New constitution creates seven states in a secular, federal system, but is opposed by some groups who wanted to re-establish Nepal as a Hindu nation, and others who feel it is unfavourable to people in the plains, near India.
The Maoists laid down their arms in 2006 and joined democratic politics in an India-brokered peace deal that paved the way for the Constitution. Wrangling hampered progress on the draft and several governments have come and gone in the interim.
The protestors were upset that the federal restructuring of Nepal into seven provinces left the Madhesis divided among five provinces, with only one of them having a majority of plains-origin people.
3 Issues in new constitution from India’s point of view:
(1). federal-provincial demarcation is perceived to be unfair to the people of the Terai region;
(2). the constituency delimitation is skewed against the Madhes population as half the population, that is the Pahadi (Hill) community gets 100 seats but the other half consisting of the Madhesi and the Janjatis get only 65 seats.
(3). the ‘proportional inclusion’ clause, for reservation includes many forward castes of the Pahadi region, which negates the principle of affirmative action, officials said.
India also feels let down that many of the commitments given by Nepal during the framing of the 2007 interim Constitution have been forgotten.
Discuss the role played by India in Nepal’s efforts to draft and adopt its new Constitution. Also examine challenges being faced by lawmakers in Nepal to draft new Constitution. (200 Words)
India has been a close partner of Nepal historically. Initially it supported the monarchy but on seeing the emergence of democracy, India came up with a new Nepal Policy in 2005. India tried to distance itself from any particular party but was seen linked to the Maoists in Nepal. A reason for this could be the growing Chinese influence in the region.
Recently, India has been more vocal about fast-tracking Nepal’s Constitution writing.
This was reflected in visits by PM Modi and his address to the Nepalese Parliament.
A stable Nepal certainly augurs well for Indian security interests. India will still have to alleviate its image as a dictating ‘big brother’ though due to false allegations by various political players in Nepal.
The Constituent Assembly of Nepal has repeatedly extended its deadlines upon failing to reach cooperation among the diverse political parties of Nepal. They are divided upon the major issues –
Form of government – parliamentary or presidential
Federal structure – on ethnic or administrative lines
Judiciary – independent as in India or answerable to the legislature
Secular state or Hindu state
The June 2015 resolution by all the parties agreeing on contentious points, in light of the earthquake, was a welcome step but it remains to be passed by the Constituent Assembly.
As such, the Indian stance should be to distance itself from any particular group and ensure the democracy wins and wins fast. Nepal should too take a leaf out of the book of the Indian Constituent Assembly.