Report from fieldwork in Nepal

Report from Laxmi Limbu

Introduction

I would like to pay my gratitude to the Centre for Sami Studies for supporting me partially to cover my travel expenses during my fieldwork in Nepal. I conducted my research in Eastern and Central part of Nepal, in Illam and Kathmandu districts. Presently these districts fall under Limbuwan Autonomous State and Newa Autonomous Region respectively in proposed Federal Map of Nepal. Traditionally Limbus was the core and chief inhabitants in Limbuwan however presently they now fall under minority having High Caste People in Majority. It was due to double marginalization done by state apparatus and High- Caste groups as Limbus could not tolerate the historical hostilities and bloodshed. Such suppression compelled them to seek refuge in different Indian states. I collected data staying nearly eight weeks in Nepal despite facing instable political situation and unpredictable situation. The effort to achieve peace is still going on as new constitution writing process on State Restructuring (Federalisms) is under the process. This is the second demand of Mass Movement 2006. I chose Illam as it is proposed capital city of Limbuwan and access to meet my informant was little easier for me after Kathmandu. Kathmandu is the capital city where main apparatus of state functions from here. Having nearly a million dense populations the city is full of enriched old historical heritages famous for tourism. While Illam was the tenth self ruling states of Limbuwan before it entered to Nepali Union, meaning twisted road in Limbu language. It is situated in the east and about 600 KM far away from Kathmandu valley. It is developed districts populated with 282,806. It exports tea in many parts of Europe. Farming ginger, potato, cardamom and producing milk is the main economic activity of this district after tourism.

Being the native indigenous student researcher I was interested to investigate how indigenous people position themselves currently in the peace process, by having different views about how greater self-rule and decentralization might redress past oppression and discrimination. I felt pertinent to ask with native indigenous activist and political leaders by taking interview. Nepal’s nationalities or indigenous groups have been doubly marginalized by the state apparatus and by the high-caste groups. Such subjugation started in the process of unification by late King Prithivi Narayan Shah in the late 17th Century as he expanded his kingdom, including new chiefly domains in the periphery, through various strategies of cooption and forces. The purpose of my study was to investigate why there are such diverse views on Federalism (State Restructuring) among the major political parties as well as among indigenous organization with their intellectual personalities.

 Fieldwork

My primary source of data collection was interview from the political leaders from prominent parties of Nepal besides indigenous activist and leaders from civil societies and bureaucratic icons. While the secondary sources were the books on federalism, notion of State and Democracy by various authors to build up my arguments. In this regard NEFIN suggested me to read a book about ‘right to self determination’ that will shed more light on ILO 169 and UN charters. Similarly Professor Mahendra Lawoti (Dr) suggested me to read a book called ‘Towards a Democratic Nepal’. Furthermore he suggested me to read his soft papers on this issue. For further analysis my supervisor asked me to read the federalist policies of different political parties which I gathered during my field work in Nepal from the respective party offices.  I would take further support of other materials like newspaper articles, internet, journals and individual writings etc.  My research method was interviews so that I used audio voice recorder. I am still analyzing material\ data of my field work. Thesis will be written from these materials.

Funding

I am grateful to the Centre for Sami Studies for bearing my travel expenses to conduct my research for nearly eight weeks in Nepal.

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