About the Darnal Award

The Darnal Award for Social Justice stands
for equal dignity and equal rights


The darnal award for
Social Justice

Recognizing and empowering young leaders working toward a more equitable world

Inspired by the short but extraordinary life of social justice activist Suvash Darnal, the Darnal Award for Social Justice (DASJ) is a biennial international award that honors emerging change-makers working to end caste-based inequities and indignities.

The award is open to young leaders who are working toward a just future for Dalits or other marginalized communities, irrespective of their caste, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality. It carries a prize of Nepali Rupees 5,00,000 (approximately USD 4,000), which is presented every two years on August 15th, the anniversary of Suvash Darnal’s death. Sarita Pariyar, wife and partner of late Suvash Darnal, established the Award in partnership with Samata Foundation, an independent think-tank specializing in research and advocacy on caste-based issues concerning Nepal’s Dalit community. From 2014-2018, Jagaran Media Center was the primary partner of DASJ.

DASJ is a tribute to the power of ordinary people who have demonstrated unwavering courage and passion in their efforts to address challenges and questions related to caste. In celebrating the stories of these young leaders, the award seeks to inspire all of us to work towards a society that is just and equitable. In between the biennial award ceremonies, the Darnal Award team supports the work of the awardees and collaborates with individuals, institutions, and movements dedicated to recognizing and supporting a new generation of thinkers and leaders, especially from the Dalit community.


The selection process

The Darnal Award for Social Justice uses a rigorous, multi-stage selection process driven by nominators selected for their social justice leadership and the DASJ steering committee. At the end of the nomination period, the Darnal Award staff conducts technical review, and presents all the qualified nominees to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee carefully reviews the nominations and shortlists the most compelling candidates.

“If l don’t get into politics, l will keep working hard so that we punish politicians who forget about the plight of the Dalit.”

Suvash Darnal

More than
just an award

DASJ is a tribute to the power of ordinary people who have demonstrated unwavering courage in their efforts to change the world.
While the award itself is given every two years, the DASJ team works year-round to support the work of awardees, collaborators, and other young Dalit leaders. Because the award ceremony and accompanying symposium are held in Kathmandu, the team organizes events in other parts of the country during alternate years to highlight the unique stories and challenges faced by Nepal’s diverse Dalit communities.

Shree Balkalyan
Darnal Basic school

building a school for dalit children after the 2015 earthquake
The first Darnal Award was scheduled for August of 2015, but the earthquakes that rocked Nepal in April of the year changed everything. The DASJ decided to support the Dalit community by building a school in one of the districts most impacted by the earthquake, and in June of 2019, the new school was named Balkalyan Darnal Basic School to honor Suvash Darnal.

Construction of the school was supported by the US Gurung Society, Adhikaar, Nepal National Dalit Social Welfare Organization, Sarita Pariyar Trust Fund, Samata Foundation, and Jagaran Media Center. 
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Opening of Darnal School
Janakpur

Janakpur Public Forum

Fighting sexual violence
against Madheshi Dalit women
In 2019, DASJ partnered with Samata Foundation and local organizations in Province 2 to host a forum on combatting sexual violence against Madheshi Dalit women. Held in Janakpur, speakers included local and national activists, politicians, policymakers, community members, and the Province 2 Attorney General. Convening the event in Province 2 and focusing on Madheshi Dalits symbolized DASJ’s commitment to integrating both Pahari Hill and Madheshi issues into its work moving forward.
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Caste in the
Far West

Reclaiming dalit narratives
In August of 2017, the year following the inaugural DASJ award ceremony and symposium, the DASJ team organized a forum in Achham to discuss the region’s caste situation. The purpose of choosing Achham was to better understand and draw attention to the power relations, unheard narratives, achievements, challenges, and aspirations of the Far West's Dalit community.  Sarita Pariyar partnered with Jagaran Media Centre, Samata Foundation, and local Dalit cooperative cultural group called DSSS to convene the event, which featured several local leaders and activists as speakers and faciliatators.
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The Far West

Watch our most recent virtual conversation:
Rethinking Caste Globally

To commemorate the late social justice leader Suvash Darnal and to better engage with the politics of dignity and equity, please join five dynamic emerging Dalit change-makers for their critical reflections on rethinking caste.
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Learn MoreWatch the Event

History of The
Darnal Award for Social Justice

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Globally connected with leaders
around the world

Our global community of ordinary people are united by a determination to eradicate systems of oppression wherever they exist.
The problems of inequity and injustice extend far beyond the borders of Nepal. DASJ brings together activists, academics, journalists, students, workers, teachers, and other social justice advocates to collaborate and learn from one another’s struggles and successes. In particular, we ensure that emerging Nepali Dalit leaders are connected to the Dalit movement in India, Black Lives Matter, and other fights for equal rights and inclusive democracy.

Join our vision for a more
equitable world

 How does the DASJ story intersect with your own? The movement toward caste equality is a mosaic of ordinary people who have reached out and put their time and energy into pushing this cause forward. If you have an idea for how you can help, we want to hear from you.
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