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Friday, September 20, 2013

inside Nepal

to get some books on Nepal, visit my next  entry
Since consolidating Nepali nationalism implies conserving something that exists, it seems important to enquire into the extent to which the Nepali state/kingdom has evolved into a nation. 

The most important step towards consolidating the Nepali state and nationalism is to end economic exploitation and to bring about social equality. Caste hierarchy also perpetuates economic class division. Nepal’s constitution that gives primacy to one religion and one language, provides substance to the perpetuity of social disparity. A multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-religious Nepal should have a constitution that is secular. That will be the beginning of national integration.

With the dethroning of the monarchy and the prolonged transition, 

an intense debate is underway, seeking a definition and redefinition of 

nationalism and Nepaliness in an inclusive, federal, democratic, republican New 


Despite the failure of the first CA, and despite disillusionment with politicians, Nepalis are still generally upbeat about elections. In the remaining 60 days of campaigning, there will be intense debate among candidates and the electorate about the kind of Nepal the next CA will, or should, deliver. The contentious issues of secularism and identity-based federalism will once more dominate that discussion. These values were enshrined by the 2006 People’s Movement, the Madhesh Uprising of 2007 and the strong mobilisation by Janajatis and Dalits inside and outside the last Constituent Assembly.
The people from the plains (Terai) advocated for inclusiveness: Madhesis, the Tharus, the Pahadi origin Teraiwasis, everybody.
Hamro Nepal has four goals: (1) federal republic in Nepal, (2) total equality for the DaMaJaMa, Dalit, Madhesi, Janajati, Mahila, (3) double digit economic growth for Nepal, 
and (4) political empowerment of the Nepali diaspora in their immediate countries, which means voting rights in America for the 120,000 Nepalis here

The F-word: Federalism
The CA committee had initially proposed that the country be divided into 14 provinces according to a combination of ethnic identity and economy viability. The conservative parties advocated for six provinces based only on economic viability.
The new CA (to be voted on 19 November ) need to define in 2013, , how many states will have the Nepali federation:  7, 11 or 13?

Zeitgeist. To see the Indian perspective
There are already 28  states: (BBC news) Telangana next season. Since 1956 nearly 13 new states have been created out of old established states.
Across the Hindi belt, the deepening politicisation of lower castes made it harder to hold together large states that had previously been bastions of upper-caste and class dominance.
New battles aheadAcross the Nepal border, at the southeast, there is Gorkhaland, its main city  Darjeeling. Also in the list of new states. And the heart of Gurkha (Nepali) nationalism in the past: "from language we came down to economics and sociology and then the debate turns back to language again".

Two ways to face the changes ahead, in Narayan Manandhar's words: 
My old Nepal
Monarchists, royalists, most of the panchas and Hindu fanatics fall into this category. The people in this group basically bask or hark back to (their) good old days. For them ‘old is gold’. They express nationalism in terms of one language, one culture, Nepali daura suruwal, dhaka topi, party-less panchayat system or the king as a symbol of Nepal’s unity and nationalism. The people in this group stress ‘unity in diversity’. Their orientation is the status quo, from which they have long derived maximum benefit.
In contrast to old Nepal, people in this category stress a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-culture and inclusive Nepal. Various movements like that of the Madhesis, Janajatis, women, Kamaiya, Dalits, Muslims and even the Maoist war have laid down a foundation for this variant of nationalism. People in this group stress ‘diversity in unity’. Their basic orientation is change. Much of the present day crisis is due to a clash of values between Old Nepal and New Nepal.

The Gorkha power took the central valleys and created a new state. and  The Gurka state, 1787, retained a Hindu character with a civil code (1854) based on the conservative strictures of Manu Smriti. 
Meanwhile the British empire took hold of all the lands around.
It took the name of Nepal from the Kathmandu valley in the 1920 for the nepalisation of the state, amplifying the identification with its people.
In the 1950's took place the identification of one language one state one nation one dress.
At 1955, the literacy rate was extremely low (5%).

Of the 30 languages recognised by the Nepal census, today 80.3 percent of the country’s people speak 14 Indo-Aryan tongues, 17 percent speak 14 Tibeto-Burman languages. Nepali spoken by 50% population at home.

Cultural platitude is only one aspect of Nepal’s neighbourly entanglements. More pervasive are economic domination and political influence of India. Today 25 percent of the Nepali market has Indian currency circulation indicates well the vulnerability of Nepal’s monetary situation.

Until the early 1950s, Chitwan was covered by virgin forests, infested with malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Beginning in the mid-1950s the Nepalese government began a program to clear the forest, eradicate malaria, and distribute cleared land to Gurka settlers from the highlands. 
Nepal’s economy is heavily dependent on remittances by migrant workers as it accounts for 22% of the country’s GDP

National identity
Modern Nepal is only 232 years old since the conquest of Bhaktapur, yet it holds on to the 2000-year-old Vikram Sambat calendar, one which has no link with any indigenous historical event. All calendars are lunar based (on 29 tithis =lunar days, with 354 days in a lunar year)

Country and CALENDAR (sambat). sign of identity: Now it is the year 2070 on the Bikram Sambat.

Nepal Sambat is one among a Newar calendar native to Nepal started in the 

IX century and was used until 1906 CE.

Bikram Sambat came into official use in 1958 as Nepali calendar, which goes 56 years ahead of CE. Before 1958 they used the common calendar of North India shaka Sambat (which started in  year 54 CE).
Quoting D. R. Prasai on its history:
Bikram Sambat was practiced 936 years before Nepal Sambat. Isvi Sambat (AD) was started 57 years after the Bikram Era. The Bikram Sambat is an original and sign of Nepalese sovereignty where the foreigners could not attack here like India, China and Pakistan. 

There is a general misconception that the democratic side is seen to be India-centric, and the Left Sino-centric. In reality, both democratic and communist ideologies came to Nepal through India.
 The indigenous nationalities movement, whose origins and demands are examined here, identifies fifty-nine diverse groups as indigenous nationalities, and since 2005 has mobilized them to revitalize their own cultures and end the domination of the state by high-caste Hindus (about 30%).


15 million in 1980;  27m  in 2013 ( 3-5m abroad)
In terms of regionwise distribution, 44.5 percent of those who received citizenship cards were from the hills, 38.4 were from the tarai, 8.9 from the inner tarai, and 8.2 percent from the mountains. 
in foreign lands:  5.5 m in India 1m Gulf states, 650.000 Malaysia, 100.000 in Korea

The Foreign Employment Department’s recent 

statistics show over 1,300 Nepalis are leaving the 

country for employment every day.

Treaty Revision. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 1950, between Nepal and India was signed in extraordinary circumstances. 
According to Article 6 of the Treaty, each country commits to according national treatment to the citizens of the other. Article 7 provides equal rights to citizens of both countries when it comes to residence, right of property, trade and movement.
 Article 8, too, makes Nepal nothing more than an Indian hinterland, or a decoration on the map.

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