Status: Unrecognised Territory
Population: 13.3 million (2011)
Area: 23,068 km2 constituting the Terai region in the south of Nepal
Capital City: Undeclared
Language: Madhyadeshiya (Awadhi, Bajjika, Bhojpuri, Hindi, Maithili, Rajbanshi, Santhali, Tharu, Urdu and others)
Religion: Hinduism (84.9%), Islam (8.3%), Buddhism (3.5%), Kirat (1.4%), Christian (1.0%)
Ethnic Groups: Madheshi (various groups and sub-groups indigenous to Madhesh including Tharus and Muslims) and Pahadi
UNPO REPRESENTATION: Alliance for Independent Madhesh
The Alliance for Independent Madhesh has been a Member of UNPO since 2017. It represents the inhabitants of the Terai region internationally.
The Madheshi are the inhabitants of the Terai region in the south of Nepal at the foothill of the Himalayas on the border to India. The region distinguishes itself from the rest of the country by its plain terrain with subtropical climate, in contrast to the high mountain lands inhabited by the hill people of Nepal (Miklian, 2008).
The region is inhabited by 50.3% of Nepal’s total population (National Population and Housing Census 2011) of different ethnicities, many of which share cultural, linguistic and social similarities with Northern Indians rather than with Nepalis. Those ethnic groups speaking Maithili, Bajjika, Bhojpuri, Awadhi or closely related dialects mainly refer to themselves as the Madheshi people and make up the majority of the region’s population. The Terai is home to several indigenous groups that lived in the region long before it became an agricultural center and attracted migrants from the mountain region, Pahadis, that now make up almost a third of the Madheshi population.
However, groups indigenous to Madhesh still make up large parts of the population of the Terai, for example the percentage of the Madheshis in the provincial assembly of Province 2 (possibly to be renamed as “Madhesh”) is still 87% (Hachhethu, 2016). The largest indigenous group are the Tharus who make up 12.5% of the Terai population (National Population and Housing Census 2011). Hindi is the lingua franca of the region, and it is the language that was traditionally used in both administration and education prior to forceful imposition of Nepali language in 1950s.
The Terai region was given to Nepal by the East India Company in two parts, Eastern Terai in 1816 and Western Terai in 1860. Ever since the region has faced discrimination by the Nepalese government and there has been an increased call for more autonomy in the Terai. It has historically been seen as a distinct region for centuries and distances itself from Nepal in many ways. The region has fought against injustice by the Nepali government and fought for the rights of its inhabitants as Nepali citizens.
The Alliance for Independent Madhesh (AIM) promotes the rights of all Madheshis and is inclusive of all inhabitants of the Terai. It protests the governmental oppression of the people of Madhesh and claims the peoples’ rights to self-determination and freedom of expression. The AIM intends to end discrimination of the Madheshis and condemns the use of violence to suppress fundamental rights.
MADHESH MEMBER BROCHURE
For more information on Madhesh, including:
- UNPO Representation
- UNPO Perspective
- Historical Background
- Current Issues
Please download our Madhesh Member profile brochure.