Lok Sabha Elections 2004
Under BJP Rule:
India Does not Shine for Dalits
The NDA Govt.’s propaganda machinery has flooded the media with advertisements that India is “shining”. Where are the 26 crore dalits in this ‘shining’ India? The truth is that like all other deprived sections and working people, dalits do not figure anywhere in this “shining” India. They remain confined to darkness, not allowed to enter the “temple” of so-called developed India.
Despite the claims of ‘India Shining’, it is a shame that:
- 70 per cent dalit homes do not get electricity and 90 per cent do not have sanitation facilities.
- According to govt. records, over 20 per cent dalit families do not have access to safe drinking water sources. The actual figure is much higher.
- Only one out of 3 dalits is literate.
- Every second dalit child below 4 years of age suffers from undernourishment or malnutrition.
- Among dalits, infant mortality rate is one and half times the rate for the rest of the population. Similarly, mortality rate for dalits is also one and half times more than the rest of the people.
- Even according to the controversial estimates made by the Planning Commission in 1999-2000, 36.25 per cent of Scheduled Castes and 45.86 per cent of Scheduled Tribes population in rural areas survives below the poverty line. In urban areas, the proportions are 38.47 and 34.75 per cent respectively. [According to the much more reliable estimates of 1993-94, every second dalit was living below the poverty line.]
- Untouchability still remains prevalent. Despite all promises of adopting concrete programmes for eradication of the inhuman practice of cleaning and carrying night-soil as head load, it has not even been estimated as to how many people are required to be freed from this vocation.
- Every hour, on an average, at least three incidents of crimes or atrocities against dalits take place. These include 2 murders and 3 cases of rape every day. And, what about justice? Statistics from Rajasthan expose the reality. In 2001, 5919 cases were registered under the SC/ST Atrocities Eradication Act, but only 290 people were actually punished, i.e. about 5%.
In it’s review of various measures taken to evaluate the condition of dalits, the SC/ST Commission found that today, 50 years after Independence, the condition of dalits in rural India and in city slums remains the same.
(Report presented to the President on 4 Feb 1998)
What are the conditions of dalits living in villages?
- 85 per cent of SC/ST families live in villages. Of these, every second person (49 per cent) is a landless agricultural labourer, while every fourth person (25 per cent) is a small cultivator. At the end of the eighties, over 63 per cent of rural dalit families were dependent on daily wage labour. The economic reforms programme, vigorously pursued by the BJP-led NDA Govt. has resulted in only 106 days of work being available to agricultural workers in a year.
- The increase in wages for rural non-farm labour that occurred till the eighties due to increasing public investment, started declining in the nineties. This is a direct result of declining public investment as dictated by the so-called economic reforms. This decline was all the more precipitous for dalits, and especially for dalit women
- The proportion of landless and marginal farmers among dalit households increased by 1.23 per cent between 1981 and 1991 to reach a massive 86.25 per cent. In the ensuing ten years since then, this proportion has increased further.
- After ensuring that land reform and land ceiling related laws remain unimplemented, a process for changing them in favour of domestic and foreign business houses has begun. As against the estimated 3 crore hectare surplus land, only 75 lakh ha was actually declared surplus, less than 65 lakh ha was taken over and just over 52 lakh ha was actually distributed (20 per cent of which was in W.Bengal alone). The people who have been deprived the most are dalits and tribal families, as they constitute the major proportion of the landless.
- The small peasant, a very high percentage of whom come from Dalit and tribal families, are facing destitution.
Land reforms should be implemented with diligence and alacrity and the land that thus becomes available should be distributed in such a way that 50 per cent of it goes to people from SC/ST.
Recommendation of National SC/ST Commission
On the occasion of 50th Anniversary of Independence
The Govt. is spending about as much on its ‘India Shining’ campaign as it plans to spend every year on schemes for the welfare of Scheduled Castes. In the Tenth Plan, Rs.5786 crores have been allocated for such schemes, i.e. about Rs.1150 crores annually, which is the approximate cost of the ‘India Shining’ campaign.
Conditions of dalits living in urban areas:
Even according to the controversial estimates for 1999-2000 being propagated by the Planning Commission, the number of dalit households living below the poverty line in urban areas is more than those in the rural areas. While 36.25 per cent of dalit households are below the poverty line in rural areas, their share is 38.47 per cent in urban areas. Undoubtedly, this trend is not new. But what is new is that this difference is increasing. According to the more reliable poverty estimates of 1993-94, this share was 48.11 per cent for rural areas and 49.48 per cent for urban areas.
The half-hearted implementation of the system of reservation for dalits and tribals has prevented its limited benefits from reaching the mass of dalits and tribals. This system is in place, mainly for govt. employment, but even there it has been partially implemented. The United Front govt. in the mid nineties had launched a special recruitment drive to clear the backlog in reserved posts. But despite that, 54.3 per cent of the backlog vacancies in Central govt. could not be filled up. The backlog of vacancies was 45.10 per cent in public sector banks and 88.18 per cent in public sector undertakings. Since then, appointments have given way to retrenchment.
In the govt. itself, the reserved quota was never filled for first, second and third class employees whereas the number of dalits in the fourth class segment overshot the quota. For instance, in 1995, 44.34 per cent of all sanitary workers were dalit, i.e. three times their proportion in the population; among fourth class employees, their share was 21.26 per cent which is about 1.25 times their proportion in the population.
With the downsizing of government staff at both Central and State level, and with privatisation of PSUs, the limited job opportunities available through reservation are disappearing. No condition has been placed on Public Sector units that are being privatised, to continue the system of reservations.
Total employment in the public sector was 194.19 lakhs in 1991, which decreased to 191.38 lakhs by 2001. In the same period, employment in the organised sector declined from 281.66 lakhs to 277.89 lakhs.
Reduced Opportunities for Dalits and Tribals:
Due to increasing privatisation the entry of dalit children in higher education and professional courses has become more difficult than before.
Like other social welfare programmes, the expenditure on welfare of dalits has declined under BJP-led NDA rule. For instance, between 2002-03 and 2003-04, there was a cut of 15 per cent in actual expenditure on establishment of schools, boarding schools, colleges, hostels and technical centres for dalit students. While budget allocation had been reduced by 10 per cent, the actual expenditure was even lower.
The number of post-matric scholarship beneficiaries among dalits and tribals during the first two years of NDA rule did not increase at pace with population growth, i.e. the percentage of such beneficiaries actually declined
For voluntary organisations working among Scheduled Castes, grants to the tune of Rs.3.75 lakhs were given in 2000-01, which declined to Rs.1.18 lakhs by 2002-03.
Dalits face marginalisation and are prevented from acquiring the benefits of development. Carrying night soil on heads is still a prevalent practice. A large number of dalits still work as bonded labour. Not only are atrocities on dalits continuing, they have acquired a new intensity.
The majority communalism and upper-caste hegemonistic politics of BJP-RSS, has provided a new aggressive anti dalit thrust, similar to its anti-minority policies. We see cases of upper-caste panchayats passing and implementing death sentences against dalits. Anti-dalit violence has taken a new turn in the name of cow-protection. In Jhajhjhar, Haryana, a mob incited by the VHP lynched five dalits who were in police custody. The Sangh parivar later came out in open defence of this killer mob. Similarly, adivasis are being targeted due to anti-Christian bigotry.
Quoting from religious scriptures, senior vice-president of VHP Giriraj Kishor defended the killing of dalits in Jhajhjhar, “The life of a cow is more valuable than the lives of human beings.”
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, during 2000-01, “atrocities against SC/ST increased”. In 2000, 29,445 such cases were registered which increased to 29,683 in 2001.
Lok Sabha: Answer to Unstarred Question 1834; 29 Nov 2002
The Record of the BJP led NDA Speaks for itself:
Who opposed the changing of the name of Marathwada University to Ambedkar University? – Shiv Sena and RSS/BJP
Who campaigned against the publication of Dr.Ambedkar’s book “Riddles of Hinduism”? - RSS/BJP
Immediately after coming to power, who withdrew the large number of cases against people charged with crimes against dalits and tribals? – Shiv Sena/BJP Govt. in Maharashtra and BJP Govt. in UP
Which Govt. appointed as an Union Minister a person who wrote a book trying to prove that Dr.Ambedkar was not only a false messiah but also an agent of the British? – BJP-led NDA Govt.
Who supported an agitation against the allotment of a few plots of pastureland to dalits in Madhya Pradesh? – RSS/BJP
The record of the last five years makes it clear that Dalits have no place in the ‘Shining India’ proclaimed in the advertisements brought out by the BJP-led Govt. The BJP/RSS are as casteist as they are communal. They have always tried to convert dalits into pawns of their conservative, communal politics. On the other hand, parties like the BSP which claim to represent the dalits, will not hesitate to auction them off in their opportunist search for power. In contrast we have the example of the Left forces. The W.Bengal Govt. has distributed the maximum amount of land to dalits in the whole country. 42 per cent of the recorded bargadars and 55 per cent of the beneficiaries of land distribution were dalits and adivasis. It is in the interest of dalits that they join the ranks of democratic and secular forces, and in the forthcoming elections:
Strengthen CPI(M) and other Left forces!
Defeat the BJP/RSS-led NDA!
Ensure a secular govt. at the centre!