Sri Lanka and Nepal – 1

Political problems

Politically, Nepal was a monarchy till 1990, when widespread protests led to the establishment of a multi-party system. The first parliamentary elections were held in 1991, and two further general elections were conducted in 1994 and 1999. The fledgling democracy faced considerable political instability; in the first 12 years of democratization, there were as many as 12 governments.

The Maoist insurgency officially started on February 13, 1996 with an attack on a police post in Rolpa district of western Nepal by members of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M).


South Asia countries consist of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. South Asia contains 22% of the world’s population and is one of the world’s fastest growing regional economies; this growth is based on high quality manufactures and matchless services in different fields. South Asia is among the fastest region in the world. On the back of a long period of robust economic growth, the region has seen declining poverty rates and improvements in human development indicators. However, the sunny portrait is darkened when we note that South Asia is also home to some of the worst forms of deprivation, poverty and conflict. South Asia also has the highest level of illiteracy. Its child under nutrition figures are below Sub Saharan Africa. Progress in the social and economic field can go a long way in stabilizing the South Asian region. Some of the distortions are caused by an absence of secure livelihoods for huge number of people of this region which is a major cause of instability and separatist fighting in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. South Asia has emerged as a region of strategic international interest. What we are witnessing is the emergence of India as a major power and one of the balancer of power in the near future. In 2050, China and India will be the two biggest economic powers in the world.

One of the most intractable problems facing the region is poverty. Although South Asia has 22% of the world’s population it contains more than 44% of the world’s poor. More than four hundred and fifty million South Asians live below the poverty line, it includes those who earn $1 or less a day. This is despite a robust annual GDP growth of 6-9% average for the region in the last five years.

However, it may be noted that India accounts for more than 80% of the region’s population and accounts for more than 77% of the South Asian GDP.


Sri Lanka formerly known as Ceylon is an island country in South Asia located in the Indian Ocean.  Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the capital of Sri Lanka. It has a rich cultural heritage and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pali Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BC. Its geographic location and deep harbors made it of great strategic importance from time of ancient Silk Road through to the modern Maritime Silk Road.

Throughout most of this decade, Sri Lanka has suffered from escalating violence. The conflicts has centers around years of pent-up frustrations between two ethnic groups – the largely Buddhist, Sinhala-speaking majority, which composes 75 percent of the population, and the mostly Hindu, Tamil-speaking minority; which makes up about 17 percent of the country.

During the civil war between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils, more than 100,000 Tamils had fled to nearby southern India.  India is attempting to repatriate the Tamil refugees back to Sri Lanka; other governments, mostly European, which see influxes of Tamils seeking political asylum, wish to do the same. The fundamental cause to the civil war is the nation’s inability to forge a just political system that accommodates diverse ethnic groupings.

Cultural problems

The struggle for cultural identity is now world’s most potent anti-systematic force, the great stabilizer. The resulting consequences of political systems neglecting the issues of ethnic diversity have been wars, state and guerilla-sponsored terrorism, officially sanctioned human rights violations and incredible polarization among people who have far more in common in common in their daily quest for a decent life than they do in their ethnic differences. Sri Lanka is an unfortunate example of this neglect.

Language became another problem for the Sri Lanka Tamils as their rights were in jeopardy after independence. In 1956, after pledges that both the Tamil and Sinhala languages would have equal status, Sinhala was declared the only official language. Then the Sinhalese-dominated government cracked down on the very pillars of Tamil self-worth by holding back the Tamils back on university admissions and government jobs.

Political problems

The legitimacy of the government, which has always been dominated by Sinhalese politicians, became increasingly staked on the identity of the Sinhalese and their language and sacred Buddhist religion. The Sinhalese claimed themselves to be superior to the other ethnic groups.

Racial riots

Although many Tamils had successfully integrated into regions outside of their traditional “homeland” in the north and east, government programs to settle Sinhalese into Tamil areas were also perceived by many Tamils as a deliberate effort to weaken them. Up until 1977, predominant Tami political parties pressed for a federal political system to solve these problems, which would grant greater powers to regional governments. But as the violence against Tamils escalated, their leaders began calling for a separate Tamil nation, or Eelam.

Non-violent Tamil protests against discrimination and consistently broken promises by Sinhalese politicians met with increasingly violent reactions from certain Sinhalese sectors. From 1956 to 1983, Sinhalese mobs instigated at least five major outbursts of communal violence directed at innocent Tamils. The 1983 attacks proved to be a crucial turning point for many Tamils. Government officials were implicated in riots that took hundreds of lives, rendered thousand more homeless and destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of property. Organizations like Amnesty International began documenting widespread human rights violations against Tamils by official Sri Lankan security forces supported by particularly harsh emergency regulations.

Tamil youth, growing increasingly disenchanted with their political elders, began an armed struggle for Tamil Eelam. The emergence of these groups reinforced the worst fears of the Sinhalese majority- that Tamil youths would try to destroy Sri Lanka and bring millions of their Tamil cousins from India with them in this struggle. Tamil militant raided the sacred Buddhist city of Anuradapura in May 1785 which left 150 Sinhalese civilians dead.

After this massacre, a hit and run war between Tamil and Sinhalese erupted in Sri Lanka’s eastern provinces. Up until India’s intervention in the summer of 1987, the militant Tamil and official Sinhalese forces were battling for supremacy in the east, with the militants apparently controlling the northern, Tamil populated Jaffna peninsula.

Refugees’ movements

As many as 15,000 Tamils, mostly civilians, may have died in the conflict; many Sinhalese lives have been lost as well. By the end of 1987, there were reportedly 686,000 displaced people inside Sri Lanka, more than 150,000 Tamil refugees and as many as 50,000 other displaced Tamils, reluctant to returned home, living in other parts of the world.

The close to 10,000 refugees who have returned have reportedly found it difficult to reintegrate in the war torn north, with its nearly total lack of jobs, housing stock and government services. Several non-governmental relief organizations have expressed concern over the relatively hasty and unmonitored nature of this repatriation process.


Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country located between India and China with a population of 28 million and per capita income of $340 in 2007. As of 2004, 31 percent of the population lives under the poverty line. Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and largest city. Nepal is a multi-ethnic nation with Nepali as the official language.

The problems facing Nepal are similar to those facing many other countries around the world. Issues such as poverty, unemployment, a history of authoritarianism, violence, crime, drug peddling, girl trafficking and environmental pollution which are common in many developing countries.

Political problems

Politically, Nepal was a monarchy till 1990, when widespread protests led to the establishment of a multi-party system. The first parliamentary elections were held in 1991, and two further general elections were conducted in 1994 and 1999. The fledgling democracy faced considerable political instability; in the first 12 years of democratization, there were as many as 12 governments.

The Maoist insurgency officially started on February 13, 1996 with an attack on a police post in Rolpa district of western Nepal by members of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M).The chief objectives of the Maoists were to establish a people’s republic and set up a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. In particular, this would mean curtailing some or all of the existing powers of monarchy.

More than 13,000 people lost their live as a direct consequence of the decade-long civil war.

Economic problems

As in many other developing countries, Nepal has a high poverty rate; large numbers of Nepalis lack adequate health and sanitation facilities and are malnourished and illiterate. Many people either have jobs that do not pay enough to survive or are unemployed. The country as a whole is struggling to develop economically. This means that the country needs appropriate and sustainable productive activities or more industry to provide jobs for the people.

Lack of economic opportunities sometimes leads parents to send their children to work and not to school. The parents need money and in some cases they have no other choice but to have their children work and help support the some cases, people work but don’t make money. Kamaiyas are bonded labors. They work on farms and in households in Nepal but do not receive a salary. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal has abolished the bonded labor system and freed Kamaiyas from bondage to their landlords.

Many government initiatives as well a non-governmental organizational have helped to minimized poverty in Nepal and have made a huge difference in improving the quality of life for many people. More people have found jobs, literacy rates have increased and health care and nutrition have improved greatly.

Social divisions

Nepal has a very diverse society in several dimensions. Although the majority of the population belongs to the Hindu religion, there are deep caste divisions in the Nepalese society, and discrimination and human right abuses against the lower castes are not uncommon.

More than two-thirds of all districts have experienced 100 or more conflict-related deaths during the 1996-2006 periods, and nearly half have experienced more than 150 deaths. 42 percent of the population was below the poverty line in Nepal at the time the conflict began, and the literacy rate varied from an extremely low 20 percent in Kalikot district to 70 percent in Kathmandu.

Refugees’ movements

Refugees of Nepali ethnic group from Bhutan were the creation of the ruler’s paranoia about the possible repercussions of the future power equation in Drukpa-kingdom. The large numbers of Nepalis, either genuine citizens or illegal immigrants, are feared to be dominant in all spheres of national life. Like other South Asian states, Bhutan is a multi-ethnic country. The Bhutanese state has been following a policy of marginalizing minority ethnic, linguistic and cultural communities. Unlike other refugees in South Asia, the Bhutanese refuges are victims, not of civil war, but of homogenization efforts by the state, which amounted to massive ethnically and culturally different groups.

The southern ethnic Nepalese of Bhutan faced discrimination due to the abrupt change of the Citizenship law in 1985. The origins of the ethnic conflict within Bhutan and the refugee condition in Nepal are rooted in language and dress regulations, in addition to the numerous legal and political decisions made by the state to safeguard the interest of the indigenous community patronized by the ruler, and immigrants’ reluctance to accept more of their host polity.

The Bhutanese conflict has several parallels with varying kinds of manifestation. Over 50,000 0f the 107,000 Nepali refugees from Bhutan have expressed their willingness to resettle in third countries. But that still leaves the rest in Nepal sans and basic facilities.