Welcome to Nepal Now. My name is Marty Logan.
Looking back on the early days of my relationship with Nepal, I see that it took me far too long to realise that this is a country of incredible diversity of cultures and peoples. Today I can understand why — the face of Nepal is very much upper-caste, Hindu, male and Nepali speaking. Yet roughly a third of the country’s nearly 30 million people belong to about 100 Indigenous groups, 60 of them officially recognized. Surprisingly, you hear very little about those groups on a day-to-day basis here, especially compared to countries like Canada or Australia, where the proportion of Indigenous people is much lower, but Indigenous rights is a major talking point and issue.
When I moved to Nepal just before the end of the 10-year Maoist conflict in 2005, a lot of heat was being generated in discussions over the rebels’ proposal to divide the country based on the territories of the major Indigenous groups. In the end, that vision was not realised and people like today’s guest, Indigenous rights activist Prabin Shakya, argue that the Maoists were playing with the aspirations of many marginalized people in the country simply to attain their political ends.
Since the peace process ended, Indigenous rights is a topic that is highlighted in mainstream media annually on Indigenous Peoples Day, then fades away. Those of us living in Kathmandu do hear regularly about disputes over development projects that threaten the lands of the Newa (or Newar) Indigenous people of the Kathmandu Valley, but these are rarely framed as Indigenous rights issues.
Shakya tells me that a lot of activism is happening. Yes, much of it is in reaction to government plans to take over Indigenous people’s lands in the name of development. But some proactive initiatives to recognize Indigenous rights are taking place at local levels.
Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network (NGO led by Prabin Shakya)
Nepal Now social links
Thanks as always to Nikunja Nepal for advice and inspiration.
Music: amaretto needs ice ... by urmymuse (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.
http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/urmymuse/57996 Ft: Apoxode
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