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Nepal searches for formula to divide itself

Carving a country into smaller states is serious and delicate business. Like expert chefs, those involved in the important task should perform it with skill and precision lest it becomes a mess and leaves a bitter aftertaste for many years to come.

world Updated: Feb 09, 2012 01:33 IST
Utpal Parashar

Carving a country into smaller states is serious and delicate business. Like expert chefs, those involved in the important task should perform it with skill and precision lest it becomes a mess and leaves a bitter aftertaste for many years to come.


India went through the process right after its independence and on a larger scale on linguist lines with States Reorganisation Act of 1956. Not all were satisfied with it leading to formation of more states and demands for others still coming from various corners of the country. Nepal is going through the same route at present as the country debates how the Himalayan nation needs to be divided. There's less than four months left for the country to promulgate its new constitution, but there's no consensus on what shape New Nepal should take.

There are no states at present and administrative tasks are undertaken through 75 districts-a high figure for a country Nepal's size. The peace deal signed in 2006 after a 10 year civil war mentions "democratic restructuring of the state".

Dividing a country with more than 100 ethnic groups with around 12 prominent languages is not an easy job and expectedly there have been problems. After lot of deliberations and debate, the commission entrusted the task submitted its report last month.

But while six members proposed 11 states on ethnic lines three others suggested Nepal should have six states stretching from north to south. Among the 11 states, the commission also proposed a vague non-territorial state especially for Dalits.

Instead of resolving things, the report has led to more differences. Of the three major parties, Maoists seek 14 states while opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and Nepali Congress wants 10 and seven units respectively.

Several ethnic groups and even a cabinet minister are demanding creation of more states and threatening agitation. Such clamour has led others to doubt whether there's any need for federalism itself for fear that such division could lead to the country's disintegration with smaller units gobbled up by bigger neighbours.

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