Commission can’t replace NFDIN, say activists

Kathmandu, May 1

After the new constitution incorporated the provision of a new Indigenous Nationalities Commission the fate of the existing National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN) is now in the hands of political leaders.

In different meetings, secretaries at the line ministry of NFDIN Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development have been telling officials of NFDIN that the foundation will be replaced by a new commission.

An under-secretary of Law Ministry had told the meeting of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) few weeks ago that two similar government entities cannot exist at the same time and therefore the government was preparing laws in accordance with the new constitution.

NFDIN officials have claimed that many top leaders of different parties, including Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli were for replacing the existing NFDIN with a new commission to be set up as per the new constitution.

Failure to fill the vacant positions in NFDIN for a long time has given grounds for indigenous rights activists and NFDIN officials to suspect the fate of the foundation that was formed in 2002 by the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government.

Ram Maden, Information Officer at NFDIN, said MoFALD has reduced the budget of NFDIN from last fiscal year’s Rs 14 crore to Rs 9 crore.

Former general secretary of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), a rights-based umbrella organisation of all indigenous nationalities of the country, Dr Om Gurung said scrapping NFDIN would never be justifiable because the commission is a semi-judicial body that makes policies, which NFDIN implements by devising programmes and also provides service to the indigenous people.

Chairman of National Council House of Tamu, Resham Gurung, said NFDIN has been supporting organisations of different indigenous nationalities for the development of their respective communities, but Indigenous Nationalities Commission was the only watchdog for the rights of indigenous people of the country.

Gurung said a few political leaders and civil servants were for scrapping the NFDIN Act, but it is not an easy task. He further said the indigenous movement would unify and strengthen if the leaders scrapped NFDIN.

However, secretary at MoFALD Mahendra Man Gurung said unless the government decides otherwise, the ministry won’t be going against NFDIN as the objectives and activities of NFDIN and the commission to be formed would be different.

Gurung said the commission is a core regulatory body while NFDIN is more of a promotional and academic institution that works for promoting culture and development of the organisations of indigenous nationalities.

General Secretary of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities Pemba Bhote said the secretaries of the line ministry were preparing to scrap NFDIN quietly but after NEFIN strongly objected, they have backtracked.