Taking Dalits for Granted!

DALITS, THE caste which was subjected to the humiliation for years play a huge role in Indian politics. There have been several leaders within the community and outside the community who focused on empowering them. One such leader in today’s time is Mayawati, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The state has large population of dalits and is staunch supporter of her.

There has been lot of furore over the erection of statues of Mayawati along with other icons of Dalit in the various part of the state especially in Lucknow. A survey was conducted by a private news channel and over 70 per cent of people were against such extravaganza on part of the state government. But if you voice your opinion, Maywatiji will come on camera saying that upper caste people are conspiring against her. Even today they consider upper caste people as the one ready to annihilate them.

The biggest problem is that even the leaders try to feed them the same. True, that the atrocities on Dalits is a matter of concern and must be dealt stringently. But these sorts of behavior on part of community leaders will only aggravate the problem. The dalits in the state are happy though with the recognition that their leader is getting. But I term it as narcism. Whatever be the case, it is not going to stop Mayawati from erecting more memorials and parks in the name of development.

But this blind support of the dalits to their leaders is something that they must introspect. I feel that they are utilized as mere vote banks. To a certain level, their leaders show interest in their upliftment but then they get busy with themself. Even Mayawati has accumulated huge wealth. The money which she has spent on statues of herself might give them “sense of dignity” but they would have been far more benefited if Mayawati could have assured them better living standard. There is some problem with this statue thing as well. Dr BR Ambdekar, Godly figure of the Dalits and a national icon said that “India is still par excellence a land of idolatry. There is idolatry in religion and in politics. Heroes and hero worship is a hard if unfortunate fact in India’s political life. Hero worship is demoralizing for the devotee and dangerous for the country.” The hero worship of Ambedkar has perhaps been the greatest failing of the modern Dalit movement.

The under privilege section must be empowered and it would be far better had the state government focused on the main issue. Their would have been no problem in erection of Mayawati’s statues if it would have been done by someone else as a tribute to her work done for marginalized. But this narcist behavior must be questioned. The other example being the way she celebrates her birthday.

The response by the government on the statement of Rita Bahuguna Joshi (July 2009) was also presented as an insult of Dalits. We appreciate Mayawati then it is only her appreciation and if you say anything against her then it is against Dalits. The comment made by Joshi was not casteist. Vir Sanghvi has written in his piece “If Mrs. Joshi has, as a woman, insulted all women by talking so loosely about rape then hasn’t Mayawati, as a dalit, insulted all dalits by taking on the mantle of caste victimhood to settle a few political scores? India’s dalits deserve better than leaders who misuse their suffering for their own gain. UP deserves better — at the very least, it deserves a functioning government.”

It is time that the community starts questioning its leaders on valid points raised. It will be beneficial to the community and state as well. I say so because the leaders are certain of the votes of this section and that needs to be shaken up.

Can’t we think beyond reservations?

Reservations on baseless criterion has created further divisions in the already divided Indian society. Our political parties are persistently surfacing with manifestos and promises to lure voters into their votebanks.

In yet another move to use the reservations as a convenient toy to bloat up their votebank, the Lok Jan Shakti Party headed by Ramvilas Paswan has come out with few unique ideas.

What LJP has done is that it has promised to have a ‘Dalit Regiment’ in the army to make representation of Dalits in the armed forces and to infuse self-respect among them. Paswan has gone a tad bit further in making an optimum use of the tool of reservations, saying that his party wants to extend the sfacility of reservation for SC/ST, OBC and minorities to judicial services and establishment of National Judicial Services.

The manifesto has promised to take the initiative for socio-economic and educational development of minorities, especially Muslims, in the light of the findings of the Sachar Committee.

Here are some of made by the promises by LJP as a part of its election manifesto:

  • The symbol of integrity, Indian Army will have regiments on the basis of caste.
  • Reservation for SC/ST, OBC and minorities in Judicial services.
  • Reservation for SCs and STs in the private sector.
  • 15 per cent reservation for minorities, with 10 per cent for Muslims only.
  • Removal of 50 per cent ceiling on reservation.

Paswan, who was a minister in the NDA government, left it a year before the 2004 elections.

He then joined the UPA and became the Union Minister of Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers. Now, he has broken from the UPA as well and formed a ‘secular’ alliance with Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal. These state level leaders have lost hold in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In an attempt to make his playing field much bigger, the party manifesto has also supported the demand of formation of Telangana, Vidarbha, Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Vikas Pardesh in western UP.

LJP, RJD and SP have always been opportunistic. They will be readily available after the results of elections are declared. On the basis of their own performance they will play a deal game.

How long will we see such appeasements on caste and religion to lure voters?

It’s an appeal to all well-meaning citizens, not to be the victims of vote bank politics. Let’s ask political parties to come up with an agenda. An agenda to provide employment to youth and powering the underprivileged to be able to manage their own food.

With our leaders coming up with such dividing policies, my earnest request to all the voters would be to please think practically and sensibly before casting your votes.

An open Letter to politicians of UP and Bihar

TruthWell in one of my articles “Political games being played all over”, i mentioned reasons about large scale migration from UP and Bihar. I was lacking some figures which i got in today’s HT Counterpoint written by Vir Sanghvi on page 10.

Here is an excerpt from that article.

My suspicion is that the disdain with which the Thackerays treat people from UP and Bihar – the so-called Bhaiyyas – is part of a wider trend. As India develops and transforms itself, UP and Bihar are increasingly being perceived as the laggards. Once, Bihar was India’s best-administered state (do not laugh: an international study came to this conclusion in the 1950s); now, it is seen as a wasteland. UP was the heart of India, the state that gave us the largest number of Prime Ministers. Now, it is a mess, treated on par with Bihar.

One look at the figures will demonstrate that UP and Bihar are the two states in India that are certainly not shining. The net state domestic product of Bihar was Rs 51,194 crore in 2004-05. In contrast, the state domestic product of Ma- harashtra was Rs 3,28,451 crore, over six times the figure for Bihar. Even poor, backward Orissa did better than Bihar at Rs 52,240 crore.

The contrast is more striking when you look at per capita figures. In 1993-94, the per capita domestic product of Bihar was Rs 3,037. Eleven years later, in 2004- 05, that figure had gone up to Rs 5,772 which, when you adjust for inflation, prob- ably means that income hardly went up at all, and may even have gone down.

Now, look at the figures for other states. In 1993-94, Maharashtra’s per capi- ta domestic product was Rs 12,183 – already four times the figure for Bihar. By 2004-05, it had gone up to Rs 32,170, nearly six times the figure for Bihar. Gujarat was at Rs 28,355 in 2004-05, and other states were booming: Kerala at Rs 27,048; Punjab at Rs 30,701; and Haryana at Rs 32,712.

Uttar Pradesh has fared a little better. In 1993-94, its per capita income was Rs 5,066. In 2004-05, it went up to Rs 11,477 (largely on the basis of Noida, but that’s another story). This makes it better off than Bihar but still worse off than every other Indian state.

Together, UP and Bihar are bottom of the list when it comes to per capita income. It takes four Biharis to earn as much as one resident of Maharashtra. And, UP’s current per capita income of Rs 11,477 is less than Maha- rashtra’s income of Rs 12,183 a decade ago in 1993-94. In those 11 years, UP has not even reached where Maharashtra was way back then while Maharashtra and other Indian states have surged ahead.

The economic disparity is matched by a political decline. In few states has politics got as dirty as in today’s UP. If it isn’t Mulayam Singh Yadav’s crony capitalism, then it is Mayawati’s shameless casteism and her naked pursuit of her own enrichment (her annual income is Rs 60 crore the saving grace is that she declares it and pays tax on it).

As far as the rest of India is concerned, Bihar has become a wasteland run by mafia dons who are pursued by Naxalites. The rule of law does not exist, and politics is largely a question of caste.

In both states, national parties hardly get a look in, unless they are alliance partners. Regional groupings based on caste share power with one another. Because these states have such a large share of Lok Sabha seats (UP has 80 while Bihar and Jharkhand together have 54), national politics is held hostage to these caste considerations and to the ambitions of regional leaders.

All this contributes to the lack of regard for UP and Bihar in many parts of India.
In Bangalore, a few years ago, a successful software executive told me that he had compiled a growth rate for south India and that it exceeded China’s. “It is UP and Bihar that let us down,” he said. Such sentiments are common. The face of India that we show to the world – hi-tech, Bollywood-glitzy and super-educated has nothing to do with UP and Bihar. For many Indians, the two states have become an embarrassment.

Now i have a question for politicians of UP and Bihar. Do they have any blue print of taking their state forward? The states have only caste politics nothing else. The people are so “innocent” that they fall prey to caste games. They don’t even understand the term development it seems. May be because they have never seen it. But one thing is for sure that whole India is developing at a brisk pace while UP and Bihar are crawling.  As Mr Sanghvi says–  I have respect too for the ordinary Biharis, who are truly the salt of India, going off to other states to create wealth for all of us. I doubt if West Bengal could survive without Biharis and Punjab’s crops are usually planted and harvested by Bihari workers. And oddly enough, whenever Biharis have travelled overseas, they have prospered: in Mauritius, Guyana and Surinam, for instance.

But then why can’t their own state take care of them. It is because we have not changed with time. Rest of India ignored the casteism and racism and rose to the top of the economic pyramid. And eventually India shed its old image and went from being perceived as an underdeveloped wasteland to becoming an emerging superpower. But the status-quo in UP and Bihar. I want to ask the politicians and people of UP and Bihar—- How long will they deny their citizens the benefits of the new India? And how long will the voters of UP and Bihar allow themselves to be ruled by a bunch of casteist crooks?

Mayawati is at it again!

The Leopard they say never changes its spots. Mayawati’s suspension of four officials in the Sultanpur district has raised eyebrows and received flak from the Congress Party as well as the UP Governer who has asked her to justify the suspension.

May, 2007. Mayawati had just been sworn in as the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister for the fourth time when she began her term in trademark Mayawati style. 109 officers were transferred and three got the axe. The officers who were transferred were IPS officers, including IGs, DIGs, district police chiefs (SPs/SSPs). As Mayawati ushered in a new set of officials and ordered inquiries against numerous officials. This overhaul of the system was criticized by many of her detractors, but Mayawati maimtained that she was doing it for the right reasons that of dereliction of duty.

Well, Mayawati is back at it again. She recently suspended four officials for praising Rahul Gandhi. This was a shockin move for many. And the Congress too has not taken this lying down as they have questioned Mayawati’s act of sking officers all around the state to have collected funds on Mayawati’s birthday just a few days back.

The officers to have been suspended are the Faizabab divisional commissioner Venkateshwarlu and the Sanjay Kumar who is the district magistrate of the Sultanpur district. Both of these officers were IAS officers and were suspended for lauding the Gandhi family in a book about the history of the Sultanpur District.The local chief development and another officer from the Sultanpur district were also fired from their jobs.

The book under question had been released in September last year and no one in the Uttar Pradesh government seemed to have any problem with it till the news of the suspension broke out. The Sultanpur district falls under the purview of the Amethi constituency which is represented by Rahul Gandhi. Even late Rajiv Gandhi had represented this constituency.

AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh told reporters, ”If writing a fact is a crime, then the officers have committed a crime,” and went on to add that there was no mention of any political party, but the work done by the Gandhis.

A day after the sacking of the four senior bureaucrats, Governor T.V. Rajeshwar wrote to Mayawati on Friday asking her to explain the reasons for the sudden move. Mayawati it seems is busy preparing a reply to the Governer justifying the suspension of these officials.

The scenario in Uttar Pradesh has definitely turned hostile and is bound to get aggravated after this suspension. Is Mayawati insecure of the Congress party doing well in UP? Or does she believe that Rahul Gandhi can be the lucky mascot to bring back Congress to power in Uttat Pradesh. Whatever, it maybe the message sent out by Mayawati is loud and clear and all the officials across the state will have to watch what they say or write to stay away from the ire of the BSP Supremo.

Uttar Pradesh: The epicentre of Polio in India

Pulse Polio, an immunization campaign was established by the Government of India in 1994 to eradicate poliomyelitis (polio) in India by vaccinating all children under the age of five, against polio virus. However, a sharp rise in polio cases in India’s largest state has raised fears of the return of a disease that the country was close to wiping out, just three years ago. The health outlook for millions of Indians for 2008 may not be all that bright as experts say that the country will continue battling major diseases like AIDS, polio, malaria and tuberculosis besides concerns like infant and maternal mortality. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Union Health Ministry were optimistic about curbing the polio virus. However, as the year 2007 drew to an end, India continued to be the hot bed for polio, with 590 cases as against 676 cases in 2006. This has dealt another blow to the already crumbling public health infrastructure and delivery. There have been no polio cases reported from Kerala and Punjab in 2007. On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar top the list of the polio affected states in India.

PolioThe World Health Organisation (WHO) has described Uttar Pradesh as the “epicenter of the polio epidemic” in the world. As per WHO estimates, the State accounts for 64 per cent of all polio cases reported worldwide. The increase has not just been due to mismanagement at the Government level; there are also other factors responsible for it. One such factor is the people’s apathy to such campaigns, which lack credibility. Besides, lack of information about the polio vaccine being administered and its availability is also greatly responsible for the increase.

An alarming factor is the resistance of people belonging to the minority community, especially those from the lower income groups, to vaccinate their children. Apparently, there is a belief that the polio vaccine causes impotency. Other factors responsible for the resurgence of the epidemic in Uttar Pradesh are the high density of population and the lack of awareness about the pulse polio campaign. Extensive publicity campaigns, involving film and cricket personalities, have mitigated the opposition to a great extent but still the cases are on the rise. It is very important for the Government to now formulate a proper strategy with the political and religious leaders alongside, to counter the rising cases of polio in Uttar Pradesh. Dispelling superstition should be accomplished by roping in local health workers to convince clerics who propagate against the vaccination drive. To control the menace from spreading its tentacles any further, we need to adopt a need-based approach and more scientific methods.