Kathmandu, July 8
Indian Scholar and rights activist Suraj Yengde said that Nepal could take a lead role in Dalit empowerment as it had acknowledged at the United Nations that discrimination against Dalits was a problem.
Yengde, who was born in a slum of Maharastra, but was lucky enough to get the opportunity to pursue higher studies at Harvard University, said countries where caste discrimination still existed needed to take more affirmative actions to achieve the goals of Dalit empowerment.
Yengde is a Shorenstein Centre post-doctoral fellow, Harvard Kennedy School.
“Had there been no reservation policies in India, I would not have got a chance to go to a university in India, let alone Harvard University,” Yengde said, showing a picture of his tin roof house in which he was born and brought up.
He said if he had not got fellowship to study, he would have turned to drugs or crime.
He said it was important for a society to acknowledge caste-based discrimination if it really wanted to end the ill practice. “Acknowledgement of a problem is the key to resolving it. Unlike the Government of India, Nepal government has internationally acknowledged discrimination against Dalits being a problem and I think Nepal can lead international efforts to bring Dalits on par with other communities,” he said.
Yengde said an international network could be created where issues of caste and racial discrimination could be discussed and collective efforts could be initiated to end all sorts of discrimination.
He also said that the dominant caste people, who recognised caste-based discrimination as an evil, themselves were not doing enough to root out caste-based discrimination. “Just an individual refraining from bad practice cannot change society. To bring about radical change in society, every learned individual should tell others to refrain from bad practices,” he added.
Yengde said Dalit youths also needed to sensitise their own folks against the prevalent caste-based discrimination.
“Governments have adopted a number of policies in this region to end caste-based discrimination, but one reason why these polices have not succeeded in doing so is Hinduism, which does not denounce discrimination against Dalits,” he said.
A version of this article appears in print on July 09, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.