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Mayawati’s message PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 March 2011 00:00
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Elections in Uttar Pradesh may be a year away, but with chief minister Mayawati already in election mode, they could well get advanced. Not only is Mayawati supporting the Jat agitation and encouraging them to take it to Delhi—that’s why the Supreme Court directed both UP and Haryana to ensure they ensured essential supplies to the capital weren’t disrupted—she’s holding back R150 crore worth of subsidies to Tata Motors if its 4,500-worker strong plant doesn’t hire more dalits and OBCs, FE reported yesterday. It’s ironic that at least one of India’s political class, which has shamelessly stoked the reservation flame for decades, looks like he’s getting badly singed. Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is finding that nearly three-fourths of his installed power capacity (1200 MW at Khedar and 1,360 MW at Panipat) is close to shutting down with supplies of coal running out, thanks to Jats stopping trains from moving—the Court said it was constrained to pass its order “having regard to the statements made by the highest functionaries of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh indicating support to the agitation”.

In UP, industrial production, which had picked up last year, is once again in danger of plummeting as investors stay out of the state. Unlike other members of India Inc, who have chosen to pussyfoot around the problem of the government wanting them to take on hiring quotas instead of approaching the courts, Tata Motors has said it will not give in. Taking on a few hundred dalit workers may not cost that much, but Tata Motors’s argument is it will then open itself to similar pressure in the rest of the country—it has put the second phase of its R550-crore expansion on hold. Ironically, the CII survey of hiring of disadvantaged groups among its member companies found the lowest ‘gap’ in hiring was in UP—as compared to the 21.2% population share of SC/ST in the state, 17% of the workers in CII-member firms in the state were SC/ST. Which should tell CII its soft line is only encouraging politicians to ask for more.

There is enough data to show that SCs (indeed, any other group) benefit from education, urbanisation and higher GDP growth—incomes of SC households rose from R22,456 per annum when they were headed by illiterates, data from an NCAER survey in 2004-05 showed, to R85,023 for graduates; R37,615 for rural areas versus R85,000 in big towns; R34,807 for households in agriculture to R99,464 in modern services. Naturally, UP’s low urbanisation and poor GDP growth ensures dalits in the state are doing pretty badly relative to other states. As the capital comes under siege from March 28, as the Jats are threatening, perhaps politicians in the Congress and BJP will also get a taste of what happens when they play with fire. Assuming they’ve stopped playing their childish games by then.

 

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