Saturday, 30 August 2008

What Mayawati has done to the Dalits of U.P.?

Uttar Pardesh (U.P.) has got many firsts to its credit in India. Politically it is the first state in India where a Dalit woman has become Chief Minister for the fourth time. U.P. supports the largest population in India. It has also the largest population of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) numbering about 35.1 millions. It has also the highest number of the atrocity cases on the Dalits in India. U.P. has the largest number of women and children suffering from malnutrition. U.P. has also the highest incidence of Polio cases in whole of the country. At present U.P. is also the most corrupt State of India.
Now with so many firsts to its credit where do the Dalits of U.P. stand in comparison with Dalits of other States of India on development parameters? To get a true picture of their position it will be proper to judge them on the following development parameters:-
Female and Male ratio: The sex ratio of female and male of U.P Dalits is 900 per 1000 as against the national average of 936 in respect of all Dalits. Similarly the sex ratio among children of 0-6 year’s age group is 930 against the national average of 988.
These figures show that in respect of sex ratio U.P Dalits are far behind the Dalits of other states at national level. This indicates the low position and poor condition of Dalit females and children in U.P. It is not only the result of feticide and infanticide due to preference of male child over girl child and poverty but also due to incessant and organized discrimination and malnutrition.
According to National Family and Health Survey Report 2005-06 the percentage of women suffering from malnutrition in U.P was 47. Similarly out of 52% children suffering from malnutrition and 46% were stunted in growth. The child mortality rate was 73 percent as compared with 61% of Bihar. This survey also indicated that in the age group of 15 to 49 years, 34% women were underweight. During this survey it also came to light that there were 73 still births out of 1000 live births which were higher than 67.6% at national level nine years ago. At this point of time there were only 22% institutional deliveries against the national average of 34%. This survey also revealed that only 22% children had taken full vaccination where as the state government had claimed to have achieved hundred percent vaccinations in the years 2001-02. The mortality rate was 8.7% which is just next highest to Bihar which was 9.0 percent.
Literacy Rate: According to 2001 Census Report, the literacy rate of U.P Dalits stands at 43% whereas the national average of the Dalits is 54.7%. The literacy rate of U.P Dalits both males and females is 60.3% and 30.5% respectively whereas the national average of Dalits is 66.6% and 41.9% respectively. In Bahraich district the literacy rate of Dalit female is as low as 9 percent. As such U.P Dalits lag behind the Dalits of many other states of India in terms of male and female literacy rates. According to Dr. B.R.Ambedkar the progress of a society is measured by the progress of women. But the position of Dalit women in U.P. is very low. It also badly reflects on the poor performance of U.P government on education front.
Level of Education: Out of literate Dalits of U.P 38% have no level of education or have got education below primary level. The proportion of literates who have attained education up to primary and middle levels is 27.1% and 18.5% respectively. The percentage of literates educated up to matric and higher secondary is 13.3% only. Graduates and above are 3 percent. The non-technical and technical diploma holders constitute a meager of 0.1% only.
School Dropout Rate: As per the Report of Basic Education Directorate U.P, during 1991 the dropout rate of children at primary school stage was 45.02 percent. As such every second child leaves the school before completion of primary education. The dropout rate for girls was 46.25% which was higher than that of 44% for boys. This rate has not changed much even after that. It is well known that for various reasons, the dropout rate of Dalit children is much higher than general caste children. It has a direct bearing on the literacy rates of Dalits.
Untouchability and Discrimination in Schools: It has come out from various newspaper reports that untouchability and discrimination persists in U.P. government school. It is often reflected in the form of boycott of mid-day meal prepared by Dalit cooks in primary and middle schools. In spite of government orders for appointment of Dalit cooks on priority basis, it has been found during a survey that Dalit cooks have been appointed in 17% schools only. The neglect and complacency on the part of government machinery in implementing its own orders has given impetus to the incidents of boycott of mid-day meals prepared by Dalit cooks. It is a pity that punitive action was taken in a few cases only and many others have been hushed up. Apart from it, many incidents of caste discrimination and maltreatment of Dalit students by high caste teachers have been reported in press. This situation badly reflects on the attitude of Mayawati Government towards the incidence of untouchability in government schools.
Work Participation Rate: According to 2001 Census Report, the work participation rate (WPR) of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) population of U.P is 34.7% which is lower than that of all SCs at the national level. There has been a slight decrease of 0.3% in WPR during 1991-2001. Both the male and female WPR (46.9 and 21.2% respectively) are lower than those recorded for all SCs at the national level (50.7 and 29.4% respectively). Among the total workers, 65.25% are Main Workers, which is lower than that recorded for all SCs at the national level (73%). As such 34.8% of Dalits are casual workers.
The above statistics make it clear that U.P. Dalits lag behind in WPR as compared with Dalits at the national level which is reflected in large scale unemployment and consequent poverty.
Dalits as Agriculture Workers: Agriculture Labourers constitute the highest proportion (42.5%) among total SCs workers. This is lower than the national average of 45.6% recorded by all SCs in this category. Cultivators constitute 30.9 percent. Other workers account for 22.2% against the national average of 30.5 percent. Workers engaged in House Hold Industry (HHI) constitute 4.3 percent only.
From the above it transpires that in U.P majority of the workers (75%) are agriculture labourers whereas there is no official arrangement for payment of minimum wages and assured employment. According to the findings of a study it has been found that the average employment of agriculture laborers in U.P. is 60 to 80 days only during a year. On account of lack of development of agriculture in U.P. the average of Dalit agriculture workers is lower than the national average. Apart from backward agriculture, not a single heavy industry has come up in U.P. during the last 15-20 years. As such no employment has been created during this period.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) has been in place for the last two years but on account of rampant corruption and utter neglect on the part of implementing government machinery the job card holders could hardly get 8 day’s average employment during a year as against the guaranteed 100 days employment. Only 6.23 percent families got the benefit of this scheme. On the other hand Mayawati has threatened to abolish this scheme as and when she becomes the Prime Minster of India. It is because this scheme has been initiated by the Central Government headed by Congress Party with whom she has got adverse relations. Her statement had an adverse effect on the attitude of the official machinery which even otherwise is quite complacent in the implementation of such schemes concerning poor men.
Dalits below Poverty Line: As per the statistics of 2004-05, the percentage of persons Below Poverty Line (BPL) in U.P. was 32.8% where as the national average was 27.5 percent. Thus the percentage of Dalits in BPL category is quite high. According to National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) survey for 1991-2002, the percentage of Dalits in this category was 44 in U.P. As compared with the percentage for BPL in Bihar (59.8) and Orissa (51.8) states, U.P. was only a little better placed. Per Capita Income and Per Capita Consumption in U.P. is also quite low as compared with all India level. The actual figure of BPL for Dalits in U.P. may be around 50-60% indicating very high incidence of poverty.
According to the Statistics Diary of U.P. for 2007 the average Per Capita Income at 1993-94 rates during 2004-05 was Rest. 6138 only i.e. Rest. 512 per month for a family of five members. It was Rest. 13316 during 2005-06 at current prices i.e. Rest. 1101 only for a family of five persons. It works out be Rest. 3.40 and Rs.7.30 only per head per day. These figures show very low per capita income in U.P. Consequently the per capita income of Dalits is bound to be much lower than this figure.
Land Holdings and Land Area with the Dalits: According to the Census of Agriculture Holdings in 1991, SC’s share in agriculture holdings was 17.15% in marginal, 11.6% in small, 7.4% in medium and 7.4% in semi medium holdings. Only 2.4% large holdings were in the possession of Dalits. In respect of area of holdings SCs had only 16.5% of marginal, 11.5% of small, 7.3% of semi medium and 4.2% of medium sized and 2.1% of large holdings. As such Dalits’ share in the land holdings was 16.35% and 10.5% in the total operational area in 1991 where as their population share in the state was 21.15 percent.
The 2001 Census Report shows that 30.9% Dalits were in the category of Cultivators where as according to 1991 Census this percentage was 42.03 percent. As such there has occurred a fall of about 12% in this category during the period from 1991 to 2001. as a result a large number of Dalits have fallen from the category of Cultivators to the category of landless labourers during the last decade. This downfall shows their disempowerment in place of empowerment as trumpeted by Mayawati. This situation is quite worrisome. The high level of corruption in poverty alleviation and various welfare schemes coupled with complacency on the part of implementing government machinery has deprived the poor and Dalits of the intended benefits. On account of this deprivation they were forced to sell their land holdings for sustenance.
Some land has been distributed to the landless people including Dalits during the last 32 years to empower them economically. On the one hand this land was not fertile enough and workable; secondly most of the recipients of this land could not get possession thereof. Where ever they were given possession most of them have been thrown out by the powerful illegal occupants. The latest example is the hunger strike and dharna (sit down) by the Dalits of Hardoi district before the Vidhan Sabha Bhavan, Lucknow. Their main grievance was that they could not get possession of the land allotted to them 32 years ago. In spite of it they have failed to get the possession till today. Now they are planning to resort to fast till death. Similar situation prevails in other districts also and Mayawati has failed to get them the possession as the culprits have become Sarvjan supporters of her Party (Bahujan Samaj Party). According to the National Remote Sensing Agency there was a total area of 3.8 million hectares of waste land (about 14% of total geographical area) which could be developed and distributed to the land less people but the present government has proposed to plant jetropha on it. Similarly millions of hectares of land is still under the control of people of dominant castes and Mayawati is no mood to touch them as they are now her Party supporters as SARVJAN. In reality land reforms have no priority with Mayawati for political reasons whereas these are crucial for empowerment of Dalits.
Lack of Development Agenda: From the above it transpires that U.P Dalits are more backward than all the Dalits of India except those of Bihar, Madhya Pardesh and Orissa. It is true that since1995 Mayawati has become the Chief Minister of U.P for the fourth time. Apart from others, is she not responsible for the underdevelopment of U.P Dalits to a large extent? It is a common knowledge that neither in the past nor at present Mayawati does not have any development agenda for Dalits or the State. In the absence of any development agenda neither the Dalits nor the State has witnessed any development. Sudha Pai has commented, “Bahujan Samaj Party is an Ambedkarite party not in the ideological or programmatic sense, but purely in political terms. Its leadership has a limited vision; it is not interested in social transformation or revolution. Its aim is merely to make some changes in the existing system, which would give power in the hands of Dalits” (Deprivation and Development in contradiction of Uttar Pradesh in “ Deprivation and Inclusive Development-2006” edited by D.M.Diwakar and G.P.Mishra, published by Manak Publishers Pvt. Ltd. India)
The State government has been spending major portion of its annual budget on Non- Plan expenditure. Billions of rupees have been spent on extravagant public shows, parks and installation of statues including heron. Could not this public money be spent on the development of education, health services and other welfare schemes? The politics of symbolism and tokenism pursued by Mayawati has given some emotional elation to the Dalits of U.P. but no development. The rampant corruption has eaten away the benefits of all the welfare schemes.
Dalits as worst victims of Corruption: According to a recent study by Transparency International U.P. is at present the most corrupt state in the whole of India. U.P.’s underdevelopment is the painful result of this corruption. Mayawati and a former Chief Minister, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav is under the scanner of Central Bureau of Investigation for possession of disproportionate assets as against their known sources of income. Their political and personal corruption has badly infected the bureaucracy and public life at large. As a result of it the various welfare schemes like N.R.E.G.S; P.D.S; I.C.D.S; Pension and Mother Welfare etc. have fallen prey to open corruption and misuse. It has deprived the poor along with Dalits of the intended benefits thereof. Education, Health and development of Infrastructure have been the low priority areas for Mayawati government.
Again according to Sudha Pai, “There is evidence that the conditions of the poorer sections in U.P. which include the major chunk of the Dalits have become worse during the 1990s. The National Human Development Report (NHDR) has pointed out the poor conditions of life in comparison with many other states. The State’s position in terms of Human Development Index was 29th in 1981 and has fallen to 31 out of 32 states (NHDR 2001:140-41). Similarly the Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure registered a fall in the State between 1993-94 and 1999-2000; that this is due to a drastic reduction in the consumption expenditure on food between two periods clearly suggest deterioration in the standard of living. This down slide took place when the B.S.P. supported by B.J.P. was in power in U.P. for the most part (National Herald, Lucknow May 1, 2002). Despite the fact that the B.S.P. had formed a government twice during the 1990s and was again in power with the support of the B.J.P., the conditions of Dalits have not improved according to the draft proposals of the Tenth Five Year Plan (Jha, 28 December, The Times of India, New Delhi-2002). The B.S.P. did not put forward any policies for improving the socioeconomic conditions of the subaltern sections of the Dalits. The emphasis has been on political empowerment only.”
Atrocities on Dalits: As mentioned earlier U.P. has the highest incidence of atrocities on Dalits. It is on account of high Dalit population, feudal society and above all complacency on the part of government machinery in preventing or dealing with it effectively. The State has the old tradition of every Chief Minister trying to show the crime figures less than his/her predecessor’s period. Mayawati is no exception to it rather she is very stricter about it. During her first stint as Chief Minister in 1995 she had created a terror among police officers by suspending, transferring or punishing them for even a slight increase in crime figures. During her second term in 1997 she issued orders prohibiting use of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989) thereby earning the distinction of being the first Chief Minister of India to slam this Central Act contrary to the absence of any powers to do so. This was done under the pretext of preventing its misuse which is actually a lame excuse to placate her Sarvjan high caste supporters. Later on in 2003 it was withdrawn on paper after a lot of hue and cry was raised by public and it was challenged in the court but it continues to be in practice till today. The result is that lot of atrocities are being committed on Dalits but the official crime figures are being kept low to project low incidence of this crime. As such Dalits are victims of double cross. Due to non registration of their cases they are neither getting any legal relief nor are they getting any monetary compensation which otherwise they would have got. The perpetrators of these atrocities are going scot-free. The National Crime Report for 2006 issued by National Crime Records Bureau also projects U.P. state having the highest number of atrocities against Dalits during 2005.
According to one survey based on the News Paper reports during 2007 as any as 110 Dalit women fell victims to rape in U.P. but only 50% cases were registered by police and the tragedy was that as many as 85% rapes were committed on unmarried Dalit girls. In the same manner out of 19 cases of murder with rape 50%, in cases of murder 25%, in cases of molestation 71% and in cases of kidnapping 80% of the cases were not registered at all. These figures relate to some important News Papers only. The actual incidence of crime and the number of cases may be much higher. It is generally accepted that the number of cases registered by police is hardly 40% of actual crime. This situation depicts the miserable plight of U.P. Dalits under Mayawati.
Dr. Ambedkar’s concept of a Political Party and Political Power: While describing the role of a Political Party in the constitution of the Scheduled Castes Federation, Dr. Ambedkar said “A Political Party does not exist for winning elections but for Educating, Agitating and Organizing the People.” But Mayawati’s Party has learnt the art of winning election only and totally rejected the real role of a political party as described by Dr. Ambedkar. The result of this strategy is before us. Her very constituency is the victim of underdevelopment and her personal corruption.
Dr. Ambedkar while detailing the qualities of a leader said,” Your leaders must have the courage and caliber to match the topmost leaders of any political party. The party without efficient leaders comes to nil.” Now it is the high time that we assess our leaders including Mayawati on these parameters.
. Dr. Ambedkar’s often repeated slogan that” Political Power is the key to all Social Progress” has failed at Mayawati’s hands. It is because she has no Dalit agenda for the socio-economic empowerment of Dalits. In fact she lacks a vision whish is the essential qualification of any leader. Dr. Ambedkar while discussing the role of Politics said,” Politics is not the be-all and end-all of the nation’s life. We must study the Indian Problem in all its aspects, political, social, religious, and economic and fight with own accords for the solution of the down trodden.” But unfortunately for Mayawati achieving the political power is the be-all and end-all of her politics..
Her personal corruption has taken away the benefits of various welfare schemes. She is likely to be charge sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation for possession of disproportionate assets to the tune of Rest. 30 crores and she has further added Rest. 60 crores to her income during 2007 without having any known source of income.
While defining the role of administration Dr. Ambedkar remarked,” Purity of Administration is necessary for the Welfare of the people… It may be difficult to provide food and clothing to the people but why should it be difficult to give the people a pure Government”. But unfortunately Mayawti has failed to give pure government. Her personal corruption and unprincipled politics has infected all the branches of the Government At present 60% of her ministers are having criminal records. She herself has proved the dictum that Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. She has also earned for U.P. the dubious distinction of being the Most Corrupt State of India.
Dr. Ambedkar once remarked that his opponents did levy all sorts of allegations against him but none could dare to raise a finger at his character and integrity but can Mayawati dare to make even an iota of this claim. The answer is big NO. During a meeting of the Independent Labour Party Dr. Ambedkar remarked that Dalit Labourers have two enemies: one is Brahmanism and the other is Capitalism. But now Mayawati has embraced both these enemies. Brahmanism in the shape of Sarvjan (high caste Hindus) and Capitalism in the shape of liberalization, privatization and corporatization.
Dr. Ambedkar gave topmost importance to struggle and grass-root level social and political movements. Actually these movements formed the basis of his politics. But Mayawati’s Party is totally bereft of it. It is true that in the absence of grass- root level movements and public pressure the political power is likely to be misused for self aggrandizement as has happened in the case of Mayawati. Apart from amassing wealth through questionable means she is misusing public money to make parks and install statues including her own in an effort to immortalize her.
According to Dr. Ambedkar,” These ideas if hero-worship will bring ruin on you if you do not nip them in the bud. By deifying an individual, you repose faith for your safety and salvation in one single individual with the result that you get into habit of dependence and indifferent to your duty. If you fall a victim to these ideas, your fate will be worse than logs of wood in the national stream of life. Your struggle will come to naught.” But in the case of Mayawati this warning of Dr. Ambedkar is totally being ignored by her blind followers.
What should be done? Now the question arises that when Mayawati has failed to use political power as a key to social progress then what should be done. In this case we have to revert to the earlier quoted slogan of Dr. Ambedkar which says,” A Political Party does not exist for winning elections but for Educating, Agitating and Organizing the People.’ It requires the adoption of a path of struggle and grass-root level movements by taking up public issues. A definite Dalit Agenda has to be worked out and the political parties have to be forced to adopt it. Land reforms have to be first item on the Dalit Agenda because only lands possession only can empower them economically and free them from the bondage. Therefore Dalits must launch a vigorous movement for allotment of surplus and waste land available in the State. Fast track courts could be instituted to expedite the disposal of more than 5,000 land ceiling cases pending in the courts since many years. These cases involve millions of hectares of land. Unless the Dalits launch a similar land movement as was launched by Republican Party of India during 1964-65.
Without a vision and definite Dalit liberation agenda the attaining of political power is not going to solve the problems of the Dalits as well as that of the State. Structural changes and improvement in the delivery system only can remove the poverty syndrome prevailing amongst the Dalits. Grass-root level movements are the key to keep the political leaders under control and make them answerable to the people. Bureaucracy also responds properly under public pressure only. It is the high time that Mayawati’s role in the under development of the Dalits and the State is assessed critically and dispassionately and remedial measures taken as early as possible. Otherwise it will prove to be a missed opportunity.

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