यहाँ संघीयताको कुरा कुनै लहडमा गर्न खोजिएको हैन। नेपालमा बिगत २४० वर्षदेखि लादिएको खस-बाहुन एकाधिकारवादले देशलाई जर्जर अवस्थामा पुर्याएको कुरा बस्तुगत यथार्थ हो। खस-बाहुन एकात्मक शासन सत्ताले देशका आदिवासी जनजातीहरुमाथि खस-बाहुन संस्क्रिति, धर्म, भाषा आदि जबर्जस्ती थोपरेर शोषण गरेको कुरा कसैबाट लुकेको छैन। नेपालको आजको दूरावस्थाको मूल कारकतत्व भनेको खस-बाहुन एकात्मक शासन प्रणाली नै हो। अबको नयाँ नेपालले थोत्रो यथास्थिति हैन अग्रगमन सहितको समतामूलक नेपाल खोजेको छ। देशमा रहेका मूल समस्याहरुको समाधान बिनाको अग्रगमन को कुरा गर्नु बेतुक कुरा हो।
१. वर्गीय कि जातीय?
अहिले देशमा मूल रुपमा जातीय, वर्गीय, क्षत्रीय, लैंगिक, धार्मिक आदि समस्याहरु बिद्यमान छन। नेपालको विशिष्ट परिस्थितिमा, अर्थात नेपालको अर्ध-सामन्ति र अर्ध-औपनिवेशिक राज्य संरचना अनि नेपाल जस्तो बहुल राष्ट्र भएको देशको बिशिष्ट सन्दर्भमा मुख्य गरेर जातीय समस्याको प्रश्नलाई समाधान नगरिकन अरु समस्याहरुको समाधान खोजिनु बस्तुसंगत छैन। संघीयताको कुरा गर्दा पहिला वर्गीय समस्यालाई समाधान गरिनु पर्दछ भनिनु नेपालको सन्दर्भमा तर्कसंगत छैन। यहाँ वर्गीय लगायतका लैंगिक, धार्मिक, आदि समस्यालाई नजरन्दाज गर्न खोजिएको हैन, बरु नेपालको बहुल राष्ट्रियता को विशिष्टता लाई बैज्ञानिक रुपमा सम्बोधन गरेर मात्रै अरु समस्याहरुको बस्तुगत समाधान गर्न सकिन्छ भनिएको हो।
२. राज्य पुनर्संरचना कि २२ से २४ से राज्य?
नेपालमा जातीयताको कुरा यसको ऐतिहासिकता सँग अन्युन्याश्रित छ। अबको नयाँ नेपालमा ईतिहास, पहिचान, र अधिकारको सुस्पष्ट सुनिश्चितता को आधार नै जातियता हो। जातियता कुनै जात बिशेष (ethnicity) नभएर राष्ट्रियता (nationality) हो। त्यसैले नै नेपाललाई बहुल राष्ट्र भएको देश भनिएको हो। जातीयताको आधारमा राज्य पुनर्संरचना गरिनु भनेको अग्रगमन हो, न कि २२ से २४ से राज्यको पुनरावृत्ति। स्मरणयोग्य छ, समाज बिकासको क्रम सरल रेखा वा वृत्ताकार रेखा नभै वर्तुलाकार हुन्छ।
तसर्थ यो वा त्यो तर्क-कुतर्कहरु तेर्स्याएर, बिभिन्न बहानावाजीहरु गरेर समय खेर फाल्नु भन्दा देशका सम्पुर्ण नेपालीहरुले आफूलाई १००% नेपाली भएको गौरवानुभुति गर्न अनि सांचो अर्थमा नेपाललाई २१ औं शताब्दी सुहाउँदो सम्रिद्ध, सम्मुनत, र शान्त देश बनाउनको लागि देशका सम्पुर्ण जाती-जनजातीहरुलाई आफ्नो आत्मनिर्णयको अधिकारको सुनिस्चितताको प्रत्याभुतिको लागि संघीयताको अपरिहार्यतालाई आत्मसात गरौं। कल्याणमस्तु !!!
FEDERALISM AND STATE RESTRUCTURING IN NEPAL THE CHALLENGE FOR THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY Report of a Conference organised by the Constitutional Advisory Support Unit, UNDP 23-24 March 2007, Godavari, Nepal
DALITS, JANAJATIS, SUKUMBASIS, AND KAMAIYAS
(Taken from an anonymous source in internet – Newa Bhaju)
In Nepal, there are certain groups of people who for historical, social, or cultural reasons have become, or remained poor. This appendix provides a brief description of the identity, background, and current status of the four disadvantaged groups referred to above.
The word ¡°dalit¡±, which mean oppressed, is of relatively recent origin. It refers to the lowest caste group, the Shudra, in the Hindu caste hierarchy. Traditionally, the Dalits have been relegated to doing dirty, menial work, and as a result, have been considered unclean, and therefore ¡°untouchable¡± by the higher-caste groups who have reserved for themselves the right to do business, run the government, and educate themselves. Throughout their history, Dalits have been deprived, both economically and socially, by longstanding traditions, and during some periods, by law (Civil Code 1853). Recent laws (New Civil Code 1963, Constitution of Nepal 1990) have banned untouchability, abolished discriminatory legal provisions, and enshrined in the Constitution statements ensuring equality for all citizens irrespective of caste, creed, or gender. However, discrimination based on caste is still a fact of life in Nepal. While according to the Population Census of 1991, nearly 14% of the population belongs to the Dalit community, only recently has their strength in numbers been translated into a united force for advancing their interests. Long marginalized by the rest of the society, even today they are expected to earn their living by performing tasks the rest of society considers to be unclean, and therefore performed only by Dalits.
Throughout their history the Dalits have been denied access to education. Even today, their access to education and other resources for escaping poverty is limited, as evidenced by their low literacy rate of less than 15% (for Dalit women, 3.2%). The Dalits have historically engaged in nonfarming occupations, with farm income representing only a small portion of their total income. They therefore have had little to fall back on when demand for their services diminishes. A recent survey (Save the Children US 1996) shows that only 21% of Dalits produce food grains sufficient for 90 days, 19.5% for 4.6 months, and 15.4 percent sufficient for one year. Only 5.1% of the Dalit population produces food grains in excess of what is required for family consumption. Given their limited income-earning opportunities and access to public resources, it is not surprising that approximately two thirds of Dalits currently live below the poverty line (Sharma 2000), living lives not only economically deprived, but stripped of selfrespect and dignity as well. The Constitution declares the practicing of untouchability punishable by law, and includes a provision for uplifting Nepal¡¯s socially and economically backward communities. In 1997, the Government established for the first time a Neglected, Oppressed and Dalit Upliftment Development Committee, the objective of which was to uplift the Dalit community. The Ninth Plan commits the Government to uplift the social and economic status of Dalits through elimination of all forms of discrimination (NPC 1998). The Government has plans for a national committee to be formed for Dalits, including a three-tiered structure (central, district, and village) for the upliftment of Dalits in partnership with nongovernment organizations (NGOs) at the local level. In addition, the Ninth Plan includes a mandatory requirement that a certain (unspecified) percentage of government grants will be allocated specifically to the improvement of Dalits. In recent years, several NGOs have been actively involved in addressing problems relating to Dalits. These include nonpolitical, nonreligious, and nonprofit organizations such as the Dalit NGO Federation (DNF), the Academy for Public Upliftment (Jana Utthan Pratisthan), the Dalit Welfare Organization (Dalit Sewa Sangh), and the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO). However, the success and effectiveness of the programs undertaken by these various agencies is not without question. It is disturbing to note that the budget of NRs136 million allotted for the Dalit Upliftment Program over 5 previous years (1995.2000) has been diverted to non-Dalits.
Janajatis are defined as persons who have their own language and traditional culture, and who are not included under the conventional Hindu hierarchical caste structure (NESAC 1998). The Janajatis are thus for the most part indigenous people. Given their isolation, which results from the mountainous terrain in the north of the country and the (till the 1960s) malariainfested forests in the south, they lived what seemed to be lives separate from the rest of the country. While the number of members of each Janajati community tends to be small, Janajatis are spread out nearly all over Nepal, constituting 35.6% of the total population (CBS 1993). Thus far, the Government has recognized 61 communities as being Janajatis, but the count may not be totally complete, and in the case of certain communities there is controversy as to whether these people are to be counted as Janajatis or not (Himal 2000). The situation of the Janajatis, economically and otherwise, varies widely from one community to another, and depends on many factors such as physical isolation, whether or not they are nomads, the role relegated to them historically by the ruling elite, and loss of their traditional community-owned lands as a result of actions by the Government or other groups within society. The Janajatis that appear to be the worst off are those living in the Terai and the midhill regions. Programs targeting Janajatis were initiated in the late 1980s, and with the coming of democracy there is more awareness of their situation. The Government established the National Committee for Development of Janajatis (NCDJ) in 1997, for the purpose of coordinating its programs for the upliftment and development of indigenous people, but thus far, its activities appear for the most part to be limited to distribution of funds to various Janajati organizations. For example, during fiscal year 1999/2000, of its total budget of NRs10 million, slightly more than half was distributed to several Janajatis organizations. The other government program is the Praja Development Program (PDP), which is primarily active in the upliftment of Chepangs of Chitwan, Dhading, Gorkha and Makwanpur, which are the largest Janajati group, and the most backward of all Janajatis. Since the coming of democracy in 1990 there has been a substantial growth in the number of organizations of Janajatis officially registered with the Government. At the national level, these organizations have formed a federation, the Nepal Federation of Nationalities (NEFEN), and relative to the Dalits, the Janajatis are more organized and visible. However, unlike the Dalits, Janajati groups have varying agendas, which makes it difficult for the Janajati community as a whole to agree on a common set of goals. At times the Government has made various declarations about uplifting the Janajatis, and to its credit, it has carried out various programs, but as in the case of the Dalits, significant results are yet to be realized. In the case of the Janajatis the Government faces an even more difficult task, since unlike the Dalits who face more or less the same issues regardless of where they live, the Janajatis comprise different groups of people at various stages of development, who live in varying degrees of isolation. One of the objectives of the Ninth Plan is to eradicate social imbalance by uplifting indigenous people and ethnic groups economically and socially. A related goal is to uplift the overall status of cultural development of the nation via exploration and preservation of the unique cultural heritage of indigenous peoples and ethnic groups.
Sukumbasis are defined as landless settlers who reside in areas such as open fields, banks of rivers, and forest areas in the absence of official governmental approval or physical infrastructure. The Sukumbasis are generally in-migrants (typically from the Hills to the Terai), victims of natural disasters or manmade conflicts, or indigenous people who have lost their traditional land. They thus possess little or no land other than that they are currently occupying, which is land they have not been given official permission to use. However, not all people who occupy lands without government permits are Sukumbasis, since some fall under the category of unplanned settlers, who have commandeered public land for commercial purposes. Sukumbasis, together with landless peasants, are people targeted by the Government for assistance, usually in the form of resettlement programs. In order to study issues relating to Sukumbasis and landless persons, the Government has formed various commissions which on some occasions has distributed land to these groups. A brief description of some of the Government¡¯s resettlement programs is given below.
The term “kamaiya” refers to agricultural indentured laborers lacking land or property who are required to serve the single kisan (landlord) to whom they are financially indebted until the debt is repaid. Typically, the Kamaiya and other family members work for a single kisan and in return get payments in kind, or in-kind payments plus a wage. But in most cases, the earnings are so small that the Kamaiya is unable to pay back the loan and ends up serving their kisan for a lifetime, and in some cases, from one generation to another. According to a survey conducted in 1995 by the NGO Backward Society Education, there were about 40,000 Kamaiya families scattered around Nepal. The Kamaiya problem is most prevalent among the Tharu (a Janajati) community that inhabits the mid- and far-western Terai where landlessness, low levels of human capital development, and lack of employment opportunities have contributed to this exploitative form of employment. Programs designed specially for Kamaiyas are the Kamaiya Debt Relief Program and the Kamaiya Skill Training Program, which address the issues of debt (source/accentuator of bondedness), and low levels of human resource development. However, because both of these programs concentrate on narrow aspects of the Kamaiya problem, they are unable to offer a comprehensive program enabling Kamaiyas to earn a respectable wage, or to make a living via some alternative form of employment.
On 17 July 2000, the Government made the landmark decision to outlaw bonded labor. Thus, forcing another person to work under the Kamaiya system is now punishable by law. While this is a positive development, in order to actually terminate the Kamaiya system, the authorities must be prepared for difficult battles, both on the legal and political fronts (Kathmandu Post, 1 August 2000).
Most of the poverty reduction programs run by the Government that focus on disadvantaged groups are for the most part centrally conceived, designed, and implemented, and are therefore characterized by low local participation rates. Typically, these centrally-driven programs suffer from high levels of political interference, few (if any) consultations with the intended beneficiaries, a tendency for quick fixes rather than long-term solutions addressing underlying issues, inadequate supervision and monitoring, and lack of transparency. As a result, many of these programs fail to address the multifaceted problems faced by the targeted groups. The programs for Janajatis and Dalits seem to have had minimal impact, due to scant funds, problems associated with targeting and misappropriation, an emphasis on distribution of funds to organizations (without any follow-ups) as a measure of success, and an inability to address the underlying causes that lead to deprivation of the target groups. Targeted programs for Sukumbasis are generally also mired in politics. As for the Kamaiyas, the situation might appear a bit brighter following the 17 July 2000 declaration by the Government, but this must now be backed by enforcement of wage-based employment, or provision of alternative employment for the Kamaiyas who have now at least technically been freed.
David N. Gellner,
University of Oxford
One of the more remarkable developments in Nepal after 1990 was the rapid growth of ethnic organizations. The first attempt to build a pan-ethnic movement occurred when several ethnic organizations came together as the Nepal Janajati Mahasangh in 1990. It rendered its name in English as the Nepal Federation of Nationalities or NEFEN. It had, initially, just seven member organizations, representing the Magars, Gurungs,Tamangs, Newars, Rais (two organizations), and Limbus. The organization representing the Newars was the Nepal Bhasha Manka Khalah of Kathmandu, led by Padma Ratna Tuladhar (the well-known Kathmandu organization of this name needs to be distinguished from the Lalitpur or Yala organization of the same name, which operates independently; many people are not aware that they are separate organizations). It was quickly agreed that in principle there should be only one organization per ethnic group, and one of the Rai organizations became an observer. NEFEN expanded rapidly so that by 1995 there were 21 member organizations. Later the Nepal Bhasha Manka Khalah was replaced as the representative Newar organization by the Newa De Dabu, which is today led by Malla K. Sundar.
In 1993 the UN declared a Year of Indigenous Peoples, and this was subsequently extended to a Decade of Indigenous Peoples. Suddenly it became clear that it mattered a great deal whether Janajatis were indigenous or not, and that access to important international bodies depended on the answer. Janajati intellectuals argued that in the Nepali context all Janajatis were indigenous, which is rendered by adivasi in Nepali. Subsequently ‘Adivasi’ was added to the name of the organization so it became the Nepal Janajati Adivasi Mahasangh. In English it is the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities or NEFIN (see www.nefin.org.np). With help from NEFIN, more and more groups formed their own representative bodies. Today NEFIN has 50 members, i.e. only nine Janajati groups remain without an organization to represent them.
In January 1996 HMG Nepal set up a task force under Professor Sant Bahadur Gurung to consider how a government agency could be set up to deal with the Janajati issue (the well-known sociologist and advocate of ethnic issues, Krishna Bhattachan, was a member of the team). This led to a permanent committee being set up within the Ministry of Local Development. An Act was finally passed in 2001 that allowed for the creation of the National Foundation of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN). Signed into law in 2002 it was set up, with Professor Gurung as its head, in 2003. In 2000 the Ministry of Local Development had published a booklet with a page on each of 61 officially recognized Janajati groups. Subsequently, however, the Manangis decided to merge with the Gurungs; the Shyantan, Chintang, and Thindang formed a single group called the Tingaule; and the Yakkha were added as a separate group, thus making 59 in all. On 10 February 2002 the list of 59, as shown in the table, was confirmed by the Ministry of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs. So fast has been the development of these ethnic groups that quite a few of the 59 were not recognized by the National Census for the census of 2001, which means that there are only rough estimates of their population size. No doubt they will all be included in the census of 2011.
Whether the Newars should be considered as Janajatis has been a controversial matter. Some Newars and many non-Newars in government positions opposed their inclusion in the first official list, on the grounds that they were neither backward, nor a homogeneous cultural group. Some Newars argued that they should not be considered Janajatis because they were something more capacious, namely a nation. The argument raged, but in the end the Newars remained on the list.
One of the many aims of the Janajati movement is to have the government accept, and the state institutionalize, a system of reservations (positive discrimination) for Janajatis. This was agreed in principle in 2003 by the government of Surya Bahadur Thapa. One of the first things that happened was that six seats were reserved for Janajatis at the Maharajganj Teaching Hospital. All six seats were taken by Newars. This tended to confirm hill Janajatis’ feeling that the Newars are part of the Establishment, and not part of the excluded minorities who are in need of protection. In order to deal with the problem, which this case amply illustrated, NEFIN and NFDIN came up with a classification into five separate groups, as laid out in the table. The principle is that benefits or reserved seats will first be offered to the most disadvantaged group, labelled ‘endangered’ and will only go to members of the two most advanced groups, the Thakalis and Newars, if there are no possible beneficiaries from other groups. It is surely understandable that benefits, in terms of scholarships, training, and other financial matters should be targetted at the most needy groups. At the same time, Professor Sant Bahadur Gurung has said that help with cultural and linguistic preservation will be provided even to the advanced groups.
Anyone who remembers the Panchayat days, and the ways in which cultural and linguistic differences were downplayed and discouraged at that time, will agree that, to an astonishing degree, the Janajati activists’ agenda has been accepted both by government and by foreign donors. If there is to be a radical restructuring of the Nepali state, by one means or another, there is no doubt that Janajati (and Dalit) issues should, and almost cer-tainly will, play a major role.