१४ मंसिर २०८०, बिहीबार November 30, 2023

Experiencing Tharu Subjectivity post-Tikapur Incident

१ भाद्र २०७८, मंगलवार
Experiencing Tharu Subjectivity post-Tikapur Incident

Mohan Dangaura

“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”
― Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt once said that in a general public where individuals are not educated, where falsehood controls, an extremist or any despot can manage easily.The absence of political cognizance among Tharu people has been one of the significant explanations behind their underestimation in public legislative issues. Tharus have been at the outskirts of standard legislative issues as the shortfall of instruction and political cognizance overpowers their lives. In this way, the essential issue that lies in their financial development shows up from their own backwardness in public and worldwide international relations.

            On August 24, 2015, the Tikapur episode spread the fire of local protest movement that separated the state into two groups as ‘us’ and ‘them.’ The entire state uncovered to denounce for the Tharu’s politicalidentity. However, the non-Tharus excessively began to consider their protests unsatisfactory to state’s wellbeing and solidarity. Threatening the entire Tharus not just made their protest contemptible and slanderous; it interestingly settled any Tharu having a place with Far-West as Tikapurian. Before the Tikapur episode, the remainder of the individuals even knows the spot ‘Tikapur’ exists in the west of Nepal. Notwithstanding, today the individuals who have not ventured into the Far-West have a generalization or pre-conceived understanding that any Tharu society belonging to Farwest should be the occupant of Tikapur. A shallow arrangement of Tharus having a place just with Tikapur and addressing them as against state doyens has decreased their political status. This has not just stunned the non-Tharus of the state but has even cautioned the remainder of the ethnic gatherings in Nepal who appear to discover Tharus a bread snatcher from their offer.

Shaima Ahammed quoting Mosse, Thorat, and Neuman argues that a complex and multifaceted social hierarchical system has negatively impacted every aspect of the lower caste’s socio-economic progress and psychological well-being (89). Tharu community has blatantly been the victim of a continuous social hierarchical system where the high castes generally consider them as having low social value. Not just the state-embraced the noticeably terrible and most-feared practices of the framework like distance, subjugation, misuse, embarrassment, separation, and shunning of lower rank individuals yet additionally there were stretched out highlights to these practices like unacceptability and barometrical contamination by the presence of lower standing individuals.

Tharus have been denied of their representation in state legislative issues through various state provisions. Standard governmental issues have ignored their eminence. Rigid social authorizations forced on the lower standing individuals, the hardship of their central rights and needs, infringement of their poise are the different types of enslavement (Ahammed 89-90). After the Tikapur incident, Tharus have been looked at as the anti-social element in every political domain. Their demands and appeals have got overthrown despite turns of dialogues conducted over time. The systematic discrimination and injustice were so ingrained built into the very structure of the social order that it allowed no dissenting and protesting voices or dialogues, making it a classic example of a structurally violent society (Galtung, qtd. in Ahammed 90). Despite the far-reaching implications of such intergenerational and collective trauma on the well-being of the marginalized and oppressed caste, victims, there has been little scholarly or practical interest in studying or discussing the psychological effects of caste-based trauma within regular academic or even lay discourses.

The folksongs of Tharu people express the agonies of Kamaiya(bonded slavery) that can be interrelated and analyzed as the caste-ridden injury when seen from the viewpoint of power. As Foucault brings up, predominant societies frequently quiet or decrease the estimation of other social gatherings’ stories, that is, they exclude others’ information and breaking point what might be talked about freely (N.V. Mohatt et al. 130). The folksongs of Tharu community represent the cultural trauma on being the victims of body politics. Mynah and Jhumra songs often blend the narratives of mass displacement from the inner valley Dang to western plains of Tarai. Trauma narratives represent an interplay between personal stories and culture and therefore, are cultural constructions of trauma. Individuals utilize narratives to communicate both individual and aggregate identities.

Thus, the rest of the story followed making Tharus more vulnerable to state indifference and violence. The aftermath of the Tikapur incident shaped the Tharu identity exclusively as state partitioning and ethnic cleansing. Trying to include oneself in any social group as the Tharu has become a challenge to every Tharu individual. The incident has created a deep-down partition between Tharus and non-Tharus of Nepal. Where Tharus still want them to be treated as citizens of Nepal, the whole Tharu community feels completely boycotted from being heard and treated as the citizens of the state. Thus, the ways to foster the social and intellectual limit should necessarily be discussed to pull the community from the age’s long subjugation.

            Recognizing the present, we find illiteracy abundant in the Tharu community. The approach to prioritize quality education and global geopolitical affair looks far to their discussion. To make themselves visible in the international arena, they must keep the intellectual bouncing along with the preservation of their culture.

Tharu community has been stating its social uniqueness lately through various musical recordings dependent on cultural dance tunes. In seven days, in a normal of 3 and 4 melodies are uploaded on YouTube in the Tharu language mirroring their ways of life. Lauren Leve discovers culture as the impression of personality. She contends that we live in a period in which culture has become an incredible type of political cash, an ethically and lawfully convincing part of individual and aggregate being that can be sent as the premise of the political case (517). She noticed that culture has become another political money to trade political exchanges.

While investigating the historical backdrop of Tharu experiences and exhibitions, the conditions that arise as the significant forerunner of specific experiences should be dissected. Along these lines, it is essential to research and fundamentally examine the impression of removal and concealment in Tharu folksong while composing their set of experiences. Joan Scott contends that a historian’s task is to focus not on experience essentially but rather on the conditions and means by which explicit sorts of involvement appear (Leve 514). Arjun Appadurai has given this name culturalism; the cognizant activation of social contrasts with the help of a bigger public or transnational governmental issues (Leve 517). Hence, the study of Tharu experience embedded in their musical performances provides the psycho-anthropological explanations in formation of their selfhood.

Being from the same community, I hardly find this society more connected and aware about the socio-political achievement. They try to ignore these aspects. They seem to be happy with instantaneous benefitting economic activities. The nature of loving peaceful environment and denying the aggression for political motives come to decelerate their political uprising. After 2015, it feels that the community has completely overlooked its own right to socio-political justice. The hope to get adjoined in state politics has completely turned upside down. Tikapur event completely suppressed the Tharu identity politics after the Tharu leaders were arrested and sued on being accused for homicide preliminaries and other heinous offence. Most of the folks opinionate it as the mainstream politicians’ intrigue to terminate and threaten the uprising of ethnicity politics. Regardless of what might have been the political rationale, the Tharus’ own ignorance and ideological partition most likely contribute to the collapse of identity politics.

Tharu dance melodies take after the set of experiences, memory, and development of a way of life as they consolidate removal, enduring, neediness, and social oppression all through the accounts. Michael Rose and Qi Wang track down that East Asian societies encourage a social perspective on the self that centers on a person’s interconnectedness with others and spot inside an organization of connections (402). Such connections are critical to weave subjectivity. Be that as it may, these folksongs additionally acclaim their set of experiences, birthplace, and culture where they get themselves tip-top in all socio-social terms. This is the reason for the worldly examination which expects that individuals interpret the past in a way that causes them to have a positive outlook on themselves at present (Rose and Wang 403). They express the experience of time abstractly. Tharu community sees the pre-displacement culture and history as the guidelines of the present life.         

            The absence of political intellect and interest made them subordinate and invisible to national politics. The deprived situation of socio-political intellect emerges from the lack of education among them. Coping with modernity has become one of the major challenges to the community. With the advent of urbanization, the community has come to worry about changes in modernity and economic activities. The youth in villages have less attraction towards higher education. Thus, they find themselves inclined more towards shorter technical skills and more profitable jobs. The majority of Tharu youths drain to different Indian cities for quick job placement and economic income. Therefore, the major reason behind their regressive development holds an adequate amount of economic sources such as acquiring no family business and their jobless elders. Since their elders still work in the fields and possess a very limited amount of land to generate enough income from traditional farming, the contemporary youths have to abandon their schooling and worry about economic activities. The absence of such stability and economic source has created more dilemma and anxiety among youths.

At an individual and relational level, the effect of such hushed psychical injury is significant, complex, and dynamic. At the point when denied articulation, mending, and combination, psychical injury forces a staggering impact on the individual’s utilitarian limit and requirements any feeling of the individual organization (Philips, qtd. in Ahammed 91). Accordingly, memory gets divided and the body gets disengaged. The Tharu community encountered the injury of class and caste abuse, body politics, and displacement. It is beneficial to take note of how communities frequently have their interesting customs and holy customs fill in as methods for dealing with stress for aggregate psychical injury (Ngwenya, qtd. in Ahammed 92-93). The injury impact actually overwhelms the awareness of Tharu subjectivity when they end up being the victim of state legislative issues. Nonetheless, their social exhibitions like Barka Naach, Sakhiya-paiya, Chhokra, Jhumra, and Hurdungwa work as instruments to declare their uniqueness and set up their character.

            This changing economy has constrained them to choose useful occupations where they seldom stress and ponder playing out their social practices. This has driven them to fail to remember their memory; the memory that was obvious before years and years prior appears to have devastated from their set of experiences. The shortfall of historical memory and the molding of character to regulate it among youths has been the hardest test. On one hand, they need to sustain their lives by adopting themselves in modern jobs, and in another hand, they need to preserve their tradition so that they will be able to concretize identity politics. Since, Nepal has seen identity politics in the last two decades frequently, institutionalizing the identity of uniqueness emerges as a challenge to the Tharu community.

Ahammed clarifying the psycho-anthropological viewpoint of ceremonies expresses, “Customs and ensembles, dynamic and cadenced dance developments, instruments like drums and cymbals, stories and accounts of social importance recounted as ceremonial melodies and entertainers that go into a condition of daze appear to have practical properties that go past beyond their customary implications and translations (93).” Tharu entertainers violating their bodies into the daze and mythic world during the presentation of Sakhiya and Mungrahuwa dance deliver their cognizant and subliminal pressure. As Monteiro and Wall contend that conventional customs including components of dance and theater assume a critical part in soothing mental pain, just as killing and reducing the effect of collective trauma (Ahammed 93). Customs fill in as a soothing arrival of subdued aggregate social strains and erosions incorporated into the imbalance and inconsistencies of a caste-ridden society, by making the mood of a celebration and summoning participatory daze.

Tharu community experiences the social injury of subjugation from bondage slavery “Kamaiya Pratha” where they lost their capacity to frame and order their own assessment. Kamaiya’s framework oppressed them to lose their hold on their own subjectivity. In this manner, it constrained them to build their personality and social practices as controlled and confused by society’s favored position previously. Ahammed contends that the subjugation of subjection implied that such ranchers live through for their entire lives as farming slave workers in the rice fields, taking part in escalated physical work as a trade-off for proportioned out grain and safe house (95). In the folk dance songs of the Tharu community like Dhamar, Maghauta, and Mynah the encounters of fortified servitude are frequently noticeable. As Menon calls attention to, the custom regularly turns into a space to challenge the activity of discretionary authority of the powerful (Ahammed 97). Ceremonies and society moves empower to sabotage the presence of power by imagining the undetected presence of the socially marginalized groups. In this manner, in the comparative line of folk dance as the occasion and time to sabotage the harsh social framework, Pallath in his characterizing investigation of the ritual points out that highlights of native social customs empower the entertainer to encapsulate suddenness and soul in testing the powerful (Ahammed 97). Thusly, expressing lynching own body goes about as a significant cycle in recuperating from injury.

Antonio Gramsci had a distinctive assessment of the folklore’s political authenticity. He discovered the folklore execution as disparaging the political status of low-class individuals. He discovers such exhibitions as the confining propensities and deprecatory practices keeping the working class consistently oppressed and abused. He discovers the definition of class as the ethic and tribal groups as the political framework to consistently quell the working class of the society. By definition, he implies that a specific assortment of information fills in as an archive for thoughts once held by a predominant class and now excused (Gencarella 227).Gramsci contends that somebody who  speaks only ‘dialect’ (my stress), or comprehends the national language incompletely, fundamentally has an instinct of the world which is pretty much restricted and commonplace, which is fossilized as chronologically erroneous according to the significant flows of thought which rule world history (Gencarella 229). His inclinations will be restricted, pretty much corporate or economistic, not general. In this manner, Gramsci rather recommends acclimatizing advancement and changes to adapt to time and to have the option to create to battle against domination. Consequently, he perfectly dismisses the folklore exhibitions as the customs to keep the working class consistently behind the change and innovation. As one learns another dialect, one learns another origination of the world (Gramsci, qtd. in Gencarella 229). In Gramsci’s view, singular dialects like folklore, may restrict admittance to different originations and accordingly blind freedoms to take an interest in political and social developments.

            Global capitalism has degraded the feeling of being protective of one’s culture. At present, such villages hardly organize collective fiestas to represent their memory and history. The forgetting of memory causes youths to create the gap between their cultural performances and future where modern youths find themselves unreservedly unaware and un-infatuated to their own culture. Tharu youths look thoroughly disinterested in the political literacy and campaigns that can elevate their current helplessness in mainstream politics. Hence, the indifference to political affair has drastically curtailed the Tharu identity movement.

Arjun Guneratne finds some major Tharu community affiliated political organization like “Tharu Kalyankari Sabha” (Tharu Welfare Committee) as the major hindrance to promoting the positive political consciousness among Tharus. Gunuratne depicts the enhancement of Tharu culture and ceremonies regardless of being depicted as the singular Tharu from the east toward the west. Despite the fact that they assorted in social standards, these individuals have been named as a solitary Tharu due to their belongingness to comparable topographical zones (Guneratne, qtd. in Leve 519). Guneratne defines the politics of Tharu identity where the institutions related to welfare of Tharu community are more oriented towards their personal politics rather than community welfare.

To free from the condition of oppression, Tharus need to beat their financial backwardness. As just transcending the poor financial condition looks the most ideal approach to the battle against social treachery. At the point when these people will make progress toward monetary freedom, then no one but they could go for a social opportunity since it will assist them with planning for the social difficulties. In this manner, the low class, Hollaway, contends, could be the progressive class in Marx’s terms explicitly in light of the fact that it could free itself exclusively by no longer being a proletariat (Leve 523). In the event that individuals have their own religions, writing, and societies, they will have a sensation of possession, and they will oppose the burden of others. At the point when individuals address themselves as identity groups, they cast themselves as the proprietors of their characters and chronicles (Leve 525).Social groups are thought to be comprised not fundamentally by their relations with each other on the whole and premier by their connection with their own set of experiences.

            Due to the transformed culture of living in a nuclear family, Tharus ancestral lands have been divided and each individual has been left with a very small portion of land that makes him unable to bear the expenses. So he chooses to go for modern jobs where he gets paid more than farming. Similarly, the modernist culture of individualism, self-centeredness, and materialism has affected each of them. In the Tharu community, the familial bond has hardly been strong, unlike other communities. The members of the same family do not get intimate once certain small issue conflicts their relationship. Such fracture and distance in a relationship has made them unable to develop and face the bigger problems. The prevalent snag emerges when they need to be unified for an identity campaign. Uniting for the resistance needs them to be mutually close and tolerant to each other’s ideologies. The sense of individualism has been so rampant among these folks that it has repudiated their unity for collective welfare. Thus, the challenge to be united for socio-political identification needs to be tackled only through intellectual awareness.

            The continuous struggle with the state and the state’s indifference to their demands has made their struggle weaker. These folks find themselves tired of the fruitless long struggle. When the movement was at its peak during and after the draft of the new constitution, the unexpected and unwanted Tikapur incident pushed the movement and suppressed all the political campaigning with the state’s arrest of local and national Tharu political cadres. The incident havocked the unjustified and discriminatory wraths of hilly people on the properties of Tharus of Tikapur. Resham Chaudhary’s radio station was burnt at night and properties owned by Tharu people got demolished, burnt, and looted overnight. They consider that the event was circulated in an extremely biased way in media. The aftermaths of the Tikapur incident shook down and terrified the Tharu youths who had started to develop some inclination towards identity politics. Therefore, the fear installed by the state authority made them deeply realize the achievability of their goal lies beyond their hope.

Foucault clarifies how objectivity and logical advancement control the body. For Foucault, oneself is the immediate outcome of power and must be secured as far as a truly explicit arrangement of discourse (Callero 117). He further argues that alleged systems of force don’t just control a limited, objective subject, but instead they bring the self into reality by forcing disciplinary practices on the body. Through the “advancements” of observation, estimation, appraisal, and explanation of the body, technocrats, trained professionals, specialists, doctors, educators, and officials fill in as the vehicles of force in assorted institutional settings such as detainment facilities, schools, hospitals, social assistance offices (Callero 117). Thusly, rehearses that are ordinarily addressed as human intercessions on the side of community health, security, and instruction really fill in as components of control. In the context of Nepal, Tharu identity has been defined from the elite ruling caste. When the caste hierarchy was introduced in Nepal, it defined all communities with respect to their jobs in society forcing their subjugation in the state’s decision-making and political realm.

From Foucault’s point of view, one is forced into reality, not to turn into an agent but rather as a component of control where the arrangement of discourse work from the inside out by making an automatic subject (Callero 117). Tharu identity shows up as the controlled and rigorously directed subject in the dictator system that made identity legislative issues. Stuart Hall focuses on that self and identity emphasizing that they are built inside, not external discourse (Callero 117). Tharu identity appears to have been developed and assembled to control their abstract presence in public legislative issues. Identity disarray happens when the interruption of customary practices and viewpoints brings about a deficiency of importance and disintegration of custom (Tomlinson, qtd. in Callero 123). Thus, for Tharus to deconstruct oneself is to challenge essentialist suspicions and uncover the way where one is completely reliant upon discourse.

Nepal’s mainstream media has often been seen making identity pictures that build the Tharu-self after the Tikapur occurrence as against national integrity and a danger to public uprightness disregarding their veritable requests from the state. Such cliché portrayal of Tharu identity in media serves the “interests of a conservative political agenda” (Giroux, qtd. in Callero 123). Gradually, even after the almost six years of the Tikapur incident, the local youths do not dare to organize any sort of rallies, movement, and peaceful demonstrations. They find themselves as the easy target of the state and believe that the state can easily restrict and arrest them under any baseless non-bailable allegations. Moreover, keeping oneself involved in daily economic activities makes them unable to act and resist the state’s prejudices they consider they need to be challenging. The minimal economic income cannot motivate them for political rights and movement.

Tharus have been looked at as agreeable, dimwitted, and moderate people. The discernments seeing Tharu as agreeable are very one-sided. Despite the fact that Tharus attempt to modify the vulnerable circumstance, they couldn’t get appropriate acknowledgment from the state. The state authority appears to have flopped in fathoming the Tharu community’s certified requests. The cliché idea of viewing Tharus as in reverse and artless should be amended. As advancement spread on a worldwide scale, Tharus began to acclimatize the progressions and the situation. Slowly, as time changed, the community recognized the change and advancement. Nonetheless, the change has never arrived at the most extreme scale and the Tharu community actually needs inescapable awareness and change to adapt to the state minimization.

Dylan Lino accommodatingly communicates a significant differentiation in the literature on the privilege to self-assurance between its outside and inward angles. He considers the cultural performance as the medium of self-consciousness of the community necessary to be liberated from outer mastery, as the privilege of individuals to openly pick their political system and not to be self-ruling (Nakata 338). Personalities are social instead of self-governing comprised by a self-consciousness that permits us to comprehend what our identity is differencing ourselves from others. Identity is intersubjectively created and comes to fruition particularly corresponding to our significant other (Nakata 341). Thus, Nakata clarifies about the construction of self where one tries to exist by negating the presence of another.

As a site of equity, acknowledgment delivers a procedure between our feeling of oneself and the sense with which our significant others get us. As a site of treachery, non-acknowledgment and misrecognition hazard the diminishment of confidence, dignity, and self-assurance in manners that do mischief and savagery to individuals and communities. In the politics of identity, Bronwyn Carlson communicates that ‘Aboriginal Identity’ is a result of our situation inside and our relationship to the nation-state (Nakata 345). Nakata further contends that the self in native self-determination is an ideal: that something past can be recuperated, and that something new will be made. Looking for native identity implies needing to realize the profound significance of where they’ve come from (Nakata 348). Tharu modern songs lyricized in political sense reflect that identity recognition can be achieved and circulated in mass through media.

            Therefore, the most challenging issue is to fight against illiteracy and ignorance. Tharus need to rework to develop the intellectual sphere within their own society. The cultural and political sphere must be interconnected. The cultural performances should embolden the participatory discussion where the solutions to the present crisis could be developed. The cultural performances hold the ability to attract the attention of mass, it can be a better platform than other small intellectual gatherings that goes unnoticed. Since the small intellectual circle cannot entertain the mass opinion, such invisible discussion does not produce any visible effects. To change the mass consciousness and install the urgency of intellectual necessity, it can be successful in strengthening it with continuous effort.

            Consequently, this dissertation has brought down the cultural performance of Tharus into the space of identity.  The dissertation interprets their folk dance songs from the ecocritical perspective tracing their historical memory, identity, and performance. The four distinct topics assigned to their folk songs have categorically focused more on their community participation in the national development. Moreover, the paper holds no prejudice and does not aggrandize the community’s heritage. The community entwined with nature has come across drastic changes in recent times. Despite the corporate culture soaring high across the globe, the Tharus have been progressive in adapting themselves to these changes and preserve their culture along with these changes. The dissertation claims no supremacy on conducting all in all research of the community. However, a reader will have a certain critical understanding of underlying motifs, symbols, and themes of the community’s performance. Thus, the dissertation ends with the discussion of socio-economic challenges to the community on visualizing their presence in the national space.

Works Cited

Ahammed, Shaima. “Caste-based Oppression, Trauma and Collective Victimhood in Erstwhile South India: The Collective Therapeutic Potential of Theyyam.” Psychology and Developing Societies, vol. 31, no. 1: pp. 88-105, https://doi.org/10.1177/0971333618825051. Accessed 3 Feb. 2021.

Callero, Peter L. “The Sociology of the Self.” Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 29, 2003, pp. 115–133. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/30036963. Accessed 8 Apr. 2021.

Gencarella, Stephen Olbrys. “Gramsci, Good Sense, and Critical Folklore Studies.” Journal of Folklore Research, vol. 47, no. 3, 2010, pp. 221–252. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jfolkrese.2010.47.3.221. Accessed 8 Apr. 2021.

Leve, Lauren. “‘Identity.’” Current Anthropology, vol. 52, no. 4, 2011, pp. 513–535. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/660999. Accessed 8 Apr. 2021.

Mohatt Nathaniel Vincent et al. “Historical Trauma as Public Narrative: A Conceptual Review of How History Impacts Present- day Health.” Social Science and Medicine, vol. 106, April 2014, pp. 128-136, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.01.043. Accessed 3 Feb. 2021.

Nakata, Sana. “Who is the Self in Indigenous Self-determination?” Indigenous Self-Determination in Australia: Histories and Historiography, edited by Laura Rademaker and Tim Rowse, 1st ed., ANU Press, Australia, 2020, pp. 335–354. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv1bvncz1.21. Accessed 8 Apr. 2021.

Ross, Michael, and Qi Wang. “Why We Remember and What We Remember: Culture and Autobiographical Memory.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 5, no. 4, 2010, pp. 401–409. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41613447. Accessed 8 Apr. 2021.

Trinity College, Dillibazar, Katmnadu, Nepal

(Mr. Dangaura is a faculty at the Department of English, Trinity College, Dillibazar affiliated to Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He is currently pursuing an MPhil in English Literature at Tribhuvan University.)