The Madhesi Movement in Nepal: Implications for India

Nihar R Nayak is Research Fellow at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile.
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  • July 2011

    This article examines the different narratives on the ‘Madhes’ identity, and situates this discourse in the ethno-linguistic mosaic of the Terai region as well as the larger Nepali political scenario, by identifying the reasons for their increasing assertiveness in politics. The paper argues that exploitation and discrimination by the upper-caste Pahadi migrant communities (especially during the monarchy period) and the Nepali state has played an important role in the consolidation of the Madhesi identity. While the mainstream Madhes parties have adopted a soft stand on the issue, the armed groups are demanding outright ‘independence’. Of late, the Madhesi movement has suffered because of differences (over objectives as well as methods) between various Madhes groups. The fragmentation of the movement has also dragged India into controversy. Both Pahadi and Madhesi groups are critical of the role played by India and this is likely to affect India's security and economic interests in Nepal.