Federalism in Nepal: Cure or Disease?
By Bishal Shah
What is wrong with having a unitary system in Nepal like that of Great Britain? No one is sure that Federalism will be the only answer to all ailments Nepal has. It could well be the major factor which will divide Nepal permanently. Why cannot Nepal fulfill its nationals' desire through the policy of decentralization? What is the guaranteeing factor that Federalism will succeed in Nepal where statesmen can paralyze any system, even if it is derived from the heavens.
To see how federalism can become poison, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia serve as the best answer. The Soviets broke into 15 nations and there still exists the possibility of the emergence of more new nations from the already decimated Soviet empire. Similarly, the former Yugoslavia became Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia. Montenegro became independent. Kosovo has also declared independence. Many more could become independent nations from the disintegrated Yugoslavia. Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
No one can raise any word in India or USA against having a separate nation. India does not even allow the Kashmiris to ascertain their wishes through referendum. The United States will never allow any of its federation to become a nation. If Nepal will maintain the strict lines as India and US maintain and has a provision that anyone who speaks against the national integrity will face punitive action or even death sentence or whichever party speaks about having independent nation will be banned forever then Nepal might see no problem of disintegration. But there should be clear provisions against anyone who speaks about the disintegration and claims to have self-declaration. But even then what is the basis for creating a Federal structure?
The supporters of federalism on ethnic lines are contradicting the followers of federalism based on geography and economic resources. They firmly believe it will never ensure the rights of different ethnic groups. Moreover, the ethnic based federalists want their states named for their own groups, for example, Newa State for Newars, Limbuwan for Limbus, Kirat State for Kiratis/Rais, Magarat for Magars, Tharuwat for Tharus and so on.
Almost 40 percent of Nepal's population is filled up with Brahmans and Chhetris. They are scattered all over the nation. These two groups might well demand their states based on the proportionate representation of population in the country if the country sees any demarcation based on ethnicity. The ethnic based federalism will only benefit these two ethnic groups because they are about to get 40 percent of the land spaces. If this is the case, what will happen to more than 100 other ethnic groups?
Against the backdrops mentioned above it is not so advisable to divide Nepal into ethnic federalism rather it is best to continue with the development regions. If need be, there could be the addition of more regions for administrative purposes. These development regions can well serve the principles of federal states if the power is wisely transferred to them. The development regions can manage among others promoting and protecting the cultures, traditions and other important issues of the ethnic units that fall under their responsibilities.
In any case, unless and until the political parties and the politicians work for the nation, no system will work properly and will fail in a short span of time like the Republican order that made Nepalese think about the system they were used to for centuries.
* The views of Opinion writers do not necessarily reflect the views of NewsBlaze
Related Nepal News