11-17 July 2014 #715

No discrimination

Interview with Man Bahadur Nepali, the newly appointed Chairman of the National Dalit Commission, Himalkhabar Patrika, 6 July

Himal: How do you feel after being appointed the chairman of the National Dalit Commission?

Man Bahadur Nepali: I take it as an opportunity to prepare future plans to uplift the Dalit community.

What are your main priorities?

The Dalit Commission does not yet have a legal standing. So we need to have a fully empowered commission. We need short-term and long-term plans by bringing together the government, non-government and all stakeholders in one platform.

What steps has the commission taken to address Dalits’ issues since it was formed 12 years ago?

The Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offence and Punishment) Act, 2011 is the commission’s biggest achievement. However, it hasn’t been properly enforced. The efforts of the commission to guarantee the economic, social and political rights of the Dalit community are commendable.

Why do the minorities and marginalised communities among the Dalits feel left out?

Nine castes in the hilly region and seventeen castes in the Terai region fall within the marginalised Dalit category and the nature of suffering differs from place to place. Majority of the people below the poverty line are Dalits and even among them, most are the marginalised Dalits. We need to increase their access to education and health by improving their economic and social status.

What are the main challenges of the commission?

Racial discrimination and untouchability is an embarrassment for a modern and civilised society. Although racial discrimination has been eradicated legally, this is not the case in practice. The main challenge now is to have a state without racial discrimination.

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