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Nepalese Coalition in New York Discussed on New Nepal’s Future PDF Print E-mail
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Written by CARMPN   
Monday, 13 April 2009 10:16
New York, USA-  In an effort to engage the Nepali Diaspora in America on the constitution drafting process, The Coalition Advancing the Rights of Marginalized Peoples of Nepal (CARMPN) organized a public debate on Federalism in Nepal in New York City.
Press Release, The Coalition Advancing the Rights of Marginalized Peoples of Nepal (CARMPN)

A New Platform for Inclusive Democracy: The Coalition Advancing the Rights of Marginalized Peoples of Nepal USA
Dr. Mahendra Lawati, Dr. Vijaya Sharma and Arjun Gurung, Gen. Sec of FIPNA at the event in New York City. Photo: Lab K 

The conveners were Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice, Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights in Nepal, Association of Nepali Teraian in America, Nepali-American Society for Oppressed Community and Federation of Indigenous Peoples of Nepal in America (FIPNA), the coordinating convener.

Economist Dr. Vijaya Sharma of University of Colorado presented a comparative study of various models of federal structure and presented his own model consisting of fifteen states. He argued that even though federalism is not a prerequisite for economic development, it is essential to meet the political aspirations of Nepali people. His model suggests for “near cultural” autonomous states as the “insurance for potential secession”. 

He argued that we can not achieve long lasting peace and stability in Nepal without meeting the aspirations of historically marginalized groups. However, he suggested that we need to find a balance in meeting identity aspirations and economic viabilities of the future federal states. He argued for a strong central government with emergency power and one market economy so that businesses can have access to raw materials and consumers across Nepal.

He suggested for proportional representation (PR) in state legislature, mixed PR in national lower house, national upper house of state representatives, and directly elected Prime Minister and state Governors. 
Dr. Lahoti. Photo: Lab K.
Political Scientist Dr. Mahendra Lawoti of West Michigan University presented the principles for a non-hegemonic model of federal structure and argued that by providing territorial autonomy for concentrated ethnic groups with minority rights protected for others and non-territorial autonomy for scattered groups such as Dalits and Muslims, we can end the currently existing hegemony of Cast Hill Hindu Elite (CHHE).

He also argued from the experiences of federalism in South Asian countries that when the governments fail to address the demands for autonomy sooner, such demands have the potential of turning into separatist movements that bring violent conflicts. The Tamil Singhalese conflict in Sri Lanka, formation of Pakistan and Bangladesh are such examples.

He took India as a largely successful mixed federalism model by forming federal states along linguistic identity in south, ethnicity in north-east, geographical in middle and religious autonomy for Muslims. India has often created new federal states as the new aspirations have emerged over the period of time.

In Nepal’s context, given the diversity and composition of population, Dr. Lawoti said that no federal model could be non-ethnic even if it is claimed to be one. He argued that such claim is just a “myth” and showed how the “non-ethnic” model by Dr. Pitamber Sharma, for instance, makes the CHHE as the largest group in 6 out of 7 states and hence continues the hegemony of this group. Responding to a question on the Dalit issue, Dr. Lawoti said a strong Dalit movement is needed and progressive non-Dalits need to support it.
Arjun Gurung,  Gen. Sec of FIPNA. Photo: Lab K 

General Secretary of FIPNA, Arjun Gurung, moderated the panel discussion that was followed by an engaged Q & A session. He stressed on a need for marginalized peoples to become informed and engaged in the constitution drafting process. The coalition also distributed a questionnaire for collecting suggestions of Nepali Diaspora for the new constitution of Nepal that will be submitted to Constituent Assembly.

-Press Release, The Coalition Advancing the Rights of Marginalized Peoples of Nepal (CARMPN) in New York
Luna Ranjit, Executive Director, Adhikaar. Photo: Lab K.
Tek Gurung, President, UNDF NY Chapter. Photo: Lab K.
Ram Tamang, former President, Tamang Society of America. Photo: Lab K.
Rajendra Sunar. Secretary, Nepali-American Society for Oppressed (NASO). Photo: Lab K.
Dipesh Limbu, former Gen. Sect. KYC America. Photo: Lab K.
Participants at the interaction program. Photo: eEyeCam 
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