Poverty among Dalits decreasing: NPC vice-chairman

Kathmandu, September 12:

Vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Dr Shankar Sharma today said the poverty prevalence among the urban Dalits has decreased by a whooping 70 per cent while the poverty among rural Dalits has decreased by mere 14 per cent. Speaking at an interaction on “People’s Summit Against Poverty and Dalit Indentity” organised by Dalit Welfare Organisation here Dr Sharma said, “It is a big achievement.” He further said it is very difficult to change the feudal mindset of the people by good policies and programmes. He said Dalits’ per capita income is 25 per cent less than that of an average Nepali, which is already worse.

The literacy rate has improved by 50 per cent. “Dalits are better than other Janajatis in few aspects and the awareness level has significantly increased,” he said. “Still the Dalits are on the bottom and therefore we have planned special programmes to uplift them,” Dr Sharma added. He informed that some 600,000 Dalit students would receive scholarships while the NPC has also planned a large number of scholarships for higher studies. Sagar Shumsher Rana of Nepali Congress (Democratic) said the party is considering to reserve at least one seat in the central committee from the Dalit community. He demanded reservation for Dalits in all sectors for a certain period of time.

Dr Dilli Khanal of CPN (UML) said according to the census of 2001 some 71 per cent of the Dalits are landless while the Asian Development Report says 25.3 per cent of Dalits are extremely poor. “Discrimination even exists in the policies and it has become institutional,” he said adding that there are apparent discriminations everywhere in the society. He urged to learn from the Indian experience where Dalits are provided employment guaranteed skill training at some 200 villages. He also said Dalits should be provided free education up to secondary level, free primary health care facilities and then only reservation would be fruitful. President of the DWO Moti Lal Nepali presented a progress report on People’s Summit Against Poverty organised on September 3 and 4, 2004 at Ram Lila Maidan, New Delhi.