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A systems analysis of caste-based discrimination in Nepal: Identifying a tipping point to dismantle endemic marginalization of Dalits

Gandhari, Yogendra (2014) A systems analysis of caste-based discrimination in Nepal: Identifying a tipping point to dismantle endemic marginalization of Dalits. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.



The dominance of Hindu religion in the past was responsible for the emergence of a caste-based hierarchy, where illiteracy, poverty, and political under representation have played a significant role in the continuation of the caste-based divisions in Nepalese society. In the caste hierarchy, Dalits - often identified as lower castes and untouchables - were kept at the bottom of the social structure, and this has perpetuated individual, institutional and structural discriminations in Nepal, for example untouchability at public/private sectors, adverse inter-caste marriage consequences, labour and job segregation, and exclusion from socio-economic and political opportunities. Consequently, Dalits have been experiencing difficulty in living a dignified life as defined by international and national human rights conventions.

This study focuses on Dalits of Nepal who, according to the National Census 2011, comprise 13.62 per cent of the total population. It identifies religious belief, rooted in the Hindu religion, as the primary basis of caste-based discrimination, according to which Dalits are supposed to be inherently inferior with respect to their intelligence and aptitude for work. Rampant poverty and illiteracy among Dalits and their political under representation leave them vulnerable to caste-based discrimination in what amounts to a vicious cycle of inequality and discrimination.

Illiteracy, poverty (particularly unemployment) and political under representation of Dalits have collectively reinforced caste-based inequality in Nepalese society. It is contended that strengthening governance at the global, national, and community levels may create a conducive environment for achieving caste equality, particularly in terms of improving educational levels that plays a key role in breaking the vicious cycle of discrimination entrenched in the caste system.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Northcote, Jeremy
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