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1 “ ”. Suvash Darnal Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow National Endowment for Democracy 12 February 2009 The views expressed in this presentation represent.

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Presentation on theme: "1 “ ”. Suvash Darnal Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow National Endowment for Democracy 12 February 2009 The views expressed in this presentation represent."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 “ ”

2 Suvash Darnal Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow National Endowment for Democracy 12 February 2009 The views expressed in this presentation represent the analysis and opinions of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for Democracy or its staff.

3 Part I: Background Information Part II: The Case for Affirmative Action Part III: Means of Implementation Presentation Outline 3

4 PART I: Background Information 4

5 Population Distribution of Dalits 5 Source: Harka Gurung

6 Caste Pyramid (1854 Civil Code) The area showing different groups does not represent population size. Darker shade shows the Hindu caste groups. Source: World Bank/DFID, Unequal Citizens: Gender, Caste and Ethnic Exclusion in Nepal (2006). 6

7 Dalit Movement in Nepal Over 3,500 years of caste-based discrimination in South Asia Buddha was the first to voice concerns about discrimination in Hindu society 1846–1950: Dalit resistance begins during the Rana regime and slowly builds momentum 1947: Important Dalit organizations are founded 1954: 700 demonstrators arrested at Pashupati Temple 7

8 Dalit Movement in Nepal (cont’d) 1960–1990: During Panchayat regime, the movement is largely underground and localized ◦ The word ‘Dalit’ is banned ◦ Many are tortured and killed by state security forces 1996: The People’s War (Civil War) 2006: Dalits assist in organizing the People’s Movement ◦ Attempts to establish democracy and peace process ◦ Large-scale mobilization against the monarchy 2008: Involvement in Constituent Assembly 8

9 Understanding Affirmative Action About 50 democratic countries—including the US, UK, Canada, France, India, South Africa, and Brazil—have implemented various forms of affirmative action to empower disadvantaged groups. Distributive justice Positive discrimination Preferential policy Reservation or quota system Substantive equality 9

10 Reflections on Affirmative Action “ You do not take a person…bring him up to the starting line of a race and say, 'you are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.” –President Lyndon B. Johnson “In the context of Nepal, we are not thinking about affirmative action in a “traditional way.” We established this agenda through the movement and struggle. It should deal with the socio- economic, cultural and political problems facing Nepali Dalits. It concerns the rights of Dalits, rather than charity from the state.” –Aahuti, Activist and member of Constituent Assembly 10

11 Part II: The Case for Affirmative Action 11

12 Five Reasons for Affirmative Action I. Freedom from Discrimination is a Fundamental Human Right (International Legal Obligations) II. National Legal Obligations III. Poverty and Structural Inequality IV. Political Participation and Inclusive Democracy V. Conflict and Aftermath of Civil War 12

13 Untouchability exists in all sectors of Nepali life Dalits face 205 types of discrimination Entrance to temples, educational institutions, homes, hotels, and restaurants is restricted Dalits cannot conduct religious services, nor can they wear the “sacred thread” Access to common resources–like water–is denied Participation in public activities and governmental functions disallowed I. Freedom from Discrimination is a Fundamental Human Right 13

14 Prevalence of Jadau system and “practice of obeisance” Mass rape of Dalit women Inter-caste marriage is prohibited: If a high-caste member marries a Dalit of either sex, he or she is ostracized Children of higher-caste groups will not attend schools that employ Dalit teachers or staff I. Freedom from Discrimination is a Fundamental Human Right (cont’d) 14

15 1) International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) 2) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 3) International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 4) Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) I. Freedom from Discrimination is a Fundamental Human Right (cont’d) International Legal Obligations: 15

16 II. National Legal Obligations Interim Constitution of Nepal (2007): “To carry out an inclusive, democratic, and progressive restructuring of the State…in order to address the problems related to women, Dalits, indigenous tribes, Madhesis, oppressed and minority community and other disadvantaged groups, by eliminating,class, caste, language, sex, culture, religion and regional discriminations.” 2005: 12-Point Agreement of the 7-Party Alliance 2006: Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) Agreement between Nepali government and Madhese Jana Adhidkar Forum, Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, and various other political and social groups 16

17 III. Poverty and Structural Inequality Average annual income of Dalits: US $ Average life expectancy: 50 years 80% of Dalit population are landless Forced and bonded labor causes unfair division of workforce Discriminatory hiring practices Displacement from traditional occupations 17

18 III. Poverty and Structural Inequality (cont’d) The 9 th Plan (1997) and 10 th Plan (2002): ◦ Recognizes social exclusion as main cause of poverty ◦ Addresses deprivation suffered by women, certain caste and ethnic groups, and people in remote areas 1985: Brahman/Chhetri’s participation in public service was 70%; by 2004, it had reached 90% 18

19 III. Poverty and Structural Inequality (cont’d) Poverty by caste and ethnicity Source: World Bank/DFID, Unequal Citizens: Gender, Caste and Ethnic Exclusion in Nepal (2006). 19

20 IV. Political Participation and Inclusive Democracy Dalits occupy less than 1% of senior political posts Dalit issues are addressed on an ad hoc basis Government implements “caste discrimination–free areas” in 1963, 2001, 2007, and 2009, but does not have positive effects No mechanism in place to include Dalits in political, governmental, or social affairs 20

21 IV. Political Participation and Inclusive Democracy (cont’d) Caste composition of Nepali Parliament:1992–2008 Source: Suvash Darnal, Dalit Agenda in the Constituent Assembly (2009) 21

22 V. Conflict and Aftermath of Civil War Out of 19,000 members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), an estimated 7,000 are Dalits Dalits heavily participated in the insurgency that toppled Nepal’s monarchy, leading to 1,100 deaths, and thousands to be displaced and hundreds “disappeared” Excluding Dalits from political processes following the end of the civil war will cause additional strife 22

23 Part III: Means of Implementation 23

24 Proposed Policies for the Inclusion of Dalits I. Economic Empowerment II. Proportional Representation III. Legal Protection IV. Education V. Employment 24

25 Proposed Policies for the Inclusion of Dalits I. Economic Empowerment: Land reform Occupational training and technologies Shares in national and international companies Loan system for small businesses Support and encourage co-operatives 25

26 II. Proportional Representation: Implement a proportional electoral system In local villages, district and federal levels, and in parliament—both the upper and lower houses Government ministries, commissions and departments Proposed Policies for the Inclusion of Dalits (cont’d) 26

27 Proposed Policies for the Inclusion of Dalits (cont’d) III. Legal Protection: Incorporate Dalit rights in the new Constitution Declare discrimination a crime against humanity Introduce new legislation concerning atrocities committed against Dalits Legalize and encourage inter-caste marriage 27

28 IV. Education: Fund scholarships at all levels of education Prioritize training at technical universities Reform and revise school curricula V. Employment: Allocate 15% of seats in government, the police, and army, as well as a certain number of private sector jobs, to Dalits Proposed Policies for the Inclusion of Dalits (cont’d) 28

29 Proposed Institutional Framework National Dalit Commission Special Court (for Dalit Issues) National Dalit Union (representing all federal states) 29

30 Implement Lessons Learned from around the World Be mindful of context and resulting justifications Clearly define and identify disadvantages in society Create and then prioritize a “designated category” Target specific sectors—for instance, the economy, education, and political participation Establish a time frame for improvement Monitor and accurately measure progress 30


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