Nepalganj is the main industrial and commercial hub of mid west Nepal. West of Butwal, Nepalganj is historically the most important economic, commercial, and educational centre. The Nepalganj University Act 2067, bill, formulated by the Nepal Government with the intention of establishing the Nepalganj University to provide high quality academic courses and research facilities in the fields of arts, science, medical science, law, management studies, technology, commerce and trade, and other subjects and build capable human resources for national development, as per the concept of multi university on the basis of competition, to increase the quality of higher education and make the academic and educational environment of the country even more cleaner, respectable and effective, is in general positive.
Madhesi, Muslim and Tharu communities form the majority of the population in Nepalganj, Banke district. Establishing a university here, and allowing access to the marginalized communities from the area will definitely bring great benefits to these communities. It will give local communities the opportunity for higher education at a cheaper price in the region itself, which is an added advantage because it gives girls and women from Madhesi, Islamic, and Tharu communities the chance to obtain higher education close to home, as their cultural prejudices and practices make it difficult for them to go away from their homes.
Some notes on the proposed bill:
Besides what has been written in the preamble of the bill, it should also include “…the aspirations, attempts, and movements of the people of mid west Tarai since many years”, to reflect the fact that the local people here have long been demanding better higher education facilities in the region.
It will be more appropriate to add, “it has become essential to address the long standing demands and movements of the people in Nepalganj, the centre of Mid west Tarai.
Article 1. The descriptive name and beginning and the definitions section in Article 2 that mentions the subjects is appropriate.
Article 3: Establishment of the University
Sub section (3) states that “despite anything else that might be written in current laws, when this Act comes into force, the Mahendra Multiple Campus and the Nursing Campus operated in Nepalganj municipality under the Tribhuvan University, shall be used as the base campus. It should instead add that the government should try to allocate and manage land for the University as per the recommendations in the report submitted by the Nepalganj University Possibility Study Committee in 2066 which recommended that the campus and buildings of the Cotton Development Committee in Khajura of Banke be used for the Agricultural Campus, the land near the Ranjha Airport for Engineering College, and land of the Institute of Medicine for Forestry Science and Research Institute.
An additional provision Article 3(3)a should be added stating that the land and physical infrastructure necessary for the university should be arranged by the Nepal Government. In the same article sub section 4 should be added mentioning that whatever else is written in current laws, all movable and fixed assets registered in the name of Nepalganj University for the use of the University will not be taxed by the Nepal Government.
Provisions mentioned in Articles 4,5, and 6 are appropriate.
When the Senate is formed as per Article 7 (2) there are provisions to have representations as per the sub section 2 a-t. Likewise women and the Nepalganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry which played a key role as an organization in leading the pressure group to establish the University must be also be allotted organizational slots to enable their representation.
The list in Article 7 (2) must be extended to include representation of women, as well as the provision to include the Chair of the Nepalganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry as one of the members of the Senate.
Provisions in Articles 8-34 are appropriate and do not need further improvement.
Article 35 (1) The qualification of students or researchers seeking admission to the University shall be as prescribed.
Article 35 (2) When admitting students the University should as per the policy of the Nepal Government have quota reservations or seats allotted to women, indigenous/Janjati communities, Madhesi, Dalit, differently abled, backward communities on the basis of appointed percentage. As Banke has a large population of Muslim and Tharu communities it might be appropriate to specifically mention the quota allotted to these communities.
Recommendation: It might be appropriate to add Muslim and Tharu communities in the list for quota reservation in Article 35 (2).
Asst. Professor Ganesh Kumar Regmi who teaches law, prepared this investigative recommendation paper for Nepal Constitution Foundation with inputs from women, Janajaati, Dalit, Madhesi, youth, and other related pressure groups. The Foundation is grateful to Mohammad Siddiqui, Landa Biswakarma, Binod Kumar Agrawal, Sushil Chaudhary, Abdul Aziz Musalmaan, Buddha Sunuwar, Mamuna Siddiqui, Nirak Gurung, Bhagatram Chaudhary, Bijay Kumar Gupta, Pashupati Dayal Mishra, Mohanjung Shah, Krishna Kumar Lamsal, Lok Bahadur Shah, Bishnu Pokharel, Biswajeet Tiwari, Gariwar Prasad Agrawal, Liraj Ahmad Ansari, Balram Yadav, Shukra Rishi Chaudhary, Ashok Karmacharya, and Dr Bipin Adhikary.
This study was conducted with assistance from The Asia Foundation. However the views expressed here are solely those of the writers. It does not reflect the views of the Foundation.