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Opinion

Be Anti-Casteist. Non-casteist isn’t enough.

Most people think since they don’t support racism or casteism, they must be against it, but are they? In between racist and anti-racist, there are non-racists. This article is for them.

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In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.

Angela davis

The above statement is equally relevant to country like Nepal (Indian subcontinent), where casteism is a form of racism. Most people like to call themselves “not casteist,” which is a good thing, but what most of them fail to understand is that becoming non-casteist may stop the casteism from growing, but it does not end the casteism. To end casteism, just like racism, there should be strong force of anti-casteist. Not speaking the truth reinforces casteism. It allows us to believe it’s our normal, which Nepal recently have witnessed, and that is equally worse, because whatsoever we are only accepting the reality, not willing to change it aggressively.

When you are not the suffering group, it’s very easy for you to say that “society does not change overnight…give it a time.” With that attitude what you are indirectly saying is, “Please suffer until then.”

Racism/Casteism is supposed to be least divisive agenda but then why we fail to fix it? Because there are three groups involved. In two ends of the fight, there are racist/casteist and anti-racist/casteist, but the non-racist/casteist are the majority and their problem is they neither support nor fight. As Martin Luther King said during his fight against racism, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” This is what happening. These non-racist/casteist choose to stay silent because they somehow don’t want to be part of the fight.

Some of these non-racist/casteist people also believe that “not talking about it is the best approach to end it,” which is the typical elephant in the room situation, which may give sense of peace and calmness in a short run, but sooner or later it will explode, because just because you are not talking does not mean it’s not happening. So, not talking about the reality isn’t a solution.

“You are tired of hearing about it?
Imagine how freaking tiring it must be living through it.”

JON STEWART

Just like how racism against black cannot be ended by only black in streets or only black making the noise, casteism cannot be ended just by low-caste people and dalit community in streets fighting for equality. Remember, they are the victims because they are the minority. It is the therefore the responsiblity of those in majority to join them and for that, being non-casteist is not enough. You must be anti-casteist.


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Opinion

How is “reading culture” in Nepal?

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If your country’s educated people lack common sense, for sure your country does not have a reading culture.

When it comes to reading culture, Nepali society probably falls behind the most, that you can tell by visiting most houses, where you can see everything in collection except books. Even the most well-known author can barely sell 50K books to Nepali audience. In 2018, adult literacy rate for Nepal was 67.9 %, which means we have nearly 2 cr literate population yet publishers struggle to sell 1 lakh books.

To know how bad is reading culture in Nepal, this post itself will speak the volume. This article will be published through Facebook and can get if nothing also around 10 thousands reach, but the article will be read barely by 1000. Most people will ignore the link itself, and those who somehow got to this article, half of them will simply scroll and leave because they don’t want to read.

In a survey conducted, the most common excuses being lack of patience and time to invest over the reading.

It’s not that Nepalese people are not interested to learn. Just like every other humans, Nepalese are also curious monkeys desperate to learn and know, understand and contemplate different thoughts and ideas, stories and experiences, but somehow they don’t like to read for that, unless it comes in short and quick format.

Our literate citizens are not developing any interest over reading anything beyond their course books probably because they have not felt the importance of reading. We as a society never collectively cultivated the reading culture. Humans by nature don’t build interest over anything that neither falls under their need nor the entertainment. In the context of Nepal, not reading a book or any long write-up isn’t going to stop anyone from getting a job or getting dates nor makes anyone odd in a society. Reading has never become a judgment criteria in job interview nor in dating scene. Likewise it has never become a judgment criteria in social circle. If one of the common questions in job interview were to be related to books, people would definitely make the reading their lifestyle. Or, if dates or peer talks would involve “books you read,” reading would definitely become part of life. Since that’s not the case, reading is still a luxury, with or without also life moves on pretty well. When it is not going to affect by any means, why will they read anything that takes more than a minute of their time?

This lack of reading culture is scary because without the reading culture, we are only going to create a mass of literate people with only baseless opinions and hypothesis. We can already see that on social media on how narratives get built by literate crowd on subjects that they clearly have no understanding over. People are forming opinion over secularism, over democracy, over feminism or even life and relationship without never ever reading much on the subject. This pattern if not corrected can be very dangerous to a society and in personal space because such opinions and hypothesis coming from seemingly educated can misguide and misinform further the society, as people generally tend to buy easily anything that comes from “educated.”

Some people wonder if reading is really that important in the era of video and podcast. What they fail to understand is a 5-minute YouTube video can no way offer what a book can offer. Likewise, a verbal lecture can go over our head but not words read. If video or podcast would be that effective, all the modern universities and colleges would replace their libraries with video and audio contents.

The fact is, reading is what makes us humans, because reading/writing is an act of communication and whatever we humans have achieved and reached so far are the results of shared knowledge and wisdom, without which we would be just like every other animal.

If you are reading this, glad you exist. Please make a habit of reading, for your own good and for that of a society you live in.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin

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People & Society

6 Things you should never say to your Dalit friends

Though the title of this article is directed towards Dalit and non-dalit, it is also equally relevant to women, marginalized community, race and minorities who have been oppressed for years and now voicing for equality and dignified life.

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Human world had been subject to discrimination and oppression for a very very long time until the rise of liberalism, which promoted the idea of liberty and freedom and equality for all. Humans have finally begun to look at fellow human from the lens of humanity and not from race or ethnicity or tribalism. Age-old practices based on culture and tradition and patriarchy are in the process of getting replaced by liberal values and reasoning, which makes up the modern world.

However, though everyone believes that all humans are equal and need to be treated equally, some of us still tend to take a soft approach towards the change, simply because of “conditioned thinking” or because of being from the privileged bubble and don’t have the first-hand experience on what does it feel like to be oppressed and treated unequal. Because of that, every time there is a debate and discussion over “how to end discrimination of all form,” they come up with certain arguments which they should not be saying in private or public.

The following are 6 things you should never be telling to any Dalit or any oppressed and marginalized group.

Change does not happen overnight. It will take a time.

What are you trying to imply by that? Are you saying the person should suffer because “change does not happen overnight?” When your life is in hell or you are going through the tough times, it’s natural for you wanting to come out of that as soon as possible. At that moment, what you need is motivation and hope that everything will end soon. You don’t want to hear “it’s not going to end soon, so deal with it, adjust with it,” especially when you know it can be ended soon if people genuinely work towards. As Vladimir Lenin said, “there are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” You never know which week gonna turn into the one.

There is discrimination everywhere, even in USA.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because there is discrimination of some form or other everywhere does not mean we should live with it. Just because USA could not fix it, does not mean we cannot. Maybe, we can find the solution that world can learn from. Until Gandhi, no one thought you could win by non-violent approach. He proved it and now world lives by the template. Moreover, don’t you see people storming the street against discrimination? Which country is better…country where discrimination exists but people protest against or country where discrimination exists but no one protests?

There will always be inequality

YES! There will always be inequality, unfairness, hardship, fights. Since the dawn of humanity, we humans have been solving problems, finding solutions just to end up in another problems, another challenges. It’s like walking through mountains. You climb up a mountain just to meet another mountain. It’s a never ending journey, does not mean we should put no effort to solve the current crisis and problem. Today, whatever we humans have attained are the result of our relentless effort of making this world a better place, not for few but for all the whole humanity. We fix one issue, and then move to next issue, and then next. Thus, just because another form of inequality is waiting for us, does not mean we should live with the current inequality in practice. We should thrive to fix the existing one and prepare for next one. That is how it works and should work.

Don’t create a scene, taking the issue to public

Everyone likes that soft, loyal, non-rebellious individual who takes a soft approach in solving an issue in private, or leaves it quietly. By saying “don’t create a scene…” what you are trying to imply is be that nice and soft person. But remember, you can’t break a mountain without making a noise. So, let there be noise. Better accept, encourage and promote those brave and bold. It may look chaotic for a while but Taj Mahal is not built without mess of debris and construction materials.

Don’t be idealist. Be realistic

What is to be realistic? dictionary definition of being realistic is “having or showing a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected.” So what is unrealistic in saying “do not discriminate any human based on their caste or race or gender or sexuality?” And what is unrealistic in saying “we must end it as soon as possible?” Asking for equal treatment is not being idealist. Asking for punishment for any wrongdoing is not being idealist. Those who say “don’t be idealist,” are indirectly supporting evil in society and are afraid of those asking the end to it.

As long as there is reservation, there will be discrimination

It’s like saying as long as there is a reservation for woman, there will be sexism. As long as there is a reservation for poor, there will be classism. Reservation is never a solution and is not there for a solution to end any form of discrimination. Reservation is a mere compensation to help oppressed and weak ones and also a protection for the kind till the wings grow. Don’t mix reservation and discrimination, just like how you should not mix rape and dress.

Conclusion

If you cannot be part of a fight, it’s okay, but don’t say or do anything that discourages, demotivates, or disowns any fighter fighting for a change. Like how desperate you will be to run out of heat if you are to put into, like how even a second means 100 years long to wait if you are to sleep over a bed of nails and thorns, living through discrimination, living through inequality and injustice feels the same for the victims. You can’t feel it unless you are one of them.

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Opinion

How to end any form of discrimination overnight.

Yes we can end racism or casteism or any form discrimination overnight. There is a way to do that, that many developed countries practice. Power lies on individuals.

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Every time, whenever there is a social issue regarding discriminations or social injustice rooted to age-old practices and traditions, be it caste related or gender or sexuality, most people come up with an argument like “give it some time, you can’t bring change overnight.” That begs a question “how long?” and what is not overnight? It also begs a question, does that mean someone has to keep on tolerating the unjust and bullying because “society does not change overnight?” How many have to suffer before society finally changes?

Giving a benefit of doubts, looking around identical society like Nepal, that is India, we can see India took soft approach hoping for change over time. How much of change have they achieved? Casteism still in practice, religious intolerance still in existence, bullying against homosexual community are still profoundly apparent. So, what change did the constitution or law of India alone brought up in last 70 years? If society changes over time, and needs to be given some time, why India is defying the theory?

The fact is, society does not change per law and constitution alone nor it change with active awareness program alone if people from the country and society don’t live up by. The ultimate change-making power lies in an individual. Thus, if only they initiate the change from individual level, the change can be witnessed overnight. If they don’t, it will take ages and ages.

So how, we as an individual, can work towards the change ending all kind of discriminations and unjust in practice? Answer is simple, establish the practice as taboo with zero tolerance.

Think like this — humans are social animal, which means in general, they do and say according to established norms and values. They don’t like to do that majority calls it bad and wrong. Say for example, people smoke cigarette openly because it’s not considered taboo but they hide and smoke weed because it’s considered taboo. Now legalize weed and establish it as normal, you will see people smoking weed as openly as cigarette. The whole “what people will say” itself is based on same human psychology. We don’t do anything that frowns mass or society we belong to. Play around the same psychology, and it won’t take a time to bring the change in the society. You can kill anything once and for all in a blow, if the society collectively turn the practice and attitude as a taboo.

Coming to the point, we need to turn every gender-based or caste or race-based discrimination into a taboo. We need to collectively hold zero tolerance towards any practice that promotes or endorses discrimination of any form.

How can we do that?

Those who doubt that it cannot go overnight, are secretly hiding behind the privilege bubble fearing the change.

First being, make it a punishable act, but as said above, that is not enough. Law works only when victims choose to file a complaint and take a legal solution. It does not work for people who fear to reach out to legal system. To change millions people in a blow, you need to hit them where it hurts them the most.

This is where individual responsibility comes into the play.

NO JOB FOR RACIST, SEXIST, CASTEIST, OR HOMOPHOBIC

Think about the world where you don’t get job if you are racist, sexist, casteist or homophobic no matter how skillful or talented you are.

It’s not hard to create such world. All an employer and job agency needs to practice is a strict measure to restrict such people from getting job through series of screening tests and sets of questions. Like for example, putting up a question:

A. If a house owner denies a flat to someone from Dalit community purely based on his/her caste, should the house owner be legally punished or not? Yes, No.
B. If in-laws don’t want their daughter-in-law work and instead want her to take care of home and stuff, should the daughter-in-law listen to in-laws or not. Yes/NO.

Questions like that can easily frame casteist, racist, sexist, or homophobic, based on which, you can deny them the job, clearly stating that your organization only works with people who carry the shared values and attitude that is acceptable to modern world.

This will send a strong message not just to the candidate but also to his family, that if you subtly or strongly carry any kind of discriminatory values and attitude, you will not be getting job. This forces people to pick up the values and attitude that’s acceptable to job market.

STRICT HR POLICY AGAINST ANY FORM OF DISCRIMINATION

You must have read or heard that in some of the developed countries, some people have lost their job for passing racist remarks or anti-gay remarks on social media. No one wants to lose job for being racist or sexist or homophobic.

A company can introduce strict HR policy against any form of discrimination inside and outside the office, that if found, will cost them the job.

NO DATING/MATING STONE-AGE MENTALITY

After basic needs, what humans care the most is reproduction. Sexual selection works quite strongly in shaping and grooming the human world.

In individual level, we can be very strict and adamant regarding not to date or mate anyone that practices and holds discriminatory attitude towards fellow humans be it in the name of religion or tradition or culture or whatever bullcrap logic they come up with. When dating or mating pools narrow down because of the mentality, they have no option but to mold themselves per the expectation from desired mating partners. To know what kind of mentality the person holds, you can simply cross question like in job interview and the cat will meow.

NO BUSINESS WITH DOUCHE

Ask anyone into the business whose life depends on its customers and clients, what they fear the most and all of them will say losing the business.

Any business whose shareholder or founder or team member if found to be racist or sexist or homophobic or casteist and outright promotes and advocates discriminatory practices and values, or if found to be passing any racist or casteist remark publicly or privately against any fellow human, we can call them off right away. Make a public statement asking people to refrain from doing business with them. Do everything possible to tarnish their business PR until and unless the involved person don’t do the needful. That negative PR and fuss will do enough to scare crap out of them to think twice before acting douche with that stone-age mindset.

Last but not the least, NO FRIENDSHIP

Friendship has to be earned and we generally build the friendship with only those with shared values and right attitudes.

Live strictly by that. Make it your life policy that you don’t befriend any racist, sexist, casteist, or homophobic, neither on social media nor on real. This way you cutting off them from your life will very much force them to reconsider their behavior and attitude, because in the end, we are social animal animal, and we do what people like, and we don’t do what people don’t like.

Now, you must be wondering what about freedom of expression or freedom of choice. By no means, in any part of the world, freedom of expression or freedom of choice protects freedom to discriminate or bully or harsh or incite violence or hate speech. Checkout the community guidelines on Facebook or Youtube or Clubhouse, they all strictly follow that. There is no hypocrisy in practicing values and culture that is to restrict and discourage racist, casteist, homophobic or any form of discrimination and hatreds that would poise the fundamental concept of modern world based on liberty and equality.

In short

It is actually possible to bring the change overnight if we all collectively live up by the values, practice it religiously in our every day life – in our business, in our office, in our social circle, in our social media — and have zero tolerance towards anyone practicing any act of racism, casteism, homophobia or sexism, both in personal and professional space.

Caste-based discrimination and many other form of discrimination, despite being criminalized for so long, it still exists because most people don’t have to face the consequences for carrying out the practice. Likewise, their circles and peers tolerate them and still hang out with them, date them, hire them. When there are no consequences, there is no need or desire to change. That is what happening here. We collectively need to make sure that THEY HAVE TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES, not just legal consequences but also social consequences to send out the strong messages across the land, to each dinner table, to all generations that THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES!!

So to all the entrepreneurs out there, HR professionals, employers, girls and boys, clients and customers, you have the power to bring the change. You just have to have zero tolerance policy and tune everyone towards the same narratives and norms.

Remember, we humans changed overnight and started wearing mask and using hand sanitizers. It was not only because of fear of Corona. It was because humans do what everyone else does. Discrimination existed because that’s what everyone would do. It can go away overnight the day it is established as the most ridiculous and barbaric things to do.

Those who doubt that it cannot go overnight, are secretly hiding behind the privilege bubble fearing the change.

Let’s do it. It starts from self.

Nepali version of this article will be available on our YouTube channel soon. Subscribe us there to get notified.

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