Belated but welcomeCaste-based discrimination is an abomination of our society.
The promotion of Sita Pariyar to the position of chief district officer of Humla is a cause for celebration; but the first woman from the Dalit community to hold this high office also reflects poorly on what we as a society have been able to achieve in terms of social emancipation. The practice of the caste system has left such an indelible mark on the psyche of multiple generations that even after nearly 60 years since the amendment to the old civic code which outlawed discrimination based on caste, untouchability and social inequity remains rife in our society.
Sadly, it is indicative of how a legal amendment means nothing unless the willingness to change comes from the core of society eager to cast off the oppressive yoke. It may be an unfamiliar experience for many, but the burden of discrimination isn’t just about extreme forms of ostracism. It is the constant denial of the fundamental right to equality, the right against exploitation, and the right to live with dignity on a daily basis. Such is the state of abuse that society in the 21st century needs special laws drafted to protect their brethren. Caste-based discrimination is not just a blemish; it is an abomination of our society.
What people seek is to be treated fairly and equally. If there is a sense of fairness in society, then the opportunities present will fall on to those who work to achieve it. But because there is widespread discrimination, it becomes the prerogative of the state to intervene and ensure that no section of society gets left behind. For instance, according to a National Human Rights Commission report, the representation of the Dalit community in the state apparatus is abysmal, for lack of a better term.
Of the 88,578 people serving in the civil service today, only 1,971 are from the Dalit community, just about 2.2 percent, and about 9.45 percent representation in the Nepal Police, 8.14 percent in the Nepal Army, and the lowest of them all, just 1 percent in the judiciary. This low representation is primarily due to the widespread discriminatory environment that the people of the Dalit community endure for most of their lives. The state guarantees admission to school, but what is lacking is an environment where there is no social discrimination.And hence, only a few of them solely determined to turn their lives around amid all odds manage to swim to the top, while the multitudes lose their shine and drop out fatigued by societal ostracism. It is poignant to point out that discrimination exists not just in the rural hinterlands but is, in fact, quite alive and kicking in the cities too. There have been many instances of people being denied accommodation after being found to belong to the Dalit community. If we are to ever progress as a society, then there is even more reason to shun such bigoted practices, but rather cultivate the necessity to show just a little compassion instead of hatred.