Nepali Times
Who says Nepal is divided?


Glancing at the front pages of the newspapers these days, or watching the evening news, one gets the overwhelming impression that Nepal is breaking apart.

Media is not interested in the good things that happen, highlighting people who struggle to make a contribution to their communities and society. Things going right don't make news, things have to break to be considered a 'breaking news'. Reporters give undue importance to the corrosive rhetoric of those who want to carve Nepal up into small pieces, they highlight the handful of spoilers and ignore the vast, silent majority of Nepalis who want to live in harmony and peace.

Politicians play with fire when they whip up ethnic animosities in the name of correcting historical discrimination. Yet, the media unthinkingly gives the most prominent coverage to those who shout the loudest, who say the most outrageous things. As a pilot and talk show host myself, I have come to realise the enormous potential for the media to set things right in society by offering hope through the power of¬ good example. Yet, I wonder if the media is now a part of the problem.¬

Which is why I wasn't surprised to find few many reporters at the Sonam Tamang new year celebrations at Tundikhel on Tuesday. This was a celebration not just of the Tamang community, but it belonged to all Nepalis. We saw Newars, Bahuns, Chhetris, Gurungs, Rais and Limbus all mingling and enjoying themselves in a rich microcosm of Nepal itself. Under a bright blue sky and the warm glow of a winter sun we celebrated a new Nepaliness that is united by its diversity. Who says Nepal is divided? Who says Nepalis can't live as one united family like they always have? Who dares break Nepal up?¬

Whenever I talk to Nepalis in Kuala Lumpur, Doha or Hong Kong, they speak as if they belong to a joint Nepali family. People never talk about what divides them, but what unites them: the languages, cultures, festivals and the land of mountains, valleys and plains that we are proud to call our own. We speak in Nepali, the language that cements us, about the shared history that our ancestors built together. We say we are Nepali first, and then we belong to our various nationalities.

There is no point going into who settled here first. Except for some of the 103 ethnicities in this country, we all came from somewhere else and became Nepalis at heart. In the past few years, I have attended the new year celebrations of Nepal's other communities as well. Everywhere I find the same sense of harmony and tolerance of diversity. No one is trying to exclude any other community.

Yet, in the narrow minded politics of today we see leaders trying to drive a wedge between ethnic groups, carving up a united nation into overlapping provinces with confused boundaries, trying to create walls and fences where there aren't any.

It was telling that when the prime minister arrived at Tundikhel on Tuesday and the politicians started delivering their tired old speeches, no one was listening. Only the reporters were taking notes.

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1. Raj

And therein lays the malaise with us √Į¬Ņ¬Ĺ 'politicians delivering their speech√Į¬Ņ¬Ĺ' why the hell were they invited to deliver their speech????¬† The culture of giving celebrity status to politician needs to be stopped first before blaming them!

2. Akash sherung
The question is not who settled first about those but who came later as invaders and drove the original settlers to elsewhere ..What is there to be proud or thankful about being  in a united nation 'Nepal' ?  ..Thousands of Nepali live in Darjiling, Sikking and elsewhere in India and they are not crying or repenting because they are not in it!  Indigenous people of Nepal have felt robbed of their identity for generations and if they feel competent of governing their own affairs within a federal Nepal why is there so much hue and cry from the other people who have for long monopolized the governance of the country. 

3. KiranL
A positive and emotional appeal from Vijaya Lama. I wish the ultra activists as well as the exclusionary dominant community. Indeed it is true that most Nepalis want to be known first as Nepalis and then as proud Gurungs, Tharus, Brahmans and Chhetris. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath waters to make up for the past.

4. Joy
I regularly watch Black and White and admire Viay Lama's choice of guests and subjects, this is the kind of media we need, the kind that gives hope and inspires other people to do good. We have too much negative news and this makes people negative.

5. Ngorgima
Time to see more coverage on positive news than the same old speeches of the politicians and the so called leaders..we need people like Vijay Lama to come with more motivational and positive articles to raise our moral..Thank you Vijayji...just keep up with your views and never stop...

6. Bal Tamang
No matter what one says, the fact is (proven by the statistics) that-
the Tamangs are marginalized. Land ownership among Tamangs has decreased dramatically over the last several decades. There is virtually NO, zero or nada representation of Tamangs in the higher level of bureacracy, judiciary and army.There is NOT a single CDO, nor an ambassador from this community of 18 lakh people. It is a shame to call it a democracy when a major group is marginalized. Who is responsible for it? Even Pushpa Kamal's revolution and Baburam's evolution are not designed to help Tamangs. One can repeat thousands of times that Nepal is not divided and I love Nepal, I love Nepal but the proof is in the pudding. Vijay Lama correctly mentions that it is the politicians who have divided our country. There is an open "bhagbanda" of government posts and appointments among certain groups --that continues to divide the country. Why our media is silent? What is left for the Tamangs to call themselves as Nepalis when they are NOT treated as Nepalis by the so called people in the power year after years and decades after decades.
Tamangs are just beginning to awaken and when they fully open up their eyes, it will be very different from the Lhosar gathering. 

7. K. K. Sharma

This is all well. But we simply will have to wait and see what transpires once we get to demarking boundries, and sharing power and resources in the entended federal provinces of Nepal.

The most beautiful article I have read ever in Nepali times and other else, not because it has protected IP's Sensations, rather it has such a powerful feeling for the national integrity. 

It is there that some handful of politicians are making nonsense that Nepal is going to be divided. Those so called politicians who even don't know what is politics uproar rumours so that historically discriminated ones go to the hell backward from politics, power and development. 

All who is living as a citizen of Nepal is Nepali. Only after that the count starts where he or she stays: HIMAL, Pahad and Terai and other ethnic based recognition like tamang, newar, chhetri and bahun. So, this article opens up eyes of the blind people believing Nepal is going to be breaking apart..........

9. New Generation
The political thugs disguised as political leaders have no will to call a spade a spade. They are only looking for their own position of power and making a living in the name of politics and deceiving their  electorate.They have no principle nor charecter. It is finally our own fault to elect them and send them as our representative. Once they are elected they assune themselves as our masters.The present ones have failed us . Let us pledge from this column onward not to vote to any of the present leaders . In doing so there can be some casualty for a few black sheep i. e. the good ones.,a rare endangered species.  But that is the risk we must be prepared to take at this time. No matter ...  ... We can later induct them ,the good ones as advisers.
 Let us srart boycotting the so called present leaders who are now in the forefront. All have betrayed us. All have faid because of their insatiable greed for power and wealth.
 let us ostracize them .Let us boycott them in all functions..Let us unite for our common causeat least now or never.

10. L. B. Thapa
Coldness on undeestandimng , respecting others culture helps Neplase to  to divide but greetings and warmness (nyanopan) unites to all Nepalese  is not it?

11. Anuj
Middle path is the best path. That is what is appropriate in the present political environment of the country. Everybody should respect each other and of course, the culture, customs and language of every community must be recognized as national treasure, not only in paper but in spirit too. I agree with Mr. Lama's argument what if media invest its resources and energy on issues that are hindrances to our peace process in more pragmatic way, instead of instigating or fuelling friction between different interest groups. Following the trend of news reporting and headlines, we feel that media and its fraternity are working against goodwill of people and losing, "ethics of journalism". President Ram Baran Yadav has rightly advised that journalism has to be under the purview of strict works ethics /strict rules and regulation.  To practice, journalism, only studying the subject is not enough, they are supposed to go through internship and have to pass the licensing examination. Even then after getting the license, mentorship has to be there. Nowadays, just because you can speak and write Nepali with journalism degree or without it, you are practicing journalism. There is where the problem lies. And you guys, the way we Tamangs speak Nepali is always fun like Nepali speaking Hindi, so it is hard to imagine our brothers and sisters holding mikes and leading in the arena of journalism

12. Rajaram Singh
The whole country is multi-ethnic, multi- cultural. Out of the 3956  VDCs /NPs in the country ,not a single is mono-cultural or mono-ethnic.
 No matter how you parcel the country into states they will remain muti-cultural. So we all have to share our life together. We are inter-dependent. Have always lived together. There have been discrimination in the past due to the old system. But we are working in offices together. Inter caste marriages are almost common.  Migration and Urbanization will increase in a geometric progression as the trend shows now a days as in the other parts of Asia. We must think of today and how to make it pleasant.Don,t think of the past nor the future but of today.
Thousands, even lacs of temples were destroyed by the Muslim invaders in India in the past. Even the Christian missionaries including some of them Saints in Goa have committed  extreme atrocities ,excelling Emperor Aurangazeb..

But that does not justify demolition of a mosque not even active one called the Babri Musjid as we know.

"Unborn tomorrow ,dead yesterday ,
Why fret about it, if today be sweet." said Omar Khayyam.

13. R in Silgadhi, Doti
I think we all should read an article in Republica "Divide et impera" before we go on discussing this. "United we stand, divided we fall" is the conclusion I draw from that article. Interesting is that it says that homogenous states, parties and regions usually speed up the disintegration of group specific cultures and riches, rather than preserve them.

14. Sherpa Observer
This was my exact feeling when I was there with my sisters family who had come from India to celebrate Losar. I proudly took them to Tundikhel to witness a peaceful gathering to celebrate a great festival that not only belongs to one ethnic group but to the entire nation. But the celebration was totally ruined when the political leaders started giving political speech. My humble request that in the future please don't turn these peaceful cultural celebration into a political one by inviting these senseless leaders. We will enjoy our Losar much better without them. Happy Losar! 

15. thapa
hmm ..right indeed, pun intended. However, we should not have problem with politicians but what they say and where/what they stand for. If the same politician would have stood and praised unity in diversity etc etc etc - one would assume the writer would have nicer things to writer about the politicians in question.  So the grude of the writer is the politician in question not his profession or others of his ilk. However what I did not see any real solutions coming from this common dance and sing in celebration of our common culture, history--singing Kumbaya. Centuries of common culture and history and its celevration did help  certain section of the society move ahead while others were left behind. In any case, Nepal has no option  but to move ahead with institutionalisation of affirmative action in the new constitution in whatever form deemed suitable and appropriate. THERE is simply no alternative

16. dravin
Do you really understand what 4 Barna 36 Jaat mean? F sake it seems like Panchayat Propaganda has worked very well here. Nepal will be divided as long as there exists a hindu vedic varna system in our mainstream politics and mainstream economics. Khas, Newar, Tamang, Gurung, Magar, Sherpa, Maithili, Tharu, Bhojpuri, Dhimal, etc represent new Nepal not Brahman, Chhetri, Vaisya, and Sudra.

First off, one must learn about Four Jat and 36 Varna. According to this hindu vedic varnashram, human society was classified into various professions. -
It states that - when the god creates a man, Bhrahman appears on this Earth through his mouth, Kshyatriyas from his arms, Vaisyas from his thigs, and Sudras from his foot. Every member of each caste is written in the Rig Veda to be a manifestation or derivative of the universe symbolized by the embodied human spirit Purusha:
The Brahmin was his mouth,
Of both his arms was the (Kshatriya) made.
His thighs became the Vaishya,
From his feet the Sudhra was produced. (X.90.1-3) -

Do you honestly believe in all these? In this 21st century, why on this Earth we still hold these erroneous views? Is that because we Nepalese are still uneducated or we have developed forbearance over time? If someone brings this up then how do we view it as a unified Nepal? Does not it mean that most of the Nepal's polulation are Vaisyas, and Sudras because they have nothing to do with Brahmanism? Tamangs, Gurungs, Lama, Sherpas, Newars, Tharu, everyone except the Khas ruling groups were considered and still being considered as Vaisyas, and Sudras.

Brahman constructed Vedas, Purans, Upanishads etc. Fine. It's the legacy of their forefathers which have been passing on to their offsprings and it's their rights to protect such creations. Now, as time passes by, almost everything has changed its shape from politics to science. But, Panchayat Propaganda still remains safe. We have forgotten to say Khas. I don't understand one thing why these people (Khas ruling group) do not want to introduce their Khas identity. If Rig Veda claims that Brahman and Chhetriyas are the higher beings in socio-economic model then the rest of us will not have any chance to have an equal share. During Panchayat, one language and one class (Khas ruling group) were protected by Shah dynasty and it hurt the rest of the people who were left behind in the system.

Hindu Newars are also classfied into 4 Jats 36 Varnas. In fact, even myself, my forefathers were the guardians of the Vedas during Kshyatria Kings Licchavis and Mallas of warrior castes. But, I don't accept these views now as the political structure, science of chastisement, economics, etc we follow are the western mainstream education system. Shouldn't we review our text books where we are taught in young age that "Nepal Char Jat Chattis Varnako Sajha Foolbari Ho"?

Please do not forget Brahmans of this century are involved in trade, army, cleaning dishes, cleaning toilets as khsyatriyas and Vaisays and Sudras. So, shouldn't Khas Brahmins and Khsyatriyas be considered as Vaisya, Sudras as everyone else? To have this erroneus view "Nepal is a garden of 4 Jats and 36 Varnas" in the name of national unity is itself a ridiculous, irresponsible, propaganda spread out by the one class (Khas) to have most of the benefits and access to the resources in the socio-economic model by remaining inside the political arena.

These few hours mingling in Tundikhel with Khas will not show any indication of national unity unless one withdraws the hindu vedic varnashram views that has rooted inside everyone's mind. We have successfully abolished social class system but these caste system has weaken our national unity and strength.

One must read "our Nepal is a garden of Khas, Magar, Gurung, Tamang, Newar, Maithili, Bhojpurim, Tharu, Sherpa, Yadav, Dhimal, etc..."

Jay Nepal! Jay Matribhoomi!

17. nepali hypcrite

there goes our Uncle Tom again with his irritating cliches and banal generalities. do please enlighten us when was nepal's political scene so open minded? i guess bijay lama as a tamang(?) knows the reason for the misery of the tamangs around the kathmandu valley rim? compare them with the tamangs - especially the yonzons - of the east(darjeeling included).
sure our socio-political agenda is being hijacked by petty provincialism. but, the answer is not sugary appeals and harping to a golden age that never was. we can only progress, collectively as a nation/society, by facing our hard realities.

18. dravin
It definitely sounds like a cliche to you if you behave as if you belong to the so called self proclaimed upper class who apprently holds the pathetic view as everyone does instead of cleaning up the root cause of the socio-economic sector which is indeed created by Hindu Vedic Vernashram. Tamangs of Kathmandu Valley rim might have suffered in the past as they were inappropriately treated by the Shah dynasty, Brutal Rana Regime, and Panchayat who were meant to protect the nation and its people. Prithvi N Shah who once proclaimed he was the king of all Magarats what happened to the Magarats after annexing the neighboring prinicpalities? If Magars were not included in his ruling class then why the Tamangs would have been included? Thanx god Sikkim was under Chhogyal's control before it was taken away by India. If Sikkim, darjleeng were under Khas ruling groups control, they would have had similar fate as of Tamang's of Kathmandu Valley rim. So, if you really want to see progress, collectively as a society/nation, then ask yourself how honest you are.

Every developed nation has a province and they compete with each other and they are economically better off. There is another propaganda run by those, as you mentioned above that 'we have been hijacked by petty provincialism', who do not want to see the Tamangs of Kathmandu Valley rim to flourish. Let them give the power to decide, to come up with solution. Look at Kathmandu now, have you got the answer for using up the sand about the slums? No, you don't. If Newars had had the power, it would not have been this bad. Just stay away for a while if you want to see positive changes.

19. Kale Dai
Newars were always in the spectrum of power;during the Ranasp or the Shahs , unlike the Tamangs.
They were the 4- Char Kajis. .running the administrations.
 They were over-represented in the Royal Palace and the Civil Service. They as the most urbanized communities had the advantage of the schooling and medical service ; Durbar School ma padhane ra Bir Hospital ma ausadhi garne subidha payera.
 thet had monopoly of trade in the country.
 So they were and still are the most prosperous community of Nepal. So they have very little to complain.
 Now they want to take advantage of Tribals(janajati) as well. Is it not rediculous.? They are adibasi  (indigenous) only as Khas(bahun chhetris)  no doubt.

20. Ram kunwar
kudos to Mr lama for this outstanding article. I want this coming from the mouth of our leaders. Bijay Lama is a true nepali. It is true our first identity is Nepali and then others. This is a good lession  to our seasonal politicians who are sowing the plant of communal voilence.

21. BJ
Can't agree more with the comment by Dravin Above.

22. Sabindra Lama
This is really hilarious and so naive written by a grown up man, a total dreamer with a such a cheesy positive attitude. Ugh. This looks like a school essay given by a teacher telling the students just write anything that makes you happy. Mr. Pilot, Mr. Anchor, have you actually travelled much of the country besides the skies because please spare us of your so fantasy filled observation about our society because we are more divided than we ever were. Division is not bad because the traditionally marginalised communities are speaking up for the first time to demand for greater equality. And yeah, blame the media for everything and you expect a happy ending in all the media stories. I thought the fourth estate was supposed to portray reality, not a fairy tale. Hanging out with your buddies of different castes at a bar or seeing a bunch of city people at a Tamang festival doesn't depict the reality. Pity the Nepali Times for printing everything. 

23. SN

"Yet, I wonder if the media is now a part of the problem."

Key word = "now". Why now? When has the media not been part of the problem? When has the media not given prominence to outrageous, sensationalist, populist, messages?

And I agree that for most Nepalis, ethnic divisions are far less important than politicians, media and so-called "intellectuals" make of it.

And here's one more piece of truth: as un-P.C. as this may sound, the monarchy of Nepal has played a big role in creating and nurturing a united, harmonious Nepali identity. A unity created also through the blood and sweat of our forefathers. A unity that our "democratic" politicians, aided by their sidekicks in media (or is it the other way around?), appear hell-bent in destroying!  

24. Jay Lama
#22: This country is going down the tubes because of the cynical and negative attitude of people like you. I think Capt Vijay Lama has a much better sense of the pulse of the Nepali people across a cross section of society in Nepal and abroad than you. The silent majority of Nepalis everywhere want harmony and peace, and luckily people like you are just a loud minority. Just look at the reaction to the SRC report, the Janajati vs Janajati fighting has already started over territorial boundaries.

25. syakar adiga

Sad to point out 24 comments later, that nobody cared to notice the conspicious abscense of Madhesis in Bijay Lama's write up. (Read below in italics). Is it really true that there were no Madhesis in Tundikhel that day? If they did attend, which one of Bijay's categories of people represent them? If they are not represented in what is seemingly an article to espouse our common Nepali-ness, isn't there a problem?  This is why there is something wrong with the notion of united Nepal. For most people in the hegemon class (do not read caste in this), the notion of Nepaliness does not include Madhesis in as much as they are not "Nepalized" in the khas sense. Perhaps that is why there needs to be a re-calibration of Nepaliness.

"This was a celebration not just of the Tamang community, but it belonged to all Nepalis. We saw Newars, Bahuns, Chhetris, Gurungs, Rais and Limbus all mingling and enjoying themselves in a rich microcosm of Nepal itself. ..Who says Nepalis can't live as one united family like they always have? Who dares break Nepal up?"

26. Sumita Rai
#22 Getting personal is quite unnecessary. Everyone has the right to their views and opinions. He tries to convey a simplistic but positive message, so be it. It's refreshing sometimes. Remember you are reading the Nepali Times and not the Economist.

27. Abhishek
I appreciate the articulative work of Bijay Lama. Its high time for all of us to give to our nation for the sake of national integrity and pride while our politicians are trying their best to have some crony political gain by dividing us.
Hence I say, "When I am at my home I may be a Khas, Magar, Newar, Kirat, Madhesi, Tharu, Muslim, Christian and so on  & so forth... But once I cross the periphery of my premises and step into the roads and 'Gallis' that belong to my country- Nepal.. I am a Nepali and just a Nepali nothing more..."

28. Bal Tamang
#18 Dravin, your comments are the best. I agree with you 100%.
My hunch is that #22 Sabindra has a fake last name intended to fool us. The problem is that we Tamangs do not have many advocates but when we rise up, there will be no dearth of advocates. The big question is "How long can the Tamangs remain marginalized"? Does Nepal not belong to them? What could the Tamangs do to be Nepalis than they are already doing more than their fair share of Nepalipan?

29. New Nepali Kancha
Nepal can never be divided even though some of the corrupt minds tries to do so. We have national integrity, the only problem is with political share game between the political party and their vested interest.The oneness of us is in the water that we drink and the air that we breadth under the Nepali sky.As soon as we have new constitution and rule of law practiced under free running country, we will love the way we are.I am also not happy with the mainstream media giving much importance to political sphere, i would advice them that there are lots of issues left to cover. Like health science, environment,development journalism and youth and many more.....

30. Susal Stebbins Collins
As a bideshi, I am fortunate to count among my friends Tamangs, Sherpas, Newars, Rais, Dalits, Brahmans, Chhetris, Madhesis, Nepal-based Tibetans and people connected with all the major political parties. I am constantly amazed at both the commonalities and the deep divisions. I think Vijay Lama is right that for everyone's benefit these commonalities must be embraced, and every positive quality needs to be recognized - in the media and elsewhere - and built upon. Yet for Nepal to be a truly peaceful nation, there are also deep injustices and forms of deprivation and exclusion that must be faced and corrected. The Nepali Times seems to be one among many places that Nepalis can have these important discussions. Gratitude to Kunda Dixit and all of you who keep thinking, writing, and working on these issues!

31. Commenter
Don't we all already know that Nepal is not divided on community terms? Rarely have I heard that Bahuns, Magars, Tamangs etc. don't mix together.

Vijay Dai here has confused people gathering on a community level with the huge divides that exist on a political level. Where are the Tamangs and other marjinalised groups when it comes to policy making and Nepalese politics?

#25 Good observation. Many Nepalese forget that Madhesi are also Nepalese too. I think the fact that Vijay forgot to even mention such a large group already shows Nepal is still divided... is it not?

32. Dhojbir Singh Bal
Commentor #31. You have asked "Where are the Tamangs and other marginalised gruops when it comes to policy making and Nepalese politics?" One must be living on a different planet to be posing such an idiotic question. Please ask yourself first. Ask your soul. If not, look around with an open mind, and open eyes. Your question reminds me of  "Qu'ils mangent de labrioche".

33. Sushma Joshi

Breath of fresh air. Where did this sort of thinking go?

Thank you Vijay Dai. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)