4 2 2016

Social inequality in the civil service and a review of affirmative action in Nepal

Tek Bahadur Dong


This article is a study of the disadvantaged groups in Nepal, namely Janajatis, Madhesis, Dalits, and women; groups that have experienced exclusion in the state’s apparatus since the mid-18th century unification period. By analysing the representation of caste and minority status in the Ministry of General Administration, the Judicial Service, the Nepal Police, and the Nepal Army personnel, this paper demonstrates recent social inequalities in Nepal. Significantly, the historical ‘People’s Movement of 2006’ paved the way towards a Nepal that is more inclusive, by providing quotas for disadvantaged groups in civil service. However, the issue of reservations is still ardently debated among local communities, academics, government officials, and activists. This paper aims to focus these debates and reviews on the implementation of reservation (quota) seats by analysing empirical data from the personnel records of the Nepal Police and Armed Police Force since 2007. The main argument of this paper is that all qualified candidates should receive equal opportunities in recruitment and promotion in their posts without ethnic, gender, and regional prejudices. By avoiding discriminatory social and cultural values, efforts should be focused on fostering a ‘culture of respect’ in organisations, institutions, and associations. This is achieved through cultural recognition and acknowledgment, while enabling broader public response to vacancy announcements, thus promoting public ownership of the state. Nepal, which is one of the great examples of multiculturalism, is now debating how to address its cultural diversities. Therefore, this research contributes to the efforts among government officials, policy makers, and INGOs toward promoting greater social inclusion in Nepal.

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ISSN 2050-487X
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