Distinguished guests, President and all members of the Global Forum, Organizing Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen,
With my due apology for my inability to be there in person, I thank you so much for this opportunity to speak remotely from Canada to your august gathering in Denver today to observe the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
On remembering Sharpeville incident at this cherished event, I would like to bring solidarity to this cause, from Nepaldalitinfo, an international information resources network that has been supporting Dalit movement to eliminate caste discrimination in Nepal since its inception in 2003.
The commemorative event we are observing today is still so imperative to keep the momentum going for our just cause. The incidents of caste discrimination are still rampant on everyday basis. The horrifying incident that happened last December in a village, Kavre District of Nepal, where Laxmi Pariyar, 32, died in result of extreme form of Dalit atrocities meted by a school teacher in a broad day light, with her 10-year old son witnessing and begging a mercy for his mother will not be forgotten.
We do remember Rohith Vemula of Hyderabad University in India who was forced to commit suicide for his struggle and fight against discrimination little over a year ago; we remember him in order to reject victimhood, to reclaim resistance and to demand justice that has yet to be given for him.
In this event organized thankfully by the Global Forum against Caste-based Discrimination, we recognize our common global problems faced in South Asia or elsewhere, our common goal of Annihilation of Caste for elimination of all its negative effects, our common goal of securing our equal rights, privileges and accountability in the mainstream society, and our common path of struggle to achieve these goals.
What is the cause that Dalits are fighting for? A number of demands provides the answer:
- Current demand for Dalit rights and their just position in the society is a basic human right that is not against the people in general nor is against ‘Dalit friendly’ just and democratic government and associated political parties.
- Dalit rights stand against the traditional status-quoists who in the guise as so-called ‘society’s responsible individuals’ in the name of religion and traditions undermine or remain apathetic to Dalits’ dignity, e.g. Many of such individuals are even the responsible people such as village priests, village heads, school teachers, the law enforcement personnel and those holding power or authority.
- Dalit rights stand for unnegotiable freedom from such traditional norms and practices that license the traditional status-quo to oppress Dalits for ever. Such a status-quo is simply not acceptable to Dalit people.
- Dalits’ demand is simple: it is righting the wrong of the past that is still causing unacceptable damages causing all round disparities and trauma through generations.
- Constitutional rights established in India and now achieved in Nepal must be exercised in full, unconditionally.
- We whole heartedly welcome our allies working for our cause.
In the context of the topic given to me to speak on at this event, which is the “Role of Diaspora in the context of South Asian Dalit movement”, we as Diaspora can take many significant strides such as:
- Networking with academic leaders of the Universities around the world to motivate them to conduct research on Dalit people and communities of South Asia, especially in young democracy of Nepal.
- Networking with famous writers and travellers of the world to motivate to visit Dalit villages of South Asia to experience their lives with them, and write about their life of misery and resilience, surviving through centuries with their hidden culture of tolerance, unrewarded but highly skillful occupations and many other aspects of their livelihoods.
- Networking with philanthropists of the world to spend their generous giving to Dalits, the most disadvantaged lot among the people around the world.
- Networking with international communities and agencies, with advocacy for the cause of social justice.
- Giving back to own communities in South Asia at the national, regional and local level for empowering them to come out of the shell of discrimination-laden caste barriers to grow in the mainstream society like anyone else.
In our routine practice, we can also play a role in concrete deeds such as:
- We can run a global networking such as Nepaldalitinfo runs for Nepal that can be further enhanced as a vibrant, meaningful means of global communications; its website and blog site can be source of information to the public world-wide.
- We can organize international Dalit conferences in South Asian countries and abroad on regular interval to bring stakeholders from academia and field of action to a single platform. I call upon everyone to support one such international conference to be organized in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, later this year in December.
- We can establish a very much needed centre of excellence in every country including India, if there is none yet, to host many important artifacts of our heritage and archival information for exchange. The physical and anthropological evidence, images speak for themselves, and researchers and stakeholders taken take advantage of them for meaningful discourses in the mainstream society.
Finally, I thank you all once again for making me part of the meaningful event.
Dr. Drona Rasali
Founder Moderator, Nepaldalitinfo International Network
March 18, 2017.