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Dalits In News,Jan. 16, 2008

by udaya — last modified 2008-01-18 19:02

Dalit, Brahmin bonhomie still a dream,Pasmanda Muslims: Living in the shadows!...



Dalit, Brahmin bonhomie still a dream



Supriya Sharma

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 (Lucknow)

Breaking political barriers to win elections may not be the same as breaking social barriers in Uttar Pradesh, which is still divided and polarized by caste prejudice.

For someone who has just opened his innings in politics, Nakul Dubey is remarkably assured. Until last year, he was just a legal assistant to SC Mishra, Mayawati's powerful Brahmin advisor and the man who crafted the unlikely but effective BSP-Brahmin alliance.

Today Dubey is minister with not one but seven portfolios and yet when asked for an interview he refused.

''We are not allowed to talk to the media,'' he said and added that party chief Mayawati alone can talk. 

So, in the Cabinet does Maywati alone take decisions? Surrounded by his supporters, it's a question Dubey is compelled to take on. 

''Our party chief does not interfere in decision-making,'' he said.

It's a tricky subject since tied to it are questions of whether in the BSP Brahmins have any real power. 

''Brahmins are intellectually sharp and don't stick around if they don't benefit. They know their interests lie with the BSP,'' said Dubey.

Coalition of castes 

It's one of Mayawati's toughest challenges to balance the coalition of castes that have propelled her to absolute majority in the Vidhan Sabha.

While on the surface, the ministry seems like equitable representation, numbers are not the same as influence. And as far as influence goes, it's seen as dominated by Brahmins.

Not just the Cabinet. Across positions of power evidence of what the other castes resent as infiltration of Mishra's friends and relatives, but what Brahmins see as validation of promises.

That same uneasy balance found in the booklet that lists Mayawati's achievements in the last six months.

Her flagship Ambedkar Village Scheme, first taken up in 1996 to target Dalit majority villages, is now a Rs 10,000 crore scheme extended to all.

It's only further at the back of the brochure that her political origins make an almost token appearance - a series of memorials and structures dedicated to her mentor. It is a desperate attempt at an older symbolism of Dalit empowerment. 

In caste eclipsed UP, caste-neutral policies, many would say, are signs of political maturity. But what about BSP's loyal Dalit voter who are wooed on aggressive promises of Dalit empowerment? Does he see this as dilution of the Dalit agenda?

Hanuman Prasad Rawat is a school teacher. He is among the first to join the BSP and epitomises the current schizophrenia of its Dalit voter - disturbed and anxious but still loyal.

The loyalty, Rawat says, comes from seeing the fruits of Dalit consolidation.

''There was a time when we were not allowed to draw water from the village well or live with the others. I remember as a school teacher, I could not touch the tumbler, and had to drink water poured out by someone else. But after the BSP united us, we have been able to fight for our rights,'' said Rawat.

But here is the irony. The BSP's brand of militant Dalit politics made it possible for the Dalit to take on the upper castes. 

But now as the same upper castes become political partners, what does the Dalit do when faced with the same old realities of being seen as social unequals.

In Rawat's village, women have gathered to celebrate a birthday. The family is Brahmin and like others of the community, last year they voted for BSP. 

But ask who is invited, they accept only fellow upper castes. 

''They have courted us for political power, but do not give us the same social rights. The dalit has reached the door of the upper castes but not their kitchen,'' said Rawat.

It's this contradiction that will test the BSP's future in UP more than anything else.

Zee News


Pasmanda Muslims: Living in the shadows!


Yusuf Ansari 

The quest for reservation is not new in this country. In the past 60 years of independence, there have been many castes that were given reservations depending upon their social status and requirements. But, in this hurry to bring equity in society, some castes that required reservation for growth were left out. They were the Pasmanda (have nots) Muslims, or the Muslims belonging to the weakest and most backward section of society. 

In the last days of the winter session of Parliament, Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar demanded that the report of Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission be tabled, but didn't get any support from any other Member of Parliament. Apart from the DMK, no other political party supported his demand.

First, it is essential to mention briefly, the contents of Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission report. This commission was to submit its report on the situation of linguistic minorities. Also, it was to give its views on whether there are Scheduled Castes in Muslims? If yes, then what is their situation in the country and how can it be improved? 

In its report, the commission strongly recommended the Scheduled Caste reservations be given to the backward castes of minority communities. Till now, SC reservation has been given only to castes that belong to the Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities. 

In his report, Justice Mishra has recommended SC status for those Muslims whose occupational Hindu counterparts come under it. He has also recommended that Scheduled Castes that convert to Christianity should continue enjoying SC status. 

In the reports of Justice Sachar Commission, it was said that the condition of Muslims is worse than that of recognized Scheduled Castes in India. But what Justice Sachar couldn't recommend, Justice Mishra recommended with full emphasis. 

If these recommendations are implemented then almost 40 to 50 percent castes of the Muslim community will be benefited . This will also pave the way for backward Muslims to fight elections in the reserved constituencies. 

The ball now is in the central government's court as to whether it will keep the Dalits of the Christian community under SC category. On a petition filed by Scheduled Caste Christians in the Supreme Court, the central government has filed an affidavit saying that it will inform the court after deciding on Justice Ranganath Mishra's report. It is evident, that if Christians are given reservation then it will also make way for similar provisions for the Muslims. 

Now, the question that arises here is, why is the Muslim leadership keeping mum about such an important issue? Why, hasn't a single Muslim MP demanded the implementation of this report, in spite of the fact that the commission had submitted its report eight months ago to the Prime Minister? 

Sachar Committee report was tabled in the Parliament in December last year. Since then, all Muslim organizations tried to create pressure on the government for its implementation. Muslim leaders, especially Minority Affairs minister AR Antulay, Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha K Rahman Khan and state minister for Human Resource M A A Faatmi started 'dinner diplomacy' by inviting all Muslim MP's to pressurize the government into implementing it. 

But all these leaders are keeping mum over the Justice Mishra Commission report. More shocking still is that most of the Muslim MPs were not even aware of this report. They were more busy in raising emotional issues than in looking into serious matters of Muslim uplift.

No one raised the issue of Justice Mishra report in Rajya Sabha barring Ali Anwar. This issue was not even raised in the Lok Sabha. It should be noted that out of 543 MPs of 14th Lok Sabha, there are only 36 Muslim. Among them, only 3 MPs are from the backward castes, namely, Furkan Ansari from Godda (Jharkhand), Haji Akhlaq Qureshi from Meerut (Uttar Pradesh) and Atiq Ahmad from Phoolpur (Uttar Pradesh). In the 13th Lok Sabha, there was not a single MP from the backward Muslim castes. 

The representation of backward caste Muslims has always been low since independence. The count of MPs never reached double figures. There have been more than 4000 MPs since independence. Out of these there have only been 400 Muslim MPs. Of these, only 60 were from the backward castes.

Looking at the whole issue from population point of view, there are 15 crores Muslims in India. This means that there should be at least 62 Muslim MPs in a particular term. More than 75 percent of the total Muslim population is from backward castes. So, these castes should have 45 MPs at the very least. But the irony is that, there are not as many Muslim MPs, let alone from backward castes. 

Now, the question arises here is whether the Pasmanda Muslim community will continue its support to the current leadership? Or, will they try to adapt to the changing times and develop a new leadership among themselves to make their voice heard. 

The Pasmanda Muslims require a leadership that is not only secular in its ideology but should also be oriented towards development. This is the basic requirement for the uplift of this very downtrodden section of society.



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