Monday, August 25, 2008

Evolution of Tharus took place right in Nepal’s Dang-Deukhuri valley

2008-08-20 08:41:59

Mr. Mahesh Tharu, now a Constitutional Assembly member was a former State minister for Local Development. He has also served as an associate professor in the past at the Mahendra Multiple Campus, Dang district.
He has several books to his credit.

Mr. Chaudhary is the author of the books “Madhesh Kahan Cha” and “Nepali Tarai Ra Teska Bhumi Putra Haru”. In line for publications are “Scientific study of the Tharu Language”, “Historical Study of Dang and the Tharu Community”.

Mr. Tharu is basically a research scholar whose articles are taken in good taste by the Nepali academicians though some would like to differ with his contentions.
Last week, we approached this suave research scholar for a tête-à-tête on contemporary political events unfolding in Nepal and also on some issues related with his community.
Follows the Telegraph’s interview with Mr. Chaudhary-Editor.

TGQ1: With the so-called “Unholy Alliance” between the Nepali Congress, UML and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum coming to an abrupt end how could it be that the alliance between the Maoists, UML and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum all of a sudden become a Holy one? How do you see the Maoists politics proceeding after the party of the ex-rebels coming to the mainstream?

Mr. Chaudhary: It is completely an apolitical allegation on the part of the Maoists’ to claim that the NC-UML-MJF alliances as to have been an unholy one. The alliance was formed to win the election for their common candidate for the post of the president. Except the Maoists and the NCP-Unity center, the rest of the communist parties in the Constituent Assembly had in fact voted in favor of Dr. Ram Baran Yadav as the country’s first president ever.

Now, no alliance as such could be seen or can be interpreted in the manner it is being done by the Maoists and the likes. The Maoists or the MJF (Madhesi Janadhikar Forum) none of the parties in the alliance are involved in a violent conflict, they have in fact abandoned violence and accepted the politics of consensus and have been jointly taking initiatives in the nation building process and institutionalizing democracy. Thus, any political alliance between the political parties represented in the CA can not be called an unholy alliance.

Nevertheless, the alliance that is formed among two parties having two different objectives, such as one of them if engaged in violent conflict and the other adopting democratic principles, could be interpreted as being an unholy one.
The Maoists are in the mainstream politics now, though they have their own armed men in the cantonments and the effective management of them is yet to be accomplished. The Maoists paramilitary outfit the Young Communist league (YCL) is still to be tamed properly and that is why people are still suspecting the Maoists. However, we know that the offshoot of the violent conflict will remain for some time to come until it takes few more time to a complete end. If the Maoists change their behavior which they must do, then there is no second opinion that the Maoists will become most-liked party by the people of this country. But we cannot continue suspecting the Maoists.

TGQ2: The majority of Nepalese people voted in favor of the communist parties. Nevertheless, communist parties seem always divided under one pretext or the other. What is in fact the reason behind the differences between these parties? What say you for the possibility of the broader communist unity?

Mr. Chaudhary: One Communist, One Thought, One Ideology, One Belief, these are all but a centralized way of thinking as is found in an unitary State. Yes, there is the Communists’ majority in the country, more than 60 per cent of the population has voted in favor of the communist parties in the last CA election, nevertheless, in a pluralistic society like ours we cannot simply impose one communist ideology. These are only but natural phenomenon that in the course of time polarization in and among the Communists themselves are observed. Comrade Mohan Bikram Singh, the leader of the NCP-Mashal is still partially underground. The ex-general secretary of the NCP-UML, Comrade Madan Bhandari when forwarded the idea of Peoples’ Multiparty Democracy was alleged as a rightist by many communist leaders. The Maoist- the radical communist party, launched a violent revolt and practiced their ideals right here in the country. Nevertheless, the Maoists after more than a decade long revolt well contemplated that in the changing global and local political situation bullets are not best choices to come to power in Nepal.

The UML nevertheless, always believed that competitive politics is the only way to come to power in Nepal. Democratic polity, peaceful revolt to capture the state, followed by implementing plans and strategies based on Peoples’ Multiparty Democracy and to achieve the final goal of total Communism, this UML roadmap is in fact flawless. The peaceful revolt of 1990 and then the movement of 2004-2005, we have experienced have brought the communists to power. Now it is being talked that the Maoists are ready to give up to the ideals of Maoism and Prachanda-Path.
However, we have to learn a lot from the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The Great Proletarian Chinese Cultural Revolution launched by none other than Chairman Mao Tse Dung from 1966 to 1976 is said to have pushed China back to 100 years development wise. Nevertheless, the Chinese communists realized that they had indeed made a blunder. The state of the NCP-Maoists- the radicals, is very similar to that of the Chinese Communists thus quite rightly the Maoists seemed to have understood the flaws they have committed so far. The Maoists have thus indirectly adopted the principles of Peoples’ Multiparty Democracy propounded by Comrade late Madan Bhandari.
Having said all these, I can not completely ridicule the idea of broader communist unity though it would be a task equivalent to climbing a mountain.

TGQ3: The last government that included the Maoists, had signed an agreement with the then Madhesi alliance. How has the agreement undermined the rights of the Tharu Community? What say you to the Madhesi parties who have been propagating the One Madhesh demand?

Mr. Chaudhary: The Maoist party is not guided by the principles of materialism; the Maoists are instead guided by the Hindu Religious texts written by sage Manu in ancient times who later compiled his observations which is called today as Manu Smriti---which claims Nepal as Madhesh. Thus the Maoists called the Tarai as Madhesh except for five districts- the Tharuwan and Inner Madhesh.

In the Rana Period (AD 1888), while dividing the districts, the Tarai Administration was converted into the Madhesh administration. This is the only time when the then rulers had recognized the Tarai as Madhesh.

Nevertheless, in the Janga Bahadur period there were eight Tarai courts, in the Dev Shumsher period there were Tarai Postal Services and in the period of Chandra Shumser as the ruler of Nepal, 13 districts of Tarai had a single Court called as “13-Tarai Court”. Such evidences are enough to prove that there is no Madhesh in Nepal, there is only but the Tarai. Even after 1957(2007 B.S) the word Tarai was used frequently not Madhesh.

The demands for equal treatment, proportional representation, Nepali citizenship certificates to the Madhesi community and the recognition of Hindi Language and after 1990 demanding a separate autonomous State of Madhesh are all but illegal and irrelevant demands.

In fact even in the present day India, there is no Madhesh as such which, even if that exist at all, has been well replaced by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, thus to raise the demand for a separate Madhesh in Nepal seems illogical and inappropriate to me.
Nepal is no more the land of Hindus because the Interim Constitution has declared the country a secular state and thus all contradicting constitutional provisions becomes null and void after this declaration.

The 2002 census indicates that there are 19 % Madhesis in the Tarai---among which Brahman-Kshetri makes 1.9 %; Middle Caste is 12.9 %; and Madhesi Dalits 4.7 %. Similarly, the indigenous people of the Tarai are 9.8 % and Religious minorities 4.3 %. Nevertheless, the Indigenous people of the Tarai and Religious minorities do not fall into the Madhesi category. Visibly, the Madhesi community is in a state of minority in the Tarai, thus there is no question of declaring the Tarai as Madhesh. As far as sovereignty of Madhesi population is concerned, the ILO 169 and the UN has instead granted sovereignty to the Indigenous and other minorities not to the immigrants.

This realty is slowly but surely being understood by the Indigenous and other minorities of the Tarai thus in the long run the Madhesi political parties will be the losers.

TGQ4: You Mr. Chaudhary as a member of the CA which type of constitution you foresee could at best restructure the State in the entire.

Mr. Chaudhary: A constitution is in fact the laws governing the entire nation. Thus the constitution that we are going to make must assure that the National interests are preserved. Our power is our National Unity and territorial Integrity which we cannot forget—thus this must be guaranteed. Then the Constitution should ensure all economic, social, political, cultural, regional, caste and gender based discriminations are not there any more. An inclusive, equal, democratic and rights based constitution is the need of the hour.

What models are there in existence internationally—we do not know in fact. We seek the international support in this regard as well. There are numerous states and thus each of them have their own constitution, and we need to study the situation of a country which has very similar condition to our own.

TGQ5: Mr. Chaudhary, you as a scholar/researcher who have been involved in tracing the history of the Tharu community make the claim that Tharus are merely the subset of the Madhesi Community? Please tell our readers in detail what is wrong with this Madhesi perception and what evidences you can provide to establish that the Tharus were the indigenous people of the Tarai?

Mr. Chaudhary: Whether they are the materialists who believe that the entire human kind is the gift of nature or the spiritualists who believe in mythology and think humankind is the gift of god, in common all believe that all human beings are the same.

However, as per the place of origin and the development of a particular society we see that there are considerable differences among various people. Thus to believe that the Tharus who are the indigenous people of the Tarai and the Madhesi who have migrated from some where else, belong to the same set is like comparing “the Elephant and the Elephant Brand Slippers”.

The fact is that the Tharus belong to the Astro-Asian race and the Madhesis belong to the Caucasian race, sometimes called the Caucasoids. There is no division of caste and discrimination in and among the Tharus as per an individual’s birth, which is in contrary very common in the Madhesi community and also there is rampant discrimination in the Madhesi community bestowed upon by the Hindu System of Caste.
How can the Tharus who have been living in the Churey and Tarai region of Nepal since medieval times be compared with the Madhesis who have recently migrated from India’s Madhya Desh or the Madhya Pradesh or the Middle country? The Tharus are the agrarian people and the Madhesis, Marwaris and Baniya are involved in business activities. Anthropologists say that “Culturally, however, the term denotes an inferior place, this image of the Tarai could have been originally linked to its deadly Malarial and relatively uncivilized environment. Such a division is also reflected in the demographic division, particularly in terms of ethnic power structure and control. Joshi, B.L. and Rose, L.E. (1966:10) accurately note that the most important group numerically, socially, and politically in much of Nepal is composed of Indo-Aryans: Migrants from the plain as well as hill areas of northern India. They inhabit the more fertile lower hills, river, valleys and plains. The second major group consists of communities of Mongolian origin which inhabit the higher hills from the West to the East (also see Kaplan 1970). A third and much smaller stratum comprise a number of tribal communities such as the Tharus and the Dhimals of the Tarai, they may be remnants of indigenous communities whose habitation predates the advent of Indo-Aryan and Mongolian elements. (Shrestha, N.R. 1990:166).

Similarly, a news printed in the Times of India (29 December, 1987) quoting the then anthropologists of India indicated that the early man lived in the Himalayas and just below the Himalayas. Bryan Hudson, Dr. Ram Nivas Pandey and the great Nepalese Historian Babu Ram Acharya held that the early man to have lived in the Himalayas and below the Himalayas were none other than the Tharus. Thus the Tharu community is the oldest inhabitants of Nepal.

Now I would like to draw your attention to the Chronological table or the Geological Time scale. More than 280 million years back, the Mahabharat range was formed from the middle of the Tethys Ocean in the Permian period. Later, 145 million years after in the cretaceous period the Himalayas- the youngest mountain range were formed in the cretaceous. Finally in the third phase, almost 14 million years back the Churey range was formed in the Pliocene period. After the formation of the Chure Range, Gudrun Corvinus(1996) believed that the Dang-Deukhari Valley and the Sat-Pati Area of Nawalparasi all of a sudden emerged from the ocean. Until then, neither the plains of Sindh-Ganga nor Nepal’s Tarai east of Bara, Parsa districts were formed---they were all in fact under the water.

Friedrich Engles in his unfinished essay entitled “The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man”, has indicated that in the Tertiary Period of the Cenogoic Era as some parts of the Equatorial region was under the Indian Ocean, water from the plains of the Sindh-Ganges started to flow towards the Bay of Bengal which is the eastern part of the South Asian Region, and the process of drying of water started from the Western Sindh towards the east.

I would here like to stress with examples that before this period there were already human settlements in the Churey region of Nepal. Dr. Gudrun Corvinus in her report (Report on the work done in the Project of Quaternary and Prehistoric Studies in Nepal 1990:1) mentioned that, “…the first two years period were mainly exploratory work to determine the extent of work of the project and above all make the basic studies in the projected field of investigation. It was a two-fold aim; one more geologically oriented and the other more prehistorically oriented yet connected with each other by the fact that the period of the Siwalik’s preceding period of the prehistoric investigations and that during the early Siwalik period the earliest possible ancestor of man, Ramapithicus lived”. She writes further in her report-2002 “Middle Paleolithic sites are not as common in the Indian Peninsula as the earlier and the later industries. This is also the case in Nepal. The site of Arjun 3 in the Deukhuri valley in the western Nepal is the only site with a Middle Paleolithic industry discovered in over 15 years of works in Nepal”.

A research project to study the pollen deposits of ancient plants by Dr. N. Awasthi and M. Prasad of the Birbal Sahrai Institute of Deheradun (India) and Dr. Sarkar from the Poleo Botany Institute in Lucknow in the Surai Location between Deukhuri Valley and the Kapilbastu district, indicates that the climatic condition in the area in ancient times was more humid than today that is more monsoon dependent. They mentioned that there used to be 200 days of heavy rainfall per year in those times. The plants found in these areas are similar to those found in Assam and Kerela of India. G. Corvinus has termed the flora and fauna from these areas as being those from the Paleolithic Age. The climate was friendly for plants animals and humans, which indicates that the Tharus were evolved right in the valley. Later as the water in the Sindh-Ganga started to dry up the Tharus started to settle in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other parts of the Subcontinent but they never quit their birth place that is the Churey and the Tarai.

The word Tarai, which is derived from Persian means “damp” and appropriately describes its hot and humid climatic condition. The land formed after the drying of water-the marshy area is in fact the land of the Tharus. The northern part of the Jambu Dweep-the snow clapped mountains, east of the Kangada River up to Sikkim-Bhutan, are in fact the land of the Tharus. However, I strictly oppose to the views that the Tharus in fact migrated from Rajasthan in the 12th Century after being attacked by the Muslim invaders. This claim holds no water. Nevertheless, people from the Madhya Desh of the ancient India (Buddha era, 500 B.C) started migrating towards the north, thus they are called the Madhesis.

No comments:

Post a Comment