By Sarita Pariyar
Friends of DASJ,
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has made Dalits and marginalized people around the world more vulnerable than ever before. For many communities, having to quarantine for an indefinite period of time is unprecedented; for Dalits, it parallels the social exclusion we have experienced for centuries, unusual only because distancing oneself in order to reduce the chance of COVID transmission has an actual scientific basis, in contract to the socially constructed caste system.
I would like to draw your attention to these similarities, because a few months ago I thought that maybe the billions of people around the world who have had to live in some level of lockdown or quarantine for a period of time would begin to learn about and empathize with the 240 million Dalits worldwide who have been kept at a ‘social distance’ for countless generations. But growing violence against Dalits, indigenous peoples, and Madhesis across South Asia has forced me to see our road ahead for what it is: long.
Despite all the challenges, what gives me hope is the work of young leaders who are relentless in their struggle to make the world better place for all people—people like Sona Khatik, Arun Sada, Raksha Ram Harijan, Dilip Gandarva, Rupchandra B.K, Kalawati Bhad, Parwati Bhisunkhe, Sarswati Nepali, and so many others. And of course, Suvash ji, whose spirit of hope and optimism lives on in every young change maker working for a just Nepal.
That is why, as we move into the last few months of 2020 and try to imagine what kind of world we want to rebuild, DASJ aims to recognize the remarkable leadership of more young people and support more of them in their work throughout the year.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy our new website— we’re working hard to get the Nepali language version of it up and running as soon as possible!
Thank you, and stay safe,