Session 3: 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Panel B: From Local Culture to Global Ideals: Evaluating the Gap Between Policy and Practice

Moderator: Alejandro Estefan


Where Can Dalits Belong?: Space, Place, Resources, Mobility, and Resistance

Nathan Tam, Occidental College

The caste system prevalent in South Asia originates from the religion of Hinduism and has long remained deeply rooted and influential in all aspects of Nepali life, culture, and society. For generations, those at the bottom of this socially constructed hierarchy, Dalits, have been marginalized through various practices. Also known as ‘Untouchables’, Dalits have been subjected to multiple forms of violence and humiliation that continue today including practices of segregation, alienation, and isolation. This research explores how Dalits in urban Nepali society fight for changes at both the individual and collective levels. This project draws on qualitative research methods of historical analysis and semi-structured interviews to analyze Dalits’ ability to access resources and opportunities with the potential to achieve upward mobility. Both Dalit individuals and representatives from organizations working at the intersections of Dalit issues were interviewed to provide an understanding of the current treatment and personal experiences of this population. A total of 11 interviews were conducted through snowball sampling in Pokhara, Nepal. In particular, this report focuses on Dalits’ relationship to physical space, resource allocation, upward social and economic mobility, as well as demonstrations of resistance to oppression. Findings reveal that legislation and laws passed are not enforced to benefit Dalits to their fullest potential, that the intersections of identity beyond only caste may further restrict individuals, and that resistance to hegemonic structures of caste is inevitably present.

How is secularism implemented in secondary schools in Hyderabad, India?

Patrick Enochs, University of Notre Dame

In the past decade, there has been a steady increase in violence directed toward Muslim populations throughout India. More recently, hijab bans have been enacted in several Indian states, and upheld by Indian high courts. Understanding the application of secularism in education is important, because of the direct impact discrimination has on academic outcomes. This research focuses on secularism in secondary education in Hyderabad, India, through interviewing administrators and conducting teacher surveys in six different Hyderabad schools to see how secularism was implemented within these schools. The results show at best an uneven enforcement of secularism across religions. This is exacerbated by the view of some administrators of Hindu as cultural as well as religious, which leads to more exceptions made for Hindu symbols in schools than the symbols of other religions. Based on this conclusion, it seems that further research would be required to look at secondary schools across India to both see if this is a consistent trend, as well as see what could be done to reverse this trend.

The Millennium Promise: An exploration of local attitudes towards the impacts of the Millennium Villages Project through Women’s Perspectives

Lily Storrs, University of Notre Dame

Starting at the turn of the century in 2000, the UN ratified the Millennium Development Goals, which, as described by the UN, are the blueprint for meeting the needs of the world’s poorest people agreed upon by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. The eight Millennium Development Goals aim to reduce extreme poverty with a specific focus on hunger, education, gender equality, health, and environmental sustainability. In 2005 the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) was created to show that the MDGs could be realized. The MVP implemented this ten-year, multi-sector, rural development and research project, operating across fifteen different sites in ten sub-Saharan African countries to achieve the MDGs. The Millennium Villages Project has been a source of debate among scholars in questioning its effectiveness, sustainability, and long-term accountability. There is a gap in the literature on the local perspectives towards the Millennium Villages Project in Mayange, Rwanda. This research aims to focus on the voices of women living in Mayange who were beneficiaries of the MVP programming, and see their attitudes towards the MVP seven years after the completion of MVP programming in Mayange. The goal of this research is to focus on one of the key intervention strategies of the MVP, Women’s Empowerment, and examine the level to which these women feel empowered and if there has been a resulting sustainable impact in the socioeconomic sphere within the Mayange community, while highlighting the collaboration between women’s grassroots organizations and international intervention.