this revels the thought process among the Rais which is free from hundreds of rituals introduced in the society courtesy to fatalistic beliefs of the Bahuns. At least the story above proves that the Bahuns have accepted this reality. Similarly, women have a better status among them and they are liberal, tolerant and joyous people.

b. Khas

 

The area of Kashmir and the region to its north west was called Idabritta. The people who were called Khas-Arya, who came from Idabrita to inhabit to the area east of it are believed a branch of the people of Aidi-Aryans. The mentions about Khas are available in Mahabharata, Manusmriti and Purans (Acharya, 2054 V.S., 50-51). The Aryabartiya Aryans who developed the system of Varna-Byavastha or caste system migrated from the southern plains to Nepal and came in contact with their hill cousin, the Aidi Khas Aryans. These two branches of Aryans assimilated for centuries and formed the modern Khas nationality. According to Janaklal Sharma the Khas entered inside Nepal at the beginning of the first century AD. After adopting Hinduism they not only got the status of Cherty but also became Bahuns (Sharma, 2039 V.S.: 85).  Therefore, the term Chhetri-Bahun is widely used, but this does not represent the total Khas nationality.

Baburam Acharya says “the group of people who speak Khas or Parbatia or Nepali language and does not consider as Kirats or Austro-Asian, could be called Khas. The ancient social system has divided Khas into three groups such as Bahuns, Chhetris and Sudras…. The first two groups are called Tagadhari as they wear Janai (‘holly’ thread) and the third is called Matwali as the people of this group drink liquor (Acharya, 2054V.S.: 54).

Francis Buchanan Hamilton has also used the terms “Khasiya”, “Parvate” and “Parvate Hindu” as the synonyms for the Khas (Hamilton; 1819: 10, 18, 19, 23).

B.D. Sanwal has stated that the Bahun and Chherties of the hills whose origin is Aryan are the Khas (Sanwal, 1993: 17).

Bal Krishna Pokharel has classified the Khas into three categories – 1. Mahanta, Pujari and Bahun (priest) group,  2. Chhetri and Thakuri (rulers and warrior) group and, 3. Gharti, Pawai and Pahani (service provider) group. The terms Mahanta and Pujari also include Sanyasi and Jogi. Pawais are in Karnali region and also called Matwali Chhetri (Pokhrel, 2055 V.S. 653-55).

The Aryabartiya Aryans entered inside the boundary of present-day Nepal about 750 BC. They came to Butwal-Lumbini region and from there moved to Kathmandu valley around 2nd century. The first new comers to Kathmandu were the Bijjis or Briji or Lichchhavis. They established their tribal republic in Kathmandu by overthrowing the Kirat tribal republic from the valley. Similarly, Aidi-Khas Aryans had made a strong presence in the far western region of Nepal during the 10th century. Nagraj, an influential Khas king established a monarchy in Jumla region making Senjapuri, its capital. In this way a Khas kingdom came into being around middle of the 11th century. The kings of this dynasty have introduced themselves as “King of Khas” or “King of Khas kingdom”. The Khas had their control over a large territory which had a boarder with Nepal (or Kathmandu valley) in the east and Gadhwal in the west (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 26, 51, and 52). Bahun, Chhetri, Thakuri and Sanneshi are the custom groups of Khas nationalities. They are 31.6 % of the total population of Nepal.

Hamilton has stated that during his field study in 1802-3, the Parvate or Khas language which the inhabitants of surrounding areas of Kathmandu spoke, was spreading fast and other local dialects were disappearing. The Khas language originated and developed in Khasan region got fast expansion as the Gorkha-Khas rule spread. Gradually, by replacing several local dialects, it developed as a lingua franca of the hills. The Rana Prime minister Chandra Sumsher, through a royal order nullified the legitimacy of any written document if they are not in Khas or Nepali language. Before this order, Nepali language was not compulsory in legal and administrative use (Malla, 1979: 143). The government started organized effort for the promotion of Nepali language by establishing “Gorkha Bhasa Prakashini Samiti” (Gorkha Language Publication committee) in 1913. Nepali art and literature had the opportunity to develop fast after the establishment of Royal Nepal Academy in 1957. For the expansion of opportunity, the protection and promotion of their mother tongue, Khas language or Nepali as it is said today, offered advantages for the Khas to leave behind other nationalities. The use of their mother language for legal, administrative and communication activities, the Khas got unequal advantages and had competitive edge. Not only it helped in expanding the opportunities for them, but also created mass psychology of their superior social status over other nationalities.   Some of the Khas historians claim that “the people including the Bhotes and Sherpas who reside in the far northern mountainous region and the people who are in the far south and whose mother tongue is either Bhojpuri or Avadhi or Maithili understand and speak Nepali language correctly (Bhandari, 2046 V.S.: 13). This statement does not reflect the reality. This is just the expression of Khas chauvinistic mindset. Among the Khas, more particularly in Khasan region, some people speak local dialects such as Doteli and Baitadeli which are local forms of Nepali.

In general, the Khas believe in Hinduism. But, not all are Hindus. Many Khas, mostly in Khasan region, worship either a nature God or believe on ancestral Gods, called “Mastos” and “Bhuvani”. Still, a large majority of Khas excluding Thakuri custom group, do not celebrate “Dashain”, the main Hindu festival in Nepal. Some people say that Dashain, is not celebrated due to the fear of local feudal lords (Pandey, 2056 V.S.: 1). Such conclusion has no basis to believe. The Khas have projected and propagated “Dashain” as the “Great National Festival”. But, their so-called national festival has no meaning for a large number of people in Khasan. This fact leads to the reality that many Khas in Khasan region have nothing to do with Hinduism. In this region “Masto” has widespread influence. Of course, “Masto” is a popular village God. “Masto” has no idol. They are worshiped in two places – Gharthan (place of worship in the village) and Banthan (place of worship in the jungle). They do not have any daily regular rituals. The nature-God worshiping Khas believe that there are 12 “Masto” brothers and 9 “Bhuvani” sisters. They worship at least one “Masto.” The names of the “Mastos” and “Bhuwanis” differ. The Khas believe that these “Mastos” have a destructive nature (Joshi, 2035 V.S.: 127-33). The tradition of “Masto worship” sounds a specific indigenous practice of Nepali Khas (Pokharel, 2055 V.S.: 644).

Although, a large number of the Khas of Khasan region have been influenced by Hinduism, they have not converted to Hinduism. Therefore, they worship the popular village God – the Masto and they do not believe in the story of heaven and hell. The other Khas, who have been influenced by the Hindu Aryabatiyan Khas, have adopted these “Mastos” as their local Gods. This is the continuation of their act of sponsoring Gautam Buddha as one of the incarnation of their own God Vishnu. Therefore, the religious beliefs of the Khas of Khasan region needs further study. Probably they practice animism (worship of inanimate objects and natural phenomenon) and shamanism (the use of shamans or priests to influence these gods of nature). The study will not only establish facts about the beliefs of the people, but also will help to enrich the understanding on the values and cultural specialties of this region.

The culture of the Khas, except in Khasan region, is highly influenced by Hinduism. In Khas region, the ancient Aide Khas practices are common.

Daura-Surwal (waist-folded, long sleeve shirt and tight trousers) is the dress of the Khas men, whereas women wear Sari-Cholo (mainly colorful, long, unstitched garment covering the lower part of the body and full sleeve blouse). Combination of Daura-suruwal and jacket has been given the status of a national dress for men. But, as it is not comfortable to wear, more particularly in the hot climate of the southern plains, now it has got just refugee by covering the bodies of the ministers, bureaucrats and the other infamous personalities. Indeed, the progressive Khas who know to wear cloth for comfort and style have adopted the shirt and trouser. Mostly, women wear Sari-Cholo, but the recent trend is that they have been moving to Kurta-Salwar (ladies’ shirt and trousers). A few educated women in the urban areas wear the western dresses too.

A large majority of the Khas depend on agriculture for their means of survival. The Khas have much larger access to and control over government and nongovernmental jobs. They have been in areas of industry, commerce and service sectors. The people of Bahun custom group are self-employed as priests all over Nepal and the Chhetri custom group has a large presence in the army, including its access to British and Indian army. Although, the Khas have access to opportunity and control over resources, there are a large number of poor and marginalized people among them. Mainly, the Khas people who reside in the Khasan region are in such situation of misery. The low income and marginalized Khas people in this region are subjected to political and economic exploitations primarily by their Thakuri cousins. The difficulties due to the geo-physical composition of the Khasan region have added to the misery of the low income Khas people.

According to Hindu caste hierarchy, the Khas are at the highest level of social order. But the Khas nationality is sitting over a volcano as it has imposed its superior status and has totalitarian control over the governance which has earned enemies in the form of all other oppressed nationalities and its own progressive section. If the Khas will not change the attitude and do not accept the path of partnership with other nationalities, they may have to see the dark days.

The Khas philosophy regarding life, death and larger world is primarily influenced by Hinduism. The Hindu system of social order, geo-physical compositions of their habitat and inter-nationality effects have contributed to the Khas outlook.  Although, the Khas culture originated in the Khasan region in the Karnali belt had a strong influence of native faiths, after the contact with their Aryabartiya cousins, the Hindu beliefs and values started to dominate their cultural lives. Therefore, among the ancient Aide Khas, some adopted Hinduism and some got just influence of it.  Hence, the everyday life and thinking of Hindu Khas has been highly influenced by the Hindu belief of fatalism. The rituals, custom, practice and festivals have been influenced by fatalistic beliefs. Hence, may it be the occasion of celebration or victory or defeat, a fatalistic Khas sings glory of his or her master – the God, who has all the power, joys and compassion. In this way, a conservative Khas prays the God and gets refuge in fatalism.

c. Dalit:

According to the Hindu code called Manushmriti (8/415), seven types of people have been put together as Sudras, the lowest level in the social order. They are:

1. Prisoners of war,

2. Slaves who have accepted slavery as means of survival,

3. Sons of a slave women servant,

4. Purchased individuals,

5. Individuals received as part of a religious gift,

6. Children of a slave father, and

7. Those who are declared as Sudras as a punishment by the king.

(Yakharai, 2053 V.S.: 124).

The so-called lower caste among Aryas and the defeated non-Aryans were called Sudras. They had been put in two categories – touchable and untouchable. The touchable Sudras were called Satsudra and untouchables were called Asatsudra. Satsudras included the custom groups such as Rais, Limbus, Gurungs, Magars, Tamangs, Tharus etc and the Asatsudras or the so-called untouchables include Kami, Damai. Sarki, Pode, Chyame, Kasai, Gaine, Badi, Musahar etc.

The dalit nationality is, in essence, the group of people clustered as untouchables. According to Baburam Acharya the Aryans use to bring in their fold to the defeated Kirats as untouchables in the beginning (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 14). This statement leads to the conclusion that the Dalits are not only the descendents of the Khas-Aryans but also they have Mangolkirat blood too. The custom groups who have been suffering from the inhuman practice of untouchability based on Hindu caste hierarchy called Varnasharam include Kami, Damai, Sarki, Badi, Gaine, Pode, Chyame, Chamar, Musahar, Dushad etc. They are also called as “Pahani“. Among the Pahanis, there are several occupational sub groups such as Sujero (tailors), Gaine (Musicians and singers), Badhi (dancers), Damai (tailors) and Sarki (Shoemakers) (Pokharel, 2055 V.S.: 656). The Pahanis are the untouchables descended from the Khas whereas some of the other groups such as Chyame and Pode belong to Newar nationality and Chamar, Musahar and Dusadh are the people of Madhesi nationality. Therefore, in this study the so-called untouchables of Khas descend are analyzed separately as Dalits and the other so-called untouchables are included in the respective sections of their  nationalities. The so-called untouchables have been deprived of all sorts of respect from the larger society.

The reasons behind the study of the evolution of Dalits as a distinct nationality are as given below:

  • Their numerical presence
  • Special social position and the psycho make up, and
  • Their history of common struggle.

 

Indeed, the common basis for the formation of the Dalit nationality includes the Khas-Hindu atrocities against their survival, development and choices as an individual, family and a community. The Khas crushed every desire of their independent social existence. Therefore, they had no choice other than to fight against all sorts of Khas cruelties. In this way, the common bond developed through the participation in the process, and they developed as a distinct nationality.  The Dalits are 8.7% of the population of Nepal.

The mother tongue of Dalits also is Nepali. It is astonishing that on one side the Nepali speaking Khas control the resources and govern the society whereas the same language speaking Dalits have been facing all sort of difficulties, miseries and atrocities. The fact revels that though the language plays an important role in the progress of a nationality, but that alone could not ensure progress. Bahunbad[1], the cruelest form of the ideology of Hindu social order, has influenced the Dalits too, to create feelings of social inequality even among themselves. This type of divisions created distance for a long time and the Khas-Hindus had the opportunity to rule over them even more inhumanly. As a result, it took long time for them to get organized and to fight collectively against the Khas-Hindu slavery.

The Dalits who are kept extremely busy and have been given no choices, could not make their cultural life rich. Therefore, they do not have any festivals, joyful days or cultural riches. The provisions made by the Hindu-Khas prevented them even to touch the water pots, compelled them to develop distinctly inferior psycho-state and limited their social roles to the desires of their upper class Hindu masters.  Of course, they are rich in cultural skills, but are in a position just to utilize their skills on the need of the Khas masters. They perform to satisfy the need of Khas by dancing, singing or staging the dramas.

The Dalits differ with the Khas in the area of food habits. The Khas refrain from eating beef or drinking alcohol, whereas the Dalits enjoy such drinks and delicacies. The Dalits make artistic metal wares, agricultural implements, leather goods, and they also design and stitch dresses. They compose music and perform dances. But, unfortunately they make all such wonderful things and offer entertainment items for others, more particularly the Hindu-Khas masters.

Although, the dresses the Dalits wear are similar to what the Khas wear, but the quality of cloth is greatly inferior. Now-a-days, the educated Dalits, more particularly in the towns, wear western dresses.

The Khas say that Dalits are the Hindu untouchables. They keep them at the bottom of the religious hierarchy and prohibit observing any of the Hindu rituals. The great need here is to conduct a research to determine how the Dalits feel about being Hindu slaves. By judging through an independent viewpoint it is hard to believe that the Dalits think themselves as Hindu untouchables as Hinduism has not offered anything for them other than disrespect, inhuman torture, unimaginable difficulties and a way of self-destruction.  Of course, Hinduism has closed the door of self-esteem, progress and equality for the Dalits. Therefore, until the Hindu-Khas conservatives do not appoint a Dalit as the high priest of Pashupatinath (a highly revered Hindu temple in Kathmandu), nobody believes the propaganda of the Bahuns that Dalits are the Hindus. Collectively as a nationality, Dalits are secular. Further study on this issue could help to understand new aspects of their secular values and belief systems.

As their origin has been related to specific occupation, they are very much skilled in specific skills. Every custom group has its specific area of specialization. The people of some custom group design and stitch cloths some make shoes, some perform dances and some of them are composers and singers. This has not been continuing as that is their choice but as the Bahuns created compulsions for them to continue the specific task and on the long run this became a hereditary occupation. Due to difficulties to meet their survival needs by just confining in their traditional areas of specialization, they have started to work as agriculture laborers. Also, a few of them have just entered in the government and nongovernmental jobs.

The Hindu caste system has been a curse for them and their whole life has just been under the control of high caste Hindu-Khas. The Hindu-Khas legal system, which was part and parcel of the state legal system till 1960, had provisioned strict punishments for them if they dared to disobey the Khas or if they commit even minor crimes. They had to face more severe punishment for the same crime than a Khas. For centuries, they had to live for the Khas, according to the desire of the Khas and by doing the job asked by the Khas. That was their destiny. Also today, strange type of discriminations against them exists. For example, in Chainpur, the district headquarters of Bajahng, a major annual festival cum market activity used to take place for 15 days regularly. The place is very close to Chainpur Bazaar. During the days of the festival cum annual market, no Dalit is allowed to walk on the foot trail keeping the market place in lower height. The Khas believe that if they will walk through a higher altitude, the food items in the market could be impure. So, the Dalits could not walk on the regular trail as it is on higher altitude. Therefore, they have to take a longer and difficult pathway along the bank of a river. This was still in practice in 1998 AD. This strange practice reveals the atrocities the Dalits have been suffering. The interventionist and destructive Khas attitude and behaviors have made the survival of the Dalits very difficult even at this modern age.  The Dalits themselves also have become accustomed to accepting inferior treatment as they are in such environment for centuries. Therefore, they have to fight against, both, their inferior thinking and Khas atrocities. They have to wage struggle against the Hindu-Khas bondage, more particularly the most conservative aspect of Hinduism in Nepal – the Bahunbad (the Varnasram as prescribed in Manushmriti, and inhuman provisions added by the Bahuns). They have to destruct the unjust social order created by the Bahuns to benefit themselves and their other Hindu-Khas cousins.

d. Newar

 

Although, Lichchhivis defeated the Kirat tribal republic of Kathmandu, but they were a tiny minority and were not able to dominate the indigenous Nepar-Kirat (or Newar) culture. So, they adopted several Nepar-Kirat cultural practices and their language and become some type of semi-Kirats. In this way, assimilation of Aryan and Kirat culture provided the foundation of a new Newar nationality. The second invasion from the south, this time by the Vaisya Thakuris, defeated the Lichchhivis and prohibited them to get employment on government services. The Lichchhivis, who had adopted Buddhism long ago, were skillful in several life skills and commercial activities and had established control in such areas. Therefore, the Lichchhivies who were overthrown by the Thakuris had to go for agricultural activities. It is highly probable that the Jyapus of Kathmandu are the descendants of these Lichchhivis. Till today, the Jyapus who are Newars and have agriculture as their major occupation (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 26-71). The term “Newa” or “Newar” has been used since 15th century. Although, there is no unanimity regarding the origin of the term “Newar”, it is certain that the nationality was the result of the process of assimilation of several centuries of different tribes (Nepali, 1965: 18, 34).  Hamilton also has stated the presence of several custom groups within Newars and has written on their culture. He has appreciated the Newar architecture, more particularly the wood carvings of the windows (Hamilton, 1819: 38). The Newars are 5.57% of the population of Nepal.

The Newars speak their own language. Although, they have the script called Ranjana, but that is not in use. King Jayasthiti Malla (1382-1395) introduced the Hindu caste system among Newars and created several social layers.[2] In the caste hierarchy, the priests (Joshi, Bajracharya etc) got the highest level followed by people of several trading groups. The third level was given to the Jyapus and at the bottom the people involved in cleaning services and butchery were placed and were considered as untouchables. These so-called untouchable custom groups include Pode, Kasai and Chyame.

The Newars are rich in their culture. They have festivals to celebrate spread all over the  year. Some Newars are Buddhists and some are Hindus. Generally, they live in the cities, towns or rural centers. Their dresses are similar to that of Khas and more recently the trend of wearing western dresses has gained momentum. The traditional community organizations called “Guthis” and art work play important roles in the lives of the Newars. The architectural riches of Kathmandu seen in the temple-buildings and palaces and artistic idols and cultural expressions seen in the art works are some of the fine examples. The Newars are at the front in creation arts and production of handicrafts.       

Although, a large majority of Newars are involved in agriculture, they have strong presence in the civil service and nongovernmental jobs. They also occupy primary space in commercial and industrial sectors. The non-agricultural sectors of Nepalese economy have been controlled by the Newars and Marwaris (a Madhesi migrant custom group).  They not only run relatively larger industrial or commercial enterprises, they own thousands of small stores all over Nepal.

The Hindu caste hierarchy has not only created social divisions among Newars, it has influenced the psychology of the people. Baburam Acharya says that they have so many steps of this system that could be compared with the steps of a stair (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 78). Although, the Lichchhivis have brought the caste system with them during the third century, that was not effective among Newars. Jayasthi Malla implemented the notorious system for which the Hindu-Khas historians, the advocates of Bahunbad, say that he was a “great reformer”. Of course, Jayasthi Malla’s division of castes was a heinous crime against humanity. As a result of this criminal division, several custom groups among Newars, more particularly the so-called untouchables are suffering immensely. The social status of the Newars (excluding the so-called untouchables) as per Hindu-Khas traditional interpretation is equal to that of the Mangolkirats.

Generally, the Newars are peace-loving and hard working people. They like joyful life. Hundreds of Jatras and feasts are the expressions of it. If the war against the Gorkha-Khas has been considered as exception, they have sacrificed several things to preserve peace and tranquility. Entrepreneurship is one of the most important qualities which has played important role in determining the economic life of Newars. The economic behaviors of the Khas and the Newar could be compared with the two large powers of global economy – USA and Japan. USA includes hooliganism and hegemonism to protect and expand its economic interests whereas Japan has emphasized to strengthen its competitiveness. The Japanese style is best known for bowing politely and safeguarding their interest in a unique way. The similarity between Japanese and Newars might have been traced in their similar history of defeats. The Japanese were defeated in the Second World War and the Newars had the similar experience when they had to swallow the defeat on the hands of Gorkha-Khas. The Newar tendency of preserving peace is most of the time misinterpreted by the Khas, who use to spread rumors that Newars are cowards.

e. Madhesi

No authentic and detail study is available regarding the historical background of the southern plains. One of the reasons for neglecting the history of the entire Madhesi region or the southern plains could be that most of the area was covered with thick forests for centuries. In exception, a few mentions could be found about Janakpur, Kichakdesh, Kapilvastu and Bijji or Simaraungadh in the pre-historical epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata.  During early historical days, there are no major historical events documented.  During 6th century BC, Buddhism originated at the southern plains, more particularly at Kapilavastu. The Shakya price Siddartha, known as Gautam Buddha, propagated new religious faiths, which was called afterward as Buddhism. The Hindu-Arya-Bahuns confronted against and defeated Buddhism in the southern plains and gave the area a new name called Madhyadesh, which covered the land from Ambala in the west and Prayag in the east. The word “Madhyadesh” became “Madhesh” after distortion of centuries. The hill people of Nepal also started to call the area covering the plains of Nepal, Bihar and Avadh as Madhesh. But, presently the word “Madhesh” has a limited use which just refers to the southern plains of Nepal (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 8). Inhabitants of this region started to be called as “Madhesi”. Gopal Sing Nepali has called them as Madhesi cultural group (Nepali, 1995: 36).

The foundation in the formation of the nationality include the common bond originated from the economic as well as social difficulties originated due to the new immigrants from the hills and northern India and the unfair treatment of the Khas state which considered the Madhesis as second class citizens. The Madhesis had been subjected to several atrocities which include the serious doubt expressed by the Khas regarding their loyalty towards Nepal and their patriotism itself. The Mangolkirats and the Newars also treated the Madhesis unfairly under the influence of Khas practices. Such unfair behaviors from the Mangolkirats and the Newars helped Khas to divide and rule.

The Madhesi nationality has a diverse descend. They include the Tharu, Dhimal, Koche of Kirat origin, Jhagads of Dravin origin, Yadav, Kushwaha, etc of Aryan origin and Muslims of Arya-kirat mixed origin. The Madhesis are 30.9% of the population of Nepal.

Similar to Mangolkirats, the Madhesis also have different linguistic groups and native groups. Their major languages include Tharu, Maithili, Bhojpuri and Avadhi. The other languages are Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Marwari etc. The custom groups include Yadav or Ahir, Kayastha, Kumhar, Baniya, Dhobi, Sudhi or Kalwar, Kurmi, Brahman (Madhesi), Rajput, Tharu, Teli, Kuahmar, Muslim, Halwai, Mallah, Rajbanshi, Dhimal, Gangai, Marwari, Bangali, Dhanuk, Sikh, Dushadh, Chamar, Khatwe, Musahar, Kewat, Rajbhar and Kanu. There are some very small groups also, such as Meche, Kishan, Satar, Jhangad, Tajpuria etc. The Central Bureau of Statistics has grouped these smaller groups together as “the other Terai groups”. Here, some people may raise the question of grouping Tharus and Dhimals as Madhesis as their origin was Kirat. In the beginning, the Aryans included the defeated Kirats in their community as slaves and made them untouchable Sudras. But, in the later stage, they included them without making them slaves and untouchables. Tharus were one among such groups. On the long run, the Tharus started to speak the language of the Arays, forgot their own cultural practices and adopted Aryan life-styles (Acharya, 2054 V.S.: 14). The Aryans mentioned here were the Bijjis or the ancestors of several other people of Madhesi custom groups. The same is true for the Dhimals.

The Madhesi nationality has several cultural traits and social divisions.[3] Some of these differences are related to the different religions, cultural practices and languages to a specific community of the other side of the boarder.

The main Madhesi festivals include Maghi among Tharus; Chhath, Holi and Diwali among Hindus Eid among Muslims. By religion, they are either Hindus or Jain or Muslim or nature-God worshippers (Animism and Shamanism). There are a small number of Sikhs too. Madhesis are rich in culture. Their cultural basket is full of folk dances. A large menu of folk dances among Hindus related to pleasing different Gods or Goddesses exists. Among them the prominent once include Jijhiya (to making Goddess Bhavani happy), Sama-Chakwa (performed during Chhath festival to please Sun God), Kirtaniya (in praise of Lord Krishna), Bhagata (in praise of Kali or Sokha Goddess) and Nachari (in praise of God Shiva). There are some other dances performed as occupation to make their livelihood or performed just as folk dance without any religious aim. These dances include Kaharwa (among Hindus performed for livelihood), Mungrahaha (Tharu folk dance), Sakhiya (performed by girls), Jhumar (performed by women) and Phugwa or Hori (during Holi festival) (Rakesh, 1994).

Dhoti (long, unstitched garment which covers the lower part of the body) or Kachhad (short unstitched garment which covers from waist to knee) together with shirt is the Madhesi dress for men. The educated men wear western dresses also. Blouse and Sari is the women’s dress. The Muslim women, occasionally, cover themselves with veil. Now-a-days, the women can be seen wearing Kurta-Salwar and a few have started to wear western dresses.

Agriculture is the main occupation of a large majority of people and a small but influential group (Marwaris) has a strong presence in the industrial and commercial sectors. More recently, the Madhesi people also have started to occupy positions in civil service and non-government sectors.

The Madhesi Hindu society has been divided into several social layers as prescribed in the Hindu code – the infamous Manushmriti. Social evils such as upper-lower caste, touchable-untouchable, pure-impure and many more have compounded the life of people. Traditionally, the Hindu society puts Dhobi, Teli, Sudhi or Kalwar, Chamar, Khatwe, Musahar in the groups of untouchables. But, Tharu, Dhimal and Muslim communities have no such divisions.

The over all outlook of the Madhesis has been guided by their religious beliefs. The Hindus are rained by the beliefs originated from Hindu orthodoxy. Their philosophy of live is determined by fatalism. They have a dependant mindset. The difference between Khas and Madhesis regarding the impact is observed in their superior and inferior psycho-state. The Khas with state power believe that they are there to rule and that is their fate, whereas the Madhesis too accept the Khas servitude as their fate. This type of psycho-state can be seen among the non-Hindus too. This could happen as an affinity syndrome. Perhaps, the state power plays a major role to govern the state of mind.

3. A Note on “Other Groups” and Religion

The above classification covers 98.9% of the population. Still, there is 1.1% population left out. In this 1.1%, there are a few small groups. They include Dolpo, Lhapa, Siyar, Barhagaule, Holung, Tangve, Marphali, Chitan, Chhairotan, Lhomi, Larke, Mugali, Manange, Thudum, Tapkegola, Thimtan, Syangtan, Byashi, Dura, Chhantyal, Pahari, Kusunda, Baramo, Kushbadiya, Hayu, Hyolmo, Bhujel, Surel, Fri, Bankariya (Mabuhang, 2056 V.S.: 95), Churaute etc. Their nationality has to be decided and for this purpose a separate study is to be carried out.  But, the classification above and the analysis which will follow will have no effect by this study as their percentage is too small.

In the above analysis, religion has been discussed in relation with every nationality and custom groups. This scenario may lead to a false conclusion that everybody in Nepal practices one or the other religion and there are no religiously neutral or secular minded people or atheists. Such conclusion does not reflect the reality as day by day the number of secular minded or religiously neutral people is increasing. universal humanity and total respect for human dignity are replacing the traditionally prescribed sectarian, unscientific and socially immoral systems established by organized religions.

The panorama presented by the presence of different nationalities in Nepal is the very foundation on which the wonderful society stands. Hence, the society has a unique feature of unity in diversity. Indeed, Nepalese society is the whole sum of the cultural values, viewpoints, life styles, social interactions, belief systems, languages and economic behaviors of all nationalities. Therefore, the introduction and identity of a Nepalese society could be seen in the colorful amalgamation and convergence of cultures and not in a single set of values and social practices.

Chapter Three

Access to Power and Opportunities and the Gaps

After the analysis of the composition and presence of different nationalities, it is natural to examine their role as leaders of the state and the society. The role of leadership, more particularly in the governance of the state, influences the quality, dynamism and orientation in each and every level. The leadership is the small but most important mirror where each class, nationality or community wants see its reflection. If his or her image is not there, naturally, he or she raises questions. For instance, a case of the composition of a party could be presented.  Before the people’s movement of 1990, the organizational structure and the occupiers of higher level positions were kept secret by one of the influential political party of today. One fine night, one important cadre of that party got opportunity to see the galaxy of the leaders as the central committee meeting was called in the area of his responsibility. The fortunate cadre was of a non-Khas nationality. He was astonished seeing nearly all Khas (more particularly Bahuns) faces. The party, which was publicly declaring as a champion of equality, the leadership composition did not reflect it at all. Therefore, that particular cadre raised the issue of Khas (particularly Bahun) domination in the party. The leadership could not tolerate and he was summarily dismissed from all positions of the party. Now, that particular cadre is playing an influential role in the movement launched for equality for all nationalities. The example here amply proves that any nationality looks at the leadership and tries to see its image there. If it is absent ask questions, if it has a weak presence takes the path of research to find out the reasons. Therefore, in this process, anybody can take the responsibility to find out the facts, evidences and reasons and can help to resolve the inequalities. This is not only a need but an obligation for them who claim as advocates of social equality. These undertakings will help to unearth the problems and the causes and help to build foundation for resolving them. With this aim, a study has been carried out to know factually what the governance scenario in regard to nationality presence in the leadership is there in Nepal.

The analysis covers the important areas such as judiciary, legislature and local government bodies, central cabinet, civil service,   political parties, private sector organizations, education and cultural sector, civil society, women’s leadership etc.

Primarily, the study focuses on the top layer of leadership positions and the nationality of the occupiers of such positions. Also, some positions of middle and grassroots level have been included in the study with the purpose of cross verification of the composition at top level. The examples include the study of the officials of judiciary other than that judges, local government bodies and nongovernmental organizations.  For a few occupiers of the positions, whose nationality could not be established by surname, direct verification or other reliable sources are kept out of the study and their number is mentioned in the notes.

1 Judiciary

 

Judges and officials of judicial administration, constitutional bodies and commissions:

The judiciary has a long history in Nepal. It goes back to the ancient times (around 7th century B.C) during Kirat tribal republics.[4] Judiciary as one of the most important organ of governance which has so long history in Nepal not only reflects the presence of several social groups in its top positions but also influences the cultural practices of the society through the judgments it delivers. Therefore, the composition of Judiciary represents directly or indirectly the values, belief systems, cultural traits and perspectives of particular nationalities too. The judges occupy prime space among them. The statistical presentations below speak about the nationality composition of the judiciary, constitutional bodies and commissions.

Table -1  Analysis of the nationalities of the Judges        
               
Courts Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Supreme court 16       2   18
Appellate court 74 2 16   15   107
District court 91 2 2   15   110
Total 181 4 18   32   235
Percentage 75.7 1.7 7.6   13.6   100
population percentage 31.6 22.3 30.9 8.6 5.6 1.1 100
Supreme court (1959) 8   1   1   10
Percentage (1959) 80   10   10   100
               
Note: 1 Two judges of the district courts have not been included due to inability to determine their nationality.

 

Source: Analysis of nationalities of the Judges mentioned in SC, (2053 V.S.), SC (2054 V.S.), SC (2055 V.S.) Kanun Patrka, (2015 V.S.).

Table – 2 Nationality of officers of judicial services who were posted through a gazette  
order of 20 Paush 2055            
Particulars Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Number 260   6   7   273
Percentage 92.5   2.2   2.6   100
               
Note: Eight officers have not been included in the study due to inability to determine their nationality.
               
Source: Nepal Gazette, 2055 V.S. (Ka)          
                       

 

Table – 3,  Nationality of officers who were assigned in the duty of returning officer during 1999 GeneralElection
Particulars Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Number 180 2 8   9   199
Percentage 87.8 1 4   4.4   100
               
Note: Six officers have not been included in the study due to inability to determine their nationality.
               
Source: Nepal Gazette, 2055 V.S. (Kha)          

 

The above statistics present a clear picture of Khas rule in the judiciary of Nepal. No Dalit occupy any positions and the Mangolkirats have a nominal presence. Even the presence of Madhesis is like that of a malnourished child. Newar hold more positions in relation to their presence in the total population, but their number is like that of a dwarf comparing the numbers the Khas hold. The inequality in judiciary is striking. This inequality has been reflected in the limitation of the understanding of non-Khas culture, values, beliefs and custom among the judges and their nationality neutral judgments. The insensitivity of these “super human” called judges who enjoy immunity from public criticism may create more alienation of the nationalities they give verdict against. The verdict of the supreme court in relation to prohibit the use of languages of nationalities in the local government bodies is one notorious example of the insensitivity of these Khas judges. In the countries like Nepal where professional morality and loyalty to the cause of justice are in their infancy, the immunity enjoyed by the judges protects them from all sorts of misdeeds including materializing their personal interests and maintaining status quo. The immoral work ethics, practices and insensitive verdicts in Nepal further support this conclusion. In such context, the Khas monopoly in the judiciary has to be brought to end. The reforms may not be enough to break the centuries old system, and this may call for a movement for transformation. The Khas with all their repressive design, reactionary efforts and misuse of state power may delay the process, but they will not succeed to prevent the radical change.

Table – 4 Nationality of the chief of constitutional bodies and commissioners of the commissions
               
Organization Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Public Service Commission 3 1 1   1   6
Election Commission 3   1   2   6
Abuse of Auht Prev Comm 3 1     1   5
Planning Commission 3   1   2   6
Attorney General 1           1
Auditor General 1           1
Total 14 2 3   6   25
Percentage 56 8 12   24   100
Population 31.6 22.3 30.9   5.6   100
               
Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.      

 

The commissions and the constitutional bodies mentioned above play vital role in areas of transparency in governance and insuring equal opportunity for all citizens. In composition of these organizations, once again, is highly dominated by the Khas, which makes equal opportunity a hollow slogan in Nepal. The Dalits, as usual, are absent and a few Magolkirats and Madhesis show up as cosmetics.  Once again, the Newars occupy too many positions.

2. Executive

The council of ministers, civil service and royal palace bureaucracy, army and police administration

Indeed, the developing countries are primarily governed by the executive branch of the state power. The policies and programs of the government and its implementation heavily influence social justice. The partnership among nationalities in this important state mechanism helps to insure equality and social harmony in the society.

Table – 5, Nationality analysis of the members of the Council of Ministers

level Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Ministers 13   3   3   19
Minister of State 5 1 2       8
Assistant ministers 2 3         5
Total 20 4 5   3   32
Percentage 62.5 12.5 15.6   9.4   100
First elected  govt 1959 10 5 3   1   19
Percentage 52.6 26.3 15.8   5.3   100
               
Source: Gupta, 1964: 275; The Kathmandu Post Daily, July 01, 1999, Kathmandu.  

 

Table – 6 Nationality of higher echelon of civil service, royal palace service, Police and army  
               
Description Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Civil service (secretaries) 29   3   7   39
Royal P service (Sec. Joit 20       8   28
Civil service ( joit sec sp .Sec 69 1 3   21   94
Army (Maj Gen and Above 7           7
Police (IG/AIG) 3 1     1   5
Chief Dist Officers 62 1 3   6   72
Total 190 3 9   43   245
Percentage 77.5 1.2 3.7   17.6   100
Secretaries (1959) 7   1   3   11
Dist. Officers (Badahakim) 21 7 2   2   32
Total 28 7     5   43
Percentage 65.1 16.3 6.9   11.6   100
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in Devkota, 2033 V.S.: 239, 274; NIMD, 1999.

 

Note: Three officials of royal palace service and three Chief District Officers have been excluded due to difficulty in determining their nationality.

The executive branch of the state power revels, once again, the domination of the Khas. The council of ministers was more balanced in 1959 in comparison to 1999. The same is true for other administrative positions except for the Newars. This comparison expresses the negligence of social justice during the period covering the last four decades. The leadership of the police and army is also no different. The Mangolkirats are renowned for their fighting ability and are considered as martial race. The strange reality is that only a Mangolkirat officer is there among the 12. This fact just reinforces the common belief that in Nepal to be on the top ability, bravery and intelligence are not enough and they could be very much neglected if someone has no Khas origin. For a long time, Madhesis, Dalits and Newars were barred from the recruitment in the army.  According to Eden Vansittart, who wrote “Notes on Nepal” in 1895, at that time all army officers above the rank of Lieutenant were only Khas (Vansittart, 1993: 68). There is the continuation of the same practice with some exceptions. Another striking feature is that the royal palace service is full of Khas and Newars. Khas and Newars together form 37.2 % of the population whereas 92.2% positions in the royal palace service they have occupied.

3. Legislature

Legislature is such type of institutional mechanism which shapes the future of a country and also reflects the will of the people. Therefore, this branch of state power occupies important place. The social, nationality and class backgrounds of the representatives make differences and influence the consequences seriously. In this context, the statistical picture of the composition of the legislature makes sense to study.

Table – 7 Nationality analysis of the members of parliament      
               
Chamber Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
National Assembly (1999) 35 6 7 4 8   60
House of Representative (1999) 124 30 39   12   205
Total 159 36 46 4 20   265
Percentage 60 13.6 17.4 1.5 7.5   100
National Assembly (1959) 23 4 3   6   36
House of Representative (1959) 64 17 24   4   109
Total 87 21 27   10   145
Percentage 60 14.5 18.6   6.9   100
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the members mentioned in Devkota, 2033 V.S.: 79-111 & 200-202; Khanal, 2055 V.S.: 45-95; NTC, 2056 V.S. and NIMD 1999.

 

The picture at local level may avail the opportunity for verifying the above scenario.

Table – 8 Chairmen of District Development Committees and Mayor and Deputy Mayors of Municipalities
               
Level Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
DDC Chairman 50 13 7   5   75
Mayor/Deputy Mayor 57 23 31   30   116
Total 106 23 31   30   191
Percentage 55.4 12 16.2   15.7   100
               
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.    

 

The Khas presence in the parliament is 60%, which was in 1959 too. This fact reflects the continuation of Khas domination in legislature. Khas and Newars control large number of local bodies. The Khas domination has influenced the social sector priorities and played role in persevering their privileges. The news broadcast in Sanskrit language and the signature campaign in the parliament in favor of Sanskrit has reveled the same fact. That role was further reflected in the proposal of intent submitted in the parliament to prohibit drinking liquor in the country. Both, these attempts amply reveal the Khas-Bahun attempt to make Nepal a heaven for Khas at the cost of all other nationalities.

4. Political Parties

Table – 9, Nationality analysis of the central committee members of national parties  
Parties Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Nepali Congress 22 3 4   2   31
CPN (UML) 28 1 1   2   32
CPN (ML) 18 5 4   9   36
RPP – Thapa 15 8 9   2   34
RPP – Chand 14 8 7   3   32
Total 97 25 26   18   165
Percentage 58.8 15.1 15.7   10.9   100
Population 31.6 22.3 30.9 8.6 5.6 1.1 100
Leadership of major parties (1959) 50 11 7   11   79
Percentage 63.2 13.9 8.8   13.9   100
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.; Gupta, 1964: 285-287

 

The table above reaffirms the general belief that every aspect of Nepalese political power is under the control of Khas. All parties have a heavy load of Khas. Among them the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) appears as an extra-ordinary Khas (88%) party followed by Nepali Congress (71%) and the Communist Party of Nepal (ML) as third (50%). The twin pro-palace rightist parties – Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Thapa) and (Chand) both have 44% Khas among their central members. It is interesting to note that the Communist Party of Nepal (ML) has 25% members from Newar nationality. Compared to their strength in the population (5.6%), it is astonishing. The other factor which makes situation crystal clear of the Khas-rule in the political area is expressed through the bitter fact that Khas are the defacto head of all national parties. Only the Communist Party of Nepal (ML) has a Newar lady as its chairwoman, but this position has no real teeth to chew the nuts as all the executive powers are exercised by the General Secretary. The Dalits are nowhere in the picture and Mangolkirats have a limited presence. If critically examined, their position sounds a bit better only because of their number in the twin Rastriya Prajatantra Parties, which is less influential anyway. The Madhesi nationality is in a bit better situation as they have their own national party (Nepal Sadbhawana Party) too. Khas and Newar together have grabbed double of the positions, they could have reasonably.

5. Private Sector

Commerce and Industry

Table – 10 Nationality analyses of the officials at organizational leadership positions in Commerce and Industry.
               
Organizations Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Nepal Chambers of Commerce 4   11   11   25
Federation of Commerce and Industry 4   4   9   17
Total 8   15   20   42
Percentage 16.7   35.7   47.6   100
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.;FCIN, 2056  

 

Note: Three officials of Nepal Chambers of Commerce have been excluded due to difficulty in determining their nationality. All 11 Chamber members and 4 Federation members of Madhesi nationality are from Marwari custom group. The total Marwari population is 25265 (just 0.14% of the total population).

The Nepalese economy, more particularly non-agricultural sectors, is controlled by the Newars and Marwaris (a small immigrant group, one among the Madhesi custom groups). This is the only area where Khas have no effective control. But this does not ensure justice as the second most powerful nationality the Newars (5.6% of the population) hold a large number seats in the leadership (47.6%). The Dalits, Mangolkirats and non-Marwari Madhesis are absent.

6. Education, Culture, Science and Technology

Table 11, Education Sector, Nationality analysis of the officials at leadership positions of academic
and administrative wings of Tribhuvan University          
Positions Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Vice-chancellor 1           1
Academic Leadership – Deans 4   1   4   9
Research Centers – Executive Directors 5           5
Higher Administrative positions 15 2     7   24
Professors 87   23   59   169
Total 112 2 24   70   208
Percentage 53.8 1 11.5   33.7   100
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.    

Note: Two professors are excluded due to difficulty in determining their nationality.

The Khas domination is reflected in this area also. Again, the Newars occupy large space (33.7%). Although a Sanskrit university in Dang in western Nepal[5] has not been included in the study, still the Khas enjoy a privileged position. It is surprising that a university has been established to teach Sanskrit language and literature whereas that could be done by establishing an institute within Tribhuvan University. Interesting to note could be that this Sanskrit university is just for the Khas, more specifically only Bahuns.

Table – 12, Education sector – Nationality analysis of the officials at leadership  positions of  
the University Teacher’s Association, School Teacher’s Associations        
Organizations Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Nepal University Teacher’s Association 16   2   3   21
Nepal Teacher’s Association 24 2 3 1 1   31
Nepal National Teacher’s Association 25   1   3   30
Total 65 2 6   7   82
Percentage 79.3 2.4 7.3   8.5   100

 

Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999 and Contact details, Officials of seventh central committee, Nepal National Teacher’s Association, Kathmandu (2055 V.S.).

The above picture is another evidence of the domination of the Khas closely followed by the Newars. The data on the number of graduates also supports the same finding.[6]

Table – 13, Literature and Culture: Royal Nepal Academy and other cultural and literary organizations
               
Organizations Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
VC and Academy members (RNA) 37 4     16   57
Cine Artiste Association 15       2   17
Nepal Progressive writer’s Association 33 2     4   39
Total 85 6     22   113
Percentage 75.2 5.3     19.5   100
Note: RNA academicians include the council, assembly and honorary members.  
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999 and PRALESA (2052 V.S.)

 

In cultural institutions too, the Khas-Newar domination continues. Together, they control 94.7% of the leadership positions. The Gaines and Badis among the Dalits who are the champions of folk dance and singing and the Madhesi nationality which is rich in traditional form of art, literature and culture is totally absent. The Mangolkirats also have a nominal share. The cultural hegemony is highly questionable. But the Khas chauvinists may just label such people who raise questions as secessionists and communal elements.

Table – 14, Scientific and technical sector          
               
Organizations Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Royal Nepal Academy for            
Science and Technology 8   2   10   20
Nepal Medical Association 8 1 2   3   14
Nepal Engineering Association 10   2   3   15
Nepal Nursing Association 10 1     2   13
Total 36 2 6   18   62
Percentage 58.1 3.2 9.7   29   100
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.    

 

The Khas and Newars, together, occupy 87.1% positions leaving 12.9% positions to a combined population of 54.1% Mangolkirats and Madhesis. There is no Dalit face at all.

7. Civil Society

Table – 15, Civil society Leadership          
               
Organizations Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Nepal Bar Association 15   1   1   17
NGO Federation 9   3   3   16
Federation of Nepalese Journalists 17 1     4   21
Total 41 1 4   8   54
Percentage 75.9 1.6 7.4   14.8   100
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.    

 

The intellectuals talk about equality. Many people, who are with the civil society organizations, make noises that they favor equity and justice. In such organizations, a combined total of 91% leadership positions are occupied by the Khas and Newars. An irony!

Table – 16, Occupiers of the top level professional positions in the civil society organizations  
               
Types of Organization/Number Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Nepalese NGOs                         (72) 104 13 11   85   213
Human Rights organizations      (27) 29 2 1   7   39
Editors (Weeklies, Dailies)       (104) 77 4 4   25   111
Total                                         (203) 210 19 16 1 117   363
Percentage 57.8 5.2 4.4 0.3 32.2   100
Note: Twelve officials of the NGOs, 2 of human rights organizations and 13 editors are not included in the
study as their nationality could not be determined.        
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.    

 

Not only the leadership of the civil society organizations is under the control of Khas and Newars, they have captured 90% top level professional positions.

8. Women’s Leadership

Table – 17, Women at leadership positions          
               
Organizations Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Members, Advisory Council (1953-1959) 13 2 1   1   17
Parliament members (1959-60) 2           2
Rastriya Panchayat members(1963-1990) 15 3 2   1   21
Parliament members (1991-1999) 21 2 2   3   28
Chairwomen, women’s associations (1999) 10   1   2   13
Central members, national parties 9   3   4   16
Ministers (1959-1999) 11 2     1   14
Total 81 9 9   12   111
Percentage 72.9 8.1 8.1   10.8   100
               
               
Source: Analysis of nationality of women leaders mentioned in Ashmita, Issue 50 (Thapa, 2056 V.S.: 20-35)

 

In general, the patriarchal Hindu social set-up has made women’s life miserable. A few women are fortunate to make them visible. Again, most of them are from the Khas and Newar nationality. They hold 83.7% positions together. By cultural upbringing, Mangolkirat women have a better chance to develop as they are comparatively face less burden imposed by Hindu orthodoxy. Comparatively, women of indigenous community (Mangolkirats) are more independent than that the women in Hind social set-up (Bhattachan, 2056 Ka V.S.: 76-79). But, that has no tangible impact in their role as leaders.

9. Development Planning, Funding, Research and Sports

Table – 18, Members of important communication, development, sports and research councils
               
Council Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Press Council 14   1   6   21
National Development Council 10 1 2 1 6   20
Nepal Sports Council 9 4 1   1   15
Nepal Health Research Council 4   1   3   8
Total 37 5 5 1 16   64
Percentage 57.8 7.8 7.8 1.6 25   100
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.    

 

The policy makers and researchers are no different. The Khas and Newars together hold 82.8% such critical positions.

Table – 19, Nepalese professionals at leadership positions in foreign donor agencies in Nepal  
               
Agency type/number Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
INGOs/112 23 10   1 14   48
Multilateral agencies/21 15 5     7   27
Total 38 15   1 21   75
 Percentage 50.6 20.0   1.3 28.0   100
               
Note: Six officials on INGOs and 3 of multilateral agencies have not been included due to difficulty in determining their nationalitySource: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999.

 

The INGOs, self proclaimed champions of social justice, and the multilateral agencies, both, behave not so differently compared to other Nepalese institutions. The Khas and the Newars hold together 70.2% top level professional positions in these donor agencies. 

The Khas domination is seen in all areas. Beyond doubt, the figures above simply reflect the inequalities.

To draw a general picture by analyzing the nationalities, who occupy the most important positions in the governance of the country, a Primary Nationality Index of Governance (PNIG) has been presented. In this index, the nationality of judges of the Supreme Court, ministers and parliament members (lower house) has been analyzed as they together hold the state power.

10. Summary – Nationality Indexes

Table 20, Primary Nationality Index of Governance – 1999        
               
Agency Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Supreme Court 16       2   18
House of Representative 124 30 39   12   205
Council of Ministers 20 4 5   3   32
Total 160 34 44   17   255
Percentage 62.7 13.3 17.3   6.7   100
Population 31.6 22.2 30.9 8.7 5.6 1.1 100
Difference (percentage)      + 31.1            – 8.9     – 13.6    – 8.7      +1.1      – 1.1  -
               
Source: As mentioned in Table 1, 5 & 7 above.          

 

The index shows that Khas is the ruling nationality in Nepal. The Mangolkirats, Madhesi and Dalits have been kept out of the opportunities. Although, they are also subjected to humiliation culturally, the Newars are in a better position and have grabbed the opportunities otherwise should be going to other deprived nationalities. The Khas occupy double the most influential positions of critical nature than what they could occupy proportionate to their percentage of the population.

The assessment of all major comparisons presented above in an integrated picture will more accurately reflect the nationality presence in governance in la larger context. Therefore, below an Integrated Nationality Index of Governance (INIG) has been presented.

Table – 21, Integrated Nationality Index  of Governance – 1999      
               
Agency Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Judiciary 181 4 18   32   235
Constitutional bodies/ Commissions 14 2 3   6   25
Council of Ministers 20 4 5   3   32
Civil Administration 190 3 9   43   245
Legislature 159 36 46 4 20   265
Political party leadership 97 25 26   18   165
Local bodies (DDC Chairmen, Mayor/deputy Mayor) 106 23 31   30   191
Industry and commerce sector 7   15   20   42
Education Sector – Academic & Administrative leadership 75 2 7 1 11   97
Cultural Sector – Academic & Administrative leadership) 85 6     22   113
Science & Technology Sector 36 2 6   18   62
Civil Society leadership 41 1 4   8   54
Total 1011 108 170 5 231   1520
Percentage 66.5 7.1 11.2 0.3 15.2   100
Population 31.6 22.2 30.9 8.7 5.6 1.1 100
Difference (Percentage)       +34.9          – 15.1     – 19.7     – 8.4     + 9.6    – 1.1  -
               
Source: As mentioned in Table 1 – 18 above.          

 

Once again, the integrated index also reveals the same situation. The Khas and Newars occupy more than 81% of the important positions. They control all areas of critical governance – state power, private sector, public sector, communication, academia and civil society.

11. Trend Assessment – Comparison between Primary indexes of 1959 and 1999

Table – 22, Comparison between Primary Nationality Index of Governance – 1959 and 1999.        
               
Agency Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total
Supreme Court (1959) 8   1   1   10
House of Representative (1959) 64 17 24   4   109
Council of Ministers (1959) 10 5 3   1   19
Total (1959) 82 22 28   6   138
Percentage 1959 59.4 15.9 20.3   4.3   100
Percentage  1999 (see Table – 20) 62.7 13.3 17.3   6.7   100
Difference (Percentage)        + 3.3            – 2.6         – 3.0        + 2.4    -
               
Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999 and Devkota, 2033 V.S.:79-111, 239, 274, & 200 -202

 

The trend is discouraging as the gap is ever widening. The inequality in 1999 is wider than in 1959. In these 40 years, Khas and Newar together have increased their hold on critically important positions by 5.7%. Therefore, in Nepal, not only social justice has been denied, the injustices have been increasing.

12. Observations

The facts analyzed above lead to the following observations:

  • The Khas were the ruling nationality, they are still ruling and their control has been strengthening.
  • The Newars have moved up in several areas. Now, they have become junior partner of the Khas in governance. But, the Khas continue to dominate them culturally, which is most visibly seen in the persecution of their language.
  • Madhesis were the nationality ruled and they are in the same position today. Over all, their status has not changed though their presence in political parties has increased and in administration the same has decreased.
  • Since the expansion of Gorkha kingdom in 1768, the Mangolkirats position has changed from a ruler to a subject. In all areas of governance, they continue to be weak. If the same trend continues, they also may have the same status as that of Dalits.
  • Dalits were extraordinarily marginalized, they are still marginalized and their presence in the governance is basically non-existent.
  • The centralization of power in the hands of Khas is the outcome of a long historical process. This process created favorable situation for the Khas and marginalized other nationalities.

 

Chapter Four

 

Process of Khas Domination and Obstacles for Partnership

 

1. Process of Khas Domination

The process of propagating Hinduism in the society had begun in the 3rd century BC during the time of entry of Lichchhivis to Nepal from Aryabarta. Although, some type of Hindu hierarchical system was in practice from the beginning of the Lichchhivi’s arrival, the word “Varnashram” (caste system) has been seen, first time used, in the inscription at Pashupati temple. The inscription was inscribed by Lichchhivi king Jishnu Gupta (Joshi, 2030 V.S.: 416). In the seventh century, Lichchhivi king Shivadeva not only agreed the proposal of the aggressive Hindu high priest Shankaracharya to appoint only Bahuns as priests at Pashupati temple, he also increased the power of Bahuns immensely. As the result of implementing Sankaracharya’s pro-Brahmin ultra Hindu religious doctrine, several non-Hindu literatures were burnt publicly. Therefore, the ancient glorious cultural riches were destroyed. As a result, no valuable cultural and literary works other than the buildings and the ruins up to the first half of the first millennium are available. It is highly likely that during this period the ancient social organizations were also destroyed (Bista, 1991: 22).  During Mall Rule, efforts to consolidate “Varnashram” (caste system) and Hindu religion got impetus.  Jayasthi Malla reorganized the Newar society according to the religious-cultural code of Hinduism. Spread of the notorious Hindu caste system all over Nepal happened much later when the Gorkha Khas rulers established their control over the territory of today’s Nepal. Therefore, in Nepal expansion of Gorkha khas kingdom and spread of Hinduism took place simultaneously.  Prithvinarayan Shah, the powerful king of Gorkha who envisioned a greater kingdom, declared Nepal as “Asali Hindustana” (real Hindu homeland). All the Khas-Hindu rulers, including the Shah and Rana clan, used the introduction of caste system, cultural invasion and Hindu administrative as well as legal system as basis for suppressing the cultures of other nationalities.

a. Introduction of Caste System

The Hindu-Khas invaders prepared the ground to introduce the caste system by making the status of all the vanquished nationalities as Sudras (the lowest in the Hindu caste hierarchy).  Ram Shah and Jayshiti Malla introduced such provisions. The Khas historians never feel tired praising their crime against humanity as social reforms. Jayasthiti Malla (1295-1382) divided the Newar society according to the Hindu code, called Manishmriti. In a copper inscription of 1926, attempt had been made to introduce caste system among the Gurungs by mentioning two types of Gurungs – Char Jat (four upper castes) and Shora Jat (sixteen lower castes). The Gurungs opposed such classifications. The Royal Order of 1868 nullified the caste divisions. It was stated in the Royal Order that all Gurungs are equals and if somebody attempts to create superior or inferior status, the person would be punished (up to a maximum penalty of 20 Rupees). The Bahun scholars like Shikharnath Subedi did not agree with the Royal Order. In his book “Thara-Gotra Pravaravli” (Description of surnames and clans), he wrote that the four upper caste Gurungs (Ghale, Ghotane, Lama and Lamichhane) are royalties and the other sixteen castes are the slaves. Sarbajit Gurung, a Gurung leader, filed a case against him and the Royal court called Bhardari decided this as crime in 1922 and Shikharnath had to pay a fine of 20 Rupees (Pignede, 1966: 491-92, Sharma, 2039 V.S.: 439-41). Hence, after a strong protest and a legal battle, the Hindu-Khas, more particularly the notorious Bahuns could not succeed in implementing their criminal caste system among Gurungs. Among Tamangs too, the Khas tried to create divisions to insert their caste system by introducing an idea of Barha Jat Suddha Rakta (twelve castes of Tamangs as pure) and Shorha Jat Mishrit Rakta (sixteen castes of  Tamangs as mixed) (Sharma, 2039 V.S.: 366). But this idea could not attain a level that creates feeling of lower caste and upper caste.  Even today, some Hindu priests and their stooges are active in converting the Kirats into Hinduism by placing Janai, a so-called holy thread around their neck. The Khas-Hindus are free to convert any body from any faith to Hinduism, but the believers of any other faith can’t exercise the same right. They are prohibited by law and if they will try to convert, they will land inside the prison.  The Khas impose their religion on anybody, whom they can control and place them as Sudras. There is no need of consent of that person. The example includes the representation made by person or persons of Mangolkirat nationality for Sudras in the coronation ceremony of a king. According to Hindu ritual, all four – Bahun, Chhetri, Vaisya and Sudra, have to accept the king by offering a silver coin during the coronation ceremony. In this way the Khas used the caste system as a mechanism to create a social psychology that they are superior.

b. Cultural Invasion

King Rajendra Bikram introduced Dashain, the Hindu festival, by bribing the Kirat elders and village heads. He issued a Royal Order and rewarded them the ownership of the heads and leg pieces with prime meat of any slaughtered animals during Dashain in any household of their jurisdiction. In the same Order he also authorized them to collect donations in the form of cash or kind to organize Durga Puja (worship of Hindu Goddess Durga during Dashain). By these lucrative provisions made for the benefit of the elders and village heads, the Khas-Hindu rulers in Kathmandu prepared the ground for their cultural expansion in the Kirat region (Yakharai, 2053 V.S.: 265). Beef was one of the regular dishes of the indigenous people. After establishing their rule over the Mangolkirat areas, the Khas rulers made eating beef a punishable act. They banned slaughter of cows in Solukhumbu area in 1805 and King Rana Bahadur Shah issued a Royal Order for the Limbus offering amnesty for any act of killing cows in the past and prohibiting the same and making it a punishable act from the date of issuing the Order (Tamang, 2054 V.S.: 63, Yakharai, 2053 V.S. 348). Till today, the Hindu-Khas have made the cow a national animal. Hindu religious songs, dances and festivals also helped the  cultural invasion. Furthermore, the cultural invasion was nurtured by the military service, including the British one. The British and Indian army had provisions for Nepalese priests in their Nepali (Gurkha) brigades. These Bahun priests were instrumental to spread Hindu rituals among the Mangolkirat youths of these armies (Pignede, 1966: 492). After working 34 years in British army and spending lot of those years with Gurkha brigade, Lieutenant Colonel J. P. Cross has mentioned that in each and every larger units of Gurkha Brigade, a Bahun priest used to be employed as religious teacher. His responsibility was to ensure observance of the Hindu rituals. He has mentioned that Dashain, Tihar and Holi are the most important Nepalese festivals (Cross, 1986: 189). Indeed, the “White British Sahibs or Masters” not only promoted the spread of Hindu religion and culture, but also provided legitimacy and respect, probably, unknowingly and unintentionally. Similarly, the Mangolkirat youths adopted Hindu custom without any critical examination or even awareness. When they came back to their homes, they not only brought money and some new ideas due to the exposure but also brought the Hindu rituals, custom and practices. As the ex-army men had money and due to that reason a superior status in their community, the others followed them. Therefore, the recruitment of Mangolkirat youths in the foreign armies not only expanded the scope of exploitation for the Khas as, now, the youths had resources to grab from, but also played as a fertile ground for their cultural invasion. More or less, the same was true for army men in Nepalese and Indian army.

The provision of making the Khas mother-tong “Khas Kura” or “Nepali” as the only official language of Nepal made the Khas very strong culturally.

The Khas rulers projected non-Khas custom, beliefs, eating habits etc as uncivilized, shameful and inferior. These acts created some sort of illusion. After repeated attempts that illusion created fertile ground for spreading a belief of Khas superiority. The Khas became more confident whereas the other nationalities faced the suffering rooted at inferiority syndrome. The practice of drinking alcohol could be one good example. By going through tradition, only the so-called high castes among Khas and Madhesis do not drink liquor. All others have a tradition of consuming alcohol in different forms. The Khas-Bahuns eat bread, whereas the Madhesi-Tharus drink locally brewed beer, which is thick and rich in carbohydrate and go to the field to work. Both are made out of grain flour. The difference of the dishes depends upon the choice of an individual or a community. But the Khas-Bahuns not only propagate consumption of alcohol as an inferior practice, they blame that this alone is responsible for all sorts of backwardness among Matawalis (who drink liquor). Even, the Khas members of parliament dare to register in the parliament a proposal of intent to ban drinking of alcohol all over the country. If alcohol would be the primary reason for backwardness, the high alcohol consuming Europeans and the Americans should be some where at the bottom of Pacific Ocean. They should be in a situation of extinction. Therefore, the Khas rumor is not true and has no worth. But, the rumor provides basis for camouflaging the exploitation of other nationalities. It also suppresses the fact that the Khas are responsible for their exploitative practice which is the primary reason of underdevelopment of other nationalities. A new trend has been seen in Nepal. The bilateral and multilateral agencies have been replaying the role of the old “Gora Sahib (white masters)” of the Gurkha brigade by supporting the Khas rumor. The International NGOs and their Nepali counterparts are busy selling the Khas product that drinking alcohol has been creating all sorts of miseries among the Matwalis. They are playing the role of a new “Gora Sahib”. The old “Gora Sahib” unknowingly promoted Khas values and Hindu beliefs among the army recruits, whereas the new “Gora Sahibs” are contributing to introduce the Khas values and Hindu beliefs in the larger community of people. Indeed, alcohol drinking is not the primary reason of underdevelopment; they are upper class exploitations, atrocities of a nationality (Khas), suppression of marginalized section of people by the state and unjust social codes.  In summary, the cultural invasion played significant role in the process of establishing Khas domination in the society.

c. Hindu Administrative and Legal System

The influence of state in the expansion and consolidation of Khas domination has been seen in different administrative measures. One among the examples could be the tax and land tenure system applicable to the Gurungs. In the Gurung tradition, the women and the male widows had to pay a tax when they marry and the tax was called “Chak Chakui”. Similarly, the ownership of the childless couples’ land was not transferable. By the Royal Order of 1809, if a Gurung family employees Bahun priest for religious services instead of Gurung Lamas, such tax and land ownership provisions won’t be applicable for that type of families (Pignede, 1966: 491). The Order was a clear attempt to promote Hinduism among the Gurungs and, thus, expand the control of the Khas.  The other efforts include the words “Shree Bhawani” ( a Hindu Goddess) and “Shree Shree Shree Gorakhnath” (the Khas-Hindu God) while minting the coins and printing the same in the currency notes, writing “Shree Ganeshaya Nama” (salutation to Hindu God Ganesh) on the upper most part of any official letter, bonds and documents etc. These advertisement sponsored by the Hindu-Khas state helped them to project Khas as a superior nationality. Similarly, the Birtapratha (system of land donation by the state to Bahuns) and Jagirpratha (system of land donation to the courtiers and army officers) made the Khas powerful economically. Introduction of Hindu legal code as the backbone of the state legal system created most favorable situation to establish Khas domination. The penal code of 1954 made strange provisions of punishment. For the same crime the different castes had different types and durations of punishment. The lower the caste, the severe was the punishment.

The use of state resources, such as broadcasting an hour long Hindu religious program from Radio Nepal, helped to establish Khas monopoly.  They also declared their festivals as “national festivals” and their “holy” cow as “national animal”. They have established a Sanskrit university just for the benefit of Khas. And, finally they dared to declare, even in the latest constitution of 1990, Nepal as a Hindu kingdom.

Finally, the process of Khas domination had started long ago and the state provided the leadership. Therefore, the role of the state in creating favorable environment for Khas domination and consolidation and centralization of available resources, opportunity and power around them is the primary reason of all sort of inequality among nationalities. The facts and figures presented above in “Chapter Four” support such conclusion.

2. Obstacles for Partnership

During the expansion of Gorkha kingdom, the imposition of one nationality’s culture, authority and control was the major trend. Although, in the beginning there was no clarity, gradually they generalized the key process leading to establishment of a Hindu-Khas dominated society all over Nepal.   Their vision of Nepal was centered on a state which could function as a single religious, political and administrative unit. The Khas rulers promote the efforts directed to destroy the rival cultures and blocked any possibilities of partnership among nationalities. These attempts encompass cultural, political and economic thrusts and cover all areas of human endeavor.

The strategies and functions undertaken to carry out in establishing the Khas domination created a situation of exclusion and isolation for other nationalities. Hence, these strategies and functions prevented the development of a harmonious society based on participation and partnership. Primarily, the Khas state based its strategies on the following thematic as well as functional areas as prime obstacles in the path of building partnership.

  • Enforce and strengthen the practice of Khas Chauvinism
  • Propagate the belief of fatalism and Hindu supremacy
  • Exploit labor and resources and take advantage of the misery of the people who are in a state of absolute underdevelopment
  • Enforce the practice of untouchability
  • Exploit divisions among oppressed nationalities created by narrow custom group perspectives
  • Destruct socio-physical infrastructure of oppressed nationalities.

 

  • a. Khas Chauvinism

 

Promoting the psychology of Hindu superiority, imposing Hindu yardsticks as criteria to judge the level of civilization in regard to core human values, establishing control over all branches of state power and capturing all available opportunities and resources are the main characteristics of Khas chauvinism. The wholesale dealers of this domination are neither the marginalized Khas of Khasan region, nor they are the low income Khas families spread all over Nepal. Indeed, they are a tine minority of upper class Khas, who are suffering from hydrophobia of super-being. They have gathered wealth through the practice of exploitative behaviors spread over many centuries. They are sick of greed of power and wealth. They are seen in clean dresses, whereas their hearts and minds are dirty, corrupt and criminalized. Although, a large majority of Khas families have been living in pathetic conditions due to extreme poverty and underdevelopment, but they too, have some venom under their chest that they feel, they are superior to other nationalities. This is the result of the infectious Khas behavior of the upper class. This is the area what makes Nepalese society more complex to understand its dynamics.  More particularly, the Nepalese Marxists have failed to recognize such complexities.  Indeed, the psychology originated from superior or inferior status of a nationality makes difference to its overall positioning and collectively looking at society and its fundamentals. The superior Khas mindset aggressively propagates as civilized and attains confidence, whereas the other oppressed nationalities lack the same. It also affects their self-esteem and potentials. The multicultural social composition of Nepal has been affected because of the control of Bahun and Chhetris (Khas) over Nepalese politics due to idealization of their values in the society (Baral, 1993: 195-196).  These idealized values, beliefs and practices are continuing as ideals till today and the Khas state is supporting the continuation. Therefore, the cultural monopoly of the Khas and their over all domination has been an obstacle for building partnership among nationalities.

b. Fatalism

Fatalism is a core ideological concept of Hinduism. It prevents open philosophical discussion among different faith systems and imposes the basic Hindu beliefs on the society. These beliefs have influenced the cultural behaviors. Knowingly or unknowingly, religion affects the social relations too. Hindu Religion, in essence, is the art of artificial survival in an imaginary world.  Every organized religion has a certain pattern of rituals. These rituals support many unreal human imaginations with a real behavior in attaining power, wealth and a so-called means for washing sins.  The Khas, more particularly the Bahuns, cleverly tide people by a rope of fatalism and governed them. In this way, they expanded their sphere of influence and collected harvest in the form of power and wealth. Therefore, Hinduism provided the philosophy and rituals to empower the Khas, more particularly the Bahuns. As a result, the Khas and their state played the lead role in widening the scope of Hinduism in Nepal. For this purpose, they actively propagated the ideology of fatalism as everything they did unjust could be legalized by fatalistic interpretation that this was the outcome of their fate. A large majority among Hindu-Bahuns consider their religion as a milking cow. They are ritualistic. The state also played with facts to project Nepal as a Hindu majority state. According to the state sponsored “statistics”, in Nepal the Hindus are 89% of the population.

The analysis of public holidays reflects the Hindu theocratic nature of the state. The government had declared 25 days in 1999 as public holidays for everybody. Among these days, 18 are Hindu religious days and one day is Buddhist religious day. Remaining six days fall under social function category. Besides, another 10 days are provisioned as public holiday for specific region or community. Among these 10 days, 5 are Hindu religious days whereas one is Buddhist religious day and 4 come under social function category (Department of Information, HMG 2056 v.s.). The analysis shows how the state has been behaving in a Hindu theocratic mode.

A significant size of population believes in nature worships, including the worships of fire, water and ancestors.  These could be called as folk faiths. The patterns of thought process, beliefs and practices have been deeply rooted in their centuries old traditions. Therefore, the source and rituals of folk faiths are the traditions. The large majority of Khas in Khasan region worship Mastos and Bhuwanis. That is not a Hindu system. Nearly all custom groups among Mangolkirats, some groups among Madhesis (e.g. Koche, Meche, Tharu, and Dhimal etc.) and the Dalits could not be labeled as practitioners of any organized religion and all of them have their own folk faiths. The names of their faiths may differ. Some of them may say that their faith could be a sect of an organized religion, but they differ in the ritualistic aspects and observe the traditions and are not part of any organized religion. Folk faiths are not the same and similar in observance.  They differ place to place and community to community. One important trick of the Hindu state system is that they concluded if anybody is neither Muslim nor Christian nor Buddhist nor Jain nor Sikh, then that person is a Hindu.  In this way all practitioners of folk faiths are included as Hindus in the statistics collected, processed and presented by the state.

Since its presence in Nepal, Hinduism attacked and tried to sideline Buddhism and the folk faiths prevalent in the society.  The Aryans initiated all out efforts to replace these cultures by their own Hindu culture. They succeeded to a large extent not primarily because their culture was superior but because they established control over state power. The use of state power in the promotion of Hinduism and repression of other religions and folk faiths was instrumental in creating a psychology of superior Hindu culture. Fatalism, the ideological foundation of Hinduism, justified all Hindu atrocities in the name of fate. This mysterious fatalism offered opportunities for oppressor to oppress ruthlessly and created miseries for the oppressed. Therefore, Hinduism and their Khas believers practiced social anarchy as their birth right. They also propagated that the king is the incarnation of Hindu God Vishnu. This concept might have been originated in the time of Lichhivi king Jayadeva as he had mentioned the term “God” before his name (Joshi, 2030 v. s.: 557). This divine status of the Hindu kings made it nearly impossible to disobey him. This was more true to those who were not Hindus. The Khas-Bahuns employed themselves as the sole contractor of the VISA to go to the heaven. They projected the real world as sea of misery and showed the green grass of unreal heaven but at a cost that their clients should pay for. They declared themselves as pious guides, philosophers and judges and pretended that they have the monopoly for sending anybody to hell or heaven based on their fate and the rituals they perform on their instructions. In the process, they collected fabulous gifts and donations as part of the rituals and placed themselves in a superior status. They declared the believers of other religion and faiths as barbaric and also successfully inserted such beliefs among them. Several renegades were created among the people of other faiths to carry out the mission of Hindu supremacy. The new converts propagated the Hindu culture aggressively and they are doing the same till today. The thinking and practice of Hindu supremacy based on fatalism negates cultural pluralism and limits the possibilities of multiculturalism.

c. Absolute underdevelopment

The development and prosperity are still far away from Nepalese society. The picture of those nationalities suppressed by Hindu-Khas state is even worse. And, among them some custom groups are in a situation of extreme poverty and absolute underdevelopment.

Badi is a custom group among Madhesis living in a situation of hopelessness. If someone visits Badi families in Gaganjunj, a neighborhood of Nepalgunj feels sad seeing the small match-box type family dwellings with a single room. They practice prostitution as traditional occupation. Their community has accepted it as a means of survival. They offer their services to their clients in the same room where other members of the family also have to stay. The police is all the time after them, not primarily to prevent them from practicing prostitution but to get enjoyment free of cost and also to collect money as bribe from them. They take advantage of the provision of practicing prostitution as illegal and loot them. The neighbors throw stones on them alleging that they gave bad name for their neighborhood. These disturbances have created problems to carry on their work. They, including the children in the family, have to spend several nights without meals. Neither they have any other resource base for adopting another occupation nor is the state or the society supporting them. 

Many people believe that Chepang, one of the most marginalized custom groups, is still in an age of hunting and gathering. This is not true. Although, a small section of them resides in the caves but many others are no different from the people of other custom groups or nationalities. They have their own lifestyles. Women are quite independent and effectively participate in production activities and family decision making process. They tend to stay away from the outsiders. But, now their economic and social life has been affected tremendously. The change in the system of ownership over communal land and the government control over the forest land utilized by Chepangs has influenced heavily on their tribal autonomy (Bhattarai, 1995: 1-16). In this way, their livelihood, culture and autonomy are passing through a difficult phase. Similarly, the miseries of Chamars and tragedies of Dushadhs reveal the threat to their basic survival. They are the victims of subjugation and domination. These are  a few custom groups among others.

The statistics to differentiate the custom groups who are in a situation of extreme underdevelopment are not available other than the rate of illiteracy. This is a very critical indicator and can reveal the reality very much with some limitations. Some careful participatory appraisal exercises supported the relation between the illiteracy rate and absolute underdevelopment. Therefore, if 75% and more illiteracy rate as accepted as indicator of absolute underdevelopment, then sixteen groups fall under this status. They are Badi, Thami, Raji, Bote, Chepang, Majhi, Danuwar, Dusadh, Chamar, Khatwe, Musahar, Kewat, Rajbhar, Dhanuk, Muslim and Dhobi.  Similarly the above 75% illiteracy rate of the people of different nationalities gives a picture of their condition. The illiteracy among Madhesi (82%), Mangolkirat (78%) and Dalit (78%) has created limitation for their progress.  Indeed, the situation of absolute underdevelopment has contributed negatively in the process of building partnership as the Khas and Newars feel themselves developed and civilized and alienate the others.

d. Untouchability

 

The division of labor during pre-historical days or at the beginning of the primitive tribal republics was made the basis for the caste system by the Hindus. The infamous Hindu code called Manushmriti made this arrangement as a permanent social feature relating it with birth in a specific level of social hierarchy. Bahuns were placed at the highest and Sudras at the lowest level of the Hindu hierarchical division. Chhetries and Vaishyas were at second and third position. This is the caste system. The lowest caste was responsible for all sorts of services and had to live in servitude. They were considered as untouchables. They were restricted to touch any person of other three higher castes. The Sudras had several other restrictions such as reading Veda, a holy Hindu book, touching drinking water kept for the use of upper castes etc. As a result, the so-called untouchables had been prevented from any kind of intellectual discources and entrepreneurships. The longer the system continued that created some sort of acceptance as a normal social practice. People, including the so-called untouchables became accustomed to such social behavior. In this way, the social anarchy of caste system and its all inhuman atrocities become part of the social code.  The expansion of Hindu theocratic state provided fertile ground to implement this code in newly annexed territories and societies. In the Manushmriti, they have made seven provisions to consider somebody as Sudra (please see Chapter-Two, section on “Dalit”) and one among them was the punishment by state to declare him or her as Sudra (Manushmriti, 8/415 in Yakharai, 2053). This provision was used to terrorize many non Hindus that if they will not accept what is said to them to do, they could be easily declared as Sudras. In the first Civil Code of 1854, the Hindu social code of out-casting somebody and declaring them as Sudra was included. Hence, the state laws legalized the Hindu anarchy of inhuman caste system and also provisioned the punishments relating it to the caste of a convict. The lower castes had to face more severe punishments for the same crime.  In state laws, the strange provision of untouchability was included and if a person of higher caste touched somebody among the untouchables, that person of the higher caste had to go through purification rituals. The 1854 Civil Code classified the Sudras in two categories. The first category included the group, whom if touched there was no need of going through purification ritual but they were not allowed to touch water or any other cooked food or enter inside the houses of higher castes. The second group was that of untouchables. The first group included Muslim, Telis, Dhobi, Kasai, Kusle, Kulu, Mlechha (loosely referring to Christians) and Chudara. The second group included Sarki, Kami, Sunar, Chunar, Hurke, Damai, Gaine, Badibhad, Pede and Chyamekhalak. In the first category there were 8 custom groups and in the second 10.  

Although, some attempts have been made more recently to bring to notice the worse situation the so-called untouchables survive in regard to their physical quality of life, but there have not been any significant efforts to apprise and understand the emotional state of their mind. Not only their feelings have suffered immensely but also their total human existence has been affected.  Therefore, the Hindu-Khas rulers and the entire oppressive Khas nationality have to bow down and beg for pardon for the excesses they themselves, their ancestors and their state have committed. This is their primary responsibility. The act alone can initiate a process of assuaging their feelings and the repentance may create a foundation for genuine forgiveness and partnership. Respect is the prime concern here, which has to go to a next level by ensuring social justice. But, the Hindu-Khas rulers may not take such course willingly. Their ego of superiority, the power intoxication and the arrogance among the Bahuns will prevent them taking the path of healing and reconciliation. Therefore, the so-called untouchables have to confront the Hindu social code. They have to fight against the injustices. Also, they have to demand reparation and compensation. The Hindu-Khas rulers may enhance their understanding after feeling the heat of the confrontation and will be forced to surrender their privileges.

e. Narrow custom group perspectives

 

The divisive tendencies promoted by the Khas engulfed all the nationalities and motivated them to find out the differences whatever smaller they may have among different custom groups. Such exercises not only prevented in understanding commonalities but helped to widen the gaps. The Coordination Center for uplift of Nationalities has raised the issues of getting rid of inferiority complex and inward-looking nature among oppressed nationalities (Gurung et al 1999: 15). The disunity of different custom groups within a nationality and absence of solidarity among oppressed nationalities created blocks for partnership. The custom groups have their own backgrounds and also possess some cultural specialties and think that they are different. This is true to Mangolkirats and Madhesis both. The Madhesis have been in a more complex situation and are influenced by narrow sub-group perspectives due to division created by Hindu caste system, religious diversities, and cultural influences of the community of other side of the Nepal-India border. A numerically larger group among Dalits has also helped to widen the gaps among other custom groups. Further more, they also have been affected by the Hindu system of lower and upper social divisions within their own nationality also. The Newars are not only divided in Hindu and Buddhists, but also have several caste layers. The crux of the problem is that the Hindu-Khas have spread a net of division, hate and arrogance and each and every custom group or nationality has been affected. Therefore, the custom groups and nationalities have to chart a new course and have to come out of the negative tendencies of the past. Most often past has been the source of division not that of unity (Murray, 1995: 72). Who will ring the bell and how the ringing will be activated are the prime questions of today. Until, the oppressed nationalities overcome the divisive tendencies originated from the narrow perspectives and do not fight collectively against the Khas domination, the partnership will remain remote.

 

f. Destruction of socio-physical infrastructure

 

Every nationality had their social infrastructure. Among them, the prominent ones included Rodi of Gurungs, Dhukur of Thakalis, Chumlung of Rai-Limbus, Bheja of Magars and Guthi of Newars. Presently, these social organizations are not much active. Similarly, the change in land ownership and management system also made tremendous difference in the roles of some of the nationalities. The example is the abolition of Kipat system of Limbus brought the communal land under individual ownership. The provision of transferable ownership provision of such land offered opportunity to the Khas to grab the fertile land of the indigenous people.  In the same way, the naming of administrative districts and zones replaced the names of the area popular among the people. The example includes Ollo Kirat, Majhkirat and pallo kirat were replaced by new names such as Khotang, Bhojpur, and Dhankuta etc. In this way, the name ‘Kirat’ attached to the area had been taken out. The Khas were champion in renaming and making the original names disappearing from the beginning of the expansion of the Gorkha kingdom. Hamilton has stated that the Gorkha rulers changed the names of the conquered principalities in an unbelievable speed, Till 1767, in Kathmandu valley there were three Newar principalities called Yin, Yala and Khopo. Before 1802, these names were replaced by Kathmandu, Lalitpatan and Bhadgaon (Hamilton, 1819: 11). Also In the same way, in Marshyandi valley, the several Mangolkirat names of the settlements were replaced by Sanskrit names.[7] Such exercises were undertaken all over the country.

The internal migration had gained momentum after the control of malaria in the southern plains. In 1961, among the population of Terai, the percentage of people born in the hills and migrated to Terai formed only 2.5 %. But in 1971 that percentage reached to 9.8% (R.S. Rana & Y. S. Thapa in Shrestha, 1981: 77). Although, the primary cause for the migration was economic but at the same time the Khas state encouraged the people from the hills to southern boarder areas with the intention that they will be a buffer between India and the Madhesis in this side of the border. The patriotism of the Madhesis was questioned and their loyalty was doubted by the rulers. Similarly, the administrative division called zone was made north-south which was not a natural division considering the inhabitance of nationalities.  In this way, the destruction of such nationally infrastructures had played a role which obstructed the building of mutual trust, respect and harmony.

 

Chapter Five

Emergence of National Liberation Movements and Response of State-Forces

1. Nation-States and State-nations

 

In Europe, new types of classes came into existence due to the emergence of capitalism. The industrial revolution provided the foundation for nation-states which replaced feudal theocratic states. The ideological basis of capitalism in regard to formation of the state was nationalism. Therefore, in Europe, during the eighteenth century the new concept of nationalism provided the new bourgeoisie class a basis for establishing nation-states to protect their economic interest and consolidate their class rule. During nineteenth century, nationalism served the bourgeoisie class as their political concept to expand their control over a large part of the world. Contrary to the expectations of the colonialist bourgeoisie class, in the twentieth century, nationalism served as the foundation for national liberation movement against the European colonizers (Berberoglu, 1995: 1). And, gradually nationalism became part and parcel of national independence movement.  From the beginning of the twentieth century, several states continued to emerge and they were called as nation-states. With some exceptions, all of them were multinational states or state-nations. The ongoing reorganization movement in several European state-nations supports this conclusion.  Many of the reorganized states also are, again, the multinational or united national states.

The state is a political organization, whereas “nation” expresses the special characteristics of the people. These characteristics provide basis for the establishment of their own independent state (A. Cobban in Parker, 1998: 59). The word “state” has been originated from the Latin word “status” which means “appointed” or “fixed”. Hence, state has been defined as an organized sovereign political structure in a given territory. The word “nation”, also has originated from Latin word “natio” which means “birth”. In general, the word “nation” refers to a group of people having common origin and characteristics (Parker, 1998: 60).

According to Joseph Stalin “a nation is a historically formed stable community of people arising on the basis of common language, common territory, common economic life, and a typical cast of mind manifested in common culture.” (In Postiglione, 1995: 60)

The modern Greece is one of the better examples of a nation-state.  The people rebelled against the Ataman Empire in early ninetieth century and Greece came into existence as a result of the general revolt against the externally imposed cultural identity (H.C. Darby in Parker, 1998: 69). Similarly, Hungary is an example of a state which played significant role in the formation of a nation. Inside Hungary, there were several non-Hungarian speaking regions. Efforts were made to introduce Hungarian language all over Hungary and also make the place of the people of Hungarian nationality important as well as effective (Parker, 1998: 69).

In reality, in the formation of a nation-state, the feeling of common bond among a large section of people and threat of foreign aggression or suppression play major roles. On the other hand, state-nations make one of the most influential nationality or a custom group as a means to establish control over the larger region. Then, they create environment to evolve new set of cultural values. On the long run, a new nation may emerge through this process. This type of nation, generally, identifies and aligns with the state. Hence, the state implements the new identity as a common one in the entire territory it has established sovereign control (Parker, 1998: 69-70)  

The state-nations have attained successes in maintaining control over the territory when the core nation has its spread all over the state, it is powerful economically and it has a larger size of population. The examples include Britain, France and Spain. If the core nation is either weak or has no spread, the success of the state-nation becomes difficult. Yugoslavia is one of the fine examples of failure. The relation between nation and state broke down immediately after the ideological basis of communism collapsed.

In reality, the most effective structural relationship is seen between state and nation (Parker, 1998: 69-72). The national identity is a dynamic phenomenon and never remains static. The identity evolves gradually in response to internal and external developments in a longer period of time (Lynch, 1999: 1).

As the thinking was that the establishment of states would be on the basis of a nation, the world organization formed after First World War was named as “League of Nations”. After the Second World War, the institution was revived as “United Nations Organization.”  Therefore, the word “nation” was commonly used in place of a “country” or “state”.

In the present context, the idea of formation and continuation of a nation-state have raised several questions. Leaving out the death and destruction during the two Great Wars, the battles in course of establishing nation-states have been the major causes for the loss of lives

and property. In the contemporary world, the concept of nation-state sounds an idea having no future. Now, the influence of transnational corporations, the obligations resulting through the contractual arrangements between states,  globalization of information and information technology and the enhanced aspirations for local self-governance have been raising questions on the power and capacities of nation-states (Castells, 1997: 243-308). Therefore, from now on, the political movements may not have nation-state as their goal. The future is that of multinational states or state-nations which may have the collaboration and partnership of more than one nationality.

 

In Nepal, the Rana government, first time, used the term “nation” in its “Nepal Government Constitutional Act – 2004 V.S”. In that Act, there was the provision for two chambers of the nominated legislature. Among them, the upper chamber was named as “National Assembly.”  This was the beginning of the use of the word “nation” in the constitutional and legal context. In the political arena, Nepali Congress used the word, first time, during its first incarnation. The political organization which they formed in Varanasi in India was named as “Nepali National Congress.”  B. P. Koirala, leader of Nepali Congress, has stated:

“We were working as Nepali National Congress and they were working as Nepali Democratic Congress. …. At Kolkata convention, Nepali Congress was formed by merging Nepali National Congress (the committee formed by the cadre in Varanasi) and Nepali Democratic Congress (the committee formed by the cadres in Kolkata. (Koirala, 2055 V.S.: 42, 109.)

Indeed, the word “nation” was used as synonyms of “all”, “country” or “state”. Further, the naming of the group might be influenced by the name of the Indian political party, called “Indian National Congress.” The idea is supported by B. P. Koirala’s interview dated June 24, 1971. In his famous but most controversial interview with the “Sunday” magazine, he has said that Nepal has not become a nation-state, it is only an administrative unit (in Tamang, 2054 V.S.: 13). This is the partially true. Nepal has not become a nation-state even today. But, saying that it is just an administrative unit, does not reflect the reality. Nepal is a sovereign united national state. The Communist Party of Nepal, in its first Manifesto, has stated:

“Many feudal lords ruled Nepal during the time of Malla dynasty. Since 1769, Nepal has been a centralized feudal state ruled by Ranas and their collaborators” (Rawal, 2047 V.S.: 172)

Of course, Nepal had not been a nation-state as rightly said by B. P. Koirala and it was a centralized feudal state as stated by the Communist Party of Nepal. The first proposition is still valid, but the change in the society has resulted in changing the nature of the state.

The Communist party of Nepal has used the terms such as “nation”, “national interest” etc. in its Manifesto and some other occasions. But, these terms also are used as the synonyms of “state” or “country” or “all”.  In 1951, the Communist Party of Nepal and the Praja Parishad, one of the oldest political parties,  formed a “National Democratic United Front.” But, the word “national” was not related to any groups of people. This could be just the expression of influence of the Bengali communists over Nepalese communist leaders as they were residing in Kolkata at that time. In 1963, the Communist Party of Nepal organized its third party congress. In the same year in Moscow, 81 communist and worker’s parties had participated in a conference organized to talk on “National Democracy.” Hence, the Nepalese Communists, in their third congress, christened their program as “National Democracy.” In that congress a 10 point program of national democracy was adopted (Rawal, 2047 V.S.: 183-84). But, the 10 points are related to the transformation of the society and transfer of political power, and they have no direct relation with the issues of nationalities. 

In 1952, a new political party, “Nepal Nationalist Gorkha Parishad” was established. Its nationalism was like that of pre-1948 Britain. According to this school of thought the essence of nationalism was the loyalty towards the crown (Enoch Powel in Lynch, 1999: 45). The nationalism of the Gorkha Parishad was guided by the same interpretation. The overall nature of the party was regressive. After the royal take over of 1960, the new rulers distorted the meaning of nationalism by overly using it to meet their narrow political interest.

Indeed, the Hindus who control the state power use nationalism as a means to promote Hindu supremacy. The same is applicable to ordinary Hindus. They believe that they are even more “pure” Hindu-nation than India (John Whelpton in Adams, 1998: 32). This was the expression of Hindu superiority. Therefore, the nationalism of the rulers was the Hindu nationalism. If it had any relation with the nation or the ethic relation, then it was Khas nationalism.

It is important to differentiate between nationalism and patriotism. Since the political change of 1950, nationalism has been in use as a synonym for patriotism. The merger of Sikkim in India, division of Pakistan with Indian interference, and the Indian regional hegemony in political, economic and defense areas, Nepal experienced the depth and intensity of patriotism. The rulers found it appropriate to serve their own interest and propagated as nationalism. This scenario created confusion and in this opportune moment the Khas ultra-nationalism got a cover of Nepalese nationalism. This camouflaged ultra-Khas nationalism created confusion among progressive individuals, thinkers and leaders too. The confusion was so deep that one among the leading thinkers on ethic issues and national equality, Parashuram Tamang also proposed to find out a new concept and definition of Nepalese nationalism (Tamang, 2054: 116). When Nepal is not a nation-state, what is the need of a new concept and definition of Nepalese nationalism?

Modern Nepal has no history of its formation as a federation of several states as that of USA. This is not unified by the colonial power as the case of India. This is not the result of unification of several smaller states. Nepal came into existence as the greater Gorkha theocratic Hindu state. In the course of time, the capital was moved to Kathmandu and the name of the country become popular as Nepal. So, some of the Khas historians try to glorify this whole process as “national unification”. But, this fact should not negate the reality that the feudal principalities, which were not capable to maintain their independence, vanished. In that age, this was a normal and natural phenomenon. The Nepalese state, which exists today, is the result of the same phenomenon. Therefore, glorifying the feudal theocratic military campaign as “national unification movement” on one side and interpreting this endeavor as Gorkha reactionary military machine’s ruthless attack on the independence of smaller states on the other, both, are the incorrect conclusions.  

Nepal is a country of people of several nationalities. The feeling of love of Nepal is nothing other than the Nepalese patriotism. The feeling of such patriotism provides the foundation for a Nepalese identity. The people of several nationalities who reside here may have their special features, and Nepalese patriotism reflects all such features as its own characteristics. The basis of all efforts including any movement, struggle or war directed towards defending the Nepalese sovereignty and territorial integrity is patriotism. Therefore, rather than using the term ‘nationalism’, it would be more realistic and nationality-neutral to use the term ‘patriotism’. If the Nepalese will have to go on war for the defense of their sovereignty that would be a patriotic war and its character would be that of a united national liberation war.

The term “nation” is widely accepted to refer as a country or a state. The use should be continued. In Nepalese context, the word doesn’t reflect the reality if used to refer the people as a whole. There is no Nepalese nation and there is no Nepalese nationalism. This confusion should be cleared. Therefore, what the nationalism today is talked about, in essence, is the patriotism and that should be addressed accordingly. The Nepalese state should be interpreted rightly as a united state of several nationalities. The Khas chauvinists, who talk Nepal as a nation-state, have no future. This conclusion may be contested but the reality is that even in future Nepal will remain as united state of several nationalities. It may not develop as a nation-state rather would evolve as a socialist or nationality-neutral state. 

2. Aspirations of Nationalities and Responses of State-Forces: A Brief Review

 

a. International Arena

 

The nationalities have been fighting either for cultural autonomy and social justice or for political autonomy or for right to self determination. The first types are primarily the minority nationalities, the second type are residing particularly in clusters and the third type may have both the characters.   The entire world is passing through a phase of upheavals caused by the rise of nationalities’ aspirations.  Here, some representative cases would be presented. A brief analysis of these cases will help to validate the assumption that the nationality issue has been at the fore front of social contradictions in a large part of the world.  China, former Soviet Union, Canada and a few national liberation movements, briefly analyzed below will provide glimpses of the movement and the response of the state forces.

China 

The Chinese government is managing the most populous state in the world. Although, 55  minority nationalities reside in China, they have a combined population of 8% or 90 million only. Han, the single largest nationality forms 92% of the population.

Sun Yat Sen had opined that in China there are five nationalities. The Kuomintang party under the leadership of his successor Chang Kai Sek concluded that in China there is just one nationality and every single group is only the branch of Han nationality.  In its second party convention in 1922, the Communist Party of China had supported the Leninist policy of establishing republics for national minorities. In principle, these republics could be independent if they desired so. The Kuomintang Party’s manifesto which was written by Sun Yat Sen in 1924, states that “Kuomintang declares that it recognizes the right to self determination of all nationalities. After the success of the anti imperialist and anti-warlord revolution a United Chinese Republic (independent federation of all nationalities) will be established. The Communist Party of China had supported this policy (Mao Tse-Tung, 1966: 104).  In its 6th Party convention held in July 1928, the Communist Party included the provision of unification of China and recognized the right to self determination of nationalities in its 10-points program (Mao Tse-Tung, 1969: 303).    But, in 1935 the party dropped the provision of right to self determination stating that that was not appropriate to Chinese condition and proposed regional autonomous rule. In the constitution promulgated after the capture of state power by the communists in 1949, the Chinese republic was described as a great fraternal cooperative family of all nationalities (Postiglione, 1995: 259-279).

The national minorities in China have different types of spread.  In Tibet, the Tibetans form 90% of the population, whereas in Inner Mangolian autonomous region, the population of Mongolians is just 20%. Although, the Hui nationality has an autonomous region, they are spread all over the country. Hui and Manchu Nationalities have no language of their own and speak Mandarin, a Han language. Other several nationalities have their own languages. Some nationalities have different mother tongues. For instance, people of Jingpo nationality have more languages and some of them are quite different. Some nationalities are multi-lingual. Mangolian and Manchu had ruled  over China for centuries. Korean, Russian, Kajakh, Kirghiz and Tajiks are the majority nationalities in China’s neighboring countries. In this way, the nationality composition in China is complex.

After capturing the power at the center, the government led by the Chinese Communist Party appealed the people to enlist their nationalities. In response to the government call, more than 400 groups submitted their claim as a distinct nationality. After investigation, the government accepted to recognize 55 nationalities.  Although, language, dress and custom of several groups were distinctly different, they were considered as a branch of a specific nationality. After finalizing the issue of nationalities, still there were more than seven million people whose nationality could not be determined.

There are 5 autonomous regions, 31 autonomous prefectures, 105 autonomous counties, 141 autonomous areas and 3000 nationality townships in China. At the central level, the Nationality Committee of the National People’s Congress and the Nationality Commission under the Council of State (central government) have been assigned the responsibilities on nationality affairs.   “The regional autonomy for national minority act -1984″ had specified the provisions of autonomous institutions and their rights, central government assistance for the training and capacity building and establishing and strengthening relations on the basis of socialism among nationalities. The policy on nationalities is stated as “one state, multi-nationality policy” or “policy of political integration with cultural diversities”. There are four policy themes on nationalities in the drive of Chinese modernization. They are – social equality, economic development, cultural autonomy and national integration (Postiglione, 1995: 259-279). But, these attempts have not been enough to solve the Tibetan issue. Similarly, the sate failed to prevent the unfortunate happenings of Kazakhs’ migration in a big number to former Soviet Union in 1962. Also, the government is blamed for promoting the large scale migration of majority Hans in the minority’s ancestral land. Therefore, the national question in China has far from been resolved.

Former Soviet Union

Russian empire came into existence through the battles of several centuries against many non-Russian nationalities. After capturing political power by launching a successful revolution in 1917, the Soviet communists (Bolsheviks) had to concentrate in three priority issues. They were – 1) face resistance launched by reactionaries against newly established socialist state, 2) fight against the attack of western capitalist forces led by the Americans in the west and Japanese in the east, and 3) solve the problems of non-Russian nationalities.  The Soviet communists got success to solve the first two issues by the middle of 1920’s but failed to find out a satisfactory solution of the problems of non-Russian nationalities ( Chorbajian, 1995: 227). During the period of turmoil originated due to the First World War, Bolshevik revolution and the attack of the western powers after the revolution, some nationalities got opportunity to declare independence from Russia. Some of them established their own nation-state. Finland was one among them. During this period, for a while (about one year), Georgia, Armenia, Ajarbaijan, Belarus, Ukren and Crimea also enjoyed independence. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia stayed independent during the period between two great wars. In the initial years, the Bolsheviks had proposed federal system on the basis of regional divisions. Their understanding was that the regional structures will be nationality neutral. The class conscious will be the sole basis for the formation of the regions. But, they changed the policy immediately as they had to listen to the voices of the nationalities. The Bolsheviks afterward took stand in favor of political and cultural autonomy. The right to self determination and secession were granted to the minority nationalities (Postiglione, 1995: 259-279).  

For the major national minorities, socialist republics such as Ukren, Ajharbaijan etc had been established. Small national minorities had their sub-republics within the republics including Russia. The republics had their own national flags, national song, national anthem, political parties and legislatures. The republics with many qualities of an independent state provided foundation for strengthening the bond of nationalism. Several political parties came into existence due to the feeling of nationalism. Armenian National Integration Party established in 1966 is one of the examples. The Helsinki Watch Committee in Georgia had been organizing demonstrations since 1977 for the promotion of language and its history. The Soviet authorities proposed a constitutional amendment to make Russian as official language also in Georgia in 1978. There were several protest demonstrations against this amendment all over Georgia. The proposal was forced to drop. In 1988 another attempt had been made by the Soviet authorities to curtail the autonomy of republics. Protest movements were organized in several places against the proposed constitutional amendments. It was widely believed that the amendments would curtail the sovereignty and power of the republics. The students sat on hunger strikes. From this agitation the Georgian independence movement became intense and the slogan that “Georgia belongs to Georgians” became the battle cry. The same type of incidents and movements began to appear in Baltic region too. The nationalist movements created new waves also in the central Asian republics. The Kazakh’s demonstration of 1986, their decision to prohibit nuclear tests in Kazakhstan, the establishment of a political organization called Birlik in Ujbekistan and their demand for Uzbek independence, the Tajik demonstration of 1989 and the Kirghiz’s demonstrations of 1989 for independence and sovereignty were the expansion and replication of the Georgian movement (Chorbajian, 1995: 227-254). As a result of all these independence movements, the Soviet Union disintegrated and the republics got their sovereign statehood in 1991.   

Canada 

Canada has become a puzzle of the right to self determination. The French, British and Dutch colonialists were busy grabbing the North American territories during 17th century. The French colonialists established their control over Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and called it New France. Britain captured New France in 1760. Britain organized the territory under a council in 1763. The British made English language compulsory in all businesses of the council. The French speaking people of Quebec opposed this arrangement. In 1774 through Quebec Act, the French Civil Law got recognition in Quebec. By introducing a new constitutional act, Britain divided Quebec into two provinces – Lower Canada and Upper Canada. Lower Canada covered more or less the same territory what is called Quebec today and Upper Canada had covered the territory which is called Ontario today. The Canadian independence movement started in 1837-38 developed to the level of armed confrontation. The movement was suppressed. In 1840, Britain proposed the formation of a federation constituting both parts of Canada.  As a result Canadian state came into existence in 1867. Immediately after this, effort was made to form a federation with a single legislature covering the area from Nova Scotia in the east to British Columbia in the west.  The French speaking people of Quebec opposed the proposed federation. Finally, provinces with a higher level of autonomy were established and Canadian federal state came into existence as their union. The central government had the economic and repressive rights whereas the provinces had rights over natural resources. They had been granted autonomy to formulate cultural and social policies and to implement them.  But, the division of rights between center and provinces could not establish amicable relationship, rather they opposition each other even more. The Acadians, Métis and Canadian natives also started to raise questions about their rights.

More than 80% people speak French as their mother tongue in Quebec. Therefore, French language has become the major factor in the Quebec national movement. In 1960s, the French-Canadians developed as a new nation. The formation of the new nation was the result of a protracted nationalist movement started during the early years of 20th century. Due to the rising feeling of French-Canadian (Quebec) nationalism, the Party Quebecois won the majority seats in the provincial legislature. After coming to power the party put forward its opinion in favor of sovereign Quebec. A referendum in 1980 organized by the provincial government did not endorse the proposal of sovereign Quebec. Only 40% people voted in favor of independence.

Canada had had a colonial constitutional provision and under this provision any change in Canadian constitution could be effective only after the endorsement of British Privy Council. The strange provision was taken out by the new constitutional law in 1982. The new constitution provisioned several rights to the provinces. Such rights also could not satisfy Quebec as it was asking for a special status. More importantly, the provincial government was still in favor of sovereign Quebec. The French speaking people of Quebec believe that they can protect themselves against being assimilated in English speaking Canada if they can establish their own sovereign state (Bourque, 1995: 213). 

The Mitch Lake agreement signed in 1987 recognized Quebec as a distinct society and proposed amendment in the constitution. According to Canadian constitution, the amended clauses could be implemented if all provinces accept the amendments. Manitoba did not agree with the change in the constitution. So, the provisions could not be implemented.

The pro-independence political party called Party Quebecois came to power again in the province in 1994. As promised, the new provincial government organized another referendum. But, this time also it was rejected by a thin margin of less than one percent. Although, the proposal has been rejected second time, there is no sign of resolution of the issue. As long as no satisfactory solution is found for the people of Quebec and indigenous Canadian nationalities the movement may continue.    

Some major national liberation movements

 

Irish movement is one among the most prominent and sustained movement for national liberation. A violent struggle had started in Ireland in 1641 against the emigrants from England and Scotland. More particularly, after the introduction of “The Act of Union” in 1801 that annexed Ireland in Great Britain, the protest movement took shape as a movement for the right of national self determination of Irish people. In the course of the protest movement a political party called Sinn Fein came into existence in 1905. The party demanded establishment of an independent Ireland. The movement continued. Ireland was divided into Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland in 1920. Independence was granted just for the Southern Ireland in 1949 (Orr, 1995: 159-160). But, Northern Ireland with a catholic majority continued the struggle to establish a unified Irish republic.

The Basque movement in Spain is another European nationalist movement with a long history. The Basque people who speak Euskera language demanded an independent nation-state and launched a movement in 1894. General Franco tried to eliminate everything which could be related to collective Basque identity. He used excessive force against Basque people after capturing power (Letamendia, 1995: 180-196). Once again, the Basques got reorganized during 1960s and the struggle is continuing.

Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony befor America attacked and captured it in 1898.  The Puerto Ricans started independence movement in 1904 and the anti-America movement is continuing. The Spanish speaking people participated in a referendum in 1991 to determine the status of Puerto Rico. But it failed to resolve the problem (Carrion, 1995: 133-153). The Puerto Ricans have not been succumbing to American might. Also, the American hyper-power is not willing to listen to the Puerto Ricans.

The Palestine movement for nationhood is one of the longest movements in history. From 16th century to the First World War, Palestine was under the control of Ataman Empire. During the rule of Atamans, the Jews residing in Palestine were treated badly. They were discriminated and they had no other way than to come together politically. The Jews started provocative actions against the Palestinian Muslims and the Muslims also become politically aware that they also should be united (Welty, 1995: 15-16).  The British colonial control after the First World War created favorable environment to establish a Jewish state of Israel, but the Palestinians had been denied the same right and still they do not have their homeland. The armed conflict between Jews and Palestinians which started in 1920 is still going on after passing through the phases of devastations of four wars in the Middle East.

According to Abdul Rahman Ghassemlon the area of Kurd inhabitance is spread over 409, 650 Squire Kilometers.  And, Ferdinand Henebichler has estimated the Kurd population about 22 million. The Kurdish territory has been captured in pieces by Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria (in Ibrahim, 1995: 36). The Kurd defeated by Ataman in the 16th century came under the rule of the British and the French colonial powers in the beginning of the 20th century. After the colonialists disappeared from the Kurdish territory, the states mentioned above controlled their land by making several pieces.

Sheikh Mahmud Barjanzi, a resident of southern Kurdistan, declared himself as the ruler of Kurdistan in 1918. This was the beginning of the present Kurdish national independence movement. Similarly, the independence movement in the area controlled by Persia (Iran) also got impetus. After crushing the movement for sometimes, a conference was organized in 1921 in Cairo. The conference annexed southern Kurdistan to Iraq (Ibrahim, 1995: 39). The Kurds are fighting to establish a sovereign Kurdish nation-state. They are not successful till today but they have not been defeated either.

Besides the movements mentioned above the struggle between black and white in South Africa, between Hutu and Tutsis in Rwanda, between Eritrean and Ethiopians and Christians in the south and Muslims in the north of Sudan are the African battles. In Afghanistan, the Sunni majority Taliban and minorities under the banner of Northern Alliance are fighting. Indeed, the world history is full of struggles of nationalities.  

 

b. South Asia Region

None of the South-Asian state is a nation-state. These states are the federation of different nationalities. They are passing through a process of building state-nations. Therefore, the entire region is full of national, ethnic, religious and local conflicts. In the context of such conflicts, a brief discussion would help to understand the future course, the region might venture into.

India is not only largest in size among the south Asian states but also it inhabits largest number of nationalities and ethnic groups. Although, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telagu, Kannad, Marathi, Gujrati, Rajasthani, Panjabi, Urdu, Udiya, Bengali, Nepali and Asami are the major languages, there are hundreds of other. In 1920, the Indian National Congress proposed the reorganization of provinces on the basis of language. The reorganization was basically completed by 1960 (Gupta, 1995: 82-83). With this arrangement, many smaller linguistic groups and nationalities were not satisfied. Some major nationalities too, were not happy staying as part of India and started to lunch struggles for independence.  The Nagas, Mizos, Assamies, Manipuries etc. fall under this category. The minority nationalities in several provinces raised their voices for national autonomy. The Bodoland, Gorkhaland and Jharkhand movements are some of the examples. The Indian government is following a policy of either co-option or suppression of such movements. The co-opted ones include the movement of Assam Gana Parishad, Mizo National Liberation Front and the suppressed ones include the Kashmiri independence movement, Khalistani movement in Punjab, United People’s Liberation Front’s movement in Assam and Naga United Socialist Council’s movement in Nagaland. Even during the independence movement, India was facing such situation and the same trend is continuing. The proponents of “Akhand Bharat” (undivided India) are not only launching an ultra-rightist Hindu chauvinistic campaign, they even succeeded in capturing part of the state power in the center and provinces. These developments are contributing negatively towards enhancing the feeling of antagonism among nationalities and disturbing communal harmony in India.

Pakistan had to face the problem of partition due to its failure to bringing equity among different nationalities and linguistic groups. As a result of inequity, Bangladesh came into existence in 1971. Pakistan was formed on the basis of religion. But the same was not enough to keep it united. Even today, among Panjabi, Sindhi, Mohajeer, Baluch and Pakshtuns the relations are full of contradictions and distrust. The Punjabis have a greater control over the bureaucracy. Their numerical presence in the army and civil bureaucracy out numbers other nationalities. The refugees settled in Karachi who came from India during the time of partition in 1947, are in a fighting mood against the Sindhis. The Sindhis consider themselves treated unfairly by the Punjabis in regard to their role in governance. The Baluch and pakshtuns talk about autonomy and have organized political movements. The Pakshtuns, once, raised the flag of united Pakshtunistan. No serious attempt has been made in Pakistan to address the grievances of different nationalities and it has not done enough to establish a functionally federal system of governance (Mallic, 1998: 155).

In Bangladesh, the Hindu population is ever declining. In 1951, in East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh) the population of Hindus was 22%. Their percentage decreased to 12.1 and 10.5 in 1981 and 1991 respectively. During the period between 1981 and 1991 alone 1.7 million Hindus disappeared. A good number among them might have fled to India (Harry Blair in Mallic, 1998: 178-179). The Chakmas, a Buddhists nationality, waged war against the government forces in the Chitagaon hills. Many of the Chakmas fled to India as refugees. The indigenous Chakmas were 90.91% in 1951 in the area, whereas their percentage declined to 59.16 in 1991 (Aditya Kumar in Mallic, 1998: 178-181). The migration of Bengalis to the hills created difficulties for the indigenous people. Their resources, culture and means of livelihood have been at constant threat.  

Sri Lanka, one of the most developed countries in South Asia, is facing a worst civil war. Sinhalese and Tamils are 74 and 18 percent of the population respectively. In 1956, the Sinhalese majority imposed the Official Language Act, which provided superior position for Sinhali language. This act not only alienated the people of other linguistic groups and nationalities but also hurt them.  The “Tamil Language Special Provision Act – 1958″ was introduced to assuage the hurt feelings of the Tamils. To some extent, this Act helped the reconciliation process and cordiality between the two linguistic groups but could not succeed to restore the relation as it was in the past. Once again, in the beginning of the 1970’s, the government made Sinhali as the only official language. This step nullified the previous attempts made to bring the nationalities together. The result was terrifying. The civil war of unprecedented scale is its evidence. Although, too much blood has already been shed, the resolution of the conflict has not been attained. The war is continuing.

In Bhutan, the Dukpa rule has brought misery to Nepali speaking people of southern region. Now, more than 90,000 Nepali speaking Bhutanese have been living in the refugee camps in eastern Nepal (AI, 1998).  The misery begun in 1958 when Bhutan’s National Council passed a resolution calling the Nepali speaking people as “Lhotshampa” (the southerners) and making a mandatory provision for them to reapply for citizenship. It was a strange provision. The provision created identity crisis for the Lhotshampas. The people, who have been residing for centuries, even before the establishment of Wangchuk dynasty in 1907, faced all sorts of suppression and humiliation. Under the banner of “one nation, one culture”, the government initiated ethnic cleansing campaign. The state attacked non-Dukpa culture. For this purpose a state structure was created. This was called “National Council for Social and Cultural Affairs”. After the creation of this structure, Dzonghka, the mother tongue of less than 16% people, was made the official language. The Sarchop and Lhotshampas are 31% and 52% of the population respectively and they have their own traditional dresses. But the rulers imposed a uniform dress code for all the Bhutanese. The Dukpa dress was imposed to all non-Dukpas too. It was made mandatory that all women should wear “Kira” and men “Ghoh”, which are the traditional Dukpa dresses. (NSEC-ICLD, 1992: 7, 144, Himal, 1992: 7-39).  The cultural dictates gave birth to a resistance movement. The Bhutanese government tried to suppress. As a result, many people had to flee from their own country. The political parties like Druk National Congress and United Front for Democracy are fighting for establishing democracy in Bhutan. They are strongly protesting against the government’s ethnic cleansing program. The people of Bhutan are continuing their struggle to restore democracy and to solve the problems faced by the suppressed nationalities.

Nepal is also no different. The ancient Bharatbarsha or the Aryabarta was the source of the inhuman caste system and several other unjust social codes. The descendants of the Aryabartiya Aryans or the Hindu Bahun-Chhetris are the sole importer of the infamous caste system in Nepal. The Khas nationality is a highbred of these Aryas and the Aidi Khas Aryas of Karnali region. The same Khas overpowered the indigenous inhabitants – the Kirats. Gradually, by using their military might and cultural invasion, the Khas succeeded to establish cultural, political and economic control in the area. But, this act also created an environment for resistance movement from other nationalities. Their feeling of injustice and subjugation got expression in the forms of protests and rebellions. Therefore, Nepal is also like a store house of explosives in regard to the question of nationalities.

The Kashmir problem has not been resolved. India and Pakistan have already fought wars on this issue. This has been seen as a flashpoint which could jeopardize world peace. India and Pakistan, both, have earned bad names for poverty, underdevelopment and corruption and both of them possess nuclear arsenal.  India has been heavily influenced by Hindu ultras and in Pakistan, religious fundamentalism is ever increasing. In both the countries, the system of governance has been effectively influenced by these religious ultras. This situation has heavily restricted the progress, prosperity and development of the entire region.

The brief analysis above reveals that the South Asia region is one among the volcanic areas in regard to nationalities’ problems. Such problems have not only disturbed the peace within a country, rather it has been fueling intra-country conflicts as well. 

c. Nepalese Amphitheatre

Nepal has witnessed a long history of struggles and cohabitation of different nationalities. The Kathmandu invasion of the Lichchhivies was the start point. Another struggle was between Khasan principality a Khas feudal state and Magarat, a Mangolkirat state. The Khas took control of Magarat and established their 24 princely states. Gorkha was one among these princely states which succeed to establish a greater Hindu Khas state by invading and merging the smaller feudal states. King Prithvinarayan Shah was the leader of this military endeavor. Prayagraj Sharma has said that King Prithvinarayan and his successors had taken four principles for the campaign of establishing a greater feudal state. They are – unquestionable power and authority of Hindu king of Gorkha, superior status of Hindu system in national life, social integration on the basis of Varnabyabastha (caste system) and recognition of Nepali language for all official purpose (Sharma, 1992: 7).

The greater Gorkha feudal state, which was called Nepal afterward, was a Khas theocratic state. The state since its inception was actively promoting Hindu religion. The examples include king Prithinarayan’s assertion that the new state was an “Asli Hindustana” (real Hindu homeland), his Royal Order that “every court should have a Bahun as judge” and the deportation of all Newar Christians from Kathmandu valley after he captured it (Tamang, 2056 V.S.: 28).

The war between Gorkha-Khas state and Newar state of Kathmandu was so fierce that it generated hatred and feeling for revenge. As a result, after winning the battle, the Khas army cut noses of Newars of Kirtipur. The hatred is still can be seen between them in several forms of cultural practices. The consequences of the fierce battle had been deeply rooted and they were instrumental in determining the mutual relationships full of suspicions between these two nationalities.

In summary, the Khas feudal rule in Nepal had adopted the following principles to expand and consolidate their rule:

  • Hinduism as an ideological basis,
  • Creation of social psychology that Khas culture is superior,
  • Making Khas Kura (Nepali) compulsory in all official works,
  • Expanding Khas control over arable land through the provisions of Birta and Jagir.

These principles were followed religiously. On the long run, Nepal emerged as a strong upper class Hindu theocratic feudal state controlled politically, economically and culturally by the Khas.

The theocratic Hindu Khas state had to face challenges and rebellions from the early days. The war between Kirat principalities of Chaudandi, Hatuwa and Bijayapur and the Gorkha kingdom, called Nepal afterward, was not only a war between sates but that was also a war between nationalities. Some custom groups among Mangolkirats such as Magars and Gurungs have been included in the Khas army. Therefore, some Khas historians try to project this military move as a national unification campaign, whereas the facts speak differently. In 1806, by a Royal Order, the government made it compulsory to send one person from each Gurung household to fight in the war at Kangada. Many Gurungs reached there after covering a long distance. But they had no knowledge of the political reason behind the war (Pignede, 1966: 490). During the early days of Gorkha rule, the local leaders in Majhkirat started a rebellion in 1808. According to Gyanmani Nepal the rebellion  was crushed and Atal Rai, Bharat Singh Rai and Kanthbir Rai got capital punishment, whereas other 15 persons got life imprisonment for staging the rebellion (Yakharai, 2053 v.s.: 345). Quoting Harka Gurung, Mahesh Chandra Regmi, Janaklal sharma and Durgahang Rai, Parshuram Tamang states that there had been several rebellions against the Khas rule. Among them the prominent ones include Kirat expulsion of 1770, Tamang and Limbu rebellion of 1793, Lakhan Thapa Magar’s rebellion of 1870 and Supati and Sukdev Gurung’s rebellion of 1877 (Tamang, 2054 v.s.: 122).

For a long time, the Dalits had remained in the situation of hopelessness in relation to their organized effort for national emancipation. Only after the overthrow of Rana dynastic rule in 1951, the Dalits started to raise their voices. National Dalit People’s Uplift Council was among the first Dalit organizations.

The Khas rulers of Kathmandu distributed the fertile land of Terai among their relatives, army and civilian officials, priests, courtiers and servants of royal households. In this way the Khas grabbed the prime land. After a concerted effort to control malaria in the southern region, the  Khas land owners either moved to the Terai region or send their Khas cousins to that region. The other hill people also migrated to Terai as the land was fertile. The Khas rulers also promoted the trend of hill people moving to Terai as they were suspicious of patriotism of the Madhesis as they had close socio-cultural links to the other side of the boarder.  All this accelerated the process of marginalization of Madhesis. Now, their resource base had been grabbed by the Khas and other hill people, their patriotism questioned and opportunities denied. This helped to alienate the Madhesis further. As a result, they started to organize themselves and raised voice against all sorts of atrocities and inequalities. The Terai Congress was the first Madhesi political party which came into existence raising the problems faced by them.

The mass movement of 1950 was very much based on the aspiration of people to establish democracy in the country and autonomy for the nationalities. This feeling was reflected in the event which had happened when B. P. Koirala, the then home minister at that time, visited Majhkirat. In 1951, B. P. Koirala says:

I saw a crowd of 10 to 12 thousand people the other side (of the river close to Bhojpur Bazar). I had to go. I went by riding a horse. Because it was climbing down, I got down from the back of the horse and walked. I crossed the river by boat. The crowed was highly agitated. We just were in front of the crowd. The Bahuns and Chhetris were afraid of the crowd and had gone underground. The people under the leadership of Bhudev and Thulung were asking for their authority over the area. The voice for self-rule was also raised (Koirala, 2055 v.s.: 163).

The Mangolkirats were asking for autonomy under the leadership of Kirat leaders Bhudev Rai and Naradmuni Thulung. The Khas (Bahuns and Chhetris) of the area were very much apprehensive and had been hiding.  Although, the movement subsided that time but it reappeared. In 1970, the Kirat leaders revived the demand by distributing pamphlets and appealing the Kiratis to come out against Tagadharis (Bahuns and Chhetris or the Khas).

During the 1980’s, organizations like “SeTaMaGuRaLi” (Association of Sherpa, Tamang, Magar, Gurung, Rai, and Limbus) appeared in semi underground form. Limbuvan Liberation Front came into existence by raising the slogan of autonomy for Limbuvan. Similarly, Khambuvan Liberation Front, Magar Liberation Front, Mangol National Organization, Newar National Organization etc were formed. The Madhesi political Party – Terai Congress reappeared with a new name as Nepal Sadbhavana Parishad (Nepal Goodwill Council) which changed its name after 1990 when the ban on political parties lifted and became Nepal Sadbhavana Party. People of Mangolkirat nationality formed several political parties. They include Rastriya Jana Mukti Party (National People’s Liberation Party), Nepal Jana Party (Nepal People’s Party), Jana Mukti Morcha, Nepal (People’s Liberation Front, Nepal). They started demanding political rights and equity for nationality in power and opportunities. The Dalits also came together under a political umbrella called “Nepal Dalit Shramik Morcha” (Nepal Dalit worker’s Front). Hence, Nepal became the new play field of several political and nationality organizations giving hope and providing opportunity for new initiatives. As byproducts of the democracy movement, several cultural organizations emerged or reorganized or expanded or strengthened more particularly during 1980s and 1990s.[8]

After the formation of Nepal Federation of Nationalities, it has been playing the role of a cultural-organizational backbone of the oppressed nationalities. The newly established think- tank called “Janajati Vikash Samanwaya Kendra” (Coordination Center for the Uplift of Nationalities) has been meaningfully participating in research pertaining to finding out solutions to the problems of nationalities.

Indeed, the history is to be rewritten focusing not on the autobiography of kings and their courtiers, but on the political, social and economic processes of the society. This will help to understand the basis of the relations among nationalities. This process also will help to reinterpret the role of social classes in right perspective (Tamang, 2054 v.s.: 112). Unfortunately, the autobiographies of the kings and their relatives, their luxuries and adventures are called history today. These fantasies should be replaced by the real socio-political and economic documentation of the past in the form of history.

The democracy movement of 1990 created new hopes and aspirations for independence and liberation among the oppressed classes, communities, groups and nationalities. The movements and organizations discussed above are the expressions of such aspirations. But, the absence of moral and ethical character among the mainstream parliamentary political parties, their misconducts, corruption, and price hike of essential commodities beyond the purchasing power of ordinary citizens and the insensitive cultural policies and practices of the government frustrated the people deeply. The continuation of the previous constitutional provision of declaring Nepal a Hindu kingdom, the continuation of the prohibitory Hindu practices in regard to eating code, more particularly, restriction in eating beef, making Sanskrit a compulsory subject for study in the school curriculum, broadcasting news on Sanskrit and continuing hour-long Hindu religious program in the state run radio, prohibition of the use of nationalities’ languages in the local government bodies by the supreme court etc created environment for further alienation of non-Khas nationalities.

To garner popular support through the distributions of some cosmetics, in 1998, the government gave birth to a structure called “Rastriya Janajati Vikash Samiti” (National Committee for Uplift of nationalities). The structure has been an instrument to make some of the honest leaders of oppressed nationalities running after the ministers and the departments in several ministries. The committee will never work for fundamentally changing the relations among nationalities and transforming them as just and equal. Rather, the committee is deeply involved in production of a new “Directory of Surnames and custom groups”. The task of compiling a list of 61 (Janajati, 2056 v.s.: 122-123) so-called Janajatis (nationalities) is just the proof of its irrelevance.   The need was to find out the resolution of the Khas domination, whereas it is compiling a makes-no-sense list. It is strange that some of the well known and honest leaders of the oppressed nationalities, scholars and activists also are trying to milk this he-buffalo. The committee, which has no teeth, no jurisdiction and depends on the wish of a minister for its composition and survival, will not contribute in finding out any resolution. Indeed, the committee which is suffering from scabies from its inception, will keep busy to those who come closer to it in the work of gently massaging its scabies affected skin.  As it is said, every cloud has its silver lining, at the maximum, the committee could be pressurized to use its resources for some research and publication. The example includes the publication of the journal called “Janajati”. But, everybody should be clear that such acts of marginal impact will not resolve the complex issue of Khas domination. Indeed, the government is not honest, and has not shown any commitment and political will to resolve the issues related to social justice and equity.

As stated in Chapter Three above, Khas in Nepal is the oppressor nationality. It has been seen in areas of exercise of power and the monopoly in utilization of opportunities.  The others have been forced to have an identity of oppressed nationality. The exceptions are the Newars. They are also oppressed culturally, but they enjoy the same privileges in regard to access of opportunities.

In summary, one of the major social contradictions in Nepal is related to Khas chauvinism. The Khas are on one side and the other nationalities are on the other. Therefore, together with Hindu patriarchal social codes, Khas chauvinism has been responsible for all sorts of evils, dominations, grievances and social conflicts. If the feeling of derivation and injustice will not get a peaceful resolution, it could take a violent course.

d. Major Nepalese Political Parties: Awareness and Actions

Nepalese political parties differ in their approaches in regard to issues of nationalities and prescribe solutions as per their own political philosophy, theoretical stand and class base. Some of the parties even lack basic understanding of the issue, a few others talk about some leap services in a very generic way and a few others have a good grasp of the problem. The difference reflects the degree of awareness among the political parties and also has been influenced by their nationality base and class interest. Therefore, a brief assessment of their basic stand on the issue will be helpful in finding out the solution and recommending strategies.

Nepali Congress

Nepali Congress is one of the oldest parties and is also one among the largest with a history of long struggle. But, all the time and on most of the fundamental issues, making ad hoc arrangements has become the lifeline of the Congress party. Other than talking about constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy, the party has no strategic political theme. In ritualistic manner, the party also mentions “democratic socialism” in its official documents. Its strengths include the charisma of some of its leaders and the flexibility it allows to the cadres. From saintly workers to political thugs and from liberal democrats to diehard conservatives, all enjoy life and act as they desire within the party structure. The functioning style of the party makes it a joint front rather than a political party.  Now, when peace in Nepal has been disturbed, the party claims that it will work to bring peace in the society back. But, when it was in power it used brutal force to quell violent movement led by the Maoists. The inequalities, injustices and inhuman social codes prevailing in the society have made the people restless and the tranquility has been disturbed. The absolute peace without addressing the fundamental issues originating to major contradistinctions is impossible to attain and Nepali Congress is busy in this impossible political business. Therefore, it is not in a position which could play the role of a vanguard in transforming the society.  The party is advocating for quantitative changes and that is its limitation.

The composition of the leadership of Nepali Congress is heavily dominated by Khas. In 1959, there were 18 members in its central committee.  Among them, there were 11 Khas, 3 Mangolkirats, 2 Madhesis and 2 Newars (Gupta, 1964: 285). In 1999, the percentage of Khas in the central committee was 71 (See Table – 9 in Chapter Three above) which is 10 percent higher than the 61% in 1959. This trend reflects the widening gap.

In its Election Manifesto, the party had raised non-transformational and non-critical issues related to nationalities in 1959. They are as following:

  • Nepali will be recognized as national language and other languages will get support to develop.
  • Guarantee of religious freedom and protection to people’s religious beliefs and practices.
  • Abolition of Birta system on land (donated land to Bahuns), Jamindari (feudal lordship) and system of feudal princely privileges.

(Gupta, 1964: 144)

In its Election Manifesto published in the General Election of 1999, the party has included some of the conventional proposals with addition of some cosmetics. They are summarized in the following points:

  • Establish cultural centers which will give expression to cultural characteristics of different nationalities.
  • Religious freedom.
  • Establish an independent council to conduct research and protect as well as promote the knowledge, skill, art and culture of indigenous people and nationalities.
  • Table a Bill for reasonable representation for the Dalits in the process of political decision making and for their overall development.
  • Provide proper representation to Dalits and marginalized sections of people in different level of the party organization.
  • Establish an independent council for uplift of Dalits.
  • Provision of scholarship and training for Dalits.

(Nepali Congress, 2056 v.s.)

The proposals mentioned above do not raise the fundamental problems the oppressed nationalities are facing. There are no transformational agenda to create a new society based on partnership of different nationalities. Simply, these provisions mentioned above offer nothing mare than the superficial remedies. Therefore, the party either is in the cloud of confusion and ignorance or by design it is trying to mislead the people.

Rastrabadi Gorkha Parishad/Rastria Prajatantra Party (RPP)

Although, Rastriya Prajatantra party is not a direct descendant of Rastrabadi Gorkha Parishad organizationally, but it inherits the political philosophy and program thrust. Both, talk about nationalism loudly and they represent overtly or covertly the interest of the palace. Also, they represent the same section of the upper class. In its first incarnation the party had 11 Khas, 4 Mangolkirats and 1 Madhesi in its central committee in 1959 (Gupta 1964: 285). The Election Manifesto of 1959 had included the following agenda related to nationalities.

  • Support monarchy as inseparable part of Nepalese culture.
  • Religious freedom.
  • Attention to overlooked districts of Terai.

(Gupta, 1964: 144).

In its second incarnation as Rastriya Prajapantra Party, it had twin organizational set ups – RPP and RPP (Chand) at the time of General Election in 1999. Therefore, the main points related to nationalities are summarized separately.

RPP

  • Stopping discriminations against Madhesis.
  • Recognition of languages of nationalities.
  • Finding out solutions within constitutional framework.
  • High regard to constitutional monarchy.
  • Uplift of Dalits and backward sections.

(Khanal, 2056 v.s.: 11-18)

 

RPP (Chand)

  • Safeguarding national interest in Mahakali, Kalapani etc.
  • Strengthening constitutional provisions.
  • Uplift of Madhesis, Janajatis (read Mangolkirats), indigenous people and Dalits.
  • Equal treatment to the languages, culture and literature of all nationalities.

(Khanal, 2056 v.s.: 11-18)

The issues what RPP’s have raised simply revel their indifference on fundamental social issues of oppressed nationalities. Either they overlook the issues entirely or raise the non-critical issues only.

Communist Party of Nepal (CPN)

Since its establishment, the Communist party of Nepal has not been raising issues of nationalities in a conscious way that makes change happening. In its third convention organized in 1962, the party in its program of “National Democracy”,  stated in its 7th point that the languages, literatures and cultures of different nationalities will get support to develop (Rawal, 2047 v.s. 184). The party was influenced by the generalization of the understanding that the solution of class issues will solve all other social issues.

The central committee elected in the second party convention had 12 Khas, 4 Newars and 1 Madhesi (Gupta, 1964: 286). The Khas had dominated (71%) in the leadership heavily.

The party experienced several divisions.  Mostly, it had splits and a few times some of its splinter groups also had merged.  Now, there two communist schools in Nepal – the follower of parliamentary path and the practitioners of armed struggle.

The Communist Parties which follow the parliamentary path include the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist – Leninist), the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist – Leninist) and Nepal Worker’s and Peasant’s Party. Although, these parties differ in the use of jargons, fundamentally they take the same position on nationalities. Their general pattern of behaviors can be summarized on the following three points:

  1. Beam confusing signals and sell jargons: Either these parties are in a state of severe confusion or are under the disguised influence of Khas interests. They pretend as friends of oppressed nationalities and have opened wholesale shops of pro-oppressed nationality jargons without making any attempt to address the complex issues of social justice and equity. On uplift of nationalities, languages, religion and culture, the statement of the Marxist – Leninist faction of the Communist Party of Nepal serves as wonderful example of such behavior. The statement states “The feelings of nationalism would be strengthened by emphasizing on national unity, communal harmony and equality.  Fight against the forces which promote divisions in the name of nationality, language, religion and region and strengthen the feeling of nationalism on the basis of eternal unity of nationalities, languages, religions and cultures. On the districts where feasible, autonomy with the right to self determination will be implemented on the basis of nationality and geographical composition, diversities and local characteristics (CPN-ML, 2055 v.s.: 39). The above statement does not accurately say what the party will do but beams confusing lights for all of them –  who are in favor of ultra Nepalese nationalism based on ‘eternal unity'; who support right to self determination and who stand for autonomy based on nationality or geographical region.  One can imagine that this statement includes the threat of force and distribution of a slice of apple pie to everybody, but nobody can say what the party will exactly mean.  Perhaps, only the party knows. In such business, the other two parties also are holding a good number of shares.

 

  1. Words for oppressed and deeds for dominants: All these parties talk loudly about multiculturalism. But, the loud talk is one among the cosmetics added in the political phraseology of these parliamentary communists.  For example, a text can be reproduced here. The text was finalized to submit at the sixth party convention of the CPN (UML). In the draft proposal on nationality, language, religion and culture, the party says “in the society, the religious discrimination and prejudices still exist. Hinduism has been declared as state religion. It has been receiving favors. Therefore, the believers of other religions are feeling neglected” (CPN-UML, 2054: 14). These are the words for the oppressed. The same party when it was in the power started the broadcast of news in a dead language called Sanskrit for the benefit of Bahuns. The party which accepted that there is religious discrimination neither brought any amendment proposals in the constitution nor tabled any statement of intent in the house in eight long years of its presence in the parliament. Therefore, this is not the commitment of the party rather a cosmetics. The other two parties also are involved in the same practice.

 

  1. Grab votes either way: Their dubious character is solely motivated by votes. They try to grab votes either way – by supporting one issue somewhere and opposing somewhere the same. The fine example is CPN (UML)’s movement in Kathmandu against the Supreme Court decision prohibiting the use of local language of nationalities in the local bodies. The party as a whole, including its central committee remained silent, but the local Kathmandu committee was calling for a movement. Again, there was no mass movement it effectively organized. Therefore, they were not after opposing the decision but were pretending it keeping in mind on the Newar votes of Kathmandu valley.

 

In the general election held in 1999, the above parties had proposed the following in their Election Manifestos.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)

  • Local autonomy (not clear whether it is based on nationality or geographical region)
  • Equal rights for the people of all nationalities, languages, religions and cultures.

(Khanal, 2056: 11-18)

The Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist)

  • Upper house of the parliament should be converted to house of nationalities.
  • Secular state.
  • Decentralized system of governance and administration.
  • Promotion of languages, cultures, religions and art of all nationalities. and castes.

(Khanal, 2056: 11-18)

Nepal Worker’s and Peasant’s Party

  • Protection of religion, art and culture.

(Khanal, 2056: 11-18)

Now, when the contradiction between the oppressed nationalities and the Khas has been visible in all areas of socio-political processes in the society, the parties mentioned above which are playing a noncommittal, dubious and ambiguous role, will face lots of difficulties. The heightened level of contradictions and the organized nationalities’ movements will compel them to clarify their stand.  The subjective approach of these parties oriented to appease all and supporting to maintain status quo may alienate large majority of people. Alternatively, they may be compelled to stand in favor of social justice.

The communist parties follow non-parliamentary path include the Communist Party of Nepal (Masal), the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Center) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). During the General Election in 1999, they had brought the following issues in their election manifesto.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Masal)

  • Secular state
  • Autonomy of local bodies (not clear whether this refers to nationality or region)
  • Uplift of Madhesi, Janajati and  Dalits

(Khanal, 2056: 11-18)

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Center)

  • Equal treatment to all nationalities and linguistic groups.
  • Secular state.
  • Autonomy to nationalities.
  • Convert National assembly (upper house of parliament) to House of Nationalities.

                                                                                                            (Khanal, 2056: 11-18)

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)

The party had boycotted the general election in 1999. It has taken a radically different position on nationalities’ issues than those parties mentioned above. It supports the right to self determination. The party in its pamphlet of September 22, 1999 has specified its policies and stated that “the present state is against the right to self determination of nationalities, whereas such right is the legal basis for strengthening national unity. Rather than allowing national autonomies, the state even opposes the linguistic rights and brutally represses them.  The state is a communal state under the influence of dominating nationality chauvinism. The entire southern plains and the Karnali region are suffering from the regional discrimination and suppression of the state. The Dalits, as the most exploited grassroots communities are continuing to be the victims of exploitation, oppression and discriminations (Janadesh, 2056 v.s.: 7). This statement clarifies the basic stand and political positioning of the party regarding the issue of oppressed nationalities. It favors the national unity based on democratic rights of the people including the right to self determination.

Nepal Terai Congress/Nepal Sadbhavana Party

The Nepal Terai Congress had raised the problems of the people of Madhesi nationality. This was its core theme and had demanded autonomy for Terai region. It had proposed to make Hindi an official language for that autonomous region. Providing equitable employment opportunities for Madhesis in the government services was it’s another key demand. Indeed, Nepal Terai Congress was the first political party in Nepal which raised the issues of discrimination against oppressed nationalities and had tried to put forward the remedial measures to rectify the situation. The Hindi language that it had proposed for official use in the region may not be a realist demand as that is not the language as many people do not speak it. It was the mother tongue of 0.92% people in 1991 (CBS, 1995: 302).  Hindi was not the language of ordinary people and the same situation continues till today.

Now, the new incarnation of Nepal Terai Congress is in the political field and it is called Nepal Sadbhavana Party. It has raised the core issue of discrimination the Madhesis are facing. Also it expressed their feelings. As a result it got the percentage of votes required to be recognized as a national party.   It has shown a bit tilt towards India. But there are some reasons for this tilt. The culture in either side of the boarder is very much similar. Therefore, this is natural to be close culturally. But, the political aspect of the tilt deserves criticism. In a generic sense, when the Khas blame the party as communal and pro-India, it is the product of their own chauvinist mindset. Such type of mindset creates obstacles for any attempts for partnership.

In its Election manifesto for 1991 General Election, the party had raised the following issues:

  • For a long time the state has minimized the role of Madhesis and the importance of southern plain.
  • Madhes or southern plain has been exploited politically and without ending this exploitation there is no possibility of progress of Madhesis and Janajatis.
  • Establishing federal system with the introduction of provincial structures.
  • Amendment of the existing legal provisions related to citizenship.
  • Reservation for Madhesis and Janajatis.
  • Use of local languages in local bodies.
  • Primary education in mother tongue.

(Khanal, 2056 v.s.: 11-18)

On the basis of the analysis above, the parties could be categorized into three types as stated below:

  1. Sallow understanding and superficial solutions – Nepali Congress and Rastriya Prajatantra Party.
  2. Reasonably good understanding but cosmetic solutions – communist parties following the parliamentary political line.
  3. Good understanding and attempting to resolution – The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and Nepal Sadbhavana Party.

 

All political parties have some understanding of the complexity and importance of the issue. According to their understanding, they have some prescriptions too. Some of them have over simplified and have recommended superficial solutions; some of them are guided by ‘vote bank’ politics and recommend some cosmetics. Only, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and Nepal Sadbhavana Party are trying to resolve the issue objectively. As a result of the effort of those activists who are trying their level best to bring the issue at fore front, awareness has been raised and it has become a national agenda affecting each and every spectrum of political process. This one alone is a great achievement of the forces fighting for equity and social justice.

Chapter Six

 

Federalism: Management Structure of a Multicultural State 

 

1. Federal Structure

 

Several activists, Nationalities’ organizations and political parties have reached the conclusion that the complexities of the problem related to nationalities could not be addressed by a unitary system. Hence, they have proposed to introduce a federal structure. Parshuram Tamang states “there are nationalities’ clusters of inhabitation in Nepal. They are namely Jadan (Bhote), Khasan (Khas), Magarat (Magar), Tamumai Hyula or Tamuan (Gurung), Shesant or Tambaling (Tamang), Nepal (Newar), Khambuan (Rai), Limbuan (Limbu), Tharot (Tharu), Kochila (Koch-Rajbanshi) and Mithila (Maithili). Even today, in these areas these nationalities are in majority. Most of them claim these areas as their ancestral homeland” (Tamang, 2054 v.s.: 98). He has further analyzed that in Nepal, there are four trends of federalism.  They are as below:

  • The Nepal Jana Party has proposed to establish a federation of 12 autonomous provinces organized on the basis of nationalities. The proposed provinces are:

Avadhi, Bhojpuri, Jadan, Khanbuan, Khasan, Kochila, Limbuan, Magarat, Mithila, Nepal, Tamba Saling and Tamuan.

  • Rastriya Janamukti Party (M.S) and Janamukti Morcha, Nepal (Thing) have demanded federal system based on geographical regions.
  • Nepal Sadbhavana Party has demanded the implementation of federal system by creating the provinces based on hill and Terai regions.
  • One another proposal favors to implement federal system by converting the present five development regions into provinces.

(Tamang, 2054 v.s.: 113)

One among the renowned Nepalese sociologists, Krishna Bhattachan argues that every indigenous group of people (Janajatis) has its ancestral clusters of inhabitation. Establishing autonomy on the basis of such clusters has become a challenging responsibility. The structure could be formulated to provide autonomy or decentralization on the following basis:

            a. on the basis of 12 traditional linguistic and cultural regions.

            b. On the basis of right to self determination

            c. On the basis of local self-governance.

                                                                        (Bhattachan, 2056 v.s. kha: 33-34)

According to Sitaram Tamang, the prevalent views in Nepal regarding nationalities can be broadly categories into three types. The first type is the Hindu traditional view. The stand supports the existing constitutional arrangement of a unitary state. The political forces like Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and the palace firmly believe that the present arrangement is an ideal one.  The second type of view supports federalism and the third type favors autonomy (Tamang, 2056 v.s.: 31)

Indeed, the nationalities question in Nepal could not be addressed by simply fine tuning the existing political arrangements. The problem is the absence of partnership of different nationalities in governance. The domination of the Khas has been an obstacle for any kind of meaningful partnership. The long process of domination spread over centuries has made the Khas blind. Many people of oppressed nationalities also view this situation as their destiny. Together, the Khas beliefs of superiority and non-Khas acceptance of destiny have helped to strengthen the Hindu belief of fatalism. Therefore, without challenging the structural foundation and its superstructure, no new society could emerge. Now, the philosophy of fatalism, Hindu cultural domination and Khas political chauvinism need to be challenged. If the people of non-Khas nationalities raise such issues, the Khas immediately blame them as secessionists. The Khas have already decorated Nepal Sadbhavana party, Limbuan liberation Front, Khambuan Liberation etc with such label.  By standing against the Khas threat, some activists, thinkers, organizations and parties have started to come forward to expose the Khas chauvinism. They are making attempts for establishing a new social order that ensures equality among nationalities; accelerates their progress and enhances mutual respect. Therefore, they have been demanding to implement a new mechanism conducive to social convergence and partnership building.

To ensure social justice, equity and equal opportunity for all nationalities, introduction of a new federal structure embedded with national autonomy and right to self determination has become a precondition for progress and prosperity in Nepal. Federalism will avail opportunity for expressing people’s expectations, will help to make political management less complex and more transparent and will strengthen partnership.

Based on four criteria as mentioned below, a proposal has been put forward to divide Nepal into several autonomous regions or provinces.

Criteria:

  • Ancestral homelands of particular nationalities,
  • Geographical feasibility,
  • Linguistic features, and
  • Regional clusters of specific nationalities.

 

a. Proposed Provinces:

1. Kirat Pradesh                        2. Tambasaling              3. Nepah

4. Tamumagrat              5. Khasan                     6. Tharuan

7. Bhojpuri Pradesh       8. Mithila

The names of the provinces proposed above will certainly raise curiosity on  their naming too. Therefore, a brief discussion would be helpful.

Kirat Pradesh:

In the ancient times, the Kirat tribe inhabited in the area. Before Gorkha invasion of the area, the Kirats had their independent principalities. After the Gorkha victory also till 1960, the area was called Kirat and was divided into three administrative districts – Ollo Kirat, Majh Kirat and Pallo Kirat. As a concerted Khas attempt, the names were replaced by Hindu names. So, the area which was called “Kirat” for the last two thousand years or more is once again to call by the same name. “Pradesh” is just added to refer as ‘province’.  

Tambasaling

The Tamang custom group among the Mangolkirats believes that the region is their ancestral land. They are also a large custom group residing in the area among the Mangolkirat majority. Therefore, the name of the province could be Tambasaling. Looking at the ancient history, it is only natural that Banepa be the provincial Head Quarter it was the capital of the Kirat principality which they had established after loosing Yalakhom, which the Lichchhivis got control of. The province could be called as “Shesant” or “Tambaling”.   

Tamumagarat

Magarat was one among the ancient Nepalese tribal republic. Magars and Gurungs are the largest custom groups residing in the region. Gurungs are in favor of an autonomous region called Tamuan. But, geographical feasibility and socio-cultural context suggest having a Manolkirat majority province which covers the area of former Magarat and newly demanded region of Tamuan. Combining both the areas and calling it Tamumagarat is the reflection of the ground realities. Pokhara could be the provincial administrative center.

Nepah

The ancient tribe residing in this region was Nepar. The Newars, the majority nationality of this valley is the descendant (though as a mixed social group of several other tribes, ethnicities too) of the same Nepar tribe. In Newar language (Newars call their language Nepal Bhasa) the area is called Nepah. Therefore, it would be natural to call the province as Nepah. Alternatively, the province could be name as “Yalakhom”. In the ancient time the tribal republic of this region was called Yalakhom and till today the Patan town is called as Yala in Newari. Kathmandu could be the provincial center.

Khasan[9]

The region was a Khas kingdom during the middle age. Therefore, the name of the province is proposed as Khasan. The center of the province could be Surkhet.

Tharuan[10]

The Madhesi majority region in the western Terai has a significant presence of its one major custom group which is Tharu. Therefore, the area has been named as Tharuan. Nepalgunj could be its provincial center.

Bhojpuri Pradesh[11]

The area has a large majority of Bhojpuri speaking people belonging to Madhesi nationality. Therefore, the name “Bhojpuri Pradesh” reflects the linguistic reality. The center of the province could be Birgunj.

Mithila[12]

The area was called as Mithila in the ancient time and now the largest majority of people speak Maithili as their mother tongue. Therefore, it is natural to name the Madhesi majority region as Mithila. Biratnagar could be the provincial center of the province.

Presently, there are 75 administrative districts. These districts could be grouped in the particular province as mentioned above considering the criteria of ancestral homelands, geographical feasibility, linguistic features and nationality composition. In this way the reorganization of the structure could be accomplished. The reorganization is not a theoretical proposition but that is feasible and viable.[13]

b. Major languages of the proposed provinces

Table – 22, Three Major Languages (more than 5 % speakers) of the Proposed Provinces (1991 census)
Provinces Language 1 No. of Language 2 No. of Language 3 No. of Other Languages Total
  Language&% Speakers Language&% Speakers Language&% Speakers Number Number
Kirat Pradesh Nepali, 60 1080271 Rai, 16 190293 Limbu, 10 187275 230455 1788294
Tambasaling Nepali, 56 1155098 Tamang, 30 604675 Newari, 6 114524 170928 2045225
Tamumagarat Nepali, 73 1179246 Gurung, 10 169389 Magar, 10 156989 111661 1617285
Nepah Nepali, 47 517732 Newar, 41 449604 Tamang, 7 75500 62543 1105379
Khasan Nepali, 88 2913727      -       -      -       - 393109 3306836
Tharuan Nepali, 43 844205 Tharu, 30 594943 Avadhi, 9 367429 171328 1977905
Bhojpuri Pradesh Bhojuri, 52 1308043 Nepali, 31 770884 Tharu, 5 132035 304120 2515082
Mithila Maithili, 52 2145722 Nepali, 23 940147 Tharu, 6 251457 797745 4135071

 

Source: CBS, 1997: 18-32.

The table above gives the picture of major languages spoken in Nepal. In Khasan region, 88% people speak Nepali as their mother tongue. Tamumagarat, Kirat Pradesh and Tambasaling are the provinces where more than 50% of the population speaks Nepali. Although, in Nepah and Tharuan less than 50 % people speak Nepali (47% and 43% respectively) but still it is the number one language. In Bhojpuri Pradesh and Mithila, Bhojpuri and Maithili are the number one languages followed by Nepali. The Tharu language is spoken in the entire Terai region. The fact heralds the position of Nepali as pan-Nepal language and certainly has become the medium of communication among people of different languages. Although, the census may have some margin of error, but the fact is that it has become a second language for many people of other linguistic groups too. Some of the scholars have raised doubts regarding the statistics. Parshuram Tamang states that the number of Nepali speakers is artificial. The people who speak Nepali as their mother tongue are in minority (Tamang, 2054 v.s.: 42). The conclusion, here, makes sense in regard to questioning the process of data collection and processing about mother tongue but also the assessment does not consider the number of people who speak Nepali as second language. The process might be questionable, the action could be unjust and the Khas rulers might have played with statistics, all these factors could raise the issue of the margin of error, but the fact that Nepali has been widely understood and spoken stands. Nepali has become the medium of communication (Neupane, 1999: 74, 75, 94). Therefore, one has to accept the reality that a majority of people use Nepali to communicate with each other. But, the Nepali language should be emancipated from the domination of Sanskrit, should be liberated from the grips of Bahuns and should be developed as a language of masses that is free from complex grammatical mysteries.

Chhar-Mhendo, a publication of Nepal Tamang Ghedung, in its editorial, has proposed the implementation of three language system. The three languages could be 1) mother tongue, 2) another language of a community within the country, and 3) international language (Chhar-mhendo, 2048 v.s.: 2).  The Coordination Center for Development of Nationalities has stated to recognize primary education in mother tongue as fundamental right and also has put forward the proposal of implementing three language system (Gurung et al, 1999: 14). Although, how the system could be implemented and which are these tree languages have not been elaborated, the proposal has helped to initiated the debate.

Based on the decision of a provincial structure there could be one, two or three languages recognized in any province.  These languages may serve as official languages or languages for providing education. Even in higher levels of education these languages could be taught. The following languages could be taught in the following universities:

a. Purvanchal University, Biratnagar – Tharu, Maithili and Nepali,

b. Kirat University, Dhankuta ( proposed) – Rai, Limbu and Nepali

c. Birgunj University – Tharu, Bhojpuri, Nepali

d. Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu – Newari, Tamang, Nepali

e. Pokhara University – Gurung, Magar, Nepali

f. Dang University (converting Sanskrit to general University) – Tharu, Avadhi, Nepali

g. Khasan University – Jumla or Dipayal (proposed) – Nepali

There could be more universities established in future. Particularly, a Kirat university at Dhankuta and a Khasan University at Jumla or Dipayal could serve the provincial structure better. English should be taught as a compulsory subject from primary to tertiary levels to be competitive in the international job market which also enhances access to the new developments of science and technology.

The Khas scholars will be amused looking a strange proposal as mentioned above. They may propagate the proposal as an absurd idea, having no worth to consider seriously as the proposal will help to end their monopoly. For example, the Bahuns who are reaping all the harvests from the language shops such as a Sanskrit University and schools all over the country to teach Sanskrit language and Hindu rituals will have to relinquish their supremacy.  The communal character of the state and the Bahun monopoly must end. Sanskrit, an ancient language could be taught as one subject of learning in any university, but establishing a whole network of institutes for it is the misuse of public resources. Therefore, a more equitable language system not only in the area of teaching but also in official use should be devised and implemented.   

d. Nationality-wise population

The nationality-wise population (1991) of the provinces:

Table – 23 Nationality-wise population (1991) of the provinces      
Provinces Khas Mangolkirat Madhesi Dalit Newar Other Total  
Kirat Pradesh 547527 956816 38365 137493 78087 30006 1788294  
Tambasaling 700574 947379 20987 140657 205549 30079 2045225  
Tamumagarat 597341 661556 22164 213788 86602 35834 1617285  
Nepah 394586 160852 31894 24021 485364 8662 1105379  
Khasan 2015557 524474 35081 649352 29072 53300 3306836  
Tharuan 534011 122805 1103313 193263 13357 11156 1977905  
Bhojpuri Pradesh 432795 309352 1591216 117350 56889 7500 2515102  
Mithila 612586 416778 2875582 125430 85775 18920 4135071  
Total 5834977 4097134 5718602 1601345 1040695 198335 18491097  
Percentage 31.6 22.2 30.9 8.7 5.6 1.1 100  
                 
Source: Nationality grouping on the basis of the population of different castes/custom groups (1991 census).
  (CBS, 1993, Vol. 1, Part VII).
                   

 

e. Observations

Nepal is a good example of a multicultural state. The provincial picture shows that Khasan is a Khas (61%) majority province whereas Tharuan (56%), Bhojpuri Pradesh (63%) and Mithila (70%) are the Madhesi majority provinces. Kirat Pradesh has Mangolkirat (53%) majority. In Nepah, Newars (44%) are the single largest nationality. Similarly, Tambasaling (46%) and Tamumagarat (41%) are the provinces with Mangolkirat as the single largest nationality. The critical review of the nationality composition of different provinces and Nepal as a whole provides the following facts:

  • Generally, it is believed that Khas is the majority nationality. But, they are only 0.7% more than the Madhesis. For making them as a majority, the Khas scholars, administrators and the players of statistics sometimes mix the Dalits with them when that helps them. Similarly, when it could serve their interest, they create the division between the inhabitants of hill and Terai. They put themselves as part of hill inhabitants and claim as majority. Even, they try to bring the issue of Hindu religion as a religion of majority and again claim the majority. They are very cleaver in positioning and bring others whenever they need to play with statistics. But, in practical sense they dominate everybody by making them weak and vulnerable.  The claim of assimilation is not true, even there has not been a good mix of nationalities.
  • The Khas spread is country wide whereas Mangolkirats are numerically weak in Khasan and Tharuan. Similarly, the presence of Madhesis in the hill areas is weak. Newars have a weak presence in Terai and Khasan regions.
  • The Dalits have a spread all over Nepal. But, they are not in a dominant position numerically in any province. Therefore, they are the national minorities and should be addressed through provisions governing their status.
  • The pan-Nepal cultural has not developed yet. The Khas cultural domination has limited the development of other cultures but has not succeeded to penetrate the core areas of cultural values and beliefs of other nationalities. Therefore, there is the need of developing a Nepalese culture by the proper adjustment and convergence of cultural specialties of several nationalities.  

 

2. Autonomy, Right to Self Determination and System of Governance

 

Those who are talking about assimilation are either they have been talking about a historical process of the past or are sharing the ideals they believe in. In Nepal, they may be talking about assimilation to provide a cover to Khas domination. Rather than bringing out some abstract theories and trying to impose the Khas culture, it would be better to find out the process of partnership of different cultures and nationalities.  The major issues which promote partnership include the democratic right to self rule. In other words, national autonomy and right of self determination could be the primary theoretical foundation for any type of partnership that can resolve the problems and take the people and nation to prosperity. The people and nationalities are conscious critically and are capable to exercise their rights. They are aware politically, civilized culturally and judicious emotionally. Therefore, the villains who create obstacles on the path of harmonious and just relations among nationalities would be defeated. The society based on equity and justice will emerge from the ashes of the unjust social order which has been in practice today. The adjustment and convergence of values, beliefs and practices of several nationalities and creation of an accommodative political structure are the trends that will govern the relationships in future. By taking the processes conducive for such trends, it would be possible to ensure harmony through self governance, perseverance and self restrain. The actions directed to bring assimilation through promotion of the cultural and political domination of one nationality have been the features of the past. Therefore, the new Nepalese cultural identity will have ingredients of several cultural heritages and that will be attained through competitive cultural behavior and cohesive and mutually agreeable adjustment of the core social practices. Form now on, interaction, sharing and reciprocal acts for building partnership will be the most important contributing factors for social convergence. The striking feature of the new identity would be free from a particular nationality affiliation.  But, if such identity is prevented from coming into existence, the process of division and secession may get acceleration. Therefore, there are just two ways available – partnership or secession. The Khas rulers, more particularly their upper class ruling coalitions are insensitive to atrocities committed against oppressed nationalities and are unaware or underestimate such courses. Therefore, they are inviting more difficulties. The rulers are busy playing power game and they simply understand the language of power. But, the trend and context of the social processes are against such tendencies. Therefore, the possibility of partnership of nationalities has to be examined in a hostile context created by the rulers.

The first requirement for partnership is the recognition of the existence of all nationalities followed by the acceptance of their own specific identities, mutual respect among nationalities and a desire to rectify the mistakes made. The state should respect all nationalities and has to commit for noninterference on cultural issues. It has to go further and should agree with the need of provisions for affirmative actions to create a level playing field for all.  The Khas nationality which is ruling since 1768 has to emancipate itself from a chauvinist mindset. It should renounce the feeling, privileges and practices of superior nationality. Otherwise they will be the target of attack. Not only oppressed nationalities will fight against them, but also  progressive sections of Khas nationality may join the fight.  The oppressed nationalities too have to reclaim their equal status through dialogue, interaction and pressure. They have to take a path of collective resistance. But, during a process of social transformation the path may not be acceptable for all. If one side breaks the rule, other side follows. When, the process gets derailed, the state-forces intervene. Generally, the intervention of the state-forces favors status quo. The state forces try to impose the so-called peace. At the end, the oppressed people become a party and the state plays a role of a villain and tries to suppress them. In this way, the movement for emancipation of nationalities takes an anti-government turn and most of the time the agitation becomes violent. The government and the ruling Khas nationality should understand probable course if they tried to continue their unjust and immoral domination.

To prevent the unwanted confrontational path to rectify the imbalances in the society, there should be concentrate effort by both sides – the Khas and the oppressed. The central theme to unite them is none other than partnership. The development of partnership needs sound foundation and that could be built by creating new environment. Hence, there should be implementation of the provisions of affirmative actions and sharing of power. 

The provision of affirmative actions will bring the socially left-behind nationalities at par to that of the forward ones. Such actions will help bring the communities and nationalities who are in a situation of backwardness to a higher level of development in a shorter period of time. The provisions should be based on the principle of social justice and should cover issues related to education, employment and other opportunities. One of the provisions could be reservation. But, that should be limited to the custom groups who are living in a situation of absolute poverty underdevelopment. The provision of reservation could help them but could not solve the problems faced by the oppressed nationalities. The system of reservation may have three negative impacts – influencing the attitude negatively in regard to competition, clinging to positions without any future prospect and grabbing opportunities by a limited families belonging to the creamy layer of the communities covered by reservation. The provisions should be implemented for the benefit of the custom groups under absolute poverty. These groups include Chepangs, Rautes, Chamars, Musahars etc. When talking on affirmative action, one should be clear that these provisions are useful and help to attain improvement but these provisions alone neither can ensure social justice nor could solve the complex problems of oppressed nationalities. The major emphasis should be, therefore, on sharing of economic, cultural and political power.

Although, several nationalities have expressed their desires, expectations and needs, but the major issue of sharing of power has fallen in deaf ears. Now, they have come to the forefront on the issue of partnership and power sharing. The sharing of power could be ensured by two ways – either by providing autonomy within a larger structure or allowing exercising the right to self determination. The right to self determination empowers people to secede if they express their general will through an agreed upon mechanism.

a. National autonomy

The autonomy could be broadly divided into two categories – cultural autonomy and administrative autonomy. In cultural autonomy, the government supports nationalities to exercise authority over their cultural lives in all areas including initiatives, efforts and decisions. The society and the state simply recognize their cultural rights and assist them to exercise. In china, cultural autonomy was implemented making religion and language as its core components (Postiglione, 1993: 268).   The nationalities that have the cultural autonomy may be a bit better but the administrative decisions remain on the hands of the state. It limits their overall development. Therefore, the nationalities may not have the opportunity to attempt for multidimensional progress. But, for a nationality which is quite small numerically, cultural autonomy could be a good arrangement.  

Administrative autonomy covers, both, cultural autonomy and administrative decision making including management of state affairs on specific areas. In most of the cases, except foreign affairs, defense, finance and communication, the administrative autonomy covers all aspect of governance. The areas of authority might be different, but the core governance value is that the power has been shared with. The degree of autonomy varies. India has provincial structures with a limited level of authority whereas in Canada, the federal constitution could not be amended without the approval of all provincial legislatures. Furthermore, the provinces in Canada enjoy the right to self determination and can secede by getting approval of the majority in a referendum. Therefore, the degree of autonomy varies country to country based on mutually agreed provisions and the nature of relations among nationalities.

Coordination Center for Uplift of Nationalities has put forward the idea of national autonomy and has said “national autonomy is the solution (of the problems of nationalities). In history, not only the Baishi or Chausibishi principalities, but also Pallo Kirat, Majh Kirat, Mithila Pradesh, Chaudandi, Magrat, Khasan, Limbuan, Nepal Mandal had existed. Based on the mode of the governance of those areas (in the past), establishing national autonomy or self rule is the political necessity of Nepal, today (Gurung et al, 1999: 15-16).

The Communist Party of Nepal (MLM), the Communist Party of Nepal (Masal) and Newar National Movement have demanded national autonomy.  Parshuram Tamang, leader of Federation of Nationalities, also has supported the demand (Tamang, 2054 v.s.: 114).

The demand for converting the upper house of parliament into a ‘House of Nationalities’ has been raised repeatedly. Also, it has put forward the idea of representation of nationalities in governance. Indeed, the idea directly or indirectly is related to equitable role for different nationalities.

b. Right to Self Determination

 

The world history is full of events and stories of the struggles launched for right to self determination. Some of them succeeded, some of them have been continuing their fight and some of them disappeared from the horizon. Indeed, right to self determination primarily refers to the decision of general will and nationalism teaches to take the right decision of the event of exercising such will (Kedourie, 1960: 76). Therefore, the propaganda that right to self determination promotes division and secession does not reflect the reality. The people in the referendum in Quebec province in Canada rejected repeatedly the proposal of sovereign Quebec. The example is good enough that the right to self determination enables to take decision collectively and judiciously. In essence, the right to self determination is the important political right that ensures partnership among deferent nationalities. When a particular nationality dominates others or a particular nationality is dominated by others, then the right becomes operational. The right should be exercised rationally and history has proved that rationality have come into play when the need arose.

Vladimir I. Lenin, in his essay “Socialist Revolution and Right to Self Determination of nations” written in January-February 1916 has supported the idea strongly. According to him the essence of the right to self determination of nations is the political right for freedom.  Essentially, it is a political right of secession from oppressive nation. In concrete sense, this is a democratic right to organize movements for secession and respect of the decision expressed through referendum of the seceding nation. Therefore, this is not a demand for dividing a state into pieces and establishing smaller states. This is a better way of struggle against all kind of national oppressions. In a democratic state which provides full freedom for secession, in practice, in that state the desire to secede weakens and diminishes (Lenin, 1988: 228).

In Nepal, the right to self determination has not been debated properly. The reason is that the dominating Khas offer the label of secessionist to anybody talking on such issues. Also, there is confusion on the theoretical proposition. But, there are forces that have raised their voices. The proponents include Nepalese Federation of Nationalities, Limbuan Liberation Front, Khumbuan Liberation Front, Magar Liberation Front, Karnali Liberation Front, the Communist party of Nepal (Maoist) and its sister organizations. (Tamang, 2054: 114; Bhattachan, 2056: 35).

c. System of Governance

The Nepalese identity is a collective bond of people of several nationalities. Although, it is weak, the identity is very much there as a living reality. The collective bond has been expressed in the form of patriotism. The attempts to retaining the Khas domination and making Nepal a Hindu theocratic state are the historical blunders and grave political mistakes. Contrary to such attempts, a healing strategy leading to full fledged partnership is the need of the day. The discussions on the processes to attain social convergence and building partnership have already been initiated. These processes include pressure on the Khas to relinquish monopoly and activate oppressed nationalities to move forward by launching a unified struggle. The demand for an unconditional apology from the Khas and the Khas state offered to the Dalits for the atrocities committed against them could be one of the fine foundation stones. The apology could assuage the hurt feelings of the Dalits. The secular character of the state and the profoundly touching initiative of expressing regrets and offering apology by the Khas may contribute to build a new multicultural social order.

The Khas intellectuals to a large extent have failed to sense the miseries of the people of non-Khas nationalities, their hurt feelings and denial to access of opportunities for them. They have been the victims of unequal practices spread over several centuries and have became accustomed to it.  Now, these intellectuals and progressive elements among Khas should be empathetic and try to align their efforts that march towards establishing a just society.  Therefore, the imperative should be unity in diversity. To attain this goal the society should move forward by establishing a governing political structure which ensures partnership among nationalities.

The provincial divisions and their viability have already been discussed. The future prospects heavily depend on the realization of a mechanism which ensures devolution of power and enhances as well as strengthens partnership. Indeed, all progressive forces have to strive to establish a decentralized political system. In the following paragraphs, the ingredients of such system will be discussed briefly.

Federal Set up

In a federal system, the federation, provinces and the local self government bodies work in an intergovernmental economic, social and cultural environment (Berman, 1997: 4-5).  When they enter into an interactive process, the existing environment, most of the times, determines the aims and dynamism and provides the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship. Generally, the federalist interactive processes and the relationships have been governed by two types of political arrangements – duel federalism and cooperative federalism.

Duel Federalism

Under this arrangement, the authorities and responsibilities of the local self government bodies, provinces and the federation use to be clearly defined and demarcated. The mechanism follows more formal legal process. In such arrangements, every layer expands its power, authority and role only at the expense of others. In general, the supreme court of the country plays the role of an umpire in disputes among local, provincial and central governments. During a period covering 1890 and 1930, the United States supreme court played the role of an umpire (Berman, 1997: 35-36). The Indian federal system is an example of dual federalism. They have developed three lists detailing the authorities and responsibilities of different level of governments. The Indian supreme court has been playing the role of an umpire in disputes involving the provinces and the center. In such arrangement, clarity gets focus of attention, but it prevents the lively debates otherwise could be generated while addressing the real issues on progress and prosperity. Rather than exploring new territories, ideas and initiatives for additional opening up of prospects, new rights and new roles, the system focuses on expansion of the traditional areas of authority. Hence, the system inhibits innovation as well as building relations on a new level. Although, duel federalism is far better than a unitary system in a multicultural society, but it falls short to the benefits that cooperative federalism could offer.

Cooperative Federalism

Cooperative federalism emphasizes on putting together the resources belonging to local, provincial and central government to generate synergetic effects in regard to results by working together. They consider each other as collaborators and partners rather than as adversaries. Although, the main areas of responsibility are specified, but it encourage bargaining and the scopes for exploration and innovation have been unlimited. Mutual discussion and dialogue, available resources and the nature of the work form the basis for bargaining. After 1930, cooperative federalism has been in practice in United States. Since 1930, the federal government has not snatched any authorities of the provinces called States in America. In the new system, the legislature has been playing the role of an umpire and not the supreme court (Berman, 1997: 36-37). The size of population of a province has been accepted as a criterion for central assistance in India. Based on the population, a formula has been developed and central assistance is determined. But in United States, the provinces and the center enter into bargaining and the assistance use to be determined through that process. Mutual discussion, interaction, advocacy, representation, pressure and logics play vital role to determine the central assistance in a mechanism based on cooperative federalism. The challenges to reach to the conclusion through a course that is free from binding criteria are immense but they ensure better preparation, worthiness of the initiatives and compulsion on the presentation of evidences. Cooperative federalism provides appropriate environment for such endeavors.    

The Soviet Union also had the cooperative federalism as its political structure. According to Stalin the Leninist principle recognizes to preserving the union of nations formed on the basis of their voluntary will and that ensures to maintaining the fraternal relationships among the nations in a republican federation (CPSU- CC, 1938: 34). These are the core components in the formation of a federation.   The right to secession enjoyed by the republics in the Soviet Union had created positive environment for a just relation among provinces and also between the center and provinces. Such arrangement made collaboration and cooperation not only possible but also compulsory. The relatively peaceful disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 proved the relevance of the right to self determination enshrined in the Soviet system.

Although, in Nepal, local self rule was in practice for some times, but that was limited to certain areas.  The example includes the agreement of Limbu-Subbas (Limbu rulers and village heads) with the Gorkha rulers. The agreement had offered autonomy to Limbus in certain issues that included communal land system (Kipat Pratha) and unrestricted practice of their social, religious and cultural traditions (Bhattachan, 2056 kha: 24). Similarly, there were some revolts such as the Majhkirat Parva of 1908 (Rai, 2055 v.s.: 114-117) for self rule. But, the general overview of the Nepalese historical development process makes it clear that Nepal has no meaningful experience of federalism, no experience of sustained rebellions of nationalities and no experience of decentralization of power. Citing these references as evidences for unitary, centralized and Khas dominated system, biased Khas intellectuals and Hindu religious fanatics try to propagate the limitations of federalism. But, this was only happened due to prevalent feudal politico-economic and cultural domination of the Khas. The attempts for justifying the continuation of the unitary state certainly will harm the process of establishing a system based on partnership of nationalities which may ensure social justice, equity and harmony. Hence, the unjust social order will continue to provide fuel to further fight. The Khas arrogance has no future and, therefore, the way of partnership of nationalities has become the unrestricted course if Nepal has to remain a sovereign state. Indeed, progressive individuals, groups or political parties have to take part in the movement initiated to establish a new Nepal which shares power, opportunities and resources equitably among nationalities. The movement of oppressed classes should form a united front and have to launch struggle to establish a federal state to ensure partnership. The fundamentals of the cooperative federalism may guide to design the structure. The debate centered on electing a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution offers unique opportunity to talk the specifics of a federal state. Indeed, the people should get the opportunity to exercise their right to design a political system that works. Federalism could be one of its agenda items. This will avail the choices to solve the problems through the exercise of people’s general will. One of the agreed provisions in the Delhi Agreement (1951) was that the election of the constituent assembly will be held on or before 1952 (M. D. Dharmadesani in Bhatta, 1990: 41). The agreed upon provision has not been implemented till today. The assurance given to the people should be fulfilled. The leaders who claim them as great democrats, unfortunately, have not shown any desire to go through such democratic exercises. In the final analysis, the exercise of the sovereign democratic right will not depend on the wishes of the so-called great leaders. Only the mainstream political leaders may contribute to make it complex and time taking if they will continue to influence negatively.  

 

 

Chapter Seven

                                                                                                                                      

Observations

a. Census

Although, the practice of collecting demographic data had started in 1911, the census took place first time in 1952 in Nepal. Also, the data were collected in 1920 and 1941 with limited purpose (Nepal Academy, 1960, 8-9).  Although, the statistics collected by biased machinery with questionable intentions, methods and manners are less reliable, but in absence of any other data on national scale, there is the compulsion to use them as a minimum guide. The Khas state has been involved in spinning of the statistics. For example, all practitioners of animism, shamanism and other nature worshipers are presented as Hindus. The enumerators, mostly from Khas nationality, write as Hindus if they fail to reply their religion either as Buddhism, Islam or Christianity. Similarly, they simply write Nepali as the mother tongue even without asking the individuals. Therefore, to understand the nationality composition better, the goal, method and practice of collection of the data should change. Bal Krishna Mabuhang has suggested that the government should plan and implement the census exercise and process the data in consultation and cooperation with different organizations of nationalities. Similarly, the questionnaire also should be improved.  The questionnaire could be improved by incorporating the questions such as “What is your nationality? Your nationality was deferent in the past? Which nationality, you believe, you belong to? What do you mean by religion? What would be the appropriate name of your religion? What is your mother tongue? Which language you speak in the family? What second languages you know?” (Mabuhang, 2056 v.s.: 91-93).

In brief, the government is not behaving in an appropriate manner in collecting and processing data so as to give the right picture on the best interest of all nationalities. The practice of mobilizing all nationalities in the production of national date should get priority. All concerned nationalities should have a say while planning the census, designing questionnaire, undertaking the exercise and processing the data. The leaders of the nationalities, the representatives of such organizations, population experts and statisticians should sit together in the National Commission for Census. The commission should have the authority to carry out the census including planning and execution of the census exercise and processing and publishing the data.

b. Strategies to attain partnership of nationalities

The federal system with national autonomy as its guiding thrust could be established by adopting certain strategies. Among the people who are in the movement, four types of strategies are being discussed. 1) To empower local government bodies by devolving authority and responsibility and arranging resources to enable them for self rule. 2) Devising a system which ensures cultural autonomy. 3) Organizing movement to establish administrative autonomy. 4)  Establishing their authority by the oppressed nationalities through revolt and revolution. The order of the strategies mentioned here is from simple to complex. They also carry the order from cosmetic solutions to transformation. But, the adoption of any strategy will largely depend on the level of awareness, objective situation of the society and the nature of the domination of the ruling nationality. Not only this, but also the oppressed nationalities may adopt different strategies appropriate to their situation to move forward to attain a common goal. The level and speed of the struggles may differ. Still, it should be clear that the first two strategies mentioned above will not transform the relationship among nationalities in Nepal. At the best, they will help to humanize a bit more the relationship and maintain the status quo. The second two strategies will help to attain a new partnership of nationalities based on multiculturalism and federalism. They certainly contribute to attain unity in diversity through cultural convergence and sharing of power. The most important issue of equity in political management of the governance structure could be addressed by employing these strategies. The bottom line is that that the oppressed nationalities should create a tempest of struggles for their emancipation and the progressive elements within the Khas nationality should rise above their interest. Only, this course prevents the repetition of the unfortunate saga of northern Sri Lanka. While critically examining the common course for the strategies discussed above, the activists, scholars, thinkers and practitioners have to place people above any other considerations. If the people are empowered to express their choices through the exercise of their general will, any problem could be solved. Therefore, the strategies may help to create a favorable situation to organize the election of a constituent assembly. Multiculturalism and federalism could be the major issues to address while drafting a new constitution. The general debate centered on the election of the constituent assembly, if succeeds to enforce the sovereignty of people, the issues might be critically examined, and a transformational relationship based on equity, justice and partnership could be established.

c. Nature of the Movement

Indeed, the aspirations of the nationalities in addressing the nationalities question are directed by the need of solving the problems rather than exploring the prospects. When one or a few nationalities dominate others, societies wait for volcanoes of politico-cultural movements.  Due to its impulsiveness, hurt feelings and deeper affects on collective destiny, the movement posses the nature of wild fire. The wild fire erodes all other social relations such as friendships, neighborhoods, relatives etc. The nationality sentiments override them. These sentiments take the form of epidemic. Knowingly or unknowingly, willfully or feeling compelled and openly or clandestinely, individuals, families and groups fell pray of a war between or among nationalities. The issues of legal or illegal, violent or nonviolent and progressive or a regressive war become irrelevant. Those who wish and attempt to prevent such dark days and try not to allow the movement initiated to establishing social justice degenerating to senseless acts of revenge,  have to fight collectively with a common mission of attaining harmony among nationalities by ensuring equity and justice in the society. Therefore, the social emancipation movement should establish a united front with the movement going on for class liberation. The solidarity and unity between these movements will generate synergy and create a larger and stronger force which will ultimately emancipate all the oppressed people.

d. Role of Different Nationalities in Launching the Movement

The power relationship among nationalities in Nepal has been governed by cultural feudalism. Therefore, as in a feudal society, the nationalities have roles conforming to economic classes. The roles are comparable with Khas as feudal lords, Newar as rich peasants, Mangolkirat and Madhesi as middle and poor peasants and Dalit as landless agricultural workers. The analysis in ‘Chapter Three’ above makes the comparison amply clear. The comparison shows that the Khas are ruling as totalitarian rulers in areas of politics, economy and culture. The Newars are suffering at the hands of Khas in areas of cultural domination but they enjoy the same status as that of Khas in politics and economy. Therefore, the movement for equity and justice will be directed against the Khas totalitarianism. The Newar may play a dubious role. The other nationalities certainly will stand firm to transform the relationship. These nationalities also have to overcome the divisive tendencies among themselves and their inferior social psycho-make ups. One important feature is that the Khas of Khasan region, mostly surviving under dire poverty and underdevelopment, may join the movement for change as the federal set up and the autonomy may influence positively in their living conditions.

d. Role of Political and Social Forces

The movement for social equity may not remain neutral politically. The most important point is that the movement should not be a play ground of a certain political party. Therefore, the efforts to establish and run organizations of nationalities on party line will be counter productive. If that type of trend gets primacy, in that situation the organizations of nationalities will be either nonfunctional or ineffective or slaves of their political masters. Therefore, both, claming as nonpolitical or being political slaves will harm the movement rather than contributing positively. The conclusion, if derived, on the basis of this analysis that the organizations of nationalities should work being neutral to political parties is also incorrect. There is the need of powerful, collective and issue based interventions and, hence, there is the necessity to form united fronts. As the political stand of the political parties makes them different, the same is true for other social organizations including that of the nationalities. In broader terms, they may be guided by a progressive or a regressive goal. Therefore, all the forces advocating for transformation and progressive change should stay on one side and the forces of status quo and regression will be on the other side. It would be only natural that by being face to face, these progressive and regressive forces will be involved in grand fight of unprecedented nature as this fight relates with a new political and social order where the power, roles and influences of the classes, nationalities and other social forces will change radically. In the new society, the attitude of a master will disappear, and so does that of a slave. Therefore, withstanding all the obstacles including differences in approaches and methods, all the progressive forces should wage the mass movement for transformation of the society.

e. Partnership and participation in governance

Sri Lanka has been facing the consequences of the imposition of Sinhalese language on minorities. The civil war is continuing. Bhutan lost peace, goodwill and harmony due to its policy of dress code and cultural invasion of Dukpas. The bloody conflict between the Islamic state of Bangladesh and the Buddhist Chakma minorities in Chitagaon hills has become a catastrophe. India is on the furnace all the time due to the Hindu mindset of “Akhanda Hindu Rastra“.  Pakistan split due to the domination of Punjabis over Bengalis. These are instances of insensitive acts of the major nationalities in several countries.  Therefore, the insensitive actions related to languages, religions, culture and identities of nationalities make or break nations and countries. Each and every nationality aspires for just partnership and raises demand for equitable participation in all level of government. Unfortunately, partnership and participation are the issues not much debated in Nepal. Therefore, the understanding of these issues is in its infancy. Chaitanya Subba has put forward six points for discussion. These points include: 1) education in mother tongue and the policy of three language system to conduct official business, 2) reservations or affirmative actions, 3) preservation and development of cultures, 4) programs for welfare and empowerment of oppressed nationalities, 5) human resource development, and 6) participation in the affairs of state (Subba, 2056: 73). The provisions related to reservation and participation mentioned above need some critical examination. India provides a good reference for this purpose. The founding parents of Indian constitution had made the provision of reservation in Article 341 of Indian constitution, with a clear mention that the reservation clause will rectify the anomalies of caste and tribe based inequalities within ten years. After fifty years that goal has not been attained. The provision helped to privatize power, opportunity and prestige for a few individuals and families belonging to the so-called scheduled caste and tribes.  The end result of such provision is seen in the form of generating unlimited optimism among the people covered by such provision at the beginning and turning them as pessimists after a few years of its implementation. In the lives of a large majority of people covered by such provision no fundamental change has happened.  The Lebanese provision of sharing power between a Christian President and a Muslim Prime minister also has not contributed that much in creating a harmonious relation between these two communities. Therefore, just to expect that the provisions of positive discrimination or affirmative actions alone could change the social inequalities. These provisions may contribute but only marginally. Venturing into a populist agenda without any concrete work-plan and realistic and achievable goals helps just to fool people for a short period. Hence, the issues of reservation and affirmative actions need thorough research, interaction and dialogue. The goals must be attainable. The provisions should be exceptions and not a general rule. They must not replace the initiatives carried out to build partnership and attain participation in governance. The process of establishing a political structure and a mechanism based on partnership will ensure the participation of all nationalities in all level of political and social governance.

The marginalized sections of people who are in a situation of absolute underdevelopment (Please see Chapter Four, section C) should get the opportunity to participate in governance through inclusive electoral process or other mechanisms such as nominations as part of affirmative actions. The provisions could be best implemented through the electoral arrangements by which only candidates and voters of these communities could take part. The provisions for ensuring equal participation through affirmative actions should be tied with the level of development of such communities. When they are at par of other communities and nationalities on an average attainment of socio-political and economic standards measured through Human Development Index (HDI), the special arrangements should be discontinued.

The question of the status of minority nationalities in an autonomous provincial set up deserves attention. It is only natural to imagine the deference in roles of minorities. More particularly the Khas in most of the provinces will have a minority position and they may found it difficult to adjust. Their ruling status will disappear and their privileges which they were enjoying for the last two hundred or more years will vanish. The new structure favors partnership and advocates for equity and social justice. Furthermore, the structure stands for participation of all nationalities in governance. In absence of special privileges and dominating socio-political environment, the nationalities will develop a new relationship based on the values of the new structures and the functioning mechanisms devolved through the new constitutional arrangements. Therefore, the relations among the nationalities should be seen in a dynamic environment. The new rulers who have seen the partition of Pakistan, civil war in Sri Lanka, results of the attempts of ethnic cleansing in Bhutan and several incidences of blood bath in India, certainly would develop their understanding and may not repeat the history. Still, there could and should be safeguards in the new constitution which will not inhibit the attempts of the provinces to their creative and forward looking initiatives, but also limits their autocratic policies, if any, towards minorities. Therefore, the new constitution should guide to create a balance between authority and responsibility of the provincial structures.

f. Division of Responsibilities and Jurisdictions

The major roles of the federation, provinces and local self government institutions should be clearly identified. The local self government institutions enjoy the authority delegated by the provincial governments. The federal government should have a jurisdiction over defense, foreign affairs, foreign trade and finance. Similarly, the provinces should have autonomy over land management, natural resources, law and order, culture and social services including education and health services. Any other areas of governance should be decided by bargaining, between federation and provinces or even among provinces or between provinces and local self government institutions. In such bargaining, collective flow of resources to the same direction, fixing responsibilities on a periodic basis, sharing or transferring responsibilities, adjusting the provision of taxation etc could be some of the vital factors to consider. To avoid confusions regarding the sources of income, the federations and the provinces should have clarity on income distributions or sources allotted to them. There could be debates or some good fights sometimes, but that is what cooperative federalism is all about. The evidences, facts, logics and reasons will come into play to get resolution of such conflicts. These conflicts will certainly disturb the peace of graveyards, but will free the state from the clutches of unimaginative and static rules created by bureaucracies to make their life easier.

g. The structure and the quality of governance

 

The federal structure certainly helps in properly managing the state affairs as that would be divided into smaller units and works in a transparent environment through checks and balances between the center and the provinces. The distribution of authority in legislative, judicial and executive functions contributes to more contextualize the business of the state. A lean legislative formation could add value meaningfully. In India, one member of the lower house of parliament represents about 1.85 million people. In Nepal, in its first parliament elected in 1959, there were 109 members. But now there are too many members (205 in House of Representatives and 60 members in the Upper House called National Assembly). The function of the legislature is to make laws. But, in countries like Nepal, they are the ministers in waiting. Every parliament member wants to be a minister as soon as possible. Therefore, it would be highly beneficial for the separation of power and practical political management, to prohibit Member of Parliament (MP) to become ministers. The same system could be applied for the provinces. Therefore, the chief executive elected through the general election will have the responsibility to run the government selecting his or her team. If an MP is included in the council of ministers, that person should resign the seat in the parliament. The local development departments and agencies should take charge for development activities and the MP should be barred from getting the fund for the so-called development of their respective constituencies.[14] The circus staged as the legislators playing catalysts for development should be closed.

In line with the analysis on the federal structure above, some discussion is necessary about the composition of provincial structures. Looking at the dull arrangement of Indian provincial structures, it is advisable to have a chief executive (Governor), numerically small provincial legislature and a slim judiciary. It should be clear to everybody that the administrative and cultural autonomy is not a cosmetic item but a political system authorized to carry out its constitutional responsibilities in an environment of partnership and participation of all nationalities.  Similarly, the local government institutions also should be free from overweight and should no unnecessary numerical load.

As far as the state systems are in practice all over the world, they are the class rules of different economic classes. In essence, they represent the interests of certain classes. Generally, feudalism and capitalism meet the interest of upper classes whereas new democracy and socialism promote and protects the interests of the working classes.  Therefore, the political systems in the world are related to these two types of politico-economic and social interests. In form, the best representative system for the upper classes is parliamentary system. In its sub-form, the system is also called as presidential system as in USA.  The oppressed classes had exercised their rule through Soviet system. The Soviet system includes the political systems such as in China, Vietnam etc. The Soviet system has a scientific worldview, respect for humanity, justice delivery and progressive role, but it has been in a defensive positioning now due to its inability to give expression of the realities of plural social make up through a competitive political process. Therefore, not because of its essence, but because of the success in its management of competitive process, the parliamentary system is in its aggressive expansion. The technological advances and enhanced human expectations demand not only a system which ensures equity, equality, social justice, peace and harmony, but also an inclusive political process. Hence, if the advocates of the Soviet system have a desire to succeed, they have to explore a structure which ensures inclusive, participatory and competitive political process.   They must refine the system by designing the superstructure capable to carry on the essence and quality it posses. The failure of the political structure and its monolithic political practices could be easily interpreted as the failure of socialist philosophy, theory and politics. There had been some attempts in the past. One among them was the invention of Euro-Communism. But, that attempt ended in taking Soviet system out of its course and bringing parliamentary system in its place. Therefore, that attempt was not intended to refine and strengthen Soviet system. Similarly, in Nepal, some political forces are talking about “Janatako Bahudaliya Janabad” (People’s Multiparty Democracy). This is also the same stale slogan centered on the fundamentals of Euro-Communism. Hence, it has also nothing to contribute to strengthen the Soviet system. “Euro-Communism” and “People’s Multiparty Democracy” are different forms of parliamentary system. They disregard the core philosophical stand of Soviet system that state power has its class orientation and working classes should exercise the state power to protect and promote their class interests. Both, the parliamentary and Soviet systems, in final analysis, are class rules. Overtly or covertly, they promote their class interests by using the power of the state. Only, the Soviet system admits it in a transparent way. Morally, this is much better than any tricks and tactics. But, by advocating the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, it lost the advantages which could come from this moral high ground. In practice, the dictatorship of proletariat became the dictatorship of the Communist Party and further more, dictatorship of the party degenerated to the dictatorship of a leader – a communist fuhrer. Therefore, the class rule of the working class, once in existence in a large part of the world, crumbled, weakened and downsized. The communists have to learn a good lesson out of this failure. They have to refine the Soviet system radically that incorporates flexibility, competitive polity and pluralism. 

The structure analyzed above is the framework of governance and necessarily help in the political management. The structure may create environment for multidimensional partnership and will certainly avail opportunity to express their desires, enhance their partnership and attain friendship among nationalities. But, the structure alone will not be enough to ensure quality of governance. Hence, without aligning with other progressive political forces and inserting quality in governance, the advocacy or realization of federal system may not resolve the problems. The structure has its limitations and also its strengths. If an alliance of the progressive forces comes into existence the limitations may have only marginal impact.

h. Cultural Autonomy, Administrative Autonomy and Right to Self-determination

The start point of any attempt to federalism could be the cultural autonomy. The basis of the cultural autonomy could be made ready within two years from the date of the decision made. Language, religion and culture might be covered by such autonomy. Gradually, the three language system should be implemented in education. The social infrastructure such as Provincial Cultural Councils, Commission for Building Social Infrastructure for Autonomy etc could be established. They can develop proposals together with a central commission looking after the implementation of federalism. The state of cultural autonomy could last for five to seven years. During this period, a few important physical infrastructures also could be built. Some of the most important infrastructure might be initiated. The examples may include the highway connecting Dhankuta with Jiri in the west and Panchthar in the east as this highway could be a backbone for the development of Kirat Pradesh. Similarly, a ring road covering all the districts of Tambasaling may open up the prospects of progress in that province. Another highway in the Khasan region connecting Baglung with Dipayal will help developing Khasan province.  Instead of spreading resources thinly, it would be better to invest on priority areas.  When the decentralized autonomous management of the new structures starts taking place, development activities are bound to accelerate.

If an autonomous region or province desires for separation from the federation and the people endorse such proposal exercising their general will expressed through a referendum, the province could be a separate independent state. The federation and other provinces should respect the popular will. The right to self-determination is nothing other than a natural right of any nationality. In the concrete socio-political condition of Nepal, the exercise of the right to self-determination in relation to secession should be kept on suspended animation for forty years as this much time will be needed to see the successes or failures of the federal system and also to make informed as well as unemotional decision on the part of people of any particular region or province. The separation issue is directly related to the relationship of nationalities. The more harmonious the relationship, there would be the less desire for separation. Looking at the spread of nationalities and also the fact that no single nationality forms the majority in Nepal, it is natural that if the feelings of Hindu supremacy and Khas domination cease to exist, there would be no demand or even expressed aspiration for separation. Therefore, the sources for separation could be the felling of Hindu supremacy and acts of Khas domination. These feelings and acts should be discouraged and defeated.

I. Language, Religion and Culture

Irrespective of the different historical backgrounds, the facts related to languages lead to the following observations.

  • Nepali language has a countrywide spread. Although, the number of people who do not understand Nepali language is quite large, but this language has been developing as the medium of communication between nationalities across regions.
  • Eleven languages including Nepali have been found as major languages. They are spoken by more than 5% people in one of the provinces. Also more than 1% of the population countrywide speaks these languages. These languages are Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Thru, Avadhi, Limbu, Rai, Tamang, Newari (Nepal Base), Magar and Gurung.
  • The National Language Policy Recommendation Commission (2050 v.s.) has stated that including the 11 languages mentioned above there are 69 languages spoken in Nepal (In Mabuhang, 2056 v.s.: 98).
  • If three languages system is implemented, that will not only help to perform the traditional tasks of language, but it may enhance cultural understanding and could help to build harmonious relations among and between different cultures. Giving due consideration on the facts mentioned above and examining the viability aspect, the following languages may be included as the three languages for the following provinces:

 

  • Kirat Pradesh – Nepali, Rai and Limbu
  • Mithila – Nepali, Maithili and Tharu
  • Bhojpuri Pradesh – Nepali, Bhojpuri and Tharu
  • Tharuan – Nepali, Tharu and Avadhi
  • Tambasaling – Nepali, Tamang and Newari
  • Nepah – Nepali, Newari and Tamang
  • Tamumagarat – Nepali, Magar and Gurung
  • Khasan – Nepali

 

Besides the above mentioned 11 languages, there are several other languages spoken by small number of people. It is difficult to conclude about the future prospects of those languages. There are two factors to consider – 1) respect to somebody’s mother tongue, and 2) prospect of development of that particular language and its speakers. The development aspect is so important that without hurting the feeling, the language have to pave way to another one which can contribute in the progresses of its speakers. Although, the state should not use its power to suppress any language and culture, but at the same time realistic attempts should be made to make the speakers aware that those languages may not be helpful for their progress. Hence, the speakers of that type of languages should be encouraged to learn another language. There is a great need of dialogue, interaction and cooperation among linguistic groups and cultures. The reality is that each and every language has played a historical role in the past; some languages have been still contributing immensely; but only a few languages have a bright future. This is what the global village is compelling to move to that direction. May be, an ultra-patriot person will throw stone if a statement is made that all languages mentioned above including Nepali may not see the 22nd century as they would have already played their historical role and would be resting in the history books. The thinkers should have such fertile imaginations. Also, they have to guide others honestly and courageously to understand the process of the fast change taking place (Neupane, 1999: 74, 75, 94).    

The practitioners of animism and Shamanism and believers of nature worship are under pressure to convert from the organized religions, more particularly Hinduism. Similarly, the Christians have entered into the interiors and luring the indigenous people and marginalized communities. The Chepang community in Makwanpur in central Nepal is an example of such attempts of conversion. The Christian religious activists started to propagate the religion in 1968. Although, the ill habits of drinking alcohol, playing cards and slaughtering animals for Gods or Goddesses have been decreased but their cultural identity is also in a stage of extinction due to the effects of Christianity (Gurung, 1995: 31). The competition between Hindus and Christians has resulted in the disappearance of cultural identity of several groups of people. Therefore, helping people to have informed decision should be the right attitude of the religious preachers. State has no role on religion of its own but should create environment where people can make decisions free from obligations and pressures.

In absence of any reliable statistics, the number of people believing in certain organized religion, nature worships and non-believers (atheists) is not known. Future census exercises should address the issue. Irrespective of the religious distribution, the state should equally respect all religions and also the choices of non-believers. Hence, the state should be secular of religion-neutral.

Nepal is a multicultural state. The Khas, mangolkirat, Madhesi, dalit and Newar inhabit within a social fabric of co-existence. They have their own cultural riches and peculiarities and also they influence each other. If the cohabitation is free of cultural domination, the strengths of all cultures will get continuation and weaknesses will discontinue. This may happen spontaneously and the cultural amalgamation becomes possible. Hence, Nepalese society can move forward with a multicultural identity or with an identity of a rainbow culture. Therefore, respect to all cultures and promotion of inter-culture dialogue, interaction and amalgamation should be the cultural policy of the state. Social convergence, and not assimilation, brings harmony among cultures. The state should understand this simple fact.

j. Good Governance

 

Generally, good governance has been linked with the efficient and corruption free management of state affairs. These are some of the features of good governance. But, good governance has just becomes a slogan in absence of provisions that enable people meeting their minimum basic and developmental needs. Furthermore, to ensure good governance the socio-political environment should be conducive to progress and prosperity. Similarly, in absence of  physical, emotional as well as social security, progressive social order and democratization of individual, social and state values, good governance, once again, remains simply a hallow statement.  In essence, good governance is not a technical issue, neither it is the purity in political, social and individual behavior, rather this is a process,  practices and mechanisms that adds value by being loyal to the people and carrying out responsibilities in a dignified manner to accelerate progressive transformation of the society.  Hence, without addressing the issues of inequality, injustice and exploitation and without fighting against the forces of regression and status quo, no good governance is possible. Therefore, improvement in the standard of living of people, advancement of the society, progress of the country and ensuring social justice are the four macro issues which should be addressed by good governance. In absence of good governance having the qualities and dynamism mentioned above, the socio-political goal of establishing a society where the nationalities participate with a spirit of partnership is unattainable. The goal of attaining partnership of nationalities and ensuring equitable participation could only be attained in the context of a united movement launched for a larger goal of transformation of society.  Good governance, hence, has been related with the issues of partnership, participation, social convergence and transformation.

k. Concluding Comment

In nutshell, Nepalese society has been experiencing the suffocation originated due to divisions and discriminations. One major factor for such suffocation is the nationality issue. There are historical, political, religious, social, cultural and economic reasons behind the discriminatory practices of the state and society against the oppressed nationalities. Recently, more particularly, after the people’s movement of 1990, the peace of graveyard has been disturbed and the oppressed nationalities have come forward by raising their voices, organizing themselves and launching struggles. The Nepalese society has been experiencing the pain of transformation. Different oppressed classes also are fighting to end the oppression. Other sections of the society are also fighting to end the unjust social order.  These struggles are certainly will contribute to positively change the society as new values are being created and a new social order has been emerging. The movement for change has been gaining strengths and the foundation of the orthodox social order together with the feeling of Hindu supremacy and Khas domination are being challenged in an unprecedented scale and speed. In the political arena too, the proposal for drafting a new constitution by an elected constituent assembly is rocking the establishment. On the long run, the people will succeed in exercising their sovereign right to design a system that they think appropriate. Federalism and autonomy certainly will form part of the agenda. Nepal, a multicultural state could have a best structure in the form of federalism. The movement for the transformation of the society has already reached advance stage. That is not preventable and any effort to derail it will fail. This is the right time to enter into alliances of progressive forces to speed up the movement and attain the common goal as soon as possible. In the new era, when the progressive forces will take destiny of their country on their hands, the environment will be there for partnership and participation. The new federal state that respects multiculturalism will make the need of secession irrelevant and unnecessary. The new society, certainly, will liberate the oppressed classes and bring forth new social order to emancipate oppressed sections of the people. The new multicultural society will have a new level playing field for all provided by federalism. This is the future of Nepal. It is certain that the future is bright and beautiful.    

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[1] Bahunbad – The highest layer in Hindu caste hierarchy is called Brahmin, and its Nepali equivalent is Bahun. The Bahuns, a custom group among the Khas are the priests, philosophers and teachers of Hindu religious beliefs and practices. They preach the philosophy of fatalism, the beliefs of Hindu supremacy and  protect the inhuman social order including the practices of untouchability. They, together with other Khas fraternity, control the social code and political power. Collectively, such type of beliefs, behaviors and practices is called Bahunbad. 

[2] According to Gopalsingh Nepali the layers are as below:

  1. Priest castes – Dev Brahman, Gubhaju and Bajracharya
  2. Upper castes – Shrestha, Udas
  3. Upper-middle castes –  Pahari, Jyapu, Hale or Gwala
  4. Lower caste – Mathu, Nau, Khusa, Chitrakar, Chhipa, Manandhar, Kwao
  5. Impure castes – Duiyan, Balami, Sanga or sangat, Bhan, Kasai,  Kushle or Jogi
  6. Untouchable castes – Pode, Kullu, Chyame, Hara, Huru.

(Nepali, 1965: 150)

[3] Ramashish Prasad has named the Madhesis as “the people of plains” or “the people of Terai”  and has classified them as below:

1 Janaidharis (those who wear ‘holly’ thread) – Maithili Brahman, Bhumihar Brahman, Rajput and Kayastha

2 Business class – Suni, Teli, Kanu, Kalwar, Rauniyar, Sonar, Rastogi, Kathbahnia

3. Kishans (farming class) – Yadav, Kurmi, Amatya, Dhanuk, Kewat, Koiri

4. Skilled section – Hajam, Lohar, Badhai, Mehata, Tatama, Badahi, Mushar, Dhobi, Mallaha, Doli, Chamar, Dom

5. Affluent business class – Marwadi

6. Muslim – Seikh, Sunni, Dhunia, Hajam, Dhobi, Pathan, Julaha

7. Indigenous people – Tharu, Rajbanshi, Danuwar, Bantar, Satar.

                                                                (In Himal, monthly, 1990: 10).

[4] They had created four branches of governance. They are:

  • Kuther (land tax, animal husbandry, commerce, tax collection)
  • Sulli or Solla (administration of justice)
  • Lingwal (transport, communications, irrigation)
  • Mapchowk (Marriage, divorce etc)

(Dhanabjra Bajracharya and Tekbahadur Shrestha in Yakha Rai, 2053 V.S.: 214).

[5] Following is the picture of this Sanskrit university:

Vice-Chancellor – 1, Registrar – 1 and Professors – 17 (all Khas)

Associate Professors – 41 ( 37 Khas and 4  Madhesi)

                (Source: Analysis of nationalities of the officials mentioned in NIMD, 1999)

[6] Khas – 47424 (48.9%), Mangolkirat – 5048 (5.2%), Madhesi – 20153 (20.8%), Newar 23000 (23.7%), Dalit – 390 (0.4%) and could not classify – 962 (1%). In another words there is a graduate among 22.1 Newars, 8.1 Khas, 3.5 Madhesis, 1.2 Mangolkirats and 0.2 Dalits (Source: CBS, 1993: 325-326.)

[7] According to Hark Gurung, the names of Gurung settlements of Marshangdi valley had been given Khas names. They include the following names

Khas                Gurung                        Khas                            Gurung

Baglungpani                  Syaru,               Bhirpustun                                Piudi

Chaur                            Chor                 Dadua                                      Tadwa

Darhe                           Paje                  Ghamrang                                 Komron

Ghanpokhara                 Ponju                Gilung                                       Klihnu

Khasur                          Khasu               Maling                                      Mhili

Naiche                          Tajo                  Nalma                                       Ngada

Pasanaun                      Paigon              Sanjawa                                    Sonbu

Taxar                            Tasa                 Tanting                                     Tonde

Tarachowk                     Tahjo                Tarache                         Ngadi

Usta                             Singu                Yangakot                                  Yojgain

(Gurung, 1980: 246)

In absence of new study, it is not known which names still survive. Tony Hagen has used the Khas name of “Ghanpakhara” instead of the Gurung name “Ponju” in his book (Hagen, 1980: 117).  These Khas practices express their totalitarian mindset.

[8] The following are the major cultural/nationality organizations:

Mangolkirat:

  • Kirat Dharma tatha Sanskriti Uthan Sangh (Kirat Religion and Culture Uplift Association)
  • Kirat Yakthum Chumlung ( Assembly of Kirats)
  • Nepal Tamang Ghedung (Assembly of Tamangs)
  • Akhil Nepal Janajati Sammelan (All Nepal Conference of Nationalities)
  • Nepal Janajati Mukti Andolan (Nepal Nationality Liberation Movement)
  • Nepal Janajati Mahasangh (Nepal Federation of Nationalities)

Newars

  • Newa Rastiya Andolan (National movement of Newars)
  • Mankakhala (Newar Cultural Organization),

Madhesi

  • Nepal Maithili Samaj ( Nepal Maithili Society),
  • Maithili Vikash Munch (Maithili  Development Forum),
  • Avadhi Sanskritik Vikas Parishad (Avadhi Cultural Development Council),
  • Nepal Bhojpuri Pratisthan (Nepal Bhojpuri Academy)
  • Tharu Kalyankari Sabha (Tharu Welfare Assembly), etc

[9]  In its Nepali version published in 2000, I had  proposed to divide the province into three as Purva (eastern) Khasan, Madhya (Central) Khasan and Paschim (Western Khasan) considering its mountain terrain and feasible governance. After careful examination and feedback from the readers and reviewers the area is proposed as one natural region.

[10] In the Nepali version of the book the area was proposed to call as Kapilvastu as it was called in the ancient times. But analysis of the feedbacks received supported the idea of naming the region as Tharuan.

[11] The name of the area was “Lumbini Pradesh” in the book in Nepali.

[12] In the book, the region was divided into two seeing its size of population which was very large comparing to other provinces. But, the feedback corrected the mistake of dividing a natural region.

 

[13]

Table: 21 The provinces are made of the following districts                
Provinces Districts                    
Kirat Pradesh Taplejung, Ilam, Panchthar, Terhathum, Dhankuta, Sankhuasava,Solukhumbu, okhaldhunga, Bhojpur, Udaypur  
Tambasaling Ramechhap, Dolakha, Sidhupalchok, Kavrapalanchok, Nuakot, Rasuwa, Dhading, Makwanpur, Sindhulu  
Tamumagarat Kashki, Lamjung, Manang, Gorkha, Mustang, Palpa, Tanahu, Syangja, Myagdi        
Nepah Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur                
Khasan Rolpa, Rukum, Arghakhachi, Salyan, Gulmu, Baglung, Dolpa, Pyuthan, Parbat,Jajarkot, Surkhet, Dailekh, Jumla, Mugu, Kalikot, Humla, Darchula, Baitadi, Doti,Bajhang, Bajura, Dadeldhura, Achham  
Tharuan Kanchanpur, Kailali, Bardia, Banke, Dang, Kapilvastu    
Bhojpuri Pradesh Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Chitwan,  Parsa, Bara, Rautahat            
Mithila Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusha, Siraha, Saptari, Sunsari, Morang, Jhapa            
           
                                   

 

[14] Presently, each parliament member gets Rs 1000000. (About US $ 13300) for the development of their respective constituencies. The money is used as gifts from the heaven to be spent without any personal sense of responsibility. Mostly, it is used to please their family, friends and party cadres.

Change and Challenges: Transitional State and Transformational Politics in Nepal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change and Challenges

 

(Transitional State and Transformational Politics in Nepal)

 

By Govinda Neupane

 

 

Center for Development Studies, Nepal

Kathmandu 

 

 

First Internet Edition – September 2010

 


 

Contents

Part I: Process of Political Change

            1. Democratic Resolution of the Nepalese Political Impasse

            2. Ceasefire and dialogue: What Will Happen Next? 

            3. Government-Maoist negotiation: Context and Process

            4. The Essence of Change: An Overview

            5. Pluralism with Difference: A Prerequisite for Peace and     Prosperity

            6. Crisis in Nepal: Political Circus vs. Politics of Transformation

            7. Government – Maoist ‘endeavors': Back to Battlefield?

            8. Palace, Parties and People Power

            9. A Brief Note on Political Parties

            10. ‘Mainstream’ political parties: course correction or marginalization

            11. Constituent assembly: beyond slogan mongering

            12. The Spring Thunder in Nepal: Glorious but Inconclusive

            13. Spring Thunder in Nepal: Glorious but Inconclusive – II

            14. Moving Towards Serene Villages and Tumultuous Towns

            15. Regression Discharged from ICU

            16. Historic Peace Negotiations: Get Rid of  Infantile Disorder             

           17. A brief Note on NGOs and Civil Society Representation

            18. Cloudy Political Environment and CA Election

            19. Failure of the Political Leadership and Available Options

            20. Constituent Assembly Election: Erecting Milestone in a Rainy Day

            21. Stormy Political Course and Hibernating Constituent Assembly

            22. Nepal: Nationalism/Patriotism Revisited

            23. Red Nepal Turns White Ephemerally

            24. New Nepal Not Yet: Mission Continues

            25. Political Quagmire and Glimmer of Hope

            26. Unified Maoists: A Rapid Political Appraisal

            27. Leadership Failure and the Syndrome of National Disintegration

            28.  Nepal: Moving Forward, Slowly but Surely

            29. Hindsight on the Unified Maoists’ Indefinite General Strike

 

Part II: Nationalities’ Question: Issues of Inclusion

            1. Nepal’s National Question

            2. Madhesis: Colonial Subjects or Masters of Their Own Destiny?

            3. Burning Madhes, Bleeding Madhesis

            4. Khas Chauvinism and Madhesi Revolt

Part III:  Nepalese Migrants in Delhi: Some Stories

            1. Batti Rana Magar’s Struggle in Delhi

            2. Common men and Women  Build Nations

            3. A Brief Note on the Temporary Migrant Nepalese Workers in Delhi

            4. Dalits deserve reparation from the Nepalese Hindu-Khas state

            5. Leaving Failures Behind and Keeping Hopes High

            6. Hardships, uncertainties and shattered dreams

            7. Crisis of Identity: Paradox of a Madhesi Youth 

Part IV: Nepal and Beyond: Observations and Reflections

            1. Reemerging Kabul

            2. The Philippine Experience: a few lessons for the Nepalese Communists  

            3. Global Extremism, Bloodsheds, Destructions and a Ray of Hope

            4. Pakistan: Some Observations, Some Impressions

            5. Islamabad: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

            6. Goals and Needs: The Motivators and Invigorators

            7. A Brief Overview on South Asian Languages and Nepal

Part I

 

Process of Political Change

1. Democratic Resolution of the Nepalese Political Impasse

In the recent years, more specifically, after the historic people’s movement of 1990, his expectation was that the pace of change would be faster. The aspirations among the people heralded that the political forces should move in an unprecedented speed to bridge the political, social, economic and intellectual gap created by overall underdevelopment, injustices and irresponsible governance.  During the in initial phase of the euphoria of the people’s movement, the parliamentary political forces in arrangement with the monarchy drafted a document and introduced the same as the constitution of the country. After the introduction of the constitution, the nation has seen three general elections. One or the other party formed the government after the elections, but they not only overlooked the people’s aspirations and the national development agenda but also nearly all the leaders and influential cadres of the centrist parliamentary political parties accumulated unimaginable wealth through all sorts of corrupt practices.  ‘The rule of law’ continued to remain a phrase unknown to the masses. Although, there was change of governments several times, but all of them failed to change the prevailing feudal values and practices of the pre 1990 state-system. The role of the people was just to elect some ‘masters’ for that very day or for some years from a ‘galaxy of masters’. As a result, disappointment and frustration among the people run high.

In the mean time, the Maoists took arms to attain people’s emancipation and their overall development. In the night of 13 February 1996, several violent events signaled different type of attempt to realize the dream of establishing a progressive state.  After this event, hundreds and thousands of violent events, battles, actions and many more have taken place in the country. During the past seven years, more than 7500 persons have lost their lives. The entire nation had passed through the barbaric ‘emergency rule’. All political and civil rights remained suspended. The security forces and the Maoist guerillas had been involved in several battles. Therefore, the resolution of the war had become the focal point of any discussion directed towards bringing the Nepalese society to the path of development and prosperity. After the second ceasefire declared by both the warring parties, the discussion is further focused on the examination of the alternatives available in attaining the resolution.

It is only natural that either one side should defeat the other side militarily, or a political process should bring all sides together in finding out the solution to restore peace. Although, the first option will continue till the parties involved accept the second option of the political process, already some steps have been taken to streamline the efforts directed to ensure resolution. These steps include the ceasefire, informal contacts between and among all major political players and the attempts to concretize the broad political agenda.

Today, in the Nepalese political scenario, three types of dominant political forces are bitterly competing to strengthen their power base. They are – the traditional forces represented by the king, the centrist parliamentary democratic forces represented by Nepali congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) and the leftist new democratic forces represented by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Furthermore, the king and the Maoists have their armed forces whereas the centrist forces broadly rely on the king for any decision-making role over the Nepalese army. In this way, they are divided into three major groups politically and into two fronts militarily.

In real term, the traditional political force is antagonistic towards both the centrist and the leftist forces and wants unconditional surrender of arms by the Maoists and acceptance of the effective role of the king by the centrist forces. In this situation, the king could hold the power effectively and the centrist forces as well as the leftists could be the wonderful masks of democracy. The traditional forces, therefore, will try to create a framework where the king holds power; the centrists hold positions and the leftists participate in a slow process of their own dissolution. On their part, the centrist parliamentary political forces prescribe dialogue, constitutional amendments to bring desired changes in the political system by maintaining constitutional monarchy and multiparty system.  Through this process, they try to neutralize the military might of the other two forces by immediately disarming the Maoists and gradually establishing control over the Royal Nepal Army. The leftist new democratic forces represented by the Maoists will try to maximize their area of political as well as military influence by proposing a course of dialogue, formation of an interim government, and election of the constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.

With different motives and objectives of their own, the proposal to organize the election of a constituent assembly may be acceptable to all the three types of forces. The traditional forces need such opportunity to legalize the traditional power they enjoy.  The centrist forces may see this opportunity favorable to disarm Maoists and to establish control over the army by introducing new constitutional provisions. The Maoists certainly have already seen benefits on such proposal, therefore, they proposed. They may succeed in expanding their power base without disarming themselves. 

The proposal regarding holding election of the constituent assembly is related to handing over the stick to the people who are said sovereign. Therefore, it is only natural to create the environment where ordinary citizens can decide their destiny themselves. This is the core political process. Really, this could be a great democratic exercise. By proposing the democratic way of redirecting the agenda in a civil war situation, the Maoists, in principle, have accepted that they will function in a competitive political framework. Furthermore, the democratic process will certainly help them and the entire nation to participate in the transformational agenda, actions and programs to build a just and prosperous society.

In reality, Nepal has been facing serious problems not only in the area of political development but also in the economic, cultural and intellectual fronts.  The society as a whole is experiencing the pain of transition. The traditional feudal values, beliefs and practices have been continuously resisting the new sets of attitudes, behavior and practices based on the new scientific values.  As a result, the opposing political, economic and cultural forces are in the relentless battle to expand their space and for this reason they put tremendous energy to gain control over the resources, both, human as well as material. Therefore, the situation is complex, which is going through a transitional process resulting to a new, transformed society. The problems, prospects and processes, hence, are related to the transformation and any actions will help resolving the complexities when holistic agenda has been adopted. In this context, only the election of the constituent assembly has the capacity, scope and democratic qualities to address the complexities. This exercise should have been carried out long ago. Unfortunately, never in the history of Nepal, the people had such opportunity. Therefore, to give peace a chance, to allow democracy to function and to take the nation to prosperity, the responsible political forces should come together and agree to hand over the stick to the rightful owner – the citizens of Nepal.

The People’s Review Weekly, Kathmandu, April 3-9, 2003.


2. Ceasefire and Dialogue: What Will Happen Next?

In Nepal, the role and influencing capacity of different political forces have changed in the recent months. Although, there are still the three major political blocks (the rightist traditional forces, the centrist parliamentary forces and the leftist new democratic forces) as they were in the past, but their role-value and the weight-factors have changed tremendously.

At this moment, the rightist traditional forces are in a commanding position. Although, some other small political formations such as Rastriya Prajatantra Party form part of the combination, primarily the palace represents this block. They not only control the army, but also run the administration. They have a ‘cabinet’ to show the outsiders and have obtained overt or covert support from the dominant powers such as America. They are trying to improve relation with India. In the present world political make-up, where only one superpower is roaming around as a Spanish bull, it is natural that the American and Indian interests in Nepal can be addressed together.

The centrist parliamentary block combines old and new social democrats represented by Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) and a few other ‘communist’ and non-communist groups. After the people’s movement of 1990, the rightists and the centrist forces shared power. The rightists maintained supremacy over the army and the centrist established effective control over the civil bureaucracy.  In the name of democracy, the centrist leaders accumulated wealth through unfair means and grabbed every opportunity available for their own benefit. The nation and the society experienced a phase of extreme frustration. In this process, they loose the popular support and the traditional forces got opportunity to sideline them. 

The leftists, primarily represented by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) took a highly confrontational path of armed social transformation. In February 13, 1996, they initiated armed struggle. They developed their political and military base rapidly and started to run a de-facto government in the large part of the rural areas. The government based in Kathmandu has been absent there and the Maoists have established there the system of effective governance.

Today, not only the balance of power has changed, but also there has been a polarization of political forces. The centrists are still there very much present as a political ideology and non-functional organizational structures, but they have no effective voice in any political developments. They do not control the bureaucracy or the army and they do not command popular support. They have become a marginal force. Still, they can play some role if they join one or the other pole. Hence, in the present context, the rightist traditional forces and the Maoists have formed the two poles and are standing against each other face to face.

Therefore, any objective analysis starts from the acceptance of the polarization in the Nepalese political stage. The power balance today, between the two poles has determined the course of political actions, maneuverings, game plans and change of immediate objectives of all political forces.  The two power blocks are setting the course and the remnants of the centrist forces are lining up in a queue to have either a “darshan” (audience with) or a “Bhetghat” (meeting) with the traditional and the leftist forces respectively. However, no one should completely overlook the centrist forces, but in any power analysis, they do not occupy the prime space. Hence, the political and military polarization between the traditional forces and the leftists becomes an issue of paramount importance.

After a year of consorted effort, the traditional forces formed their united front by including the palace, rightist political formations and the intellectual-turn-coats. On an opportune moment, they established effective control over the civil bureaucracy by overthrowing a weak caretaker government of a faction of the centrists. The rightists enchased the popular sentiments partly as they effectively overthrew the infamous centrist block from the government. They had the army under their control already. Therefore, within a short span of time they became the most powerful force. In this course, they tried to quell the Maoist rebellion by military means. However, they were unsuccessful. Therefore, they need time to reorganize themselves, to reexamine their strategy and to add sophisticated weapons in their arsenal.

On the other hand, the Maoists had been engaged in armed conflict for quite a long time. The September 11 incident in America created a fertile ground for any repressive government to declare any legitimate struggles lunched by the people or a nation as act of terrorism. By utilizing this opportunity, the Nepalese state forces declared the Maoists as terrorists. This declaration helped the state to enlist Maoist leaders as terrorist with the Interpol, which issued ‘Red Corner Notice’ for their arrest. Therefore, the Maoists were looking for a window to escape from the unpleasant label of “terrorists”. Similarly, they had won the battle against the police as well as the paramilitary force and they successfully prevented the defeat from the army. Instead, the army sounded tired and powerless. The Maoists also had established effective control in a large part of the rural areas and they were in need of an interval when they can consolidate the gains.

The opposite poles could not meet if the case has its relation with the concrete science, but in social science that is not only possible, sometimes, it becomes the most viable option. Therefore, the ceasefire in the country and a process of dialogue has become the talk of the town. The two poles are there participating in the same process with entirely different motives, objectives and design.

“What next”? There are only two options available – 1) assimilation of the Maoist force in the new political environment acceptable for not only both the political poles but also for the people, or 2) go back to the battlefield and decide the future course by military means. The second option is very much understandable and clear. However, the first option is complicated and needs a deeper look. Either for the realization of the first option, the traditional rightist forces have to hand over the power to the leftists or the leftists have to agree to accept a ceremonial role in the rightist dominated system of governance. Both these propositions are nearly impossible concerning their operational worth. Therefore, they have to find out an option, which could be acceptable for both of them and the people. In such situation, organizing an election of a constituent assembly could provide a common ground. The election should be conducted by an impartial election commission with the support of an interim government participated by all major political forces and social sections. Moreover, the assembly should have no limitations strings attached to other than framing a constitution on the best interest of the people and the Nepalese nation.

In final analysis, either there will be the election of the all-powerful constituent assembly or the guns will start roaring once again.  If the Maoists will agree something less than all-powerful constituent assembly, that may be seen as betrayal by the people in general and their own cadres in particular. For the traditional forces also, the exit option, if offered by the people, could be more acceptable. This will be an inclusive process for the marginal centrist forces too, and should be acceptable.  The people shall welcome the election of the assembly as this action alone can insure their sovereign status.

The Telegraph Weekly, Kathamandu, April 9-15, 2003


3. Government-Maoist Negotiation: Context and Process

After the commencement of the second ceasefire between the government and the Maoists, and the initiation of dialogue, some sections of the politicians and intellectuals have created unrealistic optimism. This optimism had no objective base.  It was just a dream. The process in itself was difficult. This was seen during the previous negotiation exercise. Therefore, it has become important to understand the socio-political and military context, the gaps between expectations of different participating forces and the process by which the entire conflict gets resolved.

The reality of today is that the palace has become the de-facto power. It has formed an alliance with the rightist political forces and a section of intellectuals, who were and are busy in cultivating opportunities. The centrists, primarily composed of Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), have lost popular mass base and lost control over civil bureaucracy. Now, they are just there as an ideology, non-functional political bureaucracy and as remnants of a historical process. From the perspective of political importance, the left-democratic force, centered around and led by the Maoists is the most dominant force. The traditional Right still enjoys military superiority, whereas the Maoists have become the dominant popular force with a strong military base. The centrist combination has been hanging around a popular political system. From the power-relations perspective, the whole society has been polarized between the Left and the Right. But from the system-relations perspective the centrist are also very much present. Hence, the political superstructure demands a direct negotiation between traditional Right and the Left to resolve the power issues, whereas the centrists also have a role in bridging the ideological and political gap between the opposite poles and can help a bit in resolving the system-issues.

The traditional Right wants power and will offer some cosmetic role to the leftist and to the centrists. They will maneuver to disarm the Maoists and will make every effort to strengthen their military capability and expand popular base. The Maoists will try to interfere with the central governance mechanism and will try to create a sound foundation for mass uprising while keeping intact or even strengthening their military power. The centrists, as usual, will try to make their presence felt by increasing their visibility through public relation activities such as meetings, statements, a few demonstrations and so on. In this context, therefore, the negotiation exercise will march through an interesting process.

The first phase has already been in practice. The preliminary stage where feelers from both sides worked overtime, ceasefire was agreed, negotiating teams were formed, code of conduct was finalized, warm up activities were under taken and a battle of wits surfaced. The process during this phase created confusions, hopes, expectations and dreams. Nobody knows how the peaceful resolution would be attained, but everybody has thrown their support for a peaceful resolution. Until now, there has been seen more fantasies than realism. The merchants of mediation and sponsors of dialogue also promoted the hype.

The second phase will start in the very day when both the negotiating teams confront each other face to face. From the government side, the traditional right will argue for finding out a solution without addressing the structural issues. As usual, it would try for sharing power or accommodating the Maoists as junior partner in the ruling coalition. Mostly, the government representatives will try to convince the Maoist team talking more about “bloodshed”, “development”, “national interest” and “intelligence and immense capacity of Maoist leaders in nation building”. Their whole focus will be on cosmetics, or at the best, providing some face saving remedies to the Maoists to help them to inter inside the “prestigious Singh Durbar”. Therefore, the government will offer solutions without substance. On the other hand, the Maoists will bring forward the structural issues such as ownership over means of production, equal and mutually beneficial relation with other countries, management of natural resources, system of governance and role of the people etc, and may propose a general debate on the constitutional framework to address such issues. As usual, they will put forward the election of the constituent assembly, and for that purpose a round table conference and formation of an interim government. Some people may argue that the Maoists may settle for reforming the present constitution, but that sounds a remote possibility. Therefore, both sides, after some arguments, threats and maneuvering, may agree on the proposal of the constituent assembly, as this could be a better midway activity for the resolution of the conflict.

During this period, the government will also procure weapons and military technologies, provide training to its military force even by bringing external experts, and maneuver for moral and material support from the foreign governments. The efforts will center on improving its military capability. On the other hand, the Maoists will try to consolidate their gains, improve supply lines, strengthen the system of governance in the area they control, reach out to every Nepali villages and townships so as to create a sound ground for mass uprising and also to expand their military strength. Therefore, if the negotiation breaks down, both sides will jump to the battlefield with enhanced military and political might. In this scenario, the process ends immediately. However, if the proposal for constitutional reform or the election of the constituent assembly would be accepted, the third phase starts.

During the third phase, if the Maoists will agree for the constitutional reform, it is nearly certain that there would a vertical split within Maoist force. The large majority will go back to the battlefield. A small section of discarded elements will get accommodation within the system and the process ends. But, if the election of the constituent assembly is agreed upon, there will be an interim government represented primarily by the traditional right and the Maoists with a marginal presence of the centrists and a few independents. The formation of the interim government would not be so difficult but agreeing to a mechanism for the control over the police force, government army, Maoist army and civil bureaucracy will be very difficult. If they will manage to develop a mutually agreed mechanism, the implementation phase would start.

In the forth phase, every force will present its core constitutional values in a brief draft for general debate and will try to ensure the victory of its candidate for the assembly. There may be many minor issues but the core contentious issue could be the role of the armed forces of both sides, which could prevent free exercise of the will. If that issue is resolved, there could be an election and there will be a constituent assembly. If the constituent assembly is sovereign and can set a framework to resolving the fundamental issues of social transformation and to designing an appropriate system of governance, the constitution is there. Now, the more difficult phase of amalgamation of different opposing forces starts. If that amalgamation is accomplished, the conflict will get resolved. Therefore, it is too unrealistic and too early to conclude that the resolution of the conflict is very close.

The People’s Review weekly, Kathmandu, April 24-30, 2003


4. The essence of change: An overview

The government-Maoist negotiation exercise has provided a right platform for the meaningful debate, which may contribute immensely in the process of building a prosperous society and a strong nation. The debate certainly encompasses the need for several minor adjustments of short-term nature and enters into the structural areas of strategic significance. Appreciating this context, the government and the Maoists should agree to open a general debate to finalize the transformational agenda and leave the process to take a natural course for conclusion. It makes no sense to wasting time by talking on the issues of marginal significance.

The important tasks for today are to identify the core issues, examine the importance they carry, develop new principles and values, and prepare an agenda for national debate. All sections of the society including the negotiating parties should share this responsibility. Based on such understanding, here, an attempt has been made to present an overview primarily focusing on the essence of change. The issues mentioned below affect the strategic course of national reconstruction and development.

  • Rationalizing ownership as well as control over the means of production and establishing an equitable system of production relations among classes,
  • Designing a new system of mixed economy by critically refining the role of the state,
  • Maximizing contributions of individuals, groups and organizations with the promotion of plural socio-political and cultural values, behaviors and practices by designing and implementing a competitive political frame-work,
  • Equitable sharing of power, resources and opportunities among nationalities,
  • Correcting, both, social as well as geographical imbalances through affirmative actions,
  • Providing an environment where the society guards against the external cultural invasion, and at the same time promotes cross-cultural learning through critical examination and creative application, and
  • Protecting national interests, strengthening national capacities and enhancing visibility and dignified presence of the country among the nations

 

By addressing the issues of ownership and the production relations, a roadmap for an agrarian reform and fundamentals of a new mixed economy could be developed. The poverty and economic under development have two aspects – low production and unjust distribution. Therefore, the new vision, principles and the roadmap should address both aspects. The policies, which will be developed, and the programs follow afterwards would be guided by the thematic positioning of this historical period, when a new vision is being developed and the strategies are being crafted. Therefore, the principles and the inserted values should have clarity and operational worth.

The question of designing a competitive political framework is something difficult to chew for the politicians and the thinkers of the parliamentary school of thought and the westernized intelligentsia. For them, this is an already resolved issue. Their prescription includes allowing to form political parties, organize elections on regular intervals, tolerate speaking and shouting, protect the ‘lofty’ civil liberties and the ‘basic’ human rights, ensure the division of power among different branches of the state system, put all these arrangements in a law book (constitution) and implement its provisions in any style – British or Burundian. The framework they advocate does not consider any proactive role for a state-system to ensure citizen’s ability to participate in governance. At the same time, where a large majority of the citizens lack high degree of political awareness and freedom from hunger, their ability to influence the policy of the government and other  political actors becomes marginal. The arrangements mentioned above, thus, serve just as cosmetics for them. A small section of people reaps all the harvest. Therefore, that section of the political elite, which includes professional politicians and amateur intellectual collaborators, try to prevent the debate related to designing a superstructure compatible to the existing reality of the society. Now, this has become a challenge for the leftist political forces in general and the Marxist intellectuals and the communist scholars in particular to develop a superstructure, which promotes the plural political, cultural and spiritual values, and at the same time, ensures a large majority of citizen’s participation in governance.  The core issue here is that the state-system should liberate itself from the net of the upper class interests. Also, the state-system should stop discharging the role it plays just for the upper class as their protector, care provider and prosperity manager. Therefore, designing a system that addresses correctly the issue of political substance and the competitive system of governance gets paramount importance.

Regarding the issues of imbalances, they are seen in four areas – nationalities, gender, caste and geographical region. Several Nepalese political and social activists have proposed a surgical process. The surgical process includes end of Khasa domination, male chauvinism, Bahunbad and “Forget West and Neglect Tarai” syndrome. In reality, the centralized state-system has created a situation where only the Khasa nationality can benefit (Newars are to some extent an exception). To correct this situation, a federal system of governance with full-fledged autonomous regions of different nationalities should be established. Similarly, the provision of affirmative actions should be instituted to correct the male chauvinism. Now, the reservation as well as reparation provisions for Dalits have become their rights to redress the worst effects of Bahunbad. The regional imbalances could be rectified by reversing the “Forget West and Neglect Tarai” policy of the state. The introduction of the federal system also will contribute to correct this imbalance. The cultural invasion, both, internal and external, also is a major issue of concern. The indigenous cultural riches, values and practices should be best preserved, fine-tuned and contextualized. Preventing the negative effect of an invading culture is essential, but cross-cultural learning, also, should be encouraged. There is not an easy way out. Therefore, the debate on the regional and socio-cultural imbalances should form an integral part of the exercise centered on the formation of a constituent assembly.

The politicians, mostly the rightists and a section of the centrist block, use nationalism as a trump card to garner popular support by playing with people’s sentiments. “Curse India by words and serve India by deeds” is the motto of these nationalist crooks. The new system has to create a platform where the sovereign right of the nation to make decisions is fully protected.

These issues together, may contribute to create a sound foundation for the prosperity that promotes equity, social harmony, justice and peace, and will form the basis of a transformational socio-economic and political agenda. Therefore, just limiting the discussion at this moment, on sharing power among different political forces has no significance about resolving the problems.  The process of nationwide debate could be best governed by the election exercise of the constituent assembly. During the course of the general debate, different prescriptions will appear to influence the masses and the people will endorse some of them. Finally, adopting a new constitution could institutionalize the General Will. Although, the process is difficult, agreeing on the agenda and the principles could be a frustrating exercise, and the election as well as drafting a new constitution could be full of obstacles; but only this course may lead to lasting peace, prosperity and justice through a political process. It should be noted that the essence of fundamental change is transformation of the society. If the political process fails to address this reality, the process of confrontational path of armed transformation will get acceleration.

The People’s Review weekly, Kathmandu, May 22-28, 2003


5. Pluralism with difference: A prerequisite for peace and prosperity

In any society, politics is one of the most important topics, which should generate debate. Unfortunately, in Nepal, politics is considered as a well understood and already concluded issue and the debate centers around political rituals. In essence, politics is the collective act of one or more non-antagonistic economic class or classes to protect and promote their class interests by blending, programming and packaging their interests in a certain ideology, theory and a pattern of behaviors. Therefore, one has to understand the class-base and the orientation of the ideology, theory and behaviors that their collective act represents. The collective act necessarily relates itself with the existing reality of the society and interacts, influences and interferes by antagonistic or non-antagonistic manner with all other types of collective acts prevailing in that particular time.  Since its beginning, the class society is pluralistic politically, economically, socio-culturally, psychologically and organizationally. The plural values, beliefs and practices are not limited to the collective behavior of antagonistic classes; it has been seen within the same type of classes too. In reality, they differ and behave differently within a broad periphery of class interests. To promote and safeguard the class interests collectively, and to represent those interests more effectively, the antagonistic classes fight head-to-head, sometimes in the battlefield when the class contradiction reaches to the boiling point. This is what the Nepalese society is experiencing today.

In the Nepalese society, one can see the fiercest fight. The fight is multidimensional and complex. It has covered ideologies, politics, cultures, values and many more. The fight, primarily, is between the upper class ruling coalition and the working classes. The ruling classes are trying their level best to continue the political, economic and cultural dominance whereas the working classes want to reorganize the society radically including the change of the superstructure. At this moment, the palace has become the leader of the ruling upper class and the Maoists lead the working class majority. In strategic sense, the centrists are the extension of the ruling coalition, but today, in tactical sense, they are humiliated section of the upper class political coalition and use to cry sometimes when a ‘friendly-fire’ hits them or extreme hunger for power, prestige, wealth and opportunity compels them. This is what the parliamentary opposition’s protest movement is all about. Although, they cry to regain their lost glory, this process also may have positive political impact.

Retaining and even strengthening the existing behavioral, programmatic and operational supremacy in all spheres of socio-economic and political governance is the goal of the upper class ruling coalition whereas the leftists led by the Maoists are striving for radical socio-economic and political change. In this way, Nepalese political scene is witnessing a grand fight of unprecedented nature. The contradictions between the antagonistic classes have broadened the scope of struggle, which has entered into the superior level of class war. Now, there are two governing mechanisms. Although, two types of mechanism have been in practice, but that does not necessarily reflect the presence of two systems. The upper class ruling coalition has been operating under the multiparty system whereas the Maoists are going through an experiential course by making several experiments in the area they govern.

During the period of war, any experiment may work, but in a broader political canvas, a comprehensive system alone can provide the appropriate operating mechanism.

The communists all over the world successfully campaigned for a new nature of state power. They were successful in capturing the power in several countries. Once, they were not only a dominant ideology in the world but also the counter-balancing military power. They failed to retain that place. The easy answer is – the revisionists and the capitalists recaptured the power. However, why they recaptured the state power so successfully? Was it a policy failure or the failure of implementation? Did it happen due to fundamental structural reasons? It is not in one or a few countries the experiment failed. Therefore, the logic of policy or implementation failure does not reflect the reality. This is structural failure of fundamental nature. In the beginning, one of the reasons for the failure of the Paris commune was stated as not effective implementation of dictatorship of the proletariat. This conclusion offered uncompromising stand in favor of dictatorship, which in later years was extended to people with differing views including the communist party leaders and cadres. In the process, most of the communist parties lost their vision, sidelined the values and degenerated as monolithic state bureaucracies. The failure was the outcome of the extension of dictatorship of the party exercised by its leadership. Indeed, the failure was the result of the negation of pluralistic socio-economic and political composition of the society and absence of a superstructure appropriate to address that reality. Certainly, that lesson should get importance, more particularly, during the phase of democratic revolution and reconstruction. Therefore, to address the need of an appropriate superstructure that ensures politico-economic and cultural pluralism with difference, the following provisions may provide the basis.

Constitutionally mandated nature of state that overtly favors working classes, minorities and weaker sections, 

  • Multiparty
  • Federal state
  • Autonomous regions of nationalities
  • New mixed economy
  • Multiculturalism
  • State completely free from religious affiliation

 

This is not the “Bahudaliya Janabad” as some centrists are busy selling their product under the communist banner. The important factors are the class orientation of the state power and the choice of a mechanism by which the power is exercised. When working class interests, values and visions occupy primacy, rest will fall accordingly. It is important to institutionalize those primacies in the form of constitutional provisions, and for this purpose, there is the need of a duly elected constituent assembly. When there are such provisions in the constitution drafted and adopted by the constituent assembly, the armed forces and the bureaucracy need overhaul. A surgical process can insert the new state values within a new operational framework. The amalgamation of two armies into one could provide the opportunity for such surgical process. If this process gets obstructed, the course may turn again into a violent one and the mass uprising or protracted war will insure the insertion of the new vision and values. Finally, if the society has to move forward, there should be a progressive state, which operates with dynamic political processes. Obviously, pluralism with difference provides the dynamic environment to all political parties, social and economic institutes and mass organizations to function as centers of excellence and it makes them accountable as the people judge them continuously. Therefore, the consensus for the pluralism that has equity and justice as its core values, could be a turning point to ensure true democracy, lasting peace and ever flourishing prosperity in Nepal

The People’s Review weekly, Kathmandu, June 12-18, 2003.


6. Government – Maoist ‘Endeavor': Back to Battlefield?

It is still too early to conclude that the dialogue has been over. They are still talking about the talks. The exchanges of letters are continuing and some hope has been still there. But, the sign and symptoms lead to a second time failure of the negotiation exercise. Now, there is no mutual trust and very soon, the blame-game would surface. Both the parties have showed the early signals. The government wants to check-met the Maoist by declaring the election of the parliament. The Maoists will stick to the previously agreed provisions including the ‘five kilometer’ one as their missile. In addition, they have raised the question of security concerns. Closing down of their contact office in Kathmandu is the most recent expression of their attitude towards the trustworthiness of the government.
The government has been busy buying time to make reasonable arrangement to announce the election and is luring the parliamentary opposition. It has still kept open the greener pastures in its cabinet to bring the parliamentary comrades and the yesteryear’s democrats inside the fence. The tired opposition may have no energy to resists the green grass just staying on the other side of the fence. Hence, in an opportune moment, they may jump inside. They say they are very much committed to save democracy. According to them, if they will hold real or nominal power, the very democracy would function. Therefore, it would not surprise anybody if they will line up with the establishment. Anyway, they are the least influencing political forces if judged by their credibility and strengths. A combined parliamentary opposition is taking rest by organizing a Jatra of rely hunger strike at Ratnapark. It makes them naked. They, perhaps, can no longer bring the people on the street and have not a single individual who can sit in a real hunger strike. Therefore, joining the ruling coalition could be their choice as they will not be willing to go the difficult path that they may have to travel if they side with the Maoists. From the class perspective also, their joining the upper class governing coalition is normal and natural.

Now, the King has taken the leadership of the ruling upper class coalition and he enjoys the support of the army. The army has made all sorts of preparations and has been equipped with modern weapons. The rightist elements within the political forces are lining up behind the king. Not only the Rastriya Prajatantra party but also elements within Nepali Congress and the UML are just ready to cross the floor. They are waiting for the final position of their respective parties. In this way, ‘a grand realignment of political forces’ may embolden the upper class ruling coalition to check-met the Maoists. And, they may use the election as the reconciliation drama for themselves. The Indian government may try to keep the political situation fluid and the Americans will support the government’s move. The westerners, in general, will come out in support of the election. In this way, the government may win the battle for the first round.

On their side, the Maoists will try not to repeat the Dang syndrome, where many political and apolitical forces blamed them for breaking the ceasefire. This time, the government with its own overconfidence may break the ceasefire. This would give Maoists the same type of initial public relation advantage as Dang gave to the government side. But if the government will wait for a longer period of time without making any significant break-through in the talks, then it would be difficult for the Maoists to wait indefinitely. In such situation, they have to use their social engineering skills to go to the battlefield. By going through their past records, the social engineering is quite possible. This may balance the blame by organizing events, which may create all sorts of confusions.
As regard to the balance sheets, the government may feel happy that it got plenty of time to arm and train the army. Politically, by sidelining the parliamentary forces or even lining them up behind it, the government may claim of making a national consensus. These advantages may boost the moral of the army. For the Maoists, the negotiation period could be seen beneficial due to three reasons.  They could reorganize their party, army and front organizations. They could keep their area of governance and the supply lines intact to take off for another phase of armed confrontation against the government army. They could enhance their public image as they will have no more label of ‘terrorists’ and had wide range of exchange of views with national as well as international actors. Therefore, when their guns start roaring again, they may also have higher level of confidence.

If another armed confrontation is inevitable, why the drama of negotiation was staged? This is part of life, part of politics and part of a military strategy. Winning or loosing a protracted war is distributed in several phases. Both sides need to strengthen their fighting capacities, overhauling their supply lines, reassessing political and organizational preparation and above all regenerating a collective will to win. Therefore, they had this break. If somebody blames them for an unethical exercise, he or she has no understanding of a class war. A class war is the confrontation between antagonistic classes and the result is either win or loose. There is no solution in between in strategic sense. Therefore, rather than blaming them, it would be wise to choose their own course. They may side with the Maoists and could be part of the process undertaken for the transformation of the society or could be with the government and maintain the status quo or be a critical observer and participate in any actions of your choice or leave the entire process as it progresses and maintain lowest visibility possible. The war may not start tomorrow, or even next year, but it is certain that it will start again. The actors may not be the same but the strategic course shall never stop. Of course, a slower and longer path for societal transformation was available and that could be cost effective in terms of loss of human life and damage of assets and infrastructure. However, that course of electing a constituent assembly to resolve the political impasse democratically sounds not a feasible option as the government is not serious at all for this course. Therefore, waiting the day of restarting the war has become a reality.

The People’s Review Weekly, Kathmandu, August 7-13, 2003.


7. Crisis in Nepal: Political Circus vs. Politics of Transformation

For the last 13 years, Nepal is experiencing turmoil, uncertainty and instability. More particularly, after the historic democracy movement of 1990, the situation has continued to remain fluid. During this period, the people created either extreme optimism or pessimism for themselves. The politicians of the gifted parliamentary school marched for their own prosperity. The radicals vanished to the jungles and came back to the villages, towns and cities heavily armed with modern weapons. Moreover, the palace got change of face after the tragedy, which took lives of several royals.

After the democracy movement, the change of heart and mind started from the people. During the movement and immediately after that period, the people were so optimistic that they were expecting the opening up of the floodgate of prosperity. In their “dream-Nepal”, everybody will have a decent job, children will be in schools, health facilities will reach their doorsteps, poverty will disappear, inequality will vanish and physical facilities would match that of Singapore. This will not take long time as the magical multiparty was there and their leaders had promised so. Some of the leaders, even publicly, had declared that Nepal would be at par of Singapore quite soon. They were making speeches as if Nepal will start just cultivating smile, satisfaction and prosperity.  However, the results did not support the loud talks. Therefore, optimism did not last long and the people changed their expectations rapidly. Hence, pessimism started to run high. In this way, the first party changing their side, expectations and fantasies were the people. They were away from the reality just for two to three years. 

The second party noticeably faster in the competition of change was the galaxy of political leaders of the parliamentary school. They changed their goals, roles and assets in an unbelievably faster speed. They created oasis for themselves whereas people continued to starve. All of the sudden, they became powerful as the Ranas (a dynasty which ruled for 104 years), wealthy as the Marwaris (an influential business community migrated from Rajasthan) and unpopular as the Panchas (former ruling clique). They changed themselves dramatically.

The third party to change was the ginger group among the Nepalese left, the radicals. They were hanging around the parliamentary system talking some complex theoretical mysteries. One fine day, they discovered that no significant change is possible without arms. They vanished to the jungles. It was strange that one dark night the creamy layer of the Nepalese communist politics disappeared from the main roads of Kathmandu valley. They started either walking on the narrow lanes during the darkness of night or marching towards the lap of the majestic mountains. The gossip-loving Nepalese communists who had spent 47 years talking about armed struggle as a joke, this time did not tell a lie. A sea-change!

The fourth party to change was the palace. After 1990, the tamed king was residing in the royal palace. The king became so compassionate that it started to behave like a royal monk – loving, caring and above all gentle. The people started to feel close to that obedient, rule-abiding king. However, in the infamous June-One tragedy, not only the king but also all of his immediate family members were killed. As it happens in a monarchy, a new king ascended to the throne. The new king, overtly, expected an active role to play. In this way the forth and final party was the palace, which offered evidences of its change by expecting a dominant role in the coalition politics. 

The leaders and their parties of the parliamentary school were discredited. The radicals in the jungles and remote areas were gaining strengths. Moreover, the palace was trying to assert its dominant role. In this period of extreme fluidity, there was an infamous and weak government headed by a spineless leader who was surrounded by notorious political gangsters. The hunters, trained and motivated, overpowered this gang of political hooligans and gave them the marching order. Some termed this as a constitutional coup d’état. After this incident, in the political circus, roles changed. The yesteryear’s tigers, the crooks of parliamentary school, were on the run. The political drama continued to unfold several mysteries, roles and events. One old political crony, who had already lost the teeth, was brought to chew the hard nuts of complex-make. As an obedient crony, he tried to chew. Predictably, he failed to break the nut and accepted to vanish in the wilderness. There was no problem as another crony replaced him. The second one also witnessed the same fate and disappeared. Once again, the dethroned spineless leader had the lady-luck on his side. He got the chair back. In this way, the game of the musical chair has been continuing.

The people are fed up with the activity of changing the masks. For them, everybody who enters into the game-park called Singh durbar (the central secretariat) is the same type of animal with a different human mask. The well-known animal is blood thirsty, voracious and greedy. The animalized human faces in the parliamentary school are also the same for the people and the nation as they looted the society and the state in the past. They also killed thousands of people and declared state of emergency to curtail all civil liberties and human rights whatever they were there. Only the difference is that, they do not feel tired while making lofty lectures. There will be no surprise if the former Panch’s team and the parliamentary parties’ team will join hands to share the booty.

What will be the net gain from such change for the people? In real sense, neither there will be any difference nor are the people expecting for. Even the radicals who have developed a habit of coming to surface for negotiating a peaceful takeover may book the ticket once more. There is no harm in trying, as they will keep the mountain boots ready to disappear if the new political dolls behave differently.

The politics in Nepal has become a strange puzzle needing a large amount of neuron cells in the brain to understand and to play with. If nothing is going to change, why the new dramas are being staged?  In reality, the same crowd wearing different masks will start another Tandab Nritya (a form of destructive dance).  As usual, the dance will have the blending of vulgarity and utopia. All killings, commissions, bribes, nepotism, favoritism, etc. will be camouflaged by idealistic speeches and the auction of dreams. The people will be forced to watch the real action achievements of the ruling crowd – their laughter and smiles, bungalows and luxury cars, foreign trips and family shows, addition of fat in their body and brain, etc, etc. The people shall continue to watch this type of real actions with envy, jealousy and hatred till the ruling crowd will be decamped together with their rule.

The intellectuals, mostly befooled by strange schemes, talk about crisis in Nepalese political scene. They say that there is total absence of political stability. But, Nepal has not been entering into a crisis situation only because a toothless vegetarian old wildcat left the animal park or another crony vanished or a dethroned spineless leader might have the same fate. Nepal has been and will continue to be in crisis. Because, we Nepalese are ‘Veer Gurkhas’ (we, Gorkhalis are brave because we are stupid, we did not know to be brave without being stupid – Bhupi Serchan). If Nepalese people will get success to say good-bye to the “stupid” part of the British colonial label of ‘Veer Gurkhas’, only then they can get rid of the crisis, which is the byproduct of the criminally vulgar political circus. Therefore, the need of the day is the enlightened politico-ideological intervention further supported by strategic vision, sincerity of purpose, collective heroism and mass actions. Looking at the prevailing situation at the grassroots, there are reasons to be optimistic. The heightened level of socio-political awareness has created opportunities for change and has expanded the scope of qualitative difference at the grassroots level. Just the change of face at macro level does not add value. There is the need of transformation of the society. In addition, there is the need of a mechanism to generate synergy to accelerate the process of change and to get rid of crisis.  The most democratic and peaceful way out of the crisis and the new departure point for the politics of transformation is to design a system accepting the sovereign right and General Will of the people. The election of the constituent assembly could be the most logical democratic process to recognize the General Will and to institutionalize the mandate. As a nation, are we ready to practice democracy? 

The Telegraph Weekly, Kathmandu, June 16-23, 2004


8. Palace, Parties and People Power

The Ranas led the coalition of upper classes during their rule until 1951. After they were compelled to share power at leadership level, the new tussle began between the Shah Kings and the political parties. Due to the prevalence of feudalism in the society and the king’s control over the army, the parties were pushed to the background for more than 30 years. A ‘lofty’ word Panchayat was invented to cover the king’s direct rule. Although the parties continued low intensity resistance for fairly a long time, the palace was in total command. Thematically, the battle between them revolved around the system of governance. The palace was in favor of party-less system to actively control over the leadership, whereas the parties were for sharing the power with the palace by establishing a multiparty polity. They were in favor of constitutional monarchy as one of its ingredients. Other than some factions of the communist party such as the Jhapalies and the Fourth Congress, no political party was taking issues of fundamental changes in the society as its agenda during the 30 years period. Therefore, at the core, the political mobilization by the mainstream parties had nothing related to the structural issues.

People starved and died. People rebelled and failed. People tried and tested defeat. But as a collective mass, they never succumbed. The historic movements of 1970s, 1980s and the early 1990s offer evidences to justify this conclusion. The parties sided with the people. They never led them; neither had they launched movements effectively at the national level. However, people power expressed through the movements launched by the students, professionals and general people was overwhelming and the ruling class realized the need for sharing power. Hence, the contradictions between the palace and the parties related to the leadership had been managed by bringing temporary halt of animosity. They agreed to introduce multiparty system with essentially a powerful monarchy, which had its total control over the army. The mainstream parties chanted loudly that the system they introduced was multiparty with constitutional monarchy. The arrangement announced that time in a document called constitution simply reflected the agreement for power sharing. The document was neither the product of people’s general will nor it was the product of the reconciliation. Therefore, the contradiction between these two forces continued.

In the mean time, in 1996, the Maoists started armed insurrection, which progressed to a full fledge war. The two forces – the palace and the parties were divided over the method and leadership in dealing with the Maoists. For the parties, it was the opportunity to take control over the army at the most and have a say on its mobilization at the least. Traditionally, the army was getting orders from the palace and it was loyal to it. Therefore, it was reluctant to come under the control of the party’s government. Hence, the palace saw this opportunity to regain control over the leadership. They started the grand fight once again, sometimes clandestinely and sometimes publicly. The Maoists happily utilized the opportunity provided by the wrangling among the ruling elites. The fire was further fueled by the inefficiency, corruption, loss of credibility and division within the parliamentary party camps. As a result, the yesteryear’s heroes degenerated to the meanest villains making them vulnerable to any external push.

The palace enjoys the support of the army and has a traditional support base outside. It was reluctant to reconcile with the parties. The parliamentary political parties are on the defensive due to their misrule of several years. Their party leaderships are discredited. People do not trust them. Even, their own party cadres are reluctant to respond to the calls given by these parties. The so-called international community publicly supports the parties and clandestinely supplies resources to the palace-led government. The palace, perhaps, believes that the more the Maoists gain strengths, the more the so-called international community shall come closer to it.

The palace, after taking absolute power in February this year, boldly elaborated its priorities. The priorities included bringing peace by quelling the rebellion, controlling corruption and taking action against the corrupt officials of the previous regimes, restore democracy and reinitiate development programs. The palace set a period of three years to complete the restoration process. To achieve these goals, the palace introduced state of emergency, implemented censorship regime, quelled opposition voices by imprisoning political leaders and interfered in the means of mass communication. The cabinet formed after the king’s address of February 01 did not justify the beginning of clean governance. The collective face of the royal government was no different from the previous one. Those who were hoping against hope were frustrated when the anti-corruption commission was formed. Legal framework, operational instruments and personalities nominated all added to their hopelessness. This was one of the most important strategic errors. Rather than closing down the strategically less important enemy fronts, the royal government expanded them by introducing new fronts. The palace, perhaps, believed that single-minded determination alone could produce results. The parties, bewildered initially, got some respite not because of their actions, but due to the arrogance of the new ministers, missing credibility of the commission and the so-called international community’s moral support. Finally, they had some sense of confidence back after their pilgrim to the Indian capital and the sympathy-led support of the Maoists. After these ICU medications, their heart has started to pump blood, at least to keep them alive.

The government is ruling effectively in urban areas. The rural areas are under strong influence of the Maoists. Now, there are three possibilities – the government will regain control allover Nepal, the Maoists will win or a new mechanism will effectively end the divide and reunify the governance. The first two refer to the military solution, whereas the third is related to the political solution. The political solution could be achieved only by bringing people power into play and designing a system that could address the transformational agenda, which includes but not limited to inclusive democracy, federalism and radical socio-economic changes. The election of the constituent assembly could be the new starting point that may herald the beginning of a new Nepali political amphitheater. Not only the palace, the parties, the Maoists and the people could participate in this democratic process, but also the structural issues could be resolved in the new environment. Are the political players ready to listen? Could they participate to resolve the structural issues proactively? Are they simply waiting to succumb to the people power?

http://www.nepalresearch.com, August 03, 200

9.  A Brief Note on Political Parties

In the fourth century, during the time of Roman Empire, in Roman senate there were two groups or the parties in their crude form. They were the Patricians and Plebeians representing the interests of the noble families and the merchants respectively. This was the beginning of the class-oriented collective political behavior. For centuries, such process continued in different form. However, the more visible organized attempt was seen during the evolution phase of young Italian republics during the 14th and 15th centuries. The Guelphs and the Ghibellines were present in almost all the Italian city-states. The Guelph represented the merchants and the Ghibelline was the organization of the feudal class. Although, these organizations did not last long, they created a base for the emergence of new parties. During the 17th and 18th century, several political parties came into existence in Europe and America. In Britain, the Whigs (pro-strong parliament) and Tories (pro-strong monarchy) were formed within a period of 10 years between 1678 and 1688. The Jacobins (radical reformers), Codeliers and Girondists appeared in France during the revolution of 1789. In America, the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans came into existence in 1787 and 1796 respectively. After the publication of the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” in 1872, the parties with socialist orientation appeared. The German Social Democratic Party established in 1875 was one among them. Although, Karl Marx himself heavily criticized its program, this event and its program ignited the philosophical debate profoundly. As a result, the Communist Party of Germany came into existence in 1918. The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was formed in 1898, which was renamed as Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) in 1918 and again its name was changed to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Communist Party of Great Britain was established in 1920. Indian National Congress was one of the oldest parties in Asia established in 1885. In China, Kuomintang was established in 1912. In 1921, the Communist Party of China and in 1925, the Communist Party of India came into existence.

In Nepal, several parties appeared during the anti-Rana popular movement, which started in 1932. Several attempts to establish some kind of the political formations gave birth to Prachanda Gorkha, Praja Parishad, Nepali Rastriya Congress and Nepal Prajatantra Congress before 1947. Finally, the Nepali Congress was formed in 1949 by merging Nepali Rastriya Congress and Nepal Prajatantra Congress. The Communist Party of Nepal was established in 1949. The prominent Nepalese political parties represented three types of interests. From 1951 to 1961, Rastrabadi Gorkha Parishad represented the interest of feudalism and its political institutions. The Nepali Congress represented the interest of rich farmers, bourgeoisies, creamy layer of the intelligentsia, and youths of the upper and middle classes. In theory, the Communist Party propounded the idea of defending the class interests of workers, peasants (middle, poor, agricultural laborers). However, higher middle class dominated the party. Primarily, it represented the interests of petty bourgeoisies and patriotic section of intelligentsia. From 1961 to 1990, Panchayat replaced Rastrabadi Gorkha Parishad and others remained the same. After 1990, Rastriya Prajatantra Party replaced Panchayat and the Communist Party groups divided into three divisions – the centrist, who call themselves as communists (e.g. UML), the leftist, who are a mixture of progressive democrats and communists (e.g. Mashal-Ekta Kendra) and the radical communists (e.g. Maoists).

Rastriya Prajatantra Party is quite transparent in its ideological stand and it has acted predictably. The party is not the victim of duality. Nepali congress also has not suffered that much as it functions as a loose network of interests of upper and middle classes. The party does not move around any ideology, though for the consumption of masses and for international image making, it covers itself with an ideological flag called socialism. Its socialism is open for interpretation for everybody to any meaning, scope and extent. The party has adopted some sorts of ultra liberalism. Therefore, it has no compulsions to finding out any pretensions. The centrist under the trademark of the communists are in difficulties. Duality of ideology, programs, values, words and actions is what they prefer to practice. When a party cadre working in a turpentine factory at Nepalgunj comes to visit Balkhu, they invent life size pictures of Marx and Mao. Nevertheless, when an ambassador of a hyper-power comes to visit there for some counseling, even the smaller posters of Marx and Mao go inside a safe deposit vault. For the short term, they can enjoy the benefit of the art of creating illusion (political hypnotism), but on the long run, they are the most vulnerable political artistes. They do not have independent class base as they share the same base with Nepali Congress. The center left groups, who also cover themselves by a brand name of communists, are the continuation of the communist party of yesteryears. They are a coalition of class interests of lower and middle classes. They have future as a front organization, but not as a political party. The Maoists, basically, are the communists ideologically, politically and organizationally. 

The picture what is seen in Nepal primarily refers to the fight between the forces of status quo and the forces of change. Change not only that of the system of governance, but also the foundation of multiple relationships within a society. The social contract between different forces of production has been going through the process of reexamination and emergence of a set of contracts based on equity and justice are drawing attention. In the rural areas, the very foundation of feudalism and its social contract reflected in the values, practices, belief systems and norms have been shaken.  The domination of feudal politics, culture and economy is in the verge of collapse. Now, several types of transitional arrangements have come up. Today, the need is to refine and standardize those arrangements into a comprehensive governance mechanism and implementing the same at macro level. As long as discrimination on the ground of nationality, gender, caste and class would continue, the equitable, just and prosperous society shall remain a distant dream.

Whether they were the Roman Patricians and Plebeians or Italian Guelphs and Ghibellines or Chinese Kuomintang and Communist, they had been in a grand fight against each other, unprecedented in their respective societies. They fought in all areas – philosophy, politics, culture and progress of their societies. Most of the time, they made history by venturing into brand new paths.  They gave expression to prevailing contradictions of their societies. They were the class organizations of the highest level. Today, there are hundreds of political parties.  They share broadly the same type of the platform as the parties mentioned above occupied. The process of organized behavior of different political forces has been increasing every passing year. Not only the number of the political parties has increased but also the scope of their influence has been expanded tremendously. All the political parties have been collectively protecting their class interests. Some of them have contributed positively by playing a progressive role towards the socio-economic and political dynamics of the society whereas some others are the masters of regression. The same is true to Nepal.

http://www.parivartannepal.blogspot.com

September 07, 2005

 


10. ‘Mainstream’ political parties: course correction or marginalization

In Nepal, these days, the political field is one of the most fascinating arenas to watch out. The society and the state are in the process of fundamental change. There are pessimists who love to preach inevitability of doomsday.  They are the champions of negativism. They say that Nepal is at the verge of collapse as a state. That is not the case. Instead, the society is passing through the phase of great transformation. Feudalism is fast disappearing in the rural areas. In urban areas, the workers, professionals and people from lower middle classes are agitating for better living conditions and unrestricted exercise of their civil and political rights. Hence, allover Nepal, new information as well as awareness are giving birth to new organizations. New productive forces are emerging and the new production relations are in the making. True, there are difficulties. However, it is equally true that the pace of fundamental change is momentous and historic.

The aspirations of the people and strategic positioning of the major political forces have been heralding the beginning of a new era. The palace is clear on its mission, strategies and methods. The Maoists are equally clear on not only their destination but also the roads and pathways that they have to travel through. However, the ‘mainstream’ political parties are the divided houses. Therefore, there is the greater need to analyze objectively the problems, positions and prospects of the parliamentary political front in general, the Nepali Congress, and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) in particular.

To unite their divided houses, the parliamentary political parties sometimes raise abstract slogans such as “Total Democracy” and sometimes they swing between the stated ideals of the parties and the personal needs of their leaders. These needs include “save your skin yourself”, “change colors like lizards to adjust with” and   “spread thin so as to collect benefits from everywhere”. The base of such needs is their past, full of controversies, corruptions and conspiracies. Clinging on power to collect benefits was their mission during those days when they were in power. They not only enjoyed power but also misused it. Moreover, they corrupted themselves together with many others around them. It should be noted that the term “leaders” here refers to a large majority of central leaders of the parliamentary political parties including the Congress and the UML. Now, it would be the most natural and prudent course if they leave the scene voluntarily and spend times repenting for all the wrongdoings they were and are responsible for. This could be the single most valuable contribution from them. Through a process of purification that includes expressing genuine regrets, declaring the wealth they have amassed illegally, volunteering for investigation and accepting judgments of the court of justice, they could get another opportunity to reclaim their positions in the galaxy of better political leaders.  Some of them could come clean and the others could be rehabilitated once they go through the purification process. However, accountability is not much in practice in Nepal. The feudal mindset certainly limits their motivation to experiment with truth. Therefore, they are simply trying to cover their ugly past with some cosmetic words of regrets.

Now, the upheavals have started to surface in the political parties too. The opposition within Nepali Congress and the former student leader’s alumni in UML are the new faces of a new reality. They may not prevail in their own parties. They may even have to swallow the bitter pills of defeat. However, as a trend, they have already registered their strong presence. The Congress has seen two radically different political lines, perhaps, first time in its entire history. The UML also once again has been proceeding to go through the two-line struggle. Lately, the UML has developed administrative mechanisms to quell opposing voices within the party. Hence, the prevalence of the political process is in question.

There could be four probable courses of actions of the on-going struggles inside the Congress and the UML. 1) The struggles, if conducted in a political and professional manner, could give birth to a new Congress and a new UML. Even after the rebirth, the Congress will continue to occupy the center-right and the UML the center-left portion of the political space but they could develop as the genuine democratic parties. In this scenario, they could participate in the valuable process of socio-political and economic change. Moreover, they could go beyond catch phrases such as “Total Democracy”. These phrases may not represent the transformational needs of the state and the society. One has to remember that the transformational agenda includes inclusive democracy, cooperative federalism, multiparty system and the radical agenda for socio-economic change. 2) The second scenario could be that that the opposition within Nepali Congress and the alumni within the UML will be thrown out from their respective parties. This is quite possible, as their parties have taken such actions in the past. On the other hand, they may be silenced as the minorities. Some members of the new alumni in UML have shown submissiveness of its extreme nature in the past. In addition, this time they may walk along the same road. If that would happen, the history will repeat itself in an ugly fashion. 3) In case of their ouster from the parties or they leave on their own, they may form the new political organizations or venture into the political oblivion by joining the civil society. If they decide to form political parties, they may have to struggle hard. However, the new political environment may offer opportunities to gain ground fast. 4) If the opposing factions from both the parties leave their parties, they may come together to form a center-left party. Hence, the opposition within Congress and the alumni could put their energies and resources together to advance the progressive agenda. This formation may get tremendous boost if some of the prominent personalities of the extended civil society join hands with them in a functional politico-organizational arrangement.

The political process that has been seen in the form of upheavals is taking shape by creating divisions in the ‘mainstream’ political parties too and may result to realignments of the political forces. However, nobody can save them from further marginalization if the political leaders who remind the misrule and corruptions of the past continue in the leadership positions. The same will happen to political parties if they swing to this and that side and use cunning tricks to fool the general people, if the transformational agenda is not adopted, if the rectification and democratization process in the political parties does not take place and if the ‘mainstream’ parties shy away from championing the cause of the mass movement,. In that situation, new political formations could emerge and the political process will continue to move forward. However, more recently, the ‘mainstream’ parties have shown some character and motivation towards reclaiming their mass base by adopting the democratic agenda and by leading the popular agitation at least in the cities.

In addition, the media advocates of the multiparty system and the powerful movement launched by the civil society should share responsibilities by offering their ideas and services to clean up the mess in the political formations. The improved politico-organizational health of the ‘mainstream’ political parties certainly will contribute to realize the democratic aspirations of the people and attaining the goal of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Nepal.

http://www.nepalresearch.com, September 09, 2005


11. Constituent Assembly: Beyond Slogan Mongering

Recent developments in Nepal are interesting. The ever non-interfering Chinese are equipping the royal Nepal army with the supply of arms. Perhaps, the Chinese want the palace stronger not only to deal with the Maoists but also to look out the Indians. The Americans with all their tough talking are busy bridging the gap between the palace and the parties. The Americans want to see the king and parties together to defeat the Maoists. The Indians want to keep the political situation fluid to maximize their gains particularly in areas of boundary disputes, water resource, security and trade. It is not clear, how the Indians intend to deal with the Maoists – peacefully or militarily; directly or through their Nepali alliance partners. They may wait to clarify such confusion. Sometimes, confusion plays as the best strategy particularly when the time has not come to expose the unjust or unpopular policy. The recent visit of the Indian foreign secretary and his expression of giving the benefit of doubt to the palace have provided the evidence of such strategy. It would be a big joke to believe that India or any other international power favors democracy in Nepal. Their bedfellows – ‘Their Majesties’ in Arabia and other Gulf countries and many more ‘Presidents’ and ‘Prime Ministers’ around the world simply expose this myth. Any internal political player who dances according to external instructions certainly shall harm the interest of the Nepalese people. With this remark, it would be better to concentrate on the internal political dynamics.

The internal political players are busy adjusting with emerging realities. However, some of them are too rigid to adjust with. Either the palace is very isolated or it has reached to the point to surrendering to China internationally.  No major powers are supporting the palace. The internal support base is also eroding due to its own policy of creating multiple battlefronts – against the parties, media and civil society.  The parliamentary parties are popular among major international powers, but they do not command any sizable support inside the country. On the other, the Maoists command mass support largely inside, whereas they are unpopular among the major international powers. In this situation, perhaps, they also have to retreat a bit and start the strategy of creating confusion as a tactical policy.

The political situation is confusing not only for the public but also for the political analysts and some of the political players themselves. Where they are heading to? The palace has been intending to consolidate its power by bringing its supportive political institutions in the ‘parliament’ through the process of ‘general election’. The seven-party-alliance wants the power back by restoring the dissolved parliament. The Maoists want to establish a people’s democracy by bringing the non-monarchial or anti-monarchial forces together to attain the first-phase goal of establishing a democratic republic. Every political player has differing goals. The strategies and policies to attain the goals and the process also vary.

The election of the constituent assembly could be one of the best unifying political process but as the political environment is heading for check-met, it is difficult to accept that the forces will not try to subvert or create escape routes for them in the process of implementation. If any force sees that its victory in the election of the assembly is not sure or if it reaches to the conclusion that its defeat is imminent, certainly that force either will try to subvert the process or will find out an escape route. Presently, the palace is opposing the election of the assembly and the other two forces are favoring it, but in the inception or implementation stages, any force may walk out. There are mainly four escape routes. The first could be the disagreement in the formation of a neutral interim government. The second could be the modalities to organize the election that includes the status, role and position of the election commission. The third factor could be that they may bring the issue of suspicion on the role of the bureaucracy or army or police or Maoist army. The forth could be the allegations of rigging of the election itself. Therefore, just reaching to certain agreement primarily in principle to agree on the election of the constituent assembly as a common relying program of action may not result in the resolution of the conflict. Moreover, until and unless the issues of broad social transformation and the management of the arms have been addressed, the process could not move forward.

It is natural and only a good strategy of the Maoists to utilize the opportunity provided by the agitation and pass through stages. However, if the Maoists will depart from their stated line of workers’ democracy they may face revolt in their own ranks and will split or will degenerate as in the case of the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist). (The worker’s democracy is a new form of multiparty system that overtly favors working class, oppressed nationalities, communities and groups and provides special constitutional protection and political, economic and cultural rights to them.) The seven-party-alliance too will utilize the courtesy of the Maoists until the Maoists will cooperate particularly in the area of mass mobilization to restore the parliament by agitation, court order or election. The palace, which is isolated and cornered nationally and internationally, would depend more and more on the army but may not give up power. Therefore, the solution of the conflict or the civil war in Nepal is not as simple. It is more complex and difficult than what the armchair intellectuals, civil society barons and political opportunists believe or propagate.

In brief, there are four issues to address:

-          Agreement in the transformational socio-political agenda

-          Management of arms and armed forces by agreeing to keep them staying there where they are now

-          Agreeing on the structure, process and methods to hold election

-          Accepting the sovereign right of the people and their General Will expressed through the election and empower the assembly to design the structure, decide philosophical and ideological foundation of the state, insert values and visions and finalize the system

Without broadly agreeing on these critical issues, the election of the assembly would be a farce and the players will start the blame-game once again and walk out through the escape routes. For this reason, there should be a roundtable conference represented by the main political institutions, major political parties and federations of nationalities as well as oppressed sections such as women, Dalits and backward regional groups. The conference may discuss and short out the major differences and would clear the sky. The second step could be the formation of an independent election commission and an interim government. Would it be possible by consensus? This is where the problem crops up. Hence, this political course may not force the political players to participate in this process to its logical end unless one or some of them are in a position of imminent defeat. Here comes the importance of mass agitation. Even after all this, the process may not guarantee the resolution of the conflict but at least this could be an honest try. Otherwise, the solution would emerge through military means or militant agitation in the form of victory for some and defeat for others.

http://www.nepalresearch.com, December 16, 2005


12. The Spring Thunder in Nepal: Glorious but Inconclusive

Once, I was in Phalaicha village, near Chyangthapu in northern Panchthar. There was paddy everywhere ready to harvest. During discussions with the villagers, I found out that most of the paddy fields belonged to the Khas families, though they were a tiny minority there.

After a few years, I saw the same phenomenon in Zimbabwe. The white farmers had captured all arable land. The sugarcane fields, fruit farms and maize or vegetable cultivations belonged to the Whites, whereas the black Zimbabweans had to satisfy with less fertile communal land or they have to survive in the patches of the bushes.

Why Khas in Phalaicha and Whites in Zimbabwe have the ownership over productive resources, though they were a tiny minority and they had migrated much later than the indigenous people who cleared the forests, developed technologies appropriate to their time and started cultivations? This is a fundamental question. The class composition and nationality or racial dominance of a state structure, which controls power, makes all differences.

 The same happened before, during and after the Spring Thunder of 2006 in Nepal. Hundreds of thousands of people, particularly from the rural areas waged relentless struggle for more than a decade. Their resolute struggle gave birth to a bigger force and that force reached to the urban centers and resulted to a massive popular movement. The new comers, the parliamentary parties and the urban middle class, had joined the movement, though nominally, after the royal coup of February 2005. After the conclusion of the popular movement with partial success in April 2006, the late comers did not only claimed victory but also grabbed opportunities. The urban middle class intellectuals, both who participated in the movement and who stayed away, have been celebrating victory and are forwarding their wish list for encashment of benefits. The workers, mostly from informal sectors, have gone back to their work places as without work they can not survive. The poor and landless peasants or the agriculture workers who came to encircle the capital and district HQs have gone back to their respective villages to work in the field again as an agriculture worker or as a militia or as a political activist or something else. The agitators, who had no shoes or no proper dresses to cover their body, were the driving force of the mass movement. However, they are no more in the picture. They are neither in the cabinet nor in the parliament nor in the august gatherings in the convention halls of the star graded hotels. A different lot is staking claims that democracy is their child. The political leaders from the parliamentary ‘mainstream’ have started to clean up their faces by making changes primarily directed towards adjustments within their ruling coalition. Rather than accepting the simple fact that the people are sovereign and letting them decide through the constituent assembly what they want, they are trying to create comfortable space for themselves through parliamentary decrees. They had to concentrate on making arrangements for a period covering from the time they took over the state power to the election of the constituent assembly and creating environment for its election. But, they are behaving as if their parliament is immortal and they are one with the mandate to rule for ever.  It is strange when they deliver lectures on parliamentary supremacy. By proclaiming ‘supremacy of the parliament’, they are intending to tame the king. Unfortunately, they themselves saved the seat of the monarch. The people on the street were demanding the establishment of a progressive democratic republic of Nepal, whereas they got the restoration of the parliament. The people fought for a long time for fundamental socio-political and economic transformation, whereas they got nothing, which could substantially changes power relationships at the grassroots and above. Although, declaring Nepal a secular state has been a change in positive direction, other changes are far less than the expectations of the people. Rather than going through a surgical process to remove the brain tumor, the parliamentary parties opted for simple medication. The parliamentary political forces represent the upper class, anyway. Therefore, the need of another agitation or rebellion has been a compulsion. Now, it is certain that the people should rise once again.  When the people rise, they rise as a tide and break the barriers made out of any material. The parliamentary leaders should understand this simple fact. Not their ‘parliamentary supremacy’ but the people power will decide the future course of Nepal. These supper Gods of democracy might be suffering from the absence of common sense. Therefore, they can not understand or accept this simple fact.

There are two major fronts to concentrate on to make changes – the superstructure and the grassroots. To make the change happen, the course of action should be finalized and followed through. The supreme sacrifice of thousands of people during the decade starting 1996 was neither for replacing one lot of corrupts with another set of corrupts nor it was for providing opportunity to foreign forces to have a field day. The personalities at the helm of affairs are the same notorious faces who looted the country, played with national interests and misused power to its extreme. They are a bit different in form from those actors of the royal regime but they are the same in essence about the ruling culture. They already have more than what do they were aspiring and clinging to it is what they will try for. Therefore, talking big and blocking the fundamental changes would be the business of these politicians of the parliamentary school. To achieve the goal of maintaining the status quo, the ruling political class will talk loudly about constituent assembly and will put all energy to strengthen the restored parliament. To improve their access to local level, they wish to restore the dissolved local bodies. Maintaining the status quo that they have decreed through the restored parliament is the goal, program and policy of these ‘mainstream’ political forces and their role and behaviors will stay around this goal. Therefore, neither they will change the superstructure fundamentally nor the base. Already, they have curtailed the power of the monarchy largely. Anyway, they themselves have saved it. Nevertheless, it is foolish to believe that the patient never returns from the ICU. Perhaps, the parliamentary leaders also know this fact. Therefore, in some extreme situation, they may opt for a republic. Still, fundamentally and pragmatically, Nepal will continue to be an upper class Khas state. The talk of restructuring the state could be a ploy to pacify the mass anger and not for really to establish cooperative federalism with national autonomy granted to the extent of right to self-determination including the right to secession, if the people of a particular autonomous region wish so. If they would be committed on restructuring of the state, they might have included this in their ‘dream parliamentary proclamation’.

Now, the constituent assembly has replaced the ‘powerful’ Hindu Gods. Worshipping the constituent assembly has become a regular feature. The royalists, ‘mainstream’ politicians, intellectuals, civil society barons and media heavyweights all are chanting the hymns in praise of the constituent assembly. Why so? It is easier to derail the process from within. Among the above-mentioned groups, there are only a few, which may be genuinely interested to go for the real democratic exercise to establish a progressive democratic republican state order. Therefore, the so-called national consensus on holding the election of the constituent assembly not only may provide synergy for forward movement, but also it could be used for regressive motives. The situation is fluid and complex and it is natural that the Maoists will maintain their army and even they may expand and strengthen their fighting capacity.

What next? High probability is that the actors of the royal regime will go on hibernation and wait for an opportune moment to bounce back. The masters of the parliamentary stream will try to establish themselves effectively. Although, there could be a honeymoon phase between the parliamentary forces and the Maoists, that will not last long. Even if there is an interim government participated in by the Maoist that too would be a temporary arrangement. The class contradictions will not allow them to stay together for long, forget about designing a political system together. The parliamentary forces will not behave differently in strategic sense than that what they did in the past. They will try to prolong the life of the reinstated parliament and thus, their own government. They will rule in the cities and towns for fairly a long time. The Maoists will rule the villages and remote areas directly and they will rule over the cities and towns indirectly also for fairly a long time. They will stay away from Kathmandu, as that will be some sort of insurance against foreign military invasion. Hence, the absolute desire for peace shall not materialize provided the Maoists do not degenerate or northern India does not come under effective Maoist influence, which shall enable the Maoists in Nepal to capture the central state power.

Most likely, the common people who are aspiring for peace will be frustrated, the merchants of peace will sale abstract endeavors and build their future and the political forces will constantly fight for supremacy until two separate governance systems will remain in practice. Unifying the governance systems will be a strategic goal, for both, the Maoists and the parliamentary forces. However, that goal could only be realized by the victory of one ruling side. In all probability, we might have to live in a situation of civil war until the Khasas of Phalaicha in Panchthar and Whites in Zimbabwe enjoy the privileges for controlling the precious resources.

http://www.nepalresearch.com, May 24, 2006

http://www.blog.com.np, May 30, 2006 

 


13. Spring Thunder in Nepal: Glorious but Inconclusive – II

 

Background

My article “Spring Thunder in Nepal: Glorious but Inconclusive” was posted on “United We Blog” (www.blog.com.np). This is just a rejoinder, which had been written as a response to the issues raised by the fellow bloggers. The issues prominently raised included Khas domination, land issue, Maoist movement and my conclusion in the article. The rejoinder was posted on www.blog.com.np and had tremendous response.

Khas domination:

In Nepal, there are five nationalities – Madhesi (31.53%), Khas (30.89%), MangolKirat (23.05%), Dalit (7.87%) and Newar (5.48%). Besides, there are some small-unclassified groups (1.19%). The Khas has four sub-groups. They are Bahun, Chhetri, Thakuri and Sanyasi. The Khas-Hindu rulers used the caste system, cultural invasion and Hindu administrative as well as legal system as the basis for suppressing the cultures of other nationalities. The process of Khas domination had started long ago and the state provided the leadership. Therefore, the role of the state in creating favorable environment for Khas domination and centralization of available resources, opportunities and power around them is the primary reason for all sorts of inequalities among nationalities. In 2005, Khasas having a population of 30.89% had been occupying 59.18% of the powerful leadership positions in four major areas – state, political parties, private sector and civil society. (For details, please see my book “Nepalko jatiya Prashna: Samajik Banot ra Sajhedariko Sambhavana“, Second Edition – 2005, Center for Development Studies – Nepal, Kathmandu. The first edition of the book is available in the internet in English. The title of the book is “The Nationalities’ Question in Nepal: Social Convergence and Partnership Building through Multiculturalism and Federalism”. For the book, please visit my website: http://www.neupaneg.com). In reality, if we wish to build an egalitarian, civilized and prosperous Nepal, we should end the Khas domination in every aspect of national life.

Land Issue:

There are four issues involved – ownership, communal relations (i.e., nationalities’ ownership pattern, such as who controls the former Kipat land in Limbuan), value of land as per its location and productivity. In Nepal, land brings prestige, provides insurance cover and ensures livelihood for a large majority of people. Therefore, one has to appreciate the role that land plays. Moreover, it is the most important means of production. In addition, the land has contributed to class conflicts, court cases and corruption opportunities for the bureaucrats including in the legal system who are called judges. Therefore, resolution of the land issue has been critical and central. The issue is not that everybody has to share poverty, rather everybody should have equitable share on prosperity. Therefore, the traditional land reform alone may not solve the problem, though it is true that there is the need of redistribution of land particularly based on “land to the tiller”. Hence, one has to be creative, innovative and willing to accept the mechanism of collective problem solving. Cooperative farming particularly horticulture in commercial scales in the hill areas by bringing land and labor inputs together as shares could be one among such initiatives. In some areas, reverting to communal ownership as an upgraded Kipat system may help. In fact, the most important issues are to ensure equity, justice and prosperity. Let us collectively continue to search for better and better options to resolve the issues related to land, which is one of the most important productive resources in Nepal.

Maoist Movement:

After the historic people’s movement of 1990, the expectation was that the pace of change would be faster. The aspirations among the people heralded that the political forces should move in an unprecedented speed to bridge the political, social, economic and intellectual gap created by overall underdevelopment, injustices and irresponsible governance.  After the movement, one or the other party formed the government. Unfortunately, they not only overlooked the people’s aspirations and the national development agenda but also nearly all the leaders and influential cadres of the parliamentary political parties accumulated unimaginable wealth through all sorts of corrupt practices.  As a result, disappointment and frustration among the people run high. In the mean time, the Maoists took arms. The politico-economic and social agenda have centered on the armed confrontations, battles and war since 1996. Since then, the society has been passing through a difficult phase of transition. In fact, feudalism has been fast disappearing in the villages. The towns and cities also are passing through socio-political change, speedily. The awakening among the oppressed nationalities has been unprecedented. Moreover, hope has been generated among the people. The “Spring Thunder of April 2006″ has opened up the opportunities to realize the dream of a new Nepal. Now, the Nepalese state and people could address the issues of fundamental societal transformation. Therefore, there is the need of a superstructure, which is compatible to the transformational agenda. If the society has to move forward, there should be a progressive state, which operates with dynamic political processes. Obviously, pluralism with a difference (please see my article “Pluralism with Difference” for definition and characteristics in http://www.neupaneg.com) provides the synergistic environment to all political parties, social and economic forces and mass organizations to function as centers of excellence. In addition, it makes them accountable as the people could judge them continuously. The important factors are the orientation of the state power and the choice of a mechanism by which the power is exercised. When the interest of the common people, their values and visions occupy primacy, rest will fall accordingly. It is important to institutionalize those primacies in the form of constitutional provisions, and for this purpose, there is the need of a duly elected constituent assembly. When there are such provisions in the constitution drafted and adopted by the constituent assembly, the armed forces and the bureaucracy need overhaul. A surgical process can insert the new state values within a new operational framework. The amalgamation of two armies into one could provide the opportunity for such surgical process. To create such opportunities, many individuals, groups, parties and forces fought resolutely. Certainly, the Maoists are one among the major players. Therefore, it is normal and natural to appreciate the Maoists for their value adding contributions in this historic process.

Validation of Conclusion

The consensus that has built around the constituent assembly could be the new departure point in the endeavor for building a new nation, a new Nepal. However, if this process is obstructed, the course may turn again into a violent one. We should not forget this probability only because of the euphoria of optimism. Being impulsive is good, but keeping the head cool is better.

http://www.blog.com.np, July 15, 2006


14. Moving Towards Serene Villages and Tumultuous Towns

The fundamental issues of the villages have been broadly addressed. The exploitative behaviors may be continuing, but that is not a general trend. The productive forces may still not be freed in the true sense of its meaning, but the freedom march has already been started. The criminal caste system, Khas domination and gender stereotypes may be continuing, but the village communities have discovered the nonsense Bahunbadi social as well as state patronage of such evils. Now, the issues of civil liberty and political freedom have become the critical agenda items. Establishing inclusive pluralistic democracy at the grassroots is the challenge not only for the Maoists, but for other political and social forces as well. The return or resurgence of the local functionaries of the national political parties and their participation in the process of decision-making could bring life in this process. They should participate in the local governance mechanism. However, the participation should be through election of the village assemblies. This is what the villages need now. The Maoists should welcome the returnees and/or the resurgent cadres of other political parties. They, themselves, should participate in the governance by competing with these political opponents. They should abide by the law that they agree to govern or to sit in the opposition as mandated by the people through periodic elections. When the village assemblies are in place, then comes the turn of rural physical progress. Mobilizing resources available locally, raising voices to bring the national resources through collective bargaining, and building prosperous villages should be the priority of these village assemblies. The historic process of transformation has already been started and the progressive forces should ensure to take it to its logical conclusion.

For a decade, the politico-cultural, economic and military confrontations had been heavily concentrated in the villages. Now, the villages are administered by the agencies other than that of the government in Singh durbar. The same agencies are reaching out to towns and cities to establish their governance.  It sounds a bit funny, but a new reality begins its journey rather through a semi visible route and reaches to the stage of super visibility. Some people feel it, see it and talk about it in its semi visible state itself, whereas the others see it during the stage of super visibility. This happens due to not only ignorance or absence of facts, but also because of someone has utter dislike of that emerging reality and is determined to reject it.

Let us see what has started to happen outside the village Nepal. The Maoist army has already established its well-equipped security posts in many towns. It is present in every strategic highways and major boarder posts. It has started patrolling the boarder to check the illegal movement of goods. The Maoists have introduced the tax system in the towns and cities too. They have started their justice delivery services there. Moreover, they have been channeling the district level government funds (though partially and only in some districts) allocated for rural infrastructure and are implementing as well as overseeing the construction works. They have started awarding the district level contracts in areas of local resource exploitation such as sand and stones and service provisions such as ferry, boats, etc. They have been collecting the road tax. In fact, even in towns, cities and highways, now they have started to gradually replacing the agencies of the government headquartered in Singh durbar.

In the villages, there is single governance mechanism with some exceptions in areas closer to the big cities or the district headquarters. Good or bad, there is the rule as per the design of the Maoists. Hence, the duel rule is confined to the major towns and cities. The Maoists agenda is to unify the governance by designing a new system through the election of the constituent assembly. Therefore, they need the election for restructuring the sate and transferring the state power to the new structures and establishing themselves as a major player in governance. However, why the seven party alliances is willing to go for the election? There are a few logics and among them, the most important one is ‘their desire’ to resolve the ‘Maoist problem’. Otherwise, they are perfectly happy with the parliamentary system they have now. Why they are ready to compromise? In the past when the king had captured all power, it was understandable that they tried to find out a common ground to have some sort of understanding with the Maoists. Hence, they agreed that they also would hold the tail of the holy cow, the constituent assembly. Now, the situation has changed and they have become the masters of Singh durbar. Hence, they do not need the tail of the holy cow; rather they need the precious villages under their control. Contrary to this, the Maoists, the champions of harvesting benefits from the fights within the enemy camps, also want to establish their effective governance over the towns and cities.  They will not allow the seven party alliance to rule over the villages on the terms of Singh durbar. Similarly, the seven party alliance will not vacate the cities and towns for the Maoists. Hence, the towns and cities are going to be the areas of turmoil. To reach to that level, both, the Maoists and the seven party alliance have to pass through a logical course. Therefore, both of them have been constantly talking about the election of the constituent assembly, either enthusiastically or reluctantly. Now, this may or may not be a commitment, but certainly, this talk in itself is part of that logical course.

Although, there is no credible basis to sustain it over a long period, the morale of the seven party alliance sounds high. They do not have their own army and the army, which they have inherited and are presiding over, has been considered not loyal to them. It is true that the powerful regional and global forces are backing them. That is their only credible strength. However, that support too is conditional, particularly from the superpower. The condition is that they have to Part Company with the Maoists if the Maoists reject decommissioning and disarming. Until now, only one factor has not been clear and that is why India, at least publicly, is supporting the idea of partnership between the Maoists and the seven party alliance. Is there any secret understanding among the three – India, seven party alliance and Maoists? Secret understanding or no secret understanding, if the Maoists see no reason to collaborating with the seven party alliance, they have the courage and motivation to come out of such arrangements, instantly. Alternatively, if the Maoist leadership succumbs to international pressure and starts decommissioning and disarming the Maoist army, the leadership will have to witness the revolt and reorganization of their own army against them. This could be the most logical scenario. The Maoist leadership understands it more than anybody else does. Then, why they are parading on the roads and streets of the historic city of Kathmandu? Are they enjoying life as tourists? Are they collecting information to establish a handicraft-exporting house? Are they negotiating with the spineless government representatives without any purpose? Are they under strong influence of any foreign force? Are they super ambitious crooks who are in hurry to enter inside the Singh durbar? If the answer of the last five questions is an emphatic “no”, then there is a mission behind. And, the mission could not be better than either to establishing a progressive political system that could transform the Nepalese society by actively participating in the election of the constituent assembly. Alternatively, if it fails as a process or as an output, starting the urban guerilla war, which will ensure effective governance in the villages and will help to establish hold over the towns and cities. If the reluctant seven party alliance succumbs to foreign pressure and creates obstacles in Maoists’ participation in the election of the constituent assembly or if the Maoists conclude that, there is no alternative available for them other than rejecting or accepting the pre-conditions including decommissioning and disarming, the very day, they may go back to war. In fact, the Maoist army could be placed in a number of temporary barracks and the United Nations could ensure their being inside till the election has not been over. Therefore, either there might be peace by taking the route of the constituent assembly or there could be war, particularly the urban guerilla war, if the ongoing negotiation fails. In such situation, the villages may remain peaceful, but there could be unprecedented turmoil in towns and cities. Therefore, there is urgency to understand the gravity of problems, to examine availability of options, to decide immediate course of actions and to craft strategies to ensure better prospects.

http://www.nepalipost.com, August 01, 2006

15. Regression Discharged from ICU

The euphoria of “Spring Thunder – 2006″ has been gradually dissipating. For this process, several factors contributed. Among them the prominent factors included political amateurism and opportunism, incompetent governance, indifference of state functionaries, middle class hunger and greed, misuse of youthful energy and courage, politicization of ‘civil society’ and influence of foreign forces.

1. Immediately after the conclusion of the movement, the politicians of the parliamentary school promised that they will bring heaven to Nepal soon. The reinstated parliament was super active in selling cosmetics that included making the king powerless (but not abolishing the monarchy!). Their ‘Magna Carta’ covered many insignificant issues, which had nothing to do with the grassroots socio-political change. They simply took the path of populism that had its foundation on amateurism and opportunism. The political parties, which belonged to the parliamentary school are running the government and are opposing the government at the same time. For them, politics is the game of convenience. A friend of mine, who headed the Nepal Jaycees long time ago, says, “I am not a political thinker nor I have the insights of politics. But as a layman, all I can say is that the present miserable state of Nepal is because of visionless, mindless and incompetent parasites acting as political leaders.”  The conclusion of such an informed citizen is self-explanatory.

2. The demands of any section of people might be legitimate, but due to other obligations, the state may not be able to meet such demands. It is strange that the government in power in Nepal does not know its obligations neither it has any specific priority. The government bows down when a crowd of even10-12 persons comes with a wish list. Thus, it has contributed to strengthen the platform for anarchy. A government without a mission, without a priority and without any obligation to adhering to laws, rules and programs only can bring misery to its people. The same is happening today. The government is not only incompetent in creating positive environment to resolve the political conflict but also it failed in basics, such as providing security to its citizens. The rubbers and thieves have a field day even in the capital city.

3. The ethics and morality were alien for most of the state functionaries since the inception of their functions. Now, the fear factor also has gone away from their mind. Corruption has been continuing as an acceptable cultural practice. For most of government employees, non-performance is what they get the salary for, and to perform they need extra payment from the receiver of services. For a long time, it was believed that the police have been collaborating with the criminals, but in recent days, the frequency and quality of their participation has increased tremendously. The police officers linked with the recent robberies in the capital are a few examples. The state functionaries, particularly at higher levels are the sons or daughters of repressive regimes, and naturally, they are sympathetic to regression. Many people interpret in such a way that regression is the king. That is not true. The king is one among the principle actors but to tell that the king alone represents regression is misleading. Regression should be understood as an act that takes the society and state backward and reintroduces the state culture of oppression and cronyism to prevent fundamental change. If this definition is applied, the state functionaries are functioning in such a way that that has been strengthening the forces of regression. The government is simply bribing the higher-level functionaries by promotions and transfers in lucrative posts to get their cooperation. This is nothing other than rewarding them, who actually deserve punishment.

4. At the end of the 1990 movement, the persons loosely associated with the universities as part time teachers launched some sort of agitation to become permanent. They were granted to occupy those positions without participating in any kind of competition. The same has been happening today. The part time teachers of the universities and temporary employees of several corporations, government departments and projects are blocking the roads or gates of their respective offices. This is strange that you just block everything at your wish and get what you want. This is simply a situation of lawlessness. Moreover, this is regression as you are favoring a section of people by rewarding them without giving fair chance to everybody qualified and willing to compete. The big business houses are not interested to pay back the bank loans. Similarly, everybody employed here and there wants to compel the government to raise his or her salary and benefits. The peasants all over Nepal are forgotten, whereas the middle class hunger and greed have been parading on the disfigured roads of the ancient city of Kathmandu and elsewhere in Nepal.

5. The youths, particularly the students, are high in ideals, zeal and initiatives. They are wonderful in their courage. However, the political crooks just sneak inside the community of youths and try to advance their causes through them. In general, the students have a responsibility to train themselves for future, but the political crooks need them today. Therefore, inspired by the colorful phrases of the political crooks, the youths use their energy and courage even in the areas that are not necessarily compatible to their roles. They should be agitating for the improvement of the education system that may include teaching-learning process, environment and mechanism. In addition, they could stop their studies temporarily if there is a great call of the nation when it is at the historic crossroads. But, for every issue, every time and in a sundry fashion, calling the youths to come to streets is counterproductive, loss making and irresponsible. Unfortunately, that is what the political crooks are practicing even when they are in the government. They raised the price of fuel without any homework as government and they opposed the price rise without any sense of responsibility as political parties. Moreover, they instigated the youths to come to streets. Finally, they felt immense satisfaction when their own government rolled back their own decision. In this process, several families lost their livelihood as their petty businesses were destroyed by the mob, besides the blood shedding of several agitating youths. Regrettable!

6. The Nepali civil society is a strange animal. It is something like the loosely connected universe of diverse interests. The frustrated politicians are civil society. The bureaucrats are civil society. The media failures are civil society. And, the business persons are civil society. Furthermore, social service contract agencies are also civil society. (For further reading, please visit www.parivartannepal.blogspot.com -“A Brief Note on NGOs and Civil Society Representation”). They create hue and cry, when they are left out. The same has been happening now. The real civil societies are busy at basics – water, literacy, livelihood, awareness, information dissemination, etc. The civil society actors among journalists are fighting for sustainable space to play a critical role, whereas the corporate media houses are pretending as over-weight civil society actors. Thus, the ‘civil society’ has been politicized to maximize the political benefits for certain political parties or individuals. Furthermore, also they are politicized to derive maximum monitory benefits for the service contract agencies and corporate media houses.

7. Once, I had reviewed a book. I sent the review to publish. After receiving the review, the editor of the news journal sent an email asking me to write and send him an article for that news journal. I wrote one and sent to him. The article did not see the light of the day. The editor, the humble associate of the publisher, had every right not to publish something that is against their stated policy. Only surprising was that he did not even acknowledge neither he informed me about their decision not to publish. Asking for the article and ignoring entirely was what a bit strange behavior. The article was written in March 2006. In that article, I had raised the issue of foreign influence, besides other issues and had questioned the role of the envoys of a few powerful countries. When you accept some one as your master during your rainy days, naturally that master would like to stay as your master during your sunny days. Everybody could see now what the envoys of certain powerful countries are telling to this government to do. The US Ambassador has been performing the role of a Viceroy of British colonial India. A friend of mine was pondering over whether it would be better to become Sikkim that gives you the first class Indian citizenship rather than to become a second-class Indian subject with Nepali citizenship. The second scenario just brings duties, whereas it denies rights. In fact, it is foolish to think on that way, but still it reveals the frustration of a Nepali soul.  

What is the result of the great movement lunched by the Nepalese people? This is an important question. In substance, it created awareness among the people and brought the situation to status quo ante that allowed people to express and to be organized. In form, it just separated a few feathers from the wings of the king.  Rest, everything is the loud talk of the political crooks. Moreover, as values, behaviors and practices, regression has come out of the Intensive Care Unit. It is fast infecting all organs of the government and the thought process of the ruling elites. Particularly, it is in a stage of capturing the soul of the reinstated rulers to complete the process of regression by attaining reconciliation between traditional and parliamentary forces. If that reconciliation materializes, the regression process will complete. In that situation, we would be free to welcome regression or to fight against it as resolutely as we fought during the “Spring Thunder – 2006″.

http://www.nepalipost.com, September 09, 2006 

 


16. Historic Peace Negotiation: Get Rid of Infantile Disorders

In Nepal, unemployment of people from every stratum has been increased. When the ceasefire came into effect, not only the Maoist and government armies have been staying away from fighting, perhaps, their political leaderships also got no meaningful jobs. Therefore, they have been busy staging political dramas. It is strange that till today they have not been able to start any sorts of meaningful peace negotiations; rather they are spending time in teasing and testing each other. Perhaps, they were tired and thought to refresh a bit by organizing series of roundtables in a festive environment. These roundtables, at least, kept their workers, media persons, ‘civil society’ chieftains and several hundred onlookers busy. This became some sorts of political orchestra and the people participated in enthusiastically. Therefore, the negotiation exercises became no less than colorful Jatras (traditional public shows full of entertainment with a mix of singing, dancing and drumming).

Everybody, with a minimum information base and a critical approach knew that the serious issues are that of the monarchy and management of arms. After wasting several months of precious time, they have now discovered these critical areas. It is understandable that the seven party alliance is superficial and halo; but the Maoist leadership, who claims as the student of logic and objectivity did not behave differently.

As far as the process of negotiation is in review, this is all messy. Who is negotiating with whom? Nobody knows. In the country, there are two functional governance mechanisms (de facto governments). Are these two governance mechanisms involved in the process of negotiation? Looking at the initial phase, it sounded like that, as there were two teams representing two governing sides. Either they did nothing or the ambition among the galaxy of leaders derailed the process. The big leaders themselves sounded in hurry to entertain each other. They even organized seven party “plus” ‘summit meetings’. Moreover, this “plus” was the Maoist side, as if that was just the eighth party. This was nothing other than messing up of the negotiation process.

The crux of the problem is the unification of governance mechanisms and transformation of the Nepalese state and society. How that could be done? The seven political parties are behaving as if they can increase the size of their playground by insulting the monarchy locally and by defaming the Maoists internationally. Their whole game plan has two ingredients – retain the monarchy but throw as much mud over it as possible to fool the public at large, and implement the guiding policies of the regional and international power centers to prevent Maoists coming to power. Many among these parties are suffering from infantile disorders and relieve at public places making the environment difficult to breathe. They are happy throwing propaganda tantrums, rather than behaving as serious negotiators. Sometimes, even a weakest link among these leaders presents himself or herself as a state onto himself or herself. Such mind set and such game plan may provide some entertainment, but will certainly fail to resolve the conflict, forget about transforming the state and society. 

On the other side, the Maoist leadership also is being infected from the infantile disorders of the seven parties. In fact, they had to start the negotiation with the government not as a political party, but as a governing political entity, which could be “People’s Government” or “United Political Consultative Council” or “State Council” or something like that whatever they call for their de facto government. Moreover, they should sit on the other side of the negotiating table as equals. However, they came as a political party, and were busy intermingling with the seven parties forgetting, perhaps, their place, role, strength and nature. They should be negotiating with the government as another governing mechanism, which has effective control over entire Village Nepal and has strong presence in towns and cities. Nevertheless, they came as comrade-in-arms of the seven parties. This is their strategic weakness, if they do not have eggs in other baskets than what they have put for auction. Such weakness may lead to differences of opinion on tactical course and political line and may contribute to divisions and splits among their own ranks. It would be most unfortunate, if they will have division or even split at this critical juncture. They should know that that is the mission of the regional and international power centers. 

The self-proclaimed Messiahs of peace in Kathmandu propagate that the United Nations could contribute effectively to establish peace in Nepal. Even some of them advocate handing over the administration to the UN. Either this is the result of bankruptcy of ideas or they are paid agents of big powers. In essence, the United Nations is run by a well-known superpower politically and by the bureaucrats administratively. Therefore, expecting major contribution in resolving the political conflict with the help of the UN is nothing more than a mirage. The UN could be helpful as a humanitarian actor or as a development partner. Its facilitation role has serious limitations in resolving the conflict that has its origin in class contradiction. In fact, the power to resolve the conflict is not outside. One has to see inside the Nepalese boundary for solutions. That could be resolved either negotiating with each other or fighting against each other. Both, political or military solutions are within the reach of the two governing entities existing in Nepal at this particular time. When the course of negotiation has been selected, perhaps, negotiated solution could be attained by approaching through several different processes. Among many such probable processes, one process has been proposed below.

1) Stop Baluwatar Jatras. Stop the ‘summits’ and super meetings. Clean up the mess. Go one-step backward and start afresh.

2) Recognize that there are two governing mechanisms. If you could not say two governments on technical ground simply give any other name. Accept both mechanisms Headquartered at Singh durbar and at Sisne-Jaljala as equals. Form two official teams representing two respective Headquarters. The teams should be that of authorized negotiators not that of spineless messengers as it has been done now. Do not tarnish the images of your own leaders and cadres by giving them responsibility without authority.

3) Take the bull by horn. Make three agenda – monarchy, management of arms and election of the constituent assembly. If the teams fail to resolve the issue of monarchy, that too could be referred to the constituent assembly by keeping it under suspended animation. Similarly, if the management of arms becomes an obstacle, then keep both the armies inside their barracks. Form a strong, powerful and well-equipped election commission and keep both armies under its control until to the date of first meeting of the duly elected constituent assembly. The major strategic issues could be decided by the people’s representatives elected for the constituent assembly to design a political system, to restructure the state, to insert values and visions and to ensure transformation of the society by giving reflection of the desired reality in the new constitution. Therefore, rather than wasting time on strategic issues, it would be better to agree on the process, procedure and date of the election and constituting an all powerful election commission.

4) Form an interim government by bringing representatives from both sides to assist in the process of election and to run the day-to-day administration until the constituent assembly appoints a new government to run the business. That government formed by the constituent assembly would continue up to the time that a new constitution is ready and the new elected government is in place. The new constitution would address the tactical and strategic issues that may include but not limited to amalgamation of two armies and two governing mechanisms and restructuring the state and society.

If both sides are serious to resolve the political conflict democratically, organizing election of the constituent assembly should get prime importance. The recommendation made by the government to constitute a new election commission is nothing more than an unhelpful attempt, which could spoil the environment. Moreover, it heralds the mindset of the government and its insensitivity and lack of seriousness towards the historic election. Both the governance mechanisms, the one Headquartered at Singh durbar and the other, Headquartered at Sisne-Jaljala, should refrain from creating new problems. In addition, they should stay away from trying to occupy the space and discharge the roles of the constituent assembly. Moreover, for this reason, they should get rid of infantile disorders. Most importantly, they should negotiate meaningfully to organize the election peacefully, where people could exercise their voting right without any kind of threat.

http://www.nepalipost.com, October 23, 2006

 


17. A brief Note on NGOs and Civil Society Representation

 

Nepal has a long history of voluntary services. During the initial stage of civilization, the people had some sorts of social organizations, which were called “Sithi”, “Guthi”, “Nangkhur”, “Chumlung”, “Noghar”, “Bheja”, “Khel”, etc. These were loosely connected social agencies. They mobilized masses in civic tasks. They were the first generation social organizations.

The second generation organizations included Arya Samaj, Mahila Samiti (Women’s Committee), Gorkha League, Nepal Charkha Pracharak Gandhi Smarak Mahaguthi (Gandhi Memorial Trust for Propagating Spinning in Nepal) popularly known as “Mahaguthi”, Nepal Nagarik Adhikar Samiti (Committee for Civil Rights in Nepal), Paropakar Sanstha (Welfare Association), etc. These organizations played significant roles in making people aware, extending services and availing skills for making the life of disadvantaged families a bit better.

The third generation organizations had clear orientation on service delivery. The well-known organizations in this category included Nepal Tuberculosis Control Association, Nepal Family Planning Association, Nepal Red Cross Society, Nepal Leprosy Control Association, etc. These organizations were established primarily to mobilize local and foreign donations to supplement the government programs. Therefore, they were not the non-government, but semi-government organizations by nature.

The fourth generation organizations could be categorized in five groups – 1) civil society groups, 2) service contract agencies, 3) social business ventures, 4) professional associations, and 5) donor’s children.

1) Among the civil society groups, there are hundreds of local organizations and initiatives, and a few large conglomerations such as Community Forest User’s Federation. These groups are certainly the voluntary agencies and initiatives. Their primary mission is to help him or herself, collectively. Although, they may implement some activities and projects by contracting from the donors, but that is not the place where their soul rests. They are motivated by the zeal to do something good for their community and for others, if and when possible. They may be small, but putting all of them together, they are the largest group within non-government social sector in Nepal.

2) The service contract agencies pretend that they are part of the larger civil society, whereas their primary motivation is to getting contracts for implementing projects in many areas such as installing physical facilities, delivering services, running political campaigns that may include but not limited to human rights, child rights, minority rights, women’s rights, civil rights, strengthening democracy, etc. As there are large agencies within this group, it makes tall claim of civil society leadership. The service contract agencies are much more vulnerable in making compromises with the funding agencies, particularly with the foreign governmental agencies. Sometimes, they play with the image of the nation and dignity of its people. They may not hesitate to project Nepal as a country of traffickers or child solders or drug addicts as long as there is money in dollar bills available for them under these banners. Another dimension of the functioning of these agencies also raises question on their credibility as social organizations. In fact, most of them have been functioning as sister organizations of certain political parties, clandestinely. Either a political leader with open political identity or a person, whose political affinity to a particular party is well known, leads many agencies in this group. Therefore, if someone has misunderstood them and is expecting their neutral role, that person could only be frustrated.

3) The practitioners of the social business ventures are clear on their mission that they will work outside the government system, but provide the same services at reasonable cost and with better quality. The Public Health Concern Trust (PHECT) and its Model Hospital could be one such example. (However, the private nursing homes and private hospitals are not social business ventures. They are outright private businesses.) The social business ventures are transparent and they do not make tall claims too. They are simply healthy institutions, socially.

4) The professional associations work in the best interest of their respective professionals. Sometimes, they extend support to other professionals and fellow citizens as well when there is a great need of their support. A few prominent associations in this group include Nepal Medical Association, Nepal Engineering Association, Nepal Nursing Association, Nepal University Teachers’ Association, Nepal Teachers’ Union, Nepal Bar Association, etc. These associations are the glorious organizations for the respective professionals and are the gems of the Nepalese nation.

5) The group comprising of donors’ children is busy minting money. In this group, there are two types of children – biological and foster. Either the donors gave birth or they adopted. The donors’ children have very good antennas. They have been blessed with wonderful sense of smell. They could spot out the availability of fund for a particular activity from a distance of thousands of kilometers. These groups may call themselves as research organizations, conflict prevention groups, peace promoters, anticorruption campaigners, democracy defenders, environment protection angels, friends of internally displaced people, community support organizations etc, but they are dependant on the availability of donor’s fund and are ready to put everything under donors’ wishes. They utilize such funds on donors’ plans and take a large pie of the cake for themselves. These groups are not different from the riflemen/women at Chhauni (army training center/field). Both of them parade. However, the Chhauni group parades in uniform in front of their officers in public, whereas the donor’s children parade in civilian dresses in front of their donors in private. The Chhauni group parades to ensure survival of their families, whereas the donor’s children parade for arranging luxury, comfort, prestige and power. It is nonsense on the part of common people to expect from them meaningful contributions to lessen the burden of fellow citizens. It is strange to watch when they portrait themselves as Messiah of the Masses and the Savior of the Nation!

All five groups mentioned above are non-government organizations. Therefore, there is nothing wrong to say them as non-government. However, when their nature and roles are under scrutiny, they are different.

Recently, it has been in discussion that one third of the members in the interim legislature and interim government should go to civil society. In this context, it becomes necessary to understand the civil society in specific term. One has to be clear that the Donor’s children are not part of the civil society, nor are the service contract agencies. Similarly, the social business ventures also may not qualify. There may or may not be unanimity about the professional associations. Hence, if there is agreement to give the civil society some representation in the interim arrangement, only civil society groups and conglomerations (including professional associations?) should get consideration from non-government social sector together with other civil society actors such as media. In fact, the legislation and execution of the state function is the area of expertise and responsibility of the politicians and political parties. Therefore, it is strange to give representation to civil society as a combined formation in the legislative and executive. This proposal either considers the so-called civil society organizations (particularly, service contract agencies and donors’ children) and their executives as political parties and political leaders respectively or forwards no confidence motion against the political parties and political leaders of the country.

December 07, 2006

http://www.parivartannepalnepal.blogspot.com


18. Cloudy Political Environment and CA Election

1. After the “Spring Thunder 2006″, Nepal has entered into a new political amphitheatre called democracy. To institutionalize democracy, every political party and almost all of the sensible individuals talk about the election of the constituent assembly. The term “democracy” has become extremely popular. Even common men and women in the street are familiar with this word, though they may not know its operational definition and practical relevance.

In this environment, the political parties are busy in expanding the size of their entity. The Nepali Congress, as usual, has been busy bullying other parties. The party has all ingredients of the qualities of a feudal lord. The Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist or UML) has been playing its evergreen role of being both – the government and opposition, at the same time. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has been ferrying its politico-military boat in an environment of heavy turbulence.  Their unpredictable landing in Kathmandu surprised many people including their own cadres, supporters and sympathizers. The transition from a leader of the grassroots revolutionary transformation process to a political entity championing the sober evolutionary agenda, perhaps, has become too difficult to manage. The other small parties are anyway smaller and their impact is quite limited on national politics.

2. The nationalities and regions have been forwarding their list of demands. The most prominent among them are the Madhesis and Janajatis. Among the Madhesis, all factions of the Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (Democratic Tarai Liberation Front) have been busy in firefights. They have been pursuing the separatist agenda. The Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (Forum for the Madhesi People’s Rights) has no strong cadre base or organizational strength. Therefore, the recent agreement between the Forum and the government may not solve the problem and the movement will continue a bit differently. The Sadbhavana Party is busy in its in-house business of splits and unifications. May be, it will also come out of its cocoon and will participate in the struggle to realize the Madhisis’ dream. Now, if the Madhesi people and organizations sit together to give a decisive push in regard to political awareness and common demands, they are in a position of strength. The Janajatis also are quite organized and have formulated their demands and could create tremendous pressure. However, the NGO-like Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities may not have the charisma, vigor, vision and strategies to mobilize its constituencies to launch a decisive struggle. Their recent agreement with the government shows their limitations. The Madhesis and the Janajatis have rightly raised the issues of proportional representation, federalism and national autonomy. Until the Khasa rulers in Kathmandu ignore these demands, the reconciliation among different nationalities could not be attained. Are the Khasa rulers listening? Are they ready to relinquish their superior political position? Are they ready to come out of their Khasa chauvinist mind set?

The Dalits too are more organized than they were in the past. Still they have no nationwide Dalit organization (except Dalit NGOs). Hence, they have not crystallized their demands like that of Madhesis. They could organize themselves nationally around four issues – reparation, reservation, national minority rights and preferential treatment to mainstream.

3. There is a big gap between distribution of slogans and capacity to deliver. The government in Kathmandu is just a de jure government in the broader sense of governance covering entire Nepal. The parliament and the cabinet are just rubber stamps of the council of Superior Political Generals (SPGs) of the eight-party political coalition, which makes decision outside the parliament and the cabinet. The parliament and the cabinet just endorse, when the political bigwigs (particularly the Big Three SPGs representing Congress, UML and Maoist) want them to do so. The parliament is not a real legislative house today. It has its ornamental value in clapping ‘to pass’ some of the bills tabled and has provided chairs, prestige and perks for several politicians and their friends. Some parties in government also run separate government of their own. Particularly, the Maoists are running the parallel government in the large part of Nepal. Even in Kathmandu, their writ runs effectively. They have their own tax collection systems to justice delivery mechanisms in place. The other important development is that the Maoist cadres at the grassroots have not abandoned their ideals, zeal and practices. This has been seen in the ‘much criticized acts and activities’ of the Young Communist League (YCL) and many more local units of the party and its other sister organizations.

4. Now, Nepal is passing through the situation of uncertainties, upheavals, turmoil and turbulences. The lead actors, who confront within and outside themselves, include the parliamentary political forces represented by the Congress and the UML. The mainstream Maoists represent the radical reformist forces. The forces for socio-political justice and equity are represented by several Madhesi, Janajati, Dalit and women groups and the transformational forces represented by the grassroots radical cadres and groups spread all over the country. All these four groups are trying to maximizing their influences through legitimate or illegitimate means.

The common people are imagining that the election of the constituent assembly will solve all their problems. For them, he or she who casts a shadow over it is a villain. Naturally, no mainstream political force likes to show as playing the role of a villain. For this reason, all the mainstream political forces are collectively talking about the constituent assembly with or without any personal or organizational sense of responsibility. One among the main political actors has already started to talk privately about converting the present parliament into the constituent assembly and get the constitution ratified through the referendum. The second actor has been suggesting postponing the election for another half year. Moreover, the third actor has an internal assessment that the election could not be organized in time anyway (?); so harvest all benefits pretending that it is the only force fully committed for the election. They should abandon such thinking, if they say that they value the importance of people’s mandate.

In reality, the socio-political and economic base of our society has its limitation in producing a large critical mass. The critical political awareness among the masses is in its infancy. The organizational infrastructure at the grassroots is in its initial phase. The fast changing reality of a Village Nepal, particularly in area of literacy, certainly, has been speeding up the process; but still lacks the minimum ingredients to cook a tasty as well as healthy socio-political meal. Until and unless the foundation for democracy has been build through education, socio-political awareness and wealth creation, there may not be any sustainable arrangement for vibrant democracy. To build and sustain functional democracy, we have to go through several rehearsals, exercises and experimental acts and activities. The same is happening today. The election of the constituent assembly could be one such exercise. Therefore, irrespective of what the other actors wish, whatever small the critical mass is, the critically aware and socially responsible citizens should continue to press for the election making the objectives clear that this could be a great opportunity for educating the masses, bringing out the specifics of their aspirations and designing a system that would be at least better than what we have today. So,   individually as well as collectively, we should recollect, chant and follow the famous Vedic hymn – Charaibeti, Charaibeti (Move Forward, Move Forward!)

August 27, 2007

http://www.nepalipost.com September 01, 2007 

 


19. Failure of the Political Leadership and Available Options

 

The events in Nepal are heralding to a very different scenario than what the people had expected from the “Spring Thunder, 2006”. The historic people’s movement succeeded in snatching power from the tyrant-king and handed it over to a new ruling coalition of all the major political parties. The beginning was messy, but that could be so due to factors influencing the transition. The then seven-party alliance government got new partner when the Maoists joined the interim government. The expectations of the people were that the government would provide immediate relief to their difficulties and ensure brighter future by designing a system that could open up the floodgate of peace, democracy, civil liberty, social equity, economic prosperity and all round development. Instead of delivering seeds to address these expectations, the governing parties started their bullfights publicly to get a few more positions in the government and a few more positions here and there such as vice chancellors of the universities. Nepalese people started to show frustrations and that further gave way to either hopelessness or rebellion. The Madhesi revolt is the most prominent among all. Finally, the Maoists came out of the government fearing that they also will loose all their credibility and popular base. In the course of reaching to this decision, the Maoist cadres had pressurized the leadership tremendously. To give the disassociation some political color, the Maoists put forward the demand for immediate declaration of the republic and acceptance of the proportional representation system. In addition, they called for the special session of the parliament. Although, these demands were meritorious, genuine and progressive, the Nepali way of barter system in politics resulted to some bizarre arrangements, such as increasing the number of seats in the Constituent Assembly to 601.

The Communist Party of Nepal (UML) is gender neutral, politically. Therefore, it entered into an understanding with the Maoists and got the Maoist’s proposals endorsed by the parliament camouflaging one of the proposals as its own amendment to the original one. Of course, this is surprising, but more surprising is that the UML has been interpreting its move as part of the reconciliation effort. The Nepali Congress hurt and bewildered was under tremendous moral pressure but as a seasoned player of the Nepali power politics; it managed to get a way out through new power-sharing arrangements. The Maoists are happy, as the UML leadership has been chewing tastefully the green grass offered to it in the form of the position of the Prime Minister. On the other side, the UML deeply divided over the issue had to face the serious challenge of vertical split concerning tactical political line. The left-leaning group together with one faction of the opportunists inside the UML was moving closer to the Maoists whereas the right-leaning group together with another set of the opportunists was creeping towards the Nepali Congress. As lions sitting comfortably under the branches of a large tree, the Congress and the Maoists were waiting patiently the fall of the monkeys on their respective laps. However, the new political seize-fire gave the breathing space to the UML too.

All the unpredictable behaviors of the ruling parties are part of the larger political anarchy seen in Kathmandu. For several months, people are hearing about several leaders sneaking inside Baluwatar Durbar and coming out many times in a day or in a week. These types of circuses have been continuing in Singh Durbar too whether it is parliament, the cabinet, or the central secretariat. The individuals have become larger than events and the events are seen as larger than any ideas and ideologies. This is unfortunate but true. Therefore, the people have not only been feeling allergic, but have developed hatred towards such acts and actions.

The political plays as mentioned above are being continuously performed in the amphitheatre of comatose Kathmandu, whereas in Madhes, the people of oppressed nationalities and marginalized sections have been launching their movements for several months to establish a just and equitable socio-political order. Moreover, secessionist forces together with many more groups and gangs are orchestrating the blood bath for realizing different objectives including but not limited to federalism, autonomy and independent statehood. Weak and demoralized, the major players of the Kathmandu political fraternity could be seen most occasionally in this part, particularly in the central and eastern Madhes. In the western Madhes, the Maoist writ still runs effectively. The exceptions are District Headquarters and major highways. The northern hills and mountains, indifferent to the political events in Kathmandu and full-blown revolt in the southern plains, have been continuing to fly the Maoist red flag all over there baring a few District Headquarters. Sometimes, it is confusing that the Maoists at the villages and the districts are the disconnected lots from the central leadership or they are the units of the centrally connected single Maoist entity. If they are one, then they are working with two pronged strategy – entertain upper class friends in Kathmandu and do the business of governance with the working masses elsewhere, particularly in the hills and mountains. Hence, there are three Nepals now if seen from the perspective of de facto governance. 1) The six-party alliance rules in Kathmandu valley and District Headquarters outside. 2) The Maoist party rules in the hills, mountains and western Madhes. 3) There is dominance of secessionist forces in the central and eastern part of Madhes.

More recently, the mainstream political bigwigs from Madhes have resigned from the Khas dominated central government, parliament and political parties and have declared to form a Madhesi Democratic Party. This new development may bring synergy to a more powerful Madhesi movement with a goal to establish an autonomous federal Madhes region. If they will fail together with another major political player the “Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum” as in the case of mainstream Sri Lankan Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), certainly the Liberation Elam of Tamil Tigers (LTTE) type secessionist forces in Madhes will emerge as the major forces, which may dominate the Madhes region for decades. Unaware of these developments or dictated by their narrow partisan objectives, the major political parties in Kathmandu are just pretending that the unrest in the Madhes region and dissatisfaction among Janajatis and Dalits are nothing more than bubbles. In reality, the national disintegration in the form of de-facto governance has already taken place and if the same trend continues for some time, the political and geographical disintegration of Nepal may become the unfortunate reality.

The ‘big cats’ of the Nepalese politics are not only ignorant of this emerging reality but also they are arrogant. Rather than utilizing the precious time to address the fundamentally important issues of restructuring the state, institutionalizing democracy and building foundation for socio-economic prosperity, these Kathmandu actors invested all their time and energy to keep their unnatural alliance intact and share the fruits of power among themselves. Now, three options could give some hope. 1) If the political activists of the ruling alliance and many other parties could start bombarding their respective Headquarters, snatch leadership power and initiate the process of state building and democratization through incorporation of social and economic justice, federalism and multiculturalism, there could be a ray of hope. 2) If the oppressed nationalities, particularly the Madhesis, Janajatis, Dalits, Khas of Khasan region and Newars could snatch state power from the Khas barons in Kathmandu and share power with all nationalities including the Khas people, particularly the neglected Khas of the Karnali region (Khasan) and start building a genuinely unified Nepal, there could be another ray of hope. And, 3) if the village and district level Maoist cadres could exert tremendous pressure on their leadership and succeed to change their comrades at higher levels and start practicing political pluralism, socio-economic justice and rule of law at the grassroots, there could be another ray of hope. Now, the paradigm has shifted. All hopes are centered around the grassroots activism and not on the acts and actions of the ‘big cats’ in Kathmandu. It may take time but certainly that would ensure building a new society and a new common homeland; the inclusive, prosperous and democratic Nepal.

http://www.nepalipost.com, January 02, 2008 

 


20. Constituent Assembly Election: Erecting Milestone in a Rainy Day

1. In the decade-long conflict in Nepal, three parties were involved – the monarchy, parliamentary political parties and Maoists. The popular uprising of April 2006 was effectively launched because of an understanding between the parliamentary political parties and the Maoists to get rid of the regressive monarchy.

The movement created some compulsions and some hype that led to a powering sharing arrangement among all three players – the king, the parliamentary political parties and the Maoists. The king agreed to go in hibernation, the parliamentary political parties agreed to share power with the Maoists and the Maoists agreed to halt their armed rebellion popularly known as people’s war.

Gradually, all the political players modified their political positions and agreed to the new agenda of organizing the election of the constituent assembly to resolve the conflict and to address issues needing to build a progressive, democratic and prosperous Nepal. The core agenda of the constituent assembly opened floodgates of ideas, aspirations, demands and proposals. The agenda alone played significant role in giving birth to new movements. The issues of ethnicities/nationalities, regions, gender, class and sections got prominence. The entire society experienced upheavals of unprecedented nature, scale and intensity.

The political leadership in this historic juncture failed to lead the people proactively. As a result, there was bloodshed in several districts in Madhes and in some places in hill areas. Also, the coalition government failed in crafting understandable strategies to govern the nation during the transitional phase.

Sometimes, the parties within the ruling coalition fought vigorously on petty issues including getting a few positions of ambassadors. Their war of words created pessimism among the people and overwhelmed them with frustrations. The behavior of the leaders of the ruling coalition was compatible to that of the king’s cronies.  But, the brave people fought vigorously in the building process of a new Nepal. As a result, some of the major issues were settled, at least in principle.

These issues included but not limited to the foundation of the new state as a federal democratic republic with regional autonomy. Furthermore, there is consensus on inclusiveness, gender equity, social justice and fundamental rights of the citizens. 

2. Nowadays, the political atmosphere in Nepal is full of colors. The closer the day of election, the thicker are the violent behaviors of the political parties. In a single day, there are thousands of   rosy speeches, hundreds of acts of threats and violence and a few deaths too.

At least, for the time being, democracy has been limited to ‘winning’ in the election by any means – clean or dirty. The parties and their leaders are not ready attitudinally or otherwise to participate in a process of fair competition, where people could choose their representatives. They are simply interested in imposing themselves by intimidation, false hopes and bizarre techniques.  Organization of the election of the constituent assembly in a free and fair way is central to institutionalize the broadly agreed upon issues, to restructure the state by addressing practical as well as operational aspects of federalism, to formally declare Nepal a republic and to develop vision and values of the new multicultural federal state. The country at this moment has been passing through the critical phase of transition.

In a situation when creating fear, intimidating people and widespread acts of violence are the order of the day, it sounds that the election where people could exercise their right to elect the representatives of their choice is simply a mirage. Collectively as a mass, as a party, as an army; Nepali people are brave, but individually they most often become powerless, particularly when an organized force throws stone on them. Although, the percentage of people participating in the election may increase manifold in comparison to the local election organized by the king’s coterie in 2005, the voters may have to face the same fate. They will have to vote a person or party that controls their households, village or community; be it Young Communist League and its parent organization the Maoists, or the Congress and the law enforcing state machinery controlled by it or the CPN (UML) and its youth brigade.

3. Many observers are obse