“Other noble dreams of collective emancipation and glory, too, were
compromised by the many exigencies of postcolonial nation-building.
The colonial state, with its aloof bureaucracy and repressive
apparatus, was retained, and radical new institutions of universal
adult franchise and social welfare uneasily grafted on to it. Not
surprisingly, torture and extrajudicial execution remain as
commonplace a feature of contemporary India as free and largely fair
elections, and the red-taped state still struggles to provide
effective education and healthcare.
“The hierarchies underpinning India’s older cruelties of caste and
gender have also survived the egalitarian proclamations of the
constitution; universal franchise has yet to lead to a civil rights
revolution. Dalits are still being lynched and raped by upper-caste
feudal lords, and thousands of women burnt to death for bringing
insufficient dowries, even as Dalit and female politicians move into
the highest offices in the land. Indeed, Ambedkar’s battle against the
inequities of the caste system has had the strangest afterlife.
“Beneficiaries of en bloc voting by previously subordinate groups, a
generation of low-caste leaders has now enjoyed political power in
India’s most populous provinces. Accused of corruption and
incompetence, they have ended up advancing group claims and identities
rather than individual rights for all. The most conspicuous of the new
profiteers of caste is Mayawati, the Dalit chief minister of Uttar
Pradesh’s 180m citizens. She has amassed a great personal fortune; her
penchant for solitaire diamonds and huge statues of herself has
further undermined the state’s investment-starved economy.”
"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 200 farmers had committed suicides and an other 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 that not a single man had died neither of hunger death nor had committed suicide in U.P. She also declared that she will scrap the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme which aims at providing 100 days' assured employment to rural labour families."
"In a virtual snub to the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Thursday said the state had the 'worst track record' across the country in terms of atrocities on Dalits.
"'Uttar Pradesh continues to be at the top in terms of the number of cases of atrocities against Dalits reported in states across the country. The latest data available with us is for 2006 when the state recorded a whopping 52,827 such cases,' chairman of the Commission Buta Singh told reporters here.
"The statues, along with the portraits and images of Mayawati that stare out from hoarding boards and newspapers across UP, are just one clue as to the extraordinary cult of personality that has grown up around the 'Dalit Queen', a woman whose remarkable rise to power has seen her overcome widespread prejudice against so-called untouchables to lead India's most populous state.
"Diminutive in stature but mighty in her influence, she is currently serving her fourth stint as UP's Chief Minister. Many believe Mayawati, who courts controversy, now has her eyes fixed firmly on the position of Indian prime minister. Crucially, her party holds a simple majority in the state legislature that means she can stay in office unchallenged for a full five-year term, giving her time to project herself further on to the national stage and an opportunity to raise money to fund such a move. All of India is watching."
"The Democratic Party primaries have been putting me in mind of politics in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
"The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh is an untouchable woman. Aside from being the first of her caste and sex to have reached this office anywhere in the country, she is perhaps best known for putting up statues of herself and throwing ludicrously extravagant parties for her birthday at public expense.
"The ever-worsening conditions of untouchables in the state, which is one of the poorest and most socially backward in India, have not diminished her popularity among them. It’s as though, despairing of general upliftment, they’ve settled on the obscene aggrandizement of one among them. The statues, the billboards, the diamonds and feasts and rare bouquets for her birthday only enhance the chief minister’s appeal in their eyes. Having long given up on anyone using power on their behalf, much less their partaking of it themselves, their highest wish is merely to see one of their own enjoy it to the fullest.
"So it is with supporters of the low-caste candidates in the Democratic race. No one really expects that the actual policies of a President Obama would do anything to lighten the oppression of black people in this country, or that a second Clinton presidency would do any more for women than the first one did.
"The pathetic hope is that simply having one or the other of them raised to such an office will in itself give his or her respective section a little more dignity."
"On Friday, The Indian Express found barely a hundred students eating the meal — tehri — rice and vegetables cooked together. The rest ate food brought from home, a practice that started on December 10, the day the Dalit woman, Phool Kumari Rawat, started cooking.
"Senior students who are boycotting the food, say Phool Kumari's cooking is unhygienic. [...]
"Younger students are more direct, readily admitting that it was Phool Kumari's caste that was the problem. 'I will not eat anything cooked by that lady. I have heard my family members say that she is from some low caste. So I bring my own lunch box,' said Shivani Singh Chauhan, a student of Class IV. Ateet Kumar, student of Class V, said the school was in a Thakur [brahmin] area and they refuse to eat whatever she cooks. 'Only children from Phool Kumari's area are eating,' he said."
"With a majority of students at the Bibipur Primary and Junior High School continuing to boycott mid-day meals cooked by Dalit woman Phool Kumari Rawat, the district administration has decided to sack her.
"Officials are now thinking of appointing another cook, using the boycotters’ argument that Phool Kumari’s cooking isn’t good and is also unhygienic. This, when most officials who have visited the school in the last five days, found nothing wrong with the meals."
Karnataka:Discrimination against cook continues (The Hindu, October 5, 2007): "The branding of Ms. Bhovi, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste, as HIV positive and the subsequent boycott by the villagers has taken a toll on her family too."
"The charismatic leader was born into a 'Chamar' or leatherworkers'
family — at the bottom of India's rigid caste hierarchy — on the
outskirts of New Delhi.
"She first became chief minister of the sprawling state in 1995 and was
India's first woman Dalit or 'untouchable' chief minister.
"Although her first term lasted less than six months, 'behenji' or
'sister' as she is respectfully called, became an instant icon for
millions of India's oppressed and marginalised.
"And Mayawati has maintained her popularity despite numerous
allegations of corruption — she dismissed them as an upper-caste
conspiracy — and her unabashed display of wealth.
"Two years ago she described herself as a 'living goddess' and said
that she had never married in order to 'to improve the lot' of Dalits.
Mayawati, as she is called, is leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Bahujan samaj means "the majority section," a reference to the oppressed majority of untouchables, other lower castes, tribals, and religious minorities including Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians. This coalition is theoretical; in practice, the party is based among untouchables, who make up an unusually high proportion of the population in the backward, populous northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The BSP, though it occasionally pretends to some form of socialism, is a pro-capitalist, caste-based party with no significant ties to the workers' movement. Three times in the past the BSP has taken power in Uttar Pradesh in alliance with the fascistic, Hindu-right BJP (in 1995, 1997, and 2002), with Mayawati at its head all three times. This time it has won a narrow majority in its own right.
"The Chief Minister [Mayawati], who would accompany Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for electioneering on Monday in Gujarat, said it was her party's 'moral responsibility' to support the BJP in Gujarat as it was supporting the BSP in UP.
"Mayawati said the decision would not have any 'adverse' effect on BSP's Muslim vote bank in Uttar Pradesh.
"Rejecting the Congress charge on Modi's role in the communal violence that rocked Gujarat following Godhra massacre, Mayawati said 'a Chief Minister will never do anything which will bring bad name to his own government.'
"'The charges against Modi are baseless,' she said."