Below is a question answer session with my brain that I did few days ago regarding the ongoing protest in Nepal. I invite you all to read.
What does my brain think about the ongoing protest and blockade in Nepal?
Useless and an act to trouble ourselves. This protest is a good example of a popular Nepali Ukhan tukka- “आफ्नो खुटामा बन्चरो हान्नु”
Is the constitution discriminating Madhesis in particular?
Is the Nepal government discriminating Madhesis and Tharus?
Yes. Why were the demands of Karnali and far-west region met within two days after their protests began while the demands of Tharus are still not met after 100 days of protest? In addition, a Nepali Congress senior leader, Sher Bahadur Deuba, from Far Western region remarked, “Kanchanpur ko ta rou ni dinna Tharu lai” (“Not even a hair piece of Kanchanpur will be given to the Tharus”). The problem lies in the attitude of our leaders.
Is constitution discriminating Women?
Why are Madhesis Protesting?
If you ask a journalist, you might get this answer, “They have Four key demands—electoral constituencies based on population, proportional representation of Madhesis in government bodies (proportionate inclusion and representation), Madhes autonomous province, and citizenship provision as per the interim constitution. Finally, they also demand for the amendment of controversial provisions in the constitution.”
I think the root cause is not the constitution. The root cause is the way Madhesis are treated in our country. Have you heard vegetable sellers in Kalimati being rudely addressed as “ae, bhaiya.” Sometimes, when customers are not satisfied with the vegetable cost, they would say, “aee, bhaiya toh dakku hai” (he is a looter). Madhesis come to capital city to earn living for their family and they end up earning hatred towards themselves. Go to a micro bus and see how a Madhesi is treated by other customers, drivers and conductors in the micro. Go and be a part of conversation between a Madhesi and a ‘more Nepali looking’ person, you will understand how a Madhesi is treated in the group. What is happening today is the result of our treatment to Madhesis. Today, a Madhesi is ready to face the gun shot, not necessarily because they are very unhappy with the constitution, but because they are unhappy with the way they have been treated at places in Pahad and sometimes in Madhes itself by the migrated pahadis. This has given a rise to the protest.
Am I God? If not, how do I know that most Madhesis are discriminated in Kathmandu and other Pahad and Himal regions?
The answer to the first question unfortunately is No. Second question’s answer: From my experience- 10 years ago, I came to Kathmandu. I could not speak Nepali fluently because no one had told me that knowing Nepali language is a major criteria to become a Nepali. I got off from the nightbus at Kalanki. A micro bus approached right in front of me. As the micro stopped, a boy similar to my age shouted, “Narayanthan…Narayanthan” (< ∞ times). I got in the microbus. Several minutes later, the boy asked, “Bhaiya kaha jaana hai?” Pretending not to have felt bad,I replied “Budhanilkantha” and smiled. He did not smile back though.
Few weeks later, I made another micro ride, and this time the conductor was a man in his twenties. The micro had reached Chakrapath when he said, “Haa Bhaaiya, toh kaha gayehalchi” (twisting his tongue). My reply with smile was, “Ratnapark”. It seemed as if all mico conductors knew my nationality-they did not see me as a Nepali but as an Indian. Small incidents like this kept crossing my path at several stages of my life and I begun to see the discrimination as a natural phenomenon towards Madhesis. Every day lots of Madhesis are humiliated and discouraged from identifying themselves as Nepalis. You go to a Madhesi community and you will learn that a lot of Madhesis fear going to Kathmandu. They have a fear of being harassed for wearing the dhoti that they so comfortably wear in their homes. My message to those who usually tease Madhesis by calling “Dhotis” or “Bhaiya”: You are a useless creature of mankind. My hope is that useless people from our country are exponentially decreasing.
Does this suggest most Pahadis hate Madhesis?
The positive part of my brain says “NO.” But based on my experience, I must say that there is a very big number of Pahadi population who are involved in discriminating Madhesis. It is more among Pahadi communities who have never had exposure to Madhesi community and tend to see Madhesis as outsiders.
Does teasing (calling derogatory names) Madhesis make them feel bad?
Of course it does.
How can we take some steps to prevent this humiliation?
Parents: If all parents teach their children that Nepalis may dress differently, may look different but they are all part of a diversified and unified Nepal.
We, together: Next time you see your friend teasing a Madhesi, ask him not to. Be it the vegetable seller in Kalimati or an Indian looking passenger travelling in microbus in Kathmandu, all madhesis are Nepalis. By teasing them, we are discouraging them from being a Nepali and encouraging them to be an Indian.
Will doing this stop blockade?
I wish it did. Nevertheless, this will definitely prevent future blockades.
When people say “I am a Madhesi”, are they suggesting that they are not Nepali?
No, that is not true. I quote Frederick Gaige here, “Cultural homogeneity is not a necessary precondition for national unity”. Unity in diversity is our motto in Nepal. We can all be bahun, chhetri, newar, madhesi, tharu, gurung, rai, magar, limbu, etc. but also be Nepali at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.
Who is to be blamed for this 100 days long protest? Nepal Police, Madhesis, morcha, mainstream leaders, Pahadi communities, Nepali Media?
All of the above. Madhesis and Morcha because they chose the violent way. Nepal Police because they used excessive force and violence against the protesters. Pahadi communities because they felt that this protest did not involve them and did not say anything much until most of Kathmandu was affected by the blockade. And even now, instead of holding talks with Madhesis, which could solve the problem, a majority of Kathmanduites are trying everything except actually trying to solve the problem. Nepali media is also to be blamed because they allowed their background (Pahadi/Madhesi) to bias what they reported as news. I have been reading most news from our country’s media. An unbiased person can easily feel the biasness towards government in the Nepali media. Finally and most of all, the major group to be blamed is our leaders. They are the one who needs to clarify and communicate with the people. They should have given defended the reasons for which they did not address the Tharus demands while addressed the far-western region’s demands. I believe talks are the most powerful way to build relations. Our leaders do not seem to understand that. Our leaders pretend to be doing a lot but have not been actually doing much except for waiting for God to solve this problem. I hope our leaders soon find the God.
How can we take a step closer to end this protest?
Our leaders need to go to Madhes and hold talks with the people directly. Our leaders (both Pahadi and Madhesis leaders) could either reach to Madhesis by television or newspaper. Madhesis need to know that their opinions matter. I am afraid if that is not done soon, then our country may take an unimaginable turn. Both groups- Nepali Police and Madhesis lost their family members. Both groups are angry towards each other. Nepal Police have guns and can easily kill more Madhesis while Madhesis with their hand made tools outnumber the Police and hence may kill the latter. If we do not want this to continue, then we need to exit this loop as soon as possible.
How do I identify myself? A Madhesi, a Pahadi or a Nepali?
I am a global citizen who believes “Time is always right to do what is right.”
I love criticisms because they make me a better thinker and I like appreciations because they inspire me to continue my work. You are invited to give me either of them.