In May, Nepal's Constituent Assembly (CA) members drafted citizenship provisions in the country's long-awaited constitution, causing much consternation and almost guaranteeing that approximately 2.1 million persons out of an estimated population of nearly 30 million will remain stateless.
The specific draft provision that is deeply problematic and regressive refers to how a child may obtain citizenship by descent in the new Nepal: a child would be granted Nepali citizenship if both mother and father prove they are Nepali citizens. In contrast, the current Interim Constitution of Nepal (2007), the Citizenship Act of 2006, and a Supreme Court directive of 2011 all provide for citizenship if a child is born to a Nepali mother or a Nepali father.
The "and" provision is likely to increase the number of stateless children in Nepal as it requires the presence of both parents at the time of registration. The absence of either parent would be enough to disqualify the child. It also means that children with one Nepali and one foreign parent would be ineligible for citizenship if the foreign parent cannot (due to conflicting provisions) or does not wish to take on Nepali citizenship.
A compromise suggested by some CA members is that the "and" provision be accompanied by language permitting exceptions to be made in "special situations." But vague language permitting exceptions abandons the crucial matter of citizenship to bureaucratic discretion and does not provide any assurance that statelessness in Nepal will be reduced or avoided. In fact, even under the relatively liberal provisions of the Interim Constitution, bureaucrats had used their discretion to avoid providing citizenship through the Nepali mother if the father was identified as a foreigner. Therefore, such cursory appeasement of political and bureaucratic opposition cannot credibly be seen as an effective resolution of contending positions on a serious issue.
The debate between "and" and "or" has characterised the current discourse on citizenship with strong and competing notions of gender: proponents of the former favour a stricter law to deter land ownership issues resulting from cross-border marriages of Indians with Nepalis and to preserve what they see as gender equality (both parents' names will be written on the child's citizenship certificate); while proponents of the latter advocate for individual identity and value, equal access to rights for all Nepalis, and protection against future generations of stateless persons.
Worryingly, the debate has continued with widespread misunderstanding of some critical language, its meaning, and its consequences. Some of those in favour of "and" have expressed fear that if "or" were chosen, Nepal would transform from a patriarchy to a matriarchy. This dangerous conflation of patriarchy with patrilineal, and individual value and independence (or an absence of patriarchy) with matriarchy, should be immediately addressed and clarified in order to ensure a fair, well-informed debate and outcome.
Critical to the citizenship discourse is that it should not be positioned solely as a gender empowering or disempowering debate. Nepal today is a fledgling democracy at a crossroads, and is struggling to achieve a common understanding of the process of nation-building and of a national identity. The added complexity of millions of stateless people can pose serious threats to internal peace, stability, and security.
Most countries that have faced ethnic and class-based conflicts have struggled to redefine nationality laws and citizenship after conflict. The key has been to naturalise those that are born on your soil (jus soli) and/or whose birth giver (mother or father) are citizens of that country (jus sanguinis). The logic being that if you keep them stateless on your soil, you create a community of people without allegiance Ė political, social, or moral Ė to your country.
Of course, the fact that current discriminatory provisions negatively affect the rights of minority groups should also be recognised with the understanding that these provisions directly violate a number of Nepal's international commitments. The proposed requirement that both parents be present for a child to be granted citizenship by descent is of great concern, especially with regard to women. For Nepali women, securing legal proof of citizenship can be difficult, especially when a male family member refuses to assist them (for example, if he does not accept that the child is his) or is simply unavailable to do so because he's away working in another country, like millions of other Nepali migrant workers.
Denying women proof of citizenship is also an expedient way of ensuring that they cannot assert their rights to marital property or inheritance. Furthermore, that Nepali women have been unable to confer citizenship reflects a dependent notion of nationality that is based on and conforms to a patriarchical hegemony. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) clearly states that nations should grant citizenship rights regardless of gender and goes on to state that, "State parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children."
Statelessness also has a particularly pernicious impact on children, which often impinges on their rights to access to education, affordable healthcare, and land ownership. As Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states, a child "shall have the right from birth [ Ö] to acquire a nationality." And it continues that "State parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless."
International law requires countries to consider applicants' "genuine and effective links" with a country when evaluating nationality claims, including social, cultural, and economic ties they have established over time, which is particularly relevant in the context of residents of Nepal's southern plains - the Tarai - and other areas adjoining India. While other countries strive toward citizenship norms based on international best practices, Nepal's discourse on citizenship is redolent of antiquated mindsets harking from its feudal past: politicians have expressed fear of creating a matriarchical society and of inciting an influx of Indian settlers in the Tarai. Worse, citing these spurious reasons they have shown an unwillingness to work together on the critical matter of statelessness and perhaps most dangerously have, across the board, sidelined the citizenship issue as less important than state restructuring.
Setting aside any commentary on Nepal's ability to provide satisfactorily for the development and progress of its people over the past five decades, Nepal's citizenship laws and eligibility provisions over the same period have created a large number of stateless persons who are effectively denied access to formal sector employment opportunities, banking facilities, property transactions, business opportunities, and a modicum of social security. Excluding even larger swathes of the population through regressive provisions in the new constitution will only exacerbate the situation.
Today, approximately 2.1 million Nepalis are without citizenship certificates and are effectively stateless. The Election Commission of Nepal indicates that the number could be even higher. A large number of these did not vote in 2008, and unless the restrictive provisions on citizenship are changed, this number will only increase. Under proposed constitutional provisions, the children of these stateless parents could also be excluded from access to citizenship, and as generations unfold Nepal will see sharp increases in an undocumented, uneducated population that could lead to significant and costly political and administrative hurdles in the near future. The denial of citizenship and, therefore, participation in political process for a significant portion of the population will severely undermine democracy in Nepal.
As Nepal looks to finalise a new constitution, it is critical that its leaders examine the issue of citizenship outside of the context of individual interest groups and power centres in its polity. If Nepal's lawmakers do not lead by example, the entrenched patriarchy and xenophobia of their constituencies will lead the country toward a looming crisis of statelessness and a potential regeneration of political instability and violence.
George Varughese is country representative and Pema Abrahams is a program associate for The Asia Foundation in Nepal. Views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation. [email protected] [email protected]
2. who cares
its not cause of racial content dude, its cause you get¬†benefits¬†from foreign forces.¬†
nepal is the only nation where nationalist sentiments are blocked where as agents, terrorists are revolutionaries,¬†terrorizing/killing for human right.
once prithvi bahadur used to say, prevent foreigners from getting into nepal and save nepal...¬†
now i have to add, stop non commercial money flow from foreign and save nepal
05 JUNE 2012 | 7:10 PM NST
3. anita khadka
1) thank you to both the writers for¬†reminding¬†us just how ridiculously close-minded we were when we were discussing future federal states. nobody even bothered about citizenship. it's like 'let's talk about that non-important issue later'. but as this article and others point out, we are sowing the seeds for future conflict. imagine having a large number of Nepalis with no citizenship living within our borders. sounds like a potential disaster.¬†
2) also i sincerely hope that we as an online community can avoid resorting to xenophobia or ¬†relying on the 'they are all indians, they don't deserve citizenship' rhetoric and instead engage in healthy discussions over this critical matter. please mr. who cares, stop spreading your hollow nationalism and hatred of foreigners. we don't need it. ¬†
05 JUNE 2012 | 9:26 PM NST
4. who cares
are you sure you are a nepali, not some staff from some embassy?
in other countries, when they give ¬†citizenship to foreigners, the foreigners have to pass nationalism test.
in nepal, there are many indian ethnics who have taken nepalese citizenship from bihari to marbadi. and all of them turned out to be anti nepal. all have betrayed us. all hatch conspiracy against nepal.
so its time for nepal to pass constitution that bands providing citizenship to all indians (except for nepali origin).
every time there is political turmoil in nepal, a few millions indian get citizenship. now a couple of whites are raising to provide citizenship to 2 million indians.¬†
i think they want enough indians to get nepali citizenship so that there will be balance of power and civil war would break so that their military could get into nepal and they get to arm tibetians.¬†
that is why they are so silent -or should i say supportive- over agent bhatterai's govt... if this would have been govt of nc or uml, they would have made noise in support of unity govt., asked that govt. to resign. ¬†
is not it tragedy that nepali media like nepalitimes dont have problem publishing this anti nation column and comments like 3. but prevents nationalist thought from publishing?
nepal is a save heaven for terrorists, agents, rapists... it is too risky for real nepalese to live here.
05 JUNE 2012 | 10:04 PM NST
5. who cares
why no country tells indian not to push there citizens to nepal?
why no foreign power tells indian to take back their citizens who have taken nepali citizenship from nepal?
every one is hell bent to destroy nepal
05 JUNE 2012 | 10:07 PM NST
6. Anuj Gurung
Nepal is already guilty of being a nation with a bad track-record on women's rights. If this law actually emerges, discrimination will be seeped within the constitution. Ms. Khadka is correct, the draft is very close-minded. I am surprised that there so many ethnicity-driven agendas for federalism, but very little on women empowerment. In every Nepali ethnicity, women's role is marginalized and limited. In a sense, women are twice as discriminated against. How is it that we celebrate the erstwhile NRN's but drafting a potential law against equality in citizenship?
05 JUNE 2012 | 12:13 AM NST
While exclusion from citizenship is a pan Nepal phenomena, it is particularly acute in the Tarai. The idea that thousands of Indians want to migrate to Nepal and take up Nepali citizenship is absurd and it shows how¬†entirely out of touch the political class¬†are of the dynamics of life in the border regions.¬†There are few incentives to migrate to Nepal under the current political and economic circumstances.
Providing citizenship through either parents is does not even need to be debated in most countries in the world it is such a fundamental human right. The fact this is differnt in Nepal¬†either suggests that the political leaders have never even bothered to look at practices in other countries, or that in their false sense of grandeur think they can defy international norms. Either way it is astonishing.
06 JUNE 2012 | 12:20 PM NST
8. Swonti S
Why don't these colonial mind-set people leave Nepal alone? These show-off foreigners, who have no value in their own countries always try to corrupt our already corrupted leaders; haven't they done enough social political and cultural damages in our country? Why are these newspapers giving such people to lecture us? For whose benefits?
06 JUNE 2012 | 3:59 PM NST
9. who cares
finally one fellow nepali.
other dont even care to share a few words in support of nepal, but always blame politicians for everything.¬†
its not like nepal is asking for their blood.¬†
those nepalese who sold their soul to the devil think supporting nepal, standing for right is being¬†fascist, racist and what not.
today, it is even more important to share our views through mass media, make our voice heard cause most of the politicians try to follow what they think most of the people support rather than leading the right way, support the right cause.
06 JUNE 2012 | 9:36 PM NST
10. JS, Kathmandu
The entire debate over citizenship has been driven not by common sense or on-the-ground research, but by xenophobia¬†and pseudo-nationalism, a last ditch attempt to support as 'protectors of the nation'.¬†
Making it a prequisite that mother and father are Nepali citizens would have a devestating impact in the Terai. I have worked for years in the plains and there are villages where a majority of households have one Indian parent, just as there are an equal number of mixed nationality households over the border. In a generation there would be a vast population of stateless people on the Nepali side, with little access to state social services, land or skilled employment.¬†They¬†would essentially be a pool of cheap, exploitable labour. Perhaps that is what the political leaders want, although I sincerely hope not.
There can be no debate on this issue, as anyone who raises it is branded as a "foreigner",¬†or "bowing down to foreign interests, NGOs etc"...¬†This kind of discourse on citizenship is restricted to far-right in most countries, but here so called leftist and progressive parties are advocating state sanctioned exclusion based upon one's national origins. It is deeply disturbing.
07 JUNE 2012 | 9:24 AM NST
11. jai nepal
firstly, a thanks for the article! secondly, nepals destruction can not until date be pointed to other nations but is the fault of its own leaders n people. but its easy to point fingers to the north or south...how many nepals donÔŅĹt live in india and have been granted indian nationality? this whole issue abt foreigners/capitalists/colonizers...etc is like a ghost story...but where is the ghost...? in someones head and mass hysteria. the world is not black or white nor is it wise to follow a blind man...
thirdly, i myself a nepali, but from my fathers side as my mother is a foreigner, yet i consider myself Nepali and so does my frineds and family. I was born in Nepal some 35 years ago, spent most of my childhood there and after completing my studies abroad ive been living in nepal eating dahl bhat tarkari almost daily n dealing with the struggles provided as reward to us the people, seeing how our so called leaders do nothing but argue n fight, divide the country and rape our own people. I hold a nepali passport n citizenship card with pride n wouldnÔŅĹt give it up for anything. But as this article highlights time now means something very different if both my parents must present thier citizenship cards as my mother still holds her "foreign" passport. As Nepal donÔŅĹt allow her to hold 2 passport, yet most of my nepali freinds abroad hold both a nepali and foreign passport... this is not maybe the biggest issue as its rather hard to confiscate a citizenship card or passport when everything has been made according to the law of the time, but still it makes me somehow feel uneasy abt the whole situation. so i must say that its time for our leaders to really open up their eyes, brains n hearts n see beyond politics and that nepal has always been and hopefully always will be a mixing pot of different himalayan cultures, yet we have our own nepali way that we are proud of, n for once perhpas we can have some laws and rules that makes sense and are in the interesst for the people....becuase as its going now it seems like a nepali version of hitler would easily take over or some other fascist leader....and this is very frightening! until the day i die, ill fight for my nation, my people, my nepal as ill not differentiate between a brahmin or janjati or a politician or household worker, actually im more prone to treat a house hold worker better then a politician as they will most likely be more honest n less involved in any corruption...
peace out brothers n sisters! ¬†
07 JUNE 2012 | 8:01 PM NST
[comment deleted for personally attacking the authors]
08 JUNE 2012 | 6:08 PM NST
13. who cares
sorry i could not find double thumbs up button.¬†
and to the superpowerful dude who lives infront of the computer and¬†deletes¬†other's post, read this link: http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/2012/06/8/FromtheNepaliPress/19372#commentpost¬†
then you will find out that they are not what they seems.¬†
08 JUNE 2012 | 6:55 PM NST
foreign money flows in and cunniving aliens trap nepali women and men to gain citizenship. Nepal will be flooded with not so patriotic people, especially those who make your culture a butt of jokes. Nepalis dont know what hit them. Be wary of outsiders, you are a small nation, be suspicious of ALL foreigners, just take some lessons from Bhutan which insulates itself from outsiders. Iam an Indian so i¬† say dont even encourage indians .....
09 JUNE 2012 | 12:50 AM NST
Nepali's ultimate aim is to get a green card from US or an equivalent from another Western country. But don'let this buggars get a Nepali citizenship?
10 JUNE 2012 | 11:53 AM NST
// econdly, nepals destruction can not until date be pointed to other nations but is the fault of its own leaders n people. but its easy to point fingers to the north or south...how many nepals donÔŅĹt live in india and have been granted indian nationality? this whole issue abt foreigners/capitalists/colonizers...etc is like a ghost story...but where is the ghost...? in someones head and mass hysteria. the world is not black or white nor is it wise to follow a blind man... //
Yes, we will give the gallows when the time comes Ė it's our headache. Agreed there are millions of Nepalis in India most of them became part of India when the parts of Nepal fell inside independent India. They may be Nepali origin but are Indians by the transfer of land and went with the land they live in. Unlike most of the biharis who have come inside Nepal as migrants in droves over the years, occupying lands that did not belong to them, displacing Nepalis from their own land as a result of open order with India. ¬†Still many have travelled to india since Independence in search of better economic opportunities as economic migrants but they are not protesting for a separate state /province and in fact are politically and economically ostracised and isolated from the mainstream.¬† We have a Gujjar Yadav as a President in our country ( I wonder why?) Ė and India is yet to elect someone from the Nepali community as a MP, MLA, PM or President. Why? Becuz India is a big winner of open border with india while Nepali migrants are doing petty, degrading jobs in the streets of Delhi/Mumbai and Bangalore Ė Indian have done well in Nepal Ė in fact have become the ruling class to some extent. So, your argument of India also has Nepalis in India whodo petty jobs and mostly come back to Nepal justifies granting citizenships to illegal immigrants who are criminals, anti-national and terrorists to boot ¬†in Nepal hold no water. They should all be deported back to Bihar or where they came from and not given citizenships Ė they can apply for asylum and citizenship but not issued blanket citizenships en masses.
10 JUNE 2012 | 7:25 PM NST
It is saddening from reading some of the above comments, as it shows how far we still have to go to change mindsets. This idea of hoards of Indian's queing up to enter Nepal and get citizenship is totally bizarre. This is an obsolate argument from half a century ago, which has been recently been revived by a political class losing public support.
The comments also about 'illegal immigrants', 'criminals', 'deporting to Bihar' etc... and the usual, are also sad to read.¬† I have to thank these commentators (ironically) as they have highlighted how much we still need to do to accept the Terai people as part of this nation.¬†Maithili and Bhojpuri speaking communities have lived on the lowlands for centuries, some since before the Gorkhali dynasty conqured the plains, yet still the people of the lowlands are automatically conflated with India.
Finally, the citizenship laws proposed in the new consitution would not only disenfranchise Terai people but the children of those across Nepal who have been deprived citizenship due to antiquated laws, loopholes and male chauvinism.
10 JUNE 2012 | 9:38 PM NST
18. anita khadka
thank you leguwa. it makes me extremely sad to see people with such narrow,¬†chauvinistic¬†and 'everyone who speaks hindi and is darker skin is NOT a Nepali citizen'¬†mentality. but for all we know it ¬†might be one person trolling on the comment's section and spreadin hatred.
i don't know why the citizenship debate ALWAYS focuses on Indians coming into Nepal en masse and becoming Nepalis. As this article mentions, YES there were/are¬†discrepancies¬†in the citizenship process which needs to be made rigorous. But that does not mean we deny children who are born in Nepal to Nepali mothers (and Indian/German/Chinese/Somalian fathers) their rights to citizenship.¬†
as i see it anyone whose mother OR father is Nepali, anyone who was born in Nepal (regardless of parent's nationality) and anyone who wishes to naturalize say after 10 -15 years of living here are all NEPALIS. and dual citizenship is also a good thing. the world would be a better place if there are many more people with mixed nationalities and a wider sensse of belonging. ¬†
10 JUNE 2012 | 10:11 PM NST
Why would Biharis be queuing up to marry Nepalis? They have 9 % growth in their own state, the economy is booming there are plenty of jobs going around. Why should they come to a country where there are no jobs, which is being abandoned by its own people,where its own people exploit and abuse their own women who are desperate to flee to the Gulf to work as domestics (see "Even Slaves Are Treated Better")?
11 JUNE 2012 | 7:00 AM NST
20. who cares
why?even slaves are treated better.
you dont get it right.
here is the†clarification, to treat us worst than slaves. to bully us by threatening us of blocking our supplies, by threatening to break nepal, by looting, they get paid by delhi to create terror in nepal....
why the hell is my previous comment blocked, what is the reason. last time you blocked it cause of†racist†comment, what happened this time?
you bahuns are selling nepal just for the sake of getting visa, how pathetic!
11 JUNE 2012 | 11:40 AM NST
//It is saddening from reading some of the above comments, as it shows how far we still have to go to change mindsets. This idea of hoards of Indian's queing up to enter Nepal and get citizenship is totally bizarre. This is an obsolate argument from half a century ago, which has been recently been revived by a political class losing public support.¬† //
Saddening for you, may be. National interests are not run on emotions. Still, you have it backwards. It amazes me how can so called Nepali politicians and Nepalis sitting in the higher echelons of power continuously and ashamedly fail to act in the interests of the country and its people. The issue has been revived by those who are riding high on the suddenly found political aspirations of those who have become emboldened by the fallibility and corruptibility of our greedy and chameleon politicians who will sell their country if it made them a few pennies richer. ¬†
Lets not forget the great BIHARI leader GPK who unilaterally without developing any consensus or popular public support pushed for the citizenship drive in terrai region to gain votes in the late 90s. Most of them crossed the borders, yes, treacherous politicians, most of them Bahuuns, have continuously supported the migration of Biharis from Bihar, India into Nepal for vote bank politics. It may not the politically correct but it is the fact.
May be you are one of the beneficiaries of the present socio economic structures beefed with feudalism and ethnic camaraderie you share with across the border needs to step outside of the "polluted well" that is Kathmandu and feel saddened easily but that does not change facts. ¬†see how ethnic Nepalis are treated outside their own country while crossing the borders, doing petty jobs, partaking in political affairs, doing business, constantly harassed in their own country by their "own countrymen".
//The comments also about 'illegal immigrants', 'criminals', 'deporting to Bihar' etc... and the usual, are also sad to read.¬† I have to thank these commentators (ironically) as they have highlighted how much we still need to do to accept the Terai people as part of this nation.¬†Maithili and Bhojpuri speaking communities have lived on the lowlands for centuries, some since before the Gorkhali dynasty conqured the plains, yet still the people of the lowlands are automatically conflated with India. //
Some of them, yes, but not all of them. Most, majority of them (migrants) have migrated over the years as a result of open porous border with India (Indians living in borer areas with the support of their security forces have deliberately supported, encouraged land grabs and removal of pillars demarcating border points between the two country). Agreed some people could be left out by errors but that is not the subject of debate, is it? Has the writer highlighted the genuine cases of people being refused citizenship, where both parents are bonafide nepali citizens, it would be fair. But the writer seems to push his/her own agenda, at the cost of the country and her interests. ¬†There should not be any issue with course correcting and putting in place needed legislative provisions in the constitution (when and IF it even comes) to accommodate people who have been denied citizenships on genuine grounds. However, issuing citizenship to every tom, dick and harry who crosses the border (contrary to the rebuttal above in parts of bihar there is pressing and emdemic poverty and Nepal seems an attractive place to migrate, and yes, they don't need to stand in lines).There seems to be no incentive in learning Nepali language, history, customs, ethos and cultures to attain nepali citizenship. Politicians are shooting themselves at their foot and voting themselves out, without even realizing. Then, it must be something more devious to do.
//Finally, the citizenship laws proposed in the new consitution would not only disenfranchise Terai people but the children of those across Nepal who have been deprived citizenship due to antiquated laws, loopholes and male chauvinism. //
Make knowing Nepali language, history, customs, time of stay, no criminal records in any other country, and place of birth, citizenship of father and mother a criteria while granting citizenships. No person holding the citizenship of another country should be granted the nepali citizenship. ¬†Children who have been born to non-nepali father and nepali mother should be the responsibility of the father and his country first, and only when all efforts to track and hold father responsible for the should has been exhausted or the death of father should the such cases be reviewed ob case by case basis. ¬†But it seems most of the nepali politicians could not care a squat for such issues if it did not fill their bank accounts.
11 JUNE 2012 | 11:49 PM NST
i was trying to draw attention to those prospective immigrants who are not fans of nepali culture or main religion. Indians are not looking at nepal for immigration anymore than they are looking at Bangladesh. Aliens are those who dont even identify with India, be wary of them, for soon they will make Nepal what Myanmaar is¬† witnessing last 2 weeks in its western border. Rioting will ensue and it will be too late to fix it.
11 JUNE 2012 | 1:49 AM NST
I am amazed how many commentators jump to support shocking and reactionary laws.
//"Children who have been born to non-nepali father and nepali mother should be the responsibility of the father and his country first, and only when all efforts to track and hold father responsible for the should has been exhausted or the death of father should the such cases be reviewed ob case by case basis"//. What if the father happens to live in Nepal, and the children want to stay in Nepal/identify with Nepal. This is the 21st century.¬†IT IS THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN TO DECIDE THEIR NATIONALITY. No government has the right to impose its own patriarchial vision¬†on families and make the younger generation¬†suffer as a result.¬†As commentator 18 said, this is not only about settlers from India but from most other countries.
Furthermore, there has been very little migration from Bihar or UP since the 1960s. Migration occured whent¬†there was land to be cleared. This is no longer the case.¬†The economic situation in Bihar is also a lot better then in¬†parts of the Tarai. There is also a government welfare system (BPL¬†card etc) and subsidies.¬†The outflows of Nepalis to India has been significantly higher.¬†¬†Most of those who aquired citizenship (and rightly so) in the 2007 campaign were landless dalits, Many of them were Terai janajatis indigenous to the plains with no links to Bihar. The whole debate has been framed by absurd rumours by politicians who have clearly never bothered to research the situation in the plains.
12 JUNE 2012 | 10:14 AM NST
//What if the father happens to live in Nepal, and the children want to stay in Nepal/identify with Nepal. This is the 21st century.¬†IT IS THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN TO DECIDE THEIR NATIONALITY. No government has the right to impose its own patriarchial vision¬†on families and make the younger generation¬†suffer as a result.¬†As commentator 18 said, this is not only about settlers from India but from most other countries. //
He can't , rightly so. It's quite common that countries don't just give citizenship just bcuz of someone wants to stay in the country. One needs to qualify, justify, prove his willingness to assimilate and be good and responsible members of the society they will be joing. What have happened in Nepal is continuous infiltration of outsider, esp from India, unchecked, unabated, boundaries disappearing, loot, land grabs, criminals openly crossing the border on their whims and fancies and enjoying the benefits and protection of the Nepalese government. Basically, no law and order, and zero interests of our politicians to seal the border and put in place proper legal procedures to ensure their citizens are protected and valued, and citizenships are forced. Now, the push through the constitution to legalise all those people who have usurped the lands Ėmost times with political patronage and in cahoots with politicians and security forces from India is the next game. Running the country has become just like running a temple Ė one with the most contributions get the first right of entry and worship. It's the same mentality that is at the root of mis-governance and common malaise to be seen in Nepali politics.
To your specific question of if father wants to live in Nepal.¬† If he is already a citizen of another country and is unwilling to renounce his existing citizenship to obtain nepali citizenship that too after checking his backgrounds, credentials, reasons of becoming nepali citizens?¬† - is not it true most of these "Foreigners" living in Nepal are absconding some crimes in their native countries and are not looking for permanent residency- I heard it not sure of its veracity. Most cases of Nepali mothers and foreigner fathers have missing fathers who don't know, care, or provide for their children and were never serious about committing to nepali women and their born children in the first place? Are they married? Will they depend on social welfare? etc questions need top be asked. Nepal is a poor country and need to take care of their own, first, and then be charitable. Those who are citizens of Nepal must get first priority in planning and service of the country, others must wait.¬† Again, the issue needs perspectives and solutions from the social awareness and not political empowerment, alienation. The worry is if Constitution provides the loopholes that might be exploited by anti national elements. A ma deshi leader who refuses to take oath in Nepali. ln any case, why would anyone want to obtain citizenship of one of the poorest countries in the world in the first place- if not for dubious reasons? Nepal must not in its constitution allow dual citizenship unless they pay taxes in both countries.
13 JUNE 2012 | 3:53 PM NST
Furthermore, there has been very little migration from Bihar or UP since the 1960s. Migration occured whent¬†there was land to be cleared. This is no longer the case.¬†The economic situation in Bihar is also a lot better then in¬†parts of the Tarai. There is also a government welfare system (BPL¬†card etc) and subsidies.¬†The outflows of Nepalis to India has been significantly higher.¬†¬†Most of those who aquired citizenship (and rightly so) in the 2007 campaign were landless dalits, Many of them were Terai janajatis indigenous to the plains with no links to Bihar. The whole debate has been framed by absurd rumours by politicians who have clearly never bothered to research the situation in the plains.//
pramanand jha VPNepal who refused to take oath in nepali- born and brought up in Bihar - the vice president of Nepal. not a terai janjati, nor a dalit and nore a nepali. These are the anti national people who must be kept out of citizenships- genuine nepalis who act in the interests of Nepal are getting shot in the streets, jails of Kathnadu while media keeps mum - and the issue of Citizenships for people like pramanada jha gets the headlines. That is the real shame - bahuuns political class must be forcibly removed from the rule to protect Nepali pride and country.
13 JUNE 2012 | 3:53 PM NST
I would like to ask¬† GEORGE VARUGHESE and PEMA ABRAHAMS if they would help Nepalese get visa to the Western country, let alone citizenship. Can they do this? If they cannot, then, don't lectutre Nepalese, what they can to or cannot do!
13 JUNE 2012 | 4:21 PM NST
Moderator seems to be very hamhanded while screening comments he/she personally don't like or disgarees with. No comments posted since two days.
13 JUNE 2012 | 4:28 PM NST
No 26. Visa regimes are nowadays tough in many western countries¬†but that is not the topic of this article. The citizenship process in 'western countries' is fairly straightfoward. Difficult to generalise, but on the whole citizenship is provided¬†by following means:¬†1) Through naturalisation after living for certain period (usually 7-10 years); 2)¬†Through marriage (usually given after a couple of years) regardless of gender; 3) Through descent from either parent; 4) and in some countries, through being born on their soil. Most allow dual citizenship.
14 JUNE 2012 | 8:19 AM NST
My last¬†entry here. There seems to be a lot of confusion in the comments above, as most of them are referring to citizenship naturalisation - i.e. foreign born citizens of another country becoming Nepali through residence/marriage (or even fraud). The process of naturalisation¬†will always be open to debate, and it is not unreasonable for naturalised citizens to be show¬†their loyalty to the country through knowing the¬†language, culture¬†etc, although I personally favour¬†a very liberal policy. Either way it can be debated either way.¬†
However, what the article above is about is the concept of citizenship by decent. This is an entirely different issue. This is basically about the right of children¬†to take on their parents nationality. This is a fundamental human right. To deny¬†it because one parent is a non-citizen (what the new constitution was to going do) would be a gross human rights violation. Bhutan is presently the only country in the world which does this. Given the high levels of cross-border marriage in Nepal, this law could be catastrophic.¬† The citizenship of one's parents is not the fault of the child, and if they have lived their whole life in Nepal, and have¬†one Nepali parent, then there is absolutely no reason why they should be denied the right to be accepted as Nepalis.
I agree that the process of rule enforcement needs to be improved to prevent mis-use. However, stopping born and bred children from becoming citizens is going to do absolutely nothing to curb citizenship fraud, illegal immigration etc. This discussion has been interesting, thanks all.
14 JUNE 2012 | 10:20 AM NST
30. AK Sherpa
Thanks for the reasoned article and editorial. ¬†Nepalis all want to be able to migrate and work in other countries but are xenophobic about giving a handful of foreign spouses in Nepal similar rights. ¬†The fact is hundreds of thousands of Nepalis whose ancestors have been here generations are already denied their right to citizenship and identity. ¬†This is making them second class citizens as well. ¬†When the rest of the world (and even India) is moving to allow dual citizenship and to let its citizens have absentee voting Nepali is going in reverse. ¬†Why ?? It seems paranoia over Indians buying up the country are at the root of these irrational fears. ¬†Indians can already live and work here without restriction. ¬†If land ownership is the issue why not make residency (say five years) and tax payment requirements for rural land purchases. ¬†This would stop not just our cousins from across the border buying up the countryside but also NRNs that are not interested in developing agriculture but want a safe investment. ¬†
14 JUNE 2012 | 2:03 PM NST
The points made by no.28 is not unknown to anyone who has tried to get a Western-country visa or has lived there. The point is do they give anything to ordinary poor people, just check millions of refugees who are languished in camps in conflict-ridden countries. The only people the West takes is those who belong to elites (with money, education, or some other abilities), and if they take any other persons, it will be merely for political reasons. Also, I am not suggesting Nepal should not give identities to genuine Nepalese or those who qualify to become Nepali citizen, but it does not need to be careful, as it has no proper administration of the movements of people. If a proper check system is established, then, there is no problem about granting a citizenship, and no foreigner needs to lecture us!
14 JUNE 2012 | 2:51 PM NST
Very interesting article and the debate it invited. It is important to discuss citizenship issue before it is too late and hopefully this article has got that ball rolling for inviting more constructive thoughts, including constructive criticisms than some of the ones being discussed here. We should get out of the mentality that we as nepali are powerless and anyone can sway us in any way they want. Forget about foreigners trying to influence for whatsoever reason - concentrate on what we can do. But most criticism above felt like not just against foreigners but against Nepalis too - the whole half of Nepalis, the women. Why should a father have the first right to to give my child his citizenship when as a mother and as a Nepali I should have that right too? Just because I am a woman, my child is denied the right to be a nepali - think carefully dude!
02 JULY 2012 | 2:18 PM NST
33. swami nath
" Sayed Zabiuddin alias Abu Jundal , a prize catch in 26/11 terror case , picked up his first lessons in terrorism when Lashker-e-Taiba terrorist Mohammed Aslam alias Aslam Kashmiri arranged for his arms training in Nepal in 2004." The above terrorist was deported by Saudi Arabia and has¬† been living and travelling on Pakistan passport. Nepal is becoming a transit station for south asian terrorists. Nepal soon will face the same terror attacks others are facing. Proactive screening is the best way to prevent the grim future.