Nepal Dalit Media Watch:
Search Lists:- [14 Apr 2004].
Dalits’ Empowerment in the Nepal Human Development Report 2004
The Nepal Human Development Report (NHDR) 2004 released today by the United Nations categorically spells out, in its reform agenda, the need for Dalits’ mainstreaming through their inclusion and empowerment. The reform agenda set out in the report seeks a fairly radical and dynamic transformation of the Nepalese society. The proposed reforms include deepening democracy, removing discriminatory laws and practices, making macro policy reforms pro-poor, expanding equitable education and health facilities, empowering the disadvantaged and marginalized groups and investing in the organizational capacity of the poor, which relate directly to socio-economic transformation of Dalits from their current oppressed and excluded status. Other proposed reforms that are also related to Dalits’ empowerment are transforming agriculture, building infrastructure, and creating employment opportunities.
The NHDR 2004 bearing "Empowerment and Poverty Reduction" as its theme explores the various means of empowering country’s weak, marginalized and alienated groups including Dalits along with other groups- notably women, indigenous people, people with disabilities, children and senior citizens. This empowerment is intended to make the current power structures far more inclusive as a means for mitigating the poverty and reducing the risk of violent civil strife. The report revolves around the condition of multiparty democracy, which has not been able to address issues of exclusion and discrimination for the past 14 years since its restoration in 1990. The report also points out the historical conditions that have resulted in current conflict, which is more intense in western regions of the country.
Focusing on the specific case of Dalits and other disadvantaged groups in Nepal, the NHDR 2004 pinpoints the fact that the social cleavage originating in the caste system continues to obstruct the welfare of the vast majority of Nepalese people. Reviewing the historical development of caste system in Nepal, the report also recognizes that the caste-based discrimination including untouchability was formalized by the State throughout Nepal through Muluki Ain (Civil Code) in 1854, and considerable ambiguity still exists, despite the abolition of untouchability by New Civil Code in 1963, and then the abolition of caste-based discrimination by the country’s current Constitution. The report sees Dalits as victims of an obsolete political system that rendered them voiceless and choice-less in all spheres of their development- notably, education, health, access to resources and control over them, employment and representation in government and political positions. However, the report sees no reason to believe that Nepal cannot mobilize the indigenous capacities of its diverse people to transform mindsets legally sanctioned by the 19th century Civil Code.
Dalit activists, Padam Lal Bishwakarma (in the Advisory Panel), Durga Sob and others were consulted in the preparation of the NHDR 2004, of which Sriram Raj Pande is the lead author. The Dalit intellectuals feel that the report has covered some of the important demands of Dalits in Nepal in the proposed reform agenda, and gives a positive and compelling direction to the country in formulating its policy for Dalits’ all-round development. For full text of the NHDR 2004, please visit the website page: http://www.undp.org.np/publications/nhdr2004/index.html [Posted on December 15, 2004; Summarized by DPR]
Bhim-Maya Appreciation Prize for Dalit Parents
The Bhim-Maya Protsahan Puraskar , an appreciation prize being instituted in the profound memory of parents of Mr. Man Bahadur BK, will be awarded annually to Dalit parents who have made extraordinary efforts to educate their children despite themselves being socio-economically deprived. Mr. BK declared the prize on the occasion of 13th day Kriya ritual of his mother, who passed away at the age of 70 on 12 Marga. He had lost his father two year ago.
The named prize will be awarded every year on the day of 24 Marga especially to the selected ones among those parents who made extraordinary contribution to their children's education despite the socio-economic deprivation, as Mr. Bk’s own parents did for him. The amount of the prize is NRs 10,001 with a letter of appreciation and Dosalla. Mr. BK hopes that it will encourage others to do some thing in his line along with traditional rituals they may follow. The prize will be institutionalised for selection, distribution and enlargement of the prize. The prize will show an example of how the Kriya rituals can be modified to benefit others among Dalit communities. The nepaldalitinfo network congratulates him for his thoughtfulness in creating the Protsahan Puraskar to immortalize his parents. The prize will surely bring positive impacts in furthering education among Dalits of Nepal.
The network also extends deep condolence to Man Bahadur BK and his family members including his two brothers D.B. Sagar Bishwokarma and Rajan Lohani, sharing with them all the sorrow of untimely passing away of their mother. D.B. Sagar is the National President of Dalit NGOs' Federation (DNF) in Nepal. [Posted on Dec 14, 2004]
Disgraceful Acts of Anti-Dalits Continue on...
More than a dozen people were injured, when Dalit activists and so called ‘upper-caste’ people clashed in fisticuffs, reports nepalnews.com. This happened when the latter tried to bar Dalits from entering a Hindu temple in Bharatpur Municipality for Puja (devotional worship) this Saturday, December 04.
What a disgraceful thing continuing to happen to this town of Nepal ! That’s in the heart of Chitwan, supposedly the most progressive district in the country. Nothing seems to have changed a bit yet from the age-old outrageously unjust practice deep rooted in the society.
For more on this story, please click here
Another news report from Rajbiraj, Saptari district (The Kathmandu Post, Dec 4) says, more than three-dozen dalit Mushahars of Rampura in Chhinnamasta VDC-3, had to be admitted to Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital after they were attacked by non-dalit local youth group. The dalits were seriously injured when the so-called ‘upper caste’ group assaulted them with iron rods and wooden staffs on last Friday.[ Dec 05, 2004]
INTERNATIONAL CONSULTATION ON CASTE-BASED DISCRIMINATION
TO BE HELD IN KATHMANDU
on 29 NOVEMBER – 1 DECEMBER
Kathmandu, Nov 25. Dalit NGO Federation (DNF) an apex body of 175 Dalit NGOs of Nepal and the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) are jointly organizing an International Consultation on Caste Based Discrimination from 29 November to 1st December 2004 in Kathmandu.
United Nations human rights’ experts, Dalit activists and international organizations will discuss strategies to eliminate caste-based discrimination at the International Consultation, which is the first international event of this kind in the world. The consultation is being attended by more than 100 participants from all over the world including from caste-affected countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan. The main objectives of this consultation are to explore best practices and new strategies to combat caste discrimination and measures to secure implementation of existing laws and policies addressing the inequality and human rights violations affecting 260 million people globally.
The highlight of the three day event is the inaugural session which will be addressed by the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Chief of Human Rights Commission Mr. Nayan Bahadur Khatry, two assistant ministers from the Dalit community, Mr. Harishankar Pariyar and Lal Bahadur Vishwakarma from the host country Nepal, and Mr. Mathew Kahane, the UN resident representative, Professor Mungekar, Planning Commission, India and others from the foreign dignitaries.
The second and third days are dedicated to actual consultation and have been divided into four sessions. The first session will deal with extent and forms of Caste-based Discrimination globally, CERD General Recommendation XXIX and follow up to the review of Nepal’s periodic report. General recommendation XXIX was issued by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 2002 on measures against caste discrimination in. Nepal, which is a party to the Convention reported to CERD in March last year. Experiences of other countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan and Africa (particularly Senegal) will also be shared.
The second session will focus on the work within the United Nations Human Rights Bodies with regard to Discrimination Based on "Work and Descent” (the UN term for caste-based discrimination) and the development of principles and guidelines for the elimination of the same. The role of United Nations agencies, such as UNDP and UNESCO in eliminating caste-based discrimination will also be discussed. Caste-based discrimination has only recently become an issue within UN's Human Rights bodies, and their strong involvement along with the international community is expected in the future. Ms. Chung, expert member of the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteurs, Miloon Kothari and Vernor Műnoz will speak at the consultation. The role of National Commissions in protecting and promoting Dalit's Human Rights will also be discussed.
The third session will focus on the role of private sector and Trans-National Corporations in addressing caste-based Discrimination. In the present context of globalization this session will be very significant debating how private sector companies can enhance their corporate social responsibility to include non-discrimination policies.
The fourth session will deal with mainstreaming of Dalit rights in development programming and papers by international agencies focusing and targeting on Dalits will be presented and commented.
Finally, a closing ceremony, in which the Honorable Minister for Local Development Mr. Yubaraj Gyanwali will be the Chief Guest, will follow a Kathmandu Declaration with the recommendations of the Consultation, says a statement released on November 22 by Hira Vishwakarma, the Management Coordinator of the International Consultation organizers.
The Dalit NGO Federation and The International Dalit Solidarity Network are hopeful that the International Consultation on Caste Based Discrimination will prove to be a milestone in the fight against caste discrimination, globally and in Nepal.
The Dalit intellectuals and friends of Dalits of Nepal are hoping that the state’s role played in perpetuating caste discrimination in the society in the past will also be analyzed and discussed in view of outlining its accountability and responsibility in resolving the existing crisis of human suffering, as a way forward.
Petitioners demand eradication of untouchability
A petition has been filed at the Supreme Court of Nepal on Friday (November 12, 2004) urging the apex court to ask the government to promulgate effective policies and programs to remove social ills like untouchability, reports Nepalnews.com. A group of 14 lawyers filed a public interest litigation (PIL) saying that section 10 (a) of the Civil Code 1963 did not have a provision to compulsorily punish the offenders. [More on this story]
The Apex Court Verdict Hurts Dalits of Nepal
The Supreme Court's verdict on a writ petition relating to reservation of quota for Dalits in admission to Tribhuwan University (TU) for higher education has hurt all Dalits of Nepal against their aspirations to progress forward in the mainstream of the society. A division bench of Justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Anupraj Sharma, issued order blocking the TU’s initiative taken for an affirmative action, which has long been due in the country. The latest posting in nepalnews.com reports, "Students from Dalit and ethnic communities have protested the Supreme Court verdict", and Padam Sundas, vice-chairman of Dalit Mukti Samaj has declared while talking to media, "This is completely an unfair verdict. We will intensify the protests nation-wide."
Recently, Tribhuvan University Board had allocated a minimum of 10 percent quota for Dalits, 15 percent for nationalities and 20 percent for women, in entrance exams of some professional degree programs such as MBBS and BE. The apex court last Monday annulled TU Board’s decision to allocate quotas to various disadvantageous groups, stating that any reservation for the socially and economically backward class, should be made only after formulating relevant laws.
The formulation of appropriate law for permanent reservation of quotas for Dalits will definitely be necessary for their proportionate inclusion in all spheres of public life. However, if a national educational institution such as TU makes some provisions in the cause of social justice using its discretionary power, this should have been taken as a welcome step. In addition, considering reservation of quotas for highly deprived group of people as any sort of discrimination to any other non-disadvantaged group is entirely a false premise against the spirit of the country’s constitution. Such an initiative of reservation especially for Dalits has the purpose and effect of enhancing but, in no way, nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the socio-economic, cultural or any other field of public life in line with related international convention against all forms of social discrimination. It is unfortunate that the apex court verdict has taken the position of apathy towards the social inequalities flourishing for long time in society in the country. The Supreme Court would have been otherwise expected to guide the government in undertaking some initiatives in the spirit of the country’s constitution specially during the present extraordinary time when due to the current absence of parliament, the immediate possibility to formulate relevant laws for taking forward steps for inclusion of Dalits into the social mainstream does not exist.[DPR, Oct. 31, 2004] Tribhuvan University reserves quotas for women, Dalit and ethnic people The Tribhuvan University, the largest and government owned University in Nepal, has announced reservation policy for women, Dalit and ethnic people as per the government's directives. "A statement issued by TU Information Department on Thursday said 20 percent student quotas will be made available to women, 15 percent to Dalits and 10 percent to students coming from ethnic communities during new enrollments", reports nepalnews.com (Aug 26, 04) "Unclaimed reserved seats will be covered into ordinary seats". The reservation policy adopted by the University is a big welcome step. Dalit organizations and activists have a role in disseminating the information about these quotas across the country to ensure full utilization of these quotas allocated to Dalits, and remain watchful of the process of execution of this policy. It is likely that enough candidates contesting for the reserved seats may not be forthcoming in the initial years. This will not deter the bright prospects that 15 percent of all the doctors or engineers graduating (for examples) come from Dalit communities in a given year, surely making a huge impact on our society within a short order.
The formulation of appropriate law for permanent reservation of quotas for Dalits will definitely be necessary for their proportionate inclusion in all spheres of public life. However, if a national educational institution such as TU makes some provisions in the cause of social justice using its discretionary power, this should have been taken as a welcome step. In addition, considering reservation of quotas for highly deprived group of people as any sort of discrimination to any other non-disadvantaged group is entirely a false premise against the spirit of the country’s constitution. Such an initiative of reservation especially for Dalits has the purpose and effect of enhancing but, in no way, nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the socio-economic, cultural or any other field of public life in line with related international convention against all forms of social discrimination.
It is unfortunate that the apex court verdict has taken the position of apathy towards the social inequalities flourishing for long time in society in the country. The Supreme Court would have been otherwise expected to guide the government in undertaking some initiatives in the spirit of the country’s constitution specially during the present extraordinary time when due to the current absence of parliament, the immediate possibility to formulate relevant laws for taking forward steps for inclusion of Dalits into the social mainstream does not exist.[DPR, Oct. 31, 2004]
Tribhuvan University reserves quotas for women, Dalit and ethnic people
The Tribhuvan University, the largest and government owned University in Nepal, has announced reservation policy for women, Dalit and ethnic people as per the government's directives. "A statement issued by TU Information Department on Thursday said 20 percent student quotas will be made available to women, 15 percent to Dalits and 10 percent to students coming from ethnic communities during new enrollments", reports nepalnews.com (Aug 26, 04) "Unclaimed reserved seats will be covered into ordinary seats".
The reservation policy adopted by the University is a big welcome step. Dalit organizations and activists have a role in disseminating the information about these quotas across the country to ensure full utilization of these quotas allocated to Dalits, and remain watchful of the process of execution of this policy.
It is likely that enough candidates contesting for the reserved seats may not be forthcoming in the initial years. This will not deter the bright prospects that 15 percent of all the doctors or engineers graduating (for examples) come from Dalit communities in a given year, surely making a huge impact on our society within a short order.
World Movements to Observe International Day of South Asian Dalit Struggle
The World Assembly of Social Movement and the World Dignity Forum have recently called for a worldwide action on 5 December 2004 as the International Day of Dalits' Struggle in South Asia. This day all over the world will be a day of mobilization for Dignity and social inclusion for Dalits and Tribals, the most oppressed and repressed society of south Asia.
To discuss the various contours of this call and to chalk out the meaning of dignity and social inclusion in the specific context of Nepal, a round-table discussion on “Living with Dignity, Democracy and Peace of Sites, Dalit Struggle in Nepal and Spaces for Solidarity in South Asia” is being organized in Kathmandu. The representation from the World Assembly of social movement and World Dignity Forum will also be present in this discussion. The discussion program will be held on October 1, 2004 between 1:00 and 4:00 PM at Hotel Orchid, Tripureshwar.
“The Physical and Planning Assistant Minister Mr. Harishanker Pariyar will be the Chief Guest and Dr. Shanker Sharma, Vice – Chairman, National Planning Commission will be the Special Guest of this program. We are inviting one and all to participate in this discussion.”, says a release from Dalit Welfare Organization, the organizers of the discussion program.
NEPALESE DALITS FACE BAN OVER RIGHTS DEMAND
Hong Kong, September 16, 2004. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a Hong Kong based regional human rights organization, today expressed grave concern for a community of Nepalese Dalits banned from using public facilities by so-called upper caste villagers angry at their refusal to dispose of the bodies of dead animals. For more on this story [CLICK HERE].
A source of inspiration to young Dalits passes away.
The Nepaldalitinfo mourns with deepest grief the untimely passing away of a Dalit activist Mr. Omitralal Vishwakarma of Tansen, Palpa on 14th of August at 6:15pm at Teaching Hospital, Kathmandu while undergoing treatment. He did not have long illness, however, had blood pressure and diabetes for which he was taking medicine. He never got involved in drinking alcohol and other intoxicating substances throughout his life of 55 years.
To almost all who knew him closely, he was a caring and sharing person to them; he was also a visionary Dalit leader, and he knew and followed most of the teachings of Riplal Vishwakarma, one of the early renowned Dalit leaders of Nepal. He was instrumental in opening a branch of Nepal Rastriya Dalit Jan Vikas Parishad, of which he was the first Vice-Chairman in 2028 BS (1972 AD). During that time some reform activities such as running a restaurant by Dalits in a local public fair (Jatra), followed by a dance show for fund raising were organised.
He has been a source of inspirations to younger Dalits especially during Panchayat era, when not much encouragement was forthcoming to them for making progress in their lives. “He was an inspirational figure to me. When I was just 13 years of age, he encouraged me to write an essay titled, "Nepal ko vikasma Jatiya Bhedbhawa ek Samasya" that secured second position in a competition organized by Balmandir in Tansen”, says his brother, a noted writer and young Dalit activist Hira Vishwakarma, “I still remember when Drona Prakash Rasali stood board first in SLC Exams, he put vermilion powder on his face congratulating him.” [Posted on Aug 20, 2004]
A Discussion Forum Organized on 42nd Civil Code Day (July 17, 2004 / Bhadra 1, 2061)
A Discussion Forum to commemorate the 42nd Civil Code Day was organized by LANCAU, Nepal revolving around the topic, “Reformation in the Criminal Justice System for the Elimination of Untouchability”.”. For more details, read a Report by Sam Nepal, Program Coordinator, LANCAU-Nepal, Kathmandu.
Nepal losing ground from being the only Hindu Kingdom in the world
Nepal may soon cease to be a Hindu majority kingdom, says Indo-Asian News Service (August 3, 2004). The news further elaborates,“The government's failure to eradicate the caste system has also made a large number of Dalits, a community regarded as being at the bottom of the social hierarchy, become Buddhists in search of a better way of life.”
Links to this news:
A Campaign for Liberation of Bonded Laborers (Haliya) Launched in Seven Remote Hill Districts of Nepal
An initiative for liberating estimated 12 thousand traditional bonded laborers (Haliya) in seven far western hill districts of Nepal has been launched, says a report published in The Kantipur, a Nepali national daily (Shrawn 16, 2061/July 31, 2004). In a campaign led by Nepal National Dalit Welfare Organization, groups of bonded laborers, of whom estimated 75% belong to Dalit communities have come forward to lodge their grievances at their respective District Administration Offices, against their landlords for unjustified exploitation meted out to them.
The landless laborers who would have borrowed a small amount of money from the village landlords at the time of their family needs were forced to become bonded laborers serving the lenders their labor free for many years (or even more than one generations in many cases) only to pay off a small portion of ever compounding interests of their principal loans leading to a never ending debts. The situation was rampant all over the country until late 1960s when the Government implemented Land Reform Program banning such lending system. In more remote and inaccessible districts of far western hills, the system has been still thriving due to high handedness of village landlords who being close to the power centers and feudal ruling classes, have continued the practice even today.
Dalits’ Position in Budget Discussed
The budget brought out through an ordinance by the current nominated Government of Nepal is criticized for not prioritizing Dalits. Jagaran Media Center a Dalit awareness group based in Kathmandu took initiative to organize a face-to-face forum on the topic, "Dalits in National Budget" where personalities “from different walks of life expressed their dissatisfaction over the budget allocated for the dalit community”, reports The Kathmandu Post.
On this occasion, Purnasingh Baraily presented a concept paper with a backgrounder analysis of the current budget against the situation of Dalits in the country. >>>[The full text of his Concept Paper in Nepali]
The expression of dissatisfaction over the budgetary allocation relating to Dalits is a small step forward in recognizing the needs to focus on all round development of a significant population which has been oppressed for centuries. Dalits of Nepal eventually deserve long-term comprehensive compensation packages against the extent of socio-economic oppression inflicted upon them through the statatory provisions for centuries.[July 22, 2004]
Two Assistant Ministerial Seats for Dalits
Two Dalit leaders, Lal Bahadur Bishwokarma and Hari Shankar Pariyar, have been included today in the expansion of Council of Ministers headed by PM Sher Bahadur Deuba. Bishwokarma is Assistant Minister for Population and Environment, and Pariyar is of the same rank for Physical Planning and Works. It is hoped that both ministers will provide a strong voice of Dalits at the forefront of Nepali political scene during the critical time of upcoming developments.
Dalit intellectuals and activists have been demanding Dalits' representations in all political and high level appointments providing them greater role to play in shaping the future of the country.
The present nominated Council of Ministers, if functional, is expected to address the aspirations of the people, bringing peace to the country by way of negotiated settlements with Maoists' rebellion and conducting national election for a democratic government duly elected by the people or for a Constituent Assembly.
At the present time, the country is running without existence of any representative body directly elected by the people at any level of government functionaries in Nepal, ever since the elected Parliament and local bodies were dissolved more than two years ago. [July 5, 2004]
>>>>[The Cabinet members and their portfolios]
Dalit activists present a memorandum to Prime Minister
A group of Dalit activists presented a memorandum to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba last Sunday the 21st June, demanding immediate steps to be taken for including Dalit representation to various levels of government. Among twelve signatories of the memorandum are Dalit Leader Padam Sundas, Academician Ram Sharan Darnal and Dalit Rights Advocate Ratna Bagchand.
An unofficial translation of the memorandum text runs as the following:
Right Honorable Prime Minister,
In today’s 21st century, it would be merely a creative imagination to talk about peoples’ freedom, peace and development without democracy.
From the experience of country’s rule for the past decade, everyone believing in democracy has realized the fact that the country’s rule without peoples’ participation will not resolve any exiting problems, but rather aggravate the situation.
Whereas all political parties and state leaders should not forget the fact that establishment of a democratic rule is necessary for the country’s permanent peace and development, the participations of exploited Dalits, women and indigenous Janajati form the pillarstones for the permanency of country’s democratic rule.
Dalits constituting one-fourth of the country’s populace that are said to be ultimate sovereign power of the country, should also be able to feel through the democratic rule that they are very much the part of the sovereign power.
For this reason, if the fact of the participation of Dalit communities being atmost necessary for the democratic setup of country’s rule is neglected by the political parties and state leaders now as ever before, this will only usher chaos and instability leading to obstacle in the development of country’s democratic setup, as it has been clear in everyone's mind.
Therefore, we on behalf of the civil society cordially ask your Honorable Prime Minister for taking the following immediate steps for giving permanency to the democratic setup of country’s rule, peace and development:
1. Make representation of Dalit communities in the forthcoming expansion of Cabinet level Council of Ministers mandatory, and include able personalities of clean images who are dedicated to, are believers of, and are active in democracy and democratic setup of country’s rule.
2. Initiate talks with Maoists’ rebellion for country’s permanent peace through negotiated settlements.
3. Execute, more effectively without any further delay, the management of reservation system for women, Janajatis, indigenous people, Madhesi and Dalits, initiated by the previous governments.
4. Make representation of Dalit communities in all political appointments to all agencies including National Planning Commission.
5. Constitute National Dalit Commission immediately, and while doing so, include qualified and able personalities of clean images including various specialists.
6. Constitute National Women’s Commission immediately, and while doing so, include qualified and able women of clean images.
7. Reconstitute the Development Committee for Neglected, Oppressed and Dalit Class Upliftment, and while doing so, include qualified, able personalities of clean images from Dalit communities.
For the original text of the memorandum as presented to the Prime Minister, click here >>> [Memorandum in Nepali]
(News source: Ratna Bagchand, June 22, 2004)
Nepal TV broadcasting a talk show on Dalits' higher education
Dalit Welfare Organization (DWO), a Kathmandu based non-governmental organization active in Dalit's overall development and empowerment is presenting talk program "Kanchuli" on Nepal TV.
The presentation is a new episode of talk program on "Access of Dalits to higher education", which will be aired on Thursday May 20, 2004 from 6:50 to 7:20 PM, and will be repeated on Friday May 21 right after 9:00 AM English News, says a release by the Kanchuli's host Mr. Chakraman Bishwakarma.
The participants in the talk show are Prof. Dr. Bidya Nath Koirala, an Educationist, Dr. Hari Prasad Parajuli, Secretary, Higher Secondary School Association, Mr. Narayan Prasad Koirala, Joint Sectrary, Planning & Monitoring Division, Higher Secondary Education Board, Sanothimi, Bhaktapur.
The Kanchuli team cordially invites the valued NTV viewers to give feedback/ comments on the show. The TV show is expected to promote a "Student Bank" Scholarship Program launched recently by the Office of the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) in Sanothimi, Bhaktapur in collaboration with DWO.[Posted on May 20, 2004, DPR]
Media Watch Special Report:
Dalit Coverage in The Telegraph Weekly
The website, nepaldalitinfo pleasantly recognizes that in the past two issues of "The Telegraph", a weekly published from Kathmandu, had a significant amount of coverage on Dalits in Nepal.
In The Telegraph's issue this week, most notable is an article with the heading, "Dalits in Governance" [National: The Telegraph - Weekly, May 12, 2004] written by Dev Raj Dahal and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The authors examine the contemporary situation of country's Dalits under the subheadings- Vision, Basic Questions, Skewed Development and Problems of Collective Action, though in an increasing order of their comprehensiveness. The vision stated revolves around the recent reform agenda perceived by current players based on the interactions among them. But, the article is little short of looking at a holistic view that much more of Dalits' potential to become dynamic stakeholders of the country's overall development and well-being are yet to be explored and addressed in a whole gamut. Basic Questions and Skewed Development sections of the article raise Dalits' concerns based on the current affairs concerning Dalits. However, these again are to be viewed under the circumstances of the country where the traditional feudalism has been ever engulfing the true spirit of democracy, distorting the meaning and contents of the peoples' aspirations. The strongest link in the article, however, is the "Problems of Collective Action". The key problem inherent with Dalits, as the author narrates, is that "the collective identity of Dalits does not imply the homogeneity of their conditions, ideas and orientations and effective communication among them." In order to address this problem collectively, the article leads the readers to a point where organization among Dalits become crucial for unifying themselves into a "solidarity group". This is in consonance with the Dalits' belief in solidarity following the path of "Educate, Organize and Struggle" as advocated by Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
Another analytical report of this week, "Factors Behind the Maoist People's War-IV" [Views: The Telegraph - Weekly, May 12, 2004], is a part of the series of articles written by D.B. Grurung, examining a cross-section of socio-economic fabric of Nepalese society that contributes to factors leading to Maoists' people's war. It starts with reiterating the views that "the indigenous nationalities were primarily egalitarian and did not practice untouchability" until it was imposed by Hindu rulers. It is a hard fact that the rulers were "imposing orthodox Hindu social rules of endogamy, commensality, untouchability, and the notion of purity and pollution" at their will through their decrees, of which the latest was Muluki Ain (Civil Code imposed during Rana regime). The author also summarizes some of the core hardships currently facing Dalits, specially the women, leading to the situation that "the Dalits, whose life and dignity is reduced to sub-human levels, are more than ready to fight against the corrupt and unethical Hindu state."
In this week's issue, the Editor has also included two of "Five Questions" posed to Dr. Hari Bansha Jha, Professor and Senior Economist, Tribhuvan University, that directly relate to Dalits of Nepal. "The contribution of the Dalits is very important in the national economy", answers Jha to a question, "They are the most productive community". Jha reiterates that the exploitation meted out to Dalits has led them to receive low wages for their hard labor. This situation, particularly in Terai, has even resulted in widespread migration of many Terai Dalits to India. Jha identifies the lack of representation in decision-making process at the local and national administrative and political bodies as the main problem, though he thinks that the quality of life among Dalits is improving over time. His expression indicative of his satisfaction over some provisions made recently by the government on ad-hoc basis for reservations for the Dalits in social sectors like in education, however, cannot match the demands that Dalits are genuinely putting forward. On the other hand, he has righteously emphasized the need for eliminating the caste discrimination among Dalits themselves.
In the last week's issue, an article written by Dr. H.B. Jha,”Efforts to Raise Dalit's Share in Governance [National: The Telegraph - Weekly, May 05, 2004] outlines brief historical development of efforts and programs in favor of weaker sections of the society including Dalits, and makes a case for making efforts to raise Dalits' share of governance in Nepal. Some population figures are also given for different caste groups among Dalits. Finally, the author makes recommendations that are, in spirit, supporting most of the genuine Demands of Dalits.
Another article written by D.B. Gurung, “Factors Behind the Maoist People's War-III" [Views: The Telegraph - Weekly, May 05, 2004], as part of a series, generally relates to Dalits and their concerns with other ethnic and socio-economic groups that have been oppressed in the context of examining factors contributing to Maoist People's War.
This is not the only time "The Telegraph" is covering Dalit issues. The Weekly has been featuring Dalits occasionally, just as there has been a surge of Dalit coverage in the media thanks to many efforts put on Dalit advocacy by many quarters in the recent few years. Media sector is one big stakeholder which has immense role to play in furthering the cause of Dalits in Nepal. [A Report by DPR, May 15, 2004]
Local Efforts Made for Easy Access of Dalits to School
Upgrading of a lower secondary level school in Lamagay village of Syangja district to a High School is underway to facilitate easy access of Dalits and deprived children to high school education.
This project is being initiated by local efforts in the village, thanks to the initial efforts made by Jokh Bahadur Darji, a retired British Gurkha soldier of the village. The educational disparity existing between Dalits and more resourceful non-Dalits in the village "irked 69-year-old retired Gurkha soldier, so much so that he decided to upgrade Shrawan Lower Secondary School.",
says a report in:The Kathmandu Post. It is said that the initiative will directly benefit some 150 Dalit children in the village.
For more of this news story, read: > The Kathmandu Post Front Page [May 10, 2004].
Nepal Development Forum to Discuss Some Dalit Issues
The final meeting of Nepal Development Forum 2004 (NDF, previously known as "Nepal Aid Group Meetings") being held in Kathmandu next week (May 5-6) will discuss some of the issues relating to Dalit development in Nepal. Most development issues that are directly relevant to Dalits, who make up as large as 20% of the country’s population, are included under the human rights agenda of the meeting, going by the related paper presented in the preparatory meetings (See: The Draft Paper on Human Rights). The discussion will most likely remain in low key, and may revolve around the programs of National Dalit Commission, the only governmental institution dedicated to development and welfare of Dalits. Dalits are watchful as to what level of commitments His Majesty’s Government and its development partners will show for their cause in terms of drawing foreign aid programs specifically targeted to them.
The age-old problems of Dalits are manifold, as they have been the victims of human rights violations, socio-economic and political exclusions, bad governance and social evils rampant for centuries. While these problems must be resolved in the early part of the 21st century, they are best addressed, if planned in a whole gamut rather than as a piece-meal work, hence, deserving a separate entity for Dalits to be included in the agenda for discussion in the forum like NDF.
NDF-2004 is being held amid much skepticism for being organized in the absence of a representative government, without the participation of major political parties, and under a countrywide conflict situation.
[Posted on 1 May 2004, DPR]
A Lawyers’ Group Campaigns Against Untouchability in Nepal
A group of lawyers has launched a campaign against the practice of untouchability still rampant in Nepal. The group named as ‘Lawyers’ National Campaign Against Untouchability, Nepal’ is formed to help rooting out the practice from the society. ‘The campaign aims to help usher the implementation of existing constitutional/statutory provisions against untouchability, provisions made in [international] charters against racial discriminations, Durban Declarations (2001) and [associated] work plans against racial discrimination, and HM Government's [of Nepal] declarations and programs against caste discrimination as announced from time to time’, says a press release by the Campaign.
The Press Release [in Nepali]-->
Categorizing the issues of untouchability into two sectors as Dalit and Non-Dalits, the Campaign has proposed a 12-point program for their action-plan, focusing on the eradication of internal caste discrimination among Dalit castes.
One of the obstacles of eradicating the age-old evil practice from the Nepalese society is a bitter fact that it is prevailing among the victimized communities themselves. Traditionally, this has been serving the purpose of feudal rulers, lords and priests nurturing the practice of untouchability as a part of their ‘divide and rule’ policy. Even in the modern days, the evil practice is so deep rooted among our own Dalit communities making it an arduous task for the communities to come out of its cocoon. The efforts made by the lawyers’ group can make affirmative contribution towards gaining momentum of our struggle against the evil practice handed down from centuries. [Posted on 29 April 2004, DPR]
A Dalit's photograph bags international award
An international award is given for a photograph entitled ‘Social Victim’ showing Dilbahadur Biswokarma, a barefoot Dalit-caste blacksmith, who is ploughing a field for a so called upper-caste employer paying him barely US$1.25 a day. The award, US$ 250 in value, is categorically named as one of three “highly commended” photographies, and was given in World Association of Christian Communication (WACC)’s Photographic Competition “Images of Communication” to its winner Mukunda Bogati from Nepal.
In the photograph [Click here to see], Dilbahadur is shown being interviewed for a program on Radio Madan Pokhara in Palpa District of Nepal, reporting caste-based social discrimination. Dil Bahadur is shown in the picture from his left back side "to exhibit his Hasiya (a traditional knife) encased and tied around his loin, which is symbolic of his hardworking style", says Mukunda on inquiring with him.
The website of WACC reports, “The judges praised the image for showing how community-based media can give a voice to the voiceless, and tackle issues of social justice.”
The award may contribute, though in a small way, to increasing international awareness of the socio-economic condition in which Dalits live in Nepal. [April 2, 2004, DPR]
* Dalit activists criticize National Dalit Commission
* Villagers prohibited from worshipping in nearby Hindu temples
This is an another case among many atrocities committed against Dalits on daily basis in the rural areas of Nepal.
The First General Assembly of Dalit Intellectuals in Nepal
Kathmandu, January 30, 2004; The first general assembly of the National Dalit Intellectuals' Academy, Nepal (NaDIAN) was held today in the residential bangalow of one of the members of its Advisory Committee, the retired Major Mr Bal Bahadur Sundas. As the President Dr. Madan Pariyar had already resigned due to his international appointment abroad, the Vice President Mr Kailash Shah Sankar chaired the general assembly. Dr Chet Pariyar, the General Secretary welcomed all the guests, officials and general members, and presented the progress report of the Academy for the period since its inception. Likewise, Mr. Man Bahadur Bk, the Treasurer, presented the financial reports.
The general assembly of the Academy has unanimously elected a new Executive Committee comprising of Dr. Chet Pariyar as President, Kailash Shah Sankar as Vice President, Om Prakash Vk Gahatraj- as General Secretary, Man Bahadur Bk as Treasurer, Yam bahadur Kisan as Secretary, while other elected members of the committee are Chandra Kumar Gadal, Desh Bahadur Sarki and Sankar Dulal. Likewise, an Advisory Committee headed by Mr Sanker Prasad Vishwakarma was formed with Bal Bahadur Sundas, Bhagat Singh Bagdas, Mithai Devi Bishwakarma and Ram Saran Darnal as the members.
During the assembly session, the Academy has discussed on various comtemporary dalit issues of the nation. The Academy was established in 2002 as a forum of intellectual debate on Dalit and other related issues.
[News contributed by Man Bahadur Bk]
Another World is Possible: World Social Forum 2004
The burning issues of Dalits in Nepal are being discussed prominently in what seems to be a mega global conference that brings together World's mass organisations and social movements for building alliances to create a more just world and to oppose unfair patterns of globalisation. One of the largest events in social movements of the world is being held from January 16 to 21 in Goregaun District of Mumbai Metropolis in India. The World Social Forum 2004 bears a theme, "Another World is Possible".
Some of the topical seminars addressing the issues of Nepalese Dalits organized in the Forum are "Conflict and Dalits' Rights" being presented by Jagaran Media Center (Nepal), "Status of Dalits in Nepal" by Dalit Welfare Organization (Nepal), "Racism & Human Rights" by Literary Academy for Dalits of Nepal, and "National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights" by International Dalit Solidarity Network in which Sagar Bishwakarma from Nepal is one of the speakers.
"A contingent of delegation of Dalits and friends of Dalits from Nepal", reports Mr. Om Prakash VK Gahatraj participating from Nepal, is attending the Forum that will feature at least 1,200 seminars, in addition to large public conferences and meetings that will be attended by upto 20,000 people. More than 75,000 people from all over the world are expected to gather in Mumbai for this event, the Forum's website reports.[Jan 21, 2004]
The full program can be searched in the Forum's website at: <http://www.wsfindia.org/>.
Related article: <Globalisation and Dalits of Nepal by Hira Vishwakarma>.
Nepali Dalit Leaders Honored with International Awards
Five Dalit Leaders of Nepal have been awarded international awards this year by Indian Dalit Literary Academy. Among those honored, Mr. Ramprit Paswan, Vice-Chairman of the National Assembly of Nepal is given the most prestigous award of the Academy, Dr. Ambedkar International Award.
Although there exists no mechanism within Nepal to recognize appropriately the contribution of Dalit workers of Nepal, the Indian Academy has been felicitating them on regular basis. We express the deep sense of appreciation to the Academy for closely watching the developments in Dalit movement of Nepal, and recognizing the individuals who have devoted significantly to the cause of Nepali Dalits.On this story: <More>.
Homage to Singer Jhalak Man Gandharva
We in the nepaldalitinfo network are deeply saddened to hear about the untimely demise of noted Folks Singer Jhalak Man Gandharva, and express our deep love and tribute to him and heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family. The nepaldalitinfo also demands from the His Majesty's Government for an appropriate recognition of his contribution to the nation.
[Posted on Nov. 22, 2003].
On this story
Late Jhalakman Gandharva
Cornell University Doctoral Student Studies Dalits of Nepal.
A research on a topic relating to Dalit empowerment in Nepal is being conducted by a Ph.D. student from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA. Laurie Ann Vasily is undertaking this project in the field of Education under the prestigious Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program of the Fullbright Commission. Her proposed dissertation title is "Partnership for Dalit Empowerment: A Collaborative Adult Literacy Education Curriculum Project in Nepal". In partnership with a Dalit- focused NGO in Nepal, she is exploring the elements of liberatory adult literacy education practice that promote Dalit empowerment.
This is the first time that a doctoral level student from such a reputed American University has undertaken research on Dalits of Nepal. Many Mountain ethnic groups (Janajati) of Nepal- Sherpas, Tamang, Gurung to name for example- have been of research interest to western researchers, academicians and Universities for a long time, and many research papers and popular books have been written popularizing them in the world. From this standpoint, Vasily's pioneering study may open the doors for many other anthropologists, socio-economists, historians, political scientists, journalists, academicians and researchers of western countries to investigate many aspects of the oppressed people of Nepal. Dalit people in the country are said to constitute about 20% of the country's total population, but are excluded from the socio-economic and political mainstream of the society for centuries, and are still forced to remain under the dark shadow of feudal tradition.
[Posted on Nov. 18, 2003]
Government Directives to Fight Discrimination
The Government of Nepal has directed local administrations to fight social offences like untouchability and caste discrimination, reports www.nepalnews.com (Nov. 11, 2003) quoting a Home Ministry statement.
On this story
In the past, most cases of such atrocities committed on Dalits based on untouchability and caste discrimination have gone neglected by local administrators and police even after these became punishable by law.
The Discriminatory Former MP Released on Bail [November 8, 2003]
The District Administration Office of Siraha has released a former Member of Parliament Dana Lal Chaudhary, on Rs. 500 bail, along with his partners Mahesh Chaudhary, Taneshwor Chaudhary and Pahup Chaudhary, says a news report (www.nepalnews.com, Nov 8). They were arrested for preventing Dalits from the use of public roads and water taps, and also manhandling the victims.
On this story
The observers fear that the harrowing crime committed against Dalits, by a noted public figure, may turn into just an another case of caste discrimination to which the responsible authorities have been indifferent as ever.
According to earlier report from www.nepalnews.com, local police of Siraha District had arrested the former Member of Parliament (MP) Danalal Chaudhary for discrimination against the dalits. Ex-MP Chaudhary had banned a dalit community from using the public roads and beat some people of that community.
"Country in crisis due to disharmony between state and society" [News link: The Telegraph/Nov26, 2003]
...Dalits, women, youth and trade unions are seeking for affirmative action.
A family of so-called upper caste (but one of the lowest in mentality!) sets fire to Dalit’s house [News link: ktmpost/2003/nov25]
Rs. 270m for girls, dalits' education (ktmpost/2003/oct/oct17):)
Education drive for Dalit children effective (ktmpost/2003/oct/oct12):
The Admission and Encouragement Program initiated jointly by District Education Office Tanahun and UNICEF for the children of the Dalits and oppressed class is said to be very effective....
In-laws accept Dalit bride (ktmpost/2003/oct/oct10):
By Post Report
A couple who had been barred from entering the bridegroom's house for a week by the parents of the bridegroom due to their inter-caste marriage, were reported to be finally allowed to enter the house.....
A Dalit-friendly program
Dalit women pen success stories
Dalit families forbidden to use public water-tap
Plight of Dalit women discussed