Friday, July 06, 2007

Vision for Uplift of Dalits: Financial empowerment is foremost need, education can come later!

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and UP Chief Minister Mayawati feels that the quickest way towards empowerment of Dalits is through economic opportunity.

This is the reason that she wants quota in allotment of petrol pumps to Dalits in Uttar Pradesh. Her vision is clear.

Once a person gets a petrol pump allotted, it is not only the family but all their relatives and the entire clan that also gets financially empowered.

With prosperity comes social respect. Surely the children would then study in English medium schools and then there is no stopping the process of speedy empowerment.

At police stations across the state, the quota for Dalits, will also bring empowerment. Dr BR Ambedkar always maintained that Dalits should inhabit urban areas [where there is less caste discrimination] in large numbers and also their strength could thus be seen at places where it matters.

Just an educational drive can't be enough to bring a change and it will also be long-term. However, the results of financial empowerment are visible much earlier. In comparison, the overall educational backwardness of Muslims doesn't seem to have a solution in near future. The drop out rate is unusually high.

As far as allotment of gas agencies and petrol pumps is concerned, the situation is abysmal. Have the Muslim MPs ever been questioned with regard to the discretionary quota? Muslims, in general, find it very difficult to get even bank credit, let alone having the land or cash needed as security to furnish.

My concern is not about Muslims alone. Rather about the policy regarding allocation of petrol pumps to those belonging to rich class, who continue to get richer. However, the underprivileged belonging to any caste or religion, hardly get such allotments, which are sure shot ways for upward mobility. Even getting a ration shop or kerosene outlet, is a Herculean task for the ordinary Indian citizens, unless he is 'connected'.

Except the quota for kin of freedom fighters and martyrs, mostly it is given on pure connections and through corrupt practices. The allotments were cancelled owing to such irregularities by the Supreme Court, which had stated that MPs can't be petrol pump dealers.