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My notes 24-09-2015

 

Federalism - Nepal’s final frontier

 

Brief History of Nepal

  1. 1951 - 1959 - Though popular rule was established, most of the levers of the government were still controlled by the palace, until a new constitution was adopted in 1959.
  2. 1959 - 1990 -Democratically elected Government was removed and multiparty democracy was replaced party less panchayat regime. By 1996, maoist insurgency started challenging the political order.
  3. Janandolan 1 - It lead to a new constitution and elections were held in 1991, 1994 and 1999.
  4. Jan Andolan 2 - After death of king Birendra, king Gyanendra s actions led to janandolan 2 and overthrowing of monarchy and Nepal became a republic in 2006
  5. In 2006, comprehensive peace agreement has come into existence and in 2008 at the very meeting of CA , all members declared Nepal to be a federal democratic republic.  An eight point agreement was reached on this front in 2008.
  6. 2013 The further political fragmentation did not take the constitutional process forward and in 2013 elections , forces favouring the inclusive federalism got marginalised. It is majorily due to the fact that, madhesi leaders did not deliver on their promises.
  7. Now, Nepal congress, CPN (UML) holds 2/3 of the majority in constituent assembly. This is leading to reverting to an old unitary and exclusionary order. It is leading to a discontent and violence in Terai region.
  8. The state is using disproportionate violence and it is making the movement intense. So, The Nepal army deployed there shall be recalled immediately.
  9. Repression cannot be the right response political disaffection. This can only increase alienation and can cause irreparable long term damage to Nepal’s national cohesion.

 

Nepal s new constitution

 

Issues and challenges

What does the new constitution say?

Diversity of Nepal and a federal constitution -  The new republic will become a federal one. Diversity of Nepal makes it so.  Its people speak over 100 languages. They re split by divisions such as high- and low-caste, Nepali-speaking v speakers of indigenous languages, hill ethnicities v lowland ethnicities, and gender divisions, with high-caste men from the hills almost supremely dominant up to now.

Provinces and bounaries - The new document has drawn up provisional boundaries for seven states but their names are to be decided by their eventual assemblies and a commission has yet to fix their final boundaries. Nepali society has become deeply polarised on whether the states should be ethnically delineated.

 

Why are some ethnic groups unhappy?

Many members of traditionally marginalised groups fear that the constitution will still work against them as it s been rushed through by established parties which - including the Maoists - are dominated by high-caste, mostly male, leaders.

Unhappiness on electoral system -

One grievance is that a smaller percentage of parliament will now be elected by proportional representation - 45%, compared with 58% under the previous post-war interim constitution. The PR system has helped more members of indigenous and low-caste groups, historically repressed and marginalised, get elected.

 

Unhappiness on division of provinces -

Some ethnic communities are unhappy at the proposed boundaries of the new provinces, although these may be subject to change. This disquiet has been especially intense in the Terai - Nepal s long southern lowland strip bordering India, where recent years have seen tensions between lowlanders and highlanders who have migrated there over recent decades.

In the western Terai one lowland group, the indigenous Tharus, are unhappy at the prospect of being split in two and forced to share their provinces with hill districts that they fear will predominate.

 

Women rights

 

Women s groups and campaigners on women s issues say the new constitution discriminates against Nepalese women in what is already a patriarchal society. 

And if a Nepali woman marries a foreign man, their children cannot become Nepali unless the man first takes Nepali citizenship; whereas if the father is Nepali, his children can also be Nepali regardless of the wife s nationality.

Citizenship status

In eastern Terai the so-called Madhesi communities, ethnically and socially close to Indians just across the border, complain they have always faced discrimination and lack of acceptance by the Nepalese state. They say the above citizenship measures will disproportionately affect them because there are many cross-border marriages. ( citizenship by descent only accepted for cross border marriages)

Maoist supporters

Maoist supporters accuse the leftists of betrayal. In their original charter the Maoists vowed among other things to end patriarchy, let ethnic minorities form their own governments, and redistribute land from large holders to the landless.

 

Conservatives

Hindu groups that want the restoration of the country s officially Hindu status 

 

On the other side

  • Some see the document as progressive as it provides for quotas for some groups, including women, indigenous communities and low-caste Dalits, in serving on constitutional bodies.
  • Rights of sexual minorities are determined. It considers the "gender and sexual minority people" as disadvantaged and it enshrines their right to participate in state mechanisms.

 

 

What New Delhi wants

  • Issues on which there are differences should be resolved through dialogue in an atmosphere free from violence, and institutionalised in a manner that would enable broad-based ownership and acceptance.”

 

  • New Delhi wants Kathmandu to carry out “seven amendments” to ensure it is acceptable to the Madhesis and Janjatis

* Article 63 (3) of the Interim Constitution provided electoral constituencies based on population, geography and special characteristics, “and in the case of Madhes on the basis of percentage of population”. Under this provision, Madhes, with more than 50 per cent of the population, got 50 per cent of seats in Parliament. The latter phrase has been omitted in Article 84 of the new Constitution. “It needs to be re-inserted so that Madhes continues to have electoral constituencies in proportion to its population,” a government source told The Indian Express.

  1. In Article 21 of the Interim Constitution, it was mentioned that various groups would have “the right to participate in state structures on the basis of principles of proportional inclusion”. In the new Constitution (Article 42), the word “proportional” has been dropped — Delhi wants it re-inserted.
  2.  Article 283 of the Constitution states that only citizens by descent will be entitled to hold the posts of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, Chairperson of National Assembly, Head of Province, Chief Minister, Speaker of Provincial Assembly and Chief of Security Bodies. This clause is seen as discriminatory for the large number of Madhesis who have acquired citizenship by birth or naturalisation. Delhi says this should be amended to include citizenship by birth or naturalisation.
  3.  Article 86 of the new Constitution states that National Assembly will comprise 8 members from each of 7 States and 3 nominated members. Madhesi parties want representation in National Assembly to be based on population of the Provinces. This, Delhi says, should be done to address concerns.
  4. Five disputed districts of Kanchanpur, Kailali, Sunsari, Jhapa and Morang: Based on the majority of the population, these districts or parts of them may be included in the neighbouring Madhes Provinces.
  5. Article 154 of the Interim Constitution provided for delineation of electoral constituencies every 10 years. This has been increased to 20 years in Article 281 of the new Constitution. Echoing the Madhesi parties, India wants this restored to 10 years.
  6. Article 11(6) states that a foreign woman married to a Nepali citizen may acquire naturalised citizenship of Nepal as provided for in a federal law. Madhesi parties want acquisition of naturalised citizenship to be automatic on application. This also finds favour with Delhi.

 

Apply Panchasheel on Nepal

  • New Delhi s Interventionism in Nepal may provide ground for other forces - Anti secularists and Anti republicans. India shall hold to principles of Panchasheel to guide its poicy in Nepal. That is , Mutual respect for sovergnity and Non interference.
  • Indias demand of Plains only provinces appears arbitrary for two reasons. Already, the plains are very poor and they are not homogenous as thought.  So, development may not reach to them.

 

The encryption debate

  • Encryption is a process in which digital messages are scrambled so, that they cant be accessed by anyone other than those they are meant for. This is to ensure freedom of expression and to keep information secure in the digital world.
  • World over, administrators want weaker encryption standards and backdoor access to internet products in the name of security of nation.
  • So, it is a debate again between the public interest and security of nation vs protected personal data of an Individual. In this context, Access to encrypted data should be provided as an exception and not as a rule.

 

Management of Universities and Institutions of Excellence

 

  • The people running the institutions shall recognise the impermeance of persons in power and at the same time, the permanence of the institution. It helps them to differentiate what constitutes an Institutional long term interest with decisions that are meant to serve the political patronage.
  • Appointment to Indian Universities is an opaque process, Here, political patronage and clientalistic responses matter more than administrative skills and academic acumen. Recent appointments of the Government aptly proves this.
  • It is making the management of academic affairs a top down affair with little democratic functioning.
  • Harvard working paper by davesh Kapoor and Elizabeth Perry says that china has a political appetite for improving the quality of their public universities. On the hand, in spite of English language advantage, it is allowing the public university system to slide, while expecting the unprepared private education sector to lead the charge.

 

 

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