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Humanism in Nepal

Watch Humanists International's Uttam Niraula describe his and other humanists work in Nepal

Uttam Niraula is a founder and the Executive Director of the Society for Humanism (SOCH) Nepal. He formed an alliance against improper customary practices in 31 districts of Nepal. He also runs a humanist high school in Nepal with around 600 students. He is a board member of Humanists International.

SOCH work to promote human rights. This includes challenging harmful traditional practices such as witch hunting and dowry crimes (every ten days a woman is killed in Nepal because of these practices) and working to alleviate the inequalities created by Nepal’s Hindu caste system. They also campaign against the state’s promotion of religion and religious institutions.

A note on the Hindu caste system

The Hindu caste system dates back at least 3,000 years to what is widely regarded as the most important and authoritative book on Hindu law, Manusmriti, which ‘acknowledges and justifies the caste system as the basis of order and regularity of society’.

The caste system divides human beings into four main categories: teachers and intellectuals, warriors and rulers, merchants and traders, and labourers. At the bottom are the outcasts or untouchables. Traditionally those at the top of the caste system received many privileges while those at the bottom, particularly the untouchables, suffered prejudice and exploitation.

The Indian constitution bans discrimination on the basis of caste. However, the tradition still leaves its mark on Indian society today.

Question: How important is it that humanitarian work does not involve attempts to influence people’s religion or belief?

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Humanist Lives, with Alice Roberts

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