The caste system is an inherent part of Nepal’s institutional structure, as are class formation, political instability and conflict. The group the caste system discriminates against the most forcefully is the Dalit, the so-called ‘untouchables’. Dalits have for many centuries faced religious, occupational and even territorial discrimination; they were traditionally excluded from receiving education and using public resources, and had no rights to own land (Dahal, 1995; CHRGJ, 2005; Haug et al., 2009). The situation of the Dalits in Nepal, especially before 1951, can best be explained by a patron-client dependency in which landed patrons (high-caste households) provided the Dalits with access to small pieces of land and other basic requirements for subsistence living — and in return for that, they were bound to provide their services to their patron; in essence, a feudal system. Although caste discrimination is outlawed now, it still has impacts on their lives, because it restricts their access to economic resources; as a result, nearly 75 per cent of Dalits in Nepal are functionally landless (Wily et al., 2008). Traditional religious justification combined with poverty and landlessness contribute substantially to the social ostracism of the Dalits (Banerjee and Knight, 1985).
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- Land Reforms, Caste Discrimination and Land Market Performance in Nepal
Jeetendra P. Aryal roresearcher
Stein T. Holden
- Palgrave Macmillan UK