Frontier Migration and Upward Mobility: The Case of Nepal

January 4, 2007 at 7:36 pm 2 comments

Frontier Migration and Upward Mobility: The Case of Nepal

Nanda R. Shrestha and Raja P. Velu 
University of Wisconsin—Whitewater

Dennis Conway
Indiana University

The term “frontier” generally refers either to the political division between two states or to the division between the settled and unsettled regions of the state. In essence, the frontier implies a “transition zone, which stretches inwards from the [state] boundary and merges imperceptibly with the state core.”1 Development of the frontier generally results from a combination of techniques designed to overcome the adverse physical environment generally found at the frontier and from various incentives. Incentive factors can be divided into forces of attraction emanating from environmental attributes and forces of pressure exerted from the already settled areas. They include the discovery of mineral deposits and other valuable natural resources, land shortages, and strategic needs.
While in the past frontier migration and subsequent settlement were haphazard, often unplanned and characterized by lawlessness, most contemporary frontier settlements are systematically planned although, increasingly, there is spontaneous or “squatter” settlement. Frontier land settlement as a policy has been quite popular in contemporary underdeveloped societies, as it is viewed as an expedient agrarian development strategy more desirable and safer to execute than aggressive land reform measures.2 While landowners regard such a policy as a way to avert land reforms and potential redistribution of their land, as well as an opportunity to further expand their landhold-ings, land-hungry peasants view it as a means to acquire land in newly opened frontier areas and as a new start in life. Accordingly, the policy anticipates that both groups will achieve upward mobility in terms of landholdings and hence improve their socioeconomic chances. There is no agreement, however, among researchers about the causes of migrant success or failure at the frontier.
The primary objective of this study is to investigate how frontier migration affects migrants’ socioeconomic improvements in the Tarai, which is regarded as Nepal’s land frontier as well as agricultural backbone. This is an important issue from both theoretical and policy perspectives as it directly investigates migrants’ adaptation as well as the operational nature of settlement schemes at the frontier. This investigation is based on personal observations and field survey data collected in Nepal’s two Tarai frontier districts of Chitwan and Nawalparasi, in the fall of 1988.

……..Land Settlement in the Tarai: Chitwan and Nawalparasi The history of land settlement in Nepal dates back to the late eighteenth century, following the country’s political unification in 1769. Successive rulers prior to 1951 viewed the Tarai region as a colonial possession. Because of dense forests and endemic malarial conditions, the region was deployed as a defense frontier against British India. Periodically they also encouraged their hill subjects to resettle in the Tarai in order to bring virgin land under cultivation and boost state revenues. Chitwan was one of the major areas where the government attempted to develop land through resettlement. Large tracts of the Tarai land were granted freely among royal family members, members of the nobility, and high-level government officials for their personal enrichment as well as to develop farm communities by attracting settlers.

……There are other goals of frontier resettlement, often specific to the political-geographical context. One of the unstated goals in the case of Nepal is “paharization” of the Tarai, i.e., to populate the Tarai with people from the pahar (hills) so that they constitute the dominant demographic majority in the region. It is a political design to neutralize any potential attempt by local Tarai inhabitants to challenge the territorial sovereignty of the central government over the region. Because of the fact that the vast majority of Tarai inhabitants constitute early as well as recent immigrant settlers from India, the central authority of Nepal has always been suspicious of their affinity and loyalty toward Nepal.

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(For Better option: Right Click on the link, choose save link as option; it will save file on your system))


Entry filed under: Articles.


2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. subhash shah  |  January 5, 2007 at 5:10 am

    please upload the read more section of the above artic

  • 2. madhesi  |  January 5, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Dear Reader,
    The Problem has been rectified. The file is uploaded.


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