History of BASE
It is relevant to know about the history of Tharu before we know about the history of BASE. Tharu is the under prevalent ethnic group, who are living in the Western Terai districts of Nepal from the ancient period. Over the last fifty-five years, Tharus have an experience and encroachment of land they traditionally inhabited. After The eradication of malaria and some development initiatives, there was an influx of hill people in these areas. In the process of hill to Tarai migration many Tharus lost their land. Due to which they had to pay the loan, which they hadn’t borrowed before, they were force to work for their whole life period in the house of so called high-class people without wage or in a very minimum wage to return back the loan and to make their daily expenses to run their miserable life. This brought about socio-economic consequences to unequal inter caste and inter class relations that affected Tharus more negatively. Exploitation, poor health, unclaimed right to natural resources, weak voice in government decision, poor access to market, lack of credit for their work and many other associated factors increases poverty among Tharus and other deprived community people of western Nepal as well. So-called high-class people blamed and not accepted to uplift the economic growth of Thaurs and addressed their views on the reason on Tharu’s for being backwardness. They blamed that Social and culture factors are the main reason, which made tharus less cleaver and incapable of managing their lives in standard way. These perception and understanding eyes of other community people too discriminated tharu, which caused tharu to become more weak and weak enough to raise their representative voice in the government for their entitlement.
In 1925, slavery and bonded labor was abolished but in practice remaining of the bounded labor system still exists in different parts of the country. Tharu families have been victims of Kamaiya system for generations and generations of decade. In 2000 July Government declared freedom of Kamaiya from bounded labour. According to an NGO survey report conducted in 2000, altogether 19,000 families were under this system. Later surveys have shown almost double number of kamaiyas under this system. After being free from bonded labor Kamaiyas are now able to claim their rights.
After the end of Rana regime, development of Nepal has brought many new people, cultures and social and political forces to the Western Tarai. They also smartly grabbed the wealth of indigenous communities. Their cultural heritage like Tharu language, songs, dances, handicrafts, ornaments and daily use of equipments are gradually and consistently getting extinct. Tharus are not only losing power on which they had a control over natural resources like land, water and forest that they owned and used for ages but also loosing their rights where there is huge settlement due to their weak voice in the society.
Backward Society Education (BASE)
The origins of Backward Society Education (BASE) are to be found in a pioneering group of young activists who established the Charpate Club in January 1985. Char pate club was formed during the traditional festival “Maghi”(New Year of Tharu Community) of tharu in the village Dumrigaon in the leadership of our founder president Mr. Dilli Bahadur chaudhary with thirty-four young people, They gathered and had a meeting together to discuss about the problem of kamaiya bonded labor. After long struggle and raising 700 rupees through cultural shows and collecting some amount as membership fee individually, the Charpate Club was processed for registration with the government body and was registered in the name of BASE in 1990. BASE has two parts working with;
- Non violence conflict movement for right based approach, building human rights
- Service delivery through development projects in rural and marginalized communities
BASE and its two hundred and forty thousand members are committed for the end of bounded labor and slavery system in Nepal. BASE started for the bounded labor movement with series of non-violent movement and peace demonstration in different places of the western terai district of Nepal. The movement was joined by thousands of suppressed people. The movement resulted to officially abolish kamaiya system on 17 July 2000. After this monumental event BASE continued to work for the education and rehabilitation of the freed-kamaiyas, as well as people from other marginalized communities.
BASE – The NGO
BASE continues in its commitment to fight against illiteracy, poverty and social and political discrimination amongst all marginalized communities. Our aim is to transform the outlook of downtrodden people as well as their oppressors. We currently operate in seventeen districts in the mid and far western regions of Nepal.( Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali, Kanchanpur, Salyan, Surkhet, Rukum, Pyuthan, Rolpa, Dolpa, Arghakhachi, Dailekh, Doti, Darchula, Baitadi and Dadeldhura.) However, we are now considering expanding our projects into other districts. Our main areas of work include formal and non-formal education, ensuring and sustaining rights for freed-kamaiyas, livelihood support, child labor elimination, support for sustainable democracy, human rights violation monitoring, conflict mitigation, water and sanitation, environmental sustainability, disaster preparedness and response, infrastructure support, the protection and promotion of traditional and indigenous cultures, and Renewable Energy sector. BASE hires its staff primarily from the local communities of indigenous and marginalized people it serves, and in doing so it works to strengthen indigenous capabilities.
BASE – The Social Movement
BASE is not just an NGO but one of the largest social movements (membership based) in South Asia. We have a membership of over 300,000 people, of which about 29,000 are actively engaged in voluntary community work with BASE. BASE’s membership is organized through a network of Central committee, district committees, area committees, village committees, women’s awareness committees and youth awareness committees, all operating at their own respective level and in their own areas. These grassroots committee members are democratically elected every five years, and they provide the strategies and ideas to keep BASE in touch with the current needs of our communities. The committees also play a crucial role in monitoring and evaluation, troubleshooting, coordinating with national and international agencies, and communication and exposure of BASE in the diplomatic sphere. The power of BASE’s membership is even further enhanced by hundreds of child clubs, women’s groups and saving and credit groups for income generation and other community organizations.