Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Dalits in U.P. face hunger deaths and suicides

U.P. has the distinction of having 3.51 crores of Scheduled Castes (SCs) at 2001 census constituting 21.1 % of the total population (16.6 crores) of the state. U.P. holds 1st rank and the 4th rank in terms of absolute number of SC population and its proportion to total population respectively among all the States and UTs. The state has a total of sixty six (66) Schedules Castes. U.P. has also got the distinction of having a Dalit lady Miss Mayawati as Chief Minister for the fourth time. U.P. has also won the distinction of being one the most under developed states of India. It has got the largest number of illiterate, malnourished persons, polio, leprosy and TB cases.
The SCs in U.P. are predominantly rural as 87.7 % of them live in villages. Their literacy rate is 46.3 % which is much lower than the national average (54.7 %) aggregated for all SCs. Male and female literacy rates (60.3 % and 30.5 % respectively) among the SCs is also lower than those recorded for all SCs at he national level (66.6 % and 41.9% respectively ).
Among the SCs literates, 38 % are either without any educational level or have attained education below primary level. The proportions of literates who have attained education up to primary and middle levels are 27.1 % and 18.5 % respectively. Literates who are educated up to matric/higher secondary constitute 13.3 %. Graduated & above are just 3.5%. The non-technical and technical diploma holders constitute a meager 0.1 % only.
Out of the total 133 lakhs SC children in the age group 5-14 years, 58.3 lakhs only have been attending school constituting 56.4 percent. As many as 45.1 lakh (44.6%) children in the corresponding age group have not been going to the school.
Work participation rate (WPR) of the SC population is 34.7 % which is lower than that of all SCs at the national level (40.4 %). Among the total workers, 65.2 % are main workers, which is lower than that recorded for all SCs at the national level (73 %).
"Agriculture Labourers" constitute the highest proportion (42.5 %) among the total SCs workers. This is lower than the national average 45.6 % recorded by all SCs in this category. 'Cultivators' constitute 30.9 % which is significantly higher than the national average (20.0 %). 'Other Workers' account for 22.2 % against the national average of 30.5 percent. Workers in House Hold Industry (HHI) constitute 4.3 %, which is higher than the national average (3.9 %).
Hinduism is the predominant religion of the state (80.6 %). The SCs profess Hinduism account for 99.3 %. Remaining SCs follow Buddhism (0.6 %) and Sikhism (0.1 %).
From the above statistics of 2001 census, it is clear that U.P. Dalits (SCs) are quite backward as compared with Dalits at the national level. This is not withstanding the fact that a Dalit Chief Minister is ruling this state for the fourth time since1995 with some gaps in between.
So the question arises as to what has happened to the Dalits of U.P. during all these years of so called 'Dalit Rule'. It is a serious question which needs to be discussed in detail and in depth at some later stage.
The main question which needs immediate attention of all concerned with dalits' plight in U.P. is, the ever increasing number of suicides and hunger deaths among dalits as well as other weaker sections of society especially in the BundelKhand region consisting of Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Jalaun, Lalitpr, Mahoba and Banda districts. The main reason for this situation is the rain failure for the last five years resulting in loss of crops and wages for the agriculture labourers who are predominantly Dalits of Kol and Sahriya castes. Not only higher caste farmers but even dalit farmers are committing suicides due to crop failure and indebtedness. The agriculture labourers are dying of hunger, malnutrion and unemployment. This region has been identified with Vidharba region of Maharashtra where as many as 4,453 farmers have committed suicides during 2006. It is reported that as many as 200 farmers had committed suicides and another 250 had died of hunger deaths in Bundelkhand during the last five years. Out of this Dalits' share is about 30 % among suicides and 70 % among hunger deaths. 80 % Dalits are on the verge of hunger deaths. As many as 12 Dalits in Bundelkhand and 11 dalits in other districts of U.P. committed suicide and as many 25 Dalits died of hunger deaths during the year 2007 only.
In the face of this horrifying calamity the so called Dalit Chief Minister Ms. Mayawati had the temerity to claim during a party rally at Jhansi on 29.01.08 that not a single man had died either of hunger death or had committed suicide in U.P. She also declared that she will scrap the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) when she adorns the chair of Prime Minister at Delhi. NREGP aims at providing 100 days' assured employment to rural labour families. Her claim of 'zero death' and declaration of scrapping NREGP at this juncture is shocking. The need of the hour is to save Dalits and other poor families and farmers by providing succor and relief but she has totally denied the existence of such emergency. In response to her claim of 'No Death', Social Organization like Dalit Mukti Morcha; P.U.C.L; Asha Parivar; Shudra Mahaabha and Ayodhya Ki Awaz have come out with the lists of the Dalits who had died of hunger deaths and had committed suicides during 2007 i.e. during Mayawati's tenure as Chief Minister. This list has been published in a Hindi news paper titled "Daily News Activist" on 3.2.08 published from Lucknow. The interested persons may like to have a look at it. These social organizations had also arranged a Dharna (Protest) before U.P. Assembly on 2.2.08 against Mayawati's apathy towards U.P. Dalits' misery. They also submitted a memorandum to the Governor of U.P; National Commission for Scheduled Castes; National Commission for Human Rights; Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment (Govt. of India) and Minister for Rural Development (Govt. of India) requesting them to get the whole matter enquired by some Independent Enquiry Commission as the State Govt. has refused to take notice of this catastrophe. They have also demanded the honest implementation of various development and public welfare schemes e.g. National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme; Public Distribution System and Pension Schemes for widows, handicapped and old age persons as these schemes have fallen prey to brutal corruption under Mayawati's corrupt misrule.


Neo Buddhists are far ahead of Hindu Dalits

Neo Buddhists are far ahead of Hindu Dalits
Dr. Shura Darapuri

Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, on 31st May, 1936, in his address to a public meeting at Dadar (Bombay) on the subject of "why go for conversion?" said, "I should like to impress this thing on your minds very clearly that religion is for man and not man for religion. If you want to organize yourself, change your religion. If you want to gain self respect change your religion. If you want to create a society which ensures cooperation, and brotherhood change your religion. If you want to achieve power, change your religion. If you want equality, change your religion. If you want independence, change your religion. If you want to make this world happy in which you live, change your religion." On 14th October, 1956 after converting to Buddhism at Nagpur Dr. Ambedkar remarked," Today I have got a new birth."
Now let us see as to what extent the objectives and gains of Buddhist conversion as outlined by Dr. Ambedkar have been achieved or have accrued to the new converts known as Neo Buddhists. First of all it will be proper to see the strength of the Buddhists gained so far. As per the figures of 2001 census report the total population of Buddhists in India stands at 79.55 lacs which is 0.8 percent of the total population of India. It includes a small number of traditional Buddhists. Maharashtra state has the largest Buddhist population of 58.38 lacs followed by Karnatka (3.93 lacs) and Uttar Pardesh (3.02 lacs). The rate of growth of Buddhist population during 1991-2001 has been 24.56 percent which can be said to be quite encouraging. These statistics also show that Buddhist population has surpassed the Jain population.
Now when we look into the qualitative changes in the lives of Neo Buddhists vis-à-vis the Hindu Dalits we find that they are far ahead on many scores. As per 2001 census repot comparison of Neo Buddhists and Hindu Dalits on the following scores indicates a significant improvement in the lives of Neo Buddhist:-
1. Sex Ratio: The sex ratio of female and male among Neo Buddhists is 953 per thousand as compared with 936 of Hindu Dalits. It indicates that the position of women in Neo Buddhist families is far better than that of Hindu Dalits. It is quite in accordance with the high status of women in Buddhist society. This ratio is higher than Hindus (931), Muslims (936), Sikhs (893) and Jains (940).

2. Sex Ratio of Children (0-6 years): According to 2001 census report the sex ratio of girls and boys among Neo Buddhists is 942 as compared with 938 of Hindu Dalits. This sex ratio is much higher than Hindus (925), Sikhs (786), and Jains (870). It shows that girls enjoy better care and protection among Neo Buddhists as compared with Hindu Dalit families.
3. Literacy Rate: Literacy rate of Neo Buddhists is 72.7 percent which is much higher than that of Hindu Dalits (54.70 percent). This rate is also much higher than that of Hindus (65.1), Muslims (59.1) and Sikhs (69.4).It shows that Neo Buddhists are more literate than Hindu Dalits.
4. Literacy RateFemale : The literacy rate of Neo Buddhist women is 61.7 percent as compared with 41.9 percent of Hindu Dalit women. This rate is also higher than that of Hindus (53.2) and Muslims (50.1). It is in accordance with the status of women in Buddhist society. It shows that females among Neo Buddhists are getting more educated than Hindu Dalit females.
5. Work Participation Rate: This rate for Neo Buddhists is 40.6 percent which is higher than 40.4 percent for Hindu Dalits. This rate is also higher than that of Hindus (40.4), Muslims (31.3) Christians (39.3), Sikhs (31.7), and Jains (32.7).It indicates that Neo Buddhists are more employed than Hindu Dalits.
The above comparative study of the status and conditions of Neo Buddhists indicates that they are far ahead of Hindu Dalits on various parameters e.g. sex ratio, girl and boy (0-6 years) sex ratio,
literacy, women literacy and work participation rate. It is definitely the result of change of religion which has liberated them from the bondage of caste and inferiority complex.
Apart from the above various studies have also shown that Dalits who have followed Dr. Ambedkar and got converted to Buddhism have progressed in all the fields of life as compared with Hindu Dalits. Neo Buddhists have changed their occupations by leaving low paid and dirty professions. Better education has opened for them new opportunities for advancement. They give more importance to the education of their children resulting in higher rate of literacy. They are more self respecting and assertive in their rights. They have become self makers, self dependent and competitive. They have grown intellectually. Their women and children enjoy better status in family and society. They have become enlightened and are saved from religious exploitation and bigotry. Thus Buddhism has definitely liberated them spiritually and materially.
This study shows that Buddhism is really a liberating philosophy for Dalits. The Neo Buddhists have made more progress than Hindu Dalits. They should become good Buddhists and should become role models for Hindu Dalits.