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Why Do Dalits Need Reservations In Nepal?


प्रकाशित मिति : असार १४, २०७९ मंगलबार

  • Om Prakash VK Gahatraj

The best way to bring Dalits and backward communities into the mainstream of national development is the principle of positive discrimination. This is an instrument; a state must discriminate for the positive cause to bring
backward and weaker communities on average of the nation’s citizens. This tool is designed to empower weaker peoples who are deprived of national resources and opportunities. Although the policy of capacity building of backward and weaker communities was adopted in Chennai of Tamilnadu in India in 1885 under British rule, it was not continued and practiced as a form of positive discrimination. This principle was first applied by President John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) in America to give justice to the deprived communities of the United States of America. Since then, the rest of the world learned and practiced the principle of positive discrimination as a form of the reservation to give justice to the backward people of the nation. The theory of reservation is based on the principle of positive discrimination. Reservation provides opportunities given by the state to its weaker people to bring them to the average national level. Merriam Webster has given the definition of reservation as an act of reserving something: such as (1): the act or fact of a granter’s reserving some newly created thing out of the thing granted. (2): ”the right or interest so reserved”. This concept clearly says the
reservation is needed for those people who need more opportunities than normally granted to them and the state must reserve some opportunities or quantities to satisfy the interest of the needy people accordingly. This right that a weaker person deserves to receive something is called a reservation.

As we know, the condition of Dalits in Nepal they have been deprived of national resources for hundreds of years due to caste-based discrimination. According to the last census report of 2011, the population of Dalits in Nepal is 13.8 percent. But according to the informal survey done by DEIP (DNF), the population of Dalits is 20.02 %. From this data, we can say the actual population of Dalits in Nepal must be more than 15 percent. But in contrast to this population, Dalits have occupied less than 2 percent of seats in civil services and less than 3 percent in the security forces of Nepal. That too in lower levels only. As Mr. Dipendra Bahadur Chhetri, ex-vice chairperson of the National Planning Commission, disclosed in an interview aired on Nepal Television on 25 May 2022, the recent data shows that 17.2 % of Nepalese people are below the poverty line, whereas more than 42 % of Dalit peoples are below the poverty line. Likewise, the latest literacy rate of Nepalese peoples is 75.58 %, whereas the literacy rate of Dalits is only 40 %.

Similarly, the malnutrition rate of Nepalese children is 43 %, whereas the malnutrition rate of Dalit children is 60 %. The life expectancy rate of Nepalese people is 69 years, whereas Dalit’sDalit’s life expectancy rate is only 58 years. These are the notable gaps between Dalits and non-Dalits in Nepal. So, Dalits need a reservation to narrow down these gaps and be at the national level in all aspects of their lives. Realizing this reality, the new constitution of Nepal has promulgated the reservation system through article 40 (1) of the constitution. Today, Dalit rights in Nepal have considerably evolved with the new constitution of 2015. Act 24 of the new constitution 2015 has been accepted as the fundamental right of Dalits against caste-based discrimination. In addition, establishing institutions like the National Commission for Dalits has added immense value to how Dalit rights are addressed. As a state with a newly established constitution, Dalits in Nepal look forward to dignified and respectful lives based on the ideals of equality enshrined in the constitution. But it is not enough to give complete justice to the Dalits of Nepal who suffered for hundreds of years from social discrimination. Even after the promulgation of the new constitution, the political representation of Dalits is very few, or we can say not in the justifiable ratio of their population size. After the general election of 2017 (2074 B.S), out of 275 (165+110) members of parliament, only 19 (6.90%) members are from the Dalit community, and out of 60 (56+3+1) members of the National Assembly (Rajya Sabha) only 7 (11.66%) members are from Dalit community. Likewise, if we see the existing reservation system in Nepal’s civil services, 45 % of seats are allocated for the proportional reservation system for all marginalized communities. Out of 45 % reserved seats, only 9 % of seats are allocated for Dalits. It means Dalits are actually getting only 4.5 % of seats in total vacancy in the civil service of Nepal. That is why Dalits cannot get opportunities to reach into the policy-making and decision-making bodies of Nepal, whereas there are hundreds of eligible and qualified Dalit personalities in the free market. Very few affirmative actions are provisioned in the existing laws, which are also poorly implemented. That is why Dalits are not getting proper representation either in the legislative, judicial, or executive sectors. This system is pushing Dalits to be far behind for hundreds of years, even after the promulgation of the new constitution. So Dalits are demanding for complete proportional representation system in Nepal to get equity and justice.

The data mentioned above and practice are the reasons Dalits are far behind the national indicators even today. It is the nation’s responsibility to maintain equity and give justice to all down-trodden people because the present republican constitution has guaranteed equal rights to all citizens. So the provisioning of a reservation system is considered the best way to empower Dalits in Nepal. It helps to increase social and cultural status, increase political access to the weaker peoples, provide a representation of all sects in all national bodies, provide opportunities, and increase the self-confidence of Dalits and other marginalized peoples. It also helps maintain professionalism in their traditional occupation, increases access of Dalits to national resources, and provides them honorably ownership.

   न्युयोर्क स्टेट, डिपार्टमेन्ट अफ स्टेट, डिभिजन अफ कर्पोरेशन, दर्ता नम्बर: ५२५५२५८

नमस्ते मिडिया इन्क.

न्युयोर्क, अमेरिका

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