Nyinba are citizens of the Nepalese state and subject to its legal code, which is Hindu-influenced but also gives recognition to traditional custom.
Social Organization. Nyinba are socially stratified, with the major distinction between a class of slaveowners and the descendants of their slaves, freed in 1926. Slaves traditionally married monogamously and uxorilocally and lived in nuclear-family households. This family structure dovetailed with and augmented the polyandrous households of their masters, many of whom suffered chronic shortages of female labor. Today the poorer slave descendants serve as a dependent labor force, supplemented by hired laborers from ethnic Nepali villages. There also are minor status distinctions within the former slaveowner stratum: the older, village-founding clans have greater status than members of more recently arrived clans.
Political Organization. In the past, the Nyinba were ruled by petty Hindu chieftains of high caste, whose descendants remain politically influential today. In 1789, they became subjects of the Nepalese state, which interfered little in the area, beyond regulating land usage and taxation, until the 1950s. The effect of these regimes has been to undermine Nyinba unity and indigenous institutions of leadership. The fact that villages successfully coordinate economic activities and religious ceremonials is due to a traditional system of village organization. This is based upon cooperative action between households related by past partitions and by the rotation of offices holding responsibility for collective events.
Social Control and Conflict. Today villages are highly factionalized, and prominent Nyinba anchor their power by affiliations with the descendants of their former rulers, who now participate in the national political arena. Although in law, Nepalese of all castes and classes now have equal Political and legal rights, some elements of past inequality linger on. Thus slave descendants remain less powerful (as well as poorer) locally.