Madheshi People

Madheshi (मधेशी) is an umbrella term loosely used to identify the people of several ethnic and religious groups originated in Mithila region of Nepal and neighboring Indian states living in the some parts of Terai plains of Nepal.

Origin

Geographically, Nepal is divided into three parts: Himal (high mountains), Pahad (middle hills) and Terai (plain lands). As the whole terai region sometimes called Madhesh, literally Madheshi mean anybody whose homeland is Madhesh or whose racial origin is madhesh.

Sometimes Madheshi people associate Madhesh with "Madhya-desh", an unknown ancient kingdom situated somewhere between Nepal and India, which does not have any historical evidence.

As Madheshi itself is not a race rather a multi-racial community, there is always a debate about who is Madheshi and who is not. 


No of population

According to National Census 2011, Terai region, which consists 17% of total area of Nepal, has the population over 13.3 million which is about 50.27% of total population of Nepal. But this includes people from all communities Madheshi, Pahadi, Tharu & other Native tribes.

The official census of Nepal does not maintain the overall number of Madheshi people, rather it counts all races and ethnicity separately.

If we add people of maximum number of races considered "Madheshi" by Madheshi political parties, before Tharuhat movements, then the Madheshi population can go up to 7.3 million or around 28 % of total population of Nepal.

But Tharuhat movements of 2009-15 established Tharu people as a separate community of flatlands. Also some other races among Madheshi people (eg: Marwadi people) do not consider themselves to be Madheshi, which drops down the total Madheshi population to 20%.

In the new constitution of Nepal 2015 8 districts among 20 Terai districts are assigned to State no 2 where Madhesh based parties won majority of seats and formed the government. The population of State 2 which is also known as Core Madhesh is around 10% of the population of Nepal.


Tharu vs Madheshi

Many Madheshi people regard Tharu people as Madheshi whereas Tharu people do not like to identify themselves as Madheshi. In the first Madhesh upraising (2007/2008) one of the main demand was "Samagra madhesh ek swyatta pradesh" i.e. "All terai - a single autonomous state" (as Madheshi people consider Terai as synonym for Madhesh). But the following Tharuhat upraising countered that demand. Tharu Kalyankarini Sabha, Tharuhat Terai party are some polities entities working for independent identity of Tharu people. Currently Tharuwan parties are demanding "Tharuhat State" in western terai of Nepal whereas Madhesh is now limited to central Terai only.

Religion
A huge percentage of Madheshi population believe in Hinduism, it can be somewhere around 75-85% depending on the total number of Madheshi population. Janakpurdham, birthplace of goddess Sita, is the holiest Hindu site in Madhesh region.

Muslim Madheshi

Nepal census counts Musalman as a race and Islam as a religion. According to 2011 Census there are 11,64,255 (4.4% of Total population) of Musalman people living in Nepal. There is big Muslim community in Western Terai including districts like Kapilvastu, Banke and Eastern Terai districts like Rauthahat and Persa. 

There is also a small group of Muslim people living in Hill districts like Gorkha, Kaski and Lamjung. They are the decedents of Muslim Skilled labors brought by Great King Prithivi Narayan Shah from India during unification of Nepal in around 1744 AD. They prefer to identify themselves as Nepali than Madheshi from Nepal.

Madhesh state

After the Madhesh upraising of 2007 and 2008 Madheshi leaders made two separate deals with government of Nepal known as 22-point agreement and 8-point agreement respectively which guaranteed a "Madhesh state" within future federal Nepal.

State Reconstruction Committee of Constituent Assembly in 2010 had passed federal structure of 14 states supported by Maoists and UML parties. There were two states proposed in terai regions one in eastern terai named as "Mithila-Bhojpura-Madhesh" and another in western terai named "Lumbini-Awadh-Tharuwan". In 2012, State Reconstruction Commission proposed 10+1 state model which was more or less similar to the earlier one.

The constitution of Nepal, 2015 assigned the 8 south-central districts to State no 2 which is core madhesh region. 2 Major madhesh based parties SSFN and RJPN won majority of seats in the state assembly and formed their government.


List of Madheshi Races and Ethnicity having population more than 100,000 according to Nepal census 2011:-

Musalmaan 11.64 lakh (4.4%)
Yadav 10.54 lakh (4%)
Teli 3.70 lakh (1.4%)
Chamar/Harijan/Ram 3.36 lakh (1.27%)
Koiri/Kushwaha 3.06 lakh (1.16%)
Mushar
Kurmi
Dhanuk
Dushadh (Paswan, Hajara, Pasi)
Mallaha
Kewat
Kathbaniyan
Brahman-Terai
Kalwar
Kanu
Kumal
Hajam/Thakur
Rajbanshi (?) Aadibasi Janajati
Dhobi
Tatma/ Tatwa (Tanti, Das)
Lohar
Khatwe (Mandal, Khang)

Dalit of Madhesh origin (according to National Dalit Commission - link )
1. Kalar
2. Kakaihiya
3. Kori
4. Khatik
5. Khatwe (Mandal, Khang)
6. Chamar (Ram, Mochi, Harijan, Ravidas)
7. Chidimar
8. Dom (Marik)
9. Tatma (Tanti, Das)
10. Dushadh (Paswan, Hajara)
11. Dhobi (Rajak) Hindu
12. Pasi
13. Bantar
14. Mushar
15. Mestar (Halkhor)
16. Sarbhang (Sarbariya)
17. Natuwa
18. Dhandi
19. Dharikar/ Dhankar


Notable Madheshi People:-
  1. Ram Baran Yadav(b.1948), 1st President of Nepal (2008-2015)
  2. Gajendra Narayan Singh, Leader, Founder of  Nepal Sadbhawana Party (1985)
  3. Upendra Yadav (b.1960), Leader, Founder of  Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum
  4. Mahantha Thakur, Leader, Founder of Terai Madhesh Loktantrik Party.
  5. Anil Mandal, Cricketer

Footnote:-

* How to find out if someone is Madheshi or not (for administrative purpose) ? - CDO offices in the districts issue the certification letter of being Madheshi. That is one of the document to get qualified in any Madheshi quota.

See Also:-
  1. Mithila region
  2. Madheshi politics and list of parties
  3. Khas People
  4. Janajati People
  5. Newar people
  6. Tharu People
  7. Ancient Nepali kingdoms
Tags: Madhishe (मधिशे), madhesi vs pahari, madhesi vs pahadi, mithila region