The controversial Nepali citizenship ordinance of Article 114(1) of has been issued by President Bidya Devi Bhandari. According to this ordinance, the path for citizenship is now open for the children of citizens by birth who have been unable to acquire the citizenship due to the lack of a federal law will now obtain the citizenship by descent. The previous citizenship act has been discriminating for women as it questioned the rights of women as a free and equal citizen of the country and the constitutional right to equality.
The ordinance is an important step towards a future for equality but it has still failed to address the issues and position of people of other sexual identity or LGBTIQ+ community. The inclusiveness of the Citizenship ordinance and the threat to minority community has been exposed to vulnerability as the nation still fails to acknowledge them. Also, the Citizenship Ordinance has provoked the nationalism debate due to the geo-political situation and the border issues between Nepal and India. But what we as a nation have failed to notice is that we cannot deny the rights to our citizens just because of the lack of geo-political strategy and anti-Indian sentiments among Nepali citizens
COVID-19 second wave under the lens of Gender and Social Inclusion
As the unprecedented second wave of COVID-19 hit the country hard, the vulnerability of people and the lack of preparedness of government have been exposed. South Asia has turned out to be the epicenter of the second wave due to which most countries in the area has been severely affected by the COVID-19. As the infection rate and deaths were on spike, Nepal government, imposed restrictions all across the nation. Borders were shielded, transportations were limited to basic services and educational institutions were closed. The restrictions were imposed by the government in Kathmandu valley from April 24th 2021, as a public health measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Migrant Workers became the direct victims of the restrictions as the International flights were suspended along with travel ban effective from May 6. The migrant workers, who have already booked their flights to go work at mostly Middle Eastern and gulf countries, faced an uncertainty. Also, the migrant workers on the verge of returning to Nepal were also caught off-guard due to the sudden suspension. Government’s delay to issue immediate response regarding the situation of the migrant workers made many migrant workers return from India via border when the pandemic hit India harder. This phenomenon in one hand increased the risk of virus transmission in Nepal whereas in the other, the migrant workers face job crisis and unemployment.
The airport is due to reopen for the first international services from 31 May starting with a few essential flights between Kathmandu and New Delhi in India. The government has issued a directive saying that the international flights will be reopened for limited flights to China, Turkey and Qatar but the fares are likely to get tripled from the pre-COVID-19 times.
Marginalized Community under more vulnerability
Daily wage workers are severely affected by the restrictions as many lost their jobs as the restrictions become even stricter and they are having a hard time making ends meet. Even though the restrictions were set to control the spread of the virus, the future looks dark for the poor. As the government fails once again to address the daily needs and security of the low-income peoples, many NGOs, Community groups and volunteer groups are in their aid through different food relief and donation programs.
Also, the middle income and low-income people who were infected with the COVID-19 virus faced difficulties in getting proper health services. As the government health organizations and hospitals ran out of bed, oxygen and other medical equipment, people with severe infection were forced to stay home despite their worsening conditions as they were unable to afford health services from the private hospitals and medical institutions. Many have died due to lack of ventilators; oxygen and hospital beds/wards during the second wave. Despite the worsening health crisis, the government has been incompetent in addressing the issues and has instead been occupied with power politics. The sufferings of the low-income people have only increased as the pandemic continues to hit hard. The government should overcome its failure in preparedness through response and recovery.