An anti-India protest in Kathmandu
Image Credit: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
India wants Nepal to change some provisions. It would do better to adopt some itself.
By Mukesh Rawat
October 07, 2015
On September 20, Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav announced that his country had a new constitution. The promulgation of the constitution is significant because it paves the way for the establishment of a democratic political system in the country. The constitution itself is the result of eight years of deliberation, including the failure of the first Constituent Assembly in 2012. It is the seventh constitution to have been adopted by Nepal in the last 67 years and the first by democratically elected representatives.
The adoption of Nepal’s constitution has triggered alarm bells in India. According to reports in the Indian Express, a day after the constitution was promulgated; India expressed its displeasure about the content. New Delhi has reportedly asked Nepal to make as many as seven amendments to address the concerns of the Madhesis and Janjatis (minority groups in Nepal). These amendments, the report suggest, have been “conveyed to Nepal’s leadership through official channels.”
In the last few months, these communities have strongly protested against provisions of the constitution which they fear will impinge on their cultural identities. Prominent among the concerns are provisions related to the reorganization of provinces. The Madhesis largely inhabit the plain regions that border India. The protest has reportedly claimed 40 lives so far and New Delhi fears that violence may spill over to the Indian side if corrective measures are not taken.
The constitution was passed by a clear majority with 507 of the 598 constituent assembly members voting in favor. However, around 60 members from the Madhesis and Janjatis community boycotted the vote. India views the constitution as unrepresentative of a significant fraction of the population.