Ethnic Identity In Bhutan

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Ethnic identity has become a significant source of instability in a state like Bhutan. The main ethnic groups are –Ngalong, Sharchops, and the people of Nepali origin i.e. Lhotshampa. The Nepalese came to Bhutan initially in the early 1900s to collect timber from the forests and thereupon, gradually settled down and took to farming. To accommodate the Nepalese people into the Bhutanese mainstream population, they were first conferred citizenship of Bhutan in 1958, which gave them several rights as par with other communities of Bhutan. The Bhutanese development programme led to the influx of Nepalese immigrants in the 1960's and 1970’s. Bhutanese elite people were sure that the foreign ethnic groups would outnumber them and they could become…show more content…
They during the beginning of the crisis constituted 25% to 28% of the population if one considers the claims of ethnic Nepalese themselves. But official estimates put the figure as low as 15% to 20%. (Parmanand,1992), Officially, the government stated that 28 percent of the national population was Nepalese in the late 1980s, but unofficial estimates ran as high as 30 to 40 percent, and Nepalese were estimated to constitute a majority in southern Bhutan. They are not homogenous group. They include cast groups like Bahun, Chhetri, Magar, Gurung, Raj,Limbu, Tamang, and Newer. Their religious beliefs include Hinduism, Buddhism and Shamanism. Despite these differences, they are bonds together by a common Nepali language and culture. The people of Nepali origin form the majority of the population in three main regions of southern Bhutan, which are follows :(i) the Western Bhutan or SAMCHI( Chamurchi) area which lies opposite the Western Dooars of the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. This area comprises Sibsu, Chamurchi/Chengmari and Denchuka/ Dorokha subdivisions; (ii) the “Eastern” or CHRANG area the Eastern Doors of the Gopalpara district of Assam, which encompasses Kalikhola, Jaigon, Sarbhang/ Lapse Bhote, darang and Newoli sub-divissions; (iii) the “Central” area comprising mainly Tala and…show more content…
Present democratic reforms and adoption of a new constitution of 2008, are nothing but the reflections of demands by Lhotshampas. However, neither the Lhotshampas have been given rights and freedoms under the new constitution, nor those evicted from Bhutan have been allowed to return Bhutan. If Bhutan aspires to be truly democratic, it should choose a path of reunion with the ethnic Nepalese inside and outside its borders. Otherwise this exclusion of large number of people may strengthen the hand of the militants. The continuation of this problem not only affected the Bhutan’s relations with Nepal, but also with the other south Asian countries. If Bhutan solves this problem properly, it would be setting a good example for other countries suffering from a similar ethnic crisis. This requires a lot of soul searching a long term approach and statesmanship on the part of the Bhutanese rulers. Bhutan has to look into the problem realistically and has to be more accommodative and sympathetic in its approach towards this problem. Any tough stand on its part will provide only temporary relief. The hundreds and thousands of refugees in the neighboring country, who have many grievances against the government, might be led to align with terrorist groups operating in this part which will compound
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