History, memory and identity

The true identity of a certain Mr. Adhikari, registered on the lists of the CPN-UML as a member of its finance and planning department, remains an enigma. Janardan Sharma’s return as finance minister less than a month after facing allegations of irregularities, abrupt resignation, instant parliamentary inquiry, swift acquittal and reappointment is a mystery. Why Sher Bahadur Deuba had to reshuffle his cabinet almost a dozen times in a year is anyone’s guess.

Amidst all this nonsense, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and ethno-nationalist leader Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli was reportedly seen practicing his hand on a badminton Birtamod Court. He then returned to Kathmandu and went to observe Bagmati Ganga Aarati to Pashupati to score Sauna Sombar.

With so many real-life dramas, who needs to write and direct plays to portray the peculiarities, perplexities and paradoxes of daily life through imagined realities? However, the realities on the ground are not the same for everyone. Sensitive souls see the world in ways that others don’t.

Playwright, director and actress Sarita Sah attempts to capture the complexities of citizenship in a play with an intriguing name Dhakiya Me Nagarikta, which can be roughly translated as “the citizenship certificate in a bamboo basket”. The title perhaps alludes to the burden one has to carry on one’s head to survive in a country where an official identity is required for all of a person’s needs, from the cradle to the place of cremation.

After being staged in Kathmandu on Saturday afternoon, the play was taken to Rautahat, Dhanusha, Siraha and Saptari districts of Madhesh Pradesh. Since Putschek royal-military coup, the Kathmandu establishment portrayed the Madheshis as the other of the Nepali self and institutionalized the archaic principle of jus sanguinis which requires proof of ancestry to establish membership.

Purist claims

The idea of ​​nationality as a marker of belonging emanating from one’s ancestral land is neither new nor unique. Montesquieu (1689-1755) is justly famous for having theorized the necessity of the separation of powers. He also believed that cultural identity based on spirit of the nation was the most authentic basis for the establishment of a unified political authority.

Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) expounded the ever-evolving idea of Volksgeist (national spirit) and initiated the movement for the inherent uniqueness of people that differentiates them from all others. Volksgeist has remained Germany’s zeitgeist ever since. The cultural uniqueness of Japan expressed through the concept of Nihonjinron is also an attempt to assert the primacy of inherited belonging.

The pitribhoomi (ancestral land) and punyabhoomi (sacred ground) formulations of Hindutva Vinayak ideologue Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) was a project to imagine a nation of political Hindus. The Sinhalese majority minority complex to be invaded, overtaken and replaced by ethnic “others” is as much the product of demagogic populism as it is a concoction of the amalgam between ethno-nationalism and citizenship.

The junta that has ruled Burma since its independence refuses to accept that the ethnic purity of a political entity is a fascist concept. Apart from expel longtime residents who came from other parts of British India during colonial rule, Burmese law requires all immigrants to assume a bamar appoint and gain proficiency in the national language even to retain the lowest category of citizenship.

All the ethnicities prosecuted suffer in their own way, but the characterization of the Rohingya as Asian Jews perhaps aimed to internationalize their fate. It has not awakened the conscience of the international community.

Despite their republican aspirations, a very large part of the mainstream community in Nepal could not emerge from the Panchayat era. paranoia of being outnumbered and overwhelmed by what is called fijikaran and swallowed Sikkimikaran.

“The Sinhalese stigmatization of Tamils ​​in Sri Lanka, the Sunni stigmatization of Hindus, Christians, Ahmadiyyas and Shias in Pakistan, and the Buddhist stigmatization of Rohingyas in Myanmar are all cautionary tales,” said historian Ramchandra Guha. wrote. He forgot to add the stigma of the Madheshis in Nepal where Khas-Arya supremacism remained the defining characteristic of the dominant group’s ethno-national hegemony.

Pluralist aspirations

Paradoxically, the French were one of the first to replace the idea of ​​the nation-state with the imaginary nation-state made up of the “citizen” after the French Revolution. The concept, however, required that the “country“enjoying equal rights under the constitution become one in culture, language and political beliefs to be called a ‘good citizen’. The republic aspired to the unity of the nation-state through assimilation.

The process of unification by progressive integration but with the right to self-determination of the component nations was a Leninist idea that evolved after the Russian Revolution. The union of states, however, remains a fragile concept with the exception of the United States.

The imagination of the multinational state began to gain popularity to keep the postcolonial countries together with randomly drawn borders that had failed to generate the feeling of unity among its people. India once exemplified the goal of establishing unity in diversity. Ironically, he began to regress into the exclusivity of the Hindutva Project.

The notion of State-multinational aims to maintain the fragile unity of nation-states where dissiparous tendencies to create multiple nation-states have begun to gain ground due to existing inequalities aggravated by the process of globalization.

The predicament of contemporary Nepal is that its dominant community wants to retain the nation-state notion of the 19th century through assimilation policies, but is unwilling to adapt to the integration measures established in the 20th century. century as the country’s diversities desire nothing less than the 21st century imaginary of a federated nation-state.

For ethno-nationalists, the First Amendment to the Citizenship Act is a device to dilute the purity of “organic Nepalese” for whom identity can only be inherited through unmixed bloodlines. Nepal is one of the few countries in the world to institutionalize a hierarchical order of citizenship with descent at the top, marriage in the middle and naturalization at the bottom.

The duties prescribed for all categories of citizens are equal. The same laws apply to everyone. The tax rates are identical. But the rights vary according to gender and class of citizenship. For example, a person of non-Nepali descent is constitutionally barred from holding certain government positions even if they have met all other criteria.

Nothing like a play to capture the absurdities of a complex life. Art in all its forms is a powerful way to encapsulate the vortex of emotions. Poems help to overcome anxieties. Paintings free the imagination. Music calms the mind and stirs the heart. Combining all forms, the theater is a slice of life lived, imagined, desired, denied, emptied or rejuvenated.

A good play is a dramatization of poetic emotion, an expression of feeling that no word in any language can fully capture on the page, a depiction of the stridency of silence that no musical note can signify, and an illustration of moods that the lines and colors on the canvas can only suggest. That there are more pieces that enrich the collective imagination.

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