Nepal is on the verge of ensuing an implicit radical racial model based on two ethnic clusters – Madhesi (Terai) and Pahade (Hill), driven by external forces comparable to the Sinhalese and Tamil (duo ethnic model) of Sri Lanka.
Federalism is mother of this notion, which is a botched model of tribalism that is adept at using the widespread slogans of collectivism and social democracy to gather the support from poor and marginalized communities. This is also in practice in many countries of sub-Sahara and South Asia, where certain sects of leaders have enjoyed political power for decades, and the support and voting are done on the basis of attachment with certain ethnic or cultural groups in a newfangled recipe of ‘divide and rule’ that is still practiced in countries of a colonial mindset.
The alleged current India-backed border blockade supported or fomented by the Madhesis, who are demanding separate states on the plains of Nepal bordering India, seems to be starting point for a tribal conflict in Nepal. After the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal on September 20, 2015, as result of agitation in its Terai region, this model is trying to gain some shape and size in Nepal, which seems to be challenging for national sovereignty and national unity. The Madhesis have already received a separate state in the central plain of Nepal, where they are in a majority number. The five districts Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari in the east and Mahendranagar and Kailai in the west are a bone of contention, where Madhesis are in a minority, but they are demanding these districts to be included in the Terai states. The majority inhabitants of these five districts are against the demand of Madhesis.
One of the intentions behind this demand is that these five districts have two-thirds of the water resources of Nepal and India, and want control over water resources of rivers Mechi, Koshi, Karnali, Seti and Mahakali of Nepal similar to the Bhutanese Model, which is possible using only the Madhesh card with Kathamandu. Even after many agreements and understanding with Nepal, India yet has not implemented any power project in Nepal.
No single constitution of world is perfect. India has also amended its constitution more than hundred times. This is not only the first economic and political blockade by India, Nepal has also experienced two similar blockades in the past. A message from the blockade has been transmitted to the Hill Nepalese that all of the Plain Land of Nepal in one or two states would be very harmful for them because both Madhesis and India would place them in enormous difficulties. There are hundreds of Members of Parliament and thousands of political leaders from Madhes, but only a couple of Madhesi leaders, who emerged suddenly like bubbles and are the players of the Madhesh agitation and Indian game-plan.
It has been observed, when there is government of majority in India, neighbors and minorities inside India suffer a lot and the Nepalese border blockade is a result of this. The agitating Madhesi leaders and Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are tirelessly saying that India has not supported any border blockade in Nepal, nevertheless it is clear and known to everybody that the Nepal border blockade is being done by the present Indian government as the Indian Members of Parliament and opposition leaders are indeed blaming the Indian government for being responsible for the Nepal border blockade.
While all Terai districts of Nepal are not in complete agitation, severe unrest has been seen in the border point of Raxaul- Birgunj; remaining districts from Parsa to Saptari are partially disturbed and other Terai districts have experienced the rare effect of agitation, but are suffering from border blockade by India.
The Madhesi agitation is not under the control of their leaders. This, instead has been divided with the extremists and has gone in the hand of smugglers, as well as anti-social and disturbing elements of both the countries. The blast on medicine and necessary item-loaded trucks in different parts of Terai, even after the decision taken by Madehesi leaders to allow the movement of medicine, are a few examples. Around 50 people have been killed in the Madhesh agitation.
India has always played and advisory and supporting role in the conflict and state affairs of Nepal. Previously, all political parties were accepting of the opinions of India, but this time Nepal is concerned in accepting Indian demands to be incorporated in the new constitution because of its nature to affect negatively Nepal’s national integrity and sovereignty.
The Madhes demands are of impossible nature to be fulfilled and without fulfilling their demands agitation is difficult to end without the support of Indian ruling authority. The only possible way to address the present agitation is to suspend federalism for the time being or to step back one step by both sides on their demands or apply needed continued pressure from Indian opposition leaders to the Indian government to end the blockade.
There is great respect from the Indian general public for the Nepalese and vice versa, but the big brother, not elder brother attitude of Indian ruling authorities has been the cause of difficulties for its neighbors and appears to be part of Indian foreign policy.
Thankfully, the Madhesh agitation has not yet entered into face-to-face conflict between Pahade (Hill) and Madhes (Terai) tribal groups. That said, if that were to happen, once the agitation enters into such a stage, a pre-tribal conflict situation would prevail at all levels of society. In the course of full-fledged conflict, the general public are not allowed to judge and support who is right and who is wrong, but have to remain and support one tribe to survive — whether they like it or not. Even though India strives to be an economic and political world power, the Nepal border blockade could be costly and could have long term negative effects on India, as well Nepal.
*The author is a former expert United Nations Africa