The Camouflaged State of Madhes

December 17, 2008 at 4:10 am Leave a comment

The Camouflaged State of Madhes

Kanchan Jha 

      The Madhes Movement nourished by the people’s memory of years to repression brought fate and eternal optimism in the contemporary politics of Terai. Politicians, cynically aware of this psyche, duped the natives with dreams of a bright future, and thrived on the votes of the marginalized populace. Despite their (madhesi parties) unquestionably perfect ideology of an equitable State, it is sad to reckon that the current spirit of madhesi politics has evolved to become populist and one of securing ‘top-spots’ in the corridors of power in the Capital.

      Unequivocally, under the veneer of transitional democracy in the plains lie the scourges of the subterfuge maibaap (Godfather) culture of the Madhesi politics where the poor madhesis are promised of doles like madhesi rights and representations, employment guarantees, reservations and more reservations, so as to purchase their gratitude. But in reality, these doles are million miles away and are too good to be true for our Madhes centric leaders, who prefer not to outcry against the exclusion of Madhesis in several government jobs and other positions as well or speak against the nil representation in various state organs. This deafening silence is certainly creating negative vibes across the Terai.

      Well, take this- the Public Service Commission recently announced vacancies for a Joint Secretary and under-Secretary posts applicable only for Madhesis under the inclusive recruitment policy of Civil Service Act and as per the skulls and spirits of the Interim Constitution and understanding agreements between the then Government of Nepal and Madhesi parties. Surprisingly, the applicants’ ratio for these administrative posts was 80% non-Madhesis and 20% Madhesis. According to the Commission, the reason behind this varying ratio is that there is no single standard criterion to identify Madhesis except for a Madhesi certificate issued by the Chief District Officer of the applicant’s home district. The major defect with the CDO certificate being that one can acquire this by a variety of means even if not a Madhesi seems to put more question at this seemingly-innocent matter.

      This systemic exclusion is happening in a myriad ways and at many layers. Sadly, the new days of the Himalayan Republic are not different than the era of the Himalayan Kingdom when Madhesis were expected to quietly succumb to inequality, despotism and subjugation.

      The fact that a Madhes-son like Dr. Yadav, from a poor family in a remote village, could make it to Shital Niwas, the appointment of yet another Madhesi Vice President and also the presence of atleast half a dozen Madhesi-origin ministers in the cabinet proves that there is a certainly degree of Madhesi-Pahadi equality in Nepal. And yet, they talk about madhesi suppression?

      As a matter of fact ‘Madhesi representation’ and ‘equality’ has been a fashionable phrase in our political context. As a result of its overuse it has attained a certain stereotypical bliss. Well, let’s ask ourselves an honest question: Do we really have aam (common) Madhesis in the midst of several opportunities and prospects? Or, do we simply have ‘power-mongering’ Madhesi netas and their cadres disguised as aam Madhesis who only vow to uplift the status of the backward communities in Terai but never sanctify it? In my opinion, we have an interesting bunch of ‘shrewd musketeers’, who are not energetic and earnest enough to shed the status quoist garb that wraps the administrative and political system of this country, but are finding themselves being habitually caught in the loop of the ill-fated power-hungry tradition.

      Analysts also comment that the optimistic energy and vision of Madhes Andolan has been imperiled by a wave of uncertainty as a result of conflicts and atrocities by armed ethnic groups, which is conceitedly being propelled by the ‘old faces’ in the newfound system of the baby republic- Nepal. Today, we call them the ‘new faces’ of new Nepal. There are disturbing signs that savagery has become more rampant than ever before. There is fear in the minds of aam Madhesis and fear on the streets of Terai. People have started seeing every crowded bazaar and narrow galli as a likely bomb attack threat and a hot spot for a series of shootings by the armed groups. These are times of alarm when confusion and uncertainty prevail. Evil forces in the name of political ideologues are driving men to take leave of the humane senses; and hence are being hell-bent on destabilizing the coexistence of diverse faiths in the country.

      Yet, the Prachanda Government and our dearly madhesi blocs are incompetent and incapable of delivering on the instability and are simply withering away in vast swathes of the plains. Moreover, there appears to be a deep crack over the ‘good will negotiation’ table between the government and the armed groups. And the people directly responsible for this negligent state of affairs are the power-bearing leaders with different hues, who by absconding from the issue of violence in Terai seem convinced that the only way to pay homage to our red flag is to let it drench with the blood of innocent lives. It is indeed a quirk of fate that the state of Madhesis, which was being painted as an aggrieved proviso, one which had hailed during the Movement and during the pre-CA elections, has simply been debunked, if not totally ignored and hounded upon mercilessly by Kathmandu.

      Vexed issues demand delicate and serious deliberations, within the precincts of negotiation and statecraft. In the face of a paralysis of law and order along with an endemic impotence in Terai the honorable Home Minister in the Prachanda cabinet only displays his flimsy and frivolous attitude towards the problem. And we know what basic allure a career in politics holds in our country, which hence rightly explains the kind of characters who routinely land up in our legislatures and administrations. Our expectations from them should be realistic; a cake made from rotten eggs, rancid butter and worm-infested flour can not be palatable.

      If Nepal is witnessing a spurt in terror of late, it is so owing to the bitter alienation of a certain community. The menace can be countered better by providing a secure feeling to those people on whose behalf the so-called Madhesi rebels claim to be acting upon. Conflicts can only be resolved when genuine attempts are made to understand the dilemmas and needs of the other side. No paper contribution will ever give Nepal a fully functional democratic government. No amount of speech will ever make our leaders fit for the ‘peoples’ government’. It is only their conduct and viability that will take us to the heights of modern democratic federalism.

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