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Discourse on Dalit

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: 107

ISBN No: 99933-837-0-8

The book highlights problems and challenges of Dailt and Dalit women of terai region

By A CORRESPONDENT

The problems of so-called untouchables or Dalits are common in Hindu society. Whether in the upper hill or lower terai, untouchable Nepalese living in different parts of the country have to face similar kinds of problems related to discriminations.

Edited by Dr Haribansha Jha - a well-known economist – this is a first-of-its-kind book, which deals with various problems and challenges faced particularly by the Dalits and Dalit women of terai.

Although the problems of Dalit community were ignored for long time, Dalit community has been fighting a continuous battle to press policy makers to genuinely take up their problems and to raise awareness about the rampant social discrimination against them. Following the promulgation of the Constitution of Kingdom of Nepal 1990, Dalit communities have started to raise the issue of discrimination in a strong manner.

“Dalits of terai region are neglected and ignored by the mainstream. The situation of Dailt women is so bad that they are compelled to live in miserable social and economic conditions,” writes Dr. Jha.

Among 33 percent landless people in terai, majority of people are from Dalit community. The literacy rates among the dalit community are still the lowest and only a few women are admitted to schools. In terms of daily income, Dalits earned hardly a dollar day.

From political parties to social organizations and other state institutions, Dalits from terai does not have any say. Despite the continuous efforts to upgrade the living standard of Dalits, the programs are yet to materialize. According to a paper presented by Dr. Jha, Dalits are living in the vicious circle of poverty.

“Dalits have their own traditional techniques including to make shoes, buckets, fishing nets and others but they are unable to compete with the modern industries,” writs Dr. Jha. “Dalits need certain protections and encouragement to survive.”

It is not possible to change the cultural values and social discrimination against Dalits overnight. What is required is to provide education and other economic opportunities to Dalits so that they can compete with other communities. Economic disparities are one of the main reasons behind the persisting discrimination.

Nepal’s terai shares a long open border with India and society here inherits so many cultural and social values from the other side of the border. In terai, the dalits are badly treated. Since only a few dalits are elected to the policy making body, they cannot make their voices heard.

“This book highlights burning problems of Nepalese Dalit and tries to convince the policy makers about the situation,” said Dev Raj Dahal, Representative to Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

The book is divided into three different chapters. The first chapter focuses on some of the largest Dalit community like Chamar (Shoemaker), Dhobi (washer men), Dum and other lower classes and development programs dedicated towards them.

The second chapter includes Dalit Women and their contribution in the national economy as well as discriminations and their overall status. The third and final chapter discusses the educational status as well as violence against Dalit women.

In the book, Prakash A.Raj presents a paper on political rights of Dalit women and Ram Chandra Shaha discuses about the social violence against Dalit women. Basanta Kumar Bishwokarma highlights the educational status of Dalit women and children.

Source: SPOTLIGHT (2-8 April 2004)

 
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