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madhesh news, madhesh andolan
Coordinates: 26°57′05″N 85°02′52″E / 269515°N 850479°E / 269515; 850479

Aerial view of paddy field

Madhesh is a politicized term for a region in the eastern Terai of Nepal1 Madhesh identity is primarily associated with the Hindu caste groups of the Maithali and Bhojpuri speaking people living in the Nepal Terai who share language, lifestyle, dress, cuisine and culture with Indian people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar2 The idea of an autonomous Madhesh province, stretching across the Nepal Terai, has been advocated by several Nepali political parties since 2007, which also organised violent demonstrations to call attention to their demands3

The term Madhesh refers in particular to five districts in the eastern Nepal Terai: Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusha, Siraha and Saptari2 This region, along with modern-day northern and eastern Bihar, has historically been part of the cultural Mithila region stretching between the Gandaki River in the west and the Mahananda River in the east, the Shiwalik Hills in the north and the Ganges in the south45 It extends into the eastern Nepal Terai67


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
    • 21 Timeline
  • 3 Ethnic groups
  • 4 Economy
  • 5 Cuisine
  • 6 Cultural sites
  • 7 Politics
    • 71 Indian influence in Nepal Terai
    • 72 Border disputes
  • 8 Humanitarian Works
  • 9 Notable people from Madhesh
    • 91 Politics
    • 92 Media and Entertainment
    • 93 Writer and Litterateur
    • 94 Sports
  • 10 See also
  • 11 References
  • 12 Further reading
  • 13 External links


The word madhesh is thought to be derived from the Sanskrit मध्य देश madhya desh meaning middle country, which refers to "the central region, the country lying between the Himalayas and the Vindhya mountains" of India18

The Urdu word ترائي tarāʼī means "lands lying at the foot of a watershed" or "on the banks of a river; low ground flooded with water, valley, basin, marshy ground, marsh, swamp; meadow"9 The Nepali word तराइ tarāi means "the low-lying land, plain" particularly "the low-lying land at the foot of the Himālayas"10 The Hindi word तराई tarāī means "foot-hill"11

Biratnagar, 26°N, 87°E
Average max and min temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Levoyageur
Average max and min temperatures in °F
Janakpur, 31°N, 77°E
Average max and min temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Weather Information Service
Average max and min temperatures in °F


1814 map by John Thomson depicting northern India and Nepal

Before the Unification of Nepal, the Kingdom of Chaudandi was ruled by a scion of the Palpa Kingdom, and controlled the Terai districts of Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusa, Mahottari and Sarlahi12 The Makwanpur Kingdom controlled the central Terai region12 The Bijayapur Kingdom ruled Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa districts13 From c 1786 onwards, the Shah rulers appointed government officers in the eastern Terai districts of Morang, Saptari, Mahottari, Bara, Parsa and Rautahat to levy taxes, collect revenues and capture elephants and rhinos1415 They also conquered land in the eastern Terai that belonged to the Kingdom of Sikkim16 Since the late 18th century, they encouraged Indian people to settle in the eastern Terai and supported famine-stricken Bihari farmers to convert and cultivate land17

The Terai and the Siwalik Hills were heavily forested with sal before heavy logging began in the 19th century, particularly for use as railroad sleepers of Indian railway by the British Raj The Inner Terai valleys historically were agriculturally productive but endemic to malaria Some parts were left forested by official decree during the Rana dynasty as a defensive perimeter The British believed that plainsmen would generally die if they stayed in the malaria-infested region between June and November British travellers to Kathmandu traveled as quickly as possible from the border at Raxaul in order to reach the hills before nightfall18

Since the late 1940s, the term 'Madhesh' was used by politicians in the Nepal Terai to differentiate between interests of the people of the Terai and of the hills19 In the 1950s, the regional political party Nepal Terai Congress advocated more autonomy for the Terai, recognition of Hindi as a national language and increasing employment opportunities for Madhesi people20

Acquisition of land assets was linked to citizenship issues After the fall of the Shah Dynasty and promulgation of the Interim Constitution of 2006, many Nepali Madheshi as well as Indian Madheshi people received citizenship Due to loose regulations, it is said that thousands of Indian nationals were able to get citizenship21


  • 1951: Nepal Terai Congress party formed20
  • 1952: Nepal Citizenship Act promulgated17
  • 1956: Nepalese government started malaria eradication22
  • 1957: Imposition of Nepali as sole language for education sparked protests
  • 1960s: Terai Liberation Front established
  • 1963: Nepalese police killed Ramji Mishra, the leader of Terai Liberation Front
  • 1964: New Citizenship Act entitled immigrants to receive Nepali citizenship if they were engaged in business and could read and write Nepali language17
  • 1964: ”Land Reformation Act” promulgated; massive land seized from Madheshis
  • 1967: Royal Nepalese Army killed Raghunath Raya Yadav, the leader of Terai Liberation Front
  • 1969: Chairman of Terai Liberation Front Satyadev Mani Tripathi killed
  • 1983: Nepal Sadbhavana Council formed under Gajendra Narayan Singh to raise Madheshi issues
  • 1989: Nepal failed to renegotiate trade and transit treaties with India; India imposes sanction across “open border”
  • 1990: New constitution promulgated23
  • 1995: High Level Citizenship Commission found 3 million people without citizenship23
  • 1996: Maoists launched insurgency24
  • 2000: Madheshi Liberation Front formed 20
  • 2007 Jan–Feb: Madhesh agitation24
  • 2011 January: UN peace monitoring mission ended
  • 2015: Promulgation of new constitution of Nepal

Ethnic groupsedit

The Tharu people and Dhimals are the traditional inhabitants of the Terai forests They used to be semi-nomadic, practicing shifting cultivation and collecting wild fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs25 Several Tharu subgroups are still scattered over most of the Terai A large Tharu populations resides in the central Terai Kochila Tharus and Dhimal are predominant in the eastern Terai26 They have been living in this region for many centuries and reputedly have developed a resistance to malaria Following the malaria eradication program using DDT in the 1960s, a large and heterogeneous non-Tharu population from Nepalese hills, Bhutan and India settled in the region27

Maithils, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Kisan people, Danuwar and Satar also reside in the region Maithils inhabit eastern Madhesh, Bhojpuris inhabit the centre, and Awadhis inhabit the western part Bantawa people reside largely in two districts of eastern Terai, and several migrant Chepang people also live in the central and eastern Terai2829 People from the mid-hills have moved to the Terai plains including Brahmin, Chhetri and Newar during the rule of King Mahendra High caste migrants from the hills have purchased or otherwise obtained large landholdings Together with the traditional Tharu landlords, they constitute the upper level of the economic hierarchy, which in the rural parts of the Terai is determined to a large extent by the distribution and the value of agriculturally productive land The poor are the landless, or near landless, Madheshi Dalits, including the Musahar and Chamar, as well as the traditional fishermen, the Mallaah, and some of the Hill Dalits In particular the Musahars rarely get work other than hard farm labor30


The Terai is the most productive region in Nepal, with the majority of the country's industries Agriculture is the basis of the economy31 Major crops include rice, wheat, pulses, sugarcane, jute, tobacco, and maize In the eastern districts from Parsa to Jhapa they support agro-based industries: jute factories, sugar mills, rice mills and tobacco factories


Madhesh is the most agriculturally productive region of Nepalcitation needed, consisting largely of flat and fertile land, coupled with hot and humid weather, making it good for farming A surplus of rice, wheat, sugarcane, lentils and various other crops are produced in the Madhesh and transported to other parts of the country – the majority of what is eaten in the Valley comes from the Madhesh


The price of seasonal vegetables can be exceptionally low in the Madhesh Even the less fortunate families prepare three or four varieties as part of their meal Perhaps this is the reason why gundruk fermented vegetables and Mashyauras dried veggies, the beloved Nepali favorite, are less eaten in the Madhesh Since vegetables are incredibly cheap and readily available in the Madhesh, deep-fried vegetable fritters called pakoras are commonly eaten; this dish can be eaten as a snack or even with meals Madheshis also make a wider variety of pakoras than the traditional onion or eggplant, with almost any vegetable being used in a pakora, even green leaves


The culinary culture in Madhesh is largely influenced by the adjacent regions of India, such as Bihar and Bhojpur, where roti unleavened flatbread is a staple food item Likewise, everyday food in Madhesh encompasses a variety of whole grain flatbreads such as wheat roti, corn roti, various kinds of parathas flatbread with stuffing, maduwa barley flatbread and litti gram flour flatbread Furthermore, special varieties of bread are prepared during festivals and feasts – for example, thekuwa bread cookie made out of wheat flour and bhusuwa flatbread made out of rice flour are the two special festival treats prepared during Chaat, the biggest festival of Madhesh Some other Indian-influenced dishes include malpuwa sweet wheat fritter, dahi bara lentil dumpling topped with a savory gravy of yoghurt, tamarind and spices and mithais sweets

Madheshis are also known to prepare their food using relatively large amounts of spices and oil Madheshis also consume a lot of mithais and sugarcane which is extensively grown in the Madhesh Mithais are an essential part of the culture and almost all families make them at home Madhesis have a tradition of offering them to their guests – they are a symbol of hospitality Many foods are prepared at certain times of the year, including mithais – for example, teel ko laddu sesame seed ball cake is specially prepared during the festival of Maghe Sankranti This festival falls in the winter, and sesame seeds are believed to generate heat in the body Similarly, kasar rice flour laddu/ball cake and lai laddu made with puffed rice called muri are often made during Chaat These festival treats are offered to the gods and then eaten as prashad God's blessing Since agriculture and animal farming are intimately linked to each other, there is also a large variety of dairy products available in the Madhesh Region Yoghurt is consumed every day for its digestive properties and cooling effects On the other hand, Madheshis consume less animal meat as compared to people from the hills, the Himalayas and even the inner Terai In village, people rarely eat chicken or buffalo meat However, people do consume the meat of pigeon and duck Meat is a rare indulgence in Madheshi cuisine


While meat is not a favorite indulgence in Madhesh, fish is often eaten Many different fish curries are prepared in the Madhesh The Tharus, one of the indigenous ethnic groups of inner Madhesh, mainly eat fish and rice This is due to the location of many Tharu settlements next to rivers In Tharu culture, fish is quintessential – it is used in weddings, ceremonies, festivals and other special occasions Tharus live very close to nature and their food items are also derived from nature; it is believed that it keeps an ecological balance Most Madheshi-Tharu dishes are rice based Rice is molded into various shapes and steamed to make dhikari, an essential festival treat Moreover, a special kind of sticky rice called anadi is steamed and served Tharu food can be divided into two categories – ordinary everyday food consisting of rice, lentils, vegetables and fish, and special food items that are mostly prepared and consumed during feasts, festivals and other special occasions Special Tharu food items include pakuwa barbecued meat, gughi dried shrimp and an assortment of tina vegetables However, these foods are gradually disappearing from the diet of the original inhabitants The younger generation are more inclined towards industrial food – primarily due to advertisements and the need for fast, convenient food The older generation still seems to be attached to their traditional cuisines

Cultural sitesedit

  • Janakpur is a centre for religious and cultural tourism32
  • Salhesh Garden – The garden of King Salhesh is located in Siraha district of Nepal near Lahan The garden includes a plant that flowers only once a year During this time a great festival occurs herecitation needed
  • Kankalini Temple
  • Gadhi Mai Temple


The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha is a separatist organisation founded in 2004 by Jay Krishna Goit with the aim of gaining independence for the Terai region from Nepal33 Organisation members have been responsible for various acts of terrorism including bombings and murders34 Other armed groups have appeared, and also demanded secession through violent means including the Terai Army, Madhesh Mukti Tigers and the Tharuwan National Liberation Front

Indian influence in Nepal Teraiedit

After the Nepalese Constituent Assembly election in 2008, Indian politicians attempted to secure strategic interests in the Nepal Terai, such as hydropower energy, development projects, business and trade35 The government of Nepal has accused India of imposing an undeclared blockade in 201536 India has denied the allegations, stating the supply shortages have been imposed by Madheshi protesters within Nepal, and that India has no role in it37 There is an ongoing movement for a "Free Mithila state" in Nepal38 The Alliance for Independent Madhesh is an organisation led by C K Raut that aims to gain secession for the region from Republic of Nepal39

Border disputesedit

The most significant border dispute over the Indo-Nepal boundary in the Terai region is in the Susta area4041 In the Susta region, about 14,500 hectares of land is controlled by Indian forces, with support of the Seema Shashatra Bal SSB40

Humanitarian Worksedit

The Dhurmus Suntali Foundation handed over an integrated community containing 50 houses to the Musahar community of Bardibas, Mahottari District at a cost of Rs 63 million42

Notable people from Madheshedit


  • Matrika Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal from Biratnagar
  • BP Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal from Biratnagar
  • Girija Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal from Biratnagar
  • Man Mohan Adhikari, Prime Minister of Nepal from Biratnagar
  • Madhav Kumar Nepal, Prime Minister of Nepal from Rautahat district
  • Ram Baran Yadav, first President of Nepal
  • Yuvaraj Adhikari, politician from Biratnagar jute mill strike
  • Shailaja Acharya, Nepali politician
  • Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, Nepali politician
  • Upendra Yadav, Nepali politician
  • Lal Babu Pandit, Nepali politician
  • Mahesh Acharya, Nepali politician
  • Upendra Mahato, NRN from Siraha
  • Aditya Jha, NRN from Madhesh
  • Gagan Thapa, Nepali politician from Morang District
  • Gajendra Narayan Singh – Nepali politician and founder of Nepal Sadbhawana Party
  • C K Raut – social activist and President of Alliance for Independent Madhesh

Media and Entertainmentedit

  • Udit Narayan Jha, playback singer of Bollywood
  • Ram Krishna Dhakal, singer from Nijgadh
  • Rekha Thapa, actress from Morang District
  • Nikhil Upreti, actor from Sarlahi District
  • Biraj Bhatta, Nepali/Bhojpuri actor from Kailali District
  • Sugam Pokharel, Pop singer from Morang District
  • Nima Rumba, singer from Terai
  • Girish Khatiwada NepHop, Hip-Hop artist from Biratnagar
  • Yama Buddha, Hip-Hop artist from Morang District
  • Deepa Shree Niraula, actress from Biratnagar

Writer and Litterateuredit

  • Dhruba Chandra Gautam, Nepali writer from Birgunj
  • Bhawani Bhikshu, writer from Kapilvastu district
  • Vishnu Raj Atreya, writer from Kapilvastu district
  • Buddhi Sagar, writer from Kailali district
  • Suman Pokhrel, writer from Morang district


  • Hari Khadka, former Nepal national football team captain from Jhapa district
  • Mehboob Alam, Nepal national cricket team player
  • Bhola Silwal, Nepal national football team player
  • Binod Das, Former captain of Nepal national cricket team
  • Basanta Regmi, Nepal national cricket team player from Rupandehi District
  • Shakti Gauchan, Nepal national cricket team player from Rupandehi District
  • Anil Mandal, Nepal national cricket team player
  • Ananta Tamang, Nepal national football team player
  • Bimal Gharti Magar, Nepal national football team player
  • Jitendra Mukhiya, pace bowler of Nepal national cricket team
  • Siddhant Lohani, Nepal national cricket team player from Biratnagar
  • Aarif Sheikh, Nepal national cricket team player

See alsoedit

  • Province No 2
  • Madhesi people


  1. ^ a b Kabir, H 2013 Education, Nationalism, and Conflict in Plural Society in Nepal: Terai Region in the Post-Maoist Context PDF Hiroshima: Hiroshima University Partnership Project for Peace Building and Capacity Development Discussion Paper Series Vol 19 
  2. ^ a b Hachhethu, K 2007 "Madheshi nationalism and restructuring the Nepali state" International Seminar on Constitutionalism and Diversity in Nepal Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu: Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies pp 1–12 
  3. ^ Hangen, S 2007 Creating a "New Nepal": the ethnic dimension Washington: East-West Center 
  4. ^ Jha, M 1997 "Hindu Kingdoms at contextual level" Anthropology of Ancient Hindu Kingdoms: A Study in Civilizational Perspective New Delhi: MD Publications Pvt Ltd pp 27–42 
  5. ^ Mishra, V 1979 Cultural Heritage of Mithila Allahabad: Mithila Prakasana p 13 Retrieved 28 December 2016 
  6. ^ Ishii, H 1993 "Seasons, Rituals and Society: the culture and society of Mithila, the Parbate Hindus and the Newars as seen through a comparison of their annual rites" Senri Ethnological Studies 36: 35–84 
  7. ^ Kumar, D 2000 "Mithila after the Janakas" The Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 60: 51–59 
  8. ^ Apte, V S 1957–1959 "मध्य madhya" Revised and enlarged edition of Prin V S Apte's The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary Poona: Prasad Prakashan 
  9. ^ Platts, J T 1884 "ترائي तराई tarāʼī" A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English W H Allen & Co, London 
  10. ^ Turner, RL 1931 "A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language" K Paul, Trench, Trubner, London 
  11. ^ Bahri, H 1989 "Learners' Sanskrit-English dictionary — Siksarthi Nepal-Angrejhi sabdakosa" Rajapala, Delhi 
  12. ^ a b Pradhan 2012, p 4
  13. ^ Pradhan 2012, p 4-5
  14. ^ Regmi, M C 1972 "Notes On The History Of Morang District" Regmi Research Series 4 1: 1–4, 24–25 
  15. ^ Regmi, M C 1988 "Chautariya Dalamardan Shah's venture; Subedar in Eastern and Western Nepal; A special Levy in the Eastern Tarai Region" Regmi Research Series 20 1/2: 1–180 
  16. ^ Bagchi, R 2012 Gorkhaland: Crisis of Statehood New Delhi: Sage Publications 
  17. ^ a b c Dahal, DR 1983 "Economic development through indigenous means: A case of Indian migration in the Nepal Terai" PDF Contribution to Nepalese Studies 11 1: 1–20 
  18. ^ Guneratne, A 2002 Many tongues, one people: the making of Tharu identity in Nepal Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press 
  19. ^ Miklian, J 2008 Nepal’s Terai: Constructing an Ethnic Conflict South Asia Briefing Paper #1 PDF Oslo: International Peace Research Institute 
  20. ^ a b c Kabir, H 2012 The rise of new regional political force in Madhes and its consequence in post-conflict Nepal Hiroshima: Hiroshima University Partnership Project for Peace Building and Capacity Development Discussion Paper Series Vol 15 
  21. ^ http://kantipurekantipurcom/printedition/news/2017-06-22
  22. ^ Regmi, R R 1994 "Deforestation and Rural Society in the Nepalese Terai" Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology 4: 72–89 
  23. ^ a b Lawoti, M 2010 "Evolution and growth of the Maoist insurgency" In Lawoti, M, Pahari, A K The Maoist Insurgency in Nepal Revolution in the Twenty-first Century London and New York: Routledge pp 3–30 ISBN 1135261687 CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter link
  24. ^ a b Dahal, DR and Ghimire, Y 2012 "Ethnic Federalism in Nepal: Risks and Opportunities" Georgetown Journal of International Affairs: 71–78 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  25. ^ McLean, J 1999 "Conservation and the impact of relocation on the Tharus of Chitwan, Nepal" Himalayan Research Bulletin XIX 2: 38–44 
  26. ^ Krauskopff, G 1995 "The Anthropology of the Tharus: An Annoted Bibliography" Kailash 17 3/4: 185–213 
  27. ^ Terrenato, L, Shrestha, S, Dixit, KA, Luzzatto, L, Modiano, G, Morpurgo, G, Arese, P 1988 "Decreased malaria morbidity in the Tharu people compared to sympatric populations in Nepal" Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology 82 1: 1–11 PMID 3041928 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  28. ^ Lewis, M P ed 2009 Maithili Bhojpuri Awadhi Bantawa Chepang Ethnologue: Languages of the World Sixteenth edition Dallas, Texas: SIL International
  29. ^ Gurung, G 1989 The Chepangs: A Study in Continuity and Change Kathmandu: S B Shahi p 125 
  30. ^ Hatlebakk, M 2007 Economic and social structures that may explain the recent conflicts in the Terai of Nepal Norwegian Embassy, Nepal
  31. ^ Sharma, R P 1974 Nepal: A Detailed Geographical Account Kathmandu: Pustak-Sansar 
  32. ^ Rastriya Samachar Samiti 2004 "More Indian tourists visit Janakpurdham" Himalayan Times, 17 January 2004
  33. ^ "Terrorist Organization Profile: Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha JTMM" National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism START
  34. ^ http://wwwsatporg/satporgtp/countries/nepal/timeline/2004htm
  35. ^ Ojha, H 2015 The India-Nepal Crisis The Diplomat
  36. ^ "Nepal PM Wants India to Lift Undeclared Blockade" Retrieved 2016-09-12 
  37. ^ http://wwwbbccom/hindi/india/2015/12/151203_sushmaswaraj_nepal_statement_rs_ps
  38. ^ Burkert, C 2012 "Defining Maithil Identity" In Gellner, D; Pfaff-Czarnecka, J; Whelpton, J Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: The Politics and Culture of Contemporary Nepal London and New York: Routledge pp 241–273 ISBN 9781136649561 
  39. ^ http://wwwekantipurcom/the-kathmandu-post/2012/05/21/nation/new-demand-for-madhes/235143html
  40. ^ a b http://thediplomatcom/2014/09/india-and-nepal-tackle-border-disputes/
  41. ^ https://kathmandupostekantipurcom/ampnews/2015-01-06/nepal-aims-to-settle-boundary-dispute-with-india-in-4-yearshtml
  42. ^ http://kathmandupostekantipurcom/news/2017-04-15/dhurmus-suntali-foundation-gifts-homes-to-musahar-communityhtml

Further readingedit

  • Gaige, F 1975 Regionalism and National Unity in Nepal Oakland: University of California Press ISBN 9780520027282 
  • Chaudhary, D 2011 Tarai/Madhesh of Nepal: an Anthropological Study Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar ISBN 9993387827 
  • Pradhan, K L 2012 Thapa Politics in Nepal: with Special Reference to Bhim Sen Thapa, 1806–1839 New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company ISBN 9788180698132 

External linksedit

  • "Alliance for Independent Madhesh" madheshcom 
  • "Non-Resident MadheshisNRM Association" madheshorg 
  • "A Taste of Terai" healthylifecomnp 

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