Dalit Youths for Social Change

July 13, 2006 at 5:20 pm 5 comments

By Professor Hari Bansh Jha 

Professor Jha is Executive Director of Centre for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS).  

There have been significant changes in the socio-economic life of the people in Nepal after the end of the Rana regime in 1951. The pace of such a change was accelerated further following the political change of 1990 when thousands of NGOs in cooperation with the INGOs and donor agencies made their presence felt upto the grassroots level with one or the other programs. Many of the affirmative actions had major impact on the life of the people, particularly the women and exploited communities like the Dalits and Janajatis whose voice had been subdued for centuries.

The Dalits of Nepal, who had been unseen, unheard and unreached for centuries benefited substantially from the winds of change brought about by the NGOs in the form of awareness creation and different other income-generating activities. Even the Dalits of the Terai, who are treated as `Dalits of the Dalits’ due to their backwardness as compared to the hill Dalits of the country in some ways or the other also benefited from the newly emerging situation.

As per the official statistics, the Dalits constitute 13 per cent of the total population of the country of 23,151,423 (2001 Census Report). Of the Dalit population, 36.17 are of Madheshi origin in Terai; while 58.11 are of hill origin and the remaining 5.72 per cent are Newari origin. Chamar, Dusadh, Khatwe, Tatma, Jhangar, Musahar, Bantar, Dhobi, Halkhor and Doms are the major Dalit ethnic population in the Terai, who are treated as untouchables. The majority of the Dalits in the Terai are illiterate. Illiteracy rate among the Musahar is as much as 96 per cent and it is almost nil among such caste groups as Doms and Halkhors.

As much as 90 per cent of the Dalit caste groups like Doms, Halkhors, Dushadhs, Musahars, Chamars, Tatamas and Khatwes are victims of untouchability. In the rural areas of the Terai, the traditional relations existing between the Dalit and non-Dalit caste groups in matters related to untouchability is largely unchanged. As a result, the Dalits have been lagging far behind the other communities in different social sectors, which are a challenge before the government, planners, policy makers and all the stakeholders of the country.

The lack of enough of economic mobility in terms of access to economic opportunities among the different social groups is another challenge of far reaching implications in Terai region. It is difficult for the Dalit youths to meet basic needs like that of clothes, education, health and housing as they receive so meager returns in terms of wages and salaries against their work. In fact, it is impossible for them to meet two squares of meals a day and live a dignified life with the wages that they receive in kinds or cash. Of course, such a situation is found with other communities too but the problem is precarious among the Dalit caste groups.

Despite the fact that the Dalit youths of the Terai work in all important sectors of the national economy such as in agriculture, industry and service sectors, they are mostly landless and paupers. Only 1 per cent of the total cultivable land in the Terai is owned by the local Dalits. According to the World Development Report 2005, the per capita income of the Nepalese people is US $ 240. But studies confirm that the per capita income of the Dalits is unbelievably as low as US $ 40. Similarly, the people below the poverty line at the national level are 31 per cent but of the Dalit population 80 per cent are below the poverty line.

Many of the Dalits in the Terai are homeless due to the fact that they have not been provided citizenship certificates. So virtually there has not been any major change in their eating habits, education, health, dress and housing structure, though they constitute nearly 20 per cent of Terai population. Such status quo in the social system poses a great threat to the development of Dalit youths. This is also a challenge to the planners, policy makers and government as the democracy in Nepal cannot flourish until the lots of these youths is subject to change.

Understanding the gravity of the situation, the Centre for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS), one of the partner organizations of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) of Germany in Nepal, has been trying for last few years to create an environment in favour of Dalits by organizing seminars and bringing out publications. In this context, the two-day Seminar on “Crafting Social Agenda for Dalit Youth” was organized by CETS in cooperation with FES on November 13 and 14, 2005 at Nepal Bar Association, Janakpur. The distinguished participants/resource persons of the seminar represented various segments of the society such as academic institutions, major political parties and the NGOs. The seminar discussed the status of Dalit youth, found out co-relation between caste-based social stagnancy and poverty, and at the same time reviewed the prospect of breaking the vicious circle poverty among the Dalit youths. 
 
In the inaugural function of the Seminar, Hari Bansh Jha, Executive Director of CETS highlighted on the importance and objectives of the seminar. He said that the Madheshi Dalits were more exploited than the hill Dalits and as such efforts need to be directed by the concerned organizations to give priority to the development of Madheshi Dalits. On this occasion, Dalit activist Mr. Ram Parikshan Das stated that provision should be made for separate hostels for the Madheshi Dalits. Another Dalit activist Ram Narayan Das said that the Dalits have been exploited by the Dalits and the concerned organizations including the political parties have contributed little to ameliorate their socio-economic conditions. Bipti Mandal said that the Dalits have been squeezed by both the government and rebel forces during the internal conflict. Ms. Pramila Das added that Dalit awakening programs should be launched in the rural areas to make this community empowered.

Bhoj Raj Ghimire, the Chief Guest of the Inaugural Function of the Seminar and chairman of Greater Janakpur Area Development Council noted that it was essential to bring the Dalits in the national mainstream as they have been lagging behind in almost all important sectors. He felt that massive educational opportunities should be provided to the Dalits for their total transformation in the society. To make the Dalits empowered, it was essential to develop suitable strategy at the governmental and non-governmental levels, he added.  
 
In this seminar, two papers were presented. Hari Bansh Jha presented his paper on “Economic Upliftment of Dalit Youth.” President of Gramin Bikas Aadhar Bishnu Kunwar made his presentation on “Dalits of Terai and Untouchability.” Eminent Dalit and non-Dalit intellectuals actively participated in the floor discussion.

In addition, Group Discussion was made among the participants to make the seminar result-oriented. Various Groups formed on this occasion not only identifed and analyzed the Dalit problems but also came out with their solutions. Each Group made presentations in the plenary session. Besides, N.N. Jha submitted Rapporteur’s Report in this session; while Amrendra Kumar Jha presented Janakpur Declarations.

Before the two-day seminar was concluded, the Dalit participants of the formed an 11-member adhoc Committee called Dhanusha Dalit Utthan Bikas Samiti (Dhanusha Dalit Upliftment Development Committee) under the Chairpersonship of Dalit Activist, Panchlal Das with the objective of protecting the interests of the Dalits and to bring unity and awareness among them at the district level. The Committee represented Dalit activists from Dalit women and different Dalit caste groups, including the Mestar, Dhobi and Tatma. The Committee vowed to bring change in the life of the Dalits.  
 
One of the outcomes of the Seminar was the consensus reached among the participants to bring change in the Dalits and to remove the existing discrimination and untouchability with the Dalits. They also promised to foster unity and consolidation among various Dalit caste groups. They wanted that the funds available in Terai districts in the form of scholarships for the Dalit students and for other activities need to be spent through Village Dalit Samiti and not through the District Education Office. They also wanted that the Madheshi Dalits be represented in various national district and Village level bodies in proportion to their population.

Unlike many other seminars, the recently concluded seminar on Dalit youths of Terai is important in so far as it has been able to form Dhanusha Dalit Utthan Bikas Samiti to give continuity to the cause for which it was organized and also to launch and monitor the activities aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of the Dalit youths of Dhanusha district of the country.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Articles.

who Am I ? Nepalese of Indian origin, or Indian of Nepalese origin or Bihari ?? India and the Crisis in Nepal: The Madhesi Option

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Economy news and blog  |  January 11, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Very amazing site! I wish I could do something as nice as you did…mary

  • 2. krishna gopal nimesh  |  January 13, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    DEAR SIR/MADAM
    THIS IS KRISHNA NIMESH A YOUNG ARCHITECT.
    I HAVE A MISION TO UNITE ALL DALIT PROFESIONALS OF INDIA.
    SO FAR WE ARE SIX PERSONS INVOLVED AND A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE ABOUT TO
    COME TO JOIN US.
    THE DALIT SOCIETY STILL NEED HELP FROM GOVERNMENT,CORPORATE&OTHER
    ORGANIZATIONS FOR WELL BEING.
    WE HAVE OUR GOALS-:
    1.TO UNITE ALL THE DALIT/SC PROFESIONALS OF INDIA.
    2.TO PROVIDE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR DESERVING POOR DALIT/SC STUDENTS.
    3.TO PROVIDE LEGAL ASISTANCE FOR THE VICTIMS OF ANY KIND OF
    DISCRIMINATION AND CRIME.
    4.TO ENCOURAGE DALITS/SC COMUNITY TO SET UP SMALL/MID/OR LARGE SCALE
    INDUSTRIES.
    5.TO ENCOURAGE DALITS/SC STUDENTS TO JOIN JUDICIAL SERVICES.
    6.TO PROVIDE HEALTH EDUCATION,DISEASE AWARENES IN DALIT/SC
    LOCALITIES FOR THEIR WELL BIENG.
    THIS IS A GREAT MISION BUT WE ARE LACKING OF IMPORTANT CONTACT
    DETAILS,THE LEGAL PROCES,FUNDING ETC
    I SHALL WELCOME IF YOU KINDLY INVITE ME IN THE FOUNDATION SO THAT WE
    CAN HAVWE DETAILED TALKS AND CONVERSATIONS ABOUT IT.
    KRISHNA GOPAL NIMESH.
    ARCHITECT(CA/205/36865)
    129,PUSHTA ROAD
    ALI VILLAGE,
    NEW DELHI
    91 9910952608
    arch_duke@yahoo.co.in

  • 3. Aryan  |  January 20, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Nice Sice with very nice content. I am from Itahari. Hope this site will do something better in the Nepal’s Madhes state. Go get going.
    So many online people there for right cause.

  • 4. SURENDRA MADHESHI  |  March 20, 2007 at 6:35 am

    “This insight, which expresses itself by what is called Imagination, is a very high sort of seeing”
    Hello my dear friends,
    It’s a great pleasure on my behalf to announce the successful launch of “All India Madhesi Student Association”.
    Ah now its first ever time in my life that m so much energized even after doing such a laborious job. Energized to see rising madhesis, to see madhesis sharing equal status, living with dignity and I cant stop listing……….
    Yes am talking about upliftment of madhesis community with our main aim of providing every madhesi with “UDISE”. AIMSA is first ever association of its kind which is fighting for madhesis right at its root level. Students are considered building blocks of the society and provides support from within , without any selfishness.
    So come on our young, brave hearted and power boosted young generation to show a dream come true , to show our madhesh rising , to secure a better place in the community.
    This is a humble request from me and my community to all madhesi students to go through our mission’s information brochure and give a thought to its contents. I will be highly thankful to all of you for your support , cooperation and participation in this mission.
    ” Lack of will power has caused more failure
    Than lack of intelligence or ability.”

    Our information brochure is available on web. You can connect to us at: aimsaindia@yahoo.co.in , aimsamadheshi@yahoo.com .
    Your views and ideas will be highly appreciated.
    “JAI MADHESH….JAI MADHESHI”

    “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future”

    With best regards,

    SURENDRA MADHESI
    ( FOUNDER MEMBER AND
    ACTING PRESIDENT , AIMSA)

    CONTACTS:
    E mail at: susha_suren@yahoo.co.in
    Mobile : +91-9886015017
    Tele : +91-820429780

  • 5. krishna nimesh  |  June 9, 2011 at 9:40 am

    please delete 2 comment as it is harming my privacy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Celebration of 1,00,000

Madhesi Voice

United We Celebrate

People Celebrating faguwa (Holi), with the fun of music, quite popular among Terai people. Holi is celebrated each year on the eve of falgun purnima Faguwa (Holi) Celebration

Past Posts

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 48 other followers


%d bloggers like this: