Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why the Nepali press is prejudiced against Madhesi movement

The Madhesi movement in Nepal now promises to enter what may turn out to be a dangerous as well as decisive phase. After nearly six months of agitations along the Indo-Nepal border and above fifty deaths in police firings, the agitators, especially the youth may turn to violence and their leaders may not be able to dissuade them. There is already some talk of marching to Kathmandu and confronting the government in a decisive faceoff. Nepal’s new constitution is an outcome of several years of negotiations among the different political groupings and is supposed to be celebrated according to some. But the Madhesis feel that the constitution gives them a raw deal as second class citizens. There is even talk of the hill people, particularly the upper castes among them treating the terai [plains] as their colony and a captive breadbasket. With the terai area responsible for above fifty per cent GDP and with a thirty per cent population, the terai populace is placed very strategically – in a landlocked Nepal, they can shut off the borders and create a calamitous lack of supplies as they have indeed already done. Whether India is complicit in this action along the borders is not very relevant at this stage. As the article in question demonstrates, it is the internal dynamic and the deeply entrenched pig-headedness of the privileged hill elite that is responsible for what seems a manageable mess at this point but may not remain so too long.

This article written by a foreign journalist who spent several months in Nepal unveils why we are not getting a true picture of the goings on across the border except some occasional scrappy murmurings in the Indian regional press. The Nepal media itself it seems is heavily dominated by the doggedly opinionated advocates of the hill elite. This is probably for the first time in many months that someone with a close view from the ground is reporting on Nepal. The article appeared in a Delhi-based monthly and not even a daily which only goes to show how oblivious of our immediate neighbours the Indian mainstream media can be.

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