Ethnicity Debate in Nepal

Posted by: darshan

See the devil on the doorstep now (my oh my)
Telling everybody oh just how to live their lives
Sliding down the information highway
Buying in just like a bunch of fools
Time is ticking and we can’t go back (my oh my)

While intellectuals or ‘so-called’ intellectuals debate if it is ‘identity politics’ or ‘dignity politics’ in Nepal it is for a person who has just realized that his/her newfound identity is of a Pahade, Bahun, Chettri, Newar, Janajati/Adibasi, Madhesi to know what ‘exactly’ it is. All of a sudden ( but not out of the blue) my generation of Nepalis are struggling to adjust with their new ‘identity’ of belonging to one caste or the other, ( with due appreciation of the opinion of the indigenous communities who blame the Bahuns/ Chettris of dragging them into the classification etc) when they were indoctrinated all their school life/ all the formative years of their life that their ‘Era’ would be the one where ‘they’ would be judged by identity create for themselves, what they achieve and not the ascribed status of belonging to one caste / sex / religion /geographical region. But this was to happen, the peace and calm this nation experienced before the ‘People’s War’ began is ‘supposedly’ Nepal’s ‘calm before the storm’. Everything achieved during that time is now interpreted as the era where the voice of the minority was subdued, where ‘discrimination’ was left unquestioned; it was a ‘Pseudo’ era, pseudo-tolerance among religions, communities …. (We all know the details).

Yet having lived through the ‘pseudo’ era I refuse to believe what I am fed with by the so called intellectuals of Nepal. If calling someone ‘Madhise’ was a derogatory term it is equally derogatory and intolerant and hypocritical to call people ‘Pahade’ and keep mum over the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Pahades in Terai. It is immensely worrying to me to hear Madhesi cause advocate say “We want One Terai One Pradesh and we don’t care if the ‘Gorkhes’ want to keep their king or do whatever else. Weirder is watching a person who introduces himself as someone from one ‘indigenous community’ in Nepal nodding his head vigorously in agreement as it is said when it is his brothers (people from his own community) who make the ‘Gorkhe’! The notion of one’s ethnic identity being primordial to everything else in Prof. Seddon’s words seems to have blinded people so much that reason/ logic/ intellect have taken a back seat. Nothing could be more logical than demanding the issues of Madhes, indigenous communities, far west, upper hilly reasons, Himalayas, the Dalits and women be addressed. But nothing is more illogical than ‘marginalizing’ one group in the name of the other again, nothing could be more hypocritical than saying ‘It takes 12 days to reach a place in Terai because of banda’ and totally forgetting that it takes forever to reach so many places in the hilly regions because they are not linked with roads, never have been.

The human rights of one person are not attained at the expense of another. Reverse discrimination means empowering one group so that they are made competent enough to play the game they been ousted unfairly for too long. It seeks to integrate people, respect one another and not disintegrate them according to their ‘ascribed statuses’.

You keep watching from your picket fence
You keep talking but it makes no sense
You say we’re not responsible
But we are, we are

You wash your hands and come out clean
Fail to recognise the enemies within
You say we’re not responsible
But we are, we are, we are, we are
One step forward making two steps back (my oh my)
Riding piggy on the bad boys back for life
Lining up for the grand illusion
No answers for no questions asked
Lining up for the execution
Without knowing why

In many ways the so called ‘intelligentsia’ of Nepal is to be blamed for its inability or pretense of not being able to see/foresee and analyze the Nepali state of affairs when the issue of ethnicity is being dealt with. It is easy to clamor and most importantly make anti-semantic comments like “A Jew retaliates when attacked as one” in relation to the ‘ethnic rights’ issue for the ‘learned’ community at the moment and get a cheap round of applause here as it’s the ‘In’ thing to say NOW. But history will judge if that is or was the logical way of dealing with the ‘ethnicity’ issue in Nepal. If demanding a Newa Rajya does make a difference to the Newar who belongs to the lowest rung of the caste hierarchy among Newars or a Tamsaling, Libhuwan, Kochila Rajya will equip them to solve the problems and discrimination faced by the people living in those regions then that would be something to consider. If it isn’t the lack of employment, income inequality, regional disparity, centralized governance system along with the social issues of gender discrimination, untouchability, hierarchy of castes that converges the problems of all geographical regions and the Jhas, Chaudharis, Mushahars, Tamangs, Limbus, Sherpas,Bahuns and Chettris then what is the problem? The ignorant fool in me would like to know.

What will the breaking down of this nation according to ethnicity bring that the ‘effective implementation’ of devolution of power won’t? What is it if not deplorable when the statue of Laxmi Prasad Devkota is demolished because he is a ‘Bahun’!!?? Isn’t this the very man we have quoted and over-quoted ever since he wrote ‘A person is great not because of his caste but by the magnanimity of his/her heart’. Why does that news figure in a small space in the newspaper? Why does it not figure as the main news calling people to looking into themselves, calling them to unify and not divide? Well, because that is not a populist thing to do?

What Nepal lacks in this concern is people who are brave enough to be honest and say the ‘white is white’ and ‘black is black’. Murdering, ethnic cleaning, discrimination is bad done to ‘anyone’ and ‘anywhere’ regardless of the color of their skin, their caste, gender. Why does history exist? Isn’t it for the later generation not to make the same mistake? I am SUFFOCATED living, listening and reading the hypocritical words in the media, the talk programs and just everywhere.

Demanding a Newa Rajya
A man seen in Putalisadak during the Newa Rajya Banda.

Kathmandu underwent a life crippling strike in a long time when the some ‘Strike Maniacs’ called one demanding for a ‘Newa Rajya’ ( A Newar State in ‘New Nepal’).I was reading a reporter’s diary about the same in a newspaper here. Seems like the media person couldn’t take a smooth ride in her scooty during the Banda. SO? A million people were forced to walk! Does that ring a bell to anyone, matter to ‘anyone’ in this nation? The UN Human Rights vehicles speed past our eyes in every Banda as if the UN’s work is the ‘Most’ important work that is being done here. Screw the reporters. Screw the UN which thinks ‘they’ are any better than any walking pedestrian in the Banda or that their ‘work’ is MORE important. Who needs reporters when ‘you’ (the commoner) make the news because you walk?

I felt the dire need to vent out. Write something rash just as I feel it because I can’t keep mum giving a silent consent to everything happening here.

It’s all about power then (we are)
Take control (we are)
Breaking the rule (we are, we are)
Breaking the soul (we are)
They suck us dry till there’s nothing left (we are, we are)
My oh my, my oh my
We are
We are (its all )
We are
We are, we are (take control)
We are
We are
It’s all about power
Then take control

P.S Lyrics of the song We Are by Ana Johnson ( I was listening to the song repeatedly while writing this entry..Its Powerful! :cool: )

Ethnicity Debate in Nepal was last modified: September 11th, 2013 by darshan

Blog Comments

  1. sangharsha

    Yes, agreed to the debate on identity vs dignity politics… i believe the this is definitely a move based on political “identity” of a certain group of ideology holders (actually all of them), and usage of the slogan “identity of people” in fulfillment of their motive (state power) will definitely break us apart.
    They say we’re being empowered, they’re wrong, we’re being weakened and further stratified : not a rocket science – you see it everywhere.

    & Darshan, thanks for being in EU.

  2. nepali

    World in converting into global village but here we are talking about dividing the county base on ethnicity. shame on those leaders for them these issues are nothing but the tools to get into power.

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