Caste-based Injustice

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Nepal has observed the 58th International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination the other day with renewed commitment to end all types of discriminations against the Dalit (downtrodden) and other oppressed communities. The caste-based discrimination has posed a big challenge to building an equal and egalitarian society. Dalits have been oppressed and exploited since the ancient time due to entrenched superstitions and discriminatory social rules imposed under feudal system. The caste-based disparity is against civilisation, scientific outlook and human values. As a result, this has caused a big damage to the inclusive development and prosperity. With the nation ushering in democracy, civil rights and modernisation process, people’s awareness against this anti-social practice has grown to unprecedented level. Democracy creates a playing level field, providing the opportunity to the people of all strata to participate in political and decision making processes. 


Nepal has witnessed a series of political and social movements, which have tremendously helped enhance the political, educational and economic status of the downtrodden communities. Nepal’s constitution has put emphasis on ending all kinds of discriminations, inequalities and exploitations of the people. So the successive governments have given priority to eradicating the caste-based discrimination through various reforms, progressive programmes and policies. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has been observed on March 21 every year since 1966. Nepal endorsed the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1971. Nepali Dalits have been celebrating the day throughout the country since 2046 B.S. This year, the international slogan of the day is: ‘Urgency of Combating Racism and Racial Discrimination’ while its national motto is: “Let's implement the constitutional and legal provisions effectively! Let's resist untouchability and caste-based discrimination.” 


The Day has inspired the Dalit movement and struggles, thereby internationalising their issues. It is not just the political parties, civil society and media but also the international organisations and agencies which are supporting Nepali Dalits to advance their cause. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, while addressing a programme organised to mark the occasion on Tuesday, called for positive discrimination to ensure the political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Dalit people. The PM was of the view that the state should provide privilege with reparation to the Dalit community for their development. The present government is mulling to announce a special programme targeting the Dalit community. PM Prachanda added that constitutional and legal rights, enshrined in the constitution and enjoyed by the Dalits, were the results of the people's struggles and sacrifice. 


It is the responsibility of all to strive and contribute to end the caste and racial discrimination that has plagued the South Asian nations for centuries. Nepali state should effectively enforce constitutional and legal provisions for the representation of Dalits in all layers of state organs and mechanisms. It is necessary to formulate and amend laws to ensure their access to opportunity, resources and participation. Dalit community comprises of around 13 per cent of the total population in Nepal. In Madhes Province alone, Dalits consist of 18 per cent of the total populace. Their condition is far worse than that of hill Dalits. Three years ago, the Madhes Province enacted the Dalit Empowerment Act that has incorporated the provisions of ration cards, an alternate educational system, and a monthly grant for Dalit students but it is yet to be fully enforced. The Madhes Province government must not delay in implementing these schemes for the benefit of the Dalit community.

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