President Jimmy Carter meets the Dalit delegates

By Hira Vishwakarma
You may all know that former President of United States and President of The Carter Centre Mr. Jimmy Carter granted audience to the delegates of Dalits of Nepal and members of the delegates were Mr. Bombahadur Vishwakarma, General Secretary, Mr. Tej Sunar, Secretary, Mr. Tirtha Vishwakarma, Executive Director and Mr. Hira Vishwakarma, Technical Advisor to DNF.
The Dalit delegates were invited by The Carter Centre Nepal office. The meeting lasted for nearly 40 minutes and Mr. President listened to the issues, concerns and
problems of Dalits very carefully. He was keen on the citizenship issue of Dalit and enquired that how many Dalits are still left to acquire citizenship. He asked if there is any problem for voter’s registration. He informed that he had a meeting with Mr. Ramchandra Paudyal and he has deliberately raised the issue of Dalits with him. The minister for Peace and Reconstruction Mr. Paudyal assured President Carter that he is taking up the issue of Dalits seriously.
He asked about the population distribution of Dalits and share of the population. He was informed that Dalit constitute the third largest population after Janjajit and Chhetri as they constitute 37, 16 and 13% respectively. He was informed that Dalits are not in majority in any parts of Nepal, had they been majority like Janjati, they would have been able to secure political power. At this reply he gave the smile.

He enquired about the relationship between the Dalit sister organizations of the political parties andDalit civil society like DNF. He asked if both of them compete with each other? We told him that the areas ofwork of these two organizations are entirely different
and there is no question of competing with each other.

He asked about the population distribution of Dalits and share of the population. He was informed that Dalit constitute the third largest population after Janjajit and Chhetri as they constitute 37, 16 and 13% respectively. He was informed that Dalits are not in majority in any parts of Nepal, had they been majority like Janjati, they would have been able to secure political power. At this reply he gave the smile. He enquired about the relationship between the Dalit sister organizations of the political parties and Dalit civil society like DNF.

He asked if both of them compete with each other? We told him that the areas of work of these two organizations are entirely different and there is no question of competing with each other.

He asked is there specific tasks just allocated to Dalits and no other caste group would like to take up, he was referring to cleaning jobs that Indian Dalits do. We informed that with regard to cleaning job it is not an a big issue in Nepal, as many poor people coming from other parts of Nepal are taking up the job in Kathmandu.

He asked what level of income that Dalits have, and we informed that average income of Nepalese is Rs. 20,000 and Dalits have only 13,000 per year and have to survive on just 15 dollar a month, he was bit disturbed to hear such a low level of income.

He enquired if political parties are doing enough to Dalits and we told him that yes they have created separate wings within their parties as Dalit sister organizations but not doing much upto our expectations.

He assured us that he will not forget us and Dalits of Nepal and raise our issue where ever it is possible or needed.It was very good to see Mr.  Mitra Pariyar appointed as interpreter and he was with us throughout the meeting. Right after meeting us President Carter and his delegates was going to meet Ms. Sapana Malla and Durga Sob as the representatives of women movement.It was indeed a great opportunity for all of us to have such an honoured and graceful meeting with the nobel peace laurette and great personality of the world.

For your information we have attached herewith the Memorandum and fact sheet submitted to the President.