The Politics behind Indigenous Rhetoric in Nepal
In this paper, I will uncover the politics behind the use of new label- the indigenous as an umbrella category to denote former ethnic groups of Nepal. The former ethnic groups known as ethnic nationalities (Janajati) shifted into indigenous nationalities (Adivasi/Janajati) in 1991 on certain global historical process. As Adam Kuper(2003) states, that it is not a bad idea to call people by the name they recognized themselves, but some discredited old arguments are lurked behind new names. As culture is a euphemism of race, the word indigenous is a euphemism of primitive. The term Indigenous is a fancy word used in the place of what we call ancient, hunting gathering, tribal, native and aboriginal peoples etc. For Kuper(2003), the politics behind the construction of indigenousness is no more than a justification for claiming special rights to land, place, and resources for certain groups on the basis of descent and a Nuremberg principle of-who came first and when and to provoke the idea that real citizenship is a matter of blood and soil. He reveals the fact that UN agencies and some of the international NGOs have been heavily implicated in identity politics and the myth making of indigenousness after the end of colonial rule and apartheid regime in South Africa after 1980s, to construct the divisions among people into indigenous and non-indigenous which was likened to return towards new kinds of apartheid and racism.
In the view of Bihari Krishna Shrestha(2011), the indigenous made its way from India as like the term Dalit. Shrestha reveal the fact that after 1947 since when India became independent from British rule the term indigenous taken a root. As it has been used during and after India’s independence, in Nepal it has been used after the restoration of democracy of 1990s. Shrestha reveals that the politics behind indigenous rhetoric is that the Janajati peoples are the sons of the soil and other upper caste Hindus are just migrants.
Chaitayna Mishra (2011) argues that at an age that time space compression that globalization and expansion of capitalism generated, within a powerful global design the former ethnic groups and their umbrella organization-Nepal Federation of Ethnic Nationalities (NEFEN) undergone in global renaming ceremony in 1991 from global push and it came to be designated as Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), together with implementation of UN declaration of indigenous peoples rights in 1992 and picked up ILO convention 169(1989). In Mishra’s opinion the politics behind the claim of indigenousness is much more powerful than that of the ethnic: the former has been construed to award an unassailable first-right over the late comers and new comers while the latter merely stresses diversity and specificity. Mishra leaves the clue that the politics behind indigenousness by lending categories, resources, information, and legitimacy is to create a global cocktail circuit from various groups and elites around the world to manage statecraft.