Madhesh

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Coordinates: 26°57′05″N 85°02′52″E / 26.9515°N 85.0479°E / 26.9515; 85.0479

Aerial view of Madhesh plains near Biratnagar of Nepal

Terai is the fertile and humid region of Nepal in the Terai belt of South Asia. The boundary of Madhesh includes Mithila and Tharuhat Federal states of Nepal. The Nepalese people who have connection to Bihar of India and historically lived here are identified as Madhesi people. The region's name in Urdu as referred by Muslims is ترای tarāī meaning "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".[1]

Climate[edit]

Biratnagar, 26°N, 87°E
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Levoyageur
Janakpur, 31°N, 77°E
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Weather Information Service

Region[edit]

Nepal Government has differentiated Terai into "Outer" and Inner Madhesh Valleys of Nepal.

The 2011 national census counted 1.53 million population (51% of the national total) lives in the outer Terai. [Citation needed - 1.53 million = 51% of Nepal's total population?]

History[edit]

Eastern Madhesh including Janakpur was part of the Videha Kingdom.[2]

The "Madhesh" is a Nepali morphological derivative of Madhyadesh (Sanskrit) or Majjhimadesh (Pali) and means the Middle Country signifying its location in the middle of Ancient Nepal and Indian Kingdom of Awadh (which lies in modern-day india).Terai (also written as Tarai) is presumed to be derived from Persian, meaning “damp”, and denotes the land at the foothills of mountains, often damp and swampy.

The Terai was heavily forested with Sal before heavy logging began in the 19th century, particularly for use as railroad sleepers. Foresters of the British Raj on another side of Nepalese International Forestry border were of the opinion that in ancient times the Terai was cleared and cultivated. But after decline of Buddhism, the area was largely abandoned, and quickly re-vegetated with shrubs and trees,although the Sal forest should have taken centuries to return.[3]

Inner Terai valleys historically were agriculturally productive but endemic to malarial. Some parts were left forested by official decree during the Rana dynasty as a defensive perimeter .The British believed that plainsmen generally die if they sleep in the malaria infested zone before November 1 or after June 1.[4] British travelers to Kathmandu went as fast as possible from the border at Raxaul in order to reach the hills before nightfall.[3]

A malaria eradication campaign by Nepal Government in the 1950s using DDT made the Inner Terai habitable for the first time.

Ethnic groups[edit]

Main article: Madhesi people

Tharu people and Maithils also known as the people of the forest are the first Indigenous inhabitants of Madhesh. They have been living in the Madhesh for milleniums, and reputedly have innate resistance to malaria. Following the malaria eradication program using DDT in the 1960s, a large and heterogeneous non-Tharu population namely madheshi immigrants from bihar state of india settled in the region.[5] Their proposed state/homeland is called Madhesh.

Bihari people from India and Pahari farmers from the mid-hills moved to the Madhesh plains in search of arable land including Brahmin, Chhetri and Newar. Madhesi people constitute the entire population of entire Madhesh. High caste migrants from the hills have purchased, or otherwise got hold of large landholdings. Together with traditional Tharu and Maithil landlords, they constitute the upper level of the economic hierarchy, which in the rural parts of the Madhesh is determined to a large extent by the distribution and the value of agriculturally productive land. The poor are the landless, or near landless, Madhesi 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 other work than hard farm labor.[6]

Economy[edit]

The Terai is the most productive region in Nepal with the majority of the country's industries. Agriculture is the basis of the economy.[7] 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.

Cities over 50,000 population in Nepal's Madhesh include:

Municipality District Census 2015 Economy
Birganj Parsa 192,484 trade/transport hub, agro and other industry
Janakpur Dhanusa 97,192 transport hub, agro-industry, education, health care, pilgrimage site
For a more comprehensive list, see List of cities in Nepal.

Mahendra Highway crosses the Terai from Kankarbhitta on the eastern border in Jhapa District, Mechi Zone to Mahendranagar near the western border in Kanchanpur District, Mahakali Zone. It is the only motor road spanning the country from east to west.

Cuisine[edit]

The staple diet of the region is rice, dal (lentils soup) and curry. On festive occasions, people prepare a number of fried items of vegetables as well as many specialities. Fish is also popular in Terai/Madhes.

Tourism[edit]

Notable people from Madhesh[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Platts, J. T. (1884). "A dictionary of Urdu, and English.". W. H. Allen & Co., London. 
  2. ^ http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/18417/12/12_chapter%204.pdf
  3. ^ a b Guneratne, A. (2002). Many tongues, one people: the making of Tharu identity in Nepal. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. 
  4. ^ Guneratne 2002, p. 22.
  5. ^ Terrenato, L., Shrestha, S., Dixit, K.A., Luzzatto, L., Modiano, G., Morpurgo, G., Arese, P. (1988). "Decreased malaria morbidity in the Tharu and Maithil people compared to sympatric populations in Nepal". Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology 82 (1): 1–11. PMID 3041928. 
  6. ^ Hatlebakk, M. (2007). Economic and social structures that may explain the recent conflicts in the Madhesh of Nepal. Norwegian Embassy, Nepal
  7. ^ Sharma, R. P. (1974). Nepal: A Detailed Geographical Account. Kathmandu: Pustak-Sansar. 

External links[edit]

Chaudhary, Deepak. 2015 (2011). Tarai/Madhedh of Nepal : Anthropological Study. Ratna Pustak Bhandar. Nepal.