Monday, January 17, 2011

Address ethnic grievances

Nepal´s politics is famous for ugly feuds for power and vertical splits. Virtually every political party suffers from factionalism. While the larger parties like Nepali Congress (NC), the United Marxist Leninist Party (UML), and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) are barely holding on, the Madhes-based parties are withering faster than anybody could have imagined a while ago.

One of the reasons why the factions within the larger parties do not dare to walk out from the parent party may have to do with already divided political space and political apathy that is out there. But when it comes to the Madhes-based parties, which either ballooned (read Madhesi Janadhikar forum) or was created (read Tarai Madhesh Democratic Party) to benefit from rising ethnic sentiments, there is nothing that glues politicians that deserted their previous party to join or form the Tarai based parties. In the case of major political parties like the NC, UML, UCPN (Maoist), ideology binds people together, albeit loosely. In the case of the Tarai-based parties, it is increasingly becoming clear that they flocking together was purely because of the perceived political opportunity.

The ongoing disintegration of the Tarai-based parties is more dangerous than many think. It would be quite naive to expect that ethnic uprising, which the nation witnessed in 2006 as a result of high level of marginalization in the society, will not take place again. As a matter of fact, with the seed of ethnic hatred already sown, half of the work toward instigating ethnic violence is already done. There is no reason to believe otherwise that the opportunists that deserted parties that they belonged to before the Tarai uprising to join or form the Tarai-based parties and who have now been walking away from them, will not further stoke ethnic divisions to mobilize support and use that support for instigating violence. Violent ethnic conflicts always serve ethnic-entrepreneurs. Muslim identities in Bosnia after Bosnian civil war became much stronger than they used to be.

Governments’ apathy towards creating equal opportunity has provided a space for ethnic-entrepreneurs to benefit from ethnic grievances. Fearon and Laitin (2011) looked at 139 civil wars during 1945–2008. They found 79, or 57 percent to be “ethnic” and another 24 or 17 percent to be mixed or what they call ambiguously “ethnic.” What is even more disturbing is that while 53 percent of the 17 civil wars breaking out in the years 1945–49 were ethnic, for the next six decades, the corresponding percentages are 74, 71, 67, 81, 83, and 100 (for 2000–08). These ethnic wars happened not just only because that the governments were insensitive but also because many saw an opportunity to benefit from ethnic violence.

Ethnic violence is more likely in the districts, where ethnic-entrepreneurs succeed in establishing their base. As followers gain access to local institutions through patronage networks that derive electoral gains from communal violence, the propensity of violence will further increase. Belonging to smaller political outfits will not bother them. In a country, where the majority government is unthinkable given the expansion of political representation in the name of inclusion, who needs a bigger party? Small is beautiful and profitable. The likes of Rajendra Mahato can vouch on that.

The real problem in Nepal is that while people belonging to marginalized ethnic groups want equality, those representing them want the marginalization to persist, as they are politically and personally benefiting from it. Hence, the real challenge is to defeat the agenda of the ethnic-entrepreneurs and foster a cohesive subnational community that can on its own generate progressive social policy capable of fostering equality among the citizens.

Even though the ethnic quest for equality is losing its luster because of the wrong people taking up of a very worthy agenda, it is moral responsibility of the ruling elites to work towards making citizens equal. The best place to start would be to introduce a policy that would reduce ethnic income gaps. Income gaps between ethnic groups stoke ethnic divisions. Such a policy was introduced in Malaysia after the race riots of 1969, which has on the whole worked well so far.

The government needs to act swiftly and introduce policies aimed at uplifting the status of ethnic minorities, or else with continued disintegration of regional parties, there will soon be too many ethnic-entrepreneurs resorting to violent means to achieve their political ambitions. In a country where the person that initiated a bloody conflict, which killed more than fourteen thousand people and displaced thousands can become a prime minister, is there really a reason for some ethnic zealot with political ambition to refrain from instigating violence


Anonymous said...

I seldom leave comments on blog, but I have been to this post which was recommend by my friend, lots of valuable details, thanks again.

ninest123 said...

gucci outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, nike outlet, replica watches, jordan shoes, louis vuitton, longchamp, sac longchamp, polo ralph lauren outlet, ralph lauren pas cher, longchamp outlet, prada handbags, tory burch outlet, kate spade outlet, nike roshe run, christian louboutin outlet, tiffany jewelry, prada outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, louboutin outlet, ugg boots, michael kors, burberry, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp pas cher, oakley sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, louboutin, chanel handbags, ugg boots, nike air max, uggs on sale, oakley sunglasses, replica watches, louis vuitton, air max, louis vuitton, air jordan pas cher, nike free, nike free, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, louboutin pas cher, louboutin shoes, tiffany and co, longchamp outlet, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses

ninest123 said...

nike free run uk, mulberry, ray ban pas cher, nike air max, timberland, burberry outlet online, converse pas cher, michael kors, michael kors, sac guess, hermes, true religion outlet, vans pas cher, coach purses, nike air max, nike roshe, north face, michael kors outlet, nike blazer, hogan, michael kors outlet, burberry, coach outlet, michael kors outlet, coach outlet, north face, hollister pas cher, tn pas cher, replica handbags, lacoste pas cher, air force, michael kors, lululemon, ray ban uk, hollister, ugg boots, kate spade handbags, true religion jeans, nike air max, michael kors outlet, ugg boots, michael kors, true religion jeans, oakley pas cher, michael kors outlet, ralph lauren uk, abercrombie and fitch, true religion jeans, new balance pas cher, vanessa bruno

ninest123 said...

north face outlet, p90x workout, soccer shoes, ray ban, beats by dre, birkin bag, north face outlet, nike trainers, valentino shoes, mont blanc, new balance, instyler, jimmy choo shoes, iphone cases, vans shoes, nike huarache, converse, babyliss, bottega veneta, ralph lauren, asics running shoes, vans, hollister, oakley, insanity workout, ghd, lancel, abercrombie and fitch, nfl jerseys, mcm handbags, nike air max, gucci, timberland boots, reebok shoes, soccer jerseys, hollister, ferragamo shoes, louboutin, baseball bats, hollister, chi flat iron, nike roshe, nike air max, lululemon, herve leger, longchamp, wedding dresses, celine handbags, mac cosmetics, converse outlet

ninest123 said...

louis vuitton, pandora jewelry, coach outlet, montre pas cher, moncler outlet, moncler, ugg boots uk, canada goose uk, toms shoes, canada goose, wedding dresses, doudoune canada goose, bottes ugg, louis vuitton, moncler, moncler, canada goose, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, sac louis vuitton pas cher, pandora jewelry, moncler, thomas sabo, replica watches, moncler, supra shoes, marc jacobs, juicy couture outlet, juicy couture outlet, swarovski, swarovski crystal, canada goose outlet, canada goose, canada goose, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, links of london, moncler, moncler, canada goose outlet, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, ugg pas cher, pandora charms, karen millen, hollister, pandora charms