Friday, June 08, 2007

Mayawati and the caste system

Behen Mayawati has declared her intention to aim for the Prime Ministership of India in the next general elections. It will be wonderful if she does indeed manage to build the kind of 'rainbow alliance' she will need to take her there. After all, she seems to be the only politician in the country with the gumption - and the political position - to do anything constructive in the matter of caste.
For far too long, the vote-bank politics of reservation has been propagated by politicians as the cure to social and economic backwardness. The political classes - including the communists, with a few individual exceptions - became so greedy in their pursuit of Dalit, ST and OBC votes that they even refused to follow the Supreme Court's order asking for the benefits of reservation to be taken away from the rich among the backward classes. In other words, they wanted sons and daughters of ministers and IAS officers from these classes to corner the benefits intended for the backward.
Behen Mayawati has declared her intent to introduce an economic consideration into reservations. I am unaware of her position on the creamy layer. However, it is a positive start: even the so called communists in this country have refused to introduce economic backwardness as a criterion in determining the beneficiaries of affirmative action. They have justified this plainly daft position by much hocus pocus and mumbo jumbo. If Mayawati can at least remove caste as the sole criterion for determining backwardness, she will perhaps have done more to remove casteism than anyone since Babasaheb Ambedkar.

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