Talk:Madheshi people

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Semi-protected edit request on 12 March 2019Edit

The edits are related to the facts regarding Terai and its people, it doesn't have a flag and it is an integral part of sovereign Nepal Bigyan Pokhrel (talk) 10:37, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

Please specify what exactly you want to include in the page. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 11:02, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

Too broad a scope.Edit

This article is all over the place (and not in a good way). It says "Madhesi people can refer to Indian Madhesis" and then talks only about Nepali Madhesis. It says "Tharu people don't consider themselves Madhesis" and then proceeds to provide a whole section about the Tharu people. Also, the article seems to be biased toward the Alliance for independent Madhesh Which hardly meets the notability criteria. Specifically, the non-chalant presence of the flag of the organisation in the history section. There are many important madhesi movements that are historically significant. AIM is not one, not by a long shot. I have encountered another article Madhesi conflict in Nepal. Barring a good amount of activity on this talk within a week's time, I intend to merge that article and this into a new article titled "Madhesi People in Nepal" with that article making the history and this one making the overview and socio-cultural information for the new article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Usedtobecool (talkcontribs) 20:31, 2 April 2019 (UTC)

Madheshis of Indian ancestry ?Edit

Given that archaeological remains in Madheshi areas predate any hilly settlements, How can Madheshis be called people of Indian ancestry ? Cross border relations do not prove Indian ancestry. Scyfie (talk) 17:43, 10 September 2019 (UTC)

Scyfie, it is all very stupid, since every one of us ultimately traces back to Africa. But, that's how Madhesis are referred to in our time. So, that's what Wikipedia reflects.
This came about because virtually all of the southern plains of Nepal was reclaimed by the forest between the ancient and modern times. Only after the formation of modern Nepal, well after the hills and mountains had been widely settled, the forests were pushed back by humans, and the subsequent settlement of these plains was also done by people from what would later become modern India. So, Indian ancestry, in this context, distinguishes people (meaning ethnicities) who settled in Nepal after the formation of the modern state, as opposed to people who were already in Nepal when it was formed. Also, the common stereotype that Nepal is a mountainous country and India is a plains country , means that people hailing from plains would get the label "Indian ancestry" while Pahari Indian people, like those in north-east India, are usually considered to be ethnic Nepalis.
I don't know what you mean by your last statement. Nepal is separate from India only due to the fact that Nepal wasn't under British India. So, in contexts, except those related to British India and the Modern state of India, the term "India" includes Nepal as well. Usedtobecool TALK  18:14, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
Usedtobecool, So, Shouldn't we rather abstain from typecasting Madheshis as people of Indian ancestry ? And your view that, "well after the hills and mountains had been widely settled, the forests were pushed back by humans, and the subsequent settlement of these plains was also done by people from what would later become modern India", is baseless. Infact, earliest human remains (Pre-historic remains) have been found in Shivalik foothills. And civilizations of various sorts have continued ever since hunting gatherers dwelled along the foothills of the Shivaliks, which is basically Terai.

Calling Carribean Indians "people of Indian ancestry" is one thing, but calling Madheshis the same is a whole lot different. In Carribean you have strong evidence that apart of people of Indian origins, you don't have others whose ancestors were in India. But in Nepal's case, except Mongoloid people, all can be traced back to India in some way. So, why not remove that stereotyping ? Are we here to politicize the Wiki articles ?Scyfie (talk) 12:52, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

Scyfie, My previous reply was based on the assumption that you were curious. If you are proposing a particular change to the article, as it now appears you are, you can do so provided they meet wikipedia policies and guidelines. Note that Wikipedia values verifiability over truth. So, if sources promote ideas that I consider stereotyping, there's nothing I can do about it. When I first started editing, this article had caught my eye as a particularly poor one, I just never got around to actually improving it, before my priorities changed. As such, I am quite sure some of the notions I have may be wrong, since I haven't explored the literature on this topic in inordinate detail. So, yeah, if you want a change, bring sourced arguments or make BOLD edits, and we can examine them. A couple other editors who maintain an interest on this topic might also show up to give their input when it becomes clear, the discussion is actually headed towards changing the article in a significant way.

As for our unsourced discussion here, Madhesis are people who immigrated to modern Nepal from what would become modern India in the last 200 years. The fact that these same ethnicities were historically present, for example during the Videha rule or Shakya rule, etc., or that there are fossils from even earlier (whoever those belong to), are things conveniently ignored by all parties. Usedtobecool TALK  13:54, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
Usedtobecool I removed "Indian ancestry" thing, and it was reverted by Bhagyamani. Where can I give source for something that needs to be removed ? And what should be done when you have sources for both against and for this claim ?

And there are almost a dozen written sources older than 200 years that attest to the fact that Madheshi were present in the territories they are in. Kirkpatrick's 1793 travelogue has it, Segowlee treaty mentions about "people of the plains", plenty of maps of 18th century mention villages in terai, Varna Ratnakar of 14th century written from Simroungarh gives exhaustive details of castes living in Simroungarh, 13th century Tibetan traveller Dharmaswami mentions about the people there...and still many cannot get over their pre-conceived opinions that terai was all forest 200 years ago !!! The Forest was long called "4 kose jhaadi" which meant 12 kilometres of forest. I hope everyone appreciates that terai is not just 12 kilometres wide !! Scyfie (talk) 15:09, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

Scyfie, when a topic is controversial, Wikipedia gives both sides (or however many there are) the weight that they deserve. So, you'd have to bring sources in favor of your argument, and at the same time argue that current wording isn't ideal and current sources represent either a minority or are not reliable/respectable at all. For example, see Jesus. For Jesus, there are: "Jesus was", "Jesus is", "For Christians, he is", "Virtually all scholars agree that he is", etc. If you can show that, alternative definitions of Madhesis exist in scholarship, it can be changed/updated. You can't remove sourced claims unless you can show the sources themselves are unacceptable. Usedtobecool TALK  15:56, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

Usedtobecool Would it be fine if I put another definition before the current one, without removing it ? Would it be good to have multiple definitions of who Madheshis are in just one article ?Scyfie (talk) 16:48, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

Scyfie: just read the references at the end of the sentence defining who Madhesi people are. I doubt that human bones excavated in the Terai carried a label with 'Madhesi' written on them. In case, they did: reference this! Nor did early settlers during the Videha Kingdom or in the 14th century call themselves Madhesi. In case, they did: reference this! Acc. to sources referenced currently, this term has been used since the mid 20th century. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 17:01, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

Usedtobecool BhagyaMani So you mean Indians are the only ones born after "Indian" word was coined for them ? Which means none before 16th century were Indians ? And have you found "Nepali/Nepalese" used for people before 18th century ? Scyfie (talk) 17:13, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

You misunderstood! THIS discussion is NOT about Indian people. But about MADHESI, a term that had not been coined in the 16th century, obviously not even in the 19th century. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 19:52, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
Scyfie, the other editor that's joined the conversation is not me. Ping them to get an answer on their position. As to the question you asked me, yes it would, if there are sources. Knowing that there were people there isn't enough, they'd have to be called Madhesi people by the sources that talk of them. Usedtobecool TALK  17:27, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
Indeed there is already an alternative definition present: In recent times, it's argued by some to be suitable for all Nepali citizens of plains origin. Usedtobecool TALK  17:30, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

Usedtobecool Is it fair to provide an alternative definition somewhere else rather than in the beginning itself ? I think the article needs a complete makeover. It has gross POV problems, where all editors are trying to impose their POVs over others. The article needs to mention about multiple definitions right in the beginning. Otherwise this presents a problem for new readers who skim through articles by going through just the introductory parts.Scyfie (talk) 17:45, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

Scyfie, the alternative definition I quoted is the third sentence. Yes there are problems. And you can help solve them, by updating it with content referenced to reliable independent sources, removing content that's unsourced, or sourced to dodgy, partisan, unreliable sources, and having an earnest discussion and forming consensus with any other editor who reverts or contests your changes. Since BhagyaMani reverted you, discuss it with them if you want to reinstate it, but make sure you aren't arguing with what you know for a fact but rather what you can show is the case as covered by independent reliable sources. All our discussion discussing positions not backed by reliable sources is just talk. Regards! Usedtobecool TALK  17:56, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
I agree with Scyfie. I think there is a whole bunch of revisionist pseudo-history being propagated. The "Nepali" identity didn't start evolving until around 1930. Prior to that people of various regions had their own identities. So did the Madhesis. Moreover, since they were part of the Mughal empire or Mughal splinter states prior to 1775, and became part of British India in 1816, again got handed back to Nepal some 44 years later, they never stopped thinking of themselves as "Indians". To call them "Indian origin" for that reason is a travesty. As Kanak Mani Dixit says, "Anyone who defines Madhesis as ‘Nepalis of Indian origin’ must consider attending re-education camp." -- Kautilya3 (talk) 01:09, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
When searching for sources, I did NOT come across a single one referring to the term 'Madhesi' being used PRIOR to 1940. Neither across one using the term for peoples living south of today's international Nepal-India border. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 08:08, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Big revertEdit

I reverted the page back to the version of Sitush sometime in September 2017.l I notice that the lead was changed significantly without any new sources, and plenty of unsourced content was added in the body. Please discuss the new content here and obtain WP:CONSENSUS. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 18:36, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

Thanks. I agree to the revert, in particular to the definition in the lead. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 19:56, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
BhagyaMani, I have reverted it back further to 29 May 2019, because the citations were clobbered. Please check. And, also please see if you can find the quotations as requested. Cheers, Kautilya3 (talk) 01:03, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I think it is VERY important to give the various definitions in the lead, i.e. the one used by scientists versus the one used by journalists + politicians, so to show that the term is NOT distinct and unequivocal. Perhaps you remember that the lead in particular was an unsourced battlefield for a long time. It took me quite some time to find these sources for the anthropologists's definition a few years ago. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 07:19, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
At the moment, I am just trying to figure out where the content is coming from. The first citation doesn't have the word "Madhesi" and neither can it be characterised as an "anthropology" source. The second source, Whelpton, is a historian. The third source, Dahal, has been removed for some reason, and all his content attributed to the other two. Please provide precise page numbers and/or quotations. At the moment the content lacks WP:INTEGRITY.
I am also not sure whether there is anything "scientific" about the phenomenon. Who invented the term "Madhesi"? -- Kautilya3 (talk) 10:58, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Regarding your [clarification needed]: There are TWO different concepts as to who is Madheshi. As stated in the lead already and explained this morning : anthropologists defined a Madheshi as a 'person with ancestors in India', whereas journalist and politicians defined it as 'ALL people in Terai'; some include the Tharus, but the Tharus don't include themselves. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 11:05, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Ok, I understand. But you cannot say it is "ambiguous" unless a source says so. If different sources use the term differently, we have to just state them, without adding our own commentary. Neither do I see grounds for generalising Dixit to "journalists" unless there is evidence that all journalists have taken to using his terminology. Basically, there is far too much WP:OR here.
Can you get to the other questions? -- Kautilya3 (talk) 11:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
The second ref'ed source is a chapter in a book edited by: 1) David Gellner is prof at Oxford University, 2) Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka a prof for social anthropology at a German uni, 3) John Whelpton: true historian, specialised in history of Nepal. Then lets change 'anthropologist' to 'social scientists', if you think this fits better and encompasses also other scientific authors referenced on the page. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 11:17, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I can't say anything until you tell me what part of the source is talking about this, and what it says. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 11:20, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
As to your question : Who invented the term "Madhesi"? According to Miklian (2009), it was 'invented' in the 1940s by politicians from the Nepal Terai. Please note that the term is NOT mentioned in any of the publications by Mahesh Chandra Regmi, and Regmi collected and archived foremost 19th century and earlier papers. But of course, if YOU know of any earlier than 1940s use of the term, please do share!!-- BhagyaMani (talk) 11:29, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Please always provide precise page numbers so that we know what you are talking about. It is apparent that this is highly contested topic. So it is necessary to be as precise as possible. The statement I am looking at says:

Politicians in southern Nepal have used the term ‘Madhes’ to distinguish local issues since at least 1947.[3]

This does not imply that they invented the term, just that they started using it a self-ascription. It is far more likely that the Nepali parbatiyas coined the term, because they needed it to distinguish them from their own kind. There was clear discrimination prior to 1947, and you can't discriminate people without identifying them as a group.
It seems that all people agree that Madhesi means the people of Madhesh. But they differ on what is meant by Madhesh. Madhesis themselves identify it as the terai. But Dahal says:

as an old term meaning the people of Madhya Desha, which used to be the name for northern India, showing the closeness of affinity and connection of Nepal's Madhesis with people living in northern India, particularly in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (Bista, 1967)[1]

So Dahal is pin-pointing the "othering" involved in the term, but the Madhesis ignore it by identifying Madhes with their land. Kalpana Jha quotes a Madhesi activist saying this:

Initially, the Madhesi did not identify themselves as Madhesi but [as] asali Nepali, but later when the Madhesi identity was forced upon them, they accepted it and reacted to this subjugation saying yes, they are Madhesi. Therefore, it is a reactive identity, and if we are Madhesi, the place where we reside is Madhes is the claim.[2]

Note: I would also like to remind you that you have still not provided the requested quotation from Whelpton, despite having removed the request-quotation tag several hours ago. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 12:22, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • In the page itself, it is not stated that a certain group of people and which 'invented' the term. Why do you think it necessary to speculate (e.g. 'far more likely that ...') on this in the page?? -- BhagyaMani (talk) 13:20, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Several pages in which Whelpton (1997) used the term are not shown online at the moment. See e.g. page 68

    Indian-origin Terai dwellers that are disadvantaged as Madheshis ..


    .. 81% of Madheshis households .. reported that they use Hindi as their link language ...

    -- BhagyaMani (talk) 13:20, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Regarding your first point, who came up with the term is a very important piece of information. You have added (and reinstated) the phrasing that "Anthropologists" came up with the term, whereas it is clear that they did not. They are merely trying to explain a term that is in common use. You have also said that all the "meanings" must be explained. If so, the meaning attached to it by the parbatiyas and that attached by the Madhesis need to be stated and distinguished from each other.
  • I have noticed the phrases from Whelpton that you have mentioned. But they are not enough. We don't know what is meant by "Indian-origin" in this passing reference. A more thorough explanation is needed. I guess I will have to make a trip to the library. In future, please provide precise page numbers and/or quotations to avoid such problems. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 14:27, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I did NOT state that anthropologists or other academics came up with or coined the term, but only that they used it!! Do you understand the difference? What in your opinion is ambiguous about 'Indian origin', other than 'originating from India'? I.e. neither from Pakistan nor from any other country. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 16:01, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
If the anthropologists are explaining the social usage of the term, then it should not be attributed to them. If they use it in a different sense then it should be attributed. For example, "Aryan" means noble in the present-day Sanskrit and its imports into various Indian languages. But for scholars "Aryan" (or rather "Indo-Aryan") means a language family. In 19th century sociology, it meant a race of immigrants/invaders. Here, we have multiple meanings and we attribute each of them. That is not the case with "Madheshi".
'Originating from India' is not enough because it is not clear what 'India' means or when they are supposed to have 'originated'. Is Madhesh 'India'? -- Kautilya3 (talk) 16:29, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
More details about their origin in India is given in the 2nd paragraph of the lead : namely comprising ethnic groups from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Is that not clear enough for you? If you want to have distinct locations provided, then search for them. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 16:50, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
We were talking about Whelpton, covered in the first paragraph, not Dahal. Is there any evidence that Whelpton accepts Dahal's theories?
Dahal is not a WP:HISTRS. I regard his writings on the subject as revisionist pseud-history. If it has been validated by real historians we can talk about it, not otherwise. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 18:18, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Apparently you did not yet see that I referenced an article by Gellner (2007) who also refers to 'Madheshis' as non-tribal "plain dwellers of Indian, Hindu origin" "with cultural, kin, educational and political links to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar". -- BhagyaMani (talk) 19:08, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Another passing reference, which doesn't really explain what it means. The Tarai has been part of plains kingdoms, Hindu as well as Muslim, for centuries. Obviously those people would have kinship to the communities in the plains as well as mixture and migration. But the whole slant of the page at the moment is that these people migrated into modern day Nepal. So, in the context of this page, you have completed distorted whatever those authors might have meant. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 19:35, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Here is a passage from Whelpton's History of Nepal. This should put to rest this pointless controversy:

The final major population category of the country is the Madheshis — the people of the plains. The term is reserved for those whose ancestors have long lived in the Tarai and who share language and culture with those living south of the Indian border, thus excluding the hill Nepalese who have settled in large numbers in the Tarai in recent decades...

The Indo-Aryan dialects spoken by the Madheshis were brought into North India from the north-west. The main wave of migration down the Ganges Valley commenced probably towards the end of the second millennium BC, and one of the principal routes lay along the base of the hills on the northern edge of the Tarai, probably because it was easier to clear forest for agriculture there than nearer the Ganges itself...

States based in the plains came under Muslim control while, at least from the fifteenth century onwards, hill rajas with land holdings in the plains were required to pay tribute. Muslims who settled as cultivators were, however, overwhelmingly the descendants of Hindu converts rather than Turks, Afghans or Arabs.[3]

-- Kautilya3 (talk) 19:43, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

And, here is another authentic historian:

The inhabitants of this region are called Madheshis or Madheshias as opposed to Pahadis or Pahadias living northwards in the hills and mountains.[7] The tarai is distinctly different from the hills geographically and culturally and, therefore, the problem of national integration focuses primarily upon the relationship between these two regions.[8][4]

The Madheshi community may be divided into four groups, i.e. (i) indigenous tribal people who are usually described as original inhabitants, (ii) people of traditional Hindu caste hierarchy belonging to original Aryan colonizers of the area, (iii) businessmen migrants of Indian origin, viz. Marwaris, Sikhs and others, and (iv) the Muslims.[9] The eastern and central Madhesh along with most of the present day north Bihar was the cradle of the ancient culture of the Lichhavis and that of the inhabitants of Mithila.[10] The mid-western Madhesh belonged to the Shakya rulers in the 6th century B.C.[4]

The Madheshis are marginalized and alienated people. They have just about nominal role in the polity, policy-making and in almost all aspects of national life, but the most disturbing problem that they face is the identity crisis, their loss of the sense of being at home practically in their own home. They are treated as less Nepali by the Pahadis and the power[s] that be.[5]

-- Kautilya3 (talk) 20:09, 25 November 2019 (UTC)


  • Dahal, Dilli Ram (2008), "The 'Madhesi' People: Issues and Challenges of Democracy in the Nepal Terai", in David Gellner; Krishna Hachhethu (eds.), Local Democracy in South Asia: Microprocesses of Democratization in Nepal and its Neighbours, SAGE Publications, pp. 128–149, ISBN 978-81-321-0016-4
  • Jha, Kalpana (2017), The Madhesi Upsurge and the Contested Idea of Nepal, Springer, ISBN 978-981-10-2926-4
  • Mishra, Ratneshwar (2007), "Ethnicity and National Unification: The Madheshis of Nepal (Sectional President's Address)", Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 67: 802–833, JSTOR 44148000
  • Whelpton, John (2005), A History of Nepal, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-80470-7

Semi-protected edit request on 14 December 2019Edit

Terai is gifted by East Indian Company in two parts western terai and eastern terai since 1816 and 1860. Before that there is mugal empire. Terai is never a part of Nepal before found on British east India Company history. Search UNPO Madesh you will get a lot of information. Madeshi people need visa to travel Kathmandu until 1958. Don’t write fake things in your article. Even Harvard university has released one article about Terai where the research is done by sagar chettri. Prem1999 (talk) 05:28, 14 December 2019 (UTC)

Hi User:Prem1999 and thanks for your thank you notice. What exactly do you want added to this page? Please specify author, date and publication. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 09:41, 14 December 2019 (UTC)

Citation style changeEdit

BhagyaMani, is there a good reason why you are changing citation style so that the page numbers come on the main page instead of footnotes? -- Kautilya3 (talk) 12:40, 15 December 2019 (UTC)

As you surely noticed, this also works. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 15:19, 15 December 2019 (UTC)
In the almost 3 years that I have been contributing to this page, and in the hundreds of other pages that I contribute to, you are the first and only one who repeatedly undid my edits and carps about citation styles used on thousands of pages. I find this rather irritating! -- BhagyaMani (talk) 15:19, 15 December 2019 (UTC)
Sorry about that. I am sure we will become friends sooner or later :-)
Coming back to the issue, the "rp" template is undesirable because it takes up space in the middle of paragraphs and affects the readability of the text. A couple of rp's here and ther are ok, but if the whole page is full of rp's, it is not a good idea. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 16:50, 15 December 2019 (UTC)

Flag : Multiple issuesEdit

Kautilya3 or whoever added the {{Multiple issues}} template on top of the main page : please check, whether any of the issues you had mind has been addressed. If so, please remove it. Or lets discuss whatever you think still needs to be addressed. IMO, as every statement is referenced by a WP:RS, at least the OR flag can be removed. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 17:01, 16 December 2019 (UTC)

I believe I added the templates. At that time, I wasn't able to verify most of the claims because of the lack of page numbers in citations. Now that you have added page numbers, I will make another effort.
I am also not sure of the extensive treatment of migration sourced to Dahal. His treatment is mostly speculative since data isn't available. It is not proper to make distinctions like Nepali vs Indian when you deal with Tarai because it is the in-between land. There is a tendency to think of an age-old Nepal, without remembering that "Nepal" meant only Kathmandu valley until Prithi Narayan Shah's time. We will need to cross check this narrative with other sources.
You have added a yet another mention of "Indian origin" today, which is not supported by the source that you cited. "Indian linguistic, cultural, ethnic origin" does not mean "Indian origin". It means Indian heritage. We need to balance the "Nepali" viewpoint with the "Madhesi" viewpoint. As long as only one side is being represented, the "too few viewpoints" template remains. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 17:56, 16 December 2019 (UTC)
Re "Indian origin" : reformulated this. Re Dahal: I cannot understand your mistrust in Dahal's publications. After all, he is emeritus professor of anthropology. In the past 2+ years, I collated whatever I could find about Madhesh and Madheshi / Madhesi, but did not find any RS objecting this narrative of migrants from India. In case you find one, please add it. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 18:29, 16 December 2019 (UTC)
Return to "Madheshi people" page.