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Shree Govind Shah, Ph.D., Ecologist and Policy Analyst, 12-13 February 2006

1. INTRODUCTION

The Madheshi community in spite of having a long history of origin and habitat within the present day Nepal is practically considered as outsiders and they have been mostly marginalized and face exclusion in active political participation, administration and governance, decision-making and policy planning. More importantly, they face a serious humanitarian issue regarding their true identity in their own native land. The Madheshi people feel highly discriminated and have almost lost ‘the sense of belonging to this nation’. Since the early 1990s, the Madheshi people have organized community groups and formed societies or organizations for the cause of the Madheshi community. The issues of Madhesh and Madheshi community have been time and again raised by Jha (1993), Jha and Singh (2001), Lawoti (2001), Shah (2002) Yadav (2003, 2005), Chaudhary (2004), Gupta (2004) and few others. Most of the Madheshi people feel that the entire Madhesh region and its inhabitants do not practically exist in Nepal’s consciousness and certainly in the consciousness of most of the donor communities and much of the outside world.

Aditya (1991) analysed the ethno-regional movements in Nepal and concluded that the ethnic sensibilities of Tarai region and the state’s ethnic policy had so far been ad hoc, selective, insensitive and usually reactive. The re-instatement of multiparty democracy in 1990 encouraged the Madheshi people to surface their problems, frustrations and issues. Nepal Sadbhavana party following the multiparty democracy raised the long-dormant ethnic discontent of Madheshi people in Nepal, and few other Madheshi organisations established in 1990s primarily focussed on political and administrative exclusion and the natural rights issues such as citizenship, reservation and linguistic rights. Socio-economic and political exclusion continued even after the re-instatement of multiparty democracy, and many policies and decisions made by the democratic government such as land ceiling, removal of agriculture subsidy etc made by State were against the interests and perspectives of Madheshi people. State institutions as well as the political parties could not practice or promote inclusive democracy, equality and justice and, consequently, Madheshi people were not in a position to influence in policy-making decisions; their participation in governance was nominal. Lawoti (2001) reported a very low level of Madheshi people (11.2%) in the integrated index of governance with none in culture, academic and professional leadership.

The Madeshi community shares 32% of the country’s total human resources, but it’s exclusion from the national mainstream has been one of the negative factors hindering the sound economic development of this country. Moreover, the spirit of harmonious partnership between the two groups of Pahadi and Madheshi communities has never been developed. Socio-political and economic inclusion of Madhesh, generally considered as the ‘bread basket’ of the nation and the major source of revenue generation,  and the Madheshi people, is what the country requires for building a more inclusive nation based on democratic norms and processes. This paper analyses the current status of Madhesh and Madheshi community, the emerging socio-political and economic issues, and recommends relevant research agenda on the issues of social inclusion and nation building. Socio-economic and political exclusion discussed in this paper are data based; there are many minor issues talked quite often but data and information relating to those issues are not available.

2. TARAI REGION

2.1 Tarai Districts
The term Tarai is of recent origin describing the plain areas on the southern side of Siwalik range in South Asia. Tarai region, situated in the Outer Himalayan Zone, has been created by orogenic activity as well as by alluvial action in the Siwaliks and the Himalayan ranges (Spate and Learmonth, 1967). It has unique ecological features having tropical to subtropical climatic conditions. In Nepal, Tarai is geographically divided into ‘Outer Tarai’ and ‘Inner Tarai’, the latter is also called ‘Vitri Madhes’’, the low lying river valleys north of Siwaliks.
In 1963, the government established 75 districts in the country and the previously 17 districts in Tarai were restructured into 20 districts which also included part of Siwalik range and hills. District demarcation was not based on ecological or social basis, which could have then included only the outer Tarai and Vitri Madhesh area. All the Tarai districts have varying proportion of Siwalik and mid mountain areas, the highest being 77.5% in Nawalparasi district, 51.5% in Chitwan district, 50.8 % in Banke district and 41% in Kailali district to the lowest 8.9% in Sunsari district and about 7% in Jhapa district; the average being 32.4% for the 20 districts.
It appears that the well calculated government decision to include part of hills in Tarai district was aimed at gradually increasing the dominance of hill people and their distinctive culture, practices, language and architectural style of the hill region in the plains. Gaige (1975) reported the hill culture and more flexible social traditions and practices penetrating the plain region where the people practiced vegetarianism, observed dietary restrictions and considered inter-caste marriage as social taboo. The inclusion of hill areas in Tarai districts increased the number of hill people in the district reducing chances of plain people to play any decisive roles in the political arena and the governance system in their own area. It also made holistic planning very difficult for the Tarai districts, which since 1963 have been ecologically heterogeneous.

2.2 Area and Population

The total land area in the 20 Tarai districts is 34,109 sq km which accounts for 23.1% of the country’s total land area (Table 1). In 2001, 48.4% of the country’s total population of 23.2 million lived in Tarai districts with a density of 329 persons/sq km. Tarai plain and Vitri Madhesh together covers 15.6% of the country’s total area.

Table 1 Land Area in 20 Tarai Districts

Ecological area Sq km Percentage % of Nepal
Mid mountain and Siwalik 11,041 34.2
Tarai plain including Vitri Madhesh 23,068 67.6
Total 34,109 100 23.1

Source: ISRSC (2004)

Note: Population for Nepal in 2001 was 23.151 million and 11.212 million for Tarai districts.

Country’s total area is 147,484 sq km.

3. MADHESH AND MADHESHI

3.1 Madhesh
The term Madhesh implies the Gangetic plain and the Vitri Madhesh area bordering India on the southern side and spreading north up to the foothill of Siwalik range. The word Madhesh is derived from Sanskrit word ‘Madhyadesh’ which extends from the foothill of the Himalayan region in the north to the Vidhyachal Parbat (mountain) in the south situated in central India. Though the terms Madhesh and Tarai are used synonymously, it is important to note that Madhesh does not cover all parts of Tarai districts; it excludes Siwalik and mid mountain areas. Madhesh is a well defined ecological region, which is approximately 885 km long from its western boundary, the Mahakali River, to its eastern boundary, the Mechi River while its average width along its entire east-west axis is only 26 km varying from 4 km to 52 km.
3.2 Madheshi

Madheshis are the non-hill origin people living in the Madhesh region. The Madheshi community is composed of the traditional Hindu caste hierarchy such as Brahmin, Kshatriya, Baisya and Dalits, and indigenous Janjati ethnic groups, other native tribes and Muslims.  Gaige (1975) used the terms ‘hill people’ and ‘plains people’ living in Tarai districts, and defined a) “plains people are those who speak plains languages as their mother tongues or first language, whether they were born or live in the plains or hills”; the plains languages being Maithili, Bjojpuri, Awadhi, Urdu, Hindi and Bengali, and dialects of these languages basically used by Janjati indigenous groups, and b) “hill people whose mother tongue or first language is one that predominates in the hill region of Nepal such as Nepali, Newari, Magar, Gurung, Rai and others. Sociologically, hill people belong to Hindu caste groups, hill Janjati groups and Newars. The hill people are also called ‘Pahadi’ or ‘Pahadiya’. Dahal (1996) divided the Madheshi community into four groups a) Indigenous Janjati ethnic people living in Madhesh for generations, b) people belonging to traditional Hindu caste hierarchy, c) businessmen of Indian origin e.g. Marwadi, Sikh and others, and d) Muslims.

3.3 Historical Background

3.3 Historical Background
a) Madhesh

Madhesh has a long historical background dating back to the kingdom of Videha or Mithila established in eastern to central Madhesh and a part of the present day north Bihar, India (Malangia, 1997). In the mid western Madhesh, Shakya kings ruled in 600 BC, the Buddha belonging to the Shakya dynasty was born in 563 BC. Similarly, kingdoms were established in Simraun Garh in the present day Bara district. In Madhesh, several kingdoms were established and ruled by many dynasties (Thakur, 1956), which all perished with time and were abandoned and the land converted into forests. Gaige (1975) concluded: “the ancient and medieval history of this region is a cyclic one in which men and forests have dominated in terms”.  Many ruins which are still to be identified and properly studied would tell the ancient history of this region. There was no known immigration to Madhesh region in ancient time.

The history of Kathmandu Valley and some hill regions have been studied and reported by Pahadi as well as by foreign scholars and historians in much detail while they ignored the Madhesh region. Again, there are very few Madheshi historians and scholars who due to lack of resources and motivation have not yet studied in detail the complex ancient history of Madhesh. In recent decades, Lumbini area in Madhesh, the birth place of Buddh, received worldwide recognition and support for meaningful excavation, detail study and renovation of key sites.

b) Kathmandu Valley

Kirant civilization and culture were developing in the Kathmandu Valley in the 7/8th century BC. While during the same period, Aryan civilization and culture were fully developed and flourishing in areas between Koshi and Gandaki rivers and north of Ganges River; there were well established republic states and kingdoms such as Bideh (Mithila), Koshal, Malla and Shakya (Acharya, 2004). Immigration of Licchavis and Bidehs in the Kathmandu Valley started in the 1st century BC. These Aryan immigrants arriving in small numbers over a long period of time gradually adopted language, custom and manner, and food habit of Kirant – Nepar (Newar) community. In due course of time, Licchavis and Videhs transformed into Licchavi-Newar on the basis of the language spoken and manner and custom they practiced, and they were disgraced by the fellow Aryans living in Aryabrata, India who considered Licchavi-Newar of ‘lower social order’ – Aryans always regarded Kirant as “Mlechh”. However, Licchavis and Bidehs in the Kathmandu Valley maintained their respectability, pride and glory and established republic state and kingdom around 250 AD and they ruled until 879 AD (Acharya, 2004, Hutt et al, 1994). Acharya (2004) hints that as because Licchavi in the Kathmandu Valley were socially disgraced by Licchavis and other Aryans living in Aryabrata, people in ancient Nepal developed attitudes antagonizing politically Aryabrata kingdoms.

Abhir or Ahir from central and north-western India migrated to Aryabrata and then to Kathmandu Valley. Abhirs with family name ‘Gupta’ became powerful officials at the Licchavi court and controlled the state affairs between 510 AD and 643 AD, and they also became kings and co-rulers when Licchavi’s hold on power weakened (Acharya, 2004, Hutt et al, 1994). There were power struggles between Licchavi and Abhirs.

Rajputs with the family name ‘Varma’ entered the Kathmandu Valley from India in the mid 6th century AD; Anshuvarma commanded great power in Licchavi court from 595 AD and became a powerful king and a legendry ruler till his death in 622 AD (Acharya, 2004).

Later chronicles attempted to link the Malla rulers in the 13th century with the rulers of Videha or Tirhut, a powerful ruler in Madhesh region. A Maithil queen was powerful in the Malla kingdom for over fifty years between the later part of 14th century and theearlier part of the 15th century, which increased the influence of Maithili language and its highly developed literature in the cultural life of the valley (Hutt et al, 1994).

c) Western Nepal

In the present day far-western Nepal, immigration from north and north-west India started before the 11th century AD. The Khas people migrated from the north-west region such as Kashmir and Khasgar areas and they mixed socially with immigrants from north India including Rajputs as well as with the indigenous populations. By the early 12th century AD, Khas immigrants established kingdoms and ruled a larger area west of Gorkha to Garhwal and Kumaon (Uttaranchal Pradesh, India) and south-western Tibet, and at the end of the 13th century Khas kings ruled the area close to the Kathmandu Valley (Hutt et al, 1994). In the later years, the vast kingdom west of the Kathmandu Valley was divided into two loose federations of many smaller principalities namely the “Baisi Raja” (22 kingdoms) and the “Chaubisi Raja” (24 kingdoms); the kingdom of Gorkha emerged as the most powerful one.

d) Present Nepal

Prithivi Narayan Shah, the ruler of Gorkha, initiated unification of Nepal in 1768, which continued till the beginning of the 19th century. In the year 1813, the kingdom included a large land area spreading from Sikkim in the east to the Kangra Valley in the west and the whole of the Madhesh region up to Ganges River in the south; the total land area was 368,000 sq km. The Anglo-Nepalese war between 1814 and 1816, and the resulting Treaty of Sugauli and subsequent treaties with British India reduced the total land area to 147,181 sq km; Nepal lost all the land west of the Mahakali River and east of the Mechi River as well as substantial Madhesh region. Much of the ancient Madhesh areas ruled by various kings and principalities for centuries are now in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states of India.

3.4 Migration and Population Distribution in Madhesh

Migration in Hills

Historical evidences indicate that most of the hill people excluding the indigenous ethnic groups migrated from various parts of India (Bista, 1967). During the Muslim invasions of the 12th-14th centuries in India, the Kshatriyas and Brahmins migrated to the mountain regions of the present day western Nepal and they established principalities in the hills. They accommodated some aspects of the hill tribe culture to their own and developed the hill culture of today. Around the 12th century, there was eastward migration of people speaking a Sanskrit-based language which later on developed as the Nepali language (Clark, 1963). Comparatively inhospitable and resource poor western hills, and gradual overpopulation and agricultural deterioration pushed the migrant and the indigenous hill people to the eastern hills up to Darjeeling and Sikkim areas in India, which were less densely populated and were wetter (Gaige, 1975). This could be the reason for the acceptance of speakers of Nepali and hill tribal languages from Darjeeling, Sikkim and nearby areas as ethnic Nepalese, who also largely enjoy both Indian and Nepali citizenships.

Migration to Madhesh

Between 1860s and 1951, the government encouraged and made efforts for vertical migration of hill people in Madhesh region. The response was not much favourable due to the alien climatic conditions in Madhesh for the hill people (Paudel, 1980). Madheshi people lived in close settlements south from the dense forest area usually called ‘Char kosher Jhadi’ (8 mile wide forest area extended from the east to the west Madhesh region in the country) while the  Vitri Madhesh was inhabited by Madheshi indigenous Janjati people. As land, water and forest resources were abundant in Madhesh, people from the densely populated districts in Bihar and Uttarpradesh, India having similar cultures, tradition, practices and languages migrated to various parts of Madhesh between the mid 19th and the mid 20th centuries. Most of the places they migrated from were parts of Nepal kingdom prior to Sugauli Treaty.

Overpopulation, agriculture and economic deterioration, natural calamities resulting in famine and many other reasons pushed the hill people of both Hindu castes and indigenous Janjati groups to out-migrate in Madhesh region. Better economic opportunities, abundant land and forest resources and the malaria eradication programme launched by the state encouraged involuntary migration into Madhesh. Migration was mostly to northern Madhesh region and Vitri Madhesh areas, which were forested and had smaller settlements; large areas of forests were cleared for farming and settlements, which gradually reduced access to forest resources for the Madheshi people. Hill people established settlements and farming areas along the East-West Highway under construction. Very few hill people migrated to already established towns such as Janakpur and practically none to the large Madhesh settlements.

Table 2 Linguistic Characteristics of Population in Madhesh Districts

People speaking languages % of population in 1961 1/ % of population in 1981 2/
Eastern Mid western Far western Eastern Mid western Far western
Hill languages 2.1- 24.5 1.2 – 6.3 3.2 – 5.8 12.1- 86.2 28.9- 66.3 46.1- 80.7
Plains languages 75.5- 97.9 93.7- 97.8 94.2 – 96.8 13.8 – 87.9 33.7 – 71.1 19.3- 53.9

Source: 1/ Census of Nepal, 1961 (as cited by Gaige, 1975)

2/ Census of Nepal, 1981

NOTE: In 1963, Madhesh districts were restructured and their number increased from 17 to 20; pars of Siwaliks and mid mountains were included in Madhesh districts.
The linguistic characteristics of the population in Madhesh districts changed significantly between 1961 and 1981 due to the influx of the hill population in Madhesh as well as inclusion of some parts of Siwaliks and mid mountains to Madhesh districts. This marginalized the population speaking plains languages. This resulted in the dominance of hill culture, tradition, practices and languages in Madhesh region particularly in Jhapa, Chitwan, Dang and Kanchanpur districts where about 67% to 85% of the districts’ total population consist of hill linguistic groups. The current trend of changing cultural equation indicates that in three to four decades time, the plains culture, tradition and practices will gradually disappear from most of Chitwan, Jhapa, Kanchanpur, Dang, Nawalparasi, Kailali, and Morang districts, while half and more of Sunsari, Rupendehi, Banke and Bardia districts, and the northern third of Sarlahi, Bara, Parsa and Rauthat districts will be dominated by hill culture.

Population Distribution of Madheshi Community in 2001 (% of total population) is as follows:

Low        15.3 – 47.5%        Chitwan, Jhapa, Kanchanpur, Dang, Nawalparasi, Kailali and Morang (7)

Medium  58.7 –  61.3 %      Sunsari, Rupandehi, Banke and Bardia (4)

High       77.5-93.5 %          8 districts between Koshi and Narayani rivers, and Kapilbastu

According to 1952/54 population census, only about 6% of the population in Madhesh districts was of hill origin and the rest 94% population was composed of Madheshis of Hindu caste hierarchy, indigenous Janjati groups, Muslims and other tribes. The population dynamics significantly changed in 1981 increasing the percentage of hill people from about 6% in 1952 to 43% in 1981. The Pahadi population increased many fold  from merely 142,000 in 1952 to 4.1 million in 2001 while the Madheshi population increased just over two fold from 2.5 million to 5.3 million over the last 50 years (Table 3).

Table 3 Changes in Madheshi and Pahadi Population

(Population in ‘000)

Year Highland group Lowland group Total % of lowland group
1952/54 142 2,246 2,388 94.1
1981 2,795 3,762 6,557 57.4
1991 3,444 5,262 8,706 60.4
2001 4,120 7,092 11,212 63.3

Source: Gurung, H. (1998). Social Demography and Expressions, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1998

CBS (2001). Population Census.

Highland people = people of hill origin; Lowland people = people of plains, Madheshi

3.5 Madheshi Community in Nepal

The 59 castes and ethnic nationalities identified in 2001 census are broadly grouped into Hindu caste hierarchy, Indigenous Janjati and Muslims and their population both in 20 Tarai districts and in other remaining 55 districts are given in Table 4.

Baisya, Yadav and other Hindu caste group share 44.3% of the total Madheshi population followed by Indigenous Janjati (27.5%), Muslims (13.2%) and Dalits (11.9%). Indigenous Janjati, Dalits and Muslims are socio-economically more disadvantaged compared to other Hindu castes. Brahmin, Kshatriya and Kayastha are in minority but they are relatively well-educated, resource rich and more aggressive in politics, governance and in leadership role.

Table 4 Madheshi Community in Nepal

Madheshi Community Population in ‘000 Nepal % of Nepal
Tarai districts Remaining districts
Hindu caste hierarchy
Brahmin/Kshtriya/Kayastha 215.7 13.3 229.0 3.1
Baisya, Yadav and others 3,126.6 168.9 3,295.5 44.3
Dalits 874.1 12.7 886.8 11.9
Indigenous Janjati 1,940.1 106.4 2,046.5 27.5
Muslim 935.5 41.7 972.3 13.2
Total 7,092 343 7,435 100

Source: CBS (2001)

Madheshi community tends to be less migratory in nature compared to hill people and they prefer to remain closely in their traditional settlements. This reduces their chances of integrating with new socio-economic environment as well as with other communities. In general, 95.4% of the Madheshi people live in Madhesh region while the remaining 4.6% live in hills and mountains. Whereas, about 18% of the hill people live in Madhesh region and they out-migrate more easily from their settlements. The hill Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars are well-educated, resource rich, more land and capital and they have achieved leadership dominance not only in their settlements or regions but also in Madhesh region.

4. RESOURCE USE AND MANAGEMENT

Most of the data and information available on natural resources such as land, forests, productivity and production, economic activities and general economics are given at district level. The data available for Madhesh region is briefly described here.

The 20 Tarai districts have in total 1.414 million ha of arable land; 87.3% of the total arable land is in Madhesh region and the remaining 12.7% in hills (Table 5). Arable land covers 53.5% of the Madhesh region while only about 16% of hills in the Tarai districts are cultivated. This unbalanced arable land distribution could exert more pressure on Madhesh region for farmland resources.

Table 5. Agriculture Land and Forests in 20 Tarai Districts

Area Tarai districts Madhesh region Hilly region
Total area in Tarai districts 3,411 2,307 1,104
Arable land 1,414 1,234 180
Forest land 1,364 486 878
% of arable land 41.5 53.5 16.3
% of forest land 40.0 21.1 79.5

Source: ISRSC (2004)
Although the irrigation facility developed in the last 100 years or so cover about 62% of the total farmland but due to various technical and management problems only about 46% of the total farmland is actually irrigated at least during wet season (Shah and Singh, 2001). It has been estimated that only about 22% of the farmland is irrigated during winter months and just below 5% in spring. Multiple cropping and commercial crops would require water throughout the whole growing season. This would put a barrier to the economic development of Madhesh people whose economic activities are mainly agriculture based.

There is unbalanced forest distribution in Madhesh region; only about 21% of the Madhesh region is forested compared to about 80% in hilly areas of the 20 Tarai districts (Table 5). People in the Madhesh region have very little access to forest resources, and again, a major part of the forests are located in national parks and wildlife reserves, which are not available for people’s use.

5. EXCLUSION OF MADHESH AND MADHESHI COMMUNITY

Nepal has become to a greater extent an unequal society in which some people or communities and geographical areas have prospered while many other communities and districts have not. There is a strong conceptual debate around the notion that exclusions, either social, economic, political or geographical have been the main causes of unequal society. Exclusion results in poverty, unequal distribution of resources and development initiatives, and in the inability of certain communities or geographical areas to participate in socio-economic and political development processes.

Social exclusion is defined as “the inability of our society to keep all groups and individuals within reach of what we expect as a society and the tendency to push vulnerable and difficult individuals into the least popular places”. Education, skills, social behaviour, social network and groups, social contact, welfare, health, child poverty, isolation and vulnerability are the key social exclusion indicators. Children living in poverty may enter a cycle of poor educational achievement, unmanageable behaviour, unemployment and homelessness.

Economic exclusion would primarily include unemployment, income, economic opportunity, social and support services such as health, drinking water and basic infrastructure. There is a positive relationship between social exclusion and economic exclusion; illiterate and poor individuals are even more excluded because their low ability to read and write prevents their adaptation, professional conversion and their social mobility (Layachi, 2001).

Political exclusion inhibits basic citizenship rights and when done on a large scale, it prevents communities and even geographical areas from participating in the political arena and this consequently inhibits democratic process. The key variables are basic citizenship rights, participation in political life, making public policies, decision-making process and representation.

5.1 Geographical Exclusion

In Nepal, there exist strong geographical inequalities in developing basic socio-economic infrastructures and facilities, and providing development opportunities. In recent years, few researchers have linked the results of geographical exclusion such as wide spread poverty, inequality in resource distribution, increasing vulnerability and marginalizing the local inhabitants particularly in the mid-western and far-western region of Nepal with the Maoist insurgency (Nayak, 1998; Panday, 1999; Kumar, 2000; Upreti, 2002; and others).

There are examples of geographical disparity in other parts of the world e.g. Sri Lanka, Ireland, Bhutan and many other countries; in most of these countries the disparity is between the northern and the southern parts of the country. Tarai districts are located in the southern part of Nepal where 95.5% of the total Madheshi people (7.435 million) live. There are 20 districts in Tarai administrative area and 55 districts are located in hills and mountains where 82.2% of the Pahadi people live. Resource Endowment Ranking Index values are used to measure geographical disparity in the country.

a) Social Exclusion

Poverty

The worst poverty prevails in the Tarai districts. About 45% of the 20 Tarai districts have the worst poverty rankings and only 25% are ranked as ‘best’ compared to districts in hills and mountains where 35% are ranked as ‘best’ and 29% are ranked as ‘worst’.  The Tarai districts having good access to transportation, and marketing systems are also reported to have rich natural resources endowment rankings, particularly the cultivated land (Table 6).

Table 6. Poverty and Natural Resources Ranking Index

(Number of Districts)
Index Ranking Group Poverty Ranking NR Ranking
Tarai districts H/M districts Tarai districts H/M districts
Ranking 1-25 Worst 9 16 0 25
Ranking 25-50 Intermediate 6 20 3 19
Ranking 51-75 Best 5 19 17 11
TOTAL 20 55 20 55

Source: Sharma and Shah (2002), ICIMOD (1997)

There appears to be ethnicity and poverty interaction. Rauthat, Siraha, Mahotari, Dhanusha and Sarlahi districts, where about 78-94% of the total population is Madhesi people, are ranked as having worst poverty cases; the poverty ranking index ranges from the lowest 4 in Rautahat to 13 in Sarlahi district. The poverty level is reported to be very low in Jhapa, Chitwan and Morang districts where majority of the people are of hill origin.

b) Education

About 90% of the Tarai districts have a large number of educationally deprived populations compared to only about 13% in hills and mountain districts (Table 7). Siraha, Bardia, Dhanusha, Mahotari, rauthat and Sarlahi have the largest number of educationally deprived people.

Fifty percent of the Tarai districts have ‘worst ranking’ for child literacy rates compared to 29% in hills and mountain districts. Rauthat, Sarlahi and Mahotari are the worst in child literacy index values. Again, 40% of Tarai districts have lower overall literacy rates compared to 31% in hill districts.

Table 7. Educationally Deprived Population and Child Literacy Rates

(Number of Districts)
Index Ranking Group Educationally deprived population Child literacy rates
Tarai districts H/M districts Tarai districts H/M districts
Ranking 1-25 Worst 18 7 10 16
Ranking 25-50 Intermediate 1 25 7 17
Ranking 51-75 Best 1 23 3 22
TOTAL 20 55 20 55

Source: Sharma and Shah (2002)- New ERA, ICIMOD (1997)

b) Economic Exclusion

There is a disparity in per capita budget allocation between Tarai and hill districts; 10 out of the 20 Tarai districts have ‘worst’ index values compared to about 17% of the hill districts. Similarly, more number of Tarai districts has lower primary sector development compared to hill districts (Table 8).

Table 8. Per Capita Budget Allocation and Primary Sector Development Index

(Number of Districts)
Index Ranking Group Per Capita budget allocation Primary sector development
Tarai districts H/M districts Tarai districts H/M districts
Ranking 1-25 Worst 10 9 8 16
Ranking 25-50 Intermediate 5 18 8 14
Ranking 51-75 Best 5 28 4 25
TOTAL 20 55 20 55

Source: Sharma and Shah (2002)- New ERA, ICIMOD (1997)
The data and information so far available indicate that the Tarai districts that have a higher proportion of Madheshi population have much lower socio-economic index values compared to districts where hill people are in dominance. However, there is no information and data available for comparing hill people and plains people living in the same district; the hill people generally live in the northern part of the district, along the highways and in growth centres whereas plains people mostly live in the rural areas with less accessibility to education, health and other development parameters.

Government and political organisations have been advocating and focusing poverty reduction programme mostly in the hills and mountains, and they have been advocating to the donors that only the hills and mountains have large number of poor people. It appears that the politicians, policy makers, decision makers and national planners who are mostly of hill origin ignore the socio-economic development issues of Madhesh and the Madheshi community. The fact is that the Madheshi people are not in the right place for their voices to be heard or considered.

c) Political Exclusion

Electoral Constituencies

The average population per constituency is considerably higher in Tarai districts (127,414) than in the mountain (73,026) and hill districts (109,081) (Table 9). This reduces the number of parliamentarians representing Tarai region where about 96% of the country’s total Madheshi people live while increases their number from hills and mountains where 82% of the country’s total Pahadi people live.

Table 9. Political Constituency Delineation in Nepal

Mountain Hills Tarai Total
Districts 16 39 20 75
Population (‘000) 4,141 10,398 8,644 23,183
Constituencies 23 94 88 205
Population/Constituency 73,026 109,081 127,414 103,174
Population/Constituency Range 9,587 to 121,996 67,434 to 154,549 114,056 to 157,349

Source: District Demographic profile of Nepal, Informal Sector Research & Study Centre, 2002, Kathmandu, Nepal
5.2 Exclusion of Madheshi Community

About 96% of the Madheshi community lives in 20 Tarai districts and 15 of these districts have intermediate to worst poverty situation. Although there is no reliable data available, general observations indicate that the Madheshi people living in traditional settlements in rural areas have nominal access to state developed community infrastructure and facilities and, moreover, the induced economic opportunities are practically non-existent in their habitats. Many of the modern day basic facilities have not yet reached Madhesh villages.

Nearly 40% of the Madheshi population is Dalits and indigenous Janjati who are inherently disadvantaged in many social and economic aspects. Again, poverty is very high among the Muslim population living in rural areas; they have average low rate of literacy and their socio-economic development voices have reached nowhere; they share 13% of the total Madheshi population. There is vertical marginalisation and deprivation within Madheshi community; about 53% of the population belonging to indigenous Janjati, Dalit and Muslim community have very little access to socio-economic development opportunities. Investment from donor agencies has been nominal in Madhesh region particularly where Madheshi population is dominant, and very few numbers of donor agencies have reached to Janjati, Dalit and Muslim settlements with socio-economic programme.

In fact, the Madheshi community has never been fully integrated in the overall political, socio-economic and human resource development agenda of the country. They have been excluded from the national mainstream. There is widespread feeling among the Madheshi community that they have been strongly discriminated and are not given proper opportunities in the country. They lack proper share in development activities and are not represented in politics or decision-making processes. Education facilities and job opportunities either in government or international organisations functioning in the country are not easily available for Madheshi people. They are not allowed to work in military service and very few people work in police service.

a) Social Exclusion

Poverty

Poverty line in Nepal is currently estimated to be 31%. However, about 46% of Dalits, 41% of Muslims and 33% of indigenous Janjati population are below the poverty line (World Bank, 2006). Together these three major ethnic groups have 52.6% of the total Madheshi population. The rest 47.4% of the Madheshi people have lower poverty level. The above poverty data indicates that a large proportion of Madheshi households are excluded from mainstream development. Poverty itself is the main factor of exclusion; poor people cannot afford basic education, primary health care, sanitation practices and decent housing.

Land Assets

Landlessness has become a major problem among the Madheshi community. The recent report indicates a grave situation particularly in Dalit, Janjati and Muslim ethnic communities; about 37% of Dalits, and 32% of Janjati households do not own agricultural land while 41% of Muslims are landless. About 79% of Mushar, a Dalit community, do not own land; they have the lowest literacy rate of 7.3%.

Education

About 79% Dalits, 68% Muslims, 54% indigenous Janjati and 42% mid caste population are illiterate. The female literacy is very low, below 11%, among Dalits and Muslim. A large Madheshi population has been excluded from basic education. Again, the level of education in rural Madhesh is of much lower grade.

b) Economic Exclusion

Employment

Three castes/ethnic groups, namely Brahmins, Chhetri and Newars have dominated the civil service in this country. In 1991 these three castes constituted 36% of total population in Nepal but occupied 89.2 percent of position in civil service, while Madheshi community accounted for 32% of population but occupied only 8.4% of position in civil service (Table 10). This indicates that Madheshi people have been highly discriminated against in government services. It is interesting to note that in 1971 these three castes had occupied 89% of posts in civil services. Thus, the pattern of civil service had not changed much over the twenty years between 1991 and 1971. The Brahmin, Chhetris and Newars have dominated the civil service for many years and it is very unlikely that this trend will change in near future.
Table 10. Representation of different Caste/Ethnic groups in Civil Service

Caste/Ethnic Group % of Population in 1991 Share in Civil Service

(in Percent)

1971* 1991**
Brahmins 12.9 32.0 41.3
Chhetri & Thakuri 17.6 21.0 14.7
Newar 5.6 36.0 33.2
Tarai (Madheshi) 32.0 7.0 8.4
Hill Social Group 22.4 4.0 2.4
Others 8.3

Source:

* Pashupati Rana’s Nepal’s Fourth Plan: A Critique. (Yeti Pocket Book Ltd 1971) pp 18-19

** D.N. Dhungel’s article “The Nepalese Administrative System” in Contemporary Nepal .P.P. 122-123.
Manpower involved in International organisations in Nepal and projects implemented under these organisations is given in Table11. About 81% of the total manpower involved in the 30 multilateral agencies working in Nepal and 61 projects funded by these agencies are from Pahadi community, 14.1% are foreigners and the rest 5.2% are Madheshi people.

Table 11 Manpower Involved in International Organisations in Nepal

Organisations/ Agencies No. Manpower Ivolved, 2001
Foreigner Pahadi Madhesi Total
International (Multilateral) 30 121 (15.8%) 608 (79.2%) 38 (5.0%) 767
Projected implemented by Multilateral Agencies 61 21 (8.6%) 209 (85.3%) 15 (6.1%) 245
TOTAL 91 142 (14.1 %) 817 (80.7%) 53 (5.2%) 1,012

Source: UNDP (2001). Directory of the United Nations and Its related Specialized Agencies in Nepal, September 2001, UNDP, Kathmandu
Judiciary

Just over 8% of the total judges in the country are from Madheshi community, while the rest 92% are from Pahadi community (Table 12). Participation of judges from Madheshi community at the Appeal Court is about 13.0%, which could be considered a ‘high level of participation’ compared to 6.1% at the District Courts. The lower number of judges could probably be due to a) discrimination of Madheshi community to enter into the judiciary agencies, b) low number of law graduates from Madheshi community, and c) unwillingness to join the judiciary services for various reasons.

Table 12. Man Power Distribution in Judiciary, 2001

Type of Judiciary Pahadi Madhise Total % Madhise
Chief Justice & Supreme Court Justices 18 2 20 10.0
Chief Justices of Appeal Court 10 2 12 16.7
Judges of Appeal Court 64 9 73 12.3
Judges of District Court 123 8 131 6.1
First class officers in judicial services 18 0 18 0
TOTAL 233 21 254 8.3
Percentage 91.7 8.3

Source: HMG (2001). Nyaya Parishad Bulletin, Nyaya Parishad Secretariat, 18 December 2001 (3 Paush 1958)

Employment in Higher Posts

The Pahadi people, particularly the Brahmins and Chhetris control most of the positions of power and influence the government and other governing institutions in their actions. They consider Madheshi people as ‘non-Nepali’ or ‘less Nepali’ and the latter population get excluded from a higher post unless a Madheshi person is in their high level of confidence. Table 13 shows a very low level of involvement of Madheshi people in constitutional bodies and in higher posts where national policies are made, and contain the key decision makers and policy implementers.

Table 13. Madheshi Representation in Cabinet, Constitutional Bodies and High Official Posts

Post and Organisations Posts Pahadi Madheshi % Madheshi
Ministers 24 21 4 16.7
Royal Standing Committee 8 7 1 12.5
Judges in Supreme Court 21 12 2 9.5
Chiefs of the Constitutional bodies 7 7 0 0
Members of Constitutional bodies 19 17 2 10.5
National Human Rights Commission 5 4 1 20.0
National Planning Commission 6 5 1 16.7
Ambassadors/Consulate Generals 23 22 1 4.3
Secretary/regional administrators 37 36 1 2.7
Vice-Chancellors 5 5 0 0
Vice-Chancellor RONAST, Royal Nepal Academy 2 2 0 0
Chief of Security forces 3 3 0 0
Dept. heads of HMG’ 47 43 4 8.5
Chief of Govt. Corporations and Committees 56 52 4 7.1
Chief of Govt. Information and Communication agencies 4 4 0 0
Heads of Parliamentary bodies & committees 15 12 3 20.0

Source: Singh, A. (2003) Restructuring of Nepali State: A Madheshi Perspective

Note: Number of Minister is of Girija Prasad Kiorala cabinet in 2001, all the other data are before October 2002.

c) Political Exclusion

In the two houses of parliament composed after the 1991 election, Brahmins held 38.1% of the seats and Newars 8.3%, the highest proportion in all four legislatures which were the products of adult franchise (Table 14). Similarly, they continued to retain their numbers even in the election of 1999 where Brahmins and Newars held 39.6% and 8.3% respectively. Brahmins, Chhetri and Newar dominated the seats in combined upper and lower houses of parliament constituting 65.2% of seats while they represent 36% of the population. On the other hand, the Madhesh community constituted only 17.4% of seats while representing 32.0% of population. Thus, one finds a serious imbalance in the representation of the various communities in the so-called national legislature, which is our law-making body.

Table 14. Representation of Various Caste and Ethnic Groups in National Legislature

(In per cent)

Caste/Ethnic Groups National Legislature Population
1959 1981* 1991 1999 1991
Brahmins 27.5 13.3 38.1 39.6 12.9
Chhetri/Thakuri 31.2 36.3 18.2 17.3 17.6
Newar 3.7 8.1 8.3 8.3 5.6
Subtotal 62.4 57.7 64.6 65.2 36.1
Madheshi 22.0 18.5 19.6 17.4 32.0
Hill SocialGroups 15.6 23.0 14.7 14.7 22.4
Others 0.7 1.2 1.5 8.3

Source: Pashupati Rana’s Article “The Evolution of Nepalese Nationalism” in Contemporary Nepal, pp 83

IIDS, The Fourth Parliamentary Election.

·         Gurung, Harkha, The Sociology of Election in Nepal:1959-81, Asian Survey, Vol XXII, March 1982, p.313

Table 15. Central Committee Members in Major National Political Parties

Political Parties Total Pahadi Madheshi % Madheshi
Nepali Congress 38 35 3 7.9
Communist Party of Nepal (UML) 69 65 4 5.8
Nepali Congress Democratic 30 25 5 16.7
Jan Morcha Nepal 44 43 1 2.3

Source: Ahiraj (2006): Madhesh Vani, January 2006.

The structure in the political parties is mostly centralized and is largely non-inclusive. Again, the major leaders in any political party are the hill Brahmins and Chhetris and normally the Madheshi people are discriminated against in most actions. Central Committee of any political party is vital for formulating policies and the members make collective decision for important action. It appears that the Pahadi leaders do not have confidence in the Madheshi people and they tend to exclude the latter in policy formulation and decision-making jobs. Nepali Congress and the UML are the major democratic parties in the country but they have included only few Madheshi as members in their Central Committees (Table 15). They advocate proportional representation but this is not evident in their actions. Again, if the Madheshi central committee members discuss in detail on Madheshi issues and advocate policies for the betterment of the Madheshi people, they are told to join the Sadbhavana Party. This fact was narrated to me by one of the very few Madheshi central committee members in the undivided Nepali Congress back in 2002.

Again, representation of Madheshi politicians in both Upper House and Lower House is considerably low (Table 16). This could greatly inhibit the democratization process in this country. The findings clearly indicate that Madheshi people are very much ignored and are under-represented in the current political arena. This, in the long run, is likely to create a vulnerable situation in the country.

Table 16. Number of Madheshi Member of Parliament in 1999

Political Parties Total MPs Lower House Upper House
Lower House Upper House Pahadi Madheshi Pahadi Madheshi
Nepali Congress 113 24 90 23 21 3
Communist Party of Nepal (UML) 69 20 59 10 19 1
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party 11 5 7 4 5 0
Nepal Sadbhavna Party 5 1 1 4 0 1
Rashtriya Jana Morcha 5 0 5 0 0 0
Nepal Majdoor Kishan Party 1 0 1 0 0 0
United People’s Front 1 0 1 0 0 0
King’s Nominees 0 10 0 0 9 1
Total 205 60 164 41 54 6
% Madheshi 20.0 11.1

Source: Parliament Secretariat Records, Singha Durbar, Nepal, 1999.
Involvement of Madheshi People in Media

As with the political parties, both the government and private sector or non-government media sector have excluded Madheshi people from their management committees (Table 17). The media is negligent in highlighting the socio-economic, development and political issues of Madhesh and Madheshi people in a positive manner. The voices and the grievances of the common Madheshi people unless they hold a major position in governance are lost. During the past fifty years, the country witnessed different forms of democratic systems and governance management, and since the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1990 many media houses have been established who publish a large number of daily to monthly newspapers and magazines and broadcast news mostly in Nepali and English languages. However, these newspapers seldom publish news on Madhesh and the Madheshi people’s welfare or plight unless pressure is put on them.

Table 17. Involvement of Madheshi people in Media

Total Pahadi Madheshi % Madheshi
A. Government Media: Management Committee
Press council 13 10 1
Radio Nepal 5 4 1
Gorakhapatra 5 5 0
Nepal Television 5 5 0
Rastriya Samachar Samiti 5 5 0
Subtotal 33 29 2 6.01
B. Non-government Media
Nepal Patrakar Federation 24 23 1
Press Chautari 21 21 0
Nepal Press Union 12 12 0
Press Group 23 22 1
SAAF Nepal 25 25 0
Nepal Environment Media Group 13 15 0
Federation of National News Media 13 12 1
Subtotal 131 128 3 2.3

Source: Ahiraj (2006): Madhesh Vani, January 2006.

6. EMERGING ISSUES OF MADHESHI COMMUNITY

The Madheshi community in general has been marginalized and the people suffer from a combination of linked problems such as illiteracy, poverty, poor skills, unemployment in public sector and average low incomes. Undoubtedly, there is an affluent society in Madhesh community composed of Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Kayasthas who are relatively better educated, well off, prosperous and lead a comfortable life, but they are in the minority of just 3.1% of the total Madheshi population. The majority of the population belonging to Dalits, Janjati, Muslims and other caste groups such as Yadavs, Baisyas and others living in rural areas are facing acute hardship. Poor investment, unplanned management of already deteriorating land resources, poor socio-economic infrastructures and facilities and lack of socio-economic planning have adversely affected the majority of the Madheshi people.

There has been little effort made to prevent social, economic and political exclusion and to reintegrate those who have become excluded through unemployment, landlessness, homelessness, discrimination and so on. The past discriminatory public policies and general unhealthy attitudes of the governing hill people towards the average Madheshi person have been detrimental to national integration. Their problems have not been solved; rather they have been ignored by the State. In fact, the country has been united only physically and little or no efforts have been made to unite all the population mentally. The major emerging social, economic and political issues which need immediate to short term actions are briefly described here.

a) Social Issues

1. Identity and Recognition

Most of the Madheshi people are loosing their identity since they are treated as ‘less Nepali’ or ‘non-Nepali’ by Pahadi people. One of the main reasons could be attributed to their socio-cultural, linguistic and physical affinity with the communities living immediately on the other side of the border in India, which historically was a part of Madhesh kingdoms or Nepal kingdom till the Sugauli Treaty. Culture, tradition, practices and language have a great influence on the ‘identity’ of a person e.g. a Nepali or hill language speaking person from Darjeeling or Sikkim, who has been living there for generations, is readily accepted in Nepal as a Nepali and he or she enjoys all the socio-economic and political benefits. Whereas a Madheshi who does not speak Nepali or any other hill language and who does not follow hill traditions and practices is not easily accepted as Nepali by hill Nepalese.
2. Illiteracy and Poor Skills

There is mass illiteracy among the Dalits, Janjati, Muslims, and the other caste people living in the villages. Female education is practically non-existent among many communities living outside the urban centres. The traditional society has changed very little in the last fifty years or so, and due to their non-migratory nature, they have little interaction with other communities. Again, the level and quality of secondary or higher secondary education in Madhesh region is quite inferior compared to the education available in hill areas. Consequently, the Madheshi people obtaining all of their education in the Madhesh region cannot compete with Pahadi people who obtain their education in hills, where it is comparatively superior. This leads to a loss of opportunities for the Madheshi people.

There are social diseases widely prevailing in the Madheshi community mainly due to illiteracy, conservative tradition and practices, poverty, and lack of exposure and understanding. Such social maladies are dowry system, child marriage, untouchability, depriving female child from education, and discouraging participation and involvement of women in social advocacy, social work, civil society, politics and economic opportunities.
3. Poverty and Vulnerability

There is widespread poverty (45% of the Madhesh districts) among Madheshi community particularly Dalits, Muslims, Janjatis and other caste people living in traditional settlements who are nearly landless. They lack assets for economic production, and the lack of food security has many widespread effects influencing health and nutritional standards as well as child education. This also forces them to have less concern for environmental considerations. Poverty and illiteracy increases vulnerability and in a vulnerable society, democratic values and democratization have very little meaning.

b) Economic and Development Issues

1. Unemployment and Under Employment

In the absence of off-farm economic opportunities in villages, most of the people are under-employed. In recent years, uneducated teenagers and young people have temporarily migrated to India for economic opportunity.  This has lead to an imbalance in the labour supply to farming in many parts of the Madhesh region. Additionally, there is unemployment for the educated Madheshi people in government, non-government, INGOs or international organizations working in Nepal, primarily due to the exclusion behaviour of these institutions towards the Madheshi people. This poses a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

2. Weak Social Organizations and Support Services

In the past two decades, social institutions advocating and working on social, economic and political development in Madhesh region have been formed by Madheshi community. Such entities are of varied natures and are based on castes and ethnicity, language, research and studies, human rights and advocacy, political rights, and socio-economic works. These organizations find it hard to get financial and working support from the State as well as from the donor communities. In general, most of these organizations are committed to the cause of Madheshi community, but lack of co-ordination among them, missing unified vision, divided opinions, and unfocused objectives have made them inadequate in yielding desired results.
Again, the government support services are dwindling and have not yet reached many villages where most of the households are Madheshi. Most of the project implementers at the district level are of hill origin and they tend to implement their programme in areas dominated by hill people due to various reasons such as good communication, high level of programme adaptation and so on.

3. Low Level of Investment and Lack of Economic Opportunity

Although the government collects most of its revenue from Madhesh region, there is very little return in the form of investment in rural areas where majority of the Madhesi people live. Investment in the rural Madhesh area from both the government and the donor community appears to be very low. Most of the industries are located in urban centres and they do not help the local rural people much. Again, the agro-based industries established in the Madhesh region are not tied up with agriculture farming; they import raw materials from other countries which could be technically produced in Madhesh.

In fact, there is no evaluation of government or donor policies, strategies and action plan prepared and implemented during the past five decades in Madhesh region and their benefits on Madheshi population. It is essential to analyse the past policies and make necessary modification for the benefit of the Madhesh region and the Madheshi community.
The issue of renovation and reconstruction of the Hulaki Road has been raised on many occasions. This road was constructed in early 20th century and connects the inner part of Madhesh region from Jhapa in the east to Kanchanpur in the west.

c) Political Issues

1. Basic Citizenship Rights

This is the major political issue still unresolved by the State or the political parties. Many of the Madheshi people are landless or homeless. A large number of Dalits, Janjatis, Muslims and other caste people who are landless are denied citizenship certificates. The government law and the public policies are not very clear and positive. Moreover, the persons at district level authorized to give citizenship certificates are mostly high caste or affluent hill people, and usually show negative tendencies while granting citizenships. Denial of basic citizenship rights means no rights to get a job in the government, corporations or even private companies. This also means that they cannot get government support or loan from the bank or purchase land for housing or farming. Many Madheshi people have lost their right to vote and it prevents them from participating in political life, even at the village level. This is humiliating for the Madheshi people who are denied of their natural and most basic birth right.

2. Demarcation of Madhesh Districts

The current demarcation of Tarai districts does not follow any scientific, ecological or social basis. Amendment is required and a new demarcation needs to be carried out, which will include only the outer and Vitri Madhesh region for efficient socio-economic planning for holistic development. This would increase participation of the Madheshi community in decision-making processes. Again, the zonal and the regional development system of area demarcation have marginalised the Madheshi community; they become the minority in their own land. Moreover, very little exercise has been carried out to advocate the benefits of putting the entire Madhesh region in one province for economic planning and development.

3. Participation in Political Arena

Low level of participation in policy and decision-making body of political parties such as central committees and lack of proportional representation in parliament are the emerging issues. The political parties have so far ignored emerging issues of Madhesh and Madheshi people and the under representation prohibits advocacy for betterment. The inclusion of the Madheshi community (33% of the country’s human resources) in the national political mainstream would provide incalculable benefits to the country’s economy.

4. Census Mechanism

Many people believe that the results of the past census are not satisfactory; the data on Madhesh population and the resources they use do not seem to be accurate. Some sample survey done in the Madhesh area indicates much higher Madheshi population than shown in the last census.

5. Migration of People in Madhesh

Madhesh region is already over crowded and the resources are dwindling to maintain the increasing population. The issue of discouraging population to permanently migrate from hills and from the adjoining areas in India to Madhesh region has been very often raised. Status and impacts of voluntary and involuntary migration of hill people as well as people from India on resource use and management, economic development, social behaviour, culture and tradition, natural rights, governance system, participation and involvement etc are not known.

7. RELEVANT RESEARCH AGENDA

The exclusion of Madheshi people in the national mainstream would be the major obstruction to progress in the country’s economy. People who believe in the integration of societies often ask the question – “How to achieve that goal?” Social, economic and political exclusions exist in many countries and within a society or geographical area. However, there are some good examples of positively integrating the varied societies and nationalities within a country, which are all initiated at the economic and at the political level.
There is continued conceptual debate around the notions of exclusion and inclusion. How an excluded community or group could be included in the mainstream for nation building. Firstly, we need to understand the dynamic processes taking place which encourages different forms of exclusion in Nepal. There is lack of data and information on various sub components of social, economic and political exclusion. Secondly, to investigate the institutional aspects which prevent exclusion, and promote recovery, regeneration and inclusion?

All the major social, economic and political issues described earlier are the research agenda. There is little reliable information available on Madhesh and Madheshi people who are more diverse on ethnic background and traditionalism compared to the hill people. We need to fully understand the dynamic processes taking place which causes different forms of exclusion or which could facilitate inclusion. There is lack of data and information on various sub-components of social, economic and political exclusion.

The major research agenda in terms of social inclusion of Madheshi community in nation building are as follows:

Social Study

  • This is a vast area and the major indicators to be studied include a) education, skills and human resources, b) social behaviour, social taboo, c) tradition, culture and norms and codes, and languages, d) isolation and vulnerability, e) welfare and health, f) impact of social conflict, and f) child poverty.
  • Investigate ways and means to unite the scattered Madheshi social organisations representing all the ethnic Madheshi community for achieving the common goal of holistic development of Madhesh and Madheshi community.
  • Data base to quantify strengths of Madheshi community: social organisations, studies and researches done in various field, literatures, people working in different areas including physical, biological and social sciences.
  • Investigate the institutional aspects, which could prevent exclusion and promote recovery and regeneration of the society and their inclusion.
  • Status of Madheshi women and children from all the castes and ethnic communities. Data base and authentic information to quantify the reasons for their backwardness in education, health, natural rights and in other relevant aspects. There is no or very little information on Madheshi women and children. This would be the major research agenda involving at least 70% of the total Madheshi population and needs to be funded adequately.

Economic Development Study

  • Analyse government and donor policies and strategies formulated and action plans prepared and implemented in the last five decades. The findings would help to formulate appropriate policies and strategies for the benefit of Madhesh and Madheshi community.
  • Assess the current status of resources and physical infrastructures and community facilities that could be wisely used for holistic development in Madhesh

Political Study

  • Analyse the abuse of natural rights such as deprivation of citizenship and their adverse impacts on socio-economic development in Madhesh and Madheshi community.
  • Analyse the level of inclusive representation of Madheshi community in politics, governance, decision-making process, country’s representation and many other political attributes. Assess the impacts of federal system of political governance.

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(This paper was presented at the Civil Society Forum Workshop for Research Programme on Social Inclusion and Nation Building in Nepal, Organised by SNV –Netherlands Development Organisation on 13 February 2006, Kathmandu, Nepal)

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