According to non-governmental sources, Dalits constitute 20 per cent of the population. The 1991 and 2001 censuses list the Dalit population as 16.2 per cent and 13.2 per cent respectively, but there has actually been a 3.4 per cent increase.
What are the main problems for Dalits?
There is no representation in government, there is social discrimination and they are economically backward.
Don't Dalits need a province as well?
It was right to give provinces to indigenous peoples and Madhesis on the basis of ethnicity because the solutions to their problems can be found from their own places. They need ethnic autonomous rule. Dalits need to seek their liberation from within these provinces.
How will Dalit liberation be achieved in ethnic provinces?
Within autonomous ethnic provinces, Dalits should receive special privileges as compensation for the discrimination they have faced. If that happens then Dalits don't need a separate province. Dalits shouldn't seek their liberation alone, but should seek justice along with other ethnicities.
So Dalits want ethnic federalism, is that so?
Yes, federalism should not just be on the basis of ethnicity but on the basis of ethnicities that will have the right to self-determination and autonomous rule.
What of those who say such an arrangement will fragment the country?
Federalism is the need of the nation. But the boundaries must be established by the parties, it shouldn't result in anarchy. Without self-determination, the provinces cannot be autonomous. But this is not in order to break the country apart.
Constitution 2010, Nepali Times coverage of issues related to writing the new constitution