Thursday, February 23, 2012

[ZESTCaste] NEPAL: Proposed inclusion bill leaves the most vulnerable behind

NEPAL: Proposed inclusion bill leaves the most vulnerable behind
February 24, 2012
Share |

On 15 February 2012, a government cabinet meeting decided to table a
revised version of the Bill on Inclusion before the Parliament. The
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is concerned that the provisions
of the bill, as it stands now, fail to guarantee an equal
participation of all castes, genders, and indigenous peoples in the
public service of Nepal. On the contrary, they serve to sanction
existing discrimination against the most vulnerable communities, in
particular the Dalit communities, indigenous peoples and women.

The AHRC recalls that this bill is part of a process Nepal has been on
since the end of the conflict, aimed at guaranteeing greater
participation of traditionally excluded groups and communities in
state and political structures. It was expected to reduce the strict
structural inequalities in income or human development which have
persisted between castes, genders or indigenous peoples. As early as
2004, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in
its Concluding Observations on Nepal had expressed concern "over the
under-representation of disadvantaged groups in government,
legislative bodies and the judiciary".

Inclusion measures, guaranteeing equity and equality, are crucial in
the realization of fundamental rights of groups who have traditionally
been more exposed and vulnerable to abuses. One of the root causes of
the perpetuation of abuse and structural inequality has been the lack
of representation of these groups; in the administrative and political
systems that have the power and resources to design and implement
policies to improve the socio-economic equality in Nepal and realize
the fundamental rights of all, and in the judicial and policing
systems responsible for ensuring equal protection for all. In a report
on "Access to Justice for Dalits in Nepal", the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal identified
"under-representation of Dalits in the justice and law enforcement
system" as one of the reasons accounting for Dalits' lack of access to
the justice institutions and difficulties in claiming their rights.
Inclusion measures are therefore necessary not only for socioeconomic
uplifting, but also to guarantee vulnerable communities' access to
legal remedies and protection of their fundamental rights.

It is therefore very disappointing to note that the provisions of the
inclusion bill have been dictated more by political considerations
rather than concern for the reality of exclusion. In its current form,
the bill leaves 52 percent of the posts in the civil service open to
general competition, and reserves 48 percent for quotas targeting
specific groups. Of that 48, 33 percent are reserved for women. In
other words, women will only be reserved a meagre 15.8 percent of the
total civil service posts. Similarly, Dalits, who remain the most
excluded and discriminated community in the country, have been
reserved a 7 percent share of government jobs, down from 9 percent in
a previous version of the Bill. Indigenous people are awarded a
reservation of 25 percent of the posts, down from 27 percent in the
earlier version. On the other hand, the Madeshis, all castes included,
have obtained an increase to 26 percent of the civil service jobs,
under the general label of "Terai dwellers".

The changes are the fruit of a political bargain and were introduced
following a four-point electoral agreement reached between the Unified
Democratic Madhesi Front and the Maoist party on 28 August 2011, prior
to the election of Baburam Bhattarai as Prime Minister. Those quotas
are blind to the socioeconomic reality of Dalits in the country, and
reflect the relative political weight of each group, rather than their
actual needs. Once more in Nepal, concerns for human rights and
equality have been sacrificed in the name of a political decision.

A policy of inclusion, especially on an issue as delicate as quotas,
should be based on an accurate survey to identify the socioeconomic
situation of the targeted groups and their relative importance in the
total population. This has not been the case here. A preliminary
report of the 2011 population census of Nepal was published, but
disaggregated data in terms of communities and socioeconomic
conditions have not yet been made public. The latest population survey
with such data dates back to 2001. Its results have been contested,
notably by the Dalit civil society for not presenting an accurate
picture of the weight of their community. Even going with the 2001
figure of 13 percent of the population belonging to the Dalit
community--although unofficial estimates go up to 20 percent--the 7
percent reservation would fall short of guaranteeing their
proportional participation.

The quota set up for the Madeshi/Terai community does not include
distinctions for the different castes comprising that community,
although it is one of the communities in which caste-based
discrimination is the most deeply entrenched in Nepal. It further
reportedly includes indigenous peoples such as Tharu, who are also
facing high levels of discrimination within the Terai community. This
lack of distinction may result in the quota allocated to the Madeshi
community being monopolized by men from upper castes, embedding rather
than uprooting the existing discrimination.

The United Nations Development Programme Nepal Human Development
report 2009 draws a clear picture of the structural inequalities of
the Nepali society and of the persisting socioeconomic divisions
between castes and indigenous people, especially in the Madeshi/Terai
community. It reveals that in 2006 the Human Development Index (HDI)
of persons belonging to the Brahmin/Chhetri communities -considered as
high castes in Nepal- reached 0.552 while it was only 0.424 among the
Dalit community and 0.494 among all indigenous people, excluding the
Newars. The HDI takes into account three indicators: educational
attainment, health measured through life expectancy and income. The
gap among the HDI of the different castes is therefore mirrored by a
parallel gap in those different indicators. For instance, according to
the 2006 population survey, the life expectancy of a Hill Brahmin was
68.10 years while for a Hill Dalit it was of 61.03 years only. The
average income of a member of the Dalit community, USD 977, was less
than half the average income of all Brahmins/Chhetri at USD 2027. Last
but not least, those figures also show that structural differences in
access to education decide the Dalit access to economic, social and
political opportunities, with only 38 percent of all Dalit adults
literate, in contrast to 63.65 percent of Brahmins and Chhetris.

The contrast is sharper if we focus on the Madeshi/ Terai communities:
the Madeshi/Terai Brahmin/Chhetri community has a HDI of 0.625,
corresponding to a life expectancy of 63.89 years, an adult literacy
rate of 83.80 percent and a per capita income of USD 2333. However,
the Madeshi/Terai Dalits' HDI is 0.383, corresponding to a life
expectancy of 61.26 years, a literacy rate of 27.32 percent and a per
capita income of USD 743. Similarly, the Terai Janajati's HDI is
0.470, with a life expectancy of 61.55 years, a literacy rate of 48.11
percent and a per capita income of USD 1224.

All of this data speaks at length to the inadequacy of the provisions
of the bill as it stands. The most disadvantaged and isolated groups,
which should be the prime target of a bill aiming at inclusion, are
left behind. It makes little sense to reserve 26 percent of the jobs
to the Madeshis/Terai dwellers, without ensuring that this would
equally benefit all castes and indigenous peoples falling under that
term. The AHRC therefore urges the government and Nepal lawmakers to
revisit the methodology used to draw these quotas, by relying on a
thorough assessment of the reality of the exclusion in Nepal rather
than on a politically-motivated settlement.
Document Type :
Document ID :
Countries :
Issues :
Caste-based discrimination, Indigenous people, Women's rights


Get all ZESTCaste mails sent out in a span of 24 hours in a single mail. Subscribe to the daily digest version by sending a blank mail to, OR, if you have a Yahoo! Id, change your settings at

On this list you can share caste news, discuss caste issues and network with like-minded anti-caste people from across India and the world. Just write to

If you got this mail as a forward, subscribe to ZESTCaste by sending a blank mail to OR, if you have a Yahoo! ID, by visiting

Also have a look at our sister list, ZESTMedia:! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> Your email settings:
Individual Email | Traditional

<*> To change settings online go to:
(Yahoo! ID required)

<*> To change settings via email:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive