Thursday, 26 April 2007

Let’s erase the boundaries

Do boundaries really exist? Or are they just imaginary peripheries created by us to stay close to our so-called community, well-wishers and friends?

I am miffed by the term "boundary" and I hate it from my heart. The recent people's movement in Nepal that took lives of more than 13,000 people in the last 10 years has not just gifted a new-found democracy to Nepali people but it has brought with it the many groups and sub-groups. Once we used to walk together hand in hand irrespective of our castes and groups, but now we are adamant in getting our own autonomous regions. Limbuwan, Khumbuwan, Tharuwan, Magarant, Madhesh (similarly Newars, Dalits, and all others are demanding their own lands) and the list goes on - the fraction of the limited land on the basis of castes and ethnicity will only narrow our vision to build a new Nepal.

I agree that autonomy to the regions will strengthen the caste and ethnicity issues, give them chance to raise their voices at the national level and hand them their long awaited rights. However, if we peek through another hole, the national unity can be at stake. The recent events that sprout up in the terai region as a result of the grudges of splinter groups Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) led by Jai Krishna Goit and Jwala Singh, have shown us what might happen in the coming future, not to mention the misdeeds of Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF). And now the Chure Bhawar Pradesh Ekta Samaj has jumped in to create havoc on the highways. Seeing all the rising voices from each and every ethnic group it seems that the country's identity is being led towards jeopardy. If the problem persists and the issue is not solved, then disintegration is on the near horizon. And at the end only Nepal and the Nepalis will be the losers.

To respond to all the rising voices I would like to quote the famous quote by Sunita Williams when she reached the International Space Station (ISS). When she saw the earth from the ISS she said, "I see no boundaries from here."

Can’t we think like her? Or do we need to travel to ISS to get that cosmopolitan feeling? I wonder how many of us will be able to get on board of a chartered rocket like Charles Simonyi. Can’t we think alike and live together like we did in the past?

Let’s make a commitment this year – let’s erase the boundaries between us!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Rising for rights

It was a bizarre incident. I was shocked to see, hear and feel the voice of the villagers for their rights. I was in Lahan recently to assess the situation and interview few locales when I happened to witness this fight for right.

A small group of children belonging to the so-called well to do castes were playing football in a nearby field - all of them belonging to Madhesi community. They were aged between five to 12 years and were quite engrossed in their play. Then suddenly, a group of Musahar children aged around 15 years entered the venue. They too wanted to be the part of the team and play with them but none of the children wanted to include them in their team. They had only one concern - their ball was small and if the older boys will play with them, the ball would burst due to harsh and rough handling. They stopped the play and there was a heated discussion between the two groups. Eventually, the older boys sat down on the field and didn't allow the smaller boys to play, so they left the ground with huge grudges on their faces.

I was a mere spectator, I tried to solve their differences but the older boys acted like hooligans and I had to opt out. It was not a case of simple fight for right - it was the awareness that has risen in the last few years. Had the seeds of awareness not been sown by the leaders, those Musahar children would have never dared to step forward and asked for their place in the football squad.

In a way, I was happy to witness the rising voices for inclusion. However, gloom slipped down my throat as I thought of their way of demanding the inclusion. I now compare that situation to our country's problem. Everybody is adamant in getting included in the mainstream, but instead of raising the voices peacefully, they are indulging into violence and vociferous mob mentality.

The leaders should be aware of what is happening in the villages. We can imagine, if 15 year old children can be so nasty for inclusion, what is cooking in the minds of people who have been oppressed for so many years.

The Lahan incident was not only a Maoist misdeed but it was a huge dent in the democracy. It was a hole through which the differences between the communities started percolating. The same hole is widening day by day but nothing substantial has been done till date to block its ever widening trait. The eight party leaders who are enjoying their new found status should be aware of the bubble which is going to burst. All voices raised should be heard and addressed accordingly. It is the only way to save the country from a disastrous debacle.