Nepal | October 21, 2019

Scholarships, ration cards, health benefits to poor Dalits proposed


Ram Kumar Kamat

Kathmandu, September 7

Province 2 government has drafted a Dalit Empowerment Bill proposing to provide full scholarship to all Dalit students in higher and technical education as well as ration cards and health benefits to poor Dalits.

The bill proposes to form four mechanisms to address the issues of caste discrimination and Dalit empowerment.

A Caste Discrimination and Untouchablity Monitoring Committee will be formed under the chief minister with minister of Interior and Law, minister of Social Development and chief attorney as members.

The bill also proposes to form similar committees at local levels.

One of the major tasks of local committees include the responsibility of sensitising the public about Dalit rights and removing hurdles impeding development of Dalits in the province.

Similarly, the bill also proposes to form a Dalit Development Committee under the minister of Social Development to empower Dalits.

This committee will publish materials that could aid Dalit empowerment and conduct research with the aim of achieving the goals of Dalit empowerment.

The committee will recommend scholarship to Dalit students to help them pursue studies in the country and abroad.

It also proposes to form a Caste Discrimination Control Unit under Province 2 police.

Section 10 of the bill states that Dalits shall have the opportunity to take part in all organs of the state on the basis of proportional inclusion. It also states that 50 per cent Dalit seats shall be allotted to Dalit women.

The bill proposes to offer treatment to poor Dalits suffering from serious illness at minimum cost.

Jainul Rain, chairperson of Women, Children and Social Justice Committee of the Provincial Assembly, told THT that the draft
bill was prepared after comprehensive discussions with stakeholders and would be registered in the PA tomorrow.

“I do not know how much economic burden Province 2 will have to bear to empower Dalits, but this bill will certainly be an important step in efforts to empower the Dalit community,” he added.

He said the government would not only provide scholarships to Dalit students for higher studies, but also bear the cost
of students’ food and accommodation.

Dalit rights activist Bhola Paswan said Province 2 had prepared the draft after discussing the issues with stakeholders of all eight districts of the province for one year and almost 90 per cent of stakeholders’ suggestions were incorporated in the bill.

“If the bill is passed in its current form, it will be a major achievement for Dalits of Province 2 in particular, and Dalits of the country in general,” he said and added that other provinces will also be pressed to bring similar laws to empower the Dalit community.

Chief Attorney of Province 2 Dipendra Jha said Dalit Empowerment Bill contained some major provisions to empower the Dalit community.

“This is the first time in South Asia that a bill proposes to provide scholarship to Dalits for higher education, ration cards to poor Dalits and many health benefits,” he said, adding that the powerful monitoring committee to be formed under the chief minister would be instrumental in ending discrimination against Dalits.

A version of this article appears in print on September 08, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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