SAMATA Policy Paper-1 (2010)
Confusion in Dalit Transformation in the New Constitution of Nepal
RupndraThis policy paper analyses the reports of the 10 thematic committees of the Constituent Assembly from the stand point of the rights of Dalits. Its main objective is to generate further discussion on the issues of Dalit rights in the process of making the new constitution. The drafts prepared by the thematic committee contain certain contradictions in relation to the rights of Dalits. The policy paper focused on the issues of identity, representation and equality concerning Dalits of Nepal. After the long await of more than five decades, Nepal is in process to making its Constitution through Constituent Assembly. Political parties have agreed for the reconstruction of new Nepal through Constitutional Assembly. Social transformation has been started. But the Dalit issues are still in quandary in new constitutional assembly. All political parties have common understanding built for the proportional inclusion of Women, Dalit, Janajatis, and the marginalized communities who have been excluded in many respects by the state from very long time in Nepal. Through the proportional electoral system, many communities are benefitted getting access to proportional participation in constitutional assembly. The participation of Women, Janajati and Madhesi are seen to be substantial in Constituent Assembly today. Out of total 601 CA members elected through direct and proportional system, there has been an encouraging participation of Women, Janajati as well as Dalit community. Having 50 Dalit participation in Constituent Assembly itself is a historic event. However, 13% representation of Dalits in the Constituent Assembly is yet to be accomplished. The drafts are prepared by the thematic committees with the objective of institutionalization of the rights of Dalit community but, however all committees do not have the similar opinions. The drafts are prepared to ensure the representation of Dalit community in all the functions of the government including legislative, executive and judiciary. Representation of Dalit community in civil administration, army and police of are also emphasized in the draft. The reports and drafts submitted by the 10 thematic committees have vaguely shown the concerns of all marginalized groups and have not specifically emphasized on for the benefits of Dalit communities as there have been no concurrence on the concept of Dalit itself among the thematic communities. The concept on Dalit and their rights as expressed by the Committee on State Reconstruction and Segregation of State Power and the Committee on Fundamental Rights and Directive Principal are comparatively better. But all drafts submitted are silent on the modality of implementation. This policy paper has highlighted about the causes why the draft reports are vague, contradictory and inadequate addressing the rights of Dalits. The Dalit CA members were not adequately and appropriately involved in the thematic committees. The sister organizations of the various political parties are not able to put needful efforts to make political parties sensitive and committed to the issues in relation to the rights of Dalits, and even the CA members are quite passive in this regard. The Dalit CA members’ caucus was formed only 18 months after the start of process of constitution formation. The caucus has not been able to prepare a concrete agenda of Dalits to present it to the Constituent Assembly, nor it is able make strategic action plan to correctly address the issues of the rights of Dalits through its drafts. Even the role of Dalit civil society was not so effective in the process of constitution formation. Dalit civil society was also not able to conduct extensive advocacy and discussion on the issues of Dalits, including federalism and the electoral system.
Acknowledgement: This policy paper is originally written in Nepali and translated into English. The Dalit member of the Constituent Assembly have contributed by providing information as to the activities within the Constituent Assembly through direct contact, telephone, and by providing various documents. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and International Commission of jurists (JCJ) Geneva provided technical assistance .
SAMATA policy paper 2 (2012)
Vicious Cycle of Non-Representation: Electoral system and Dalit Representation in Nepal.
Nepal is on a political journey from exclusion to inclusion. The demand of inclusiveness has become profound and intense due to the prevalence of vicious cycle of exclusion in the Nepalese society for centuries. Dalit trapped in the vicious cycle of exclusion are almost with no representation in political spheres of Nepal. Such non-representation has been making the vicious cycle of exclusion pervasive and impassable. Untouchability and discrimination prevailing in socio-cultural spheres are restricting Dalit from having access to the political leadership and creating obstacles in the economic progress. Non-representation in the political leadership has also contributed in marginalization of the Dalit social groups even in economic sphere and in continuation of the cycle of untouchability and discrimination. And, marginalization in economic sphere has complemented untouchability and discrimination consequently supporting the non-representation in political leadership. So, the voice of inclusion has become strident to abolish this vicious cycle of exclusion. The underprivileged Dalit social groups, the most subjugated by the pain of exclusion are extremely in need of inclusion. Exclusion in socio-political organizations has become unacceptable to millions of Dalit who have been isolated from the state and the society for centuries because the Dalit have had extreme acquaintance with the bitter truth of violent conflict, unrest and degeneration that are cultivated by the continuation of exclusion under the garb of untouchability and discrimination. Therefore, the strong voice for fair demand of all the oppressed communities for the access, representation and participation in social-political organizations raised by the Dalit social groups is obvious. Such demand of the Dalit social groups, indeed, is not mere a symbol of desperation for the emancipation from the vicious cycle of exclusion but also an expression of desire for inclusive democracy too. Present needs and challenges are to address such desperations and desires by state restructuring and more representation of all oppressed groups including Dalit in state and social organizations by developing the sense of ownership.
Acknowledgement : This policy paper is originally written in Nepali and translated into English. English version has been published in collaboration with International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), supported by Royal Embassy of Norway and Government of Finland. In addition, Rights Democracy and Inclusion Fund/ Enabling State Program [RDIF/ESP], National Endowment for Democracy [NED] and Foundation Open Society Institute [FOSI] have provided financial and technical supports to prepare Nepali version.
SAMATA policy paper 3 (2012)
TRENDS IN DALIT WRITING Understanding Knowledge Production for Policymakin
Writings on Nepal’s Dalit community are sparse and relatively young. However, in recent years, knowledge production on Dalits in Nepal has shown a steep increase, yet it is still slow as compared to that of Janjati and other privileged groups including Brahmins, Chhetris, and Newars. Here, knowledge production refers to as the creation of knowledge in its myriad forms, be those writings in literature, academic research, I/NGO reports, governmental and political party writings, or audio and visual productions. The process of knowledge production has advanced in tandem with the Dalit Movement and supplementedit as the political action alone is not adequate for social change.This paper provides a broad review of writings on Dalits from around the 1940s to the present date. It focuses on written texts found in legal codes, literature, academia, social and political movements, the development sector, and the media in order to historicize and highlight the major trends and trajectories in Dalit Writings. In the past, efforts have been made to compile writings on Dalits and to publish an annotated bibliography. However, a review to look into the emergence and evolution of Dalit Writings has not been undertaken. This paper aims to fill this void. It is based on thirteen in-depth interviews with Dalit and non-Dalit scholars, researchers, journalists, and activists; extensive desk-review; and a sample dataset of writings on Nepali Dalits. The sample dataset is a compilation, categorization, and dissection of writings on Nepali Dalits.The review of writings reveals a strong trend within Dalit Writings of shifting away from seeking sympathy and favors from the ruling class to claiming rights and power. The shift has helped to change the perspectives of Dalits and non-Dalits towards the state of Dalit today. This change in perspective is particularly visible in literature where Dalits are today presented as powerful protagonists. Also evident from the progression in the writings and the thoughts that they manifest is that Dalits have been relentlessly advancing their agenda by aligning with contemporary progressive powers whether it is the Nepali Congress during the Rana and Panchayat period, the Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxists Leninist during the multiparty democracy, or the United Communist Party of Nepal – Maoists during the People’s War. Each stage in the Dalit Movement and each alliance with different political parties have yielded incremental gains only. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Dalit Movement today is focused on inclusion and is ensuring that the Dalit issues to be addressed in a federal Nepal.The review shows that the trends in writings in terms of the topics that researchers, writers, journalists and others choose reflect the trends in politics. In academia, recent researchers focus more on questions of identity, citizenship, and resistance over the cultural aspects. As a further development, political inclusion is the new topic today. Similarly, the current issues of federalism and affirmative action dominate the print media. Although writings on Dalits have come a long way, an immense work is left to be done particularly in documentation of change and progression. This is because Dalit writing, which started from 1940s, is still at infant stage.Studying the trends in Dalit knowledge production is particularly important for designing policies that effectively address Dalit issues. Knowing what has been written and not written so far will highlight where more research is required and from what perspective. Accordingly, this will provide directions to policies related to knowledge production. Once research on Dalit issues is underway, it should help policymakers to design informed policies. This paper provides policy recommendations based on the reviews.
Acknowledgement : This policy paper is originally written in Nepali and translated into English. In addition, Rights Democracy and Inclusion Fund/ Enabling State Program [RDIF/ESP], National Endowment for Democracy [NED] and Foundation Open Society Institute [FOSI] have provided financial and technical supports to publish them.
SAMATA Policy Paper-4 (2012)
Federalism and Dalit Governance: Dalit-Friendly Federal System
Nepal is moving towards federal system coping with many ups and downs. However, it is not an easy task for a country like Nepal to shift from unitary and centralized state system to federal state system. The mission of making federal state system has slowed down in the due course of overcoming many barriers. But, there is no way back from the mission of federalism in spite of huge barriers and difficulties. Federalism has been in demand for the access, representation and identity of all social groups in Nepal. The concept of Federal system has already been incorporated in the Interim Constitution-2007. However, negligence of Dalit towards federal state system is worrisome. The concern on Dalit’s access to power in future federal state has been least discussed. Serious discussion has yet to be started on the access and representation of Dalit in the federal, various provinces, and local structures of federal nation. The focal point of the discussion, at present, should be the ways to make Dalit-friendly federal state system and the target of Dalit state attainable. Everyone in Dalit movement has a different view and stance on federalism and Dalit province. But, justifiable access and representation in federal structure can be a common point even among various diverging proponents. SAMATA foundation conducted discussions and interactions on ‘Dalit in Federalism’ to pave various dimensions on the agenda. Meanwhile, discussions on this agenda were organized twice in Kathmandu and Dalit Soochanaa Mela [Dalit Information Expo] and interactions were carried out in Biratnagar, Hetuada Dhangadhi and Butwal. Based on those discussions and interactions, this Policy Paper has been published.
Acknowledgment: This policy paper is originally written in Nepali and translated into English. English version has been published in collaboration with International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), supported by Royal Embassy of Norway and Government of Finland. In addition, Rights Democracy and Inclusion Fund/ Enabling State Program [RDIF/ESP], National Endowment for Democracy [NED] and Foundation Open Society Institute [FOSI] have provided financial and technical supports to prepare Nepali version.
SAMATA Policy paper 5 (2014)
Innovative Strategies for Dalit Rights
Constituent Assembly I arouse some conceptual confusion on few issues in Dalit movement. Dalit province with territory became a hot discussion, this was due to the misconception that federalism addresses or should address all kinds of Dalit problems. Dalit settlement is not concentrated at a particular place, it is scattered throughout the country, and this is not the agenda of establishing identity due to suppression of self-identity in the context of Dalit. Dalit also does not have cultural autonomy issue as they do not have to protect and promote separate language, culture and nationality. The address of Dalit problems is to be sought in very territory through assertion of representation and participation, not in non-territory. Mainly, dalits have two identities; one is labor and another is untouchable. Non dalits can also be a labor but UNTOUCHABILITY is a curse that should be destructed and it is a form of shame for humanity. In political scenario of Nepal, a Dalit CA member Coordination Committee has been formed in CA only after six months. Mainly, three strategies were the ultimate policy for Dalit movement. First the primary policy in the Constituent Assembly second, on the street and the third struggle within the political parties. Dalit CA members, Dalit political organizations, civil society and intellectual community are involved in the process of struggle.
SAMATA Policy paper 6 (2014)
Dalit Friendly Electoral System
State is directly or indirectly relative to class, caste, ethnicity, gender, religion and community so electoral system of state should also tally with class, caste, ethnicity, gender, religion and community. Electoral system can't be absolutely neutral so it should ensure the people's access to state mechanism and provide authentication. The class, gender and groups who have been away from power, resource and state should also adopt the electoral system that ensures their representation. It is a fact that nature of electoral system is based on class, caste and community so it is supposed to be for the traditionally suppressed, minority and marginalized community. In the context of Nepal, since the first general election of 2015 B.S.to the Constituent Assembly of 2070 B.S., traditional ruler castes (mainly hill Brahmin, Chhetri and Thakuri), elites in terms of class and mainly male in terms of gender are getting benefitted by this system. This system is completely not suitable for Dalit community so this system should be discarded but discard of this system is impossible due to existing specific geographical situation, structure of the political parties, ideological and communal structure and supporters. Among others, the proportional electoral system is comparatively better. This system was implemented in 335seats (56% of total numbers) in CA elections I and II but the procedure of submitting the list of the candidates in Election Commission and resubmission of the list of elected candidates to the election Commission by the central committee of the political party is mischievous as dual listing system is implemented in the process. Thus the proportional electoral system should be implemented in 100% members of people's representatives' institutions of all level on the basis of regional, alternative, closed and collective/community list systems for the benefit of Dalit community. This is a present agenda to be demanded.
SAMATA Policy paper 7 (2014)
Federalism and Dalit Rights
For the federalism, identity is the primary basis and ability is the secondary priority. For the identity foundation racial, communal, linguistic, traditional, geographical and regional basis are laid out along with historical continuity. For the ability groundwork, financial interconnection and infrastructure development and possibilities, availability of natural resources and administrative fluency are to be considered. Within province if there is majority of any one racial or linguistic community or intensive presence then that region is called an autonomous region. Autonomous region is for minority indigenous ethnic as well as for minority racial groups but still there's no clarity on specific group or region. There is no specific special region for dalits where dalits can expose their traditional skills and modernize their business. For Dalits, who are treated as an untouchable community, suffering from discrimination and injustice since century needs special attention and protection from the state. Though federalism for dalit committee, representative for province and local state structures were proposed for Dalit community, state is focusing on local government which can benefit Dalits. There is a hot debate on the separate geographical region for Dalit though it is beyond probability in Nepal to have geographically claimed region for Dalit in Nepal. Province according to Dalit identity seems insecure and extinguishable. It will be better to focus on the equal rights for Dalits all over the country rather than for specific region. At the present time, to what extent Dalit should be supplemented with rights, elective power and economic source than the state is an important agenda. In Nepal, non-geographical methodology is being seen as the option for geographical federation.
SAMATA Policy paper 8 (2014)
Dalit: Local Self-Governance and Issue of Representation
In Democratic countries one can find various models and forms of local governance in practices. Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden are the good examples of successful implementation where the concept of governance based on welfare of general public. Local governments are operated more legitimately as compared to provincial governments, more powerful and competent. Although the local governments are solely responsible for tasks of coordination and monitoring at local levels, the political changes at the central level makes substantial impact at local governments. Countries like America and Australia are proven to be better at practicing local governance much beyond provisions defined constitutionally. In context of Nepal, it has been practicing justice and administration system since long. Local Autonomous Government Act 2055 B.S. has been considered as a one of the best move made to foster decentralization and local governance. There are three levels federal system as National, Provincial and Local in the Republican Nepal. It has been recommended that the local government will be able to form the appropriate laws without contradicting the concerning provincial and federal laws. The local government can form its own policies, programs and budgets and can implement as prescribed by the laws. As per the federal system, the oppressed area, class and the communities those have been remained backward politically, economically, socially and culturally will have equal share in structures of the states. As per the principles of the inclusion, Dalits have rights to participate in all the political structures at the local level governments. The laws for the Dalits will be formed accordingly. For Dalit's right and self governance there should be re-demarcation should be done on local levels based on the density of Dalit's population. In case of Nepal, in favor of Dalit community The Scandinavian model seems to be more appropriate and adequate discussion should be carried out for this model.