People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 05

January 29, 2012


UPA Govt Must Be Made to Walk the Talk


G Mamatha


My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams


IN the run up to the Assembly elections in five states, the UPA II government has announced that it will fill up the backlog vacancies of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Good, atleast now, although with an eye on the elections, it has decided to fill up the backlog posts. Last year, when the parliament held a two day discussion in August on the issues concerning the dalits and the tribals, many members had raised the issue of backlog posts and demanded the government to immediately take steps to fill up such posts. That it took the government about six months, even after the discussion in parliament, to announce the filling of such posts shows its apathy in filling the reserved posts. Earlier too, the UPA government had failed miserably to fill up the backlog of central government jobs despite a special recruitment drive launched in 2008.


The ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions headed by the prime minister, itself has said that the government's success rate in filling the backlog posts has been less than 30 per cent. Of a total backlog of 76,137 vacancies in various ministries, departments and public sector enterprises, the government could fill up just 26,472 in an exercise spread over three years as part of the special recruitment drive.


Take another instance of the UPA government’s apathy towards the dalits. According to the data released recently by the Reserve Bank of India in December 2011, credit disbursements to dalit entrepreneurs dropped by 33.8 per cent this fiscal. The disbursement of credit to dalit entrepreneurs through 20-odd schemes run by the ministry of social justice has dropped to Rs 1,670 crore between April and October this financial year. The ministry had lent Rs 2,524 crore to companies run by members of Scheduled Castes and Tribes during the same period last year. When this is the case with the ministry of social justice itself, then what can one expect from the banks. Although data on bank loans to dalit entrepreneurs are not available, evidence suggests there too, the trend may not be any different.


When credit problems still continue to haunt dalit entrepreneurs, even more so than other businessmen, when disbursement from many schemes — crafted intentionally to provide credit to dalit businessmen — is slowing down, how does the government expect the dalits to make use of its scheme that mandates 4 per cent of all the government procurements from dalit and tribal vendors. The fledgling attempts by hundreds of dalit entrepreneurs to overcome deep socio-economic barriers and break into mainstream business are facing a threat due to the UPA government’s unwillingness to provide adequate credit.


Ironically, these facts are not taken from any private/NGO/external agency surveys, but are taken, as the saying goes, from the horse’s own mouth – the government agencies. In 2010, a National Sample Survey exercise revealed that the percentage of self-employed households among the Scheduled Castes was only 14 in rural areas and 29 in urban areas, compared with 17 and 37 per cent for higher castes. The economic census of private enterprises for 2005 showed a similar pattern. The share of the Scheduled Tribes, the Scheduled Castes, the Other Backward Classes and the higher castes in the total private enterprises was about 2, 6, 30, and 61 per cent respectively in the urban areas, while the figures were 6, 10, 40, and 45 per cent in the rural areas.


These facts reflect a ‘graded inequality’ in the ownership of private enterprise which continues to exist in the Independent India too, even on the eve of the 63rd Republic Day. In the total private enterprise, the share of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes has remained much less than their share in the population. The Scheduled Caste entrepreneurs and the businesses run by them have faced discrimination in accessing some inputs and services, if not all, that are necessary for the production and sale of goods and services.


If at all there is Kolaveri Di (murderous rage), in this country, it should be on this fact – the continuing discrimination and exclusion of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward sections in the society from their rightful share. The government is apt in sympathetically moving its lips and creating illusions among the people for its narrow political interests. This dichotomy between its lips and hands, words and action has to be exposed. The government should be cornered to live true to its words, promises. It should be exposed of its intentions and ‘which side of the class it is’. This can be done only through our intensive and extensive agitations and struggles.