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Neither here nor there

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
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Shree Lal Sah in Ratopati, 16 November

Photo: Bikram Rai

Photo: Bikram Rai

The current Madhesi Movement is different from past ones. Unlike the movements of 2006-7 which were led by ordinary Madhesis struggling for their rights this one was pushed by leaders of Madhesi parties to settle personal scores against the ruling parties.

These leaders claim to be representing common Madhesis, but had they been sincere about championing the Madhes cause when they were in the government there wouldn’t be any need for protests today. The truth is the leaders failed to institutionalise the achievements of the previous movement when they were in power because they were too busy fulfilling their personal ambitions.

Their dismal track record is the reason why the movement today hasn’t garnered traction among ordinary Madhesis. India on the other hand is supporting the movement to regain the control over Nepali politics that it has lost. By using the protests in Madhes as a pretext, India is imposing an unlawful blockade.

This isn’t the first time that the southern neighbour has tried to exercise its influence over the Nepali state, but it is by far one of the most direct and overt intervention in our country’s affairs.

Madhesi leaders who currently enjoy closeness with India needn’t be too happy because India is only fulfilling its own interest. The day it achieves its intention, it will withdraw support for the Madhes movement and open the borders. The Madhes and its people will remain where they were.

Madhesis are often accused of being Indians. Rather than making such a crude remark, it’s important to review our history to better understand the ties between India and Madhes. Nepal lost one third of its territory to India, which included a large part of Tarai in the south under the Sugauli Treaty. Borders were redrawn and people from the same communities were separated into two countries. This is how people with surnames such as Musahar, Dussad, Mandal, Yadav, Tharu, Danuwar, Rajbanshi began to populate towns and villages on both sides of the border.

When the Ranas came to power, they seized land from the Madhesis who had been living in the Tarai for generations. These lands were leased out. Jungles were converted into farmlands and soon the Tarai began to produce surplus food and grain which were sold across the border to
India.

Back then Madhesis were seen as well-to-do Nepalis by Indians. Families were eager to marry their daughters to Madhesi men. Things are not the same today. Cross border marriages have decreased.

It is true that there are many Indians who enter Nepal, obtain citizenship cards and start business, and engage in politics. But how are Madhesis to be blamed for this?

Who gave Rajendra Mahato naturalised citizenship? Who allowed him to register a political party? Who let him contest in elections and who made him a minister? Corrupted Nepali officials and Indian influence made it happen. Madhesis who continue to be treated as second-class citizens and called all kinds of derogatory names were not responsible.

We all know how embankments built across the border have flooded houses, farms and villages in the Nepal Tarai. We all know how often India encroaches upon Nepali territory, and shifts border markers. The Nepali state rarely speaks out against these violations.

As a result Madhesis have been made to suffer. It is wrong to assume Madhesis see Indians as their allies. If the relationship between Madhesis and Indians is volatile, imagine how much more complex the relationship between Madhes and hills must be.

The government is trying to create a country where half of its population doesn’t have a say in matters. India has ceased this opportunity to provoke the Madhesis. There is also a misconception about Madhes being a developed region, actually there are only potholed roads and zero infrastructure.

In the Madhes, the common people can’t get any government work done without bribing officials, mainly from the hills, who taunt them. The Madhes-Pahad divide is a result of this lack of respect. If we are able to work to reunite our communities, no India or China can come between us.

Read also:

In Dependence Kunda Dixit 

Flag waving Editorial

Lose-lose Editorial

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8 Responses to “Neither here nor there”

  1. Ram Prasad on Says:

    Well analysed and well presented… This view must reach to every Nepali citizen and they must know this reality…

  2. namah on Says:

    written from the heart…thank you.

  3. Abhi KC on Says:

    A more balanced presentation. the author is not correct in stating half of the population (meaning from Terai) are not satisfied with the constitution. Madhesis account for about 26% of Nepal’s population and not all Madhesis disagree with the constitution.

  4. Buffy on Says:

    until people rise up and actively demand accountability from these so called leaders, nothing will change. so far, all these leaders think all people are nothing but their cadres.

  5. diwakar on Says:

    i am from india and in our country a perception is being created by government and media that minority upper cast hill people dont want to share power with rest of nepalis thats why this madeshi problem is happening .
    most of indian have grt regard for nepal for obvious cultural and religeous linkages .
    i hope both govt will sit and solve their differences

  6. namah on Says:

    @diwakar: if only life were so simple – right? if I say that MNC are exploiting adivasis and tribals in India for raw material by killing them off in secret internment camps – does that make it true?

    well…there is exploitation no doubt. tribals don’t get fair share, but then neither are they being culled like chickens…

    but when common person faces the brunt, in herd mentality, they ‘follow the leader’, no matter how incapable he is. it’s like a moth and a flame. (self-destruct mode, despite knowing that!) because there is no where else to turn towards.

    that is why so many villagers end joining the maoists in India…and so many normal nepalis are now so radicalized against India. There were undercurrents of mistrust due to the sikkimization effect (India gobbling Sikkim – read ‘SMASH AND GRAB by Datta Ray).

    But in many parts of Nepal today, there is a simmering hatred, which is ominously waiting for an ignition. If tomorrow few dozen patients start dying for lack of medicines, communal fires might conflagrate this nation…and for this reason, person to person communication and trust is necessary.

    however, the divide seems to be worsening due to extremist positions on both sides.

  7. K. K. Sharma on Says:

    Error in this report as also in many Indian and Nepali media is graring.

    Fact is this is not Madhshi Movement. Do not blame the Madheshis. It is the Morchas Movement. This Morcha Movement has also victimized Madheshis and other people of Nepal by making life to the people difficult. This is a human rights violation against Madheshi and other people.

  8. Ravi Raj Kaur on Says:

    Wondering if Germany had these problems during the making of the state. Swiss were blessed by geographical impossibility to meet due to mountains in between all. And 3 languages.
    Many things are come ci comme ca like you want tourists, but we can visit maximum 150 days. Like no one CARES.
    I hate to say learn from India but Modi got Obama to listen and he is very worried about muslim problem there. A constitution can and must be amended time to time, in situations of emergency.
    Maybe newcomers after some time should be welcomed as ours. This is the problem with groups I hate groups I hate countries I hate nationalisms. And why one religion is above another? In the name of God so much terrorism included from USA. Make the system more pragmatic. Also how come the government has to pay taxes to get goods I do not believe in authoritarianism, but government has to be operable. Functional. While promising to amend amend amend India knows what they must send send send.

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