Nepalese caste system

The Nepalese caste system, like the Indian caste system, is highly complex and continues the traditional system of social stratification of Nepal. The caste system defines social classes by a number of hierarchical endogamous groups often termed as Jāt. This custom is found in both the Hindu and Buddhist communities of Nepal. However, in Nepal people sometimes erroneously use word Caste to mean their race or ethnicity. The ethnic groups (physically Mongoloid, e.g.Rai, Magar) are a different race from Hill Indo-Aryans (Khas), who are themselves distinct from Plains Indo-Aryans (Madhesis). The Caste system has traditionally existed in the latter two races i.e.Khas and Madhesis. Junga Bahadur (see below), however, included Indigenous ethnic groups in his Muluki Ain as Matwalis (alcohol drinker).


History of the Caste System in Nepal

The regal code of Muluki Ain (1854) was written by Jang Bahadur Rana after his return from his European tour. The Muluki Ain (1854) was a written version of social code that had been in practice for several centuries in Nepal.

Promotion is followed by demotion. The civil code (1853/54) legalized Nepalese community into two castes `the caste whose water is allowed to remain pure' and `the caste whose water is defiled'. The second caste needed sprinkling of water at some places, while it did not require it at other places.

During the Rana regime the chiefs of the three castes were entrusted with sorting out issues related to their own castes. The heads of Kamis (Iron-smiths) and Sarkis (Cobblers) were called 'Mijhars'. Similarly the head of "Damai" (tailor) was called "Nagarchi" while other castes of the first category had their own heads. This system was developed with the purpose that the community members might not have to go to offices or courts to settle trivial legal matters. Mijhars and Nagarchis, however, added to the injustice and exploitation meted out to their respective communities. They were obviously influenced by their masters' nature. Like their masters, they never hesitated to do injustice against their communities. No appeal was heard against them.

From the medieval period onward, people demoted in their castes had their dwindling social status owing to caste system and their defeat. As a result, there ensued perversions in their eating, living and movement. They began to deteriorate in their manners, sanitation and self-respect. The people who considered themselves superior in caste exploited it as a cause of oppressing them. Thus, inhuman and anti-social ban was imposed on entering temples, receiving education, listening to high-caste people's teachings, worshipping, planting Bar or Pipal trees, digging ponds or making any other things to perpetuate prestige, rejoicing fares and festivals like others and other social practices. Generally speaking, these practices were found to be more stringent than these of social outcastes. As a result, low-caste people had to face brutal tortures. For instance, they had to lead the life of untouchables. They could not look at high-born women lest they would be expelled from the country. If they ran into persons of higher caste they would have to go down the way. They had to pay obeisance (JADAU) whosoever they might be. They would be put to death if they went against their oppression. If someone from higher caste married a woman from lower caste, he was not eligible for `jarikhat'. It was necessary to request for sprinkling water if they touched thread-wearing or non-thread-wearing persons. Two way conversation with upper castes was banned for them. These discriminatory provisions of the civil code were based on Hindu scriptures like Parskar Grihyasutra, Gautam Sutra, Manusmriti, and Shukra Niti. When these people were neglected in this way, there did not arise any question of their participation in economic, social, cultural and administrative spheres. Hence, they were forced to survive on low-paid manual works like playing indigenous musical instruments, sawing wood, doing leather works, practising music, art and dance, cutting stone, breaking boulders, pottery, earning wages as labourers, cleaning latrine, washing, and skinning dead animals. These helpless people were thus inflicted with tortures till 1950. They were treated not as human beings and their outcry went unheard.

The present caste system is also said to consist of four classes and thirty-six castes; however, it is just a rough estimate usually made in the mountains and hills. The Newari community and the Terai community are composed of more than thirty-six castes.

During the Panchayat regime Nepal was referred to as a 'Hindu State' as well. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal (1990) has also retained it. In Nepal, the only Hindu state in the world, thousands of people treated as untouchables have been undergoing bitter experience legally for centuries. History is replete with evidence that because of the legal system based on the Hindu religion lower-caste victims were given more inhuman and stringent penalty than higher-caste ones in similar crimes during Lichhvi, Malla, Shaha and Rana periods (except during kirant period). For instance, there was a legal provision during Malla period to cut Shudra's penis, force him to eat it and get him butchered by chandals ('murderers') on charge of having sexual intercourse with a Brahmin woman. Similarly, during Rajendra Shaha's regime, there existed a law decreed on (1893 ASHADH SUDI 7 ROSE 4 BS), according to which "if a person from Shudra caste like Damai, Sunar(Kami), Sarki, Balami, Majhi, Danuwar, Murmi, Bhote, Chepang, and Kumal had sexual intercourse with his brother's wife deliberately, he must be put to death." Prior to the implementation of the new civil code of 1963/64, this legal provision continued. Moreover, according to it, higher caste individuals were given lesser penalty if they were charged with having sexual intercourse with lower caste women, but if lower-caste persons had sexual intercourse with higher caste women, they were sentenced to fourteen - year imprisonment. The civil code of 1963/64 has, no doubt, tried to establish legal equality between so-called high-caste and low-caste people in principle (according to recent amendment in the civil code) and untouchability is now liable to penalty. However, this community has not yet enjoyed equal accessibility to law. These unequal and inhuman practices will be discussed in detail later.

Caste Divisions

Caste categories diverged from the four varnas of the classical Vedic model and instead had three categories to accommodate the tribal peoples between the pure and impure castes. These were further classified into five hierarchies with the following order precedence. (Harka Gurung 2005:3,Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology)

  • Thagadhari, (Wearer of holy chord)

  • Matwali

    • Namasyane Matwali (Non-enslavable alcohol-drinkers)

    • Masyane Matwali (Enslavable alcohol drinkers)

  • Pani nachalne choichoto halnu naparne, (Impure but touchable castes)

  • Pani nachalne chiochoti halnu parne, (Impure and Untouchable castes)

The above mentioned categories imply that Thagadhari (Wearer of holy chord) remains in the highest hierarchy in the Nepali caste system followed by Matwali, (Non-enslavable alcohol-drinkers) and enslavable alcohol drinkers, touchable caste and lastly untouchable.

Legitimacy of the Caste System

Muluki Ain imposes the caste system in Nepal in order to incorporate people of different origin and bring them under one umbrella of the caste system. The first categories of Thagadhari, which include Parbate Brahmin and Chhetri, are in the higher categories of hierarchy whereas Brahmins of Terai and Newari Brahmin as per Muluki Ain do not fall under these categories.

Matwali group, enslavable and non-enslavable falls under second categories, which include the people of ethnic origin and Brahmins of Terai and Newari Brahmins. It also includes those people in the non-enslavable group such as Magar, Gurung, Rai, and Limbu etc and enslavable are Tamang, Chepang, Thami etc.

Untouchable are the categories of varnas system in ancient Manu's Code but some people such as Muslims and foreigners as well fall into these categories. Untouchables are divided into Pani nachalne choichoto halnu naparne, (Impure but touchable castes) and Pani nachalne chiochoti halnu parne, (Impure and Untouchable castes).

The creation of sub-castes in Nepal is unique. For instance, the child born of a high-caste father and a low-caste mother was a case of promotion. There were unwritten practices like not defiling and sprinkling water which still exists. Children born from wandering sanyasi fathers and intercaste marital relation also belong to the same category.

The Untouchables

  • The communities engaged in making ornaments, weapons, pottery and other labor skills.

Those who consider themselves superior among the castes/tribes whose water is defiled are called by different names: Kamis (Iron-smiths), Sunars (Gold-smiths), Lohars (Iron smiths), Vishwakarmas (V.K.), Sobh, Snehi Nepali, etc. They have been named after the professions they are found to be engaged in. For instance, one who is engaged in works related to gold is a Sonar; one who constructs a house or makes pots is an Od; the person who makes things out of copper is a Tamta; on who is engaged in iron-related works is a Lohar, one who is engaged in making utensils from wood is a Chunara; one who constructs good from bamboo is called a Parki; cloth weaver a Koli and Bhool for the person engaged in leather work.

During the Rana regime the person deputed to deal with the issues related to this community was referred to as 'Mijhar'. Some people are found to take this title as their surname or subcaste. In the western part, goldsmiths are called 'Mijhar'. This community has been found to be distributed all over Nepal. It has the following subcategories:

Agri, Acharya, Aafladhoti, Wokheda, Wod/Wor, Kadara (Kandara), Karada, Kasara, Kallohar, Kalikote, Kaliraj (Shahoo), Kumaki, Kaini, Koirala, Koli, Khadkathoki, Khapangi, Khati, Gajmer, Gajurel, Gadal, Gadaili, Gahate (Gahatraj), Giri, Gotame, Gowa, Ghatani, Ghamal, Gharti Ghimire, Ghamghotle, Ghimire (Sijapati and Ghimire also called "Shobh"), Ghotane, Chandara/Chandaro, Chilime, Tiwari, Chunara, Chhistal, Jandkami, Tamata (Tamrakar), Thagunna, Thatera, Tiruwa, Dayal/Diyali, Dalami, Darnal, Dudraj (Dudhraj), Dural, Deupate, Dewal, Dhamala, Dhanik (Dhanuk), Nagarkoti (Kabhre and Sindhupanchowk's Rasailis are using nowadays), Niraula, Nepal, Panthi, Palla (Ya), Parajuli, Pahari, Padhyawati, Pagri, Parki, Pulami, Pokharel, Portel, Paudel, Baraili/Barali/Baral, Bunchebhale, Banskota, Bipali, Bhatta, Bhattarai, Bhusal, Bhool, Mahilipar, Mar (Mahar), Mijhar, Rasaili, Rahpal, Rajilohar, Ramdam/Ramdamoo, Rijal, Risal (Raisalis are using), Ruchal, Raikal, Lakandri, Latopi, Labad, Lamgade (It has three sub-category - Lamakarmi, Lamichhane and Poudeli, Lohar, Lwagun/Luhagun, Shahsankar, Shahoo, Sherala, Sadasankar/Sattasankar, Sapkota, Sani, Sundhuwa, Sunchyuri/Sunchiuri, Singaure, Sijapati, Sirpali (Shripali), Suni, Setipar, Seti Mahara, Setisural, Sonam, Himchyuri etc.

  • The community Engaged in Sewing Cloth and Playing Local Musical Instruments

The persons engaged in sewing cloth are called 'suchikar' or 'Sujikar'. Those who play musical instruments like 'damau' (damaha), drum, hudko, and devbaja are referred to as damai (damahi), dholi, hudke, and nagarchi, Nagdi are regarded as lazy and useless respectively. It was natural to call them by these names in accordance with the types of musical instruments they used to play. The persons employed in sewing are now called darji, tailor, master, or tailor-master. The term darji was restricted to Muslim sewers. Recently, however, it is used for all who are engaged in sewing cloth as well as playing musical instruments. Similarly, damahi has also undergone extension of its meaning. Initially it referred only to those who played a particular type of musical instrument, called 'damaha' but it is now used for the entire caste. It should, in fact, not to be used for the entire or separate caste. Subcastes tally mostly with Aryan castes. Pariyar, Nepali, Darji and other similar surnames have come in vogue recently. In western Nepal, Damai came to be used only lately. As damai is called derogatorily in the east, so is dholi in the west. This community is distributed all over Nepal. It has the following subcategories:

Asasai, Aauji, Kandel, Katuwal, Karkidholi (Khulal, Mudula, Lama, Sutar), Kalakhati, Koirala, Khatiwada, Guinde, Gautam (Gotame), Ghatani, Ghale, Chahar, Chuhan, Chhinal, Jairu, Thagunna, Thatal, Daunde, Dholi (also used by those who forgot their sub-caste), Dhyaki, Tiwari/Tikhatri, Thapa, Darnal, Damai Pariyar, Damai Parel, Das, Deukar, Dewal, Nagwag, Nagwan, Nagarchi, Negi, Nepal, Naubag, Pariyar (Achhame, Chudal), Panchkoti/Panchakoti, Bahak, Pokharel, Bardewa, Bagchan, Bagdas, Budhapothi, Boodhaprithi, Baiju, Bhandari, Bhitrikoti, Bhusal, Magar, Mahate, Mahara, Male, Ranpal, Ranpahenli, Ratna/Ratne, Ratnapariyar, Rana, Raigain, Raika, Ryainjhyain, Lamghate, Luintel, Shinal, Shilal, Shiwa/Siwa (Kukhure, Gotame, Bhede), Samudrasai, Sunal, Sunam, Sunam, Sunchyuri/Sunchiuri, Sudas, Sasmundra, Shahassamudra, Sooji, Hingmang, Hudke etc.

  • The Community in Leather Profession

This community is known as Sarki, Charmkar and Mijhar in Nepal. Less populated in the eastern part of Nepal, it is mainly distributed in the Kathmandu valley and the remote western region. There are two levels of Sarkis in western Nepal - with caste and without caste, which is called Bhool. This community treats itself equal to Kami (Vishwakarma) in social rank. It has the following subcategories:

Achchhami/Achhami, Uparkoti, Upreti, Kamar, Koirala, Khatiwada, Giri, Gaire, Gairepipan, Gothe, Ghimire, Chamar, Chudal, Chuhan, Chhatkuli, Thagunna, Chhamarki, Thakursya, Thararai, Dale, Tolangi, Thapaliya, Thak, Daulakoti/Dyaulakoti, Dabe, Dahal, Dulal, Dhamel, Naghali, Pahenli (Panyeli), Purkoti, Batsyal/Basel, Bamrel, Bayalkoti, Bastakoti, Bisunkhe, Bogati, Bhangyal, Bhul/Bheyanl, Bhurtel, Mangrati/Magarati (Aaththane, Kala, Khilinge, Doodh, Dhur, Barhathane), Majboti, Malbule, Malbok, Mudel, Ramtel, Ruchal, Roila, Rokka, Lamjel, Lamsal, Shahi, Shrimati/Sirimal, Sarmaute, Siraute, Surkheni, Suyenl, Sejwal, Hitang etc.

  • The community of Singing Gypsies

There is a community of people who wander about all parts of Nepal singing songs of historical bravery and gallantry. Known as Gaine or Gandharwa, these people are also looked upon as untouchables. They also call themselves by the surname 'Nepali'. Though they keep on wandering about different places like Gypsies, they are found to be mainly settled down in some districts of the Western and mid-western regions, namely, Jumla, Kaski (Batulechaur), Syangja, Gorkha, Tanhun, Palpa, Gulmi, Bhairhawa, Surkhet, Dailekh, Jajarkot, Rukum, Pyuthan, Dang and Salyan. They are also found in the Kathmandu valley and Bhojpur in the eastern region. Only a limited number of their surnames sound original. Most of them are like those of Brahmins, Kshetris, and Kamis, while a few of them have been named after particular places. These surnames are as follows:

Adhikari, Kami, Kala Kaushik, Kala Poudel, Kalichan, Gosai, Jogi, Thakuri, Turki, Bahun, Budhathoki, Baikar/Wagyakar, Baistha (Bistha), Bogate, Bhusal, Bhusalparbate, Maheshwar, Meghnath, Bishwakarma, Bishnupad, Samudri, Sai, Sursaman, Setaparbate, Setichan, Hukchingrana etc.

  • Kumal Community

A community of people engaged in manufacturing clay pottery is known as Kumal (Prajapati or Kumhar). Kumals are distributed all over Nepal, they are respectable in all Nepal. There are found ten subcastes of Kumals in eastern Nepal. They equate themselves to Newars in social rank. The Kumals settled in Achham district of Seti zone treat themselves equal to Kshatriyas. They also have marital relation with Kshatriyas here.

  • The community involved in Laundry Profession: Dhobis

Though Dhobis ('washermen') in the mountains consider themselves superior to the untouchables, the so-called high-caste people treat them as untouchables. There are two categories of Dhobis in the Terai - Raj Dhobi and Dhobi. Raj Dhobi's water is acceptable while Dhobi's water is unacceptable. In the Kathmandu Valley also, Dhobis are considered untouchable.

  • The Untouchables in the Terai (Madhesh)

The untouchables in the Terai are found to be involved in various professions. They include Aghori, Karori (Yadav's sub-category untouchables), Kichchak, Kisan, Koche, Khatwe, Gandharwa (Muslim), Chamar/Mochi/Harijan, Chidimar, Gudihara, Jhangad (Uraun/Uram), Jhangar (Kachhuwa, Kharawa, Bakala, Bujira, Bekh, Lakada), Doom/Dom/Dhangar, Tatma, Tanti, Toori, Dusadh, Dhuniyan (Muslim), Dhobi, Nat, Pamariya, Paswan, Pasi, Bantar, Bhilla, Bhuiya, Mirshikar, Munda, Mushar (Sada), Rachwar, Sharbhanga, Shai (Muslim), Satar, Santal (Satar), Halkhor etc.

  • The Untouchables within the Newar Community

By 'Newari community' we mean the speech community in which Newari language is used as the mother tongue. Newar is, however, obviously a distinct caste. The core area of Newars is the Kathmandu valley. They have also settled down in different urban areas of Nepal. They use Newari language though with dialectal variations. Newars have also been found in rural areas, but they have lost Newari language. The Newari community is divided into Hindus and Buddhists. On the basis of their social customs and code, it is rather difficult to distinguish Hindus and Buddhists.

The caste system appears to have been first conceived in Nepal towards the beginning of Lichhivi period. Originated as Vaishavism, this concept began to assimilate with Shyamanism (including natural religion), Shaivism and Buddhism. In both Hindu and Buddhist Newar communities, the caste system has been found to exist. It reveals that the caste system is extremely complicated in this community. In the Kathmandu Valley Jayasthiti Malla established the caste system on the basis of Manusmriti. Accordingly, it was required to adopt professions, wear cloths and ornaments and construct houses in accordance with the social status of different castes. Violating these rules was liable to certain punishment. Despite the fact that castes were based on various professions, there evolved untouchability later. The state of caste discrimination and untouchability appears to be slightly different from that of Khas and Maithil communities. For instance, in Khas and Maithil communities, the untouchables are treated equally, while in Newar community they are discriminated differently; e.g. Kasais ('butchers') are allowed to step up to the second storey of the houses and Chyames to the first storey, Harhurs are entirely prohibited from entering the house. Generally, the untouchables are not allowed to go to the upper storey of the house. Butchers' milk and meat are acceptable, but eating their boiled rice is unacceptable. Eating dhobis and Napits' (barbers') boiled rice may be unacceptable.

Prior to the implementation of the civil code (1854), some Shudras in Newari community were considered untouchable. Of them some needed the sprinkling of water while others did not. Dhobi, Kasai, Kusule and Kuloo castes belong to the first category, and Pode and Chyame castes to the second. Traditionally, butchers are called Kasais (Khadkis). They play a musical instrument, called Naykhin, in funeral procession as well as at the different festivals in the Kathmandu valley. During the Rana regime Lakhe dance and Kasais' Paltan performed at Gaijatra and Indrajatra were extremely popular. Even in Royal Army's music band, those who played Badshahi musical instrument included Kasais as well. Now, their professions have undergone expansion with the changing situation. They have not only confined themselves to the sale of meat and vegetables but also gradually taken to many other professions. As they have been long engaged in trade and business, their economic condition can be considered better than that of other untouchables.

Kusules have been playing Panchabaja since the ancient times as a good sign at temples and on auspicious occasions like marriage and bratbandh ('thread-wearing ceremony'). Their presence is deemed necessary on an auspicious occasion. They have also been engaged in tailoring. Besides, they have also been making musical instruments like Maadal and Khinma. They have been found much skilled at playing and selling Tal Bajas (type of drums).

Podes and Chyames are found settled in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur. The locality they live in is called Pode Tole (settlement). They introduce themselves as 'Deulas'. They have been traditionally involved in cleaning garbage. Nowadays they are also known as 'sweepers'. In more polite terms they are called 'cleaning labourers'.

The community engaged in shaving hair and cutting nails are called Napit ('Barbers'). Similarly, the persons whose profession is laundry are called 'Dhobis' ('washermen'). In Kathmandu they are mainly settled at Dhobichaur and Dhobidhara. In Lalitpur their main settlement is at Dhobighat. Recently, large laundries are run by others while Dhobis own small laundries only.

The lowest of the Newar untouchables are Harhures ('baseless'). Their ancestry is unknown. They live on begging. Their population has been found marginal. They are often seen begging on occasions like Gathemangal. In Khas community settled outside the Kathmandu valley, Kasai, Napit, Kapali and other Newar untouchable castes are treated as touchable.

Present Situation

There are three major communities in Nepal's caste-oriented society -Khas, Newar and Maithil. Besides, there is a separate community consisting of tribes, the ethnic groups. There is similarity in the social structure of Khas, Newar and Maithil communities. That is to say, they all have four castes: Brahmin, Chhetri, Vaishya and Shudra. There also exists a distinction between Nepali origin and Indian origin in them, which may also be referred to as Bhumiputra community and Yayavar community, respectively. There also exist Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian religious communities in Nepal. Of these communities, Khas, Newar and Maithil have been undergoing increasing complexity of caste discrimination and oppression. The issue in the present Nepalese society lies in the classification of Brahmins, Chhetris and Vaishyas into sub-castes, defiling castes and narrowing.

From another perspective, Nepalese society is clearly split into touchables and untouchables, have no marital relation with them, and do not allow them to enter their house. In the western part of Nepal, they also practise springkling water (act of purification). The low-caste people are deprived of utilizing most of the temples, funeral places, drinking water taps and wells, restaurants, shops and other public places. The tribes of the community, though not within Hindu caste system, also practise untouchability with low-caste people.

The practice of untouchability penetrated down to the untouchables. As a result, it went to the extent of making discrimination between touchable and untouchable castes within the untouchable community itself. For instance, Kami and Sarki communities regard other communities like Damai as untouchable, while there does exist inequality even between Kamis and Sarkis. Damais treat communities like Gaines untouchable. Recently it has been found in vogue in some parts of the Remote Western Region that persons within the same untouchable community have been treated untouchable owing to their miserable economic condition. No doubt there has been launched a campaign at the organizational level by oppressed castes to oppose discrimination. However, open entry into a house and marital relation are still far from being materialized. In the hilly areas of western part of Nepal certain untouchables have their own restaurants and now all untouchable communities enter there.

People from superior castes use the non-honorific form of 'you' ('tan') for lower caste people. Conversely, lower caste people have to use the honorific form of 'you' ('tapain') to higher caste people irrespective of their age. In addition, they also need to address Brahmins as 'Baje' (Grandfather), Chhetris and Magars as 'Mukhiyas' (Head-men) and Rais and Limbus as 'Subba' (landlord/chieftain as opposed to nepali term subba-officer) and other honorific forms.

With the advent of democracy in 1950, social discriminations started breaking down not because of any legal provisions but because of the high caste people's own initiatives. However, even this change could not abolish untouchability. Though public places were opened to low caste people in some places, the situation remained unchanged to a large extent. There has been made a legal sanction in the civil code against untouchability; however, it has turned out to be meaningless since its violation is not liable to any specific penalty. According to Act 11(4) of the new constitution of Nepal (1990), however, untouchability has been made punishable. The civil code has also been amended accordingly. Despite these constitutional and legal provisions, untouchability has been still found in practice. So-called higher caste people do not allow low-caste people to have an access to temples and other public places. (See the description of events for its details).

The situation of caste-based untouchability existing in the country has been presented as follows on region-wise basis:

The Remote Western Region

Untouchability exists in its extreme form especially in the hills and mountains. The so-called untouchable castes have been prohibited from their entrance into temples and other public places. For instance, the untouchables are not allowed to enter the fair held annually at Dehimandau in Baitadi district and open stalls. Three years ago they filed a petition to the Chief District Officer for their entrance, but so far no action has been taken in this regard. Similarly, the untouchables are prohibited from entering Jagannath temple at Khalanga, Baitadi. They have to sit outside restaurants and wash eating utensils. At many places there also exists the practice of sprinkling water for purification. Milk and milk products are not given to the untouchables to drink and eat, but ghee (a milk product) is not defiled even if it is touched by them. Untouchable boys and girls are discriminated even at public schools. They have to use separate pots for drinking water. They have also to sit separately in the class as ink is defiled with their touch. For instance, at Shiva Primary School, Dungra, Tripura Sundari-4 (Baitadi district), the untouchables bought an almunium bucket and a water pot ("Lota") and handed them over to the school for their children, but they have been used by the touchables and instead, the untouchables have been provided with an old bucket. Shankar Ram Mahar, who studied from classes VIII to X at Daneshwar Secondary School, Barakot (Baitadi), mentioned that he had never drunk water at the school during this period. At the same place, the untouchables have to stand outside restaurants for eating and wash plates twice. There are separate taps - the lower one for low castes and the upper one for high castes.

In this region, there is a tradition for the untouchables to insert "Ram" in the middle of their names, like Brahmins and Chhetris, who write "Prasad" and "Bahadur"/"Dhwaj", respectively. For identification, they must use surnames indicating their untouchable status (e.g. Sunar, Lohar, Kami, Dhobi, Darji, Doom, Badi, etc.) in their citizenship certificates, land ownership certificates and appointment letters, e.g. Nari Ram Lohar, Pratap Ram Lohar, etc. While enroling themselves at a school at Barakot-6, Ram Singh Lawad and Bhaskar Dev Lawad had to modify their names as Ramu Ram and Bhaskar Ram, respectively.

Likewise, Gopal Raj Poudel, a resident at Khalanga, wanted to get the citizen certificate issued for his son with the surname "Poudel", however, Chief District Officer Madhav Raj Sharma declined to issue the certificate with this surname. The CDO argued that if "Poudel" was used the person concerned might be mistaken as a higher caster member, get married to a higher caste girl and create complication.

In Baitadi, Doti, Bajhang and Bajura districts, Kumals (pot-makers), are treated as the worst of the untouchables. In Achham district, however, Kumals are considered on par with Chhetris. In the remaining districts, they are not untouchable.

In urban areas, separate restaurants are opened for the untouchables. At several places it has been made obligatory for restaurants to hang boards to show whether they are meant for untouchable or touchable. "Bishwakarma Hotels" opened at Khalanga of Baitadi and Dipayal of Doti can be taken as a model of this type. Initially only Bishwakarmas had entrance into these restaurants, but, with the growing unity and integration among the untouchables of various castes, all of them are equally welcomed there.

The untouchability within untouchable communities themselves is also getting minimized with the campaign of growing equality among the untouchables. Consequently, untouchable castes have started organizing common feasts, though untouchability in old generation and household still persists and inter-marriage is still not permitted. However, the practice of sprinkling water for purification among the untouchables has now disappeared.

The untouchables employed at lower ranks in Royal Nepal Army are not allowed to enter the barrack compound, let alone live there. They have to live outside and perform their duties. The untouchables employed in police service in limited way have also to experience discrimination on the ground of untouchability. There have also been found instances like Dharendra Bahadur Rasaili, who went from Bajhang to Dipayal but declared ineligible for a police post on ground of belonging to an untouchable caste.

In this region water taps distributed at public level are not made available in untouchable settlements. At Banderbhindi village in Hemantawada Ward No.5 (Bajhang), the route of drinking water pipe for the use of higher caste people was changed because through the untouchable settlement water would be defiled. As a result, about thirty families of the untouchables were deprived of using drinking water from the tap. The number of the untouchables is rather limited in teaching profession. They, however, have to experience humiliation. Similarly, the number of school-going children is very marginal in this community as they are also subjected to humiliation. The untouchables are deemed total misfit to the post of peon everywhere.

In a few village of this region, e.g., Rodideval Village Development Committee (Baitadi), the affluent people get drunk and go to the reputed singers in Damai community and enjoy dancing and singing by women and young girls. The grown-up women who are good at dancing are replaced by young girls even if they do not know at all how to dance.

The untouchables are prohibited from their entrance into temples. At Nagarjun Village Development Committee (Baitadi) "Prasad" (Articles of food offered to God or Goddess) of Satya Narayan Pooja (the worship of Lord Vishnu) is not offered to this community. The idol at Jagannath temple located at Khalanga-1 was discovered by Bhool caste, but recently these people have been disallowed to enter the temple. Instead, a separate idol has been installed for them at a different place. The public road is blocked for the untouchables during fairs.

At Pithlek and Dhamilek of Chainpur village Development Committee in Bajhang district, low-caste people are not allowed to step on high-caste people's wet courtyard and touch the walls of their houses. If they do so unknowingly, they are penalized. Besides, low-caste people cannot go to Dhamilek from Shrawan Aaunsi till Panchami after Purnima ("Full Moon"). At the same place if a dog touches a low-caste person it is purified by sprinkling water. At Rithapada-4 Sarkis have to shave their head on the death of local Thalu Thapas. Aujis of Kotdeval and Dholis of Hemantawada are bound to play musical instruments on the death and birth in high-caste community. This tradition is also found to exist partially in the eastern region of Nepal.


Haliya (Ploughmen's) System

It is a well-known fact that in Banke, Bardiya and some other Terai districts, Tharus are forced to serve as bonded labourers. This custom of bonded labour originated in the hills of this development region. This Haliya system was introduced into the Terai by feudal head-men when they migrated from the hills to the Terai. They grabbed land from Tharus and made them bonded labourers. This fact indicates that bonded labour is widely prevalent in the hills and mountains. It exists in Baitadi, Dadeldhura and Bajhang districts. It is said that Brahmins and Chhetris from the hills should not plough field. Here ploughmen are usually Lohars, Sarkis and Damais. Poor low-caste people in this part have to borrow loans from high-caste ones. In case they fail to pay off the interest they have to work as Haliyas. Interest is paid from their wages. In addition, they are also paid some remuneration in kind. Money-lenders do not accept the payment of their loans and Haliyas are bound to plough. If they decline to do so they are threatened that they will be disturbed by evil spirits. Thus, they are forced to continue their work. The members of Haliyas' families have also to work at their masters'. It is also found that quite a few simple-minded people have to work without wages. Haliyas plant crops all through the year, but they receive just a little amount in return-about six pathi (a Nepalese measurement) rice and one doko (a type of basket) maize. Those people who work on daily wages are given morning breakfast, lunch and four mana (2 kg) rice. Planters are paid one Pathi of paddy. Poor people borrow loans to meet expenses for arranging their children's marriage or other purposes on the condition that they would plough and do other works for their masters. There also exists a practice of ploughing to pay just the loan interests. In such a case, it is not possible to pay off the principal amount due to loan. As a result, borrowers have to spend their entire life as bonded labourers. About 95% of low-caste people have been experiencing this condition. Fed up with this system, Aniram Tamta, an old man from Tripura Sundari (Baitadi district) expresses his bitter experience as "Do all sorts of work except ploughing".

This system has also been found existing in Gorkha of the Western Region. In fact, it has been observed in vogue in every part of the country in one form or another. In the western Nepal, it exists in the form of bonded labor—n atrocious practice leading to the violation of human rights on the part of low-caste people who are economically deprived. In this part even those low-caste people who are economically better have been subjugated to ploughing for high-caste people. They cannot even argue with Brahmins and Thakuris

Doli (Palanquin) System

Doli ('palanquin') is usually carried by Lohars and Sarkis in Darchula, Bajhang, Bajura, Doti, Achham and other hill and mountain districts of the Remote Western Region. In this region it has been widespread practice to carry Thalu brides and bridegrooms in palanquins. The palanquin carriers are paid a limited amount of wages. If they refuse to do so, they are rebuked and threatened and debarred from visiting fairs and using water. They are even beaten and forced to carry palanquins. In ignorance they think that if they do not carry palanquins their gods will be displeased with them and they will have to suffer. Even to reach places which are accessible on horseback, the so-called superiors travel in palanquins for the sake of their pride and ostentation.

Jari (Adultery) System

The practice of marrying someone else's wife is called Jari system. The amount of punishment paid for such an act is called Jari. This system, no doubt, exists all over the country. However, in remote western places, it has developed in a rather different fashion and has posed itself as a serious issue. In Brahmin and Chhetri communities, this problem has been found exceptional, while, in low castes, it has been a widespread phenomenon.

Dhan Khane/Chhangra (Dowry) System

Traditionally, low-caste people used to demand wealth from bridegrooms' parents all over the country while giving their daughters to them in marriage. Now this custom has been continued only by a few people in other parts of the country. In the Remote Western Region, however, it is still widespread. To demand wealth from bridegrooms' parents to meet marriage expenses or otherwise is the consequence of miserable financial situation.

Mid-Western Region

The sense of untouchability has beeen found less in the urban areas of the Terai districts. For instance, a Bishwakarma, an untouchable, has openly run a restaurant at Lamai, Deukhuri. In the hills and mountains, however, untouchability has been found prevailing. Though less in urban areas, untouchability is observed by Brahmins and Thakuris and the untouchables are given to eat outside the house. Low-caste people are not allowed to enter Bageshwari temple at Nepalgunj in spite of being an urban area.

In Rukum district, untouchable castes practise 'bratbandh' ('thread wearing'). Brahmins go to their houses, perform this religious ceremony and accept offerings. Some parts of Rukum district have relatively less untouchability than other districts and in some parts it does not exist at all. Thawang, a village in Rolpa district, is inhabited by people of about all castes. They are found to be independent in activities within families and marriage, but they are equally treated in social activities like feast, marriage party, funeral procession, fair, festival, meeting and religious, cultural function. In this village, no one is discriminated as high and low, touchables and untouchables.

In Bardiya as well, a Terai district, untouchable teachers and students are discriminated. They feel humiliated when they have to sit at a different place even while taking tea, as reported by Ram Bahadur Nepali, a teacher at Nepal Rashtriya Primary School, Deudakala Machhagad. When a low-caste person happens to marry a high-caste girl, high-caste people conspire for their separation and harass him. In such a case, he has to escape from the district. Even in the Terai children of untouchable castes have very low enrolment at schools. Its main reason is their parents' miserable financial condition. Children also have to work for their maintenance. Even the children whose parents' financial condition is better are not found inclined towards going to school because of humiliation they have to feel.

In the mountains like Jajarkot district Thakuris and Brahmins do not allow the untouchables to touch public drinking water taps and wells. At Khalanga as well, caste-based discrimination is found at the extreme. In this region, Kamaiya and Haliya systems (bonded labour) are practised to a great extent. The bonded labour system is widespread in districts like Banke, Bardiya and Surkhet. The Tharu community alone is not the victim of kamaiya system. Untouchable castes are also chained to Kamaiya and Haliya systems. In the hills and mountain, the untouchables have become destitute with the blows of the Haliya system in one way or another.

The untouchables of this region are prohibited from selling and distributing milk. That's why they are not sanctioned loans at the government level to buy buffaloes. Even for breeding goats they are given loans only at a few places. At several places the untouchables are not offered 'prasad' and 'panchamrit' (a mixture of five sacred ambrosia). Milk and curd are also not served to them.

As in other places, in this region too, citizenship certificates are not issued to low-caste people if they mention the type of their hereditary identity. They must mention Lohar, Kami, Sunar, Damai, Nepali, Doom and other caste-names. This restriction also applies to educational certificate and land-holding certificate. Recently Hari Nepali, who was deemed eligible for joining British Army, was expelled owing to his caste status. In connection with issuing citizenship certificate, Netra Bahadur Karki, Chief District Officer of Jajarkot district, seems to be liberal-minded. The untouchables are issued citizenship certificates just by mentioning their hereditary surnames.

It is for their caste status that the untouchables cannot get even the job of peon.

The Mid-Western Region is the core area for Badis. Their number is large at Rajpur, Banmusri, Taratal, Tulsipur, and Gagangunj. In this region several Badi communities are involved in prostitution. As a result, the number of children whose fathers are unidentified has been increasing and when they are grown-up they will naturally accept prostitution as their profession. There are also found Badinis who have given up prostitution and lead a married life. They mentioned that they had taken to prostitution out of compulsion. They do not want to push their children born out of prostitution into the same profession.

Badinis who relinquished prostitution are now maintaining their lives by engaging themselves in other skilled or non-skilled works. They have also started educating their children. Badis settled in Rukum, Jajarkot, Salyan, Pyuthan, Rolpa and other districts manufacture clay pots for sale, perform dancing and singing, and beg alms and very few of them are engaged in prostitution.

The untouchables of this region are extremely affected by polygamy, Jari (adultery) and Doli (Palanquin) systems. Biradevi Sunar, a 40-year-old mother of seven children from Dahchaur, Barjiwang-2 (Pyuthan), was deserted by her husband, who married another woman and started living separately. Examples like this support the extreme suffering of untouchable women who have to undergo in their lives.

There have been two extreme ways in which low-caste people are harassed by-high-caste ones. They are implicated into cases related to raping and killing a cow and sentencing them to heavy punishment. Many of the untouchables have been sentenced to imprisonment in rape and cow-slaughter cases or have to attend to legal cases against them in courts. In a personal interview with the untouchables of this region, it was revealed that they were implicated in such cases for no reason at all.

In the hills and mountains, the untouchables have been prohibited from blowing a conch-shell. In the month of Fagun last year the conch-shell was blown in funeral procession carrying the corpse of late Dansara kamini, a resident of Lakuri Village Development Committee (Dailekh). The local high-caste people, however, told them that they had no right to blow a conch and then beat them.

Morawang Village Development Committee in Rukum district offers a strange and shameful situation of untouchability. There takes place a fair on Maghe Sankranti (the first day of a Nepali month). Towards the end of the fair the local high-caste men and women gather on a flat raised ground, beat drums turning towards the settlement of the untouchables, show the male's secret part and sing "Eat it! Hell with you!" and dance jumpingly. They say it is performed to appease gods. The untouchables are prohibited from going there during that time. If they go there or oppose this restriction, they are fined 10 pols (391 g) of tamo (copper).

The low-caste inhabitants of this locality have filed a petition to the Chief District Officer against this evil practice, but so far it has been evaded. It has been reported that the village Development Committee concerned has been issued a notice in this connection, but the social evil is still in vogue.

In different parts of this region the untouchables have rather little representation from various political parties at local level. In addition, even the marginal number of representatives is not treated like high-caste ones. The political parties with emphasis on caste equality have not undertaken any important measure in this regard. Instead, during the Dasai festival this year, political activists including those of Nepal Communist Party (Masal) accused District Education Officer of Pyuthan Mr Bal Bahadur Pariyar of unfairness in teachers' selection, insulted him as "You Damai (an untouchable) are not fit for this position. Go to play Damaha (drum) and sew cloths!" and finally made him quit the district.

Dilli Raj Ghimire, a 36-year-old Brahmin from Loharpani-9 (Dang Deukhuri), gave the false assurance to 26-year-old Tobi Bishwakarma from the same place that he would take her to India even though she belonged to a low caste. He had sexual relation with her and had a child (Birodh Ghimire), but he declined to accept him as his son. Now Tobi Bishwakarma is knocking at the court's door for justice so that her son can be entitled to receive his share of his father's assets. It is to be noted that Tobi gave birth to this child recently, i.e. December 24, 1993. 30-year-old Man Bahadur Damai from Lamahi town, Chailaha-2 (Dang) had love marriage with 24-year-old Aiti Chhetrini in 1993. The girl's parents placed Man Bahadur under police custody and he was extremely tortured there. The girl did not want to be separated from the boy, as she said she was pregnant and yet she had no choice of her own. As in other places, in this region too, inter-caste love marriage is foiled on the ground of caste.

In districts like Humla and Jumla, untouchability was found to exist within the same Bhote community. Within it there is a class of labourers, called Kamaro; who have been demoted to the level of the untouchables.

Western Region

In this region the northern part including Mustang district is mostly inhabited by people. Here low-caste people consist of Kamis, Damis and Sarkis. These people living in places higher than Jomsong have adapted themselves to the language and culture. They are relatively less in population. The Bhote community settled along the bordering area of Tibet refers to low-caste people as "Gharas" and treat them as untouchable. Gharas cannot enter restaurants, houses, Buddhist monasteries and temples; so they have to live separately. These innocent, simple-minded Gharas have to wash pots at restaurants after eating.

The example described below reveals that the social life is guided in Mustang by caste discrimination. When King Birendra paid a visit to Mustang in 1974/75 it was Man Bahadur Bishwakarma, a teacher assisting Mustang Prince, who escorted him skillfully. Hence, His Majesty's Government of Nepal appointed him the personal secretary to Mustang prince as a mark of respect to his efficiency. Other communal courtiers of the prince conspired against him and got another person appointed in his place.

Caste discrimination is found in its extreme form in districts like Myagdi and Baglung. Low-caste inhabitants here cannot get their citizenship certificates by mentioning their hereditary surnames. They are considered untouchable and prohibited from entering temples and religious shrines.

Arghakhanchi, Gulmi and Palpa districts have also been experiencing the same form of caste discrimination. It also exists, though to a limited extent, in Gorkha town area. Simple minded low-caste people are discriminated at restaurants and shops. They are not allowed to use public drinking-water taps and wells. The following recent event can be cited as an example. Dhan Kumari Gaire, who went to bring water from a public tap at Khoplang Village Development Committee, was stopped by Hira Lal Basnet. Even then she tried to fill her pot with water, but she was injured by a sickle. This case is proceeding in a legal court.

It has been evidenced that low-caste people are prohibited from their entrance into temples and religious shrine in Gorkha. It shows the violation of low-caste people's human rights at the government level.

On February 3, 1993 Society for the Liberation of Oppressed Castes (SLOC) Nepal (District Committee, Gorkha) organized a meeting to enable low-caste people to worship at Gorakh Nath Temple inside Gorkha Palace. But it was banned at the government level. The mob tried to enter the temple forcefully, but it was stopped by police threat to shoot. Eventually these low-caste people had to withdraw themselves without worshipping. When asked "Why can we not enter the temple? Give us a written reply", Ganesh Bikram Shah, Chief of Gorkha Memorial Preservation and Palace Care office, gave them a written restriction.

Untouchability is found prevailing in Syangja, Rupandehi and Nawalparasi districts also. In Palpa district there persists discrimination among low-caste people, but in Syangja district it has mitigated to a large extent. In this district, the discrimination made by high-caste people against low-caste one has come out as a topic of discussion at the national level. At Bhagwati Milk Collection Centre set up by Dairy Development Corporation at Udiyachaur of Pelakot Village Development Committee, low-caste people had not been permitted to sell their milk for the last eight years. On November 6, 1993, however, the low-caste people used pressure on the centre to buy their milk and mix it. This event gave rise to conflict and there was a fight between the low-caste and high-caste people. Later, under the pressure of Brahmins, Dairy Development Corporation closed down the milk collection centre. In this issue, the local administration also extended its support to the high-caste people. Then local oppressed peasants formed an action committee to fight this issue. On February 13 thousands of people organized a protest rally at Syangja bazaar at the behest of the action committee. They demanded for reopening the milk collection centre and taking action against those indulging in discrimination.

Low-caste teachers and employees working at several schools in this region are humiliated and even sacked on caste ground. The authorities concerned have, however, shown no interest in it. In this region there are instances of inter-caste marriage, but low-caste people are harassed in this regard. For instance, Riuri Damini, an untouchable woman from Bhirkot-2 (Tanahu district), was made pregnant by Hari Bahadur Rana of the same village. But she was paid some amount and left in charge of a Kami boy. Hari Bahadur was also debarred from using water and Brahmins did not accept to perform "Nwaran" rite for his son born from his first wife. On the other side, a Kami boy was also debarred from using water for marrying a Damai woman. Eventually, Riuri was compelled to spend her life with another man. Besides, Trok Maya Pariyar from Bhanu-3 (Tanahu) gave birth to a son from Nand Kumar Shrestha of the same village. When it was disclosed Nand Kumar Shrestha absconded. The community expelled Nand Kumar from his caste on the one hand, while, on the other, Trok Maya died from illness. It was bad luck for the baby. Nand Kumar has now opened a restaurant at Mugling and lives with his first wife and children. In the same Village Development Committee, Achyut Raj Aryal dared to have love marriage with Radhika Pariyar and is now leading a life of a social outcast.

On November 29, 1993, Ashok Bishwakarma and Lila Bishwakarma decided to enter into love marriage, but when they went to Bindhyabasini temple for the purpose, the priest refused to perform marriage rite on caste basis.

The love marriage between Top Bahadur Shrestha and Kamala Nepali from Amchaur Village Development Committee (Baglung) was, however, found to be acceptable to the local community. Similarly, Ranger, Indra Lal Acharya gladly welcomed her daughter's marriage with Babu Ram Bishwakarma from Arghakhanchi in July/August 1993.

There have been frequent conflicts for prohibiting the untouchable from their entrance into temples in Nawalparasi district. The sense of untouchability still prevails in this district. For instance, Sagun Pariyar, an eight-year-old daughter of Indra Bahadur Pariyar from Naya Bellani-8, was alleged by a Magar woman to have touched her. In excitement, the latter dropped her water pot on the former's head. Sagun was brought to Bir Hospital in serious condition. Only after a long treatment she was taken back home.

At Butwal Municipality-5, Bimala Bishwakarma, a 65-year old woman, was alleged to have touched water and poured with water. She was beaten so much that she was left in serious condition.

Central Region

This region, where the nation's capital is also located, is relatively much advanced in political, economic, religious, intellectual, cultural and other fields. this, it lags behinds in social aspect. The Kathmandu valley is replete with temples, shrines, and monasteries, and is far ahead from religious view point. It is, at the same time, gripped with caste discrimination and untouchability created by religion-based caste system. Inside the valley itself, several religious shrines, taps, wells, funeral and other public places are not open to the untouchables. Caste discrimination has ceased to exist at the hotels and restaurants in the capital city, but it is still continuing at Indrayani, Alapot, Bhadrabas, Moolpani, Danchhi, Sankhu and other sub-urban localities of the city. In these places low-caste people have to eat outside restaurants and clean pots. In rural areas even wooden frame ("pira") is not offered to the untouchables because it is thought that it will be defiled. They have to sit separately for eating at high-caste people's home; cow-dung is placed beside them to clean the place; and the utensils used for eating have to be cleaned.

These practices are also prevalent in the suburban areas of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur cities. In all the three cities in the Kathmandu Valley houses are not available to the untouchables on rent. Hence, they have to conceal their castes in order to get rented rooms or houses. If their castes happen to be disclosed they have no choice but to quit the house. At several places in the valley, Podes (sweepers) are forced to accept alms to appease evil spirits at Gathe Mangal. In the north-eastern part of the central region, high-caste people buy an untouchable person, paint his face in black, red and yellow colors and also with ash and put on him white and black cloths to appease evil spirits.

As in other development regions, in this region too, it has been found rather difficult to sustain inter-caste marriage. In such a situation, the couple have to escape to other places or have to be separated. There have been frequent incidents of false assurance given to low-caste girls in the beginning but later deserting them. For instance, Kainlo Upreti, from Dumre Pani of Bhumlutar-7 (Kavre district) tempted Kanchhi Damini, a widow, to have sexual relation and she also gave birth to a male child. Later Upreti did not accept the child as his son. Kanchhi Damini brought up the child, named Sangram Upreti. Now Sangram Upreti is trying to establish relation with his father.

Rewati Raman Dhakal from Deopur-1 (Kavre) had illicit sexual relation with Buddha Laxmi Bishwakarma of the same village. She gave birth to a child. The child has been named Ram Prasad Dhakal, but the secretary of the Village Development Committee has not accepted to register his birth. On the other hand, high-caste people have instigated Rewati Raman against accepting the child. However, at the initiative of the Society for the Liberation of Oppressed Caste, (SLOC) Nepal district committee, Kavre, attempts are being made for the registration of the child's birth.

There have also been cases of expulsion from the community when some conscious high-caste youths ate together at the untouchables'.

As in other places, the untouchables here are prohibited from entering most of the temples and public places in this region also. On November 27, 1993, a Sarki's son from Panchkhal-3 (Kavre) carried a load of another's paddy into a mill, but he was asked by Khel Bahadur Dulal why he entered inside the mill, and he was also beaten. A Brahmin shopkeeper from Banepa Municipality-10 humiliated Kanchan Pariyar on December 29, 1993 and expelled him out of the shop.

Low-caste people have not been allowed to enter restaurants and temples in districts like Kavre, Dolkha, Sindhupalchowk and Ramechhap. In most districts of this region, low-caste people can not receive citizenship certificate only by mentioning their hereditary surnames.

In Ramechhap district the untouchables are liable to punishment if they don't walk from a distance of the path trod by Brahmins. They are required to construct separate wells for drinking water. They are not allowed to sell their milk at most of the collection centres located in the hills. This situation has cropped up as a result of the discretion used by high-caste people and the Dairy Development Corporation employees. In Sindhupalchowk district low-caste people are not allowed to use drinking water from public wells. For instance, Laxmi, Jhanka Bahadur Bishwakarma's 3-year old daughter, reached near a well while playing. She was beaten by Parvati Bhattarai, but it was protested by her parents. The next day the child's corpse was found floating in the same well. Local people gave a unanimous report that the child's death was a case of accident. This event is still shrouded in mystery. A few days later Nar Bahadur Bishwakarma was beaten for using drinking water from the same well. Parvati Bhattarai's husband Krishna Prasad Bhattarai shouted, "One has already lost one's life; do others also intend to die?" This threat has made the earlier event more suspicious.

The Terai districts of this region, namely, Chitwan, Bara, Parsa, Sarlahi, Mahottari and Dhanusha are inhabited by the Maithil untouchables. Untouchability is found relatively less practised in this part than in the hills and mountains, but discrimination is still existing at psychological level. Professional communities like Chamar, Doom, Mushar, Dusadh and Dhobi have to lead a humiliating and neglected life. Dooms cannot enter restaurants and are discriminated at public schools. Untouchability has been found prevailing more in rural areas than in urban ones.

In this region, it has been observed that low-caste children are not treated on par with high-caste ones, especially by school teachers and fellow students. As a result, the percentage of their drop-outs is rather high. Even those who continue their education do not make expected progress in their studies owing to the feeling of inferiority complex developed in them because of ill-treatment. Low-caste people, even if qualified and efficient, are debarred from getting job on caste ground. A few of them who are employed have to face humiliation. For the post of a peon in particular, they are deemed ineligible because they cannot serve drinking water and tea to employees.

Even in Terai urban area like Chitwan, the employees of the Dairy Development Corporation did not allow Chandra Bahadur Bishwakarma, a low-caste person, to collect milk at the dairy centre on September 26, 1993. To fight this issue the district committee of the SLOC Nepal launched an agitation and the local administration tried to settle it. Low-caste people in the Terai do not receive loans from Agriculture Development Bank to purchase buffalos. They cannot sell their milk openly in markets.

During last Dasai Ram Bahadur Pariyar, a 34-year-old man at Jyoti Nagar (Chitwan) was returning home from his shop late in night. When he reached the courtyard of Gulmi Jethi's house, she made her husband's brother beat him on the pretext that he had come there to steal. He was entrusted to police in a very critical condition. When he was being taken to hospital by police he died. At present late Ram Bahadur's relatives are trying to seek justice, but all possible efforts are being made to conceal the crime.

There have been frequent cases like beating and manhandling innocent low-caste people nowadays. For instance, on November 11, 1993. 78-year-old Bal Krishna Bishwakarma was beaten to death by police at Chitwan on charge of grazing his buffalos in the airfield ground. In protest there were extreme public resentment and demand for taking action against the culprits. However, the authorities concerned have been trying to protect policemen Mukta Bahadur Karna and Tej Narayan Devkota.

Eastern Region

Prima facie the caste discrimination appears to be relatively less in the Eastern Region than in Western Nepal. A close look, however, reveals that untouchability continues to exist in this part too. Terai districts and some districts in the hills and mountain like Illam and Taplejung are found to be more open and liberal in this respect. Untouchability exists at Fidim Bazaar also in Panchthar district. It is practised much in this district, which is dominated by Chhetri and Brahmin population. In Limbu settlements, untouchables are not allowed to enter a house but they are not much discriminated. Some Limbus like Angadambe and Nembang are, however, much orthodox like Chhetris and Brahmins. In Dasai, untouchables have to clean Mukhiyas' (Headmen's) houses and courtyards. Damais have to play musical instruments during Prasad at Phoolpati and at funeral processions.

As in the hills and mountain, in the Terai too, untouchables cannot sell milk and curd openly. However, they receive loans for purchasing buffalos.

The untouchables of Terai origin including Dooms and Mehtars ("Sweepers") are treated inhumanly. Even at towns like Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Rajbiraj and Janakpur they cannot enter restaurants, while the untouchables of the hills are allowed to eat inside them.

In this region too, untouchables, have to face difficulty in receiving citizenship certificates. Earlier they had to mention their castes in these certificates. Recently they are issued on the basis of their fathers' certificates. That's why they cannot mention their surnames different from their castes.

The untouchables are prohibited from entering temples in this region also. This restriction was waived off in 1972/73 at Siddhakali temple, Bhojpur, but following the modification of the civil code since 1990 added in Article 10 (ka) as an explanation the untouchables have not been allowed to enter this temple. Likewise, Siddheshwar, Pakhuwa and Dingla temples are not open to them. With the restoration of democracy, the Shiva temple constructed under the chairmanship of Buddhi Bahadur Shankar at Prithvi Nagar Village Development Committee (Jhapa) has been called the place for Kamis to worship and has not been visited by high-caste people. Similarly, they have also stopped drinking water from the well constructed there. At Jorpokhari Shiva temple situated in Subhang Village Development Committee of Panchthar district, untouchables had been offering water, but they stopped it later. Recently they tried to revive their earlier practice but could not succeed. When 45 untouchables including Devi Nepali and Gopi Kalikote wanted to offer water forcibly, high-caste people threatened them to break their legs. This incident has given rise to the tension between touchables and untouchables.

High-caste people often give slogans against untouchability, but they do not want to translate them into action. This fact can be supported by an incident which took place at Dharan in 1992. At Chakraghatti in Dharan, several tea-stalls and restaurants are not open for untouchables.

Untouchable settlements are given pejorative names and no development activities are carried out there. For instance, there is a settlement of untouchables within the market area at Arjundhara-2 of Jhapa district. "Kami Tole" called by high-caste people has been renamed as "Ekant Tole" by the local inhabitants. Electricity has not yet been supplied to this settlement, while it has been for twenty years that the village has been utilizing this facility. Roads have not been constructed and there is no management of drinking water.

Many of the untouchables in this region have taken to Christianity in order to emancipate themselves from caste discrimination and the system of untouchability. But even these converted people are not treated as equals by high-caste Christians. Vaishanavas are the most orthodox of all religious communities. An extreme example of those Vaishanavas in the Eastern Region is this: Devaki Nandan Koirala who is regarded as the teacher of Vaishanavas at Khudunabari-2 (Jhapa), and his disciples arrange a separate place for untouchables to sit at Puran and other religious programmes and when they leave the place it is purified with cowdung plaster.

Udaypur is also found similar in untouchability. Here low-caste people's milk does not sell. If someone's caste is disclosed, he cannot enter a restaurant. Low-caste people can take water from the public tap located at Beltar Bazaar only after it is vacated by high-caste people. Here also untouchable people cannot enter temples and religious shrines.

To many restaurants in Khotang district untouchables are not allowed entry. Similarly, they cannot enter temples in Terai districts like Morang, Saptari, Dhanusha and Siraha. Dooms in particular are more victimized by untouchability. They are ignorant and illiterate and have their settlement in the midst of dirt.

Attitude of Religious Communities, Government and Political Parties Towards Caste-based Untouchability

During Prithvi Narayan's campaign for the unification of Nepal, Kalu Sarki, Mani Ram Gaine and Bise Nagarchi played a significant role. Despite this fact, no attempt has been made to mitigate caste discrimination and the system of untouchability. Several Saints of Josmani like Shashidar (1747-1849) and Gyandil Das (1835-1897) went ahead with the campaign against casteism and Karmakand. Ran Bahadur Shah (1777-1806) was initiated into Josmani sect by Sashidhar, opposed casteism and organized a feast participated by all castes. Activities like this were opposed by his courtiers, priests and orthodox individuals. They were, however, not pursued by the later kings. They could have helped to establish caste equality and integrate all castes into a single national force. The civil code 1853/54 was the first attempt to legalize untouchability and caste system. This code was formulated and enforced by Jung Bahadur Rana during King Surendra's regime. This legal provision added to untouchables' misery and suffering. Saint Gyan Dildas launched protest against this law in the nation and abroad. In Sikkim this superstition was ridiculed as a mockery by searching castes in Nepalese society through light in 1868/69. Several individuals and thinkers endeavoured to abolish caste system and untouchability during the Rana regime, but they failed in their attempt because of autocratic rule.

Jaya Prithvi Bahadur Singh (1963-1997), a humanitarian King, realized the need for collective feeling. For him, the relation among human beings based on wisdom and morality can help attain genuine unity and fraternity. That's why he carried out social reforms. Despite the prince of Bajhang, he accomplished unforgettable works for the nation, people, universal fraternity and global peace. King Jaya Prithvi was committed to pure humanitarian values and views transcending the vanity of casteism, religion and power and sympathised deeply with oppressed people by carrying out welfare activities. For instance, low-caste people like Kalu Bhool (Sarki) and Rabidase (Damai) were sent outside for orientation in-high-skilled works. Because of the influence of King Jaya Prithvi's equalitarian and liberal thinking and actions, his father-in-law Chandra Shamsher also raised the voice in his court: "Untouchables are also human beings; they should also enjoy equal rights". But because of the indifference of his courtiers in this respect or for some other reasons, his ideas did not materialize.

Discrimination with respect to caste, colour, and class was strangling human race and turned out to be a slur on humanity. At this juncture the United Nations published the Human Rights Declaration in 1948. According to Article 2 of this Declaration, "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty". Following the 1950 Movement King Tribhuvan made the following announcement on March 3, 1951: "No discrimination shall be made in the appointment of soldiers in Nepalese army on the basis of caste, religion and language. Individuals of all castes, religions and languages are equally eligible for joining army." In the press report released on February 23, 1951, King Tribhuvan expressed his attitude towards caste discrimination as follows: "Whether to abolish caste discrimination and untouchability or not cannot be decided by one or two individuals in a democratic state. It should be decided by all people's consensus. Hence, this issue does not arise unless the legislative assembly is formed."

With worldwide "Openness" wave, the social practices enshrined in the civil code (1853/54) were relaxed to some extent at people's initiatives. At the government level, however, no measures were taken to abolish caste discrimination and untouchability. Besides, no important steps were taken by political parties at that time in this direction.

During the Panchayat regime King Mahendra enforced the Civil Code on August 17, 1963. It announces the elimination of caste system in principal for the first time, but it remains silent about penalty due to its violation. It was, therefore, natural to find no difference in reality. This civil code has, however, historical importance for replacing the one (1853/54) comprising unjust legal provisions. Hira Lal Bishwakarma, who happened to become a minister during the partyless Panchayat regime in spite of belonging to a low-caste, also supported status quo instead of supporting for the implementation of the aforesaid Act. During the same regime, low-caste representatives like Dhan Man Singh Pariyar, Har Kumar Singh, T. R. Bishwakarma and Tek Bahadur Bishwakarma, who were nominated to Rashtriya Panchayat (National Legislative Assembly), did not make any contribution in this regard. It is, however, to be noted that millions of rupees were received as foreign aid during this period to promote socially and economically backward communities in Nepal, but no measures were taken in this field. Nepal has signed the UN treaties, negotiations and understanding, but it has not introduced any tangible measures for the abolition of caste discrimination and oppression.

The 1990 People's Movement restored multi-party democracy in the nation, but there was no representation from low castes in the Constitution Recommendation Commission formed to draft the constitution. This commission consisting of representatives of the King, Nepali Congress and Communists prepared the draft of the constitution with the provision for three seats in the parliament reserved for the oppressed, but it was deleted from the constitution. Instead, it has given Nepal the status of "a Hindu State" and encouraged casteism.

According to Article 11(4) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 1990, "No person shall be discriminated as untouchable or debarred from attending public places or using things of public utility on the basis of caste. Such an act shall be punishable by law." Despite it has been added as a legal provision to practise discrimination which has been existing traditionally.

To annul this provision Man Bahadur Bishwakarma and Manohar Lal Bamrel filed their petitions at the Supreme Court on June 6, 1992 (Writ No. 2505) and July 23, 1992 (Writ No. 2105), respectively. According to the verdict of the special session consisting of Justice Trilok Pratap Rana, Justice Laxman Prasad Aryal and Justice Kedar Nath Upadhyaya on Thursday February 25, 1993, the explanation under the column 10 (ka) in the civil code was declared null and void and annulled. It was decided that no one shall discriminate any one at any temple or public place on the basis of caste.

The ruling and opposition political parties have, no doubt, given slogans, especially during elections, for the social and economic upliftment of the oppressed. However, they are not found interested in this issue in practice. In this connection, the role of human rights organizations in Nepal has been relatively positive as a pressure group for abolishing caste discrimination and establishing human rights. It is regrettable that the state has shown no concern for the participation of untouchables in the government, government / semi-government agencies and policy formulation sector and also for the reservation of this class in social, economic and educational fields. No social organizations have been found to play active role in uprooting untouchability. Instead, social reformers and intellectuals have made (though limited) positive contributions on individual basis. Former Prime Minister Late Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala also was opposed to casteism and untouchability. Similarly, Mahanand Sapkota also helped to promote their cause. He assisted Jawahar Rokka at Chainpur in receiving education. Pandit Chhabi Lal Pokharel extended his cooperation to Hira Lal Bishwakarma, T. R. Bishwakarma and Uma Lal Bishwakarma in receiving education at Dharan.

Indra Prasad Prasain and Narad Muni Thulung worked for the entry of untouchables into public places at Ilam and Bhojpur, respectively. In 1952 the Bada Hakim (district officer) of Dhankuta, Rang Nath Upreti helped Jawahar Rokka in receiving free education. At Chainpur Sher Bahadur Shrestha helped in educating untouchables. Devi Prasad Upreti (1811-1992), who mostly lived in Jhapa and Atharai, employed a Bishwakarma as his cook and challenged the concept of untouchability. Kali Bhakta Pant of Syangja made a significant contribution by criticizing untouchability through his talented writings. Earlier than (1943/44), Bhakta Bahadur Shakya of Chainpur (SankhuwaSabha district) was engaged in protesting untouchability in Newar community. After 1950, Maheshwar Menyangbo married an untouchable woman and contributed to the abolition of caste discrimination. Since 1952 Ambika Sanwa (now a member of Parliament) has been making laudable attempts in fighting against untouchability and practising this principle in his life.

Untouchables' Initiatives for Caste Liberation in Nepal

Prior to 1950, Nepalese history made no mention of any liberation movement against untouchability launched by the oppressed in an organized way at the national level. At social level, Kale Damai (Kali Bahadur Sundas) of Ilam, Gopal Lamjel (1861-1949) of Tehrathum, Bhagat Sarbjit Bishwakarma (1893-1955) of Baglung, Rip Lal Bishwakarma (1914) of Palpa and other individuals like Hikmat Singh Bishwakarma, Ganga Bahadur Pariyar, Manbir Bishwakarma and Gothi Basel (1900-1953) are found to have interest in abolishing untouchability and bringing in social reforms. To raise voice for liberation from Ranas' autocratic rule was a direct invitation to death. In such a situation, the oppressed had no choice for self - protection but to tolerate fortune and lead painful life. The 1950 movement offered an opportunity of speaking, Writing, reading and political freedom to people and opened gates to judiciary and administrative offices. However, the society was still trailing on the track of legal restriction imposed by Jayasthiti Malla and Jung Bahadur Rana as caste oppression for generations. There had been mushroom growth of political parties, but they were more involved in grabbing power and earning than emancipating and promoting caste groups. As a result, there were no change and development in accordance with people's expectations. It, however, made clear that it was not possible to have an access to the national level in the lack of education and organizational unity. without mobilizing power at the national level various aspects of caste life cannot be activated in planned way. This is what has been realized by the oppressed communities.

To make the rights and self - respect of the oppressed class dynamic, the organizations for the oppressed were set up with the initiatives of a few individuals in Baglung, Sunsari and Kathmandu in 1947/48. These organizations were rather limited in their jurisdiction, but they can be taken as tokens for creating historical background. "Vishwa Sarbajan Sangh" was formed in Baglung in 1947/48 by sarbjit Bishwakarma, "Nimna Samaj Sudhar Sangh" was established at Dharan, Sunsari in 1947/48 by Jadubir Bishwakarma, Hiralal Bishwakarma, Uma Lal Bishwakarma, and T.R. Bishwakarma; and " Tailors' Union" was constituted in Kathmandu in the same year with Saharsh Nath Kapali as its convenor. In 1951/52 " Samaj Sudhar Sangh" replaced "Jat Tod Sangh" under the convenorship of Saharsh Nath Kapali. At its initiative an attempt was made to enter pashupati Nath Temple in 1954/55, Siddhi Bahadur Khadgi was selected the convenor of Pashupati Sangharsh Samiti. Thousands of untouchables participated in this rally organized under the leadership of Saharsh Nath Kapali and Ganesh Yogi. At the behest of the-then Home Minister Tanka Prasad Acharya the administration deployed police force to use Lathi-charge against the agitators. In this rally participated mostly by women, 750 persons were taken into police custody. After this agitation, the government removed the plate bearing "No Admission for Untouchables" from Pashupati Nath Temple for the first time.

Later, to evaluate the practicability of the civil code 1963, Siddha Kali Temple at Bhojpur was entered under the leadership of Padam Sundas and Lal Kumari Bishwakarma. It was a two-day programme (October 16-17, 1972) to allow untouchables to enter temples. Those who were involved in organizing this programme included Narad Muni Thulung and Niranjan Bhakta Shrestha, Bada Hakim (District officer), while high-caste people, police administration, priests and Pandas were all opposed to it. The programme following entry to the temple on October 15, 1993, however, it could not succeed next day.

With a view to helping untouchable women, "Pariganit Nari Sangh" was set up in Kathmandu in 1955 with Mithai Devi Bishwakarma as its chairperson. "Samaj Sudhar Sangh" once again transformed itself into "Nepal Rashtriya Pariganit Sangh" in 1957/58 with Saharsh Nath Kapali as it chairman again. Its general secretary was Rip Lal Bishwakarma, T.R. Bishwakarma and Hira Lal Bishwakarma were also associated with it. Mithai Devi Bishwakarma's pariganit Nari Sangh also merged into it in 1958/59. This organization was formally registered in 1962/63. In 1967/68 " Nepal Rashtriya Dalit Jan Bikas Parishad" was set up under the chairmanship of Saharsh Nath Kapali. Hira Lal Bishwakarma was made its general secretary. It held its first national convention in Kathmandu on June 11, 1972. This convention was a new event in the history of the oppressed. After the convention Mohan Kapali was made its president and T.R. Bishwakarma its general secretary. Hira Lal Bishwakarma, Jawahar Kapali, Bichhe Verma Kapali and others were also made its members. Several branches of this association were opened all over the country. They helped to organize untouchables to some extent. When it was registered at Social Service Coordination Council in 1977/78, the word 'dalit' was deleted and the association was renamed as "Nepal Rashtriya Jan Bikas Parishad".

During the referendum in 1979, "Samaj Sudhar Sangh" was set up with the initiative of Shanker Bishwakarma, Padma Lal Bishwakarma, Chitra Shikaru, Man Bahadur Bishwakarma and others. Its main objective was caste liberation through the instalment of multi party system. It published newspapers and magazines and tried to create awareness among people. When referendum result went in favour of the partyless system, this organization ceased to function.

Nepal Rashtriya Jan Bikash Parishad was registered in 1979/80, but there arose conflict in its leadership. As a result, there came up another organization with the same name under the leadership of Mohan Lal Kapali. Jawahar Rokka formed "Pachhaute Jati Sudhar Sangh" in Morang in 1980/81. In 1981/82 "Nepal Atipichhadiyeko Jan Bikas Parishad" was constituted in Kathmandu under the chairmanship of Narayan Prasad Kapali. This organization had adverse effect on the unity of Rashtriya Dalit Jan Bikas Parishad. As competition for establishing organization and becoming leaders, "Nepal Rashtriya Samaj Kalyan Sangh" was formed with Siddhi Bahadur Khadgi and Pratap Ram Lohar as its president and general secretary, respectively. Nepal Rashtriya Jan Bikas Parishad including Hira Lal Bishwakarma merged into it. In 1987/88 "Jati Bibhed Unmoolan Manch" was set up in Kathmandu under the chairmanship of Megh Bahadur Bishwakarma. Under the guise of launching some revolutionary measures, this organization collected a large amount of money and later disappeared. Nepal Rashtriya Dalit Jan Bikas Parishad, however, continued its functioning under the leadership of T. R. Bishwakarma.

There were formed quite a few organizations in connection with caste liberation. They did not, however, raise voice against the oppression of caste groups. Instead, they mainly addressed themselves to leadership competition and serving personal interest by making organizations loyal to government machinery. For this reason, these organizations made little appeal to so-called untouchables. It was thought that caste discrimination would go on widening so long as the Panchayat regime prolonged. It was, therefore, decided to replace the existing polity by multi-party system in order to get rid of caste oppression. Keeping it in view, in 1988 "Utpidit Jatiya Utthan Manch" (Uplifting Forum for Oppressed Castes) was formed in Kathmandu with Golchhe Sarki as its president. This organization received support from oppressed caste groups from all over the nation in course of expanding its organization in an underground way. It participated in the anti-Panchayat movement gaining momentum. In the 1990 movement UFOC was the first and only organization of oppressed groups which placed its demands ahead and participated in the movement. After the people's movement this organization proceeded ahead with its demands for caste liberation and open programmes. It submitted its recommendation to the Constitution Recommendation Commission. After the constitution was enforced, it organized a massive general meeting at the open theatre on November 23, 1992 to voice its concern about the government's indifference to its major demands. On December 18, 1992 it organized its first national convention at which Golchhe Sarki was again selected its leader. Other organizations like Rupandehi Dalit Mukti Morcha (1990) Jhapa, Dalit Mukti Morcha Rupandehi (1989) and Chhuwachhut Mukti Sangathan Kathmandu (1990) merged into this forum. During the integration of the organization, "Jatiya Samta Samaj" dissociated itself from Mohan Bikram singh's communist party and merged Nepal Rashtriya Dalit Jan Bikas Parishad led by late T.R. Bishwakarma, which was later reconstituted with Mithai Devi Bishwakarma as its coordinator. On March 20, 1993, Utpidit Jatiya Utthan Manch (UFOC) and Nepal Rashtriya Dalit Jan Bikas Parishad were collapsed into a single organization, called "Nepal Utpidit Dalit Jatiya Mukti Samaj" [Society for the Liberation of Oppressed Castes, Nepal (SLOC, Nepal)] with Padma Lal Bishwakarma as its president. In the history of the organizations related to the oppressed caste, SLOC, Nepal is now functioning as a strong organization. It has so far launched a large of movements for caste liberation and has been active in creating awareness in the oppressed caste, organizing it and implementing human rights.

Nepal Rashtriya Samaj Kalyan Sangh, functioning during Panchayat regime as a class organization, has now been working as a sister organization of Nepali Congress after the people's movement. Race for leadership gave rise to conflict in it. In 1991 "Vikasonmukh Samaj Sangh",another pro-Nepali Congress organization, was formed under the chairmanship of Ratna Bahadur Bishwakarma. By the same time "Nepal Dalit Utthan Sangh" was opened as another sister organization of Nepali Congress under the chairmanship of Dalbir Bishwakarma.

In the history of the organizations for the oppressed in Nepal, it has been the unpleasant experience that in the guise of slogans for caste liberation they have exploited them to serve their personal and feudal interest. If they could not serve personal interest, a Separate organization was formed.

Recommendations for the Abolition of Caste Untouchability

It is not possible to identify the population of untouchables in Nepal on the basis of the census report (1991), as they have not been enumerated separately. This report contains statistics about some castes, but it does not include information about Newari-speaking people and the population of untouchables in the Remote Western Region. According to it, there are only 34,50,000 untouchables. During the enumeration in the 1991 census, information on castes was collected in every region on ad hoc basis without seeking the assistance of local responsible representatives. Consequently, the Aryan untouchables who did not inform that they were untouchables were enumerated as touchables, thereby increasing the touchables' population and reducing the untouchables' population. In addition, the census report has become faulty also because it is difficult in a community to identify touchable and untouchables. It is assumed that if the untouchables missing in the report are taken into account, their population may exceed more than five million. Despite it, it would be desirable on our part to keep on ascertaining the real figures about untouchables, which would help HMG/N and also social organizations devise ways to resolve the related issues.

Who have been reduced to the status of untouchables on the criterion of caste? When and why did it happen? No studies have so far been undertaken by the government, sociologists and other researchers to address to these issues. No books and printed materials have come out on the investigation of the painful long records about this large chunk of population facing the evils of untouchability and humiliation. It is high time to highlight the inhuman situation of untouchables through reliable and insightful studies at the national and international initiatives.

Caste system is also a form of exploitation. Hence, the problems of untouchables cannot be studied separately from the exploitation. It is the poverty which compels people to become untouchables and accept this status and live a neglected, humiliating life. This fact has been supported by Telis in the Terai and Manandhars in the Newar community. Both of these castes were treated untouchables during the Rana regime, but now they have been promoted to the rank of touchables with their improved economic condition. According to a survey made by an international non-government agency (INGO), 42 per cent of the population in Nepal is below poverty line; of them 35 percent belongs to untouchable caste groups. It is time for the government to formulate and implement effective measures to promote the economic situation of the untouchables who cannot fulfil even the minimum basic needs of their life and are facing extreme poverty.

Owing to illiteracy and ignorance, people believe in superstitions like previous birth and rebirth. They think they are born untouchable as a result of their pre-birth. They dream that if they observe religious discipline and serve high-caste people in this birth they will be born as touchable in the next birth. In this context, it is important that the government try to make them educated and conscious. The untouchables suffer from inferiority complex as well as economic adversity. As a result, they have no positive attitude towards education. Hence, the government needs to implement special education programme for the uneducated and provide reservation of jobs in government/semi-government agencies to the educated in this community. They have come down to the level of untouchable for sticking to their traditional professions. Hence they should be imparted training in the country or abroad by the government to modernize their professions, make them competitive and income-generating and render them respectable.

It is necessary to bring in change in the national educational policy and make education easily accessible and vocational. Reading materials which encourage caste discrimination should be banned. Radio, TV and other mass media should not carry programmes which may give rise to caste animosity and segregation. They should not broadcast or publish things related to untouchability and detrimental to caste equality. Divisive quotes like " four classes and thirty-six castes "should be omitted. The untouchable castes could not fight against slavery to high-caste people owing to unscientific and orthodox values, launch organized movement for caste liberation and vanquish feudal practices. As a result, they are lost in religious illusion. To promote them through education and awareness meetings, documentary films, posters and other activities should be organized in different localities. The problem of untouchability is found to be more acute amidst people deprived of interaction owing to the lack of transport and communication. The programmes mentioned above can prove more effective in such a situation. It is necessary to develop transport and communication in remote areas and provide people facilities like hospitals, high schools, libraries, clubs, post-office and telephones. These facilities may help them get rid of evil manners and customs.

The existing constitution and laws guarantee caste equality and freedom. Only if column No 10 (ka) of civil code is strictly enforced to punish the act of discriminating persons on caste ground in utilizing public places, caste equality can be achieved to a great extent. In addition, it is also desirable to make legal provisions for strictest punishment and payment of compensation if someone practises untouchability and makes discrimination on caste ground.

In 1757 Prithvi Narayan Shah promoted a person from Duar to Putwar caste after the latter saved the former and took him to Gorkha during his invasion on Kirtipur. Ran Bahadur Shah, who opposed Hindu orthodox ideas, allowed people from all castes to eat together and enter temples. Jung Bahadur Rana converted Meche, an untouchable caste into a touchable one. Even now steps should be taken at the state level to abolish caste system.

It is required to allow low-caste people to use their hereditary surnames instead of their professional ones while enroling at schools or getting citizenship certificates issued.

Inter-caste marriage can also prove to be a vital means of abolishing caste system. Blood relation helps to inculcate the feeling of oneness. Hence, caste system and untouchability can be quickly wiped out if inter-caste marriage is encouraged at the government level through incentives.

Employees and people's representatives are not trained in every part of Nepal. Instead, they are found to be the victims of social evils. As a result, it is not possible to propagate against caste untouchability. Hence trainers should be sent from the centre to establish coordination between employees and local inhabitants and explain the anti-untouchability laws. To organize eating together at common feasts can have positive impact on this issue.

Educated intellectuals and social leaders should set a model by treating untouchables as touchables. Other members of the society should also have sympathy, tolerance and human treatment with untouchables. It is necessary for all to live in unity and integrity.

In political circle, untouchables should be represented from village to national levels.

The feeling of mutual goodwill is not found to exist among untouchables owing to caste discrimination within the community. It has weakened their struggle against the discrimination made by high-caste people and also the government. Instead of fighting for their liberation some of them claim themselves superior to others. The educated and conscious among untouchables should explain to their fellowman that they are not untouchable by their traditional professions. They should try to organize them, help them in getting rid of conservative and unscientific social traditions and establish equality and freedom. The untouchables should also try on their own to give up inferiority complex, get educated and inculcate moral sense within them in order to compete with high-cast people in every field.

Present condition

In present day context, the caste system falls under Hindu varna system i.e, Brahmin, Kshatri, Vysya and Shudra respectively instead of following Muluki Ain's codification. Also many Tibeto Burman ethnic groups do not follow the caste system because they have their own culture, tradition, religion and values which do not fall under the caste system.

External links

September 2006