Ripe for revolt

  • Ignoring the issues of the marginalised only increases the chances of another revolt in Nepal
Ripe for revolt

Oct 9, 2014-

All revolutions have their roots in society, whether it i the American, the French or other subsequent revolutions. Amidst the famous policy of ‘divide and rule’, diverse people came together and raised their voices against numerous atrocities and marginalisation by their governments. These people occasionally succeed in challenging unjust policies. But even after the revolutions, they have tended to suffer the same fate that initially inspired the revolutions.

Multiple causes

Many scholars have pondered the reasons behind the major revolutions, movements, and protests in Nepal. They argue that socio-economic structural problems, such as the unequal distribution of land, feudal relationships in rural areas, livelihood insecurity, the lack of protection of the rights of various communities, and unequal treaties with India have led to revolution. Similarly, mass poverty, unemployment, and the hopelessness among the youths, inequality due to caste/ethnicity, gender, rural/urban and geographical differences, high expectations from democracy, political disorder, and dishonesty also fuel the prospects of a revolution. Furthermore, inequality or relative deprivation, the uneven process of development, remittances and foreign labour migration, greater mobility of people from rural to urban areas and subsequent rapid urbanisation, reduced dependence on the local economy for employment and livelihoods, and changes in the ideologies of people regarding ethnicity, religion and politics, are also major causes that contribute to an increased revolutionary consciousness.

Lessons unlearned

There are some intellectuals who maintain that the state has not really learned anything from its previous errors and is further marginalising ‘certain communities’. Regarding the recent arrests of CK Raut and others protestors in Janakpur, Deepak Thapa (‘Spectre of secession,’ September 25, Page 6) accuses the government of acting unreasonably and having a double standard. Thapa further comments that the Panchayat-era Public Security Act of 1989, which was drafted in a different context and for a different purpose, cannot be implemented in the current situation to prevent Raut’s freedom of expression. Dipendra Jha (‘Silencing dissent,’ September 30, Page 7) warns that the arrest of CK Raut may further marginalise Madhesi communities. While arguing that Raut’s intention was purely non-violent, Jha emphasises that Raut’s freedom of expression was curtailed and therefore, he should be released immediately.

Similarly, in an interview in Kantipur daily, CK Lal argues that our society provides more freedom for the ‘puryetwaad,’ the worshipping of gods via words understandable only to the ‘puryet’ or priest. This, he believes, further breeds ‘Brahamanbaad’ and prevents society from developing an analytical, critical philosophy. In addition, Lal asserts that the social mainstream of Nepal, with its roots in Prithvi Narayan Shah’s conquest and subsequent nation-building, is indeed small and still controlled by the age-old Army, the ‘asali Hindustan’ contractors, the present capitalists, and the think-tanks, mainly ruled by university professors, poets, and writers.

Worringly, since Raut’s arrest, some sections of the country have already started to revolt. Though peaceful, in a recent protest in Rajbiraj, several Madhesi Dalit leaders, young people, students, and farmers expressed their concern over Raut’s arrest. These people, if not placated, may potentially ignite another Madhesi movement against the still-centralised governance structure.

For the people

There are also other communities who are not satisfied with the country and are coming together to strengthen their causes. According to Pasang Sherpa, a former Constituent Assembly member, the five Limbuwan parties—Sanghiya Limbuwan Rajya Parisad, Limbuwan Mukti Morcha, Sanghiya Ganatantrik Party, Limbuwan Mukti Morcha Nepal, and Sanghiya Limbuwan Rajya Parisad—have united to form the Sanghiya Limbuwan Party. In addition, the party has already designed a final stage protest programme in nine districts of eastern Nepal to institutionalise an autonomous state. Speaking at a programme in Jhapa, Khagendra Makhim, the Sanghiya Limbuwan Party vice-president, threatened to burn the new constitution and start a conflict if demands for Limbuwan are ignored by the state. Likewise, the president of the new party, Kumar Lingden warned the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML not to sideline demands for Limbuwan.

These warnings and their potential for revolution must not be ignored. According to Rajendra Maharjan, citing Harka Gurung, the issues of indigenous nationalities and other marginalised groups have to be addressed, and they should not be pushed away from the centre. Therefore, if these issues are further disregarded, these groups can become dangerous and rebellious even while asserting the right to self-determination.

Unquestionably, democracy not only frees citizens and forms a more equal society, but also creates spaces where diverse people can come together and express their own voices. Their acts of liberation, freedom, rights, and justice will be further transformed while increasing their political consciousness.

Given the presence of these multiple conscious groups, revolutions are highly likely. A revolution should not be only understood as the toppling of the government or a major transformation. It is also the everyday politics of the people which can provide sufficient fodder to challenge any autocratic system.

Tewa Dolpo is a Research Assistant at the Nepa School of Social Sciences

Published: 10-10-2014 09:16

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