Feedback on the Interaction Programme on Nepaldalitinfo International Network

The International Dalit Development Forum-Nepal (IDDFN) has done an excellent job by organizing the interactive programme so appropriately in Kathmandu on 25th October 2013. I hereby sincerely express my thanks to the organization for the same. With reference to the posting of the news made on the programme on the captioned network, I would like to furnish my views vis-à-vis the suggestions as under please:-

1. On the issue of pressurizing the authority for expressing an explicit apology to the oppressed Dalits and compensating them appropriately, the intellectual and the scholar members of the network must come forward in the extended number with their approach and analytical papers on the modalities, strategic plans and the unambiguously drawn road map, and establish the (comfortable) links between the activists and the network. But to make the things practically feasible and systemic, a broad-based arrangement must put in place. Further, the attempts should be of serious and sustainable nature. This network must have the sound and well documented backward and forward linkage approaches to its functional plans.

The Dalit intellectuals and the scholars must come together in the maximum possible number, consolidate and reconcile their power of wisdom, find the level of common denominator, soundly prepare the ground work, do away with the adhocism approaches and take into account all the related aspects in the most objective manner and link them together in the order of priority.

2. On the Nepaldalitinfo’s role as a facilitator for common discussions through communication and dialogue and to insist on that the Dalit movements be united, streamlined and remain sustainable and concurrent, a group of certain responsible people (intellectuals, scholars, social entrepreneurs/ social engineers) should appropriately be designated to shoulder this responsibility i.e for working on behalf of the nepaldalitinfo in the form of Dalit Ideology Centre (DIC) or the Dalit Ideology Group (DIG). This group would be responsible for generating, collecting and disseminating the ideas, suggestions and the ideological creations from the members. But for the purpose, the guiding principles, policies and the working norms are required to be delineated in an unambiguous manner.

An adequate number of the people from amongst the Dalit intellectuals and the scholars may be identified and selected and a group, to be known as the “Dalit Ideology Center or the Dalit Ideology Group” as may be found appropriate, of theirs be formed. This group would generate, invite and collect the ideas and the ideological creations, feedbacks and suggestions from the dalitinfo members, and filter, analyze, fine tune and amend (if need be) and disseminate the same among the Dalit Social Organizations, individuals and other stakeholders as the case may be. Such created and pooled up ideas and intellectual assets and capital must come out of the ‘boxes’ and travel into the community and the society vertically as well as horizontally in a systematic and structured manner and the proposed group must invite feedbacks from all concerned. The members of the group must function with the philosophy of joint leadership and individual responsibility.

3. There has to be an integrated body (as suggested above), formal or informal, to establish and maintain the connection with all such intellectuals and research scholars, so that the inputs from the members be collected, filtered, organized, managed and analyzed in systematic manner and the outputs be compiled, well organized, documented and judiciously disseminated. Further, we must explore and identify the areas and the ingredients of the unity among all the Dalit stakeholders, clear the clouds of uncertainty, dissolve the boundaries of ideological reservations, give due cognizance to the varied views, accord deserving respect to the distinguished opinions and bring all the people concerned into the mainstream of action plans. We need to accommodate the fact that difference of opinion does not mean the difference of principles.

4. As stated above under paragraph (2), unless we do have a responsible and able body in place the character of which would be indiscriminating, it would be improbable to collect, consolidate and proliferate the intellectual ideas and creations in the most comprehensive, effective and sustainable manner and making the same convincingly considerable by all concerned. This body would ensure that the sources of the best ideas and creations are not chocked up, interrupted, disrupted and/or dried up in the absence of the well structured and envisaged pathway towards the envisioned objectives (read the Dalit movements). It may not be exaggerated to state that even the best ideas and the creations would not work to the desired extent in the absence of the aforesaid arrangements/ suitable management systems, and consequently those ideas and the creations may get misled, misfired and /or misguided. Guiding principles should clearly be delineated to ensure that this body shall not work in conflict and also in the conflict of interest, and shall make all possible provisions to dissolve the ideological boundaries and bridge the gulfs/gaps between the ideological islands. By making best use of the advanced IT, it shall mainly work on on-line basis.

5. On the issue pertaining to the fact that the BKs, as being the largest Dalit population group, should shoulder the responsibilities of taking initiatives to wipe out intra-Dalit discrimination, there is a need to prepare an evenly levelled playing field and create conducive atmosphere. Besides, before taking any initiatives towards this direction, we need to identify the areas of discrimination (if any), place them in the order of their gravity, chalk out the most feasible strategic programmes, lay down the convincing executing policies, adopt the guiding principles which should have the punitive and curative provisions and adopt the suitable confidence building measures. Yes, the higher responsibilities are vested with the people having the number of population in majority. We cannot proceed ahead with the fractured and subjective form of unity. We need to define the doctrine of unity in a wider term.

The segment of the community having the majority number of population (read BKs in the present context) must create and maintain conducive societal atmosphere i.e. in the intra-BK segment and inter-BK segments so far as the questions of other Dalit segments vis-à-vis the BK segment are concerned. Irrational faiths and beliefs which have been considered as the foundation of the social discrimination have to be discussed with the open and unbiased mindset. Before that, we need to identify the forms of the discriminations which are tantamount to be the social discrimination based on the birth and the faiths. Further, we may have to frame the self-regulating guidelines, policies and norms, and define the principles of approaches to the various issues of social discriminations. The unity has to be on the terms of the broader principles and norms generated by the volitional motivation (and not provisioned by any particular command). More specifically, the atmosphere for the unity must not be scripted by any particular side/segment, but it must be created circumstantially. Yes, the initiatives have to be taken by the BKs as they are in the majority number of population.

6. We need to seriously exercise the SWOT analysis on the matter of Intra-Dalit harmony before making any attempts to attain real harmony, and work according to the order as to where and what types of measures are warranted to ensure harmony. The term ‘harmony’ itself has to be defined in terms of the broad-based principles. Anyway, it is a worth welcoming initiative. There is every possibility of unity even in the vast diversity.

Before making any attempts to inculcate the spirit of harmony, we must make SWOT analysis and give suitable treatments to each of the outcomes thereof, lest our efforts will go futile. Dalit intellectuals, scholars and the social entrepreneurs/social engineers can take up this issue through systemic processes and procedures.

7. Extending/expanding the awareness about nepaldalitinfo network would be possible as well as feasible only when we have our representatives in adequate number at every appropriate level in the community i.e. apex level/ international level to the grass root level and they are invariably linked to the network. This measure would certainly be capable of creating awareness among the masses in general and the people from the Dalit community in particular about the nepaldalitinfo network, and consequently casting focused impact upon them. We may, however, have to draw a comprehensive and sustainable work plan on this aspect. Better, we call for the suggestions from the members.

As has already been stated somewhere here above, the ideas and the intellectual creations must travel into the community vertically as well as horizontally. As such, our ideas, creations, policies, principles and the strategic plans must percolate to the grass root level, as the real strength lies at the bottom of the pyramid. We need to ensure that no segment and /or pocket of our community remain/s untouched and un-approached. We need to accept the fact that the persistence and sustainability of the ideas, intellectual creations and the societal programmes are determined by the extent of their outreaches as well as the timely inflows of the feedbacks from the stakeholders. Hence, there has to be adequate number of our representatives at appropriate levels who may provide the required links between the network and the people.

7. The proposition of forming Rastriya Dalit Mahasabha is a suggestion worth appreciating. But, of course this would be possible within the parameters of the statute. The proposed Mahasabha must comprise the political leaders of the national repute sans the political boundaries, and invariably include the intellectuals, the scholars and the prominent social entrepreneurs /social engineers from the Dalit community. This Mahasabha may function as the self-determining policy making agency of the Dalit community at the apex level and have to be immune to the outside influence and intervention.

The proposed “Rastriya Dalit Mahasabha” comprising the people as stated above should be created in terms of the statutory provisions. However, the said Mahasabha must remain independent and free from outside influence and intervention.

8. The nepaldalitinfo network should plan an annual calendar of its programmes. I suppose, this is one of the long awaited suggestions. It must, however, be prepared based on the adequate volume of feedbacks and suggestions from the members, and before publishing, it should be left open to the refinement on the basis of the suggestions and review from and by the members.

With a view to making the network issue-oriented, its programmes, policies and issues widely acceptable, linking the network with the society in general and the people from the Dalit community in particular in continued pace, prioritizing the issues in the order of their demands and casting the focused attention on such issues, deriving the attention of the people concerned, giving ample time space to the members for making their considerate views on the issues, adopting the structured approaches to the issues and obviating the possible feelings of disgruntlement among the members, the network should have the annual calendar of its programmes and should draw its mission statements on an annual basis. However, making the members owe the calendar of the programmes/mission statements, the network should invite the suggestions and feedbacks from its members.

9. For the purpose of working in collaboration with the Government agency, particularly Dalit Development Committee, working style, equations, principles and philosophy, platform, exit policies, areas of rights and responsibilities and the line of limitations must be in place in advance.

There has to be well-illustrated and amply defined memorandum of understanding/instrument wherein, among other things, various relevant provisions relating to the policies, principles, terms and conditions, guidelines, specific provision for reddressal of the disputes (if any), exit policy, etc. shall be incorporated.

10. The mandate for formulating policies relating to the Dalits could be entrusted to the above proposed “Rastriya Dalit Mahasabha” which could be fed with the suggestions, opinions and the ideas from all concerned (individuals and/or the bodies of individuals). But, ultimately, everything would depend on the facts as to how it would function. It can make suggestions, but not ‘advice’.

The policies and the programmes in respect of the Dalit community could be formulated at the apex level by a single (statutory) agency. In the event of the Rastriya Dalit Mahasabha being created, as has been envisaged, the responsibilities of formulating the policies, guidelines and the programmes related to the Dalits could be entrusted to that agency. The said agency would, however, invite the suggestions and feedbacks as desired here above.

11. Finally, for the purpose of preparing the papers on the Dalit agendas and storing that in this network and collecting suggestions from its members, an integrated body of the intellectuals and the scholars (from amongst the members) could be formed and the task identified under this paragraph could be taken over and handled by it (i.e. the said “Integrated Body of the intellectuals and the Scholars”). We may, however, have to have the space for accommodating the differences in opinions and approaches from the members. Respecting the others view points and giving due cognizance to that does not mean accepting all the view points. The strength of the network, I suppose, lies in the active participation of its members in continued pace.

The strength of the network lies in the active participation of its members and the members’ participation could be ensured under the circumstances of their committed involvements. Keeping in view the inevitability of the network’s role in the societal field, it may consider forming a body of the intellectuals, the scholars and the social entrepreneurs/social engineers from amongst its members which shall shoulder the responsibilities of preparing the papers on the Dalit agendas, putting up those agenda items in the network, collecting the opinions, views, suggestions and feedbacks from the members and attending to and taking care of the same in an amicable way. It would be rather difficult for one or two persons to shoulder the burden of such huge responsibilities single handedly.

Thanking you,

 Yours sincerely

 (Ranbir Kaushal)

 02 December 2013

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