Ethnicity-based federalism and Nepali identity | india | Hindustan Times
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Ethnicity-based federalism and Nepali identity

Commenting on the futility of names in defining qualities, the Bard of Avon had famously written in ‘Romeo and Juliet’---“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

india Updated: May 17, 2012 00:18 IST
Utpal Parashar

Commenting on the futility of names in defining qualities, the Bard of Avon had famously written in ‘Romeo and Juliet’---“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.


Names are something that our parents decide when we are too young to have a say. While few change theirs when they come of age, most of us stick to our most prominent identity.

But for the past few days, I couldn’t help noticing a trend among Nepali friends on Facebook. Many of them either gave up their surnames or added a new one to the ones that disclose their caste and ethnic identities.

And almost all of them affixed ‘Nepali’ to their names to highlighted that instead of being identified by the caste and ethnicities they belong to, they would want to be regarded as Nepalis—citizens of Nepal.

Fed up with the demands by various groups and political parties to include restructuring of Nepal into ethnicity-based states in the new constitution, people from all sections of Nepal’s social-media savvy generation voiced their opposition.

Though Nepal has nearly 100 castes and ethnic groups, some groups were demanding the country’s 75 districts be reorganised into states named after the dominant ethnic group of that particular region.

Some political parties like the Maoists and Madhesi outfits too were voicing similar sentiments. But ending a long deadlock, on Tuesday the three major parties and the conglomeration of Madhesi parties agreed on 11 new states for Nepal.

Prudence prevented them from naming the states — that job was left to the provincial assemblies. It was decided that the new federal units will be multi-ethnic. A day later, Madhesi parties and other ethnic groups opposed the move terming it a conspiracy against identity-based federalism. Despite objections, it seems names of states will not be based on ethnicity. Something Shakespeare would approve.