Parliamentarians from India, Nepal and Bangladesh have formed the ‘South Asian Parliamentary Forum’ (SAPF) to combat caste discrimination, at the historic ‘South Asia Parliamentarians Conference on Dalit Concerns’ in Kathmandu 8-9th December.
The conference included around 70 delegates from India, Bangladesh and Nepal, comprising academics, policy makers, Dalit rights defenders, women leaders, human rights activists and government officials. It was organised by the Samata Foundation and built the foundation from which a regional cross-parliamentary effort to eliminate caste discrimination was born.
Former chairperson of the State Restructuring Committee in Nepal, Dr. Madan Pariyar, expressed hope that by working together, “our dream will come true of a society which does not have a second grade citizen but a society where all citizens are equal”.
The Vice President of Nepal, Mr. Parmanandjha Jha called untouchability one of the biggest stigmas facing mankind and urged parliamentarians, stakeholders and citizens across South Asia to fight this ‘vicious malady’ with firm determination.
The declaration “A call from South Asian Parliamentarians for Equity and Inclusion” was signed by parliamentarian from India, Bangladesh and Nepal and the new South Asia Parliamentary forum was established with the aim “to engage the governance institutions and actors of South Asian countries, individually and collectively, to address Dalit concerns in South Asia”.