Digital Himalaya Journals

Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism International Crisis Group 2011-01-13

Item Metadata


JSON: dhimjournal-1.0365077.json
JSON-LD: dhimjournal-1.0365077-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): dhimjournal-1.0365077-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: dhimjournal-1.0365077-rdf.json
Turtle: dhimjournal-1.0365077-turtle.txt
N-Triples: dhimjournal-1.0365077-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: dhimjournal-1.0365077-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Asia Report N° 199 - 13 January 2011
Crisis Group
A. Ethnic Activism: Past and Present 3
1. Before 1990 3
2. After 1990 4
B. Ethnic Demands and the "People's War" 5
C. Federalism after the Peace Deal 7
A. The Maoists 9
B. The Mainstream Parties 10
1. The UML: ifyou can't convince them, confuse them 10
2. The Nepali Congress 12
C. Ethnic and Regional Activists 13
1. Eastern hills 13
2. Eastern and central Tarai 17
D. Federalism and its Sceptics 19
1. Who's who: 19
2. The former royals and the religious right 20
A. Common Ground 22
B. Language, Culture and Recognition 22
C. Resources and Quotas 23
D. Individual Rights: the Forgotten Debate 24
E. Flashpopnts 25
A. Map of Nepal 27
B. Glossary 28
C. About the International Crisis Group 29
D. Crisis Group Reports and Briefings on Asia since 2008 30
E. Crisis Group Board of Trustees 32
Crisis Group
Asia Report N°199
13 January 2011
Federal restructuring ofthe state has emerged as a major
demand of ethnic and regional activists in Nepal. The debate about it is extremely politicised. Federalism is not
simply the decentralisation of political power; it has become a powerful symbol for a wider agenda of inclusion,
which encompasses other institutional reforms to guarantee ethnic proportional representation and a redefinition
of Nepali nationalism to recognise the country's ethnic
and cultural diversity.
Activists demand the introduction of reservations to guarantee proportional representation of marginalised groups
in government and administration. They want provinces
to be named after the most numerous ethnic and regional
groups and boundaries drawn to make them dominant
minorities. Some claim to be indigenous to these regions
and demand preferential rights to natural resources and
agradhikar - priority entitlement to political leadership
positions in the future provinces.
Ethnic and regional demands were important parts ofthe
Maoist agenda during the civil war; in eastern Nepal,
much oftheir support depended on it. State restructuring
became a central component ofthe 2006 peace deal. After
violent protests in the Tarai in 2007, federalism was included in the interim constitution as a binding principle
forthe Constituent Assembly.
But ofthe three major parties, the Maoists are the only
one to give full-throated support to federalism and the establishment of ethnic provinces. Identity politics may sit
uneasily with their class-based ideological framework but
federalism is of great importance for them. Now that the
former Hindu kingdom is a secular republic, it is the most
important point left on their short-term transformative
agenda. Much grassroots support, the loyalty of ethnic
and regionalist activists within the party and their wider
credibility as a force for change depend on them following through.
Both the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party
of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), UML, have accepted
federal restructuring. They have actively participated in
drafting a federal model in the Constituent Assembly.
There is agreement on most institutional arrangements
including the division of powers between provinces and
centre. But this process has been driven by longstanding
proponents of federalism within both parties, none of them
very influential. It is unclear whether there is a wider consensus. Both parties have agreed to federalism in the spirit
of bargaining; neither of them owns the agenda. Behind
the official positions there is significant resistance to it.
Backtracking on federalism is politically impossible. Both
the NC and UML are already struggling to retain cadres
and leaders from minority backgrounds. But deferring crucial decisions, or stalling the constitutional process altogether, could be tempting for those opposed to change.
The assumption that the Maoists have both the most to
gain and the most to lose from the constitutional process
could lend wider appeal to the idea.
The risks are hard to calculate. Ethnic and regionalist
groups, already suspicious ofthe major parties' commitment to federalism, threaten protests and ultimately violent resistance should it not come. Their eyes are on the
28 May 2011 deadline forthe promulgation ofthe new
constitution. Popular support is most widespread among
Madhesis in the central and eastern Tarai and members of
ethnic groups in the eastern hills. Many Madhesis are disillusioned with their leadership, but feel reforms are incomplete. The organisational landscape of ethnic activists
in the eastern hills may be fragmented for now, but underneath lie strong personal and political networks. Activists
are getting frustrated and the mood is becoming more
militant. With an issue to rally around they are likely to
coalesce; a politicised population would easily be mobilised for protest movements, should federalism not come.
Not all want federalism. Popular opposition to ethnic federalism in particular is substantial, by virtue of its association with identity politics. Many Brahmins and Chhetris,
the dominant caste groups, fear they will lose out from the
introduction of ethnic quotas and federal restructuring. But
organised resistance is limited and fragmented. Open opposition only comes from a fringe ofthe political left which
fears Nepal's unity. Several Chhetri organisations are not
against federalism itself but want to defend their group's
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011 Page ii
interests in the restructuring process. Pro-monarchy groups
and the Hindu right are less concerned with federalism
than with the republic and secularism. But given the common uneasiness with the redefinition of Nepali nationalism, a broader conservative alliance is a distinct possibility.
The structure emerging from the Constituent Assembly,
federal but with a strong centre, offers a feasible compromise. Ifthe NC overcomes its aversion to provinces
named after ethnic and regional groups, the new constitution will offer important symbolic recognition of Nepal's
cultural diversity. In combination with the language rights
and proportional representation in administration and
government envisaged, this would go a long way towards
meeting popular aspirations among ethnic and regional
groups. The fact that the draft offers little scope for preferential rights beyond proportional representation as well
as strong individual rights provisions should allay Brahmin and Chhetri fears of future discrimination. Not promulgating the constitution in time or deferring a decision
on federalism, however, could spark serious unrest.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 13 January 2011
Crisis Group
Asia Report N°199
13 January 2011
Nepal is experiencing a surge in identity politics and accompanying demands for federalism. Diverse groups are
insistently demanding a direct say in governing their
regions. Disappointed by their failure to win expanded
rights and recognition during the democratic period ofthe
1990s, many organisations - representing ethnic and regional groups - now see federalism as non-negotiable.
Although most ofthe main political parties have signed
up to this as they write a new constitution, resistance to
the end of a unitary state is strong. Federalism is now the
most contentious issue in Nepali politics.1
The debate on federalism in Nepal is inseparably linked
to resistance against political and economic exclusion
on the basis of caste, ethnicity and regional identity. It
constitutes a significant element in the re-negotiation of
power relations in the country after the civil war. On an
institutional level, the demand for federalism challenges
the centralisation of political power in the hands of a
small elite. But it goes a lot further, in that it will redefine
an entrenched national identity and upends the dominant,
state-sponsored narrative ofthe eighteenth century conquest of what now constitutes Nepal, which celebrates it
as "unification". The pressure for "ethnic" provinces has
to do with aspirations for fair representation in government and administration, but also with recognising that
all the ethnically and culturally diverse groups constitute
the nation.
1 On these issues see past Crisis Group reporting: on the constitution, Crisis Group Asia Reports N°99, Towards a Lasting
Peace in Nepal: The Constitutional Issues, 15 June 2005;
N°128, Nepal's Constitutional Process, 26 February 2007; on
identity politics, ethnic activism and group rights, Asia Briefing
N°68, Nepal's Fragile Peace Process, 28 September 2007; and
Asia Reports N°104, Nepal's Maoists: Their Aims, Structure
and Strategy, 27 October 2005; N°136, Nepal's Troubled Tarai
Region, 9 July 2007; N°149, Nepal's Election and Beyond, 2
April 2008; N°155, Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?',
3 July 2008; N°156, Nepal's New Political Landscape, 3 July
2008; N°163, Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, 19 February
2009. Full Nepali translations of these reports and briefings are
available at
The country has a huge number of ethnic groups - more
than 100 by one count.2 It also has complex systems of
caste that vary among communities. Many ofthe groups
are very small and most of them are widely dispersed.
Across the country even the dominant ethnic group in
each area is likely to be in the minority.3 The 2001 census
counts 92 mother tongues, but only twelve are spoken by
more than 1 per cent ofthe population.4
During the decades before a democratic transition in
1990, the state sought to create a national culture based
on the upper caste groups dominant in the foothills ofthe
Himalayas. Centred on the monarchy, this promoted Hin-
2 There is enormous diversity in ethnic and caste identity in Nepal. It is impossible to give an exact number of different groups
as the boundaries of identity are often fluid, but the figures
from the 2001 census give an indication. Hill-origin groups,
also known as pahadis, are comprised of caste Hindus (par-
batiyas, 38 per cent ofthe total population), which can be broken down into Chhetris (15.80 per cent), Brahmins (12.74 per
cent), Thakuris (1.47 per cent), Sanyasis (0.88 per cent) and
Dalits (7.11 per cent). The Newar ethnicity (5.48 per cent), also
found in the hills, blurs ethnic and caste lines as 84 per cent of
the group is Hindu. The largest groups within the hill and
mountain ethnicities (23.02 per cent) are Magars (7.14 per
cent), Tamangs (5.64 per cent), Rais (2.79 per cent), Gurungs
(2.39 percent) andLimbus (1.58 percent). The majority ofthe
plains-origin population consists of Hindu caste groups (19.49
per cent), with the Dalits (4.90 per cent) and the Yadavs (3.94
per cent) being the most numerous. Tarai ethnic groups (7.86
per cent), of which the Tharus (6.75 per cent) are the most numerous, Muslims (4.27 per cent) and other groups (0.08 per
cent) make up the rest ofthe Tarai population which constitutes
31.7 per cent ofthe total population. See Pitamber Sharma, Unravelling the Mosaic: Spatial Aspects of Ethnicity in Nepal (Lalitpur, 2008); "Rashtriyajanaganana, 2058: jat/jatiko janasank-
hya", Central Bureau of Statistics, January 2008. Available at:
3 Only in fourteen out of the 75 districts does any one group
comprise more than 50 per cent of the population. Chhetris
form the majority in nine districts and Magars, Tharus, Tamangs, Newars and Gurungs in one each. Pitamber Sharma,
Unravelling the Mosaic, op. cit., p. 14.
4 These are Nepali (48.6), Maithili (12.3), Bhojpuri (7.5), Tharu
(5.9), Tamang (5.2), Newar (3.6), Magar (3.4), Avadhi (2.5),
BantawaRai(1.6), Gurung (1.5), Limbu (1.5) andBajjika (1.1).
Ibid, p. 64.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 2
duism, the Nepali language and a certain style of dress.5
This started to break down after the introduction of a democratic constitution that formally recognised the country's diversity to a degree.6 New ethnic and caste organisations emerged but found that the dominance of upper
caste elites grew if anything.7
Once again expectations of a greater role for minorities
have been raised since the overthrow of the monarchy
and the start ofthe peace process in 2006. Sceptical ofthe
approach focusing on individual rights that was tried in
the 1990s, many ethnic and regional activists now see
group rights such as reservations in state organs and federalism with provinces designed to comprise ethnic groups
as dominant minorities as the only way to achieve recognition and representation.
There is significant opposition. Unsurprisingly, elites in
power are threatened by any redefinition of an entrenched
national identity. Many have little sense of how deeply
discriminatory the state has been or how much resentment
exists among minorities. For these elites, the recognition
of greater diversity evokes a fear that they will be discriminated against in a Nepal organised along ethnic lines.
Addressing this tension is one ofthe most serious problems the country faces as it writes a new constitution.
This report focuses on the political challenges to the establishment of a federal system and on the risks should it
fail. It examines the approaches ofthe major political parties, all of which contain opponents to federalism. It also
looks at two key areas - the eastern hills and the central
and eastern Tarai - where demands for identity-based
federalism are greatest. It only touches on other areas of
Nepal. While it looks at some broad risks and opportunities in a possible federal system it does not address the
merits of various models nor does it examine the technical problems of implementation.
Civil servants usually had to wear the daura-suruwal (cotton
tunic and trousers) and a topi (a cloth cap). Similarly, male visitors usually had to wear a topi for entering government offices.
See John Whelpton, .4 History of Nepal (Delhi, 2005), p. 160.
6 Crisis Group Report, Towards a Lasting Peace in Nepal: The
Constitutional Issues, op. cit., p. 2.
7 The percentage of Brahmins in the panchayat legislatures had
hovered between approximately 14 and 24 per cent. In the
1991, 1994 and 1999 legislatures their numbers almost doubled, to 36.6,44.39 and 46.34 per cent, respectively. The representation of Chhetris, sank drastically after 1990, from approximately 35 to 38 per cent in panchayat legislatures to a
maximum of 18.53 per cent during the 1990s. Newar representation remained relatively steady at around 6.5 percent in 1986
as well as in the 1990s legislatures. Other hill ethnic groups had
their highest representation (21.48 per cent) in the 1981 legislature. After 1990, it dropped to 16.6 per cent in 1991, 11.7 per
cent in 1994 and 12.19 per cent in 1999. Tarai caste representation increased slightly after 1990, frombetween 11.4 and 18.53
per cent during the panchayat era to 21.01 per cent in 1991,
18.53 per cent in 1994 and 17.07 per cent in 1999. The dominance of hill Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars is much less ambiguous in executive positions. All prime ministers since 1951
were Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars. Between 1951 and April
2006, 65 per cent of ministers came from these three groups.
See Mara Malagodi, Constitutional Nationalism and Legal Exclusion in Nepal (1990-2007) (London, unpublished PhD thesis), pp. 227-229. As of June 2010, 70 per cent of chief district
officers (the highest administrative position at the district level)
were Brahmin, 16 per cent Chhetri, 4 per cent Newar, 5 per
cent Madhesi and 1 per cent Limbu.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 3
There is a history of explicit and often legal discrimination in Nepal. The Muluki Ain of 1854, Nepal's civil and
criminal legal code until the fall of the Rana regime in
1951, legally divided the population into distinct/ate (this
literally means "kind" and encompasses both castes and
ethnic groups). The code subsumed all groups under a
strict caste hierarchy and assigned differential laws and
punishments for each of them; it comprehensively regulated social interaction, permitting, for example, only certain economic activities for each group and prescribing
commensality and sexual relations.8
Today, Nepali society is still rife with stereotypes and
prejudices. Individual experiences of discrimination and
exclusion differ vastly but are often deeply personal.
Members of hill ethnic groups who are economically relatively strong, such as Gurung, Rai or Limbu, may face
mostly symbolic exclusion. Prejudices such as that ofthe
quarrelsome drunkards, ever quick to draw their khukuris,
and fit for serving in the army but not for education and
qualified employment, may not injure but do insult. Discrimination is more tangible for other groups. A plains-
origin Madhesi applying for a citizenship certificate, for
example, may wait for weeks or months because a civil
servant wants to make sure he is not Indian; while his
neighbour who looks sufficiently "Nepali" receives his
certificate the next day.
Political and economic opportunities clearly differ by
caste and ethnicity. Hill Brahmins in particular are hugely
overrepresented in politics and administration. For example, fifteen out of sixteen prime ministers since 1990 were
Brahmins, one a Chhetri. There are big variations within
ethnic groups and Madhesis, but some ofthe poorest communities fall within these broad categories (invariably worst
off, of course, are both hill and Tarai Dalits).9 It is unclear
Andras Hofer, The Caste Hierarchy and the State in Nepal: A
Study ofthe Muluki Ain of 1954 (Kathmandu, 2004[1979]).
9 Aggregate categories hide significant internal differentiation.
Hill ethnic groups and Madhesis may have high average poverty rates, but big groups within them are on par with Brahmins
and Chhetris on important economic indicators. For example,
Gurungs have an average consumption of Rs. 22,168 (approx.
$230) per household per year and a poverty rate of 4.7 per cent.
Yadavs have a lower average consumption of Rs. 12,477
($130) but also a lower poverty rate at 4.0 per cent. In comparison, Brahmins have an average consumption of Rs. 23,088
($240) and a poverty rate of 2.0 per cent. Hill Brahmins and
Chhetris combined have an average consumption of Rs. 19,213
($200) and a poverty rate of 4.2 per cent. Brahmin and Chhetri
activists often point to significant internal differentiation and
the high poverty rate in far-western Nepal, where they make up
a big proportion of the population. Poverty in the far-western
how prejudices, political and administrative underrepre-
sentation and economic disadvantages are connected. An
established line of argument long held the ethnic groups
responsible for their own underdevelopment, blaming low
economic status on non-Hindu practices such as drinking
alcohol.10 Ethnic activists identify discrimination by the
upper caste groups in politics and administration as a major
A. Ethnic Activism: Past and Present
1.    Before 1990
Opposition to the state by ethnic and regional groups is
not new. Between 1770 and 1979 there were at least 25
ethnic and regional-based mobilisations against the state;
most occurred among ethnic Limbus and Rais in the eastern hills.11
Throughout the nineteenth century and up until the 1950s,
the eastern hills witnessed a number of Limbu rebellions;
these had their roots in the loss of land to upper caste migrants and state efforts to revoke provisions for local
autonomy. Following fierce resistance and given the strategic location of Limbuwan at a sensitive border, the early
Nepali state had granted far-reaching autonomy to Limbu
headmen in a 1774 royal decree; under the thekka thiti
system (1820-1951), they controlled the communally held
and legally inalienable kipat land, collected taxes from
clansmen and tenants living on it, and were allowed to
maintain militias and dispense justice.12
region is high at 41 per cent, more than 10 per cent over the national average (even though it has reduced by 23 per cent between 1995 and 2003). But Brahmins also have the highest average consumption and lowest poverty rate of all groups. So
while there may indeed be huge economic differences between
Brahmins, only very few are very poor. More Chhetris are
likely poor; the aggregate poverty rate for Bahuns and Chhetris
is 4.2. Chhetris then would have a higher poverty rate than both
Gurungs and Yadavs. Aran KL Das and Magnus Hatlebakk,
Statistical Evidence on Social and Economic Exclusion in Nepal (Kathmandu, 2010).
10Dor Bahadur Bista's book Fatalism and Development holds
an obsession with fate, which he attributes to Hinduism, responsible instead. (Patna, 1999[1991]).
"Mahendra Lawoti counts 25 instances of ethnic and caste
mobilisation between 1770 and 1979, ten of them in the eastern
hills involving Rai and Limbu groups. Mahendra Lawoti, "Contentious politics in democratizing Nepal", in Mahendra Lawoti
(ed.), Contentious Politics and Democratization in Nepal (New
Delhi, 2007), p. 32.
12Philippe Sagant, The Dozing Shaman: The Limbus of Eastern
Nepal (Delhi, 1996), pp. 319-335. These provisions differed in
degree rather than in kind from the tenurial relations that had
earlier linked Limbu rulers to other small kingdoms whose
overlordship had largely been nominal.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 4
The state set out to erode this autonomy almost as soon as
it was established; a central strategy was to encourage
Hindu caste groups to migrate into the eastern hills and to
transform kipat land into raikar. The latter category could
not only be bought and sold freely, but was also administered directly by the central state. Economically more
powerful and better connected in the administration, the
migrants expanded their landholdings at the expense of
the Limbus. Largely tied to kipat land, the authority ofthe
Limbu headmen diminished as land tenure was changed.
This prompted considerable and often violent resistance.
With Hindu migrants widely perceived as responsible for
the loss of land and autonomy, most Limbu resistance
was explicitly anti-Hindu and often directed against Brahmins and Chhetris living in the eastern hills.13 During 1950,
for example, when Limbus and Rais played an important
role in the anti-Rana movement,14 the eastern hills also
witnessed widespread riots against Brahmins and Chhetris, killing and displacing many.15
The 1950s also saw the first regionalist mobilisation in
the Tarai. The Nepal Tarai Congress (NTC), established
in 1951, demanded an autonomous Tarai state, Hindi as
administrative language and more jobs in government for
people of Tarai origin. In 1956, the introduction of Nepali
as sole medium of instruction in schools triggered Tarai -
wide protests. But the movement remained confined to
relatively narrow elites. Most were ultimately unwilling
to abandon their immediate economic and political interests by breaking with central party affiliations; the NTC
suffered a crushing defeat in the 1959 general elections.16
From the 1960s organised ethnic and regional resistance
declined in the face of skilful co-option of elites by King
Mahendra. Under the partyless panchayat system of government, the state represented its citizens as equal and
promoted a homogenous culture.17 This culture was es-
See Lionel Caplan, Land and Social Change in East Nepal: A
Study of Hindu-Tribal Relations (Kathmandu, 2000[1970]).
14 Tanka Bahadur Rai, Kirat Itihasko Ruprekha (Lalitpur,
2003). The armed insurrection against the Rana regime in
1950/1951 was led by the NC and ultimately forced the Ranas
to accept the return of King Tribhuvan and the formation of a
Rana-NC coalition government.
15 T.B. Subba, Politics of Culture: A Study of Three Kirata Communities in the Eastern Himalayas (Chennai, 1999), p. 112.
16 Not only did the party fail to win a single seat; all 21 candidates lost their deposits of 250 rupees for obtaining less than 20
per cent of votes in their respective constituencies. Frederick
Gaige, Regionalism and National Unity in Nepal (Berkeley,
1975), p. 123.
17 See Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, "Vestiges and Visions: Cultural
Change in the Process of Nation-Building in Nepal", in David
Gellner, Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka and John Whelpton (eds.), Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: The Politics of
Culture in Contemporary Nepal (London, 1997).
sentially that of hill-origin high caste Hindus, but positions of authority were relatively open to minorities as
long as they assimilated.18 This in effect decapitated ethnic movements;19 but the sentiment and grievances persisted among significant parts ofthe population, particularly in the eastern hills.20 The honeymoon of ethnic elites
and the state ended in the 1970s, when the latter's failure
to deliver on development and the continuing capture of
the administration by high caste elites became apparent.21
2.    After 1990
The end ofthe Panchayat system and the establishment of
parliamentary democracy in 1990 opened the door forthe
expression of ethnic demands. The new constitution formally recognised ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity.
But national identity was fundamentally unchanged.22
Adopting Hindu high-caste practices, ranging from observing
Hindu rituals to changing eating habits, was an important strategy for individual and collective upward mobility. See Joanna
Pfaff-Czarnecka, "Vestiges and Visions", op. cit. Such processes of sanskritisation - aimed at improving an individual's or
a group's ritual status within a caste hierarchy - have been observed across South Asia. Anthropologist M.N. Srinivas coined
the term in the 1950s. M.N. Srinivas, Religion and society
among the Coorgs of South India (Oxford, 1952). Sanskritisation did not always mean that Buddhist or animist practices
were replaced; often Hindu practices were only displayed in
front of state representatives. See Thomas Cox, "Langtang Tibetans and Hindu Norms as Political Language: A Critical Perspective on Sanskritization Theory", in Contributions to Nepalese Studies, vol. 16, no. 1 (1989), pp. 11-20.
19 There were ethnic organisations during the Panchayat era.
But although many of them sought to preserve parts of their
culture, language in particular, much of their activity was
aimed at adapting to Hindu culture by sanskritising their communities, in particular by abandoning alcohol and meat consumption. On the Nepal Langhali Sangh, a Magar association,
see Anne De Sales, "The Kham Magar Country: Between Ethnic Claims and Maoism" in David N. Gellner (ed.), Resistance
and the State: Nepalese experiences (New Delhi, 2003); on the
Tharu Kalyankari Sabha see Arjun Gunaratne, Many Tongues,
One People: The Making of Tharu Identity in Nepal (Ithaca,
2002), ch. 5. There were a few more political exceptions like
the Nepal Rashtriya Janajati Party, which advocated for a
twelve state federal structure based on ethnicity and language.
MuktaS. Tamang, "Samantasanghiyatarabahusanskritikrash-
travad", in: Krishna Khanal, Jhalak Subedi, Mukta Singh Tamang (eds.),Rajyapunarsamrachana: Rajnitik, arthikra san-
skritik drishtikon (Kathmandu, 2008), p. 123.
20For example, poor Limbu farmers continued to link their economic and political marginalisation with high-caste domination. Lionel Caplan, "From Tribe to Peasant? The Limbus and
the Nepalese State", Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 18, no. 2
(1991), pp. 305-321.
21 See Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, "Vestiges and Visions", op. cit.
220nthe 1990 Constitution see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
Constitutional Process, op. cit.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 5
Nepal remained a unitary Hindu monarchy with Nepali as
the sole official language.23 Despite considerable formal
institutional reforms, the state remained patronage based;
the overrepresentation of high caste elites became even
more pronounced.24
The number of ethnic organisations grew exponentially
in the 1990s.25 The Nepal Federation of Nationalities
(NEFEN), founded in 1990 by eight groups, emerged as
the most prominent organisation and key interlocutor for
government and donors. The janajati movement drew
heavily on the global discourse on indigenous rights;26 in
2003, NEFEN changed its name to Nepal Federation of
Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN).27 Different from most
ethnic organisations during the Panchayat era, the new
movements demanded language rights, decentralisation,
political autonomy for ethnic groups and proportional
representation in state bodies.28
Ethnic or regionally based political parties were still
banned;29 but two evaded the restriction. The Rashtriya
lanamukti Party (RJP) and the Nepal Sadbhavana Party
(NSP), both advocating a federal Nepal, contested the general elections in 1991, 1994 and 1999. They had minimal
electoral success, the NSP winning amaximum of 4.1 per
cent and the RJP a maximum of 1.07 per cent of votes.30
While this may indicate the electorate's lack of enthusiasm for their agendas, they also came up against strong
ethnic competition in their areas of focus.31
Progress on addressing ethnic demands was limited. At a
time when there was considerable focus on individual
rights, activists tried to address their grievances through
23 Art. 18(2) ofthe 1990 constitution allowed (but did not guarantee) primary education in mother-tongues other than Nepali.
24 See footnote 7.
25 Actual numbers are hard to establish. Estimates range from
around 150 to several hundred. Pratyoush Onta, "The Growth
of the Adivasi Janajati Movement in Nepal After 1990: The
Non-Political Institutional Agents", in Studies in Nepali History
and Society, vol. 11, no. 2 (December 2006).
26 Janajati is a neologism used for non Hindu-caste communities in Nepal.
27 Ibid, pp. 325-331.
28 Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, "Vestiges and Visions", op. cit.
291990 Constitution, Art. 113(3).
30 Mahendra Lawoti, Towards a Democratic Nepal (New Delhi,
2005), p. 69. Not registered were the Mongol National Organisation (MNO) and the RJP; the Limbuwan Mukti Morcha boycotted
the elections. Michael Hoftun, William Raeper and John Whelpton, People, Politics & Ideology (Kathmandu, 1999), p. 178.
31 In eastern Nepal, the RJP received up to 12 per cent of votes
in the 1994 elections. Other parties had increasingly fielded
candidates from ethnic groups. Karl-Heinz Kramer, Ethnizitat
und Nationale Integration in Nepal: Eine Untersuchung zur
Politisierung der ethnischen Gruppen im modernen Nepal
(Stuttgart, 1996), pp. 272-275.
legal channels. Results were mixed. For example, in lune
1999 the Supreme Court declared illegal the use of anything other than Nepali as an official language in local
government bodies.32 In another ruling, the Supreme
Court declared as unconstitutional a legal provision exempting Hindu temples from the ban on caste discrimination. However, there had been considerable resistance
from the justice ministry, which claimed that some temples should be considered private places.33
The passage ofthe Nepal Federation forthe Development
of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN) Act in 2002 marked
an important moment for ethnic activism in Nepal. The
act recognises adivasi janajati (indigenous nationalities)
as a legal category, establishes the criteria a group has to
fulfil to qualify and lists 59 officially recognised janajati
Particularly in the eastern hills there had been a small militant fringe to the janajati movement from early on. Gopal
Khambu in 1992 founded the Khambuwan Rashtriya Morcha (KRM) to launch an armed struggle for an autonomous
Khambuwan state. The KRM's armed activity remained
largely confined to burning down Sanskrit schools.35 But
its existence is indicative of some activists' appetite for a
more assertive approach, which embarrassed the otherwise
largely middle class-based movement and provided an
opening forthe Maoists.
b. ethnic demands and the
"People's War"
Violent resistance to the government emerged in 1996
when the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), CPN(M),
launched their insurgency.36 The Maoists' policies and
In 1997, the Municipality of Kathmandu had introduced
Newari and the District Development Committee of Dhanusa
Maithili as additional official languages. MaraMalagodi, Constitutional Nationalism and Legal Exclusion in Nepal (1990-
2007), op. cit, p. 253.
33 Ibid, pp. 249-251.
34 See Townsend Middleton and Sara Shneiderman, "Reservations, Federalism and the Politics of Recognition in Nepal",
Economic and Political Weekly, 10 May 2008.
35 A KRM leader explained: "In 1997/1998 we started burning
Sanskrit schools. We burned three schools. This was not targeted at Sanskrit, but to dismantle the system that discriminated
against people who did not speak Sanskrit. At that point ifyou
spoke Sanskrit you had a job guaranteed". Crisis Group interview, KRM leader, Dharan, 14 September 2010. See also Sudhir
Sharma, The Ethnic Dimension of the Maoist Insurgency
(Kathmandu, 2002).
36 The CPN(M) renamed itself United Communist Party of Nepal, UCPN(M), in January 2009 after merging with three smaller
communist parties. The original name was readoptedby Maoist
leader Matrika Yadav when he split from the UCPN(M) in Feb-
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 6
programs included ethnic aspirations even before the start
ofthe war. In luly 1995 the party endorsed ethnic autonomy.37 The 40-point demand called forthe end of ethnic
oppression in general and for a secular state, the equality
of languages, and regional autonomy in particular. In
February 1997, the central committee systematised the
policy on nationalities by endorsing national and regional
autonomy with the right to self-determination.38 In 2000
the party established a central level ethnic department, led
by Dev Gurung, which included different ethnic fronts.39
The boundaries of the nine autonomous regions in the
Maoists' people's government were drawn according to
ethnic criteria.40
The incorporation of identity politics into a class-based
Marxist organisation is less of an ideological stretch than
it might appear; it has prominent precedents. Primarily
formulated by senior leader Baburam Bhattarai, the Maoists' approach to the "national question" is explicitly Leninist. "Oppressed nations" need autonomy and the right to
self-determination, understood to entail the right to secede, to overcome semi-feudal and semi-colonial exploitation, progress to capitalism and prepare the conditions
for socialist revolution. But the ultimate aim is the dissolution of national identities in a class-less and state-less
society.41 Ethnic movements therefore are natural allies to
ruary 2009. Except for this place, this report uses CPN(M) for
Matrika Yadav's party.
37 "Aitihasikjanayuddhako pahilo yojana", CPN(M), July 1995.
38 "Kehi tatkalin rajnaitik ra sangathanatmak prasnabare
prastav", CPN(M), February 1997.
39 Crisis Group interview, senior UCPN(M) leader, Kathmandu,
January 2010.
40 For an overview see Kiyoko Ogura, "Maoist people's governments, 2001-2005: the power in wartime", in: David Gellner
and Krishna Hachhethu (eds.), Local Democracy in South Asia:
Microprocesses of Democratization in Nepal and its Neighbours (New Delhi, 2008).
41 Lenin wrote: " [i]n the same way as mankind can arrive at the
abolition of classes only through a transition period of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, it can arrive at the inevitable
integration of nations only through a transition period of the
complete emancipation of all oppressed nations, i.e. their freedom to secede". Vladimir I. Lenin, "The Socialist Revolution
and the Right ofthe Nations to Self-Determination", Lenin, National Liberation, Socialism and Imperialism - Selected Writings (New York, 2002 [1968]), p. 114. Cited in Baburam Bhattarai, "The Question of Building a New Type of State", The
Worker (9), 2004. For an excellent overview see Mukta S. Tamang, "Culture, Caste and Ethnicity in the Maoist Movement",
in Studies in Nepali History and Society, vol. 11, no. 2 (December 2006). This does not mean that the Maoists actually expect
secession; Lenin believed that - given the advantages of bigger
states - secession is the less likely to happen the more firmly
the right to secede is established. Rather, it allows for the elimination of inequality between nations. Lenin, "The Socialist
be supported and brought into the unity-front ofthe Maoist movement.42
According to a common interpretation, the Maoists had
no choice but to adopt ethnic demands; tapping into these
grievances mobilised widespread support.43 This is only
partly true. The Maoists' ethnic agenda played a relatively
minor role in their heartland in mid-western Nepal. The
area is dominated by ethnic Kham-Magars; many people
from this group did join the insurgents, but ethnic considerations seem to have played only a minor role .44 Communist networks rather than ethnic activism had long been
influential.45 Only two smaller Magar organisations allied
themselves with the Maoists; the more influential, middle-class dominated Magar activists kept their distance .46
In contrast, in the eastern hills, the Maoists relied heavily
on alliances with existing networks of ethnic activists. Its
main ally was Gopal Khambu's KRM.47 The KRM started
Revolution and the Right ofthe Nations to Self-Determination",
op. cit, p. 113.
42Baburam Bhattarai, links the emergence ofthe "question of
nationalities" in Nepal to its semi-feudal structure and semi-
colonial dependency and resulting regional exploitation: "Because those inhabiting backward and oppressed regions are often indigenous peoples, where there is confluence of common
territory, language, economy, and culture, such regional oppression manifests itself as national oppression and in this way
regional issues and questions of nationality become intertwined
with each other". Baburam Bhattarai, "The Political Economy
ofthe People's War", in Arjun Karki and David Seddon (eds.),
The People's War in Nepal: Left Perspectives (New Delhi,
2003), p. 150.
43 This view is put forward, for example, by Krishna Bhattachan,
"Possible Ethnic Revolution or Insurgency in a Predatory
Hindu state, Nepal", in Dhruba Kumar (ed.), Domestic Conflict
and Crisis ofGovernability in Nepal (Kathmandu, 2000); and
Mahendra Lawoti, "The Maoists and Minorities: Overlap of
Interest or a Case of Exploitation?", Studies in Nepali History
and Society, vol. 8, no. 1 (2003), pp. 67-97.
44 Crisis Group interview, senior UCPN(M) leader, Kathmandu,
December 2010.
45 Anne De Sales, "The Kham Magar Country: Between Ethnic
Claims and Maoism", op. cit, pp. 345-346.
46 The two groups close to the Maoists were the Magarant Liberation Front and the Magar National Liberation Front. See
Marie Lecomte-Tilouine, "Ethnic Demands within Maoism:
Questions of Magar Territorial Autonomy, Nationality and
Class", in Michael Hutt (ed.), Himalayan People's War: Nepal's Maoist Rebellion (London, 2004).
47 Khambu is the term used by Rai ethnic activists to describe
their group. The KRM was fighting for the establishment of a
federal Nepal with an autonomous Khambuwan state. It described itself as an armed group, but their army, the Chome-
lungwa Brigade, probably consisted of no more than 100 untrained young men with a limited supply of firearms. Crisis
Group interviews, Sunsari, Udaypur and Kathmandu, September-November 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 7
affiliating itself to varying degrees with the Maoists from
1997; its own small militia subsequently joined the Solu-
Salleri Brigade ofthe People's Liberation Army. The relationship was difficult from the start. Despite incorporating ethnic demands into their ideological framework, the
Maoists' class-based analysis clashes with the outlook of
activists for whom ethnic or regional identity is valuable
in its own right. Tensions resulted from the Maoists' reluctance to include non-communist ethnic activists in decision-making bodies. Anxious about being used, Gopal
Khambu insisted they be included. Faced with Maoist
foot-dragging, he disassociated himself several times. Only
after he in 2002 set up the Kirat Workers Party, a decoy
organisation, did the Maoists in luly 2003 bring him into
the Revolutionary People's Council, although not into the
more important politburo.48
Similarly, in the eastern and central Tarai, backing forthe
Maoists was based on their support for regional autonomy.
The area was of strategic importance to the insurgents
from the beginning ofthe war, which explains their willingness to accommodate local demands.49 But here as
well the Maoists soon ran into difficulties with supporters
motivated by a regional agenda.
Many ofthe Maoists' early leaders in the eastern and central Tarai were middle-caste Yadavs, who heavily relied on
their own caste networks for organisational expansion;50
rather than social transformation, the support of this powerful landholding group rested on their aspirations for regional autonomy.51 Indeed, Maoist attempts to challenge
the dominance of landlords and entrenched caste hierarchies in the Tarai put local leaders in an awkward position.
Discontent with the low priority of Tarai autonomy in the
Maoist movement and the limited role of Madhesis in the
upper ranks of party and People's Liberation Arme (PLA)
rose. From 2004, many key Madhesi leaders, and the cadres linked to them, left to form their own groups with a
focus on autonomy. These leaders were to drive much of
the movement for political recognition from 2006 to
Khambu played an important role for the Maoists in the eastern hills, for example negotiating access with reluctant local
Limbu leaders in Ham and Panchthar. Crisis Group interviews,
senior UCPN(M) leaders, Kathmandu, October-November 2010.
49 The Maoists used in particular the border districts of Siraha
and Dhanusa to secure access to arms and ammunition and for
training purposes. Crisis Group interviews, CPN(M) and
UCPN(M) leaders, Siraha and Dhanusa, October 2010.
50 Crisis Group interview, CPN(M) leader, Siraha, 26 October
51 See Magnus Hatlebakk, "Economic and social structures that
may explain the recent conflicts in the Terai of Nepal", CMI,
2008.52 As a result, Maoist influence in the Tarai weakened significantly.
The tension between fundamental ideological contradictions and dependency on locally influential groups of activists remains salient today. The fact that ethnic and regional leaders still see the Maoists as a potential alliance
partner crucially depends on the latter's unambiguous
commitment to federalism.
C. Federalism after the Peace Deal
In November 2005, the Maoists and the alliance of seven
democratic parties signed a twelve-point agreement to
challenge royal rule together. A year later, after King Gyanendra had given up power, the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA) ended the decade-long civil war.53 It
also began the process of institutionalising the idea of
federalism at a time of rapid political change. The CPA
called for a democratic restructuring ofthe state and social, economic and cultural transformation through the
decisions of a constituent assembly. Maoist leaders now
say the formulation implied federalism.54 But ethnic and
regional activist complained at the time that major issues
had not been sufficiently addressed.55
On 15 January 2007, parliament passed the interim constitution. During the drafting process, Madhesi sa&fana-
jati leaders within the UML and NC had unsuccessfully
lobbied their respective parties for including an explicit
commitment to federalism.56 In the negotiations between
the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists, only the
latter had raised the issue, but had quickly given in when
See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region, op.
cit, pp. 8-10.
53 The seven-party alliance which signed the twelve-point agreement consisted of NC, UML, Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi
Devi), Nepali Congress (Democratic), Janamorcha Nepal, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party and United Left Front. See Crisis Group Asia Report N°106, Nepal's New Alliance: The
Mainstream Parties and the Maoists, 28 November 2005. On
the CPA see Crisis Group Asia Report N°126, Nepal's Peace
Agreement: Making it Work, 15 December 2006.
54 Crisis Group interview, senior UCPN(M) leader, Kathmandu,
December 2010. The CPA's text said: "In order to end discriminations based on class, ethnicity, language, gender, culture, religion and region and to address the problems of women,
Dalit, indigenous people, ethnic minorities (Janajatis), Terai
communities (Madhesis), oppressed, neglected and minority
communities and the backward areas by deconstructing the current centralised and unitary structure, the state shall be restructured in an inclusive, democratic and forward looking manner".
CPA, Art. 3.5.
55 Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Peace Agreement: Making it
Work, op. cit, p. 13.
56Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, November 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page <
UML and NC negotiators dug in their heels.57 As a result,
the interim constitution reiterated the commitment to state
restructuring but did not mention federalism.
This and an electoral system perceived as discriminatory
sparked outrage among Madhesi activists. The Madhesi
Janadhikar Forum (MJF) and the Nepal Sadbhavana Party
(NSP) organised protests demanding the amendment of
the interim constitution and the establishment ofthe entire
Tarai as a single province. The protests quickly spread
across the Tarai and turned violent, as Maoist cadres killed
one Madhesi activist and the security forces shot dead
more than 30 protestors and wounded 800. The blockade
of key supply routes led to severe shortages and price
hikes in Kathmandu.
On 31 January 2007, Prime Minister G.P. Koirala backed
down and in a televised address guaranteed federalism
and the redrawing of constituency boundaries. In a second address after a further week of protests, he promised
representation of minority groups in elected state bodies
and administration on a proportional basis.58 Protests and
violence persisted and only died down after the legislature-parliament on 12 April 2007 passed the 1st amendment to the interim constitution, which calls for the state
to be restructured into a "democratic, federal system".59
A series of subsequent agreements between the interim
government and agitating ethnic and regional activists reiterated the commitment to federalism and proportional
representation.60 The agreements are of limited legal con-
Crisis Group interviews, party leaders and civil servants, Kathmandu, November 2010. Senior Maoist leaders say the original
formulation in Art. 138(1), "by eliminating the centralised and
unitary form ofthe state, the state shall be made inclusive and
restructured into a progressive, democratic system", implied
federalism clearly enough. Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu,
2 December 2010.
58 On the first Madhesi movement see Crisis Group Report, Nepal 's Troubled Tarai Region, op. cit.
59Interim Constitution, Art. 138(1).
60 An agreement between the interim government, NEFIN and
the Indigenous Nationalities Joint Straggle Committee. "Agreement between the Government and Janajatis", 7 August 2007.
Agreement between MJF and the government. "Agreement between the Government of Nepal and the Madhesi People's
Right Forum, Nepal", 30 August 2007. Between the government and the Chure Bhawar Pradesh Ekata Samaj. "Agreement
letter", 13 September 2007. The 28 February 2008 eight-point
agreement between the government and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) reiterated the commitments of
the earlier 22-point agreement, adding group entry of Madhesis
into the army and increasing the Madhesi quota for CA seats
from 20 to 30 per cent. The 2 March 2008 agreement between
the government, the Federal Limbuwan State Council (FLSC),
the Federal Democratic National Forum (FDNF), the United
Tharu National Front, the Dalit Janajati Party and the Tamang-
sequence. "They were painkillers", said a legal expert.
"Not treatments".61 But they heightened expectations of
janajati and Madhesi activists that federal provinces would
be established along ethnic lines. Quotas were introduced
for the CA elections as well as for administration and security forces.62 When the interim constitution was amended
a fifth time to say "[ajccepting the aspirations of the
Madhesis, indigenous nationalities, the marginalised and
peoples from other areas for autonomous provinces, Nepal
shall be a Federal Democratic Republic", the issue was
sealed in the minds of many.63
saling Autonomous State Council promises Limbuwan, Khambuwan, Tharuhat and Tamangsaling autonomous states within a
federal Nepal. The 19 March 2008 agreement between the government and the FLSC includes the formation of a Limbuwan
state within a federal Nepal. All agreements are available on inNepali original as well as English translation.
61 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, November 2010.
62 For the CA elections, there were quotas for the overlapping
categories of women, Madhesis, Dalits, "oppressed and indigenous", individuals from "backward region" and "others". For
details see Crisis Group Asia Report N°149, Nepal's Election
and Beyond, 2 April 2008. The August 2007 amendment to the
Civil Service Act 2049 (1993) reserved 12.5 per cent of all
open competition vacancies in the civil service for indigenous
nationalities, 14.85 per cent for women, 9.9 per cent for Madhesis, 4.05 per cent for Dalits and 1.8 per cent for candidates
from backwards regions. Civil Service (Second Amendment)
Act, 8 August 2007. The November 2007 amendments to the
Police Regulations 2049 (1992) and the Armed Police Force
Regulations 2060 (2003) reserved 14.4 per cent of all open competition vacancies forindigenous nationalities, 12.6 percentfor
Madhesis, 9 per cent for women, 6.75 per cent for Dalits and
2.25 per cent for candidates from backwards regions. Police
(Twelfth Amendment) Regulations, 19 November 2007; Armed
Police (Fourth Amendment) Regulations, 19 November 2007.
According to the Army Act 2063 (2006) the Nepalese Army's
makeup will have "national character". The fifth amendment to
the Interim Constitution specifies that the entry of Madhesis,
indigenous nationalities, Dalits, women and individuals from
"marginalised areas" into the army will be ensured.
63Interim Constitution, Art. 138(1A).
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 9
Ahead ofthe April 2008 polls, the political parties were
almost unanimous in their public endorsement of federalism.64 But ofthe major political groups, only the Maoists
offered any details in their manifesto with a plan for thirteen federal units. Scant attention in other party manifestos hinted at the ambivalence behind the facade of support.
The weak agreement on the issue emerged from bargains
over what many leaders regarded as short-term deals to
which they would not be held. The parties had done little
to think through federalism and there had been next to no
internal discussion in the NC or UML, which both have
significant conservative fronts. Likewise, the parties were
almost mute on the issue in their public activities.
The eleven thematic committees of the Constituent Assembly (CA) have prepared concept papers suggesting
draft language for the final document. These papers all
point towards a future federal system recognising ethnic
and regional identities. But opposition has been building
in the parties. This raises the question of whether their professed support will translate into action in the final votes
on the constitution.
Should parties want to go back on their federalism promises, they would possibly face legal challenges.65 But the
more important questions are political. All parties - most
of all the Maoists - are juggling ethnic claims internally.
Ethnic and regionalist groups are eyeing the parties with
suspicion and warn of revolt if federalism does not provide ethnic autonomy.
A. The Maoists
The Maoists are the only main political party with a strong
public commitment to federalism. Not only did they use it
during the war to build support but they campaigned on it
in the elections, giving more detail than others on how the
system should work.
Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op. cit., p. 23.
65 Analysts differ on the degree to which the parties are bound
by their previous commitments as they draft the constitution.
The interim constitution does in general appear not to bind the
Constituent Assembly but lawyers differ over whether federalism may be an exception. Some lawyers say that the interim
constitution cannot bind the CA as a sovereign body; nor do the
agreements between the government and different agitating
groups have legal force. Crisis Group interview, senior civil
servant, Kathmandu, 26 November 2010. Others claim that the
interim constitution binds the CA in this one respect, emanating
from Art. 138. Crisis Group interview, constitutional expert,
Kathmandu, December 2010.
The Maoists' draft constitution envisages a federal structure with twelve provinces, established on the basis of
"caste, language and region".66 It also includes sub-units
to provide autonomy to geographically concentrated ethnic
or linguistic communities, to protect particularly small,
marginalised or "endangered" groups, and develop "backward" areas.67 Maoist leaders also openly say they endorse
the right to self-determination (as in a right to secede) in
principle but not in practice. Questioning the economic
viability of breakaway states, they say secession has to be
discouraged. Pointing out the risk that India and China
could encourage secession, they argue for a strong central
Accordingly, the division of powers is heavily tilted towards the centre; residual powers lie with the federal state.69
Several provisions would allow extensive central control
over provincial affairs. The most important example is the
provincial chief as representative ofthe central government. Any provincial legislation and senior appointments
including that ofthe elected provincial chief minister require his consent.70 No effective provision binds the provincial chief to the provincial council of ministers;71 but he
can be dismissed fundamentally unchecked by the central
Internally, there is less division over federalism within
the Maoists than within other parties. There are no second
thoughts on the issue itself, but concerns about the number of provinces do exist. Leaders of other parties say that
both Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai have spoken in
favour of six provinces in private conversations.73 Moreover, some leaders from the janajati and Madhesi communities are concerned that the leadership might be too
"Janatako sanghiya ganatantra Nepalko samvidhan", UCPN(M),
29 May 2010, Art. 62(1). The twelve provinces are: Limbuwan,
Mithila-Bhojpura- Koch-Madhes, Kirat, Sherpa, Tamsaling,
Newa, Tamuwan, Magarat, Lumbini-Abadh-Tharuwan, Karnali, Jadan and Khaptad. Ibid, Appendix 1.
67 The three forms of "special structures" are "autonomous areas", "protected areas" and "special areas". Ibid, Art. 65.
68 Crisis Group interview, senior Maoist leader, Kathmandu,
December 2010.
69 "Janatako sanghiya ganatantra Nepalko samvidhan", UCPN(M),
29 May 2010, Art. 66 and schedules 5-7.
70Ibid, Art. 95. The appointment ofthe chief minister is regulated in Art. 98.
71 While Art. 95(2) states that "[generally, the Provincial Chief
shall, while exercising powers under this Constitution and the
laws in force, exercise the powers on the advice and consent of
the Provincial Council of Ministers", Art. 95(3) establishes an
exemption, provided the provincial chief acts "on the recommendation of any other body or authority".
72The dismissal ofthe provincial chief is regulated in Art. 92(3)
and 94(l(b)).
73 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, November-December
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 10
willing to compromise on federalism. The mostly Brahmin leadership ofthe party is sometimes seen as insufficiently enthusiastic; party leaders from the eastern hills
say they have to remind them ofthe importance ofthe issue in sustaining grassroots support.74
Some minorities within the party are concerned for ideological reasons. Forthe Maoists, autonomy is a means to
diminish inequality between ethnic groups; once this is
achieved, they want ethnic sentiments to dissolve into a
greater national identity. This sits uneasily with the views
of ethnic activists, many of whom base their views in the
global indigenous rights movement, under which culture
and identity are valuable in their own right.75
The longstanding paternalistic undertones in the party line
are a source of unease as well. The pre-1997 stance denied
the right to self-determination with reference to the "low
level of development ofthe nationalities". The new line
to support self-determination in principle but not in practice suggests the change, rooted in ideological terms, is
superficial. For many ethnic activists this is worrisome in
combination with the Brahmin-dominated leadership of
the Maoist movement. There is a tendency to liken ethnic
groups to children that need supervision. "It must be clear
that under any form of government, the centre would command the nation as a whole," said a Maoist supporter. "That
is true in many other examples. The father rules the family,
the principal the school".76
Their clear commitment to federal restructuring has brought
the Maoists huge political benefits. It contributes to their
image as a credible force for change. But it has also created
vulnerabilities forthe party. Now that Nepal is a republic
and a secular state, the democratisation ofthe Nepal Army
and federalism are the two major points remaining on the
Maoists' short-term transformative agenda. Inability to
deliver, particularly on the latter, is likely to cost them
support and may challenge the unity of the party. The
leadership still believes that it can force the other parties'
hands on the issue. "The Maoists compelled them to accept it in the first place but their acceptance is fake," said a
party leader in eastern Nepal. "It's the Maoists' duty now
to drive the process".77
The two other major parties - the UML and the NC - support federalism but it evokes deep anxieties; many leaders
are uncomfortable with the end of a unitary state. Both
parties are infected by inchoate but sincere fears, centring
on the possibility of a weakening national identity and the
emergence of communal tensions. Elite groups control the
parties and few oftheir leaders have much sense ofthe
grievances felt by those who have endured discrimination.
They have also been slow to recognise the deep failures
ofthe political system in the 1990s when they held power.
As with the Maoists, the mainstream parties are under
pressure from regional cadres who are trying to maintain
support in areas where federalism is popular, particularly
the eastern hills and the Tarai east of Chitwan. A Madhesi
NC leader from the eastern Tarai said: "Even family members told me they couldn't vote for me because the NC
can't guarantee Madhesi rights".78
Both UML and NC are aware of how much the Maoists
have to lose if federal restructuring fails.79 This may explain some of their foot dragging. But backtracking
openly would be politically disastrous. A referendum or a
deferral of a decision on the details of a federal system
would be tempting and leaders increasingly discuss them
as options.80
1.    The UML: ifyou can't convince them,
confuse them
Federalism had not been a policy goal ofthe UML prior
to the Madhesi movement in 2007; the party had focused
on decentralisation. The formal acceptance of federalism
marked a fundamental shift in the UML's position on identity politics. In the years following its establishment in
1949, the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) - the UML's
precursor- had initially endorsed ethnic demands including the right to self-determination. But in ideological discussions, class-based analysis became predominant and
ethnic activism was discouraged. Frustrated, many communist leaders from ethnic communities left the party and
either focused on ethnic activism or started their own left-
wing parties. Opposition to identity politics became more
pronounced after 1990, when the UML endorsed the development of a "common Nepali culture"; it identified
Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M) central committee member, 9 November 2010.
75 See Mukta S. Tamang, "Culture, Caste and Ethnicity in the
Maoist Movement", op. cit, pp. 294-295.
76 Crisis Group interview, journalist, Birtamod, 20 September
77 Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M) district in-charge, Sunsari,
16 September 2010.
Crisis Group interview, October 2010.
79 According to one daily newspaper, UML leader Bam Dev
Gautam accused senior NC parliamentary leader and prime
ministerial candidate, Ram Chandra Poudel, of suggesting to
him personally to not write the constitution and blame it on the
Maoists. "Emale pradhanmantri chayan hun nadine rananitima:
Gautam", Rajdhani, 10 December 2010.
80Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, November 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 11
ethnic activism as reactionary and divisive and caste and
ethnicity discrimination as amenable to class struggle.81
Since the first amendment ofthe interim constitution made
it necessary to develop a position on federalism, the UML
has skilfully avoided taking actual decisions beyond broad
endorsement. Before the CA elections, a concept paper
endorsed by the central committee ofthe UML accepted
federalism and formed the basis forthe party's position in
the election manifesto.82 It then took three further committees to develop a position for the CA state restructuring
committee, envisaging fifteen states to be formed according to wide-ranging criteria.83 UML CA members in the
state restructuring committee allied with the Maoists on
the delineation of provincial boundaries: while the Mao-
Mukta S. Tamang, "Culture, Caste and Ethnicity in the Maoist
Movement", op. cit. The Sixth National Congress ofthe UML
in 1998 produced a policy specifically dealing with identity
politics. It approvingly noted a trend of cultural and linguistic
homogenisation as necessary steps towards the formation of a
Nepali nation. It further criticised ethnic and regionally based
organisations as divisive and demands for ethnic autonomy and
federalism as threatening to Nepal's territorial integrity. "Jati,
bhasa, dharma ra samskriti sambandhi hamro niti", CPN(UML),
undated. A document passed at the UML's Seventh National
Congress in February 2003 was more ambiguous. It acknowledged ethnic inequality, but maintained that it is amenable to
class-based policies. It also indirectly criticised the Maoists' policy of establishing autonomous regions. "Rajnitik/sangathanatmak
prativedan", CPN(UML) central office, March 2003.
82 The paper was drafted by a committee led by Shankar Pokharel. Crisis Group interview, UML CA member, Kathmandu,
November 2010. The UML's CA election manifesto stressed
the primacy of class struggle and described ethnic and regional
grievances as its derivatives. It proposed a federal system with
centre, provinces and local bodies. Provinces were to be formed
according to factors ranging from geography to cultural distinctiveness. "Samvidansabha nirvachan chaitra 28, 2064 nekapa
(emale) ko ghoshanapatra", UML Central Committee, 2008.
83 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, November 2010. A policy report passed at the UML's eighth national congress described federalism, in combination with reservations and positive discrimination, as means to address the grievances of marginalised groups. At the same time, the report reiterated the primacy of class-struggle and accused reactionary forces of abusing ethnic and regional sentiments. "Nepal communist party
(ekikrit marxbadi-leninbadi) ko athaun rashtriya mahadhivesan
(5-14 Falgun 2065, Butwal) dvara parit rajnitik prativedan", UML
central office, August 2009. The concept paper said provinces
should be based both on identity and viability, further breaking
down the former into ethnicity, language, culture, geography,
and historical continuity, and the latter into economic interrelationship and viability, condition and possibility of developing
infrastructure, availability of natural resources, and administrative access. "Nekapa (emale) dvara prastut rajya punasam-
rachanako khakako prarambhik prastav", UML, undated.
ists retracted purely identity-based provinces, the UML
accepted a limited role for language and ethnicity.84
The position endorsed in the concept paper likely does
not reflect a wider consensus among senior leaders in the
party. Negotiations in the CA restructuring committee
were driven by leaders favouring federalism on the basis
of ethnic identity, such as Mangal Siddi Manandhar and
Ram Chandra Jha. There is little open opposition to federalism in the UML.85 But there are clear differences between the two main UML factions. Party chairman Jha-
lanath Khanal and those close to him have shown a level
of commitment to federalism by writing about it in party
documents and other publications.86 Leaders Madhav Nepal and K.P. Oli, in contrast, rarely speak about the topic
and only in the vaguest terms when they do.87
The vocal supporters of ethnic federalism within the UML
are mostly from janajati or Madhesi backgrounds. They
doubt senior leaders' public commitment to federalism is
genuine. They accuse them of dragging their feet by avoiding specific commitments and conspiring with conservative NC leaders to dilute federal restructuring.88 "They
can't backtrack", said a UML CA member. "But they
want semi-federalism and they don't want states based on
The UML's public image as anti-federalist embarrasses
local leaders in areas with strong support for ethnic and
regional autonomy. Particularly in eastern Nepal, they are
struggling to retain cadres drawn to ethnic and regionalist
Crisis Group interview, journalist, Kathmandu, 24 November
85 Within the party itself, it mostly comes from the fringes. One
example is Dr Pushpa Kandel, who in a publication prepared
for the UML's eighth national congress labelled federalism as
divisive. "Nekapa (emale) ko athaun rashtriya mahadiveshanma
prastut mahasachivko prativedanko sanghiyatasambandhi visha-
yamapharak mat", Dr. Pushpa Kandel, 14 February 2009. But
some influential supporters are openly opposed to federalism as
well. For example, the editors of Dristhi and Janaastha, two
weekly newspapers close to the UML are both members ofthe
RJM's joint anti-federalism front.
86For example, Jhalanath Khanal presented a policy report including a section on state restructuring at the party's eighth national congress. "Nepal communist party (ekikrit marxbadi-leninbadi) ko athaun rashtriya mahadhivesan (falgun 5-10 2065)
Butwalma prastutgarine rajnitik prativedan", UML central
committee, 25 January 2009.
87 K.P. Oli, for example, has expressed openness to the possibility of a referendum on federalism. "UNMIN- the white elephant
inNepal: K.P. Oli",, 10 January 2010.
88 Crisis Group interview, UML CA member, Kathmandu, 25
November 2010.
89 Crisis Group interview, UML CA member, Kathmandu, 24
November 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 12
organisations.90 "People want federalism more than anything else right now", said a UML leader in the eastern
Tarai. "This boils down to the struggle for rights. The
public hasn't really discussed the specifics but people
want equality and an end to discrimination - and they
think the only way to achieve this is federalism".91 At the
same time, some are wondering whether stalled progress
on federalism could be an advantage. The same leader
continued: "The most contested issues in the CA right
now are 'one Madhes one province' and ethnic federalism. This affects the Maoists the most because they have
publicly committed to it. So they will face the most trouble if they can't deliver".92
2.    The Nepali Congress
As with many key decisions, then Prime Minister G.P.
Koirala committed to federalism without much consultation with his party. The question was never formally discussed by the central committee.93 In fact, like many NC
leaders, the late G.P. Koirala had been "dead against federalism".94 When he conceded to the Madhesi parties'
demand to declare Nepal a federal state, some senior
leaders only learned about it from his televised address to
the nation.95
The NC included the call for federalism in its CA election
manifesto. It affirmed the transformation of Nepal into a
federal state but remained vague on how autonomous
provinces would be formed.96 In private, G.P. Koirala has
continued to speak of turning the five existing development regions into provinces.97 The manifesto did not sug-
Crisis Group interview, UML district secretary, September
91 Crisis Group interview, UML district leader, Siraha, 27 October 2010.
92 Ibid.
93 Crisis Group interview, NC central committee members, October-November 2010.
94 Crisis Group interview, NC central committee member, 24
October 2010. On the debate over state-restructuring in the NC
in early 2007 see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Constitutional
Process, op. cit, p. 15.
95 Crisis Group interview, NC central committee member, October 2010.
96 By inclusion rather than omission: "The creation of provinces
will be based on the principles of national integrity, geographic
viability, population size, natural resources and prospects, interrelation among the provinces, linguistic, ethnic and cultural affinity, and political and administrative feasibility. The creation
of these provinces will also respect the unique character of indigenous Janajati, Madhesi, Dalit and other groups living across
Tarai, Hills and Himali regions". "Samvidhan nirvachan 2064
Nepali Kangresko ghoshana-patra", NC central publishing
committee, 10 March 2008, p. 12.
97 Crisis Group interview, NC central working committee member, October 2010.
gest an exhaustive catalogue forthe division of powers.98
The most lucrative taxes would be collected by the centre.99 The manifesto committed to proportional representation and positive discrimination for marginalised groups,
without providing further details.100
A concept paper of February 2009 contained models for
both six and thirteen states, the former based on "resources and viability" and the latter on "identity and the
protection of representation with special focus on linguistic and cultural specialities".101 The NC's proposed constitution of May 2010 decided in favour ofthe six provinces model, two of them pure Tarai provinces but all of
them with at least some access to the southern border.102
The development of the NC's position on federalism
within the party as well as the state restructuring committee was largely driven by a small group around Narahari
Acharya, a central working committee member known for
favouring federalism. But the shift in official position did
not change broader Congress thinking. Its leaders still
oppose federalism in private.103 The large conservative
section ofthe senior NC leadership complains that federalism has been accepted with insufficient discussion.
They concede that federal restructuring is now unavoidable, but insist that it must not take place on the basis of
language and ethnicity and warn against more than five or
six federal provinces.104
"In dividing the powers, foreign affairs, monetary policy, national security and important inter-provincial issues such as air
transportation, highways and large hydropower will be with the
centre and other political, economic, social, cultural and lingual
rights along with agriculture, forestry, education, health employment and other issues will be under the control ofthe provincial
and local governments". "Samvidhan nirvachan 2064 Nepali
Kangresko ghoshana-patra", NC central publishing committee,
10 March 2008, p. 12.
99VAT, income tax, excise and unspecified "others". Mentioned for provincial and local revenue collection are land tax,
property tax and vehicle registration fees. Ibid.
100Ibid, p. 13.
101 "Constitutional concept paper: the structuring ofthe federal
republic of Nepal", NC, 26 February 2009. The paper was prepared by a committee of 25 NC CA members, chaired and presented by Narahari Acharya.
102 The province names are Karnali, Lumbini, Gandaki, Sagarmatha, Simraunagadh, Sirijunga. The proposed constitution also
suggests a unicameral provincial parliament which elects a
chief minister by majority, and a bicameral system at the centre. "Proposed constitution of Nepal (Summarised features)",
NC, 28 May 2010.
103 Crisis Group interview, NC central committee member, 24
October 2010.
104 Crisis Group interview, NC central committee member, 25
November 2010. See for example Ram Sharan Mahat, "Challenges of federalism",, 17 and 18 August 2009.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 13
The more progressive wing ofthe party around Acharya,
sees the electoral risks of ignoring the issue. They are
frustrated with the NC's reactive stance towards federalism and press for developing a vision oftheir own. Even
this group is not keen on ethnic federalism, preferring
geographic divisions that ignore cultural boundaries. "If
you want to de-link federalism from ethnicity, you need
to link it with development," said a central committee
member. "You can't just be silent. You need to lead the
debate .... We need to say it loud and clear: we are for
These divisions run right through to the party base, often
along ethnic lines. Many district leaders from hill Brahmin and Chhetri backgrounds warn against ethnic federalism. In the Tarai, many non-Madhesi NC officials were
dismayed by the movement for Madhesi rights but realise
that they cannot openly oppose it. They may grumble in
private about "giving citizenship to Indians" but they also
know that they have to "speak the local political language",
as one cadre put it.106 In contrast, many local leaders from
indigenous and Madhesi backgrounds are ardent supporters of ethnic federalism. They often maintain extensive
links with ethnic and regional activists. Many threaten to
abandon the party should ethnic or regional autonomy not
As ethnic and regional activists have begun to lose their
confidence that the constitution drafting process will implement federal restructuring, some have started to prepare forthe struggles ahead.108
Crisis Group interview, NC central committee member, 24
October 2010.
106 Crisis Group interview, NC district leader, Birgunj, 7 October 2010.
107 Crisis Group interviews, Saptari, Siraha, Panchthar, October-
November 2010. An NC leader in an eastern hill district, who
had already left the party to join the KRM, had returned after
he was offered district committee membership before the September 2010 NC general convention. However, he still complained about the difficulty of bringing federalism on the
agenda for intra-party discussions. Crisis Group interview, November 2010.
108 The rare instance of open high-caste chauvinism hardly lowers suspicions. Ethnic activists still discuss articles and pamphlets from the 1990s. For example, a pamphlet stating it must
only be distributed among Brahmins and Chhetris notes with
consternation the rising political awareness among matwalis (an
old-fashioned and now rather derogatory term for ethnic groups
who traditionally drink alcohol) inNepal and Sikkim. Asserting
"our birthright, which is to rule", it calls for unity to maintain
high-caste domination and for slandering aspiring "matwali"
leaders as "racist, treacherous, immoral, anti-social and cor-
In terms of public support for identity-based federal states
as well as organisational capacity of ethnic and regionalist movements, eastern Nepal stands out. Support is most
widespread among Limbus in the eastern hills. Across the
Tarai, support in general is particularly high and explicit
opposition to federalism particularly low among Madhesis and Tharus.109
1.    Eastern hills
There are two broad autonomy movements in the eastern
hills. Limbu activists claim a Limbuwan state in Nepal's
easternmost districts along the Indian border. Rai groups
demand a Khambuwan state to the west of Limbuwan,
although the borders of the states that both groups demand overlap. Nationally Limbus make up 1.4 per cent of
the population and Rai 2.6 per cent. Limbus are the largest single group in only three districts of the nine that
make up the area they describe as Limbuwan. Rai are the
largest group in five districts. Neither group is the majority in any district.110 The two ethnic groups are similar in
culture and religion, and intermarriages are frequent.111
Limbuwan. The most active Limbuwan groups are the
three factions ofthe Federal Limbuwan State Councils
(FLSC). The FLSC was established in December 2005,
with Sanjuhang Palungwa as its first president. The first,
and more significant, split occurred in early 2008 over
the question of participating in the CA elections. FLSC
leader Kumar Lingden decided to contest the elections
under the umbrella of the Federal Democratic National
rapt" in order to undermine their support. "Gayatri-Mantra 3",
Taghadari Surakshya Samaj, 1992. Less secretively, a magazine article titled "Mongols are the Avatars of evil", accuses
Nepal's ethnic groups of planning to capture the state. Depict-
ing janajatis as unpatriotic, barbaric drunkards, it declares them
unfit for any kind of political leadership. "Mongolhara rak-
shaska avatar hun", Nava Smriti Masik Patrika, Issue 2,1999.
109 According to a 2009 survey by Interdisciplinary Analysts,
only 13.9 per cent of the overall population supports ethnic
federalism. This number is significantly higher for Limbus, at
42 per cent. Among Madhesis and Taraijanajatis, only 16.6 per
cent oppose federalism. But there are marked variations; the
largest percentage of Madhesis support one state spanning the
entire south of Nepal, to which there is a high degree of opposition among Tharus particularly in the western Tarai. See "Federalism and Constitutional Issues inNepal: Perspectives from the
Local Level", The Carter Center, 22 February 2010, pp. 8-10.
110Pitamber Sharma, Unraveling the Mosaic, op. cit, p. 17.
111 Kirati is an overarching ethnic category; ofthe number of
groups it encompasses, Limbus and Rais are by far the largest.
DorBahadur Bista, People of Nepal (Kathmandu, 2000[1967]).
Rais in turn consist of at least fifteen linguistically distinct
groups. Martin Gaenzle, Origins and Migrations: Kinship, Mythology and Ethnic Identity among the Mewahang Rai of East
Nepal (Kathmandu, 2000), p. 2.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 14
Forum (FDNF).112 Later, FLSC(Palungwa) leader Misek-
hang and a number of cadres decided to establish the
FLSC(Revolutionary). This group is much smaller than
both FLSC(P) and FLSC(Lingden) and is often considered politically less sophisticated.
In the beginning of 2010, the FDNF split when Tharu leader
Laxman Tharu together with several important FLSC(L)
leaders registered the Federal Democratic National Party
(FDNP). Leaders of this new party accuse Lingden of prioritising Limbu issues overthe FDNF's national agenda.113
In the meantime, there has been rapprochement between
Lingden and Palungwa, who say they have come close to
an agreement on reunification.114 There are no significant
differences over policy; the main obstacle to reunification
appears to be disagreement over leadership positions.
What they want: Limbuwan groups cite the autonomy
provisions in past royal decrees as proof of the prior existence of a Limbuwan polity and as an argument for an
autonomous state with the right to self-determination.115
The FLSC(L) and the FLSC(P) lay out their visions of
this future state in detailed policy documents.116 Both demand a Limbuwan autonomous state comprising the nine
easternmost districts within a federal Nepal. They demand
a high degree of autonomy. Federal states are to have the
right to write their own constitutions; only defence, foreign affairs and monetary policy are to be under exclusive
jurisdiction ofthe centre.
Both want substantial privileges for adtvasis - by which
they basically mean Limbus - in Limbuwan.117 In the political and economic domain, both want a 50 per cent reservation for adivasis in the state legislature, Lingden also
112 The FDNF was established in December 2005, with Palungwa as president and Lingden as general secretary. Tharuhat
Autonomous State Council leader Laxman Tharu also contested
the CA elections under the umbrella ofthe FDNF. It was registered as a political party on 18 January 2008.
113 Crisis Group interview, FDNP central leader, Kathmandu,
December 2010.
114 Crisis Group interview, FLSC(L) district leader, Kathmandu,
December 2010.
115Sanjuhang Palungwa, Terhathume Dhaka Topi Modelma
Limbuwan Swayata Rajyako Khaka (Biratnagar, 2009).
116For the position of Sanjuhang Palungwa's FLSC see ibid.
For Lingden's position see " Sanghiya loktantrik ganatantra Nepal antargat Limbuwan swayatta rajyako samvidhan 2067",
FLSC, 25 July 2009; "Sanghiya loktantrik ganatantra Nepalko
samvidhan 2067", FDNF, 1 April 2009. Misekhang's group
does not have any policy document.
117 Neither document defines what the term adivasi means in
Limbuwan, but for both Palungwa and Lingden, it basically encompasses Limbus plus several other smaller janajati groups
which will not have their "own" state in federal Nepal. Crisis
Group interviews, FLSC(L) and FLSC(P) leaders, December
for the provincial council of ministers. Palungwa envisions an all-indigenous upper house, with veto-rights for
state legislation and the use of natural resources. They also
demand privileged rights to natural resources traditionally
used by indigenous people, but do not specify details.118
Level of support: There appears to be widespread support
for a Limbuwan state among Limbus in the eastern hills.119
At the heart ofthe Limbuwan claim lies a sense of a shared
history of discrimination by the Nepali state. The independence of pre-"unification" Limbu kingdoms and the
autonomy status granted by Prithvi Narayan Shah are
widely debated among Limbus. The loss of land to high-
caste settlers still fuels a sense of injustice, but is no
longer a direct source of grievances.
Today's claims are mostly about cultural issues and the
end of direct rule by Kathmandu-based high caste elites,
whom many perceive as neglectful at best and hostile at
worst towards Limbus and their culture. "The support we
have here comes from the realisation deep inside that we
have lost our rights and are prevented from practising our
culture", said a young activist. "The politics of identity
guide us in this movement, not the politics of Marxism or
capitalism. We believe identity politics is the stronger
form of politics".120 When asked what they want to see
come of a Limbuwan state, many focus notjust on having
a less remote government but on recognition oftheir culture, language and religion in particular.
The appeal of Limbuwan cuts across party affiliation; at
the village level there appears to be near unanimity among
people of diverse political affiliation. Even longstanding
NC members are keen supporters.121 It is this that gives
the movement strength, rather than its organisation.
Organisational Capacity: Ofthe three main groups, the
FLSC(P) and FLSC(L) have the strongest presence in the
eastern hills. Both have district committees in all nine districts oftheir proposed Limbuwan, and village committees
in many ofthe Village Development Committees (VDCs).
Each group has a youth wing called the Limbuwan Volunteers (LV), which they say provides security for their
organisations. But the LVs also represent what activists
Some of the ambiguity in their documents results from borrowing language from international indigenous rights documents, which are often ambiguously worded themselves. Parts
ofthe FDNF's manifesto, particularly those pertaining to self-
determination and privileged access to resources, are either directly copied (and translated) from the UN Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or closely mirror its language
119 See footnote 109.
120 Crisis Group interview, FLSC(L) district spokesperson, Dharan, 14 September 2010.
121 Crisis Group interviews, Panchthar, November 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 15
hope will be the core of a Limbuwan security structure
once the state is set up. Activists say there are thousands
of LVs with one FLSC(P) district organiser in Panchthar
claiming around 5,000 in each ofthe nine districts ofthe
proposed Limbuwan. This is almost certainly an exaggeration; membership is not clearly defined. Organisers say
that all have received some sort of training but admit they
are unarmed. Nevertheless, the volunteers have a presence
across villages in the eastern hills.122
There is also the ominous suggestion that the LVs will
ensure the Limbuwan state is actually established. If federalism does not come, they have the potential to be organised into a fighting force. Activists stress that many
retired members ofthe British and Indian Gurkhas live in
the area and support Limbuwan. They would bring military knowledge and discipline to the movement.
The involvement of both LV wings in extortion has attracted many who are less interested in Limbuwan than in
material gain. Other cadres are genuinely dedicated to the
cause. Many young supporters come from educated backgrounds and are well versed in the party line. Almost all
senior leaders have had long political careers, many of
them as central leaders ofthe Rashtriya Janamukti Party
or in the middle ranks ofthe UML. Possibly realising the
need to develop a wider support base, Palungwa's LVs
appear to be undergoing reform. Local observers say their
involvement in criminal activities has diminished.123
Communal Tensions: Many supporters of Limbuwan are
quick to say that the state will treat all residents equally.
The language of inclusion has permeated political life in
Nepal in recent years and most activists know it would be
unacceptable to push too aggressively for an exclusive
ethnic agenda. They recognise that Limbus will be a minority in Limbuwan and that they cannot afford to alienate other communities.
Nevertheless there is considerable anxiety among Brahmins and Chhetris about possible future discrimination.
There are signs communal tensions have increased. In
Taplejung there is open hostility from Limbus towards
their Brahmin neighbours; there have been threats and
physical assaults. In several VDCs in Taplejung, either all
orthe vast majority of Brahmins left after 2000, when the
war started in the eastern hills. In one VDC for example,
none of the 50 Brahmin households which existed in
1990 remains today, and most oftheir land is now owned
Crisis Group interviews, Sunsari, Jhapa, Panchthar, September and November 2010.
123 Crisis Group interviews, Jhapa, September 2010. On the involvement of the LVs in criminal activities see Crisis Group
Report, Nepal's Political Rites of Passage, op. cit, pp. 14 and 17.
by Limbus.124 Tensions in Panchthar are more implicit,
but have nevertheless prompted many Brahmins and
Chhetris to sell their property and migrate to the Tarai.125
Anxieties are based less on actual violence, than on an
underlying hostile atmosphere and occasional threats.126
Khambuwan. The most important groups in the Khambuwan area ofthe eastern hills are the KRM and the Kirat
Janabadi Workers Party (KJWP). The KRM consists of
leaders and cadres who did not follow Gopal Khambu
when he joined the Maoists. It is led by R.K. Khambu and
Indrahang Khambu, both of whom have been with the
KRM since its inception in 1992. They insist that they are
no longer an armed movement, since the government in
the March 2008 five-point agreement conceded the establishment of a Khambuwan state.127
The KJWP, describing itself as an underground armed
group, was formed in 2007 by former KRM cadres who
had broken with the Maoists (after previously having
joined them together with Gopal Khambu). After two
splits in 2009 and 2010, the KJWP is now led by Binod
Rai ("Biswas Bidrohi"). Former leader Nabin Kirati has
joined the FDNP and is now its vice-chairman. Binod
Rai's brother Ananta Kranti has formed the Samyukta
Jatiya Mukti Morcha.
What they want. The KRM demands a Khambuwan state
in a federal Nepal.128 There is no reference to special
rights for Rais in their documents; rather, they demand
proportional representation in the state government. The
division of powers is tilted towards the federal units; only
foreign affairs, monetary policy and defence are to be
handled by the centre.129 The KJWP wants a single Kirat
state for the Limbuwan and Khambuwan areas, encompassing districts east of Ramechhap. They also demand
proportional representation in all state organs.130
Crisis Group interview, NC district leader from Taplejung,
Kathmandu, October 2010.
125 "Fear makes non-Limbus sell out, flee villages", myrepub-, 30 May 2010. According to a news article, the number of non-Limbus selling their land more than doubled after
the end of the war, from 1,294 in 2004/2005 to 2,253 in
2006/2007 and2,933in2008/2009. "Ethnic violence stokesfear
among non-Limbu",, 5 June 2010.
Crisis Group telephone interview, journalist, December 2010.
127 Crisis Group interview, KRM leaders, Dharan, September
128 Encompassing Udaypur, Khotang, Bhojpur, Dhankuta, Solukhumbu, Sankhuwasabha, Okhaldhunga, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Dolakha, Saptari, Sunsari, Siraha and parts of Sarlahi,
Mahottari, Dhanusa and Morang. "Khambuwanko rajnaitik
prastav", KRM, 2010.
129 "Khambuwan Rashtriya Morcha, vidhan-2009", KRM, 2009.
130 Crisis Group telephone interview, KJWP leader, September
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 16
Level of support. The main aim ofthe Khambuwan movement, an autonomous state, appears to enjoy widespread
support among Rais in the eastern hills. This may have
more to do with longstanding sentiment than with active
mobilisation; there has been little campaigning by either
the KRM or the KJWP. Residents do not necessarily have
a precise idea about what an autonomous province would
look like or follow a party line; some are, for example,
agnostic about whether autonomy will come in the shape
of Khambuwan or a larger Kirat state. The demand for
autonomy has more to do with concerns about the influence of Hinduism and the loss of Kirati culture (language
in particular) than with economic opportunity and resource
access.131 Local Rai elites, even though they may officially
belong to major political parties, often actively support
the Khambuwan movement.132
This has not translated into militancy. Both KRM and
KJWP are single-issue groups. Given the formal endorsement of federalism along ethnic lines in the interim constitution, they will have difficulties mobilising people as
long as there is some confidence in the constitutional
process. A teacher in Khotang said: "Ifthe new constitution addresses these issues, then the KJWP has nothing to
mobilise on. But if the country continues like this in a
limbo then there are good chances they could".133
Organisational capacity. The KJWP draws strength less
from a widespread base of cadres than from a tight-knit
network at its core. Most of its top leaders are related and
hail from the same village in northern Udaypur; so do
most oftheir militia.134 Although the KJWP established
some presence in other eastern districts such as Jhapa,
their influence remained limited to northern Udaypur and
Sunsari and southern Khotang and Bhojpur. After splits
and the spate of arrests earlier in 2010, it is hard to assess
the KJWP's capacity.135 Only Binod Rai and his sister
Mina Rai remain ofthe original KJWP leadership. Their
brother Hangsa Kirati was arrested. Nabin Kirati is now
vice-chairman of the FDNP, several other cadres have
also joined.
The KRM maintains offices at district and village levels
in a number of districts and has a network of experienced
leaders in their core districts.136 They also say they have
transformed part oftheir militia into a politically trained
volunteer force for outreach campaigns.137
Longstanding networks between Khambuwan activists
may prove more important than factions and individual
affiliation. Many have shared parts of long political careers; strong personal, sometimes kinship, ties cut across
organisational boundaries. There is much interaction on a
personal level. Certain places, Dharan, Birtamod and some
villages such as Beltar in northern Udaypur, are hubs for
Communal tensions. Residents in the Khambuwan areas
note underlying communal tensions although there are
no pervasive reports. A government official in Bhojpur
spoke of tensions between "sharp-nosed and flat-nosed"
(expressions for hill Hindu caste groups and janajatis; respectively) within the Maoists.138 A Chhetri in Khotang
said villagers had harassed their Brahmin and Chhetri
neighbours after encouragement from the KJWP some
four years ago.139
Relations between Limbuwan and Khambuwan groups.
Among activists, mistrust towards the constitutional process is huge. Leaders of almost all Limbuwan and Khambuwan organisations do not expect their demands to be met,
even ifthe constitution is written. Their eyes are on the
28 May 2011 deadline, after which they expect conditions
conducive for mobilising wider support. There is a real
sense of urgency that there is a limited window for pressing ethnic demands. Referring to the NC's 2009 introduction of quotas for its party organisation, a Khambuwan
leader expressed concerns that limited concessions by the
major parties will threaten the movement's cohesion.140
Indeed the question in the east - as it has been in the Tarai
- is whether the movement can reach the tipping point at
which like-minded leaders of major parties will defect.
Ultimately, organisational boundaries may be of limited
importance. Leaders of Khambu, Limbu, Tharu and Tamang groups maintain close personal ties and understand
themselves as parts of a joint movement. Besides the major organisations, a growing network includes influential
individuals from janajati backgrounds previously affiliated with other parties, underground leaders and small
groups of former Maoist combatants. Short of a joint
131 Crisis Group interviews, Udaypur and Khotang, November
132Crisis Group interviews, Bhojpur, January 2010.
133 Crisis Group interview, teacher, Khotang, November 2010.
134 Crisis Group interviews, Udaypur, November 2010.
135 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Political Rites of Passage,
op. cit, fn. 101.
136 KRM leaders say they have both district and village committees in Bhojpur, Khotang, Sunsari and Udaypur and district
committees in Dhankuta, Sankhuwasabha, Ramechhap, Soluk
humbu and Okhaldhunga. Crisis Group telephone interview,
December 2010.
137 Crisis Group interview, KRM leaders, Dharan, September
138 Crisis Group interview, Bhojpur, January 2010.
139 Crisis Group interview, Khotang, November 2010.
140 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, December 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 17
strategy, there are intense discussions about the effectiveness of peaceful agitation.141
2.    Eastern and central Tarai
The population ofthe eastern and central Tarai is dominated by plains origin Madhesis. Most Madhesis are caste
Hindus who speak plains languages close to Hindi and
have extensive economic and social ties across the border
in India. Nepalis from the hills and those who dominate
the state have long suspected that their loyalties also lie
across the frontier. Madhesis had long complained about
underrepresentation, discrimination by state policies on
citizenship, language and revenue distribution, and state
sponsored migration of hill communities to the Tarai.142
Longstanding grievances broke into several week long
protests in 2007 and 2008.
The Madhesi movement has now lost much of its momentum.143 Participation in the movement in 2007 and 2008
cut across class and party lines and was rooted in a widespread sense of discrimination. Since the first movement
in 2007, the government has introduced measures to address some ofthe issues. Constituency boundaries were
redrawn in June 2007 to ensure greater representation.
Madhesis, long denied citizenship, have been granted full
rights. Many say the attitudes of a previously hostile bureaucracy have changed significantly.
The major actors in the movement are five Madhesi parties represented in the CA. The MJF(Democratic), the Sadbhavana Party and the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party
(TMDP) are in government;144 the MJF(Nepal) led by
Upendra Yadav and the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Ananda
Devi), NSP(A), remain in the opposition. The Tarai armed
groups show no signs of overcoming their extreme fragmentation or recovering apolitical agenda.145
Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, November-December
142See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region,
op. cit, p. 2-6.
143 On the movement in 2007 see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
Troubled Tarai Region, op. cit; on the second movement see
Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op. cit.
144 The status ofthe TMDP is unclear. Party leader Mahendra
Yadav on 31 December 2010 registered a new party, the
TMDP(Nepal), which includes nine ofthe TMDP's CA members, two of them cabinet ministers. The TMDP's remaining
four ministers then tendered their resignation, which has not yet
been accepted by caretaker prime minister Madhav Nepal.
145 On the Tarai armed groups see Crisis Group Report Nepal's
Political Rites of Passage, op. cit, pp. 14, 17, 18.
The central demand of all five major Madhesi parties is a
single Tarai province spanning the entire south of Nepal.146
MJF(L) and both Sadbhavana Party and NSP(A) explicitly mention sub-divisions.147 Differences on the division
of powers are minor; all Madhesi parties envisage strong
provinces.148 There is similar convergence on the language
question; all the parties want Hindi to become a second
official language at the centre.149
The demand for one Madhes is a maximalist demand, and
Madhesi leaders privately say they are willing to compromise on it. "Publicly we demand one Madhes", said a Madhesi leader in Nepalgunj. "But in the party we know that
like this we will get at least three or four. The only thing
we are firm about is that it has to be east-west, not north-
south. That would just perpetuate the old exploitation".150
The sense of disillusionment with the leadership of the
Madhesi parties is tangible in Siraha and Saptari, core
districts ofthe 2007 and 2008 movements. Many Madhesis feel ill represented by their leaders in Kathmandu and
complain there have been few tangible benefits on the
146"Samvidhan sabhako nirvachanko lagi Madhesi Janadhikar
Forum, Nepalko ghoshanapatra - 2064" 16 March 2008, MJF
central office, Birgunj, p. 10; "Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, Nepal ko rajnitik dastavej", MJF(N) central office, 17 January
2009, p. 6; "Avadharana Patra", MJF(L), undated; "Sadbhavana Party dvara prastut sanghiya loktantrik ganatantra Nepal
ko samvidhanko avadharana", Sadbhavana Party Central Office, 2 April 2009, p. 7; "Ghoshana Patra", TMDP Central Office, undated, p. 4.
147 The MJF(L) wants an autonomous Madhesi province with
two sub-provinces (Eastern and Western) in lieu of the demands ofthe Tharu community. "Avadharana Patra", MJF(L),
undated. The map submitted to the CA state restructuring
committee by the NSP(A) divides the Madhes region, spanning
the entire south of Nepal, into five sub-regions.
148 The MJF(N) wants provincial authority over any matter not
explicitly under the centre. The MJF(L) wants several issues
(such as language policies, citizenship and peace and security)
to be handled jointly by central state and provincial levels.
149 The NSP(A) wants Hindi declared an official and national
language. "Nepal Sadbhavana Party (A) Appeal", NSP(A), July
2009. The MJF(N) and MJF(L) both demand at least two official languages at the centre and the authority for provinces to
appoint their own official languages. "Madeshi Janaadhikar Forum, Nepal ko Rajnitik Dastavej", MJF(N) Central Office;
"Madheshi Jana-Adhikar Forum, Nepal (Loktantrik) ko Ghoshana Patra", MJF(L), Central Committee. Sadbhavana Party
demands official language status for Hindi alongside Nepali
and a trilingual policy in the provinces where Nepali, Hindi and
a provincial mother tongue are used officially. "Sanghiya Loktantrik Ganatantra Nepal ko Samvidhanko Avadharana", SP, 2
April 2009. The TMDP demands a trilingual policy on both
central (Nepali, Hindi, English) and provincial (Nepali, Hindi,
provincial mother tongue) levels. "Vartaman rajnitik sthiti -
hamro dharana, hamro disha", TMDP, undated.
150 Crisis Group interview, July 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 18
ground. Ministers from Madhesi parties are accused of
blatant self enrichment.151 'We took part in the Madhesi
uprising. The leaders had told us to participate and that
we would get our rights; we hoped that our situation
would improve, but nothing happened", said a Dalit villager in Siraha. "The leaders went to Kathmandu and are
only focused on power".152 Indeed, the attendance ofthe
Madhesi parties is well below the already low average.153
Some analysts suspect this could translate into opportunities for the previously dominant UML and NC;154 this is
unlikely, unless the new constitution addresses popular
aspirations. The image of both parties is still tarnished by
their sluggish response to the previous movements; their
commitment to Madhesi rights perceived as disingenuous. Discontent with the Madhesi parties does not mean
that the cause has lost any support. Indeed, activists as
well as many common Madhesis see the politicisation of
their identity as the movement's most important result.155
Aspirations still mainly revolve around autonomy status
and quotas.
Among the Madhesi parties, the MJF(N) may still be in
the best position to cash in on popular sentiment. Upendra
Yadav retains a special status.156 "The TMDP is aparty of
high castes; Sadbhavana basically represents the Indian
establishment", said an independent Madhesi analyst.
"Upendra may be discredited, but there is also no other
alternative".157 A spontaneous movement without leadership is very unlikely. As participants in the previous movements in a village in Morang said: "How can the public
start an uprising? It has to be started by the political lead-
Crisis Group interviews, Janakpur, Siraha, Saptari, October
152 Crisis Group interview, Dalit villagers, Siraha, 28 October
153 The average attendance rate of members at full C A meetings
is at 63 per cent. The attendance rate of senior Madhesi leaders
is particularly poor. MJF(N) leader Upendra Yadav's rate is
19.8 per cent, NSP leader Rajendra Mahato's rate 11.88 per
cent and MJF(L) leader Bijay Gachhedhar's rate 9.9 per cent.
"Attendance and participation in the Constituent Assembly",
Martin Chautari, 4 September 2010, pp. 6-7. Available at
154 Crisis Group interviews, Janakpur and Lahan, October 2010.
Dalit villagers in Siraha said: "We voted NC before and we will
vote for the NC the next time". Crisis Group interview, 28 October 2010.
155 Crisis Group interviews, Birgunj, Janakpur, Siraha, Saptari
and Morang, October 2010.
156 "People may hate Upendra Yadav because they loved him
before", said an independent Madhesi analyst. "Gachhedhar
they don't hate; there is nothing even to hate about him". Crisis
Group interview, Biratnagar, 30 October 2010.
157 Crisis Group interview, independent Madhesi analyst, Biratnagar, 30 October 2010.
ers. They have to organise the demonstrations. The people are more concerned with making ends meet".158
The Madhesi parties have solid local representation throughout the eastern and central Tarai; most leaders build on
previous party networks. For example, many Madhesi party
CA members in Siraha were previously with the NC.159
Their district leaders stay in close contact with the population and provide valuable services, for example in dealings with the administration.160
The re-emergence of the United Democratic Madhesi
Front (UDMF) in July 2010 for the unsuccessful prime
ministerial elections shows that the Madhesi parties are
still able to cooperate on their core agenda.161 But the
movement is split along several lines. Caste politics still,
and maybe increasingly, creates rifts in the movements.
Many upper caste Madhesi leaders are weary ofthe perceived domination ofthe MJF(N) by middle-caste Yadavs.
Particularly in the MJF(N), mistrust in the top leadership
has seeped into the district structures; local leaders are
getting impatient. They expect another revolt and want
their leaders to come back to the districts to help prepare
it. "The MJF may call all its representatives back ... to
the districts and explain to the people why there has been
no progress".162
Some Madhesi leaders may indeed be in no hurry to establish Tarai provinces. The Madhesi movements and
their success in the 2008 elections have improved their
bargaining position in Kathmandu. Some have secured
plum ministries. The background threat of further revolts
provides an additional means of pressure - one they would
lose, should they succeed. "Why would Rajendra Mahato
want to be chief minister in Mithila", said an independent
Madhesi analyst, "When he can be supplies minister in
Crisis Group interview, local residents, Katahari, 31 October
159 Crisis Group interview, journalist, Lahan, 26 October 2010;
NC district leader, Siraha, 27 October 2010.
160 For example, a district leader in Morang personally helps
villagers obtain their citizenship certificates. Crisis Group interview, Katahari, 31 October 2010.
161 After Prime Minister Madhav Nepal stepped down on 30
June 2010 and the three major parties were unable to agree on
the leadership of a consensus government, the legislature-
parliament has not been able to elect a new prime minister.
Madhav Nepal continues to head the caretaker government.
162 Crisis Group interview, MJF(N) district leader, Biratnagar,
30 October 2010.
163 Crisis Group interview, Madhesi analyst, Kathmandu, 26
November 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 19
Madhesi-pahadi tensions during the Madhesi movement
and extortion by Tarai armed groups have prompted many
pahadis in the eastern and central Tarai to leave, often
leaving behind property or selling it below market price.
Madhesi politicians and journalists in Siraha say this was
the case for up to 70 per cent of pahadis in the district.
Those who stay are often too poor to move.164
The current picture is mixed. People in a Tamang community living along the highway in Siraha said they feel
safe and well-integrated.165 Teashop talk and the rants of
youth politicians in Biratnagar have lost their communal
edge. But all is not well everywhere. Although many pahadis say they feel significantly safer than in 2007 and
2008, they feel they need to keep a low profile. Often
only some male family members stay with the property or
business, but have sent their families to live in Kathmandu
- with no plans of bringing them back.166
D. Federalism and its Sceptics
The assertiveness of ethnic and regional movements has
led to considerable anxiety. Taken together, the movements' demands are directed against almost the entirety
ofthe official definition of what it means to be Nepali. A
significant minority of the Nepali population opposes
federalism altogether. More than a quarter of respondents
in a 2009 poll said they did not want it.167 Ofthe almost
50 per cent who supported federalism, less than half
wanted to see the country divided along lines of ethnicity
or language. These deep concerns shared by about half
the population have not translated into widespread organised opposition.
There are three broad responses critical of current change.
A leftist, secular, pro-republican position perceives identity politics as reactionary and federalism as a risk to Nepal's unity. Many Brahmins and Chhetris feel threatened
by assertive ethnic demands; several organisations seek to
include them in the emerging group-based order despite
being fundamentally critical of it. The last is a conglomerate of Hindutva groups and royalists, primarily opposed
to secularism and the republic. Federalism is a secondary
issue for them. Although not necessarily fundamentally
opposed to it, they are critical towards provinces based on
1.    Who's who:
Chitra Bahadur K.C.'s Rashtriya Janamorcha (RJM) is the
only party which openly opposes federalism altogether. It
admits the polity needs to be radically decentralised. But
given the extent of ethnic diversity it fears a landslide of
demands for federal states. It also sees risks of increasing
interference from India and points to a united Madhes
province as a particular threat to Nepal's integrity. K.C.
has also established the National Anti-Federalism Campaign; without statute and with open membership, it aims
to be a platform for anti-federalists of diverse political
The Chhetri Samaj Nepal (CSN) was founded by Prof.
Dil Bahadur Chhetri in Pokhara in 1996/1997. A small
organisation initially, it grew significantly from 2009 onwards. The CSN's official program says it is not against
federalism, but against federalism based on identity. It is
in favour of proportional ethnic representation; but it demands the recognition of Chhetris as indigenous and not,
as currently, to be listed under "others". This position appears to have been adopted for damage limitation, rather
than out of conviction. Essays in a book published by the
CSN are highly critical of identity politics.168 Members
and district leaders say they want to protect Chhetris from
discrimination under a future federal Nepal.169
The Khas Chhetri Ekata Samaj (KCES), led by Yubaraj
Karki, in contrast, says it is in favour of ethnic federalism;
it demands indigenous nationality status for Chhetris and
proportional representation of ethnicities in the political
domain. Chhetri Samaj leaders blame the KCES for demanding indigenous nationality status, while they themselves oppose describing any group except extremely small
and marginalised ones as such.170
All three organisations tap into a widespread unease about
the changes to come. The RJM had little electoral success
in the 2008 elections, winning four seats in the CA, three
of them under the proportional representation system. But
K.C.'s anti-federalism front has drawn some support.
Demonstrations in Kathmandu in late 2009 attracted significant crowds. Maybe more importantly, the front has
attracted some from the Kathmandu political circles, in-
Crisis Group interviews, October 2010.
165 Crisis Group interview, October 2010.
166 Crisis Group interviews, Dhanusa, September 2009 and October 2010.
167 For details of a 2009 survey by Interdisciplinary Analysts
see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Political Rites of Passage, op.
cit, fn. 219.
Describing, for example, ethnic federalism as "poison" and
ethnic psychology as a backward concept weakening class-
based politics. "Kshatri avaj", CSN central committee, November 2009.
169 Crisis Group interviews, Jumla, Dadeldhura, Sunsari and
Jhapa, July and September 2010.
170 Crisis Group telephone interview, Chhetri Samaj armed wing
commander, November 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 20
eluding NC and UML politicians, intellectuals and the editors of two major UML-affiliated weekly newspapers.171
Many Brahmins and Chhetris are anxious of losing out.
Federalism and the prospect of quotas and special reservations for minorities, from which they expect particular disadvantage, are connected in the minds of many. For current elites, who have money and children safely deposited
abroad, this may be less problematic. But for struggling
middle-class families, concerns about losing access to important opportunities are real. Commenting on the listing
of Chhetris and Brahmins under the "other" category in
the CA elections a KCES leader in Jumla said: "with quotas, a poor Chhetri won't stand a chance".172
There is a wider fear that the new Nepal will have little
space for Brahmins and Chhetris. For most ethnic activists,
Hinduism, the exclusive status ofthe Nepali language and
high caste domination are linked. Many Brahmins and
Chhetris take the increasingly effective efforts at redefining Nepali nationalism personally. Anxiety that ethnic
federalism could result in inter-ethnic hostility is widely
echoed by Brahmins and Chhetris throughout the country,
and particularly in the eastern hills.173 "Hinduism has been
removed", said a local KCES leader. "And at this rate,
with federalism, Bahuns [Brahmins] and Chhetris might
also be removed. They are the group under attack".174
The CSN and the KCES have a presence in districts across
Nepal.175 The top leadership consists of established intellectuals and businessmen.176 Particularly the KCES has
attracted many cadres from the UML's Youth Force.177
Both also say they have formed armed wings, consisting
of retired servicemen in the Nepalese security forces or the
British and Indian army. Highlighting their role in Nepal's
"unification", they say they will counteract attempts at
secession. They indeed appear to have called meetings of
up to several hundred former servicemen in a few districts.
Up to now there are no signs of further activity, but in
particular the CSN is working hard to strengthen its organisation, with leaders travelling widely to rally support.
None of these organisations has yet attracted mass support. Mobilisation may become easier once the effects of
quotas and reservations start being felt more widely. If
this happens, the networks which are currently being built
are likely to serve as organisational backbone.
2.    The former royals and the religious right
Royal supporters hope that disillusionment with political
parties might throw up opportunities forthe Shah family;
but there is no significant support for a comeback at the
moment nor does it seem likely to emerge. After a quiet
period, the Shahs have resumed a public role through religious patronage and charity work.178 But in the Tarai,
where the former king and crown prince have made a
number of appearances, observers warn against confusing
attendance with real support. "Given the diversity in the
Tarai even Gyanendra can show his power here. Paras
can visit and people will come just to see his long hair",
said a journalist in Birgunj, referring to the dethroned
king and the former crown prince.179 Given their propensity for scandals, the biggest obstacle to a political comeback ofthe former royal family may be itself180
Royalists are trying to link their issue with the end of
Nepal as a Hindu state; uneasiness with the latter is more
widespread than nostalgia for the king.181 The Rashtriya
Prajatantrik Party (Nepal), RPP(N) - the only "royalist"
party still supporting the king - has consistently demanded
referenda on secularism, monarchy and federalism. Although not opposed to quotas and reservations in a number
of sectors, it laments the weakening of national identity
by identity politics.182 Hindu groups organised the visits
by the former royals to the Tarai. A hankering for the
former status as a religious kingdom is common among
right-wing Hindu groups in India which could provide
funding and organisational support for the anti-secularism
1/1 See footnote 85.
172 Crisis Group interview, Jumla, July 2010.
173 Crisis Group interviews, Khotang, Udaypur, Sunsari and
Panchthar, September and November 2010.
174 Crisis Group interview, July 2010.
175 See "Local Political and Peace Process Trends", The Carter
Center, 23 November 2010, p. 6. KCES leaders say they have
committees in 37 districts including in all sixteen districts of
the eastern development zone. Crisis Group interview, Itahari,
September 2010.
176 Home Minister Bhim Rawal, for example, is a member of
CSN. Crisis Group telephone interview, CSN leader, December
177 On the UML' s youth wing see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
Political Rites of Passage, op. cit.
Throughout 2010, former king Gyanendra Shah and former
crown prince Paras Shah travelled widely in Nepal and made
public appearances at religious functions, for example inaugurating temples. Former crown princess Himani Shah founded a
charity organisation, the Himani Trust, the board of trustees of
which exclusively consists of members of the Shah family.
179 Crisis Group interview, journalist, Birgunj, 7 October 2010.
180In December 2010, former Crown Prince Paras Shah was
accused of pointing a gun at Deputy Prime Minister Sujata
Koirala's son-in-law. "Parasle goli chalae", Kantipur, 13 December 2010.
181 Crisis Group interview, journalist, Birgunj, 7 October 2010.
182"Rashtriya prajatantra party Nepalko sankalpa-patra: sam-
vidhansabha nirvachan 2064", RPP(N), 2008.
183 For example, former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president
Rajnath Singh said that the BJP wants Nepal to be a Hindu
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 21
Right-wing Hindu activism exists in Nepal, but unlike in
India it has never been strong. The Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh (VHM) was established in Birgunj in April 1981;
it maintains a close relationship with the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad in India and has enjoyed the patronage of Nepal's former royal family.184 Its main focus now is the
fight against secularism. A chapter ofthe Shiv Sena was
established in 1990 in Nepalgunj; besides opposition to
secularism, it shares the Islamophobia of its Indian counterpart. Five out ofthe six Hindu-Muslim riots in Nepal
since 1990 have taken place in Nepalgunj.185 Like the
VHM, the Nepal Shiv Sena maintains close relations with
its Indian counterpart.
Neither group has an effective countrywide organisation.
A local leader ofthe Hindu Yuva Sangh (HYS), the youth
wing ofthe VHM, complained about the lack of support
from the Kathmandu leadership: "when we call these
people it is: it's too hot, too cold, it's raining. It is difficult to work because we have no support from the centre".186 But both groups have strong if small networks in
Birgunj and Nepalgunj. There is significant overlap between local networks. In Nepalgunj, the HYS and the
Shiv Sena cooperate closely and HYS leaders at the same
time hold positions in the RPP(N).187 In Birgunj, the HYS
- which acquired a national reputation attacking the Maoists during their May 2010 protests - appears to have become a rallying point for upwardly mobile businessmen
but is also backed by senior local politicians.188
The weakness ofthe Hindu right in Nepal may well have
to do with the absence of secularism; in a state so permeated by conservative Hindu values there was little need to
"make Nepal Hindu".189 The advance of federalism could
change this. Both Brahmin and Chhetri resistance to ethnic assertion and the Hindutva movement are likely to
grow in the years to come. Given significant ideological
overlap and a common enemy in ethnic movements and
the Maoists, broad alliances between these networks are a
distinct possibility.
state. "Nepal hindu rajya nai hunuparchha", Ghatna ra Vichar,
8 December 2010.
184 Gerard Toffin, "The Politics of Hinduism and Secularism in
Nepal", in Studies in Nepali History and Society, vol. 11, no. 2
(December 2006). Birendra welcomed the VHM's second conference in 1988 in Kathmandu. Gyanendra equally expressed
his support for the VHM since 2001. His honorary aide-decamp, Major-General Bharat Kesher Simha, was VHM chairman. Ibid. Since 2008, retired general Hem Bahadur Karki has
taken over chairmanship.
185 Mahendra Lawoti, "Contentious Politics in Democratizing
Nepal", op. cit, p. 38.
186 Crisis Group interview, July 2010.
187 Crisis Group interviews, HYS and Nepal Shiv Sena leaders,
Nepalgunj, July 2010.
188 Crisis Group interviews, Birgunj, October 2010.
189 A paraphrase from David Ludden (ed.), Making India Hindu
(New Delhi, 2005[1996]). Gerard Toffin, "The Politics of Hinduism and Secularism in Nepal", op. cit.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 22
The drafting of a constitution and the design of a new political structure presents Nepal with a chance to address
many decades of pent-up grievance. It offers an opportunity to shape a more egalitarian and fairer political system.
Federalism is only one part of this process, which will have
to address a vast array of issues. There are many stark
forms of discrimination that will be unchanged by federalism and will require different forms of affirmative action
that may clash with the agendas of ethnic and regional
groups. Caste discrimination, the most pernicious source
of inequality in Nepal, and gender inequality are examples. Cultural recognition for the larger minorities may
crowd out smaller groups. The demands for federalism
and proportional representation do not aim to change the
nature of the state as a patronage system, nor are they
likely to achieve it.190 They seek wider distribution ofthe
pie. But politically federalism is important because it confirms the legitimacy of demands for inclusion and sets the
tone for change to come.
A. Common Ground
According to the concept papers ofthe CA's eleven thematic committees, Nepal will be a federal country.191 The
only significant disputes are overthe number, boundaries
and naming of future provinces and a limited number of
provisions aiming at ethnic inclusion. But the institutional
arrangements and division of powers, the nuts and bolts
ofthe future system, are detailed and comprehensive. Experts describe the emerging model as eminently workable.192 The picture so far envisages between six and fourteen provinces. Apart from centre and provinces, local
government in villages or municipalities forms the third
constitutionally guaranteed level of governance.193
Central control will remain relatively strong, but not uncommonly so in international comparison. Many important competencies, such as policing, banking and insurance regulation and land management, will be devolved
to sub-national units. Some areas will be managed jointly,
for example foreign assistance, health policy and education. The centre will retain exclusive power over areas such
as foreign policy, defence, monetary policy and criminal
law. Importantly, residual powers - ie, all those not ex
plicitly listed - will also rest with the centre.194 The most
lucrative taxes - VAT, income tax, and import and excise
duties - will still be collected by Kathmandu. Provinces
own resources according to current tax collection would
amount to a maximum of 10 per cent of Nepal's total
revenues; substantive transfers will be necessary.195 There
will also be direct central supervision. As discussed, the
concept paper on state restructuring includes a provincial
chief as representative ofthe centre to sit alongside an
elected chief minister.196
The major political parties have all produced maps outlining the boundaries ofthe federal units. All but the NC drew
up the units along ethnic lines. But even the NC is not entirely united in its opposition to ethnic federalism as long
as the naming of states is fudged. "We all agreed that
Panchthar, Ham, Taplejung and Terhathum will be one
state. All agreed that Limbu, Rai and Nepali will be state
languages", said a senior NC leader. "So what's the difference? It's only about the name", he added, referring to
the NC's desire not to use the word Limbuwan.197
The concept papers indicate common ground on state
restructuring; the expectation is that they will outline the
main points of the draft constitution. These papers
emerged from the committees either unanimously or with
majority support. But it is unclear whether their content
has wider backing within the major parties. Nevertheless,
having a workable model for federal restructuring is a
crucial step. While it cannot guarantee in itself that the
process moves ahead, it raises the political risks for those
who want to backtrack and removes opportunities for further foot-dragging.
The vision of federalism laid out in the committee papers
is unlikely to satisfy all ethnic activists. Many activists in
the eastern hills and the Tarai have a vision ofthe central
government only retaining powers over defence, foreign
affairs and the currency, which is unlikely. But the
emerging model may well address popular aspirations. In
interviews across the eastern hills, for example, the primary concern of many people was a federalism that ac-
See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Political Rites of Passage,
op. cit.
191 The concept papers contain preliminary draft language, but
do not represent binding agreements.
192 Crisis Group interview, constitutional expert, Kathmandu,
December 2010.
193 The state restructuring concept paper further envisages autonomous regions protected areas and special zones. Art. 8(1-3).
194 State restructuring concept paper.
195 Marcus Brand, "Nepal: Constitution Building, Federalism
and Peace - Managing the Transition to Federalism and Implementation ofthe New Constitution", UNDP discussion paper, September 2010, p. 21.
196Form of governance concept paper, pp. 23-26. See Section
197 Crisis Group interview, NC central committee member, 24
October 2010.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 23
knowledged their culture, language and position within a
Nepali state.198
Naming provinces after prominent ethnic groups could be
an effective way to achieve this. For many activists, having
a state that acknowledges their ethnicity will go a long
way towards satisfying demands. As a senior FLSC(P)
leader put it: "Limbu identity is already acknowledged in
the name Limbuwan and the fact that there is a Limbuwan state and government".199
Nepali nationalism was previously based on three ideas:
monarchy, Hinduism and the Nepali language. The monarchy has been abolished and secularism introduced so an
important remaining issue of contention is the dominance
of Nepali.
The language question is - with a few exceptions - about
cultural recognition. Language exclusion may be a significant factor for limited groups, such as some Madhesi
women, but is overall probably less keenly felt than other
forms of exclusion.200 Given the importance of Nepali,
and indeed English, for educational and career opportunities, practical considerations often prevail.201 Introducing
mother tongues as medium of instruction in schools is not
a popular demand. But many are keen for themselves
(and their children) to retain mother tongue skills and
would like to see their languages promoted. Guaranteeing
and funding opportunities to learn mother tongues in
schools, introducing additional official languages locally,
extending state patronage to studying them and promoting literature in languages other than Nepali could help
tackle language-based exclusion.
The culture concept paper offers good scope for this. It
commits the state to protect, preserve and develop languages and lists "[rjespect for existing lingual and cultural diversity of the country, and ... recognition and
equality of all languages" as state responsibility.202 It
guarantees "basic education" in mother tongues although
it fails to define what this means (currently mother tongue
education is allowed but not guaranteed in primary
schools). Although Nepali will forthe time being remain
the sole official language forthe central government, other
Crisis Group interviews, September-November 2010.
199 Crisis Group interview, Sanjuhang Palungwa, FLSC(P) president, Birtamod, September 2010.
200 David Gellner, "Modernism vs Ambivalence? Some Comments on the Question of Linguistic Policies inNepal", inStudies
in Nepali History and Society, vol. 9, no. 2 (December 2004).
201 Even within activist groups, younger activists often see little
practical advantage in promoting mother tongues. See for example Uma Nath Baral, "Ethnic Activism in Nepal: An Account ofthe Magar Organizations in Kaski District", in Contributions to Nepalese Studies, vol. 35, no. 2 (July 2008).
202 Culture concept paper, Art. 8(1).
languages can be added later. Provinces can choose further
languages as official languages in addition to Nepali.203
C. Resources and Quotas
The concept papers guarantee proportional representation
for ethnic, regional and caste groups across all branches
ofthe state.204 Definitions are often not specified or ambiguous and no numbers provided; but quotas for proportional representation are firmly enshrined as a general
principle and mentioned for almost all institutions.205 This
policy is relatively uncontested and almost universally
endorsed by political parties.
The CA concept papers are vague on whether ethnic and
regional groups will have privileged rights to government
positions and natural resources.206 The clearest provision,
in the concept paper on state restructuring, suggests reserving leadership positions in state governments for members ofthe majority ethnic group for two terms.207 Others
leave the scope of positive discrimination to later legislation. The fundamental rights concept paper envisages "compensation" beyond proportional representation in state organs for Dalits;208 it also mentions "special privileges" in
health, education and social security for them.209 But most
Culture concept paper, Art. 14-17.
204 Proportional representation here refers to the representation
of groups in different branches of the state in proportion with
their overall share in the population; not to be confused with
proportional representation as an electoral system.
205 On inclusiveness and proportionality in the appointment of
judges see the justice system concept paper Art. 29(3). On proportionality in federal and provincial legislature see the legislative concept paper. On proportional inclusion for the appointment of central and provincial council of ministers see the form
of governance concept paper.
206 The two most important natural resources apart from land are
forests and water. The forestry sector is of significant commercial value. It also plays an important role in rural livelihoods;
forest resources supply almost all energy for rural areas. The
hydropower sector is potentially very lucrative, even though
only a fraction of its current potential is developed. Some mineral resources are of low grade and tonnage.
207 "In case of the states constructed on the basis of ethnic/
community under the main composition, political parties at the
time of election and during the formation of state government
should give preference to the member of ethnic/community in
majority at the concerned state at the main leading position. But
such rights of political preference will be ineffective automatically after two tenures". State restructuring concept paper, Art.
208 ,,-p^g (jaj|t community shall have the right to participation in
all the organs, agencies and sectors ofthe state mechanism on
the basis of inclusive proportionate system, along with compensation. The provision for compensation shall be as prescribed
by law". Fundamental rights concept paper, Art. 25(2).
209Fundamental rights concept paper, Art. 25(3).
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 24
provisions are unclear about their scope and who they apply to.210 Draft text in the natural resources concept paper,
for example, could both suggest privileged access to natural resources for indigenous communities or for local
communities overall, regardless of ethnicity.211 The fundamental rights concept paper mentions "special privileges" for a wide range of groups, but fails to specify the
nature of those privileges.212
Linking resource access to community membership is
fraught with risk. Collective rights also require clearly
demarcated groups with unambiguous membership. Only
an individual belonging to a group can access a group
right. The necessary result is an un-mixing of ethnic identities and more rigid ethnic boundaries. The example of
Darjeeling, where different groups scramble to qualify as
distinct communities is instructive.213 The more resources
are distributed according to group identities, the stronger
ethnic difference becomes politicised.214
However, group rights may be the only way to address
the kind of deeply entrenched forms of group-based discrimination prevalent in Nepal. The crucial question is
which and how many resources have to be distributed
through such rights.
Quotas for proportional representation in government and
administration are relatively unproblematic in principle;
representational inequality is glaring and hard to justify.
But how inclusive a system based on proportional representation is crucially depends on the categories used for
quotas. The categories the electoral system for the 2008
CA elections used to ensure proportional representation
For example, the state restructuring concept paper says:
"[t]ribal people, indigenous nationalities, Madheshi shall have
the rights of self-determination internally and locally in the form
of politics, culture, religion, language, education, information,
communication, health, settlement, employment, social security, financial activities, commerce, land, mobilization of means
and resources and environment. These will be fixed by making
laws". Art. 12(1).
211 The natural resources concept paper mentions priority use
rights for "indigenous, ethnic and other communities" in its
preamble, but in later articles only speaks about "local communities".
212 Fundamental rights concept paper, Art. 27.
213 See Townsend Middleton and Sara Shneiderman on the dilemma of bounded and unchanging definitions of culture for
ethnic activists in India and Nepal. Criteria for legal recognition
rarely match existing cultural practice - with the result that ethnic activists often attempt to homogenise cultural practices to
comply with these criteria. "Reservations, Federalism and the
Politics of Recognition in Nepal", op. cit, p. 42.
214 See Neera Chandhoke, "The Political Consequences of Ethnic Mapping", Crisis States discussion paper no. 14, December
were very broad.215 As a result, dominant communities
have profited disproportionally and are overrepresented in
the CA, while marginalised groups within the Madhesi
and janajati categories are grossly underrepresented.216
Current proposals for future legislative elections at the
centre are likely to produce even more exclusionary results. The Maoist proposal forthe unicameral central parliament suggests proportional representation in each constituency (congruent with the provinces), which would
favour bigger and geographically concentrated groups.
The NC and UML joint proposal suggests proportional
representation only for the 75 PR list seats in its 151
member house of representatives. The categories used are
similar to those used in the CA elections (women, adivasi
janajatis, Dalits, Madhesis and other communities). The
76 "first past the post" seats would only be subject to an
inclusiveness provision forthe nomination of candidates.217
Privileges beyond proportional representation are dangerous. If applied outside a relatively small group of extremely marginalised communities, such as Dalits, they
are bound to be perceived as deeply unjust. Measures like
FLSC(P)'s 50 per cent quota for Limbus in the lower
house oftheir proposed Limbuwan and the mostly Limbu
upper house are extreme examples. The same is the case
with privileged access to natural resources. It would be
dangerous for another reason. Natural resources distribution is a common cause of local conflicts and indeed local
clashes. Ethnicising these frequent local distributional
struggles is a fast-track to communal strife.
As group rights including quotas are starting to be implemented, the scramble for recognition is likely to pick
up pace and intensity. Symbolic measures and group rights
to resources are important means to address discrimination; but they will only go so far in making Nepal a more
equal society.
The 1990s constitution contained an impressive catalogue
of individual rights, including explicit bans on ethnic, caste
and gender discrimination. Nevertheless, the domination
ofthe state by Brahmin and Chhetri elites increased, and
See footnote 62.
216 See Kare Vollan, "Group representation and the system of
representation in the Constituent Assembly and future parliaments of Nepal", January 2011. Available
projects/ratify/nepal/Vollan-2011 -The-development-of-an-
217 Ibid.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 25
informal discrimination continued, at times with formal
backing. There are two theories of what went wrong.218
The first is frequently put forward by ethnic activists. It
claims that liberal individual rights cannot be effective in
a society as deeply unequal as Nepal's. A conservative,
intransigent state apparatus, which simply refuses to implement individual rights, needs to be forced to address
the grievances of marginalised groups through collective
rights which explicitly acknowledge forms of exclusion
and grant differential rights. This argument is backed by
eminent constitutional experts.219
The second argument builds on the first, but comes to a
different conclusion. It agrees that a conservative state
managed to render the individual rights granted in the
1990s constitution ineffective. But it was able to do so
because it could use the Constitution's definition of Nepal
as a Hindu monarchy, the special status it granted to the
Nepali language and its vague references to tradition to
legally justify exclusion. The implication is that individual rights could have been more effective, if socially conservative definitions ofthe nation had not been enshrined
in the constitution as a ready excuse for a judiciary loath
to accept social and cultural change.220
There are good practical reasons - beyond legal and
moral obligation - for not discarding individual rights as
means of empowerment. With measures aiming at proportional ethnic representation highly likely, politics, administration and judiciary are bound to become more inclusive. In conjunction with a constitutional nationalism
which explicitly endorses diversity, this could create a
context in which individual rights can become more effective. While some group-based provisions are clearly
necessary, there are good arguments for using them as
much as necessary but as little as possible. The risks have
For an excellent overview see David Gellner, "From Group
Rights to Individual Rights and Back: Nepalese Straggles over
Culture and Equality", in Jane K. Cowan, Marie-Benedicte
Dembour and Richard A. Wilson (eds.), Culture and Rights:
Anthropological Perspectives (Cambridge, 2001).
219 Yash Ghai, "Ethnicity, Identity, Participation and Social Justice: A New Constitution for Nepal?", paper presented at the
conference "Constitutionalism and Diversity in Nepal", Tribhuvan University, 22-24 August 2007, p. 8.
220 Constitutional expert Mara Malagodi argues against Yash
Ghai' s conclusion that individual rights have proved ineffective
at addressing the grievances of different groups for reasons to
be found outside the text of the constitution and that group
rights would have led to better treatment of marginalised
groups. Examining the use of constitutional provisions in SC
judgments, she asserts that thejudiciary was able to render individual rights granted in the 1990 constitution ineffective because ofthe model of constitutional nationalism adopted. Mara
Malagodi, Constitutional Nationalism and Legal Exclusion in
Nepal (1990-2007), op. cit.
been outlined above. Strong individual rights provisions,
guarded by central authorities, would also assure those
who fear future domination in "ethnic" provinces.
There are real risks attached to disappointing popular aspirations on federalism. An open reversal ofthe commitments to federalism is unlikely. But stalling the CA process overall, or deferring difficult decisions could be
tempting for those who oppose change. This would be
dangerous. Already mistrustful, ethnic and regional activists will perceive further postponements as decoys for reneging on previous commitments. Countrywide protests
would be likely. Given the widespread support, including
among local political elites, for federalism in the eastern
hills, a movement there could reach the critical momentum which would allow ethnic leaders from major parties
to join. Should a heavy-handed state response escalate the
situation, then longstanding and strong political networks
could facilitate violent insurgency.
The threat of a conservative backlash is real. It may not
play out in the short term; the movement is too fragmented and until substantive change has occurred, it lacks
momentum. But poor implementation of federalism and
quotas could lend traction to the movement. Those bound
to lose out are only going to take so much. Measures aiming at proportional distribution in administration and government will invite some protest but are ultimately hard
to argue against. But differential rights such as preferential access to natural resources or leadership positions are
likely to be perceived as unjust and could bring together
the emerging network of activists and the upper caste
Disputes over provincial boundaries are a further potential
source of future tensions. There are significant overlaps
between the territorial claims of different ethnic and regional groups. For example, almost all suggested hill-based
provinces also want access to the Tarai. This necessarily
clashes with the Madhesi parties' maximalist demand of a
single Madhes province as well as with their minimalist
demand that all provinces in the Tarai must run from east
to west. Tension is likely but these competing demands
should be possible to resolve by compromise. However,
much will depend on how inclusive provincial politics
will be.
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 26
Federalism and proportional representation offer a significant opportunity to unravel entrenched patterns of discrimination on the basis of caste, ethnicity and regional
identity. This will not be the end ofthe road to inclusion,
nor will it change the patronage based nature ofthe state.
Ethnic elites are likely to benefit first. But this is not an
argument against group rights. New ethnic, regional and
Dalit elites would hardly be less legitimate than the established ones. No one set of measures will address all the
diverse forms of exclusion.
A further hardening and politicisation of ethnic and caste
identity is probably inevitable. Their riskiest forms can be
avoided. Symbolic recognition of ethnic and cultural diversity will go a long way to satisfy popular demands.
Greater language rights and proportional representation
could help level a very unequal playing field. But differential rights, for example granting certain groups preferential access to natural resources or political leadership
positions, are bound to alienate many, if they are granted
beyond a relative small proportion ofthe population.
Some backlash by those who are losing out may be hard
to avoid. The tensions accompanying the transformation
are probably just about to start. Change up to now has
mostly been in tone. Once substantial shifts are underway
and specific measures are introduced, those losing out in
the short term are likely to mount opposition. The reaction will probably unfold through the caste organisations
and networks of die-hard royalists and the Hindu right
which are now being built.
Despite the risks to federal restructuring and the introduction of group rights, not doing so would be more dangerous. A failure ofthe CA to address the core demands of
ethnic and regional activists will resonate widely with
members of ethnic groups in the eastern hills and the central and eastern Tarai. In both areas, the confluence of
widespread politicisation and presence of established
networks of increasingly frustrated activists could lead to
serious unrest.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 13 January 2011
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 27
The boundaries and names shown and the designations
used on this map do not imply oflicial endorsement or
acceptance by the United Nations
j >— <^-SimikotQ ■>,
jDarchula\ (/      -^j   T~^ '\
^ Baitadi^        QChainpur V^--TvGamagadrii
/MUUkUT}      si;II ;bMartadi
y*~ -0Dadeldhura ■''*""}
J      DipayaKSPSNghad^      /^
r wMahendranagarc^       V      \       /*tV    .     "yv- 'V)   /       \
'.. 5 'M*~"\>.    oDailekh     I.^Duinai^^O   j
'   ;,Dhangadhii BHERI'   nJajarkot        ,'>?—*-*
J   ' r,     I      .-.J Jumlikhalanga '
®Birand7anaoar r-l   '   \f,'
r*£y  !l   / I GANDAKI
"Salyan >0Liwang  V   Beni'6,, Kusma   ' „cc
?--Baglung^    ■&--~     0Bisisahar
•  VfX.      J  i Pokhara
V   ^Nepalgunj    «       '.Y-l
O           National capital
®          Regional seat
0          Zonal seat
0            District seat
 International boundary
     Zonal boundary
..  .          .
+          Airport
0       20     40      60     90    100 km
0     10   20   30   40    50    60 mi
Lambert contorma' conic protection mm a central meno&n
ol 84 degrees east bngiwae mm standard parallels ol 24
degrees and 32 degrees norm latitude using Ihe WGS84
BemA .Kusma  I ,„;    .f-'-^-y
//   I pDhunche'y        *
ofamghas'   °Syangja 0 Gorkha      BAGMATI       '■'( \ t"'""^.
.      .jnu.?.. j    Q GAYEST °Da'mauli('    Dhadingbesi    '    .     <..>   ""•.•*. ■'./'  "SV .     /---<Z
f-'SandhikharkaOTansJ„-~~-.-        ..  \ °     oBidur    ,   Q Chautara! |V     fr^^p~JT\ J    /~-
r^°h="'-"'K'  Kathmandu Oj^ Bhaktapur,-!0 Charikot^'   i J> V /   I
^Dhulikhel I f J/,!\l\y\   KOSHI / ('MECHI .
■ j-'SandhikharkaOTaniejp——. -
^V.^-vi      l.lMBIMoButwaj-iBharatpu'S
Taulihawa    Siddharthana'gar «.-•'«
t^.^»^- g On ~.     -*^
•\ NARAYA\f ~~>j2SJeiLnhaP<
Hetauda     CENTRAL
"ihap„ :./'Okhaldhungai""-o~""i     u    S•
6   'QjWt7^ oALBhojpur■^Phidim j
?Sindjulimadi~,niR„   ° '. ,,~„--°      (
'/I'UNAKPIIR     ?'      \lkt5\-EAST?Terhathurn
Q Kalaiya//, JANAKPLiRi \^< «Dhankuta       X
^   V.oa^ .^n9aWa.:.'/iSAGARMATHA?  ^hafan"^     ;
■ or'       :janakpur< Gaighato-  ->. / . ° ,
_    ., ,      ,/   .      o        ^iiaiiuiayauiii _
■^'^'iB^ratnagari   1-    R,
Map No. 4304    UNITED NATIONS
January 2007 (Colour)
Department ot Peacekeeping Operations
Cartographic Section
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 28
BJP Bharatiya Janata Party
CA Constituent Assembly
CPA Comprehensive Peace Agreement
CPN Communist Party of Nepal
CPN(M) Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
CSN Chhetri Samaj Nepal
FDNF Federal Democratic National Forum
FDNP Federal Democratic National Party
FLSC Federal Limbuwan State Council
FLSC(L) Federal Limbuwan State Council (Lingden)
FLSC(P) Federal Limbuwan State Council (Palungwa)
HYS Hindu Yuva Sangh
KCES Khas Chhetri Ekata Samaj
KJWP Kirat Janabadi Workers Party
KRM Khambuwan Rashtriya Morcha
LV Limbuwan Volunteers
MJF Madhesi Janadhikar Forum
MJF(L) Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik)
MJF(N) Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Nepal)
MNO Mongol National Organisation
NC Nepali Congress
NEFEN Nepal Federation of Nationalities
NEFIN Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities
NFDIN Nepal Federation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities
NSP Nepal Sadbhavana Party
NSP(A) Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi)
NTC Nepal Tarai Congress
RJM Rashtriya Janamorcha
RJP Rashtriya Janamukti Party
RPP(N) Rashtriya Prajatantrik Party (Nepal)
SLMM Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha
SP Sadbhavana Party
SPA Seven-Party Alliance
TMDP Tarai Madhes Democratic Party
UCPN(M) United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
UDMF United Democratic Madhesi Front
UML Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)
VDC Village Development Committee
VHM Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 29
The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, with some
130 staff members on five continents, working through
field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and
resolve deadly conflict.
Crisis Group's approach is grounded in field research. Teams
of political analysts are located within or close by countries
at risk of outbreak, escalation or recurrence of violent conflict.
Based on information and assessments from the field, it produces analytical reports containing practical recommendations targeted at key international decision-takers. Crisis
Group also publishes CrisisWatch, a twelve-page monthly
bulletin, providing a succinct regular update on the state of
play in all the most significant situations of conflict or
potential conflict around the world.
Crisis Group's reports and briefing papers are distributed
widely by email and made available simultaneously on the
website, Crisis Group works closely
with governments and those who influence them, including
the media, to highlight its crisis analyses and to generate
support for its policy prescriptions.
The Crisis Group Board - which includes prominent figures
from the fields of politics, diplomacy, business and the
media - is directly involved in helping to bring the reports
and recommendations to the attention of senior policy-makers
around the world. Crisis Group is co-chaired by the former
European Commissioner for External Relations Christopher
Patten and former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Its
President and Chief Executive since July 2009 has been
Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights and Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal
Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.
Crisis Group's international headquarters are in Brussels,
with major advocacy offices in Washington DC (where it is
based as a legal entity) and New York, a smaller one in
London and liaison presences in Moscow and Beijing.
The organisation currently operates nine regional offices
(in Bishkek, Bogota, Dakar, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta,
Nairobi, Pristina and Tbilisi) and has local field representation in fourteen additional locations (Baku, Bangkok,
Beirut, Bujumbura, Damascus, Dili, Jerusalem, Kabul, Kathmandu, Kinshasa, Port-au-Prince, Pretoria, Sarajevo and
Seoul). Crisis Group currently covers some 60 areas of
actual or potential conflict across four continents. In Africa,
this includes Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic,
Chad, Cote d'lvoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia,
Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan,
Uganda and Zimbabwe; in Asia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh,
Burma/Myanmar, Indonesia, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka,
Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; in Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia,
Russia (North Caucasus), Serbia and Turkey; in the Middle
East and North Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Gulf States, Iran,
Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria
and Yemen; and in Latin America and the Caribbean, Bolivia,
Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti and Venezuela.
Crisis Group receives financial support from a wide range of
governments, institutional foundations, and private sources.
The following governmental departments and agencies have
provided funding in recent years: Australian Agency for
International Development, Australian Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade, Austrian Development Agency, Belgian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Canadian International Development Agency, Canadian International Development and
Research Centre, Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Canada, Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Danish
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dutch Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, European Commission, Finnish Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, German Federal
Foreign Office, Irish Aid, Japan International Cooperation
Agency, Principality of Liechtenstein, Luxembourg Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, New Zealand Agency for International
Development, Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International
Development Agency, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs,
Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Turkish Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, United Kingdom Department for International Development, United Kingdom Economic and Social Research
Council, U.S. Agency for International Development.
The following institutional and private foundations have provided funding in recent years: Carnegie Corporation of New
York, The Charitable Foundation, Clifford Chance Foundation, Connect U.S. Fund, The Elders Foundation, Henry Luce
Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Humanity
United, Hunt Alternatives Fund, Jewish World Watch, Korea
Foundation, John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Institute, Victor Pinchuk Foundation,
Ploughshares Fund, Radcliffe Foundation, Sigrid Rausing
Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and VIVA Trust.
January 2011
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 30
Central Asia
Political Murder in CentralAsia: No Time
to End Uzbekistan's Isolation, Asia
Briefing N°76, 13 February 2008.
Kyrgyzstan: The Challenge of Judicial
Reform, Asia Report N° 150, 10 April
2008 (also available in Russian).
Kyrgyzstan: A Deceptive Calm, Asia
Briefing N°79, 14 August 2008 (also
available in Russian).
Tajikistan: On the Road to Failure, Asia
Report N°162, 12 February 2009.
Women and Radicalisation in Kyrgyzstan,
Asia Report N°176, 3 September 2009.
CentralAsia: Islamists in Prison, Asia
Briefing N°97,15 December 2009.
CentralAsia: Migrants and the Economic
Crisis, Asia Report N°183, 5 January
Kyrgyzstan: A Hollow Regime Collapses,
Asia Briefing N°102, 27 April 2010.
The Pogroms in Kyrgyzstan, Asia Report
N°193, 23 August 2010.
North East Asia
China's Thirst for Oil, Asia Report N° 15 3,
9 June 2008 (also available in Chinese).
South Korea's Elections: A Shift to the
Right, Asia Briefing N°77, 30 June 2008.
North Korea's Missile Launch: The Risks
ofOverreaction, Asia Briefing N°91,
31 March 2009.
China's Growing Role in UN Peacekeeping, Asia Report N°166, 17 April
2009 (also available in Chinese).
North Korea's Chemical and Biological
Weapons Programs, Asia Report N°167,
18 June 2009.
North Korea's Nuclear and Missile Programs, Asia Report N° 168, 18 June
North Korea: Getting Back to Talks, Asia
Report N° 169, 18 June 2009.
China's Myanmar Dilemma, Asia Report
N°177, 14 September 2009 (also available in Chinese).
Shades of Red: China's Debate over North
Korea, Asia Report N°179, 2 November
2009 (also available in Chinese).
The Iran Nuclear Issue: The View from
Beijing, Asia Briefing N°100,17 February 2010 (also available in Chinese).
North Korea under Tightening Sanctions,
Asia Briefing N° 101, 15 March 2010.
China's Myanmar Strategy: Elections,
Ethnic Politics and Economics, Asia
Briefing N°l 12,21 September 2010 (also
available in Chinese).
North Korea: The Risks of War in the Yellow
Sea, Asia Report N° 198,23 December
South Asia
After Bhutto's Murder: A Way Forward for
Pakistan, Asia Briefing N°74, 2 January
Afghanistan: The Need for International
Resolve, Asia Report N°145, 6 February
Sri Lanka's Return to War: Limiting the
Damage, Asia Report N°146, 20
February 2008.
Nepal's Election and Beyond, Asia Report
N°149,2 April 2008 (also available in
Restoring Democracy in Bangladesh, Asia
Report N°l51, 28 April 2008.
Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?,
Asia Report N° 155, 3 July 2008 (also
available in Nepali).
Nepal's New Political Landscape, Asia
Report N° 156, 3 July 2008 (also available in Nepali).
Reforming Pakistan's Police, Asia Report
N°157, 14 July 2008.
Taliban Propaganda: Winning the War of
Words?, Asia Report N°158,24 July
Sri Lanka's Eastern Province: Land,
Development, Conflict, Asia Report
N°159, 15 October 2008.
Reforming the Judiciary in Pakistan, Asia
Report N°160, 16 October 2008.
Bangladesh: Elections and Beyond, Asia
Briefing N°84, 11 December 2008.
Policing in Afghanistan: Still Searching for
a Strategy, Asia Briefing N°85, 18
December 2008.
Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, Asia
Report N°163, 19 February 2009 (also
available in Nepali).
Afghanistan: New U.S. Administration,
New Directions, Asia Briefing N°89,
13 March 2009.
Pakistan: The Militant Jihadi Challenge,
Asia Report N° 164, 13 March2009.
Development Assistance and Conflict in Sri
Lanka: Lessons from the Eastern Province, Asia Report N°165, 16 April 2009.
Pakistan's IDP Crisis: Challenges and
Opportunities, Asia Briefing N°93, 3
June 2009.
Afghanistan's Election Challenges, Asia
Report N°171, 24 June 2009.
Sri Lanka's Judiciary: Politicised Courts,
Compromised Rights, Asia Report
N°172, 30 June 2009.
Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?, Asia
Report N° 173, 13 August 2009 (also
available in Nepali).
Afghanistan: What Now for Refugees?,
Asia Report N° 175, 31 August 2009.
Pakistan: Countering Militancy in FATA,
Asia Report N° 178, 21 October 2009.
Afghanistan: Elections and the Crisis of
Governance, Asia Briefing N°96, 25
November 2009.
Bangladesh: Getting Police Reform on
Track, Asia Report N° 182, 11 December
Sri Lanka: A Bitter Peace, Asia Briefing
N°99, 11 January 2010.
Nepal: Peace and Justice, Asia Report
N°184, 14 January 2010.
Reforming Pakistan's Civil Service, Asia
Report N°185, 16 February 2010.
The Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora after the
LTTE, Asia Report N° 186, 23 February
The Threat from Jamaat-ul Mujahideen
Bangladesh, Asia Report N° 187, 1
March 2010.
A Force in Fragments: Reconstituting the
Afghan National Army, Asia Report
N°190, 12 May 2010.
War Crimes in Sri Lanka, Asia Report
Steps Towards Peace: Putting Kashmiris
First, Asia Briefing N°106, 3 June 2010.
Pakistan: The Worsening IDP Crisis, Asia
Briefing N° 111, 16 September 2010.
Nepal's Political Rites of Passage, Asia
Report N°194, 29 September 2010.
Reforming Afghanistan's Broken Judiciary,
Asia Report N° 195, 17 November 2010.
Afghanistan: Exit vs Engagement, Asia
Briefing N°l 15, 28 November 2010.
Reforming Pakistan's Criminal Justice
System, Asia Report N°196, 6 December
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 31
South East Asia
Timor-Leste: Security Sector Reform, Asia
Report N°143, 17 January 2008 (also
available in Tetum).
Indonesia: Tackling Radicalism in Poso,
Asia Briefing N°75, 22 January 2008.
Burma/Myanmar: After the Crackdown,
Asia Report N° 144, 31 January 2008.
Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah's Publishing
Industry, Asia Report N°147,28 February 2008 (also available in Indonesian).
Timor-Leste's Displacement Crisis, Asia
Report N°148, 31 March 2008.
The Philippines: Counter-insurgency vs.
Counter-terrorism in Mindanao, Asia
Report N°152, 14 May 2008.
Indonesia: Communal Tensions in Papua,
Asia Report N°154, 16 June 2008 (also
available in Indonesian).
Indonesia: Implications ofthe Ahmadiyah
Decree, Asia Briefing N°78, 7 July 2008
(also available in Indonesian).
Thailand: Political Turmoil and the Southern Insurgency, Asia Briefing N°80, 28
August 2008 (also available in Thai).
Indonesia: Pre-election Anxieties in Aceh,
Asia Briefing N°81, 9 September 2008
(also available in Indonesian).
Thailand: Calming the Political Turmoil,
Asia Briefing N°82, 22 September 2008
(also available in Thai).
Burma/Myanmar After Nargis: Time to
Normalise Aid Relations, Asia Report
N°161, 20 October 2008 (also available
in Chinese).
The Philippines: The Collapse of Peace in
Mindanao, Asia Briefing N°83, 23
October 2008.
Local Election Disputes in Indonesia: The
Case of North Maluku, Asia Briefing
N°86, 22 January 2009.
Timor-Leste: No Time for Complacency,
Asia Briefing N°87, 09 February 2009.
The Philippines: Running in Place in
Mindanao, Asia Briefing N°88, 16
February 2009.
Indonesia: Deep Distrust in Aceh as Elections Approach, Asia Briefing N°90, 23
March 2009.
Indonesia: Radicalisation ofthe "Palem-
bang Group", Asia Briefing N°92, 20
May 2009.
Recruiting Militants in Southern Thailand,
Asia Report N°170, 22 June 2009 (also
available in Thai).
Indonesia: The Hotel Bombings, Asia
Briefing N°94, 24 July 2009 (also available in Indonesian).
Myanmar: Towards the Elections, Asia
Report N°174, 20 August 2009.
Indonesia: Noordin Top's Support Base,
Asia Briefing N°95, 27 August 2009.
Handing Back Responsibility to Timor-
Leste 's Police, Asia Report N° 180, 3
December 2009.
Southern Thailand: Moving towards Political Solutions?, Asia Report N° 181, 8
December 2009 (also available in Thai).
The Philippines: After the Maguindanao
Massacre, Asia Briefing N°98, 21
December 2009.
Radicalisation and Dialogue in Papua,
Asia Report N° 188, 11 March2010 (also
available in Indonesian).
Indonesia: Jihadi Surprise in Aceh, Asia
Report N° 189, 20 April 2010.
Philippines: Pre-election Tensions in
Central Mindanao, Asia Briefing N°103,
4 May 2010.
Timor-Leste: Oecusse and the Indonesian
Border, Asia Briefing N°104, 20 May
The Myanmar Elections, Asia Briefing
N°105, 27 May 2010 (also available in
Bridging Thailand's Deep Divide, Asia
Report N°192, 5 July 2010.
Indonesia: The Dark Side of Jama 'ah
Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), Asia Briefing
Indonesia: The Deepening Impasse in Papua,
Asia Briefing N°108, 3 August 2010.
Illicit Arms in Indonesia, Asia Briefing
N°109, 6 September 2010.
Managing Land Conflict in Timor-Leste, Asia
Briefing N°l 10, 9 September 2010.
Stalemate in Southern Thailand, Asia
Briefing N° 113, 3 November 2010.
Indonesia: "Christianisation " and
Intolerance, Asia Briefing N°l 14, 24
November 2010.
Indonesia: Preventing Violence in Local
Elections, Asia Report N° 197, 8
December 2010.
Timor-Leste: Time for the UN to Step Back,
Asia Briefing N°l 16, 15 December
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 32
Lord (Christopher) Patten
Former European Commissioner for External
Relations, Governor of Hong Kong and UK
Cabinet Minister; Chancellor of Oxford University
Thomas R Pickering
Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Russia,
India, Israel, Jordan, El Salvador and Nigeria;
Vice Chairman of Hills & Company
Louise Arbour
Former UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights and Chief Prosecutor for the International
Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia
and Rwanda
Morton Abramowitz
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and
Ambassador to Turkey
Cheryl Carolus
Former South African High Commissioner to
the UK and Secretary General ofthe ANC
Maria Livanos Cattaui
Member of the Board, Petroplus Holdings,
Yoichi Funabashi
Editor in Chief, The Asahi Shimbun, Japan
Frank Giustra
President & CEO, Fiore Capital
Ghassan Salame
Dean, Paris School of International Affairs,
Sciences Po
George Soros
Chairman, Open Society Institute
Par Sten back
Former Foreign Minister of Finland
Adnan Abu-Odeh
Former Political Adviser to King Abdullah II
and to King Hussein, and Jordan Permanent
Representative to the UN
Kenneth Adelman
Former U.S. Ambassador and Director of the
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Kofi Annan
Former Secretary-General ofthe United Nations;
Nobel Peace Prize (2001)
Nahum Barnea
Chief Columnist for Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel
Samuel Berger
Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group LLC; Former
U.S. National Security Advisor
Emma Bonino
Vice President ofthe Senate; Former Minister
of International Trade and European Affairs
of Italy and European Commissioner for
Humanitarian Aid
Wesley Clark
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander,
Sheila Coronel
Toni Stabile, Professor of Practice in Investigative
Journalism; Director, Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, Columbia University, U.S.
Jan Egeland
Director, Norwegian Institute of International
Affairs; Former UN Under-Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief
Mohamed ElBaradei
Director-General Emeritus, International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA); Nobel Peace Prize (2005)
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Former Foreign Minister of Denmark
Gareth Evans
President Emeritus of Crisis Group; Former
Foreign Affairs Minister of Australia
Mark Eyskens
Former Prime Minister of Belgium
Joschka Fischer
Former Foreign Minister of Germany
Jean-Marie Guehenno
Arnold Saltzman Professor of Professional
Practice in International and Public Affairs,
Columbia University; Former UN Under-
Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations
Carla Hills
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and U.S.
Trade Representative
Lena Hjelm-Wallen
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign
Affairs Minister of Sweden
Swanee Hunt
Former U.S. Ambassador to Austria;
Chair, Institute for Inclusive Security; President,
Hunt Alternatives Fund
Mo Ibrahim
Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation;
Founder, Celtel International
Igor Ivanov
Former Foreign Affairs Minister of the Russian
Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of
Religion or Belief; Chairperson, Human Rights
Commission of Pakistan
Wim Kok
Former Prime Minister ofthe Netherlands
Ricardo Lagos
Former President of Chile
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Former International Secretary of International
PEN; Novelist and journalist, U.S.
Lord (Mark) Malloch-Brown
Former Administrator of the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and UN
Deputy Secretary-General
Lalit Mansingh
Former Foreign Secretary of India, Ambassador
to the U.S. and High Commissioner to the UK
Jessica Tuchman Mathews
President, Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, U.S.
Benjamin Mkapa
Former President of Tanzania
Moises Nairn
Senior Associate, International Economics
Program, Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace; former Editor in Chief, Foreign Policy
Ayo Obe
Legal Practitioner, Lagos, Nigeria
Giiler Sabanci
Chairperson, Sabanci Holding, Turkey
Javier Solana
Former EU High Representative forthe Common
Foreign and Security Policy, NATO Secretary-
General and Foreign Affairs Minister of Spain
 Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism
Crisis Group Asia Report N°199, 13 January 2011
Page 33
Crisis Group's President's Council is a distinguished group of major individual and corporate donors providing
essential support, time and expertise to Crisis Group in delivering its core mission.
Canaccord Adams Limited
Neil & Sandy DeFeo
Fares I. Fares
Mala Gaonkar
Alan Griffiths
Frank Holmes
Steve Killelea
George Landegger
Ford Nicholson
Statoil ASA
Harry Pokrant
Ian Telfer
Neil Woodyer
Crisis Group's International Advisory Council comprises significant individual and corporate donors who contribute
their advice and experience to Crisis Group on a regular basis.
Rita E. Hauser
Elliott Kulick
Anglo American PLC
APCO Worldwide Inc.
Ed Bachrach
Stanley Bergman & Edward
Harry Bookey & Pamela
lara Lee & George Gund
John Ehara
Equinox Partners
Neemat Frem
Seth Ginns
Paul Hoag
Joseph Hotung
International Council of
Swedish Industry
H.J. Keilman
George Kellner
Amed Khan
Zelmira Koch
Jean Manas
McKinsey & Company
Harriet Mouchly-Weiss
Yves OltramareAnna Luisa
Ponti & Geoffrey Hoguet
Michael Riordan
Belinda Stronach
Talisman Energy
TillekeS Gibbins
Kevin Torudag
Yapi Merkezi Construction
and Industry Inc.
Crisis Group's Senior Advisers are former Board Members who maintain an association with Crisis Group, and whose advice
and support are called on from time to time (to the extent consistent with any other office they may be holding at the time).
Martti Ahtisaari
Chairman Emeritus
George Mitchell
Chairman Emeritus
HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal
Shlomo Ben-Ami
Hushang Ansary
Richard Armitage
Ersin Arioglu
Oscar Arias
Diego Arria
Zainab Bangura
Christoph Bertram
Alan Blinken
Lakhdar Brahimi
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Kim Campbell
Jorge Castaneda
Naresh Chandra
Eugene Chien
Joaquim Alberto Chissano
Victor Chu
Mong Joon Chung
Pat Cox
Gianfranco Dell'Alba
Jacques Delors
Alain Destexhe
Mou-Shih Ding
Gemot Erler
Marika Fahlen
Stanley Fischer
Malcolm Fraser
I.K. Gujral
Max Jakobson
James V. Kimsey
Aleksander Kwasniewski
Todung Mulya Lubis
Allan J. MacEachen
Graga Machel
Barbara McDougall
Matthew McHugh
Nobuo Matsunaga
Miklos Nemeth
Christine Ockrent
Timothy Ong
Olara Otunnu
Shimon Peres
Victor Pinchuk
Surin Pitsuwan
Cyril Ramaphosa
Fidel V. Ramos
George Robertson
Michel Rocard
Volker Riihe
Mohamed Sahnoun
Salim A. Salim
Douglas Schoen
Christian Schwarz-Schilling
Michael Sohlman
Thorvald Stoltenberg
William O. Taylor
Leo Tindemans
Ed van Thijn
Simone Veil
Shirley Williams
Grigory Yavlinski
Uta Zapf
Ernesto Zedillo


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items