Seventy eight years ago, when four people raised their voice against tyrannical rule of the Ranas, and started informing and educating people about democracy, they were carefully terminated by the Ranas. Eight years later, people abolished them. Twelve years ago, when few people took over the streets to denounce the constitutional breaching by the king, Gyanendra could have thought the same. No one had a clue that this very movement could shake Gyanendra’s regime to its core and later uproot the monarchy completely from the Himalayan Kingdom.
If we look into the history of this country, it’s filled with such uncertain, great political revolution. Nepalese have always vigorously participated to fight against tyranny, oppression and contributed to bring about political change that’s good for each and every masses of this country. From the abolishment of autocratic Rana regime in 1951 to the series of major political movements like Jana Andolan I, a decade long Armed Conflict, Jana Andolan II upto the historic Promulgation of Constitution by the Constituent Assembly, we have witnessed a rapid and considerable change in the political system of this country, and that too, in a very short span of time. For Nepal to become a Federal Democratic Republic of today, several brave and patriot Nepalese have offered their precious life. Their firm belief and commitment to freedom, change and development of the country made Nepal pave its way towards progress. Without their sacrifice, our country wouldn’t have reached here.
American President Abraham Lincoln had said,
“A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”
On 16th of Magh every year, we commemorate the sacrifice made by our great martyrs. Despite vehement commitment by the state to fulfil dreams and aspirations of these martyrs, we haven’t done significant to justify their sacrifice. Nepal has changed, developed and achieved a lot within these six and half decades, but much remain unaccomplished. Nepal hasn’t been able to eradicate poverty and fight against corruption. Hunger is still challenging our people to attain means to an end. Though we’ve become sovereign and are enjoying our liberties, our major nostalgia keeps on revolving around the same thing – political system. It reveals our reluctance to democracy and political stability in the country. For instance, within a decade after the declaration of democracy, King Mahendra imposed Panchayat. Thirteen years after the restoration of multi-party democracy, King Gyanendra snatched it again. As of recent, we’re having a destructive discourse if Monarchy serves the country best.
American President Abraham Lincoln has said, “A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.” Our martyrs have sacrificed their life for the protection and freedom of this country and its people. From the four martyrs who sacrificed their life to establish democracy in the country to those who died for establishing federalism and make Nepal a secular republic, their love, respect and commitment for this country should always be praised. It should neither go unnoticed nor forgotten. Today, the duty relies upon us to fulfill their dreams of making this country a better place for people to survive and live. For a country to prosper and thrive, its citizen should necessarily pose hard work, dedication and a strong aspiration for a better tomorrow. We’ve seen countries like Japan, China and S. Korea rise up from the ashes to become economic power house of Asia and the world within the span of 3 to 6 decades. Nepal should also pose a strong desire to do so. Only then we’ll do true justice to our martyrs, otherwise, their great sacrifice will go in vain.
Citizenship Act: What’s the issue
Many from Nepal seem quite confused when it comes to the debate on citizenship provision in New Constitution and I reckon that’s because the constitution came in rush without much of discourse and debates and lot other factors like nationalist rhetoric. So here is my attempt to explain everything in very simplistic way.
What constitution has said about citizenship
There are two kinds of citizenship:
- Citizenship by descent.
- Naturalized citizenship
What’s the difference
Citizenship by descent is quite superior to naturalized citizenship in sense, in order for a person to be elected, nominated or appointed to the office of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief of State, Chief Minister, Speaker of a State Assembly, and chief of a security body, the person must have obtained the citizenship of Nepal by descent.
Which basically means if you have naturalized citizenship, you can never become President or Prime Minister or Chief Justice or anything mentioned above. Naturalized citizenship is basically designed for people who would like to obtain Nepali citizenship though didn’t have ancestral root in Nepal.
Ya, in a way, it makes sense for not letting naturalized citizen to become president of Nepal or Prime Minister of Nepal. Up to here, no issue.
So what’s the issue
This is the most complex part. So let’s go slow from here.
Neha and Raj are siblings. They both got married and both have children from their respective partners. As their children reached 18, they both went to get citizenship by descent for their children.
Neha’s child can get citizenship by descent if:
Clause a. Her husband holds Nepali citizenship.
Clause b. Her child was born in Nepal.
Clause c. Father of her child is not traceable.
Which means, Neha’s child can never get citizenship by descent even though she herself is citizen by descent if:
1. Her husband is a foreigner.
2. Her child was born outside Nepal.
3. She didn’t want to lie or hide father’s identity.
So, Neha must prove that either her husband is Nepali, or her child was born in Nepal, or she should simply lie that she does not know where the father of her child is. If she fails to provide any, her child will only get naturalized citizenship which means her child can never ever become president or prime minister of Nepal.
Whereas, Raj’s child can get citizenship by descent without any clause.
Can you see the difference??
Do we ask the same question to a man? “if he is married to a foreigner, he should get citizenship for his child from his wife’s country. Why Nepal?”
We don’t. Why? Because we are culturally wired in patriarchy.
Sufferers of this constitutional provision will not be Nepali girls marrying Nepali guys. Sufferers will be the following:
- A Nepali girl married to a foreign guy and got abandoned later with a child.
- A Nepali girl, who while working abroad, got impregnated through exploitation.
- A Nepali girl, who wants her child to be remained as Nepali though married to a foreigner.
- A couple (Nepali woman and foreign man) who wants to settle in Nepal and helps their children grow and reach to their full potential as freely and openly as any Nepalese couple by descent.
This will not be a case if is a Nepali man. If his wife (foreigner) abandons him, his child can still get citizenship by descent. If he wants his child to remain as Nepali though married to a foreigner, he can make that happen. If he wants to settle in Nepal with his foreign gf/wife , he can and still help his children grow and dream to their full potential as freely and openly as any Nepalese couple by descent.
Another issue is,
There is a provision though that will let child from such women get citizenship by descent. All she has to do is lie and tell “I don’t know where the father is.”
11.5 A person who is born in Nepal from a woman who is a citizen of Nepal and has resided in Nepal and whose father is not traced shall be provided with the citizenship of Nepal by descent.
How awful, sad, frustrating, and sick can a constitutional clause be that is designed to work as loophole, to encourage contempt, practice lies, and make someone feel terrible?? Why can’t her child be given that goddamn citizenship by descent without too much drama and questioning??
There are thousands of Nepali women married to Indian men. Now what?? we give citizenship by descent to all those children?? No way!!
Boom! Nationalist rhetoric.
Why can’t we set uniform criteria for both male and female? Maybe something like, a child, whose father or mother is of foreign nationality, must have stayed in Nepal for X number of years to qualify for citizenship by descent. That would be win win for all.
To sum it up,
A brother gets married to an American girl. A sister gets married to a Korean guy. They both have babies from their respective partners. After some years, they got divorced.
Brother comes back to Nepal with his child and sister with her child.
18 years passed since then. Child from both have grown up. Time to get the citizenship. Brother’s child gets citizenship by descent and sister’s child gets naturalized citizenship. One can dream to become president of Nepal or Prime minister, and another’s can’t….just because she is not man.
That’s discrimination. Please don’t justify it showing people from other side of borders.
Running Off the Track
In a race, the most important rule for any player is to run on and along the lane. If players run out of their lane, they will be disqualified. If we apply this criterion as a prerequisite to our current government, what result will we get? Will the KP Oli led government still qualify?
There are several factors responsible for the landslide victory of NCP in the federal elections. The prosperity rhetoric, hyper notion of stable government, nationalist image of K.P. Oli and the unification of two major communist parties are some that benefitted them. It made people trust and immensely believe in them. People voted the NCP with a great enthusiasm and hope that the country will have a better future if they come to power. Today, the NCP is ruling in 6 out of 7 Provinces and KP Oli leads the powerful federal government. The party solely has near to two-third majority in the House of Representatives and more than two-third majority in the National Assembly. And after one year of their reign to power, a fundamental question has and needs to be raised. Has their performance in the federal and provinces been splendid as expected? Are the promises made to people during elections being delivered?
The answers aren’t positive at all. People have lots of expectation with the NCP but it is repeatedly indulging into affairs that doesn’t address the vital concerns of common people. For instance, People desperately wanted syndicate to be gone. The Government promised to put an end to it but didn’t do much for strictly implementing their own decision. People lately realized that it was nothing but a hype, promoted by the Home Ministry. Several major policies and programmes of the government have met the same fate. The massively advertised and equally criticised Social Security Scheme has failed to attract private sector, its workers and employees. Economists highly suspect that the 120 day-unemployment allowance scheme introduced by government would actually help reduce unemployment from the country.
PM Oli and his cabinet has time and again proved their incompetence as an administrator. People have seen and felt a rapid increment in corruption and criminal conducts. Impunity is on the rise as convicts of corruption are allowed to freely roam around and court-convicted murderers are pardoned by the President. There was no quick response from government and concerned authorities on the recent Nakkhu bomb blast incident that injured three innocent pedestrians. Biplov – Maoist, taking responsibility of that criminal conduct which claimed the life of one innocent person, termed it “a minor mistake”. The government was very late to condemn this terrorist act. This proves its failure to adopt adequate and viable measures to obstruct such adversity and maintain peace and security in the country. At one point, it seemed as if the government is more concerned about regulating social media than securing the lives of people of this country.
At this point, the Oli – led government seems very confused on its core mission. Even someone like CK Raut has trapped the Prime Minister to set himself free from the bars. After amassing much failure on almost every front of governance, one thing where the government seems to be most successful, is at creating controversies. In this one year, people have seen the President, head of the constitutional bodies and the entire cabinet involved into nasty controversies. Even the judiciary became a part of it resulting in a series of conflict for several months. Though this has come to an end for now, it has diminished its dignity and trust from among people. Today, the Prime Minister is seen freely scoffing and mocking his critics and the opposition but there is a bill registered in Parliament that proposes to punish people for their posts in Social Media. Another bill tabled in the parliament creates barrier to acquire citizenship through mother. The cadres of NCP are seen publicly threatening singers to remove their “anti-government” songs from YouTube.
The government is busy staging an unclothed dance of power while the opposition is weak and dumb to play its role. All that is left for people is grievances and outrage.
Kanyadaan – Donation of daughter
During one of my regular scrolls on Instagram, I came across a beautiful couple’s wedding photos. It was a normal, beautiful Hindu wedding that suddenly led me wondering about Kanyadaan. ‘Kanyadaan’ was just another normal word for me until I realized how it is made up of two words: ‘kanya’ and ‘daan’. I was tempted to Google about it and what came up next on my smart screen shook me to the core.
‘Kanya’ means a maiden and ‘daan’ is donation. So literally, Kanyadaan is the donation of girls. As per my near and dear ones and the internet, Kanyadaan is supposed to be the highest honor that a girl’s parents can ever receive to cleanse out their sins. After donating your daughter to the groom, your pathway to the heaven is made all clear! Someone genius on the internet also pointed out how the word starts with ‘kanya’ and not ‘stree’, denoting that only virgins can cleanse the sins of their parents. I see. Back since hundreds and hundreds of years ago till now, Kanyadaan is very much prevalent in our society. It is one of the sexist traditions that objectifies us, women. The thought of giving away your daughter makes me sick because no matter whoever she gets married to, she is still a person before being your daughter and no one has the right to give her away as if she is some sort of a property that can be passed around.
You may wonder that the definition and meaning behind it might have changed and that it does not hold true to its initial original concept but has evolved into something entirely different and welcoming? Well, how I wish it were true but no. The reason behind it is that the people don’t care; they do not know the significance behind this tradition. Kanyadaan had been followed through ages and rather than questioning it, they are easily influenced by the people to adopt the tradition largely on emotional basis. However, these days people do not follow it solely for the purpose of bringing down women but are simply not aware of it which adds up to uplifting misogyny in our society. Ignorance is the cause of almost all of the existing problems; we are never taught to question. In the name of god and purity we are ready to anything and everything without realizing how wrong we may be.
If more people came to know about the true meaning behind this sexist tradition, I bet you that Kanyadaan would definitely change into something more meaningful and welcoming, something that begins with ‘stree’ and does not end with daan.
Originally published in MyReublica