The word 'Madesh' may be derived from Sanskrit word ‘Madhya Desh’ meaning ‘country in the middle’ or magadh, it was so much powerful state after the fall of the Brijisangh. Some of the historians show its origin in ‘Matsya desh’ meaning ‘contry of fish’ And the word “Terai” is believed to be derived from Persian, which meant damp or moist land. But some historians are of the view that the word Terai emerges from the lower part of mountain.
The Terai or Madhesh region begins at the Indian border and includes the northernmost part of the flat, intensively formed Gangetic plain called the outer Terai. This is culturally an axtension of northern India with Hindi, Awadhi, Bhojpuri anf Maithili spoken more than the Nepali, however it was annexed to Nepal by conquest and by treaty eith the British. The Terai or Madhesh ends and the Hills begin at a higher range of foothills called the Mahabharat range.
2500 years ago Madhesh or the Nepalese Terai was a part of the greatest empire of ancient India – the Magadha Empire with Patliputra as its capital. The empire is supposed to have included almost all of present day Nepal along with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Bangladesh except southern tip of India.
Madheshi people speak various central and eastern dialects of Hindi language as their mother tongue, example: Maithili – 33%, Bhojpuri – 25%, Awadhi (including tharu awadhi) – 18% and rest speak Rajbanshi, Bengali, Santhal and other minor languages.
It covers about 23.1 per cent of land area and half of the population of country. With the major customs points, it generates a great of revenues for the national coffers. Key foreign trade operates from the Terai bordering India. Commercial towns such as Biratnagar and Birgunj have played important role in the growth of national economy. Terai is a rich mosaic of cultures, ethnicities, traditions and religions.
Despite topographic, cultural and ecological richness, the region has lagged behind many other regions. It is also the strategic region with deeper security implications. Sad to say, its Human Development Index is disappointing. Although the region has vast fertile land and is the sources of huge import-revenues, it is plagued by abject penury, disparity, exploitation, ignorance and superstitions which have held back its development for decades. The lopsided development of the region has partially contributed to turn it into flashpoint for recurrent conflicts. The foreign power centres have tried to use or abuse it as soft belly of country, threatening the national sovereignty and integrity.
Bearing in mind its economic backwardness and possible strategic fallouts, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had allocated big amount of budget for the development of the Terai/Madhes during his first premiership. This has generated hope and enthusiasm among the Terai people. Various development programmes and projects are underway in the region.
The government has focused its attention on speeding up the pace of development with the aim of attaining prosperity. This is the right time to propel ahead instead of looking back and faltering because we are already suffering from the consequences of the time wasted. In the past, no headway was made on development as general people were not made the real agents of development activities.
Bucks and blames were passed to the previous government or regime as if this were the right excuse for under-performance. Prosperity came for a handful of elites in the past but ironically, the gulf between the rich and the poor continued to widen. This is the vicious cycle that the present government is trying to end for good. The government is moving with the theme of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ that seeks to take the fruits of development to every doorstep of the Nepali people. In the fresh development strategy, no citizen will be left in the back seat.
This is not the kind of prosperity that reaches only a small coterie of people having proximity to influential people. In an exemplary plan, the government aims to create jobs for every household so that nobody will have to suffer under grinding poverty due to unemployment. The government even has a scheme to avail unemployment allowance for those who were forced to stay jobless. Unemployment is mainly the result of development stagnation. When the waves of development works are unleashed, opportunities come to the doorsteps. Every level of skills and expertise will be utilised.