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Nepal: Compensate the Oppressed
An interview with a leader of the Communist Party of Nepal
Rupesh Silwal (rooproop)     Print Article 
Published 2007-07-05 11:36 (KST)   
This article is lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
Madav Kumar Nepal of CPN-UML.
©2007 DWO
Steering toward a Constitutional Assembly, Nepalese citizens are conceptualizing a new Nepal but there are crucial issues to sort out before the historic election scheduled for Nov. 22. Politically excluded and socially oppressed communities are raising their voices for proportional representation in the assembly. Dalits, regarded as "untouchables," are demanding state compensation for the lawlessness and torture they endured for centuries.

Nepal's interim parliament has declared the country "discrimination free" but no impact at the local level has been observed. Dalits still cannot gain access to social and political sectors and their rights are limited in black and white terms. They are the poorest of the poor.

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In this interview, we'll hear from a leader of Nepal's second largest political party: Madhav Kumar Nepal, general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist). CPN-UML shares 83 seats out of 330 in the interim legislature parliament. Nepal is an influential leader in Nepalese politics.

Heading toward newer Nepal, how do you conceptualize the social order with or without the centuries-old caste based discrimination?

The concept of "new" Nepal will remain futile if caste-based intolerance prevails or people keep practicing untouchability. It is inhuman behavior and a crime. The "new" Nepal that we conceptualize is a country with classless society, free of any sort of caste-based discrimination, where every citizen will have prospect to elevate his or her own skills and education. We do not bear atrocities, exploitation and suppression. Those are prevailing since centuries among Dalits. They should be entitled compensation and their rights established. One may call it "inclusive" or "participatory" but such is about a democracy we are talking.

Do you have any preface on numeric of Dalits representation in Constitutional Assembly?

We need to start right from the scratch. There are two folds of strategies to turn down the caste-based discrimination. Firstly, we should initiate movement to act on tainted mentality and wipe out the prejudice from the practitioners' minds. It can start from school to its curriculum and classrooms. However, it should focus in social thought and awareness campaigns. Secondly, we should work for an effective implementation of special laws and orders to dispirit the incidents at local levels. This is how we can move toward ending unfairness and favoritism.

Uplifting the living standard of Dalits is achievable only after putting into action special rules and regulations that should focus among poorest of the poor and their potentials for an equal opportunity in social as well as governmental sectors.

In most of your speeches, we get to hear words like "revolutionary reservation." What does it mean?

It is a phenomenon where socially excluded are observed to be continually attending in all the sectors for their participatory roles. Our affiliate, Nepal Utpidit Jatiya Mukti Samaj, envisioned it and various political parties committed to it. It also systematizes the reservation issues. We are heading toward Constitutional Assembly and we need to talk on this issue thoroughly. For an intricate arrangement of all social balances in all the time, each [excluded] should grow from entire social structure and make an assembly.

So, what are CPN-UML strategies for empowering Dalits?

Representation of one Dalit in each sector is a must policy of CPN-UML and working forward toward maximizing the numbers. It has to be the balancing factor at any cost.

Racism in or outside the party will surrender general membership and action taken accordingly. We have also forwarded the memorandum to local level party workers to set up the mass campaign against caste-based discrimination.

Is caste-based discrimination a root cause of social and political violence in Nepal?

It passes through poverty in mainline. There are differences between your (journalistic) and our (political) angles on the topic. Nepalese women and Dalits are among the tremendously suppressed and life of Dalits women among are excruciating. We need to implement series of policies to boost up their living standards. It is possible only after strong determinations from government, political parties and unanimous thought among citizens. In 21st century there are no options than to get committed to all those. An economical and educational approach integrates the major problem of the political and social disorders. Those practicing caste-based discrimination are lunatics.

Why is large-scale public movements the focus of mainstream politics and not core social issues?

We are always ready for our active role to lead public movements related to core social issue. In the mean time, I would also like to request Dalits organizations to unite and start movements collectively for a common agenda. They should give up starting at individual grievances. Lack of unity among Dalits organization is a major weakness. It is good to have many organizations but they should get collected in a common platform (for a specific goal), which you can call a federation or a movement, and should work on a mission of freeing the society from caste-based discrimination. This will automatically create a synergy, which upon backed up by political parties will form a different wave. I will always promote it.

Politicians are regarding Dalits as their voter Banks. What do you say?

I do not admit it. In most of my official meetings and in the speeches, I have been directing Dalits communities to move ahead. I am a leader for CPN-UML. I am saying it and through your medium, I say the same. Move ahead.

At last, what are your words for the present Dalits movement?

It was difficult to begin and it has begun. Dalits are getting aware and they have started to voice effectively. With effective formulation and implementation of laws, the situation will get better phases in the coming year.

Untouchability is a social anarchism and it should end forever. It is awful to find one man hating another man in the same society. They are born similar and red blood runs through everyone's veins. I would like to call upon everyone to fight against such atrocities. I would also like to call upon Dalits' brothers and sisters to come out and voice against oppressed psychology of so-called upper castes in the society. Regard oneself as a dignified citizen of Nepal with perfect understanding on full rights and equal opportunities in every sector. The Dalits need to keep their morale up for invaluable contribution and sacrifice in fight for democracy.

Dalits should be guaranteed reservations and protection. Political parties should declare (implement in action) caste-based discrimination free [gone] within themselves and within the party. CPN-UML's Koshi zone committee has passed resolution to declare its zone free of such discrimination and we need to follow it to the national level.

The chief district officers and local chiefs of police should not support or protect those who are practicing the discrimination. In this way, political parties, government officers and civil society in support of citizens collectively can form a new culture and establish a society without caste-based discrimination and a country of pride!
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Rupesh Silwal

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