Nepali or Gorkhali in Sikkim?


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The majority Sikkimese people share cultural heritage with peoples of Darjeeling hills in West Bengal, Southern Bhutan, Assam, and Dehradun as well as People living in the sovereign state of Nepal. These people attribute same culture, tradition as well as language and have history dating back to several centuries. The language which is known as Nepali was originally known as KHAS KURA. Even in the Constitution (Seventy Eighth Amendment) Bill No. 142 of 1992, in its “Statement of Objects and Reason” have clearly mentioned that “the Nepali language is also known in some areas as Gorkha Bhasa. In the census operations, other nomenclatures such as, ‘Gorkhali, Gorkhi, Gurkhiya, KHAS KURA or Nepali have also been used”.

Identifying Ourselves as "Nepali in Sikkim"?
Bhanu Jayanti in Sikkim

Which, clearly indicates that Nepali Language of today have travelled a long way before it was formerly changed to Nepali from Gorkha Bhasa by Nepal in 1920s. By 1920s Indian Sub- continent was still under British Rule and as such, Ruler of Nepal had ambition to demand the Indian territories ruled by British (where same Language, Tradition and Culture as that of Nepal is observed) and they realised that there ambition would only materialise when, the people living in Indian Territories start calling themselves “Nepali”. Therefore, in a clever diplomatic move of Nepal, a team comprising of three Nepali Diplomats, Surya Bikram Gawali, Dharanidhar Sharma and Parashmani Pradhan came to Darjeeling in 1930 and with the help of some greedy local people started a forum called “Darjeeling Nepali Sahitya Sammelan” and using its platform they wrote a letter to Vice Chancellor of Kolkota University to change Parbate (another nomenclature of Gorkha Bhasa) to “Nepali” and then Calcutta University and Senate under British rule too gave its consent without understanding the impact it is going to have on people in days to come. After the consent of changing Parvate/Gorkhali Language to Nepali, from the next academic session, all textbooks, stories, poems and all literary work too started using word Nepali and thereafter people of Sikkim too started calling their language as Nepali and common people mistook it as community.

The very word “Nepali” is being used to define even the majority Gorkha/Nepali speaking people, thus creating lot of misconception regarding their community and citizenship leading to confusion among the Indian psyche. Because of such confusion, the innocent Sikkimese people started identifying themselves as “Nepali” and neither the leaders nor the common people could ever sense that using word “Nepali” as to denote their community is a serious blunder. As word “Nepali” is used to identify a person who is a citizen of Nepal but the Gorkhali/Nepali speaking people started calling themselves “Nepali” as a community in India. Owing to such misconception, Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs on the 23rd August 1988, vide (notification no. 96011/6/ 88—IC-1) issued a notification and the notification reads: – whereas it has come to the notice of the Central Government that there have been some misconceptions about the Citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution of India of certain classes of person commonly known as Gorkhas, who have settled in India at such commencement”. It seems that Central Government felt it necessary to clear such misconception on national interest and in the interest of genuine, patriotic, law abiding citizen of India, as the first clause of the notifications further clarifies.

(1) As from the commencement of the constitution, that is, as from 26.1.1950. Every Gorkha who had his domicile in the territory of India, that is, in the territory which on 26.1.1950 become part of or constituted the territory of India as defined in the Article—1(2) of the constitution of India”. Thereby, Indian Government being very clear about the communities that those who were calling themselves “Nepali” as community they must use word “Gorkha” to clear such misconceptions regarding their Citizen. However, no such sensitization has ever been done in Sikkim.

Source – VOS

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