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Who will be a Nepali

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015



Bhim Rawal

Bhim Rawal in Kantipur, 11 July

The draft constitution does not prevent children of Nepali citizens from acquiring Nepali citizenship. The question is only about whether they are entitled to citizenship by descent or naturalised citizenship. If the father or mother is a foreigner, children can acquire citizenship by descent but a foreigner father/mother has to have naturalised citizenship.

Despite such liberal provisions in the draft, there are misleading arguments that Nepalis have been denied the right to acquire citizenship through mothers’ names. If you argue that the children of a Nepali married to a foreigner and living in the country of their spouse should also be entitled to citizenship by descent, your logic cannot be valid.

If you argue that foreigners married to a Nepali man or a woman should be treated equally, will you accept a provision that requires female foreigners married to Nepali men to wait for a certain period (seven years for example) to be able to apply for naturalised citizenship?  To those who invoke international laws and practices to demand Nepali citizenship to foreigners, are you also ready to follow same rules to manage our border and migration? Can an international law practiced in one area is not applicable to another area? Even countries like India and the US consider barring those born elsewhere from reaching the top executive posts, is it logical for Nepal to accept foreigners as heads of constitutional bodies and security forces?  It is unfortunate to see some people demanding shortest possible way to grant citizenship to foreigners, that too by descent.

It would be wiser for Nepalis to discuss the citizenship issue as true nationalist. Vested interests and emotion do not bode well for Nepal’s sovereign existence. We need a constitution to protect our sovereignty, independence, unity, prosperity and welfare. We cannot allow a constitutional provision that risks our national interests.

Many countries do not easily grant citizenships to foreigners. They just give Permanent Resident (PR) cards to immigrants. When immigrants apply for citizenship, they are required to take an oath and attend an orientation about importance of citizenship. But Nepal does not have any of these provisions despite having to deal with some sensitive issues of population management. We share a long porous border with India, allowing the unbridled inflow of migrants not only from India but the whole South Asia region. Bhutanese refugees entered Nepal. We still have Tibetan refugees, even refugees from Africa. The citizenship debate should keep the rights and welfare of genuine Nepalis at centre-stage.



Sapana Pradhan Malla


Aruna Uprety

Sapana Pradhan Malla and Aruna Uprety in Kantipur, 17 July

Thank you, Bhim Rawalji. You article on citizenship has prompted us to engage in this debate.

Nepali male citizens, even if their wives are foreigners, can easily give their children citizenship by descent. But the new constitution requires both father ‘and’ mother to be Nepali citizens for their children to acquire citizenship by descent. However, the article 13 (2) of the draft constitution slyly enables foreigner wives of Nepali men to get naturalised citizenship immediately after their marriage.

Children of Nepalis married to foreigners (male or female) should be born in Nepal to acquire Nepali citizenship by descent. And Nepali women will have rights to give their children citizenship by descent only if their husbands’ identity cannot be ascertained.

Foreigners married to Nepali men can apply for naturalised citizenship immediately after their marriage. But foreigners married to Nepali women should live in Nepal for 15 years to enjoy this right. If foreigners married to Nepalis do not want Nepal’s naturalised citizenship, their children will only get naturalised citizenship. But even for that matter, they should be born in Nepal.

Rawalji, please try to read those provisions in the draft constitution through the eyes of a Nepali woman. Why are we so paranoid about the inflow of illegal immigrants? People migrate to countries with lots of opportunities, don’t they? Do foreigners need Nepali citizenship to commit crimes here? If we allow Nepalis to choose their spouses from any country, why would we restrict their right to settle down in whichever country they want?

Yes, we have a long porous border with India. But Indians cannot get Nepali citizenship just by crossing the border. They have to follow certain Nepali laws to be entitled to Nepali citizenship. Our nationality and sovereignty will be at risk only if we promote politics of discrimination. We are afraid that you might be playing politics of division. If we want our nation’s independence, how could we let Nepali women be dependent on Nepali men? Is our national sovereignty really so fragile that it gets lost even if we safeguard human rights?

You presented the example of Bhutan to show that there are countries that require both fathers and mothers to be citizens for their children to get citizenship by descent. But Bhutan is an exception. Some 119 democratic constitutions of the world require just father or mother to be their citizens for their children to acquire citizenship by descent.

Why does the draft constitution want Nepali women married to foreigners to deliver children in Nepal? If this constitution gets promulgated, what happens if Nepali women get married to foreigners and become mothers abroad? What happens to those Nepali women who deliver children while working in the Gulf?

Did your UML party not promise to give citizenship through mothers’ names during the Constituent Assembly elections? Has the Interim Constitution-2007 not allowed Nepali women to give their children citizenship by descent through their names alone? We were expecting the new constitution to be more progressive than the interim one, but it has taken a step back.

You argue that the draft constitution allows Nepalis to get citizenship through their father or mother’s name. Yes, the article 12 (2) of the draft constitution allows Nepalis to acquire citizenship either through their father’s or mother’s name. But the article 12 (2) can be applicable only if a person’s father and mother are both Nepali citizens. This is cheating.

You asked if we are ready to accept a provision requiring foreigners married to Nepali men to wait at least seven years to get naturalised citizenship. What if we reject this provision? Will foreigners married to Nepali women be forced to wait 15 years for naturalised citizenship? What about granting them Permanent Resident (PR) cards to foreigners married to Nepal women until they get naturalised citizenship?

You blame us for demanding citizenship by descent to foreigners. We are demanding citizenship by descent to our children, not to foreigners. How can the children born out of the wombs of Nepali women be foreigners just because their fathers are foreigners? By this same logic, how can the children born out of the wombs of foreign women be Nepalis just because their fathers hold Nepali citizenship certificates?

We are concerned about Nepal’s sovereignty as much as you are. But we fear the decisions that you politicians make while reaching power-sharing deals in the constitution making process will lead to foreign intervention in our internal affairs.


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22 Responses to “Who will be a Nepali”

  1. amit thapa on Says:

    Great response. Thank you.

  2. Namrata Sharma on Says:

    While the draft constitution is being discussed this article is a must read

  3. namah on Says:

    how about nepali widows who had married foreigners? cannot bring their husbands back from the dead to allow them to naturalize? there are so many cases which the government needs to look at with compassion and humanity…but wait this is Nepal…

  4. namah on Says:

    can any Indian just walk into Nepal and get citizenship? has rawal gone mad? this is the type of crazies who rule us? why is sapna even bothering with this mad dog?

  5. namah on Says:

    US bars ONLY the president – i.e. s/he has to be a natural born american – US citizen at time of birth. which is EITHER parent needs to be an american OR birth on US soil (50 states) or union territories (guam, american somoan islands, peurto rico, etc.)

    Mr. Rawal has NO idea what he is talking about. Let him come on TV and I will debate this guy…

  6. namah on Says:

    I am ready to get Naturalized Citizenship (my dad was not a Nepali). Please ask Mr. Rawal to approve my angikrit (naturalization) application. … oh wait…let me see…those type of applications just don’t get approved…what a comedian this guy is…

  7. deepti gurung on Says:

    Bhim Rawal do you really expect us to be stupid enough to not understand the motive behind your shameful hypocrite act? what does it mean by “children raised by single mothers and whose fathers are unidentified”? that we single mothers will have to bring u the proof that the man who fathered our children we could not identify? by bringing this kind of clause in constitution the entire world will laugh at you. i have a doubt of your so called intelligence and pity you for knowing how lowly you see the women of your country!!

  8. G on Says:

    Citizenship can be obtained through various ways- at birth or after birth through naturalization etc. But state should not categorize their citizens based on how they obtain the citizenship and, more so, should not make one category ineligible for top posts in government or constitutional bodies for no founded reason. If any state does so, it is plain discrimination.

  9. lal thapa on Says:

    Well, Ms. Shahana Pradhan and her political party seems to pretend that they are the only stakeholders

    of security in nepal. I can only laugh on the logics provided by her in favor of the biased would be citizenship law in the new constitution. What if a nepali woman has a baby born in nepal and do not want to use the child’s father’s name? Is that baby going to be stateless?

  10. namah on Says:

    @lal thapa ji: at least make your argument clear. what are you talking about?

  11. Radha krishna Deo on Says:

    If We go back 300 years even forefather of ex king , ranas, many elite of were migrants to the land where many family has live history of 500 years or more but here is the provision in constitutional draft which discriminate the citizen on holdings by the type of citizenship s/he acquired.Many will be victimized on the basis of marriage with foreigner where a child whose father or mother not social will be Guinean citizen ,the case are confusing and unjustified.

  12. ANepali on Says:

    Interesting, that the most powerful person in today’s free world, President Obama, was born in the US to a US mother and a Kenyan father (who was a non US citizen). Would the currently proposed Nepali constitution allow similar rights to a child born in Nepal whose mother is a Nepali citizen and father a non-Nepali foreigner? Are we to assume that the promoters of the current draft Nepali constitution are smarter and more patriotic than those who began drafting the US constitution in 1787? Just something to ponder…

  13. jyaure on Says:

    “If the father or mother is a foreigner, children can acquire citizenship by descent but a foreigner father/mother has to have naturalised citizenship.”

    Isn’t Rawal merciful!!

    It was already bad when the citizenship could be passed by father’s name. Now putting the “and” provision makes it worse, not just for women but also for men. Think about all the single fathers. And the wordings regarding single mothers is so patronizing. It is indirectly equating a single mother as a whore who changes partners every night, and hence does not know who the biological father is. The gall and smugness this guy has just amazes me. And somehow the constitution is more approving of a Nepali boy marrying a foreign girl, almost as if we are winning new territory by battle of sex, and disapproving of a Nepali girl marrying a foreign boy, as if we are losing the said battle.

    “If you argue that the children of a Nepali married to a foreigner and living in the country of their spouse should also be entitled to citizenship by descent, your logic cannot be valid.”

    This has nothing to do with logic and everything to do with rights.

  14. namah on Says:

    rawal should not be a citizen of nepal.

  15. namah on Says:

    please google Obama and then click ‘news’. he is currently visiting Kenya, the birthplace of his own father.

    OBAMA IS AN AMERICAN (naturally born citizen) because of two facts:
    1. he was born in hawaii
    2. at the time of birth – his mother was a US citizen.

    What is mr. rawal going to say to that? according to nepali law he has no place in the US. according to US law not only does he have a distinguished career as a community organizer, but was a professor of law in chicago and was the editor of harvard law review – the first african american.

    that is how you make an inclusive society Mr.Rawal…just in case you had the intellectual curiosity on how things work in the real (non-rawal) world.

  16. Dionysus on Says:

    Is there any wonder why this country is so poorly developed in about every aspect? How can this be their policy?

  17. Patriotic American on Says:

    namah is wrong about US Constitution Article 2 Section 1 Clause 5 ‘natural born Citizen.’ Thie person must be born in the US to 2 US-Citizen parents. It is the strongest possible check on sole allegiance to the US and that is exactly what the Founding Fathers and Framers mandated, no ifs, ands, or buts. It must be 3 for 3 US. Stop avoiding the logical fallacy shot down by asking ‘How foreign is too foreign?’ The answer is there must be 0 (zero) foreign. It must be all American at the time of birth: US soil and US-Citizen blood. Natural Law itself is identified as the rule to go by in the preamble of the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence. It is a Law of Nature that a person’s natural born citizenship status is automatic and permanently fixed and it is therefore impossible for a person to somehow make any representation whatsoever or execute any form of paperwork that says anything about changing one’s own natural born status from 1 thing to the other. The Laws of Nature supersede the laws of man.

  18. Dave B. on Says:

    My apologies for my fellow American, a self-proclaimed patriot, who has attempted to misinform on the requirements of the United States Constitution. The requirement that “Thie person must be born in the US to 2 US-Citizen parents” doesn’t exist in REAL US law. Best of luck to Nepal in sorting out the question of who will be a Nepali.

  19. namah on Says:

    @patriotic american: how did Barack Obama become president?

  20. aash on Says:

    rawal is worst than what rana were in history

  21. Understanding the Perilous Progress in Nepal | Center for Disaster Philanthropy on Says:

    […] criticisms of the constitution include the differential treatment of women in the matter of passing citizenship to their children, the gerrymandering of federal-provincial boundaries–essentially to preserve the electoral […]

  22. Puja SilwaL on Says:

    Thank you, for your fruitful information. But Mam’ you are forgetting the link by which naturalized citizenship ration increasing in Nepal especially in Terai AreasLike Rautahat, Sunari. What if such people controls the Nepal Politics Like in Fizy . So..Precaution if better is cure. Let’s give the criteria even for foreigner marrying to Nepali rather than selling Nationality of Country.

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