Manjushree Thapa (Guest Column, 'Let's talk about caste', #254) needs to get her facts straight before she starts spouting venom all over the place. Shanta Kumar Malla was never the army chief- he was the previous majesty's ADC. Furthermore if she takes the time to look beyond her narrow self-righteous vision on Nepali politics, she might notice that the king's cabinet members who are also his advisers belong to other castes besides Bahuns and Chhetris. Like everyone else even His Majesty is allowed to have friends and this does not equate them to being his advisers. Self-proclaimed intellectuals in Nepal need to stop accusing the palace for everything that has gone wrong in Nepal. They need to seriously look at what they have contributed to this country besides blaming everyone in sight and writing unresearched articles
. Manjushree Thapa's 'Let's talk about caste' got me thinking about what should come first: democracy or social inclusion. I guess the answer is both should move ahead simultaneously. Only after that can we create a Nepali society which is more just, democratic, prosperous and free from exploitation. Otherwise nothing can be achieved in the real sense. The two movements complement each other totally: we can't imagine a caste-free and inclusive society in any authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. History of the past 200 years is evidence. Dalits were excluded from state governance, and have been treated worse than animals: at least animals are touchable and allowed to enter houses but dalits are not. The Panchayat abolished untouchability but this was done less for their liberation than to distract them from joining the democratic movement. An authoritarian regime will not be acceptable to dalits even if it starts something positive for their upliftment. It will just be another lollipop. It was in the democracy period of 1990-2003 that the untouchability issue came to the fore and compelled all policy makers, development workers and rulers, to at least think and talk about it. But, as the parties themselves were not inclusive and just talked instead of doing anything in the real sense, we were excluded during this peroid too. It is revealing that no dalit ever got a cabinet position during the democracy period. Parties can start by being more socially inclusive themselves from the grassroots to central levels and putting forward concrete policies and programs for the total eradication of untouchability and exclusion in this ongoing democratic struggle.