Nepali Times


During the war, the Maoists used the grievances of Nepal's marginalised ethnic communities to recruit fighters. Then, during the 2008 elections, the party used an ethnic platform to garner votes.

However, it is now apparent that the Maoists seriously miscalculated the risks of politicising the ethnic sentiments of the people. While fully appreciating the socio-economic disparity in the remote districts, the party failed to take into account Nepal's ethnic and religious diversity. The country is a mosaic of ethnicities and castes, a heterogenous mix where no single ethnic group commands a demographic majority even over what would be considered their "homeland". Exploiting ethnic exclusivity in a country's with Nepal's ethnic fabric had the
inherent danger of tearing that fabric apart.

The Himalmedia public opinion survey shows that the public is wary about the politicization of ethnicity. Nearly 90 per cent of the respondents said social harmony was deteriorating and most of those polled blamed the government. Since the Maoists are now in government, they bear a share of the blame. The rise of militant ethnic movements in the Madhes and hills, and the growing involvement of mainstream parties in sectarian politics feeds into what the Maoists have been doing over the years.

The leaders of ethnic pressure groups and their cadre continue to paralyse the country with strikes demanding autonomy, but most ethnic groups are against the idea of ethnicity-based federalism. They have responded with a resounding "No" to the division of federal Nepal into ethnic states. Some 76 per cent of respondents all over the country thought ethnic federalaism was a bad idea. Even in eastern Nepal, where the demand for ethnic autonomy is said to be strongest, three-fourths of the people voted against ethnicity-based provinces.

For those who argue that the opponents of ethnic federalism don't understand its concept, the survey provides an interesting insight. While more than half of those who can't read or write opposed the idea of ethnic federalism, 71.5 per cent of literate respondents opposed.Even more surprising, is that 79 per cent of school graduates, and 90
per cent of college graduates and 93 per cent post graduates among the respondents say ethnic federalism is against the common interest.

Disaggregating the data further, among the 13 per cent who supported ethnicity-based federalism only one in five want special privileges (agraadhikar) for the ethnic group after which the province is proposed to be named. Even those that support ethnic states are wary of its potential impact on communal harmony.

Nearly one-third of the respondents were even unaware of the nature of the ethnic states proposed in the CA. What this seems to prove is that the demand for ethnicity-based federalism is just a political bargaining chip for the Maoists, and the leaders of various ethnic lobby groups. Moreover, the people seem to have understood this very well. Even in the case of Madhesi respondents only seven per cent supported the "Ek Madhes Ek Pradesh" demand.

Most respondents preferred federal boundaries based on fairer resource distribution and equal access to all the communities, ensuring proportional representation in all levels of the state. However, most did not seem impressed by government's affirmative action policy aimed at uplifting underprivileged communities. Barely eight per cent of
respondents supported reservation, and special rights proposal out of which 15 per cent were Dalits and 10 per cent were Muslims.

The major political parties and their leaders are so preoccupied with the power struggle in Kathmandu that they seem to have lost track of the nation's pulse. What they say and do in the name of "the people" is far removed from what an ordinary citizen of this nation feels or needs.

Read also:
We, the people, KIRAN NEPAL
जातीय राज्य बहुसङ्ख्यक जातिलाई मतलब छैन, J B PUN MAGAR, Himal Khabarpatrika

Related Stories:
Few surprises
A decade of democratic deficit, ANURAG ACHARYA

1. who cares
if those infos are accurate, it will give us some hope.

since, many nepalese have mobile phones, why dont govt. use it to survey (free smsing)?

2. nidhi
there is not even a need to state restructuring and federal state. the day the political parties and their sister organizations mend their ways, the transition will be quite smooth. even the present system will work well, of course, with some amendments of laws

3. jange

Remind me again.¬

What exactly was so wrong with the 1990 constitution that it could not be ammended o our requirements?

4. DG
The people have rejected ethnic states. how can an ethnic state fit in  secular country where in 4000 VDCs have multi-cultural population mix and so diverse.?
People in general are wise except dollar farming activists and their masters.

5. Janata

Mr. J B Pun Magar

Nowadays just by saying that "Himalmedia did a survey and the finding is like this" Many people do not believe this kind of survey until you can prove us it to be statistically sound and bias free". So, this survey result is too weak to believe and is too superficial with ill motive. Had it been some other independent unbiased believable survey then it may have some meaning !! Lastly, who says NO is the question. It is not you, it is your BOSS who says NO. Poor JB Pun Magar.

6. Arthur
jange #3, since you keep asking I will remind you...

Under the 1990 constitution the political games in KTM were so completely pointless and the overwhelming majority of Nepalese were so completely outside the system that it was not necessary to invent a "survey" to "refute the idea of ethnic federalism".

Mandales could simply say that centralism and monarchy were ordained by God and opponents are traitors to be killed.

Now they have to pretend that people of various ethnic groups actually agree with them.

This is still a pointless game played only in KTM among the "educated" and will still be completely ignored by the overwhelming majority of people.

But people can just laugh at such pointless articles and get on with the business of restructuring Nepal while the KTM elite talks to itself and asks itself why it cannot just go back 20 years to 1990 instead of being dragged forward.

There is no need for anyone to fear being killed as a traitor for rejecting them and there is nothing much that the publishers can do to prevent federalism, because Nepal is NOT still under the 1990 Constitution.

The pathetic shouting for presidential rule in comments here is a sign of complete impotence from people of no influence  whatever. Under the 1990 constitution the threat of dictatorial decision by royal decree would actually carry some weight and have to be taken seriously.

Haven't you noticed that you yourself have had to descend to attempting to persuade others to agree with you instead of simply giving orders? You might prefer simply giving orders, but it is no longer possible. Instead of pining for the good old days you could perhaps appreciate that having to argue and persuade at least helps you to improve your mind.

7. Janardan
It's the same old reactions like before. If there is a poll result that you doesn't like or not coincide with your point of view, you just call it bias. DG is right, the only people who want ethnicity federalism are dallar kheti garne ngo haru.

8. K. K. Sharma

Federalism, with right to self-determination, and ethnic enclaves seems necessary to blunt the deleterious effects of Communism. The Communist bahuns may come to power in Kathmandu, but will not be able to govern according to their out-dated, imported ideologies, if ethnic federalism comes to exist. Perhaps this is the ulterior motive as to why, the Western Countries, and their INGOs are pumping money into ethnic movements..

Another point, public opinions, and surveys do not have any relevance in Nepal. What the bahuns of the major parties decide is that which prevails. Else, referrendum would not have been bypassed since 1990, for major decisions that have long-term consequences.

9. rishav
Well said the author of this article.

This poll has really upset the Maoists and those who support their deluded ideology.  I congratulate Himalmedia for their research on our views about ethnic based federalism, Well Done!

10. jange
6. Arthur

jange #3, since you keep asking I will remind you...

Kamred Arthur, you still haven't answered the question. What will the new constitution have that couldn't be had by amending the old constitution?√Į¬Ņ¬Ĺ

As you yourself have suggested it will help improve your mind!!!

11. Kale Rai
Binod Chaudhury and Diwakar Golchha are implicated in Vat Scam;so they must be removed from the Constituent Assembly Membership or not?

12. Arthur
jange #10,

As I explained "Under the 1990 constitution the threat of dictatorial decision by royal decree would actually carry some weight and have to be taken seriously."

Most of the politicians who now pretend to be republicans and democrats supported or accepted that. Consequently no amendment could change that.

Of course any document can be turned into any other document simply by deleting the old words and adding the new words.

Likewise any regime can agree to change instead of fighting a civil war to prevent change. Unfortunately they just don't.

But in order to create a situation in which the old politicians who supported or accepted royal dictatorship have to pretend to be democrats, and actually agree to make the changes it was first necessary for them to learn that they could not defeat the Maoists in civil war.

It is still necessary for them to learn that they cannot defeat Maoists just by pretending to agree while doing nothing. But that is a better kind of delay than another round of civil war.

My point was that the opponents of federalism used to simply be able to say that centralism is ordained by God and the King and kill their opponents.

Now they have to write articles pretending that a majority agree with them (and even pretending that a majority agree with them in each national minority!)

This means that they will be stuck with the fact that when a majority does adopt an federal constitution they will simply have to live with it.

That was not possible in 1990.

Checkout the middle east. There was nothing in the Constitution of Egypt either to enable or to prevent the Supreme Military Council announcing that it had replaced the President and called a referendum to change the constitution to dissolve the old fake legislature etc and enable democratic elections. The Constitution was just words on paper which gave them no such power.

But in order for that to happen there first had to be an Egyptian revolution. As Egypt is less backward than Nepal less than 1000 were killed by the old regime to prevent that revolution. Nepal with more than ten thousands killed by the old regime to prevent change is more like Libya in its backwardness (and also much more poor).

The end result will be the same though. The opponents of change will be reduced to merely shouting against it instead of being able to kill people to prevent it.

In particular Nepali Times will be reduced to telling its KTM and overseas readers that two-thirds of Madheshis oppose ethnic federalism but the Madheshis will just go ahead and establish their own province without fear of being killed for it. That was not possible in 1990.

13. jange
12. Arthur

jange #10

Maybe you should read the 1990 constitution first???

As you yourself say:

Of course any document can be turned into any other document simply by deleting the old words and adding the new words.

Please don't confuse a rant with a reasoned argument.√Į¬Ņ¬Ĺ

14. Janata
11. Kale Rai
Since people like 4. DG and 7. Janardan have their masters like Binod Chaudhury and Diwakar Golchha, who regularly feeds them with Indian Currency, whatever scandal they are charged with, they will roam free. So, "dollar kheti garne haru" keep on doing it and make "reasonable" ethnic federalism a reality. Everything is fair in love and war.

15. teiho
I would certainly disagree with ethnic federalism too. First of all; after the idea of ethnic federalism took its toll, the occurance of ethnic nationalism and conflict has been apparent in Nepal even more intensely than the past. For example, the Limbuwan blockade and violence in the region (not just asking for secular state, but a separate state). Similar pattern can be seen on the Madhesi movement; which undeniably has been intensified with the federalism notion (and along with discrimination).

Secondly, the 'bandh' or closure of the country or regions has been more prominent, and are in many cases asserted by ethnic groups. The recent Chetri, Newar, Limbu,... the examples are obvious. 

Ethnic Federalism not only separates our long struggle for invention of unified Nepalese tradition, but is also extremely dangerous for the country future political, social and economical aspect. 

16. Kale Rai
Janata proves himself the agent of Binod Chaudhury and Diwakar Golchha bdon,t get angry. Take it easy my dear.

17. Tapan Das
Intenational Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimintion. of United Nations  States:

Article eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour,or national or ethinic origin ,to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights:...   ...     ...
(c)Political rights,in particular the right to participate in elections- to vote and to stand for election-on the bas ofuniversal and equal suffrage, to take part in the Government as well as in theconduct of public affairs at the level and to have equal access to public service;
So how can there be provision for special rights AGRADHIKAR for Ten years for any community in its contravention??

Agradhikar is not acceptable!

18. Kale Rai
Vat thieves should not be inthe assembly. They must be removed from there.
 Why is Janata (?) offended by this?
 Who is the servant and who is the master ,is chrystal clear.
Coal calling the kettle black?

19. Arthur
jange #13, the 1990 Constitution is too long to read carefully (so is the recent Maoist draft).

I especially enjoyed reading the hilarious articles 56,72, 115  and 127. Anyone that reads those does not need to wonder why it was impossible to simply delete the old words and replace with new words since the whole thing was obviously a fraud providing cover for a "royal" military dictatorship.

20. Janata
16. Kale Rai
You misunderstood me !! Read the lines again.

21. a commoner
"Three-fourths of 4,000 people polled two weeks ago thought ethnic 
federalism is a bad idea" 

Mr J B PUN MAGAR don't you think   there is  some sort of confounding bias in your study that yeilds this result??  for example  the literacy of the group you've questioned.,, the age group you've questioned,,  the distribution of the questioned( ? urban ?rural)......can you please clear me  to accept it!

22. Danny Birch
Please remember when speaking so dismissively of the erstwhile royal "dictatorship" that if not for the Shah dynasty, there would never have been an independent nation in Nepal existing in the modern world. All of the small kingdoms would probably have been incorporated into British India and thence into the Republic of India. Perhaps a few northern areas would have remained under Tibet and thence become part of China. Whatever faults the Shahs and Ranas had, they are still responsible for the existence of modern Nepal. Anyone who has seen a real dictatorship such as long held sway in Eastern Europe or what is now in North Korea, would rightfully laugh at the characterization of the reign of King Birendra as dictatorial. In fact he ushered in the democratic reforms that ultimately led to the end of the dynasty.Unfortunately, the so-called democratic parties have never been able to function together responsibly to run a government. They are only interested in their own power and are busy only in their own corrupt amassing of wealth. The monarchy has not been replaced with a democracy, but rather with a kleptocracy. The same is true with the Congress party, the Maovadi, the UML, the Prajatantra and all of the multitude of smaller and ethnic based parties. There is not one honest or responsible political leader. The royal regime was also plagued by corruption, but there was a national sense and a general stability that has not returned and doesn't seem likely to under all these horrid parties. Nepal doesn't need  a constitution, it needs relatively honest and responsible governance. May Durga Bhawani bless Nepal and it's denizens.      

23. Tenish Katuwal
It feels very good to see these kinds of right choice of Nepalese people. We should never let our country be a piece of cake. 
Jay Nepal. 

24. Native
J.B. Pun Magar: You sound like you are already khas-washed. Brahmin-Cherties must have paid you handsome money to publish this report. After all, Dixit and the likes have made fortune under both feudal panchayats and current pseudo democracy. So, it is not surprising that it is in their interest to conduct this kind of survey that is biased survey that lack scientific validity. First, who conducted the survey? How was the sampling designed? If you think the respondents did not understand what 'ethnic based federalism' mean, how sure are you of validity of their responses? This sort of caricature survey does great injustice to real science. So, don't put such crappy statistics to the public to create false beliefs. And, importantly, stop being a puppet of Khas people.

25. Warner
Dear J.B. Pun Magar,

Thanks and congratulations for wonderful research! It's bitter reality that most of we Nepali DON'T want ethnic federalism, which so called ethnic activist (those who are paid on Dollars) don't wanna hear. 

keep your research further intensified.

Good Luck!

26. AiDeeAh
I am not surprised at the results of this poll. I was recently in eastern Nepal, in the heart of  Limbuwan and Khumbuwan and one thing that struck me almost everywhere I went  was the huge gap between the provocative rhetoric of Limbuwan and Khumbuwan leaders and the actual expectations of many citizens in the area. 

Most  people  I spoke to, including ethnic Rais and Limbus, had incredibly nuanced and sanguine views about ethnic federalism. 
Such people did not think a separate state for themselves would necessarily  make their lives any better. But many of them wanted to see more of their own in power  in Kathmandu. They wanted to see more Limbu doctors, engineers, lawyers. I think the ideas of a Limbu PM and an inclusive and prosperous Nepali middle class will probably excite more Limbus than that of a resource-starved Limbuwan state that is any how going to have to rely on people from other ethnicities and regions to keep it functional.  

27. Dr manohar budhathoki
Bravo Mr Danny Birch, #22. It is this simple truth that eludes us Nepalese and we now have so many new 'Royals'! These new royals enjoy all the privileges and perks of royalty but can not and will not deliver! they are too preoccupied with making money and their political future and they donot give a damn about this country or its people. I could not agree more, Mr Birch.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)