Book Highlighting the Woes of
Dalit and Dalit Women of Terai
(Terai ka Dalit ewam Dalit mahila)
Edited by: Dr. Haribansha
Jha Ph. D
Published Date: December 2003
Published by: Center for Economic and Technical
Studies (CETS) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
Price: Not mentioned, Pages:
ISBN No: 99933-837-0-8
DALITS that constitute 13.8 per cent
of total population are among the most neglected community
of Nepal. And dalits of Terai live in wretched conditions
compared to the dalits of the hills.
The dalits in Terai represent the Chamar,
(Harijan) Musahar, Dusadh, Paswan, Tatam, Khatbe,Dhobi,
Dum and Ghagad communities amond others.
In addition to facing social deprivation,
these castes have been facing a lot of harships to eke
out their living. Ironically, these communities are the
backbone for agriculture and other social systems in Terai,
but they are being treated as 'untouchables', perhaps
a big stigma on the face of humanity.
The country witnessed various social
and political movements in the last five decades but these
marginalised people have failed to realise any significant
changes in their lives. Neither there have been enough
academic efforts to bring out facts about them.
With the advent of multiparty democracy,
political parties and civil society began to look into
their woes but this was only a lip service. However, the
democratic set up offered many forums to raise their voices.
Of lately, the then government formed
the Neglected, Oppressed and Dalit Uplift Develoment Committee
in 1997 but it received 0.01 per cent of budget that is
just a drop in the ocean.
Dalit and Dalit Women in Terai makes
a humble attemt to depict a true picture of Terai dalits.
As the title suggests, the book concentrates on two aspects
-dalits and dalit women. It has been divided into three
parts. The first part presents the overall scenario of
the dalits-their social, economic, political and cultural
status in the society and efforts to improve their miserable
situation. It deals with the individual dalit communities.
The second and the third section describes dalit women,
their contribution in the economy, their health, empowement
The book is the collection of working
papers presented in two separate seminars on 'The Strategy
for the Uplift of Terais' Dalits' and 'Strategy to Improve
the Status of Women from Terai's Dalit' held in Janakpur
in 2001 and 2002 with the funding of FES.
Most of the contributors of the book
are not from the top academic circle. One of the important
features of the book is to unfold the miseries of dalits
by non other than the authors from the dalit communities.
In 'Development of 'Madhesi dalit,'
Dr. Haribansa Jha writes, 'Madhesi dalits have fallen
into the vicious circle of poverty largely due to illiteracy,
ignorance, discrimination, social negligence, low income,
diseases, low savings and little land." He also scrutinises
the election manifestos of the major political parties
to reveal their commitment to uplift these backward communities
but finds their failure to live up to their promises.
He prescribe 'class reconciliation' not 'class struggle'
to resolve their problems.
"Dalits and non-dalits must join
hands to break their vicious circle of poverty."
mentioned the word dalit. There was no discrimination
of human beings in terms of caste and color. The social
hierarchy that despised this community came to the fore
in the later years. Although the Constitution of the Kingdom
of Nepal guarantees equal rights among the citizens, the
dalits of Terai have been unable to enjoy the freedom
guaranteed by the law of the land.
Most of the remaining chapters of the
first section talks particular about caste discriminations
and identifies their particular problems. For example,
Yuktilal Marik, who himself is a dalit lists a number
of reasons behind the poverty of the Dom communities-
laziness, big family, drinking, illiteracy, unemployment,
landlessness and high interest of loans.
Asarphi Sada traces the origin of the
Mushahar communities back to five hundred years when they
spent their lives as sages in the forests. Mushahar, who
belong to the Dravid caste are also known as the architect
of soil but they have been compelled to lead the life
of second grade citizens in the society. Their population
has sharply declined due to poverty, hunger and disease.
In 'Discrimination and Untouchability
of Dalit Women," Ram Hriday Mandal and Bindu Chaudhari
say the condition of dalit women is worse than that of
their male counterpart because of the deep- rooted superstitions,
untochability,domestic violence, economic, mental and
The book sheds light on the various
problems of the dalit communities and offers their solution
too. It can be extremely useful to sensitise the planners,
social scientists and political parties on the issue of
dalits who are gradually swamping in the asbyss of history
due to utter neglect of the state.
Rising Nepal (23 April 2004)