Darnal Award for Social Justice announces
the 2022 Awardees & Honorees
The Darnal Award for Social Justice (DASJ) 2022 will be awarded to: Karnali Arts Centre (KAC), a community-based arts organization from Nepal and Equality Labs (EL), a U.S.-based Dalit civil rights organization. The Darnal Award Selection Committee has decided to recognize the two Dalit-led organizations for their exceptional commitment, courage, and imagination toward ending caste-based inequities and indignities. The co-awardees will be presented with the award along with NPR 250,000 each at the third biennial international award ceremony in City Hall, Kathmandu, on June 8, 2022.
Along with the awardees, the Darnal Award Selection Committee has also decided to recognize two dynamic Dalit artists and social justice activists as the 2022 DASJ Honorees - writer and journalist Dhruba Satya Pariyar and anti-human trafficking activist Karuna Trikhatri.
Karnali Arts Centre (KAC) is based in the culturally rich far-western district of Mugu, Karnali. Artist and writer Hira Bijuli founded KAC in 2012 with a dream of contributing to the campaign of social justice through the powerful medium of theater and arts. Over the years, it has staged over 1,500 anti-caste street plays. Through its projects, KAC has also been documenting, archiving, and celebrating the region’s cultural heritage as well as fiercely questioning it.
Equality Labs (EL) is a U.S.-based Dalit civil rights organization established in 2015 dedicated to ending caste apartheid, gender-based violence, Islamophobia, white supremacy, and religious intolerance. It builds power through multiple strategies including community organizing, art, research, training, and digital security. It has catalyzed an unprecedented inter-caste, multi-racial, and interfaith coalition in its advocacy efforts that have led to caste protections being added to tens of institutions including all 23 campuses in the California State University System, impacting nearly 500,000 students and 56,000 faculty and staff.
As per the DASJ 2022 theme of “Arts and Humanities”, we received an amazing pool of national and international nominees from the field who are creatively engaging with caste questions. Their stories of struggle and resistance spanning from the remote corners of Karnali to the tech hub of Silicon Valley highlight how caste is a global issue, transplanting itself wherever South Asians go, irrespective of class and educational status. The stories are also testimonies to the powerful ways individuals, institutions, and innovations are addressing and challenging the deeply rooted issues of caste and reimagining and rewriting Dalit narratives.
On June 7, 2022, DASJ will also convene its corresponding biennial symposium “Politics of Dignity and Equity: Dalits in Nepal” in collaboration with the Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, The New School, New York and the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS), New Delhi.
DASJ is organized by the Sarita Pariyar Trust Fund in collaboration with Samata Foundation and commemorates the life and legacy of social justice leader Suvash Darnal. While highlighting and celebrating the lives, resistance, joy, and excellence of Dalit leaders, DASJ has been working to further the discourse on caste, with Nepal’s distinct caste history at the center, and build genuine allyship to fight together for a more just and equitable future for ALL.