Dalits Issues of Nepal Brought to Light at a University in Canada

“We pressurize and lobby Nepal Government, Nepal’s donors and other relevant actors for focusing on elimination of untouchability as a matter of social, political, and national disgrace.”

Nepaldalitinfo report

Vancouver, December 22- Dalit issues of Nepal was brought to light over a symposium organized at the University of British Columbia today. This is the first time a dedicated discourse on Dalit issues specific to Nepal was organized in a Canadian institute of higher learning.

“Untouchability still exists as a pervasive phenomenon maintained by the power holders. It is maintained in the forms of numerous common human behaviors and other forms of segregation”, Mr. Motilal Nepali, a noted Dalit activist and member of civil society of Nepal in his keynote speech said, “We pressurise and lobby Nepal Government, Nepal’s donors and other relevant actors for focussing on elimination of untouchability as a matter of social, political, and national disgrace.”

keynote-speaker-mr-motilal-nepal
Keynote speaker Motilal Nepali

Explaining forms of traditional untouchability practices existing in Nepal, Mr. Nepali in his deliberation outlined the philosophy and action lines of Dalit movement, sacrifice and immolation of Dalits in new national building process and the next steps of activities for Dalit rights.

invited-speaker-dr-drona-rasali
Dr. Drona Rasali speaking at the symposium.

Earlier in the program, another speaker, Dr. Drona Rasali, the founder and moderator of the Nepaldalitinfo International network explained that Dalits represent a significant segment of Nepal’s population who have been traditionally discriminated and oppressed in all affairs of their social and economic lives, and are the victims of the state-led social injustice especially after the promulgation of the discriminatory Civil Code in 1854 by the then Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana. “The Nepaldalitinfo network was established in 2003 to support Dalits of Nepal with information resources” He said, “That was a time when rampant incidents of caste discrimination were hardly reported in the mainstream media”.

In the beginning of the symposium program, Dr. Mark Turin, a professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia introduced Himalayan Program and Institute of Asian Research of the University as the sponsors of the symposium.

Mr. Jai Birdi, the representative from Chetna Foundation related Dalit issues of Nepal with those of India being similar. A good number of intellectuals from academia and south Asian communities including Nepalis participated in the discussion.

A short film, “Bato Muniko Phool- the Prologue”, produced by Yash Kumar, depicting the current day scenario of caste discrimination and untouchability in the middle hills of Nepal was screened for discussion.

Dr. Sara Shneiderman, a Professor in the Department of Anthropology of the University facilitated the discussion forum and concluded the symposium.

RELATED LINKS:

Symposium and Film on Dalit Issues in Nepal

A Canadian University to host a symposium on Dalits of Nepal

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