Indigenous political movement and its strengths and weaknesses

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Biswasdip Tigela

Biswasdip Tigela

United Kingdom

Indigenous political movement and its strengths and weaknesses

Nepal has recently transferred from the Kingdom of Nepal to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and imposed the new constitution in 2015. To become a republic, then rewriting the constitution, the Nepalese Indigenous movements have had a key role in these events. Especially, to establish the federal system is a purely Indigenous effort and idea. Nepalese Indigenous movement looks right in opposition to the government and willing to participate in the government peacefully and democratically. There are many successful indigenous movements in Latin America, such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela, and Peru (Van Cott, 2003). Exactly, the Nepalese indigenous movement was very close to success; unfortunately, the religious exploited political party has stolen that opportunity; therefore, the Nepalese Indigenous movement still remains the same.

If we observe the United Nation's organs through indigenous movements across the world, most of them do the movement as symbolic. They focused on culture, tradition, and religion, but Nepal's indigenous movement is larger than that because the Nepalese indigenous population is 35.8 percent of the total population. (Pradhan, 2019). Unfortunately, ruling class bureaucrats and political leaders turned over the political movement just opposite the indigenous people's demand. There are dozens of Articles against the indigenous in the constitution. The constitution and the restructuring of federal states are in favor of the ruling class people. The indigenous-dominated area is divided; therefore, indigenous people will never be able to make a majority at the current provincial level. There are currently seven provinces among them, six provinces are in favor of Aryan, and just province No 2 has a majority of Madhesi. Madhesi and Indigenous people have an almost similar problem: the elite class's continued oppression for a long time. Nepal was in the process of writing the constitution from 2007 to 2015, and suddenly the Earthquake Devastated Nepal with 7.8 magnitudes (Nepal earthquakes: Devastation, 2015). 

Nine thousand people were killed, and millions of homes and infrastructure were demolished. Therefore, National priority has been diverted to provide relief and rebuilt the infrastructure urgently required by the constitution. To create the rules and regulations for the relief and rebuild the project, the newly elected Nepal government brought a fast track constitution. They passed through the Federal Parliament without any debate, even a single word or a single issue. It was blackmailed over the people's political rights. The current constitution has so many mistakes and bad provisions for indigenous people; that is the reason indigenous people are denouncing the constitution, and indigenous rights movements are still ongoing.

In this essay, the Indigenous people movement's history, strengths, and weaknesses will be analysed. And some recommendations will be included. There will be a textbook, journals, and internet sources will be used.

What is indigenous demand, and when was started?

Indigenous people have been marginalized, subjugated, excluded, dominated, discriminated and exploited to land, resources, territories, customary law, culture, and language. (Indigenous peoples in Nepal, 2021). Political exclusion is, of course, economic and job opportunity exclusion as well. There was not a fair and legitimate regime during the panchayat; therefore, people revolted in 1990. This revolution re-established democracy, which allowed for free speech, free press, and a multi-party system. Indigenous people are restarting to learn their own mother language, culture, religion, and rights. They establish an organization for uplifting their own community education and knowledge. During the previous political system (Panchayat), there was a ban to read and write in own language and promote the culture, but the multi-party systems allow them to promote their own identity and free to express and as a consequence, established the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) in 1991 (Introduction, n.d.). There are 59 indigenous nationalities under the NEFIN umbrella. It has 23 international chapters in different states. Along with there are journalists, youth, student, women, lawyer, filmmaker, labor, and disable affiliated federations. Especially, 59 uplifting indigenous organizations are the key elements of the indigenous people's movement in Nepal.

Nepal's indigenous people want a fair and balanced constitution with equal rights, equal responsibility, equal opportunities, and recognized identity. To get this, autonomous, semi-autonomous, and special territorial provision in the federal structure is the best option, and it is continuing on demand.

Nepal's indigenous people want a fair and balanced constitution with equal rights, equal responsibility, equal opportunities, and recognized identity. To get this, autonomous, semi-autonomous, and special territorial provision in the federal structure is the best option, and it is continuing on demand.

Nepal was ruled for 240 years (1768 - 2008) by the Shah dynasty, but after the 1991 rebellion's King's role had liberal, and that power step by step shifted to the Aryan community, and it is still flourishing the Aryan/ Indo-Iranian/Arya power. Aryans are established as power the reason that is Hindu religion, culture, language, and custom's colonized over the indigenous community because it was forcibly imposed during the Shah dynasty. (Sangraula, 2006). Shah's ancestors came from Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, India (Upadhyay, 2018). When they came from Rajasthan, they brought a calendar, customs, culture, and dress, and they imposed in Nepal.

The Maoist insurgency called the Nepalese Civil War began in 1996; the political party Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) has emerged with indigenous people's rights and Identities; as a result, the civil war has expanded and dominated across the country. (Sharma, 2008). The communist party leading insurgency was moving forward with the indigenous identities, secularism, abolished the monarchy. The majority of indigenous people were involved in the Maoist insurgency because of their many unsatisfactions, such as the monarch King Mahindra declared the Hindu state in 1962 (Pant, 1993). And it was continuing until 2007, which was humiliating to another believer. Also, according to Rig Veda, there is a varnashrama system within the Hindu Community, which is born decide what job they do and what their duties in their whole life (Dharma - The nature of human life in Hinduism, n.d.). As a result, Dalits (untouchables) people were also involved in the Maoist insurgency. The communist insurgency was a common effort; unfortunately, insurgent communist leaders negotiated with the government for a government position; it was a stigma of communist history because of world communist history. They replace the government but never be a part of the old regime. Indigenous people had a doubt with the insurgent leaders because most of them were from Hindu community; in the end, they prove themself as conservative and selfish for the indigenous issue; as a consequence, indigenous is continue in the political movement.

State restructuring for the federal structure is the result of indigenous and Madhesi revaluations. Nonetheless, the structuring of federal provinces is not in favor of indigenous people.

There are some major changes such as the abolition of the monarchy, declaration of a secular state, which are the results of the Maoist insurgency. State restructuring for the federal structure is the result of indigenous and Madhesi revaluations. Nonetheless, the structuring of federal provinces is not in favor of indigenous people, as mentioned above. Nepal is highly influenced by southeast Asian politics, whereas exploited by religion. Politics and religion are together in the international context, such as 45 Islamic countries over the world (Muslim Majority Countries 2020, 2020), but an exception is the Communist country of China, they do not give priority to religion, and there is no effect to politics from the religion. Nevertheless, Nepalese politics are highly influenced by religion, which is Hinduism (Acharya, 2005). Due to religious politics, non-Hindu communities are suffering in various aspects such as festive holidays, the government grant for building the religious temple, and destroying non-Hindu heritages. In fact, Nepal is not an entirely secular country; the definition of secularism in the constitution was also wrongly modified; thus, non-Hindu people are enduring but not tolerating; they are making a voice and movement with democratic norms.

Strength of Indigenous 

Nepal's indigenous people's power is population; they are higher than 35.8 percentage (Pradhan, 2019). Some indigenous people claim they are higher than 60 percentage, which is partially true. Suppose we count separately to Khash (Chhetri). In that case, it is closer to true because Khash is originally not Hindu, they are Mosto religious, and Khash has a big population in Nepal. Some people argue that Aryans and Khash are the same. But that is not true owning to the fact that Khash is an indigenous people from far western Nepal, which call Karnali and Khaptad; nonetheless, there are some Aryans/Hindu Chhetri, which makes some time confusion. Aryans are not the Indigenous of Nepal; they enter Nepal from the south part of Nepal in the twelfth century, where Aryans had a fight with Muslims in India; after that fight, they enter Nepal. (Hangen, 2005).

There are 126 ethnic groups in Nepal, according to the National Census 2011. As stated by census Chhetri (Khash/Aryans) 16.6%, Aryans/Brahman 12.2%, Magar 7.1%, Tharu 6.6%, Tamang 5.8%, Newar 5%, Kami 4.8%, Muslim 4.4%, Yadav 4%, Rai 2.3%, rest of all 31.2% is a demography record despite that people do not believe Census 2011 result. (Nepal Profile, 2017). Because indigenous people don't have access to the national planning level and suspect that, they make their own favor of record despite the actual record. And there is some proof as well. It is a long-time ideological conflict between the government and the Indigenous people of Nepal. As a hypocritical prospect, if there was not King Mahindra and if he did not impose Mahindra Nationalist ideology with the Hindu religion, Nepalese society might find much more harmony than this. Present elite leaders are just a product of the Mahindra ideology; they don't have that much contribution and capacity, but people are fully colonized in culture, custom, religion, language, and structure of society; therefore, they just have this regime. State infrastructure is a favor in them. However, the situation has been changed. 

Language is a powerful weapon; indigenous people are more literate than before, and they focus on learning English, which is an international language, and it will bring them closer to the world.

Language is a powerful weapon; indigenous people are more literate than before, and they focus on learning English, which is an international language, and it will bring them closer to the world. Indigenous people keep engaging in Nepalese politics and enhancing culture, custom, and religion, which will pivot to future politics. Uplifting organization and an umbrella of organization NEFIN's is expanding; it has abroad chapters. It has connections with international organizations and a stakeholder of declaration articles. Such as ILO convention 107 and 169 (Introducción al Convenio 169, 2020), the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people 2007 (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous, n.d.), the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination 1965, and the international convention on the economy, social and cultural right 1966 and more, besides that, a major indigenous community Limbu/Yakthung's land Limbuwan case is in debating forms in the United Nations for the International Court Justice (ICJ) (Daes, 2001). It means indigenous people of Nepal are continuing on their demand in diplomat way and political movement way. Although the Nepal government keeps oppressing indigenous people, oppressed people are continually developing their capacity to fight it back.

As maintained by Pratyoush Onta, most people and institutions have taken part in the Janajati (indigenous) movement, a relatively successful social movement in the past 1990 in Nepal (Onta, 2006). It is known as the Jana Andolan I, meaning this is the first revolution, and it was successful. Re-establish democracy with the multi-party system after 30 years (1961-1990). As a consequence, indigenous people restarted to unite with their own uplifting community organization. Those organizations are the pivot of the indigenous movement. A few years later, the majority of indigenous people took part in the Maoist insurgent. They also took part in a democracy restoration movement called the Jana Andolan II in 2006, where the power was returned from the King (Routledge, 2010). Then after the people revolution in 2007/08, which was centric at Madhesh and agreed to adopt the federal system. More of the same, the first the constitution assembly 2008's representation was a considerably high number of indigenous but in the second constitution assembly 2013's representation was a minority (Plachta, 2014). In the general elections 2017, the indigenous won just 29 percent of seats, which is around 7 percent below their share of the total population (Pradhan, 2019). That is the reason Nepal constitution 2015 is not in favor of the indigenous people, and they keep fighting for the rights. 

The weakness of the indigenous people's movement

The weakness of indigenous people's movements is directly or indirectly influenced by the political parties. A political party panel elects the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) leaders. Therefore, they are loyal to the political party rather than NEFIN. Also, NEFIN leaders are often elected from minority ethnic groups. As a result, they cannot bring people to mass in the movement. The majority of indigenous people believe in teamwork; they don't follow the leader; this culture is problematic. If people are not getting a fair opportunity, those people are obviously discordant, and the ruling party is always willing to criminalize indigenous people. The common weakness of the movements is the lockup of financial sources and the media. Nepalese media is a weapon of conspiracy; it can exploit indigenous issues. Apart from that, Nepalese Indigenous people's movements are still on the right track; hopefully, one day succeed in making fair and balanced constitutions and laws in favor of everyone.

The weakness of indigenous people's movements is directly or indirectly influenced by the political parties. A political party panel elects the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) leaders. Therefore, they are loyal to the political party rather than NEFIN.

According to the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system, some essential points are certain quotas for indigenous people. Those quotas should refill or represent through the NEFIN is ideal. Within the NEFIN leader electing system also have to review, there should be balanced the leaders from the big population ethnic group and small population ethnic group. Should be stopped to be loyal to political parties, NEFIN leaders must be dedicated to the NEFIN issues. And, NEFIN has to expand the relationship with international organizations to get solidarity and support.

There is an Indigenous National Movement fronts in Nepal, which is moreover force of Indigenous issues hence have to unite for movements and more of the same all 59 uplifting organizations including all indigenous base organizations have to come together for a common goal, otherwise elite community leads government is all the time against the indigenous people, therefore, if conglomerates fail to come together, they will fail to achieve the goal and may gradually disappear the issues.

In conclusion,

The Indigenous people of Nepal's political movements are still highly expected, and it was expected because Nepalese Indigenous movements were at the peak of the discussion with the hope. Nepalese Indigenous people continue building empowerment and strength in spite of a number of weaknesses. The Nepal government is squandering indigenous related law and order; nevertheless, Indigenous people have successful movement in 1990, 2006, 2007, and 2008, during the first constitution Assembly. Unfortunately, the second constitutional assembly election in 2013 and the general election in 2017 were not in a good position; as a result, the constitution 2015 and restructuring federal structure was made the right opposite of what the indigenous peoples wanted. There are still continue ongoing missions against the indigenous's demand.

Nonetheless, indigenous organizations are more united to achieve the goal to rewrite the fair and transparent constitution and restructuring provinces despite seven provinces. The government may assume the subvert the movement, but it is not; the indigenous movements continue with long determination. There are some weaknesses. However, there are many strengths as well, and overall, the Nepalese indigenous movement has a bright side and hope of success. 

 

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