gave a television interview during a lobbying trip to Brussels in November 2009.
Bhakta Bishwakarma, 40, is a leading Dalit human rights activist.
In this interview, he
about the struggle for Dalit rights in Nepal - and what it, to him, means to be a Dalit.
When Bhakta Bishwakarma
went to school in his
home village in a remote part of Nepal in the 1970s, he
got on well with many of his
came second in his
class, made good friends and was generally popular.
But one thing set him aside - the fact that he
was a Dalit.
According to Bhakta Bishwakarma
, there is also an emerging consciousness about the meaning of the word Dalit.
"Many people consider Dalits inferior, and many feel embarrassed about being Dalits.
The word symbolises someone who is oppressed and at the bottom of society.
We are now trying the redefine the word, to make it positive.
To me, a Dalit is someone who is skilful, honest and industrious," Bhakta
Among the most serious ones, according to Bhakta
, are political divisions in Nepal's emerging democracy, and the fact that the parties often use marginalised groups, such as Dalits, for their own political purposes.
also points to the fact that Dalits are scattered and that unity among them is hard to achieve.
Every-day discrimination against Dalits continues to be an issue, many Dalits are uneducated, and poverty is a great challenge.
"More than 60 percent of Dalits cannot feed their families for more than six months of the year," he
is to name one step that will change things significantly, he
argues for an intensified focus on education.
With more and better education for everyone, including Dalits, he
hopes and believes that the future will bring about a complete demolition of the caste system.
Perhaps then, there will be no such concepts as a "higher caste' and 'Dalit' anymore.
"One day," Bhakta Bishwakarma
concludes, "we shall remove these definitions."
Profile: Bhakta Bishwakarma is the National President of the Nepal National Dalit Social Welfare Organization (NNDSWO) and a lawyer by profession.
is at the forefront of the fight for the inclusion of Dalit rights into Nepal's new constitution.
Since its inception in 1982, NNDSWO
has been striving for human rights, social justice and development for the Dalit community in Nepal.
The organisation has particularly focused on the liberation and sustainable rehabilitation of Nepal's bonded labourers.
is involved in dialogues with major donor agencies in Nepal on Dalit policies in development aid.