Nepali Times Asian Paints
Constitution Supplement
Ecology-based provinces


GOVINDA DAS SHRESTHA


KIRAN PANDAY

There has been enough debate on the provinces proposed by the State Restructuring Committee. The Big Three parties have also agreed to form a commission to finalise the federal model, despite originally neglecting to do so as specified by the Interim Constitution.

The Maoists have said the proposed 14 provinces can be reviewed as required, which leaves enough room for an appropriate model of federalism. They can't easily give up on the ethnic model of federalism as they fought the war with support from backward and marginalised communities. However, ethnicity-based federalism isn't the way
to go.

There are 103 ethnicities, yet only nine of the proposed provinces have been named after ethnic communities. This might invite communal conflict. Ironic, since the stated purpose of federalism, as Article 138 of the Interim Constitution declares, is to end discrimination based on on class, caste, language, sex, culture, religion and region.
Discimination exists although there are laws that forbid it. Federalism is supposed to eliminate this by empowering the marginalised through inclusive development. The creation of ethnic provinces doesn't help in this regard.

How can the creation of ethnic provinces in a country where there are over 100 ethnic communities speaking 92 languages lead to economic, social, and religious equality? What should be the status of a non-ethnic community within an ethnic province? Should we call the ethnic people back into their own provinces to ensure their rights are protected?

In Nepal, 18 to 75 percent of each ethnic community lives outside of its proposed province. According to TU Professor of Geography Bhim Subedi, 29 per cent of Limbus, 52 per cent of Rais, 78 per cent of Sherpas, 18 per cent of Yadavs, 51 per cent of Tamangs, 50 per cent of Newars, 67 per cent of Gurungs, 58 per cent of Magars, 38 per cent of Tharus, and 71 per cent of Muslim people live outside their native provinces. Ethnic provinces will create more problems than solutions.

Ecology-based provinces can be an alternative to ethnic provinces, and could incorporate the interrelated economies of the Himal, Midhills and Tarai. There are three river basins in Nepal: the Kosi, Gandaki and Karnali. The Kosi watershed has two tributaries, the Kankai and Kamal, in its basin. Similarly, the Gandaki basin incorporates the Bagmati and the Karnali basin has Mahakali, west Rapti and Babai.

The proposed 14 provinces don't take geography and the availability of resources adequately into account. Additionally, the draft has proposed 14 legislatures, executives and judiciaries as well as institutional and physical infrastructure for the capitals of these provinces. This requires a lot of resources.

The direct investment of time and money for the development of Janajatis, Dalits and backward communities would do more to empower them than the investment of resources towards the formation of 14 provinces. Language and cultural upliftment programs can help protect their identity while investment in education and health will help improve their capacity. Autonomy and proportional and inclusive representation will guarantee their participation in development activities and state affairs. Development activities should be taken to the local level for transparency and accountability.

A proper utilisation of water, land and forest resources can be the basis of the sustainable socio-economic development of Nepal. River basin-based provinces can only help the country's economy grow. All three ecological zones are inter-dependent as they have their own limitations and advantages: the Tarai in food grains, Himal in medicinal herbs and Midhills in horticulture and vegetables. Besides, a north-south corridor will help business and economy prosper.

READ ALSO:
Constitution 2010, Nepali Times coverage of issues related to writing the new constitution



1. NEPALI

GO FOR TRADE AND ECONOMIC CORRIDORS

Go for the trade and economic corridors between China and India. The World is hopeful for China and India for future economy, Nepalese should become so even more. They will have some regional mega projects. Nepalese need to envision, initiate and try to get involved, or create environment to get involved in those mega projects. Regional hydro projects, regional tourism projects, regional infrastructures, regional trade and commerce projects, name everything possible. If there are any development miracles for Nepal to happen this is one. Those will significantly contribute to the development of Nepal, Northern India and South-west China. Indeed both China and India already have road access and some infrastructure in those corridors and it is on our part to make those complete to pave the ways for regional prosperities. Here are the possible corridors, I see. Corridor 1 Xegar/Gyangkor of China – Sankhuasabha – Terathum - Dhankuta –Biratnagar – Jogbani - Farbesgunj of India; Corridor 2 Congdi of China – Kodari/Sindhupalchowk – Dolakha - Sindhuli – Janakpur – Mujaffarpur of India; Corridor 3 Zongga of China – Rasuwa – Nuwakot - Kathmandu – Birgunj – Raxaul - Madhubani of India; Corridor 4 Zongga of China – Gorkha – Lamjung – Tanahu – Nawalparasi – Bhairahawa – Sunauli - Gorakhpur of India; Corridor 5 Zhabodum of China – Jomsom – Myagdi - Baglung – Pyuthan – Dang – Bhinga of India;Corridor 6 Zhabodum of China – Dolpa - Rukum – Rolpa – Dang – Bhinga of India; Corridor 7 Zhabodum of China – Dolpa -  Jajarkot – Surkhet – Nepalgunj – Rupaidia - Nanpara of India; Corridor 8 Burang of China – Humla – Mugu - Jumla – Surkhet – Nepalgunj – Nanpara of India ; Corridor 9 Burang of China – Humla – Bajhang – Doti – Dhangadhi – Gola/Puranpur/Lakhimpur/Pilhibit of India. 

Those corridors will shape following federal structure for Nepal. State 1 - KOSHI  10 districts (Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Jhapa, Sankhuwasabha, Terathum, Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Sunsari, Morang); State 2 - EVEREST 13 districts (Solokhumbu, Dolakha, Kodari part of Sindhupalchowk, Okhaldhunga, Khotang, Udaypur, Siraha, Saptari, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusha);  State 3 - BAGMATI 12 districts (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Rasuwa, Dhading, Nuwakot and some portion of Sindhupalchowk, Kavre,  Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Chitwan, Makwanpur); State 4GANDAKI 11 districts (Gorkha, Manang, Lamjung, Tanahu, Kaski, Syangja, Parbat, Nawal Parashi, Palpa, Rupandehi);   State 5 – RAPTI 11 districts (Mustang, Dolpa, Myagdi, Baglung, Gulmi, Arghakhachi, Kapilvastu, Rukum, Rolpa, Pyuthan, Dang); State 6KARNALI 10 districts (Humla, Mugu, Jumla, Kalikot, Dailekh, Jagarkot, Surkhet, Salyan, Banke, Bardia), and State 7  MAHAKALI 9 districts Mahakali (Darchula, Baitadi, Dadeldhura, Kanchanpur, Bajhang, Bajura, Doti, Achham, Kailali). This federal structure will help enhance Nepal as a partner between China and India in regional prosperities.     



2. NEPALI

FEDERALISM BASED ON ETHNICITIES

For any civilized nation, all citizens become equal before the law. Federalism on the basis of ethnicities will contribute to division of humanity into more and more pieces castes, races or any other name you give. This will not help judiciary or state guarantee fundamental rights of people. In other words, it does not help the nation conceive all citizens equal before the law. For that reason Nepal must not go for Federalism on the basis of ethnicities.

 

It is unfortunate to Nepal that Baburame SLC Board First man is Maoist.  When he says we should go for ethnicity based Federalism, I feel he is the most outdated man in the Nepali knowledge community or leadership. Nepalese should not be deceived by his Board First image because other 99% SLC Board Firsts do not believe on what he is saying as the right path. Moreover SLC Fail boys know right things cannot be achieved by wrong doings but Baburame, Pushe believe just the opposite.

 

To go to East we need to go East and not West. To develop Nepal we need to focus and be disciplined on development.

 

Once people give a system, power source or political change must be derived from parliament not by hampering trade and economics, and public life on streets.

 

 

 



3. Sargam

                         Federalism when you think it over!

A few home truths must be brought to light in order to avoid folks being immersed themselves in error and confusion as a whole.

First off, Federalism is not at all the panacea for all ills of Nepal. In the past all those countries thought that the root cause of dissent amongst people was their social and cultural differences and those politicians who tried to accentuate these particular segments of political upheaval, they were found desperately entangled in the process of "I give you my finger, Nope, why not your thumb instead?"

Look at the case of Belgium. We must go back to Napoleon's time before 1815 AD to understand how the Kingdom of Belgium was artificially created by England in 1831 AD after the debacle of Napoleon's defeat when he was imprisoned on St. Helen Island, while the Great Britain acting in complicity with other European Monarchs jealous of French supremacy, the present Netherlands were created in favor of William of Orange.

Further, as he was a very partial ruler he behaved very roughly towards the Belgians.

As England erstwhile always wanted to dismantle France and they always took cynical pleasure in doing so in the Treaty of Paris in 1763 AD when Louis XV lost most of his colonies, for instance, Canada and India after seven years of war at the behest of England thanks mostly to Captain Cook and his genius invention to locate the hideout of furtive French armada of warships.

But France took revenge by supporting the Americans with the same armada of warships but better elaborated and cautioning war expenses guided by Lafayette and Rochambeau to obtain the American independence (1776 AD), the USA is still grateful thereof.

These two protagonists were the "best enemies" for centuries as they dominated the whole world except Spain and Portugal were involved in South America. Their last confrontation dates back to the Construction of the Canal of Suez (1859-'69 AD) when Ferdinand de Lesseps wanted to make join the Mediterranean sea with the Red Sea and then the Indian Ocean by making a canal of 156km length, and by doing so French wanted to shrink the period of sea travel by almost one month from Europe to India, Cochin China, Indonesian Peninsula, China and Japan without going via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

As England used to rule over the Oceans they did not want to loose this privilege. But the stubbornness of de Lesseps was crowned with success when he finished his masterpiece in 1869 AD.

Nevertheless, later on they waged war together against German Nazism to free the world from growing nationalism of Japan and Germany fighting side by side with the USA during the two World Wars..

Next, it is sure enough that in a matter of maximum two decades Belgium shall be split into three parts. Wallonia shall be attached to France as the majority wishes so, the Flemish shall be the part of the Netherlands and Brussels shall be ruled by the international instance. And the German speaking portion shall probably join Germany lest the EU anchoring would save this country from the divide.

Secondly, how long the Great Britain could perpetuate? Scotland wants to get away from England. Would that be the revenge of Mary Stuart who's deliberately assassinated by her cousin Elizabeth 1st?

Thirdly, when you hear the squabbling amongst different autonomous regions of Spain, namely, the Catalan Barcelona, Basque, Seville and Madrid you'd think to be in the country of nuts. A guy from Madrid has absolutely no chance to obtain a job in Barcelona if he does not speak Catalan, a regional language. When Spain became European Cup champion in Football there was hardly anybody on the streets of Barcelona to celebrate this popular event.

Fourthly, Switzerland's Confederation system is so hopeless as well as hapless that this country is located right in the middle of Europe but Swiss are not Europeans! It's owing to the fact that the German speaking population being the majority in the country it always prevented the French and Italian speaking parts of Switzerland from joining the EU since the EU exists (since 1957). Instead they are compelled to pay customs duty every time they cross their borderlines.

Fifthly, Italy is a Federation where the poor south is left at the hand of local mafia called the Camorra, that buys the garbage of the north to litter all over the countryside of the south, thereby polluting the precious ground water. When they receive subsidies from the EU for the improvement of infrastructure those subvention are soaked completely by the local mafia to the detriment of progress so why there is so much Italian migration in Europe, the USA and Australia from Sicily.

Sixthly, I figure the Federal Republic of Germany is by far the best example of a successful Federal Country. Not only are the 16 Länder (states) ruled harmoniously they have a separate administration solely responsible for the well-being of citizens. But the Germans are facilitated by their common only one mother tongue 'German'.

The Federal government in Berlin is responsible for foreign affairs and territorial defense. Their rallying slogan is "Deutschland überalles"- Germany above all.

Those Nepalese who have not traveled to the extreme West part of Nepal such as Dareldhura can hardly imagine in what utter destitution the inhabitants live over there.

If you ever visit the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand in India you will often meet the Nepalese from Dareldhura area who work over there as luggage bearers with their "doko-namlo" at Naini Tal, Almora, Manali, Dehradun and Simla etc. the hill resorts where many tourists pay a visit in the summer recess. To see them in such a bad shape is beyond anybody's level of acceptance. Here we require the central government's massive assistance to wipe out such endemic poverty.

That's what really gets me when you come back to Kathmandu you see all those inured political schemers who have not the slightest idea of how to make headway in economy, but shout from the rooftops their mutual hatred and at the same time boondoggle 601 CA members' posts to pay for doing nothing for their gracious presence at Singha Durbar with donors' contribution!

Unless they don't implicitly understand that the headway in economic developments is far more important than their political cuisine and diatribes, the politicos would not be surprised if they are pelted with stones by the exacerbated populace every time they pass by.

It serves as a last resort to remind the aforesaid politicos to simply do their jobs honestly for which they were elected save for the desperado, irresponsible, sociopath Maoists and their goons.

Does the cure is worse than the disease !?!




4. NEPALI (BILL FRIDAY)

NEPALI (BILL FRIDAY)

 

I am adding few more points on my comments above:

 

1.    Federalism is not at all a panacea and comes at a price. I see four risks: first perceived conflict and disintegration, second laissez-faire in state or province level planning even in Google's age, third big and expensive Government that will have duplicities and fourth unlike that of big countries Federal Government of Nepal will be weak to implement projects of National importance because of its low revenue base as part of that will be shared and used by state apparatus. Only one reason but very important reason that makes sense to go to Federalism is economic and infrastructure development reason.

 

2.    Nepal already tried Decentralization and Local Governance Acts and Federalism seems to be an evolution of that experience. Decentralization or Local Governance Acts came as advice from donor countries or UN system and helped build a political structure for Nepal but did not help much on economy. Federalism will fill this void to some extent, as it will empower state or provinces to generate revenue and mobilize those for development of local and state level infrastructures. How far states will be able to generate revenue from poor people for developments of mountainous tyranny is a subject of debate but I think indirect taxes will work. Nepal needs to use myriads of options to develop its complex geography.  

 

3.    I think Nepal has many things to learn from Europe in developments and other fronts but there is not much to learn on Federalism. Nepal has some lessons to learn from The United States and Germany on the issues of National harmony but Nepal has some unique issues that other countries do not have and it can and must deal those effectively with wisdom of its own. Moreover Western country's environment is different. Canada, Australia and Great Britain still have one queen. Entire EU is like one Nation and most probably may become one Nation to balance economic and World power in future.

 

4.    Nepal is a lucky natural partner between China and India. It must leverage on this plat-form to gain both economic and political significance in the World context. It is essential for development of Nepal, Southwest China and Northern India. It is for the good of all. It will save Nepal both politically and economically. Nepal should control its border though.

 

 



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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