Nepal’s Terai people neglected

August 4, 2006 at 12:37 pm 16 comments

Nepal’s Terai people neglected 

By Rajendra Mahto

Nepal, situated in the lap of the world’s highest peak, the Mount Everest, is generally known as the land of the Gorkhas, inhabitants of the mountains. But more than half of Nepal’s population is of ‘Hindi speaking Terai people known as Madheshis’ and they have their deep roots and blood relations across the borders with the people of India.

About two hundred and twenty five years ago, the land of Madhesh and different kingdoms were merged with Nepal in the name of unification but Madheshi people have not been integrated into the mainstream in Nepal. They are the inhabitants of the Terai region right from the days of the Mithila king Janak, Lichhvi kings, Karnataka clan kings and Bhagwan Gautam Buddha. The Terai region is ‘Madhya Desh’ between Nepal and India and hence it became ‘Madhesh’ and its inhabitants Madheshis.

The ancestors of the present day ruling clans in Nepal – Shah dynasty kings, Bahun (hilly Pandits), Chhetri (Kshatriya) and Newar had migrated to Nepal from Rajasthan, Kumaon, Kanauj, Gharwal and Karnataka. But since the governance of the kingdom which emerged after geo-graphical unification of Nepal went into the hands of the rulers from the said clans, they declared themselves as the real Nepalis. Side by side, these Madheshis began to be called, without even a wink of the eyelid, as – ‘Moglania’, ‘Desi’, ‘Videshi’ and ‘Indians’ which is continuing even today. This is the reason why Madheshis politically, economically, socially, culturally and linguistically discriminated against in the past and now.

Consider this fact. Between 1970 and 1980, when the 1100 Km long East West national highway was built through the deep forests of Madhesh, about 25 lakh hill people were rehabilitated on either side of the highway but not even one inch of land was allotted to any landless Madheshi.

The present day Nepal is divided into 75 districts administratively. 55 of these 55 districts are close to Tibet and have low population density because of the hilly terrain. The remaining 22 districts in southern Nepal share their border with West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttranchal. Density of population is very high. In act, Terai belt accounts for almost 60 per cent of Nepal’s population. Their language is Hindi though Maithili, Bhojpuri and Avdhi are spoken. Northern Nepalis address them derogatorily as ‘Madheshis’.

During the partyless Panchayat regime in 1965, Hindi was abolished as medium of instructions; a very less developed Gorkha language of the ruling clans was given constitutional status by naming it as ‘Nepali’ and was declared as national language of Nepal. Hindi was banished in Rashtriya Panchayat, the so called Nepal Parliament.

After peoples’ uprising and restoration of democracy in the 1990, the government in Kathmandu recognised Terai districts as a ‘special cultural entity’ (Madheshi culture). But the ban on Hindi has not been lifted. Till date.

In the fifties, Parliament gave equal status to Nepali and Hindi. Late Gajendra Narain Singh, founder-president, Nepal Sadhbhavna Party, and other party law makers insisted in Parliament (1959) on speaking in Hindi. They also wanted to attend Parliament attired in Dhoti Kurta and insisted on an end to discrimination against the Madhishis. After a great struggle, the Speaker informally allowed them to speak in Hindi; but no record is maintained of a statement or speech made in Hindi in Parliament.

Before 1990s, during the autocrat Panchayat regime, one or two seats from all districts, big or small, were reserved in Rashtriya Panchayat in an arbitrary manner; Only Independents could represent these seats. The terrified people did not protest. The situation did not change much after the ‘uprising’ too.

The ‘Constitution Suggestion Commission’ followed the ‘old’ yardsticks for in delimitation. It did not go by population as the base for delimitation of constituencies. Result was the hill constituencies with hardly six to eight thousand voters elect one representative to Parliament, while 70-80 thousand voters elect one law maker each in the Terai region, which is divided into 87 constituencies. No surprise therefore in a 205-member Pratinidhi Sabha (lower house of parliament), there are only 41 Madheshi representatives.

Madheshis face great discrimination in all spheres. There is an undeclared ban on their recruitment to Royal Nepal Army. Madheshis are in microscopic number in Nepal police. The presentation of the citizenship certificates has been made so stringent that in the absence of the citizenship certificate no one can either take birth or die legally as at the time of registration of birth, father’s citizenship certificate is demanded.

Similarly, for a death certificate, the citizenship certificate is required. Citizenship certificate is demanded as a pre-requisite to admission in schools and colleges, buying and selling of property, license for setting up industrial units and entry into government jobs which is never granted to the Madheshis denied citizenship certificate.

So, it should not come as a surprise to know that more than 40 lakh Madheshi Nepali citizens are deprived of citizenship. It is the biggest tragedy of the community. The narrow minded hill leaders who dominate Government and main political parties are engaged in the unscrupulous campaign of declaring these Madheshis as Indians. Funnily, even without citizenship, these 40 lakh plus have been voting in all elections. That is they are able to elect a government but cannot emerge out of their pitiable plight.

Terai region is the rice bowl of Nepal. A drought in Madhesh leads to hunger in the country’, says a popular Nepali adage. About 83 per cent of Nepali revenue comes from Terai. Yet, Madhesh gets only about 20 per cent of government spending in the Budget – mostly by way of salaries for government employees.

The Madheshis are convinced that so long as they do not get a respectful place in Nepal, a feeling of regard and respect will never come for them, for India, and for Indians. This could be possible only when Hindi is granted national language status in Nepal Constitution, when ‘Dhoti Kurta’ put on by more than one crore Madheshis is accepted as national dress and when 40 lakh Nepali citizens plus who are without citizenship certificates (majority are Madheshi) are granted citizenship.

The Madheshis believe that the ‘Constituent Assembly’ be elected to formulate a new Constitution so that the discrimination against more than half of country’s ‘Hindi speaking population’ is removed and all Nepalis are integrated into the national mainstream.

For the past 13-years, Nepal Sadhbhavna Party is engaged in the struggle for proportional representation in state affairs for more than half of the country’s population of. Nepali Congress, Nepal Communist Party (UML) and other major political parties are now conscious of Madheshi concerns; they are raising their voices from time to time. Some success has come Madheshi way; a long road needs to be traversed still.

Nepal is today passing through the difficult phase of reforms in political, economic, social, cultural and language spheres. If the problems of one crore Madheshis are not highlighted right at this point of time, it is almost certain they will get nothing in the next phase of change.

Admittedly, multi-party democratic system in Nepal is in jeopardy strain ever since King Gyanendra dismissed an elected Prime Minister and took over the reins of the country. Already an unsuccessful attempt was made to project the autocrat royalty as an alternative to democracy.

All democratic and Madheshi forces should, therefore, join hands and unitedly carry forward the democratic movement while raising the problems of the Madheshis side by side so that their aspirations and concerns are never pushed to the back burner and are not even mentioned as was the case at the time of drafting the present constitution a decade back. Democracy can prosper when there is no discrimination of any kind and the gains of democracy are not limited to a particular group or a special community. This is what the Madheshis are clamouring for, to live as Nepalis with their head held high.



Entry filed under: Articles.

Indo-Nepal Economic : Cooperation and its Impact on Terai Dr. Ram Kewal Shah

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Loknath  |  August 10, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    Is this fact or fiction? Does Madhesi people account for more than half the population? If so can you please expalin what ‘madhesi’ exactly mean? I know there is a lot of discrimination between the hilly people and the madhesis and it is a sad fact. But you can not give wrong information to people. To say that madhesis account for more than half the population of Nepal is a blatant lie, unless of course if you count the relatives of the Nepali madhesis who live across the boarder. As cross boarder marriage is common in terai, I know that many Nepali have relatives in India and vice versa. But can you classify all these as Nepali? Till now, dual citizenship is not legal in Nepal so those in Indian side across the boarder if they have Indian citizenship can not claim to be Nepali.
    Any way, I have recently seen many articles written by madhesis claiming to have more than half the population of Nepal and would be happy if it were a fact but please do not distort facts to get your point across.

  • 2. madhesi  |  August 10, 2006 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Loknath,
    The data given here is writer version of truth, believe it or not, its upto you. Every source of data can be debated by anyone and so is the data pertaining population of madhesi.

    There should be debate on the defination and classification of Madhesi? It should be based on geography, based on language, based on inhibitation, based on color, based on caste, based on culture?

    The right question should be , whether there should be any word called Madhesi?

    If you have any other information to share, you are most welcome.


  • 3. Aalok Kumar Gupta  |  September 4, 2006 at 12:23 pm

    I strongly believe that all the peoples living in Terai region should form and support a single party. Unless and until we don’t unite together the things are not going to improve. There must be social political and educational awareness among the people. The time has come when we all should make our voice loud and clear. This is possible only when we support the organisation or party which solely devotes itself to the people of Terai region. The Rastriya Samajwadi Party had earlier taken the responsibility. But it couldn’t go strong due to lack of people’s support. It is only us who can together make a difference. Our fate and destiny is on our own hand.
    I appreciate Rajendra mahto’s article. And I am sure the facts presented by him are all true

  • 4. Ram prasad  |  December 6, 2006 at 8:10 pm

    Daman! Man
    I understand there is discrimination against Madhesi people but seeing this article the writer seems like doesn;t eve want to be Nepali, he wants to be Indian. If people like him and Party like sadbhawana will come to power they will surely give the whole country to India, Shame on You. You want Hindi as National language. My language is not Nepali but i learned Nepali and i believe there should be 1 language to represent all Nepali. for peopel like him i will either suggest him to go to india and settle there or else be proud to be Nepali

  • 5. Manoj  |  December 7, 2006 at 9:08 am

    I am not Nepali speaking people, but I strongly object the
    implementation of Hindi as one language.
    Instead you can have regional language like Mathili and Bhojpuri.
    These languages should be given prority in Terai region.
    Its true there is descrimination against Madhesi People in
    every walk of life. While raisding these issues one shoul not
    term them Indian. It will simply help dividing the nation.

  • 6. ashwinee  |  December 9, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    >>My language is not Nepali but i learned Nepali and i believe there should be 1 language to represent all Nepali.

    There is no rule as such that there should be language to REPRESENT. People need language to communicate… not to represent their nationality.

    Hindi is as good as link language for madheshi people as nepali. And since most madheshi people have no job in nepal and have to migrat somewhere else for livelyhood where comes the need of learning nepali? Or it is just to please the people of kathamandu who think nepali is somewhat more devine than other languages?

    Besides I am against forcing anyone to learn either hindi or nepali. Medium of instruction in schools should be mother-tongue and english. They can chose hindi,nepali or any other language including german,french as second language.

  • 7. ashwinee  |  December 9, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    >> Instead you can have regional language like Mathili and Bhojpuri.
    These languages should be given prority in Terai region.

    Yes these languages need to be given priority otherwise the people in villages will keep failing exams because they are not good in english or nepali. People need to learn how to read and write and basic things like how to calculate etc. There must be option for them to chose… they should learn these things in language they are already fluent at… i.e mother tongue. I think this should be strong demand in ongoing madheshi revolution.

  • 8. ashwinee  |  December 9, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    >>If people like him and Party like sadbhawana will come to power they will surely give the whole country to India, Shame on You.

    All corruption selling of rivers etc are done by non-madheshi people. Keep your tongue in check before passing such baseless remarks.

  • 9. Na Padhade, Na Madhesi hun Nepali  |  December 11, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    maile yo lekh padhe…khusi lagyo ki aaja hamro desh ka netaharu aafno janata ko lagi samarpit chan bhanera..tera hamro desh ma pichadiyeko jana ta madhesi matrai hoina..yeha dherai janajati…etc chan jasle aafno adhikar paka chainan….sarkar le pahade lai matra nepali bhanne bebahar garyo bhanau bhane karnali ma gayera henuhos teha ko janata ko halat madhes ko janata ko banda kam nahola…

    madhesi nepali daju bhai haru are deprived of their rights, they are discriminated i strongly accept …but i dont accept is there are 605 people liing in terai belt…

    We are nepali and only nepali only after that pahade and those who have citizenchip of india ..who burn nepalis national flag, who are fighting and raising their voice for separate terai state,independent from nepal( say truely:indepent from nepal and dependent to india)..they could never be nepalis..and they could also not be madhesis..

    tharu,kamaiya, bhojpure, ….abadhi…etc are nepali and then they are madhesi..those who migrated to neapl from india or any other place else than india are not nepali…and they never cant be.

    Our respected politician rajendramahato said that prithivi narayan shah unified nepal….i dont thik so what i think is he tried …Nepal still needs to be united. We have our land beyound mahakali upto sitlej and we have our darjeeling, sikkim where india is ruling our people and territory..that is nepal and now i think the time is approaching to unify them over the union of Nepal.
    In such a crucial tiem where we need to develop unity among all nepali people irrespective of religion,cate and ethinics grop why we are fighting for game of power.We need a federal republican goverment in our country and a federal goverment will be from madhes(terai) and that would be under greater nepal…unified nepal from tista to sitlej and from himalayas to all terai belts.
    hence i request all leaders of terai to fight for their rights but not for teh seperate nation ..but fight against those separilists/..i kindly and humbly request u all
    jaya nepal

  • 10. Sabuna Timilsina  |  February 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    this is ridiculou saying that hindi was the official languauge of nepal upto 1965.
    i just dont agree what they called nepal i sformed after Inida. i hate this

  • 11. Sabuna Timilsina  |  February 17, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    they didint even mention nepali as ur language. see what kind of impression will it be on those who hapen to read this abstract.. stupid and ridiculous……….

  • 12. Visitor  |  April 17, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I just happened to read this article. Yes there are many marginalized and suppressed groups in Nepal ( not only Madhesis ). But the article has some distorting facts.
    It seems that this article gives feeling of hatred and such hatred is tomorrow’s violence. We all are citizens of Nepal. Regarding language yes there can only be one national language ( You can’t fight for saying why Nepali is not international language like English ) but regional language are to be florished too.
    And please write articles that present the problems and show peaceful solutions.
    As once Devkota was asked:
    ” Tell us about your civilization” and he told ” Chitharization and Kotharization is our civilization”
    So stop blaming each other and find ways to peacefully integrate with each other and always remember Nepal is our homeland and we are all Nepalese.

  • 13. sanu maya kc  |  December 9, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Why Pahade Living Areas(PLA) are included in Madhes Map?

    Madhesi movement organizers have issued a map of Madhes, which includes apart from parts of Terai where mostly Madhesi live, northern parts of many Terai districts where mostly Pahade community and Tharus live( 10-15 Km North-South from the beginning of Chure Pahad to Southwards- the Bhawar Area) and even some Pahadi Hilly parts which are in Terai districts.
    If whole of Terai is taken into account then Madhesis are less than the half in total population of Terai. The bulk population of Madhesi are however concentrated in the southern border part of the East and Middle Terai(10-15 KM northwards from the Indian border)where they constitute about 90 % of the population.
    The picture is quite different when it comes to Northen part of Terai districts- a overwhelming 90% are Pahades with Tharus and other Adibasis and other small linguistic groups. Although no figure is at hand for the number of Madhesi in the Northen part of Terai districts, the interpolation does not give more than 10% for Madhesi.
    The Northen parts of Terai districts claimed by Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and other madhesi parties constitute about 10 % of total national territory. The above analysis clearly shows that the demand of inclusion of the Northen parts of Terai districts in Madhes Pradesh is quite unethical and nonsense. Why a majority population of Pahades and Adibasis shall agree to come under a minority population of Madhesis? What kind of democracy is it on the part of Yadav & Co? Add up their Map of Madhes and distribution of population. It will be at best 40% of Madhesi against 60% non- Madhesi! Do Madhesi want to be minority in Madhes Pradesh?
    The question of the Madhes identity crisis is also false. Madhesis are a respected lot in Nepal. We have the great Udit Narayan Jha,Ram Baran Yadav, and many others in political, educational, admistration and other fields.(if ‘Madhesi’ means people of Indian origin and if Hindi should be their national language, then what to do with 60 % people of other origin living in the whole Terai and those 90 % living in the Northen part of Terai districts?
    But the interesting thing is why Yadav(Upendra) & Co. are demanding the Northen parts of Terai districts in Madhes knowing very well that it is impossible to include unwilling brute majority population in its Madhes set up.
    The design may be that after getting the Northen parts of Terai districts under Madhes, they will be only single largest state in future federative structure. They will have also controll over the single East-West highway thus concentrating the power to bargain with the Central government and which in future could lead to a puppet (Indian)government in Madhes state with automatically blocking Nepal’s any major sovereign decision making capacity.

  • 14. gore  |  November 26, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    mya chikne ! itihas modna khojchhas? nepal ko terai region ek duita bahek malaria lagera basna hunethiyo? mychikne ani lado khanalai nachaine tarka dinchhas? tharu choudhary bahek aru sabai indian ho nepalka madhesi. yo mychikne rajencdra mahatole 36 sal ma nagarikta liyeko ani esaile 250 barsha ko kura garchha? i madhesi bhanne sabai india ko dalal ho . kaaat iniharulai.

  • 15. gore  |  November 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    “There is an undeclared ban on their recruitment to Royal Nepal Army. Madheshis are in microscopic number in Nepal police. ”

    waw! india ko dalal! sabai dosh goverment lai de. kahiel ban bhayo madhesi bhanne? tero baje competition mai aaudainan ani lado khayera bharti hunchhan ta? pahaadi ko dekh army police ko competion ma kati aauchhan? tera madhesi bhanne india ko dalal kati chhan? ani ke ghar ghar gayera khojdai lyaune? talai ta katnu parchha.

  • 16. gore  |  November 26, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    This could be possible only when Hindi is granted national language status in Nepal Constitution, when ‘Dhoti Kurta’ put on by more than one crore Madheshis is accepted as national dress and when 40 lakh Nepali citizens plus who are without citizenship certificates (majority are Madheshi) are granted citizenship.

    waw! ani antya ma india mai bilaya…. ta myachikn e lai pakh! talai nakati hudaina.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Celebration of 1,00,000

Madhesi Voice

United We Celebrate

People Celebrating faguwa (Holi), with the fun of music, quite popular among Terai people. Holi is celebrated each year on the eve of falgun purnima Faguwa (Holi) Celebration

Past Posts


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 50 other followers

%d bloggers like this: