The Nepali community is one the distinctive groups comprises of several ethnic groups in India, settled in all over the country. Majority of the community found in the north-east Indian state, and West Bengal. The Nepali is only a community among several other communities in India who have been witnessed an identity crisis from time and again in their own motherland India. It has to endure community slur such as Chinese/Chinky, Nepalese etc. from their fellow citizens. Matter-of-factly, they are conceived as out-siders to Indian republic. Recently a Manipuri girl in Delhi was spat by a man and commented her as “Corona”1. The intention of the man was to considered the girl as Chinese (because of her small eyes that appear identical to the Chinese nationals). Moreover, the community has to face a social stigmatization even in public platform as recently released web series viz. “Paatal Lok” has used a sexist slur against the Nepalis/Nepalese. But in the web series it could not be clear whether it has indicated Nepali or the Nepalese. However, empirically the portrayed lady named “Mary Lyngdoh” is a Khasi woman commonly belong to Meghalaya2. The lack of the knowledge of history of a community always create misinterpretation about that community who has a fabulous past like the Nepali community. The Indian Nepalis are misconceived nationals of the country for centuries due to several reasons among them most common reasons are:

Crisis of nomenclature of the community

The word “Nepali” has a numerous connotation such as a national of the Nepal (Nepalese), a language spoken by a group of people/community, and a community by its cultural heritage (Nepali). In the context of Indian Nepalis, the third connotation is appropriate to be considered as a community exactly like a Bengali, Bihari, etc. communities in India. Therefore, it differs from the Nepalese. Thus, the Nepalis denotes a community of Indian republic whereas the Nepalese denotes a national of the Nepal. However, it’s a convoluted task for the hillbilly to discriminate between the two. Because of its very pronunciation the Nepal is inadvertently akin with the Indian Nepalis since the beginning of the 19th century. Nomenclature itself has become the reason for the mass bewilderment about the community in India and out-side of India. Therefore, Nepalis have to endure the allegation of being the foreigners, illegal immigrants to India by its cohort Indians. The term “Gorkha” also has been used to identify the Indian Nepalis deliberately to extricate Nepalis with the Nepalese. However, the term has a narrow scope to comprehend all the Nepalis in India. Because, Indian Nepalis are not the descendants of the “Gorkha Army” men. Eden Vansittart while defining the term “Gorkha” argued that it is a generic name refers to Nepalese employed in Indian Army and strictly should apply to those who came from the region around “Gurkha”3 (In medieval Nepal there was a kingdom called Gurkha and at present Gurkha is a district of Nepal). Similarly, Professor A.C Sinha made an effort in the past to find out and ascertain a largely liable term for Indian Nepalis i.e. “Indian of Nepal Origin”. But, why to use “Nepal Origin”? because the people who had come to India from Nepal in early decades of the 19th century have already died and the Indian Nepalis are having their origin in India itself. The Nepali community in India is victim of historical fallacy and empirical baseless logic because of its nomenclature.

The “Treaty of Peace and Friendship” and disarrangement among the “Nepalis” and the “Nepalese”  

On July 31, 1950 the treaty of peace and friendship was signed between India and the government of Nepal. Article 7 of the treaty has granted the privilege of a similar nature to both nationals such as privilege of residence, ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce, etc. Consequently, the nationals of the Nepal can come and stay in India without any legal restriction. Having the same lingua franca and physiological similarities of both the nationals, people cannot discriminate among the both. Therefore, disarrangement occur among Nepalis and the Nepalese. The researcher Bimal Khawas (2009)4 rightly pointed out that there are two sets of the Nepali people in India. Firstly, those Nepalis who are the permanent inhabitants and citizens of India. They are there in different parts of the country with the major concentration in hilly pockets of the northeastern states since almost two centuries. Secondly, those Nepali speaking Nepalese who are the citizens of Nepal but are residing in India on a temporary basis for their livelihood. It creates false impression of nationality of Nepalis and the Nepalese among the general masses.

Coda

The nationality issue is not new to the Nepali community in India, it has been for generations. After closed observation and understanding, it can be argued that there are certain grave misunderstandings among the people firstly, the distinctive physiological features of people of the community (especially, the Tibeto-Burman ethnolinguistic groups of Nepalis) with small eyes lead the people of the community identical with the “Chinese” nationals. Consequently, they are identified as Chinese citizens which is historically a baseless logic. Secondly, the physical and cultural similarities (for that matter the similar lingua franca) of the community (Nepalis) with the nationals of the Nepal (Nepalese) have been found as the bases for misconception about the identity of the community among its fellow citizens. Now, the question arises that the physical features of the people can be a standardised yardstick to measure nationality of the people/community? Or the cultural familiarity of a community with the people of another national can be a disqualifying characteristic for not considering the people of that community the citizens of a particular nation?

       

  1. 2020. “Delhi Police Files Case against Man for Spitting on Manipuri Girl, Calling Her ‘Coronavirus.’” Businesstoday.In, March 23, 2020. https://www.businesstoday.in/latest/trends/delhi-police-files-case-against-man-for-spitting-on-manipuri-girl-calling-her-coronavirus/story/398979.html.
  2. Tamang, Sangay. 2020. “Because They Looked ‘Nepali’: Objectifying Nepali Women in Amazon Web Series ‘Paatal Lok.’” Org, May 20, 2020. https://countercurrents.org/2020/05/because-they-looked-nepali-objectifying-nepali-women-in-amazon-web-series-paatal-lok/.
  3. Thapa, C S. 2013. Gorkha: In Search of Identity. Sriav.
  4. Kawas, Vimal. 2009. “Nepalis in India: A Neglected Discource.” In Indian Nepalis Issues and Perspectives, edited by T.B. et al. Subba, First, 175–84. Concept Publishing Company

 

 Birendra Bhujel M.Phil. Research Scholar in the department of Sociology, Sikkim Central University, Gangtok, India  Email: birendrabhujel@gmail.com


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3 Comments

  1. Avatar Khimi Thapa says:

    Congratulations…

  2. Nice 👌👌👌

  3. Avatar Bikram Bhujel says:

    Good job.you stated the fact.