Nationalism is a Competitive Sport in New Nepal

Is nationalism, patriotism or loyalty a competitive sport? If you say no, you are wrong because Nepal is currently holding free for all round of us versus them shouting feast where the people compete against each other to prove their love for the country. Us is the establishment who believes (still..) that they hold the exclusive rights to being a patriotic Nepali, and them are the people in Madhesh and the indigenous community who happen to be bit too unique for their own good ( as per the establishment).

The  language rukus following the Vice President taking oath in Hindi exposed the deep fissures in Nepali society.

There has to be some sort of recognition for Hindi because lets face it, the language is not exactly a “foreign” language in Nepal.Widely used in Terai, Hindi is heard in capital Kathmandu too- Bollywood movies, Hindi soap operas and students flocking to Indian universities for higher education-Hindi has become part of Nepal’s daily business. What is the harm in acknowledging the fact?

But no. The establishment would not accept Hindi, for them it is foreign; and then they used the row to cast doubt over nationalism and patriotism of entire Madhesh. The equation,according to them, was that since the Vice President took oath in Hindi he had to be more loyal to India; and anointed him the representative of entire Madhesh and by association, the Madhesis too had  to be India leaning( some math!)

And the shameless season of holding a community hostage to satisfy whim of the few did not end there.Instances of usual political hyperbole by Madhesh based parties was used to discredit the entire community. All the while the Hills based establishment Lords were never questioned on their loyalty, even when they were pursuing goals tangential to national interest.

The fissures, deep and strong, strengthened by decades of deliberate  sidelining of the Madhesh and the indigenous, are exposed once again.

During BBC Nepali’s Naya Nepal program, journalist Rabindra Mishra pressed a Madheshi politician on a question over identity, asking him whether he is a Nepali first or a Madhesi. That question  is so condescending and discriminatory, it is a wonder that Mishra still has a job. Imagine a reporter here in the US asking an Italian-American (or from any other ethnic background) the same question about his/her loyalty! He would be chased out of town.

What followed  was even more egregious.Instead of the media and the leaders standing up for Madhesh’ dignity, there was silence.The Press that constantly congratulates itself for being a pillar of Nepali society totally neglected this national shaming and name calling of Madhesh.

Fortunately  Prashant Jha ( columnist at Kathmandu Post) took on double standard of the media and  discussed the interview in his regular column ,

“At its core, it shows that suspicions about Madhesis and their commitment to the Nepali ‘nation’ remain widely prevalent. Never seen as equal citizens, and often projected as the fifth column whose primary loyalty is to India, Madhesis—like the Muslims of India, Tamils of Sri Lanka, religious minorities in Pakistan, Hindus of Bangladesh, and Nepali speakers in Bhutan—carry the burden of having to prove their nationalism day in and day out on terms set by others. “

Following his column, BBC was smart enough to arrange a follow-up and invited Jha to participate, along side Constitutional Expert Bipin Adhikari.

What you hear is just another chapter of the old guard defending its ways. Adhikari completely disappoints, acting as an apologist for the right wingers. Prashant Jha however keeps the hope alive for a more inclusive and open Nepal with his balanced and reasoned approach.

But how far can a person go to expose the double standard and fractures in our society. If silence and arrogance of the “mainstream” media, civil society and establishment is any indication, Nepal is still not serious about this.Is the establishment and self-appointed gate keepers of Nepali nationalism listening? I don’t hear a peep..o wait, they are too busy clapping at the circus put on by our dear leaders.

3 thoughts on “Nationalism is a Competitive Sport in New Nepal

  1. dear author its perfect writeup. they are actually not nationalist not patriotic it is just a show off and for bargaining

  2. The journalist could ask the question because he knows it very well that the leader who took the offence on being asked the question – Madheshi first of Nepali first – can be very easily put to the defensive position just by arranging another couple of interviews, one by calling a Tharu activist and asking him what would be your position in the “one madhesh one Pradesh” and would be asked what would you be there – a madheshi or a tharu what would our offended leader reply then? Then the next one will be to call some learned persons from Maithali, Bhojpuri, Awadahi study and ask them why should Hindi be the language of Madhesh pradesh and see how out leader react to that – Maithili speaking first or a Madheshi first. I don’t know if its correct to say but seems our journalists are already prepared with all the means to defend themselves because they know where our leaders come from and what moral/ethical background they carry with them. Its not the journalists only its the whole nation, it is our culture. And this is not at all any endorsement of any view of any journalist.

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