Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Federalism: only way to prosperity of all communities?

Some people seem to believe that 'federalism' is the only way to prosperity of all communities” in Nepal. But there are no basis to belive in it for follwoing reasons:
  • First and foremost prosperity of any community does not come from fragmentation of this tiny country.
  • Secondly, they are proposing provinces for just 10 ethno-cultural linguistic communities and if prosperity is to come from having a province named after that community then other over 90 odd ethno-cultural linguistic communities will be deprived from the “prosperity” you are referring to.
  • If Nepal is to have 10 odd autonomous states/provinces on ethno-cultural-linguistic lines, aren’t other 90 odd ethno-cultural-linguistic groups too entitled to statehood on the same lines and the “prosperity” that you are referring to? I am told there are about 100 ethno-cultural-linguistic groups in Nepal. Why should these groups be deprived from similar rights? In India we are presented with a new state each day (it’s a bit of exaggeration!) but she can sustain shock/trauma of such centrifugal tendencies. Where will Nepal be if Nepal is to start hiving off new states on ethno-cultural-linguistic lines – a country equal to an Indian state or even smaller?
  • Initially other "ethno-cultural-linguistic groups" may not demand states/provinces of their own? Once a precedent is set, what will stop the remaining groups from asking for equal treatment? Won't that take a form of beginning of an unraveling process? Shouldn't Nepal learn lessons from the experience of India which is in a continuous state of throwing up new autonomous state? Will Nepal be able to sustain the shock/trauma of fragmentation of Nepal into state after state on ethno-cultural-linguistic lines? Won’t this lead us through to the path taken by Yugoslavia?
  • With the proposed provision for special privileges/rights to a specific ethno-cultural-linguistic group in a particular province, what stops the rest from becoming second class citizens?
  • Additionally, this will become more complicated in the proposed New Rajya, for example. Amongst Newa people there are people who are able to trace their roots to Mongoloid stock while there are Aryans too. Similarly, there are both Hindus and Buddhists amongst Newa people (I don’t subscribe to the theory that Buddhists are a part of Hindu). If this privilege is to be given to the first ethnic subgroup then the other will be marginalized. Similarly, if this is reserved for a Hindu Newa then, Buddhist Newa will be deprived of the opportunity and will be relegated to becoming second class citizen, officially.
  • Then there will be questions as to what treatment will be meted out to couples of mixed marriages?
  • Moreover, what will happen to the children of such mixed marriage? Will the children be entitled to the special rights/privileges following one parent or become second class citizen like the “other” parent. We already have many mixed marriages. I am close to a Limbu colleague of mine married to a Khas. I hope restructuring of Nepal on ethno-cultural-linguistic lines will not require banning of such marriages or initiate ethnic cleansing process as we have seen in many countries, both in Europe and Africa.
  • I am given to understand that in none of the proposed “states” on ethno-cultural-religious lines, the so called “main” ethno-cultural-linguistic community is in majority (demographers please speak up). If this group is to have pre-emptive rights – cuflwsf/ - in matters related to governance, wouldn’t it result in minority rule over majority?
  • As a legal practitioner, I am not against federalism per se. but, in my considered opinion, this is not for us in Nepal. The geographic area of this country is under 150,000 m2 while average area in a province in India is about 100,000 m2 and it is more than 200,000 m2 in Russia, more than 192,000 m2 in US and over more than 436,000 m2 in China.
  • Economically too Nepal will be unnecessarily burdened to pay for 14 governors, cabinets, legislatures, constitutional bodies, etc.

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