Tag Archives: Dalit

Indian Untouchable Leader Emerges As Power Figure

The last week has been a rather hectic one for the people of India as its parliament has argued over and finally passed a controversial bill on nuclear energy. During the fractious conflict a new figure has emerged on the political scene, Mayawati, leader of the Dalit community and chief minister of the populous northern Uttar Pradesh state. She has become a symbol of empowerment for the oppressed Dalit group which long has been mistreated and treated like in demeaning ways. As an Indian official in Uttar Pradesh noted: “She may not have achieved much for Dalits on the ground in her past two terms as chief minister, but when she is in power, district officials, police, everyone treats Dalits with more respect.” She rose from the slums, battled discrimination due to being a woman and a
Dalit, gained an education, became a lawyer, and then assumed leadership of the Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP).

Many political analysts believe she has the capability of one day becoming a prime minister of India. Such a victory would be analogous to that of Barack Obama becoming president of the United States of America. One problem is the source of her now considerable wealth, she claims it comes from gifts of those who admire her work, but there is always the possibility in India the money comes from sources of corruption.

A Sad Story Of Children Who Are Bigots!

By her own admission, the luncheons cooked by Phool Jumari Rawat may not always be the tastiest food prepared for school children, but that is not the reason students are refusing to eat the food cooked by this woman. In India, children of the Bibpur Primary and Junior High school near Lucknow have launched a boycott against the school cook because of her food, it is due to the fact Msr. Rawar is a Dalit, a so-called untouchable. As a result, the children claim any food made by her is unclean. Ironically, this year in the state of Uttar Pradesh, a Dalit, Mayawati Kuman, was elected chief minister of the state. The children remain adamant in their refusal to accept any food from an untouchable. A district magistrate, Chandra Bhanu, said the emphasis will now be upon the poor quality of food prepared by Mrs. Rawat as the basis of terminating her employment. One pupil, Shivani Singh Chauhan, commented: “I will not eat anything cooked by that lady. I have heard my family members say that she is from some law caste. So, I b ring my own lunch box.”

Ram Kumar, of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights notes although the chief minister is a Dalit, about 80% of the bureaucracy is composed of upper caste Indians. Mrs. Rawat is a widow with three children and earns a few dollars a day as a cook. “I worked as a labourer. If they remove me from here I will accept my fate and will again work as a labourer.” This is a tragic tale of failure on the part of Indian educators to have multicultural programs that focus on issues of their own society in which people confront bigotry and prejudice. The children of this school should be compelled to bring box lunches. If Mrs. Rawat is fired, then India as a nation loses not merely a bad cook, but the right of humans to be respected for their own humanity. Bigotry will most probably triumph in this school. What a sad tale.