Workshop on Inclusive Democracy and Dalits
Organised by Nepal Dalit Utthan Sangh (NDUS)
22-23 April 2009
Nepal Dalit Utthan Sangh (NDUD) conducted
two-day workshop on "Inclusive Democracy and Dalits,"
at Sandhikharka, Arghakhanchi on 22nd -23rd April, 2009 with the
cooperation of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office. The program
was inaugurated by Tara Bahadur Karki,(Local Development Officer
of Arghakhanchi) as a chief guest and Chaired by Kamal Bishwakarma,
Chairperson of NDUS. 95 Dalit activists, representatives of political
parties, journalists, governmental officials and NGO's participated
the workshop. 25 percent of the participants were women. Maniram
Pariyar, local Dalit leader, steered the program with his views
on inclusive democracy and participation of Dalits into it.
Most of the participants of the workshop
raised concern that despite the constitutional provision to
elect 13 percent of representation of Dalits only about 7 percent
of them have secured their seats in the Constituent Assembly.
They therefore, stressed the need to have more voice of Dalits
in the future constitution. Another concern was that good constitution
is necessary but not sufficient unless there is a firm commitment
of state classes to implement its provisions towards the abolition
of untouchability, social and economic reforms and justice to
Dalits. Without appropriate policies and structure in place,
social justice is unattainable.
The first session started at 11:30 and
lasted until 3:00 p.m. Addressing the first session, Tara Bahadur
Karki (LDO) made a very critical reflection:" Government
for not being serious on drafting policies plans and programs
to make the nation free from caste based discrimination has
undermined the sense of social equality which is necessary condition
for a modern democracy." He added that Dalit movement is
a must for the social and economic revolution and improved political
participation in the institutions of governance." Similarly,
Bhimkanta Sharma (Acting CDO, Arghakahnchi) said that nobody
should tolerate any kind of discrimination whether by so-called
higher caste people or within Dalit Communities themselves.
He added that the provision of compulsory education for Dalits
and other excluded groups should be made in the new constitution.
The second day session on 23rd April
began with the presentation of a concept paper by Suraj Kumar
Bishwokarma entitled "Constitution Making Process and Dalit
Reservation" and commented by Gopal Prasad Panthi. Mr Indra
Bahadur Chhetri,Vice-President of Nepali Congress said that
constitution should also be clear about the strong mechanism
to monitor the rights and special arrangements of Dalit. Likewise,
the electoral process should be inclusive and quotas should
also be ensured under it.
Ramji Prasad Ghimire said, while making
education compulsory to the Children, the parents of Dalits
should be given incentive by providing employment and other
incentives. Ram Bahdur Pariyar (Ex-Army Association, Arghakhanchi)
said that Dalits should have active participation in the activities
of selected political parties in Dalits issues and they should
create pressure on the parties to correct their faulty principles
regarding welfare of Dalit Communities.
Inclusion and proportional representation
of Dalits in the parties' various structures including decision
making is crucial to balance and social and political power
and democratize the political culture of parties. Other participants
of program Bishnu Kumar Chhetri, Gopal Baraili, Hari Bahadur
Khadka etc. expressed that strong literacy program, civic education,
income-generating activities, upgrading of the tools of Dalits
and recognition of their contribution in society must be made
so that historical stigma attached to their status can be easily
removed. The plight of Dalits women is worst. They need special
program both for their consciousness enhancement, gender equality
and equal social opportunity.
Commenting on paper Gopal Prasad Panthi
said Dalits should be given priority while distributing land
and providing employment opportunities. While creating constitutional
provisions for Dalits a policy of prioritization to be mentioned
based on the economic and social condition with in Dalits. But,
Dalit legislators and their non-Dalit sympathizers must act
in a coordinated way to have the impact of their collective
action. Similarly, Dalits across the party line must have a
collective vision to overcome the difficulties imposed on them.
Most of the participants stressed that
he state should adopt the policy of promoting, protecting and
modernizing the traditional knowledge and skills of Dalits.
They also emphasized the New Constitution insure the 20% reservation
in all sector of the nation for Dalits. The civil society, economic
institutions and international institutions should play pro-active
role to foster social equality which is prerequisite for their
participation in the public and political life of the nation
and contribute equally to democratize the society and the state.
On the occasion Handouts on Democracy was distributed among
all the participants.