Field Bulletin nr. 52; Inclusiveness of the Nepal Army; why is the Madheshi community under-represented?

Originally published



The end of Nepal’s decade-long conflict in April 2006 came with a promise to address the country’s profound social disparities and provide for more inclusive state institutions. One such institution is Nepal’s national army. Both the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the 2007 Interim Constitution commit the Nepal Army to a structure which ‘reflects the national and inclusive character’.Demands for implementation of these commitments were further reinforced during the 2007 ‘Madheshi Andolan’and included in the 22-point agreement between the Government of Nepal (GoN) and the Madheshi People’s Rights Forum, in August that year, that ended the prolonged demonstrations in the Tarai. Among others, the agreement states that the GoN is responsible to ‘ensure balanced proportional representation [...] in all organs and levels of government and in power structures, mechanisms and resources’. Similar demands were made in subsequent agreements between the GoN and Madheshi parties in the years that followed.Nonetheless, the pace of change has been slow.

This Field Bulletin attempts to explore to what extent Nepal’s army reflects the national and inclusive character as committed to in the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and 2007 Interim Constitution.It does this from the standpoint of the Madheshi community, which is significantly under-represented in the ranks of the Nepal Army as compared to its share of the total population.The Field Bulletin describes the institution’s reservation policy and its effectiveness for the inclusion of the Madheshi community. It highlights some of the root causes that contribute to the community’s relatively low participation in the army and concludes with suggestions from local level stakeholders to address these. 7