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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

India should support Nepal's Constitution for civilisational unity (Bhaarat aur Nepal ki Ek Sabhyata hai, isliye Nepal ke Samvidhan ko Bhaarat ka Samarthan Milna Chahiye)

Map: Britain-Nepal Medical Trust Website

In response to an article in The Diplomat

In 1971, the Pakistani Army murdered 3 million persons, raped 400,000 women and we had 10 million refugees across the border. We had fought two wars with Pakistan in 1947-48 and 1965 before that. There was also the legacy of partition that led to 500,000 dead and 15 million refugees. Before that, the All India Muslim League had opposed the independence movement under the Indian National Congress because the majority of Muslims did not want to live with Hindus as equal citizens in a free India. Before the British Raj, the Arabs, the Turks and the Mongols had invaded India several times, murdering millions of our ancestors, enslaving women and children, selling them in slave-markets of Middle East and Central Asia and destroying hundreds of thousands of our temples. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan represented that ideology of iconoclasm that had oppressed India from the year 711 of the Christian Era. Hence, I completely reject the moral equivalence drawn in the article with the genocide committed by the Pakistani Army. It is absolutely unacceptable, both in terms of proportion and nature of the problem. I already explained in details the scale of barbarism of Pakistan, the Gorkha Army has not interfered and it will not, proven by its non-interference in the process of transition from monarchy to democracy. Bangladesh was a separate geographical entity with a huge population, that could be separated from Pakistan, indeed Pakistan can be further partitioned into four more independent countries. But Nepal is a small, hilly country sandwiched between two great powers, so we must allow the democratic process to take its own course there. Baburam Bhattarai, a former Prime Minister, he is an alumni of my university, has already joined the Madhesi movement and I am sure that some peaceful settlement will be reached.

Why did the Pakistani Army commit the genocide in 1971? Because it wanted to punish the East Bengalis for giving an absolute majority to Awami League in the first and perhaps only free and fair election in Pakistan. The Awami League wanted that East Bengalis should be treated as equals to West Punjabis in Pakistan, which was totally unacceptable to the Army dominated by the latter. So, instead of handing over Pakistan to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of Awami League, the Army decided to destroy the 'hungry and naked' Bengalis, but India intervened and split Pakistan into two, creating a new nation-state of Bangladesh, with a distinct geographical location and a large population of more than a 100 million. Has Nepal committed any such atrocity or is the strategic situation similar to Pakistan-Bangladesh issue? No. In 2015, the Second Constituent Assembly of Nepal, elected by a universal adult suffrage, adopted a secular, democratic and federal system of government that gives equal rights to all citizens and allows for seven multi-ethnic provinces. Nepal is a landlocked country with a population of about 25 million, founded by the Gorkha Army  of Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1768 by military conquest.  The Gorkha Army consists of diverse ethnic tribes of Nepal with Kshatriya spirit of unparalleled bravery, discipline and victory. About 50,000 Gorkhas serve in the Indian Army and paramilitary forces. They have fought in all wars of free India, shed their blood, won gallantry awards and at present, there are more than 150,000 retired personnel. There are millions of Nepalis in India who work in India traditionally as priests, teachers, security guards, milkmen, housemaids, cooks and manual labourers. The majority of the population in Sikkim and Darjeeling district speak Nepali as their mother tongue. Thus, Nepal is the closest civilisational partner of India.

Why is there unrest in Nepal after adoption of a new constitution? Because Nepal wants to create multi-ethnic provinces, instead of separate provinces for Tharu or Madhesi majority and has adopted citizenship by descent, instead of birth that can convert the ethnic demography of Nepal by immigration. Prime Minister Modi, in his address to the Constituent Assembly in 2014, had promised to support any constitution approved by the representatives of the Nepali people, but the political compulsions of the Bihar Assembly Elections has prevented him from taking a principled position of Hindu-Buddhist civilisational unity. Meanwhile, the Indian media and academia, which has been paranoid about China since 1962, wants to undermine the unity of Nepal by advocating a separate province for each ethnic community, numbering into dozens, when every village has people of different tribes living together. The media-academia want Nepal, which has open borders with India, to give citizenship to every non-Nepali born in its territory. What option does the Nepali elite, who had welcomed Modi like a hero last year, has but to play the China card as China never interferes in the domestic politics of any country and negotiates with anybody in power? About 50 persons have died due to breakdown of law and order. The Gorkha Army has been in the barracks since 2008, when the descendent of Prithvi Narayan Shah was overthrown by the democratic forces. Nepal is a landlocked country, dependent on India for access to sea, tourism, supply of essential goods, etc. What is the moral and strategic equivalence with 1971 and Pakistan? What is morally upright for India is to support Nepal so that it can maintain its demographic composition and a strong government and Army. What is strategically expedient for India is to forge a Hindu-Buddhist civilisational unity with Nepal so that China, evangelicals and Islamists lose influence in the region. 

Racism in all its forms is totally abhorrent. We need to transcend these prejudices. I have seen such problems everywhere from Assam to Delhi to Punjab to Mumbai to Sri Lanka to Sikkim. That is why I believe that we must start thinking in terms of a Hindu-Buddhist civilisation, a pluralistic concept in which we allow all sub-identities to flourish. In the two matters of citizenship and demarcation of provinces, Nepal's constitution is not liberal and egalitarian, so also in the matter of religious conversion. Such provisions are also present in the hill states of India to protect the indigenous culture and heritage of the hills. I support such policies as I have seen extinction of many minority cultures by the immigration of dominant communities in Assam. In Bhutan, the constitution is far more inegalitarian towards minorities. Indeed, the entire Nepali community either have become refugees or have to speak the local language and wear the local costume. India does not interfere in Bhutan because it has accepted the dominance of India in foreign and security affairs, but the Gorkhas had a history of balancing between the British Empire in India and the Manchu Empire in China. Nevertheless, India never had interfered in the domestic decision-making in Nepal, even in 1950 when the king had taken shelter in India, but after 1962, we have been paranoid about China. We tend to think that the Mongoloid people are Chinese or pro-China, which is not true if we observe from Japan to Philippines to Vietnam to Tibet. In fact, the ruling elite of Nepal is of Indo-Aryan origin, just like that of Sri Lanka and the Mongoloid people of Tibeto-Burman origin also are mostly Hindus or Buddhists. So, I see no problem morally or strategically for India.

If we extend the logic of liberalism, we shall have a nightmare in India. The same forces are at work in Nepal. We have been observing them for the last five years or so. In the name of liberalism, Christian missionaries from Mizoram and Nagaland were quite active in Nepal, indeed there is a network in the area I live in Delhi, Munirka. There are different people of the Mongoloid stock here and the local people mistreat them, so they stick together. Now, mostly Nepalis, Manipuris, Bodos and Assamese are Hindus, Arunachalis and Tibetans are Buddhists, but the Hindu Jats and other communities do not identify with the former and the neo-Buddhists, the Ambedkarites do not identify with the latter. However, the Mizos and Nagas embrace them due to racial affinity and there are many well-funded Bible study groups, which also provide scholarships to study abroad or learn foreign language, mostly Korean. I think we must transcend the racial prejudices and embrace all communities, otherwise all these hill communities have other parties to join. 

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