Still talkingCaste-based discrimination and untouchability persist in different parts of Nepal despite efforts to promote equality
Dalits are the most unfortunate and extremely exploited community in Hindu society, and the discourse on their inclusion, including other indigenous castes and ethnicities, in state mechanisms and peace-building has spread throughout Nepal. Many debates were held before Nepal’s new constitution was promulgated. It can bring about a conducive environment for all the concerned communities for their growth and personality development. However, thoughts and perspectives pertaining to the upliftment of the depressed communities in Nepal vary among different sections of society.
Before the constitution was finalised, leaders of depressed communities forcefully put forward their ideas and demands at public forums and assured the general public that they were doing their best for their communities’ interests. They also pledged to strive to include depressed communities in every organ of the state with special privileges for their growth and existence. Campaigns and seminars about Dalit rights are held in different cities of the country, and members of the depressed communities become optimistic about getting the best contributions from them.
Instead the conventional minds that pervade society took away the rights and assurances regarding their upliftment that existed in the previous constitution. The cunning heads in leadership positions did not provide them an opportunity to make rules and regulations for their entire advancement. Some rights were added and the Dalit Commission was made a constitutional body. But merely establishing the commission is not going to make a difference. Men of letters with a farsighted vision, mission and plan should have space in the constitutional commission. How can the commission bring about justice and awareness among the millions of concerned citizens in the country without radical thoughts?
Moreover, the reality at the grassroots is different from the provisions concentrated in the documents of the state. It is not an exaggeration that what was said could not be done by the state. Everywhere in the rural areas, profit-seeking agents take advantage of the masses. The people in rural areas are very poor, and the clever individuals have made the issue of rights a business. They collect funds in the name of marginalised people and spend them on building expensive hotels in the Kathmandu Valley, travelling around the world and holding symposiums.
Members of the depressed communities see multiple challenges in implementing the constitutional provisions because they see differences in the reality at the grassroots and the dreams sold by dreamers. They lack livelihoods, access to property and education. The economic and socio-cultural maladies in society do not allow them to become rich. The inter-community marriages adopted during the Maoist rebellion turned into a farce for most of the citizens in the country. Instances of divorce and separation abound throughout the country.
In addition, the leading strata within the depressed communities just think of preserving their space and wellbeing because it is the nature of a politically divided society. Seesawing loyalties, deception and instigation are the characteristics of the current system. The focus on raising funds and providing limited opportunities to a handful of individuals encourages the limited number of heads to consume state resources. Their actions do not assure radical changes in the structure of Nepali society. Discourses alone do not bring awareness among the masses.
What is required is a conducive environment and honesty to adopt the rules and regulations as agreed. Conscious individuals must oppose the existing categorisation to make this happen.
Caste-based discrimination and untouchability still exist in different parts of the country despite the efforts of intellectuals and policymakers to promote human rights and equality. Killing, kidnapping, violence, confiscation and robbery still exist in diverse forms in society. The condition of women and poor people in the Tarai is worsening day by day. Individuals with a traditional mindset directly violate constitutional provisions in the country’s rural backwater. Hence, constitutional organs face challenges when implementing the law. They should act rationally, effectively and influentially to protect the rights and welfare of the masses to contribute to impartial peace-building in the country. Therefore, this is a fact everyone has to understand while contributing to the progress of humanity.
Bishwakarma is a doctorate student at the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tribhuvan University