India asks Nepal to amend its Constitution

India asks Nepal to amend its Constitution

Outrageous interference in Nepal’s affairs

By Faraz Ahmad

Has Nepal become the 30th Indian state? Isn’t Nepal a sovereign country? Do we have any right or business to tell Nepal how they should frame their Constitution and what should be deleted from it? Are we contemplating doing a Sikkim on Nepal now?

The impunity with which the Government of India has gone about dictating to Nepal to effect not one, not two, but seven amendments to its Constitution is not just untenable but downright shocking and a blatant interference in the affairs of our sovereign neighbour.

And what is the crux of these amendments? That the Madhesis, primarily Indian settlers from Bihar and Eastern UP, living in the South-Eastern districts of Nepal, be made to decide the laws and governance of Nepal.  The Madhesis, though not originally Nepalis want to hold the levers of power in Nepal and have their men like President Ram Baran Yadav rule the hill nation. We haven’t granted this to the Gorkhas settled in Darjeeling. For decades the Gorkhas settlers of Darjeeling have been demanding a separate state of their own, within the Indian Union but that is unacceptable to the Indians. Ever so often the BJP raises a hue and cry that people from Bangladesh have come and settled in Assam registered themselves as voters and influence the voting pattern and wants to undo this by striking down IDMT Act, 1983 which seeks to protect minorities in Assam who have not migrated from Bangladesh. But when it comes to Nepal we want the fast multiplying Indian settlers from Bihar and Eastern UP (Mind you there is no passport or any permit to regulate the to and fro traffic between India and Nepal) to numerically overwhelm the true descendants of the hill state by their sheer numbers.

The new Nepali constitution has barred certain top public offices like that of the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of Nepal, the Speaker of Parliament, the Chairperson of the National Assembly, chief ministers and speakers of provincial assemblies and the chief of security bodies to naturalized citizens and reserved these only to those who are Nepalis by descent. It is amazing that the proposal has gone from the External Affairs ministry, headed by Sushma Swaraj. One wonders whether she recalls how she had threatened to get her head shaved and sleep only on the floor as a form of protest post 2004 general elections which brought the UPA to power, if Sonia  Gandhi were to become the Prime Minister of India. Why? Because even though Sonia has spent the greater part of her life in India, she happened to be born in Italy.

Nepal is not the only country which wants only a true Nepali to rule the nation. I remember soon as the NDA lost the 2004 elections, the Sanghis led by the current Chairman of Prasar Bharti, A Surya Prakash held a meeting of like-minded Sanghi hacks in Bengali Market, presumably in The Pioneer School of Journalism then situated there to mobilise public opinion and not just express outrage but agitate to prevent Sonia becoming the Prime Minister. But today India has the gumption to tell Nepal to let the Madhesi settlers, larger in numbers, to govern Nepal by suitably amending its Constitution.



3 thoughts on “India asks Nepal to amend its Constitution

  1. This article is very problematic because it is uninformed and dangerously misleading. The Madheshis are as much citizens of Nepal as Gorkhas are citizens of India. And unfortunately they are as discriminated as Gorkhas in India. It’s just unfair to call them Indian settlers like they moved out a couple of decades ago and took Nepali land. Also, this hill people the writer talks about are not some homogeneous group. There are a large number of ethno-lingustic groups in the hills but the Nepali state has always been and continues to be dominated by bahun-chettris (pahadi brahmin-kshatriyas). You should look into the situation of hill janjatis like tamangs, Magars, Limbus to understand the dominance of these two groups. The hill janjatis are not as politically organised but they have been voicing similar demands as well. In fact, this dominant community disparagingly calls Madheshis people of Indian descent when in fact where do you think these brahmins and kshtriyas came from? Also what is now India. The Madheshis and Tharus (a historically marginalised grp) have been protesting in the southern plains for over a month against the new constitution because they believe it continues to marginalize them and continues the domination of the bahun-chettris. In fact, it should be noted that it was a huge Madheshi andolan in 2007 that ensured Nepali political parties promised to implement a federal system that would provide better representation and participation for minorities. The then PM GP Koirala came down to the plains and speaking in Hindi promised the state’s commitment to federalism. These groups are protesting currently because the new provinces have been carved out in such a way that the bahun-chettris will dominate most states. Over 40 protestors have been killed in the last month with bullet injuries in the face and upper torso showing the intent of the force used. While the Indian diplomatic efforts came too late and lacked a touch of tact, they were necessitated because the top 3 Nepali parties (led by Brahmin men) have been reluctant to concede to the demands of the madheshis and tharus.

    Here’s a more balanced critique of India’s tactless diplomacy but equally a critique of what is wrong with Nepal’s constitution:

    1. I fully appreciate your criticism in respect of the domination of Bahu Chhetris which the people of Nepal are opposing and I fully empathise with their cause insofar as that. My criticism is primarily directed at the uncalled for and totally unjustified interference by India in the affairs of a sovereign state. India has, as you very well know, different reasons for meddling. It regrets Nepal ceasing to being a Hindu kingdom as is evident from various statements of BJP leaders from time before and after the new constitution. That is totally unacceptable.

      1. It’s true that the sangh was lobbying hard for Nepal to remain a Hindu state with the current union home minister having previously publicly stated so. But obviously there were these voices within Nepal as well and not just the monarchy supporting RPP but shockingly even the Nepali Congress seemed ok with it. Disappointingly, the new constitution has passed a skewed form of secularism which in spirit keeps Nepal a hindu state. And the Nepali communist parties didn’t do much to change this either. Read this:

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