Nepali Times Asian Paints

Tarai troubles

The governing alliance in Nepal has woken-up albeit very late ('Shadow of a gun', #333). We can cautiously welcome the parties agreeing to state-restructuring through federalism, but the issue of proportional representation requires in-depth and holistic consideration. This is because people occupy diverse topological territories vis-a-vis comforts and adversaries of life, in general. And in Nepal, we have heterogenous populations in the mountains, hills, and tarai. So proportional representation today shouldn't land in possible ethnic imbalance tomorrow. Let's hope the 7+1 parties can douse the flames for the time being.

About charges that former royal ministers have infiltrated the tarai agitation, the government must provide valid evidence. But if it is just a \'cetamol\' step to keep down the tarai fever it may lead to another embarassing fiasco. So, why not act genuinely to identify covert culprits rather than highlighting the tainted royal faces as scapegoats every time?

Pradeepta Sharma,

. There is strong resentment among sections of the community that the current composition of parliament is not inclusive and proportionate to the ethnic composition of the country. The interim parliament must be reconstituted by revising the representation of the main parties based on ethnicity. This is the time for party leaders to show statesmanship by making way for communities which are under-represented. The four main parties should consult each other and accommodate various ethnicities within their quotas.

Meanwhile the tarai is ablaze and our firefighters are in a trance. The leadership must act fast, not procrastinate. The demands of the Madhesi community are straightforward and legitimate. Firstly, the 20 tarai districts should firstly be delinked with the hills for electoral purposes and be consolidated into these five units taking into consideration their areas, languages and population:

1. Kanchanpur, Kailali, Bardiya and Dang
2. Kapilbastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Chitwan
3. Parsa, Bara Rautahat, Sarlahi
4. Mahottarai, Shanudha, Siraha, Saptari
5. Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa

The second Madhesi demand for one seat in parliament per 100,000 population is also reasonable and can easily be implemented. The third demand of federalism coincides with what all sections of society have been asking for. Nepal has to ulimtately evolve its own kind of governance with significant authority to local units. So why wait?

G N Rimal,

. Responsible intellectual and professional Madhesis can't shirk from their duty by keeping mum and taking double advantage. While anyone with even a little sense of justice would hardly disagree that the Madhesis have not been included in the Nepali nation state since its inception, no one should forget that the Nepali
people are already fed up with violence. They\'ve not only been discriminated against by the state mechanism but also ordinary hill people. A child in Kathmandu calling out "O bhaiya, eta aaija" to Madhesi vendors is an example. The government has already been directed by the eight parties and other civil bodies to implement all necessary measures to tackle the issues of citizenship and proportional representation. Now the responsibility lies with the Madhesis to stop letting others taking undue advantage. Those spreading communal hatred against Pahadis are not the older Madhesi inhabitants of the tarai but fake "freedom fighters" who\'ve infiltrated the border to take advanatage of their dual citizenship. This is going to harm Nepali Madhesis much more in the long run. Instead of voicing their legitimate demands through legitimate means, the movement is taking the path of violence communalism. Still, if the current movement opens the eyes of the Madheis themselves about caste, faith and gender discrimination within their own community it may be a good thing. Social equality and justice is far more important than artificial national unity.

Divas Sarma,

.Kunda Dixit hit the nail on the head by pointing out that the Maoists can't put the genie of ethnicity and communalism back in the bottle ('Shadow of a gun', #333). The Maoist influence on the seven party apparatus has now become the single biggest obstacle to addressing the genuine demands of the Nepali Madhesis who have been discriminated for so long. The Maoists calling the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum "criminals" and "bullies" is like the pot calling the kettle black.

Gyan Subba,

. I must say if Nepal's rulers had been reading editorials in your paper and columns by CK Lal in the past four years they'd have seen the tarai crisis coming. Now it's too late to do anything about it. May Lord Pashupatinath save us all.

Tilak Sharma,

. I don't know how you did your arithmetic in your editorial ('Search for common ground', #333) about tarai groups having only 41 seats in the last parliament when they should ostensibly have 112. But even if that were true, and was addressed by proportional representation in future it would be na?ve to believe that it would solve the problem. Madhesi activism has now been hijacked by royal Hindus and nothing will satisfy them.

Name withheld,

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)