Thursday, December 17, 2009

[ZESTCaste] Fwd: reservation in Private sector : Udit Raj on fast unto death

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Vidya Bhushan Rawat <>
Date: Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 7:34 AM
Subject: reservation in Private sector : Udit Raj on fast unto death

Udit Raj on fast unto death against non implementation of reservation
in private sector

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Jantar Mantar in Delhi is witnessing numerous hunger strikes and fast
unto deaths these days. The Telengana verdict has suddenly focused on
the power of self sacrifice for people's cause. Though essentially a
Gandhian tool, fast unto death is becoming a new instrument to
highlight the issue and compel the 'insensitive' authorities to
activate it.

In the post globalised India, when the government job sector is
shrinking, it is important the challenges are tackled in the new way.
The reservation debate can not remain the same as it used to be. Now,
private sector constitutes a big chunk and the government has itself
disinvested many of its public sector companies. Though Dr Udit Raj
and the organization that he is president off, namely All India
Confederation of SC/ST Employees Associations have always opposed
privatization and globalization, yet they feel that despite their
political opposition, it is time that government accepts their demand
for reservation in private sector.

Associations of SC-ST employees under the banner of Confederation as
well as Indian Justice Party, are sitting on Dharana since November
19th in Delhi for speedy implementation of the quota, particularly
completing the backlogs which are not being promoted. So, far no
government official has visited them. Not a single member of
parliament thought of this issue and political parties have not felt
it an issue to be responded. ' it is rather unfortunate and painful,
feel Dr Udit Raj, who decided to sit on fast unto death for this
cause, which he feel is much bigger than being a prime minister or
chief minister of a state. It empowers the entire community, it is not
for some time and it does not just empower an individual, he

Udit Raj has been in the forefront of campaign to save reservation.
The Confederation has been organizing rallies and protest marches,
meeting ministers, planning commission members, Member of Parliaments
and Group of Ministers. The UPA government formulated a bill in the
fag end of its previous term which was produced in Parliament in
February 2009. It was passed by Rajya Sabha but the Lok Sabha did not
pass it. There were many objectionable points in the bill which again
re-emphasized the issue of 'merit', for the 'creamy' positions. So,
according to the bill, many of the 'expert' positions would not have
reservation in the name of 'compromising' with merit. The
Confederation opposed it but now the government in the new term is not
interested at all to bring the bill. Udit Raj feel that the bill for
ensuring reservation must come in parliament but not in its original
form. They have given their suggestions to the government.

In 2004, when the UPA government came to power, it had a lot of
intention to listen to us. It started a dialogue on this with
industries which were not supportive of quota but promised the
following :

Creating 100 entrepreneur
Supporting 500 professional from SC-ST in better institutions
supporting 10,000 students for coaching.

The prime minister's office had been monitoring this for long but now,
feels Udit Raj, one does not know what the status of these promises
made by the industries. What have industries done so far voluntarily
which they emphasised so much? That is why, he says, we oppose to
these voluntary efforts which end up voluntarily without any

'Now, Congress party does not want to speak on the issue. The Dalit
parties are unable to go beyond their castes and Muslim reservations.
No question is raised in parliament. The issue is completely
suppressed. CII and ASOCHAM, FICCI became proactive against quota and
emphasized on voluntarism again.'

Udit Raj feel that government should bring reservation act in this
session only after correcting anomalies in it particularly no
reservation in class I post in the name of compromise with merit.
Reservation is not a compromise with merit, he says. The government
must implement reservation as per law and there should be no dilution
in it. Now, we have information that it has dropped filling backlog
posts which is in lakhs. Its various departments and bureaucrats are
playing dirty games to stop implementation of reservation.

Udit Raj plunged into politics after much struggle for SC-ST employees
and their rights. But the political games are different. At the
grassroots, lot of issues, contradictions comes up and he too had to
face these dark realities of caste and sub caste. Today he feel
disgusted with all this though he continues to fight. He says '
Fighting for reservation in private sector is most important than
fighting for becoming PM and CM, as it gives strength to entire
community and not one individual. Secondly, it is permanent solution
to our issues and all other positions are time bound and you may not
be there the next time. He gives example of Sahara company which
employ nearly 10 lakh persons. How many of them are Dalits ? If there
is no fixed quota and no constitutional guarantee, there will not be
many SC-STs. They may recruit one or two voluntarily but then who will
stop the discrimination? Most of the HR people in private sector are
dominated by high caste Hindus who have their own prejudices against

'Why has he not been able to get political success', I ask. 'Sub-
castism and blackmoney are the factors that are influencing activists
and leaders today. He complaint against Mayawati government in
Uttar-Pradesh is that it is promoting predominantly belong to one
community and now helping the upper castes. Secondly, due to
consumerism, radicalism is lacking among people. He challenges those
who claim to be Ambedkarites and still promoting their own caste
interests and talks of caste identities. He says that Ambedkar stood
for total 'annihilation' of castes and caste identities do not help
the Dalits at all. It may help them at first one to consolidate but at
the end it helps the upper castes only. Dalits should come together
under one identity of Dalits and not consolidate their own castes, as
it would defeat Ambedkar's broader perspective of a common struggle
against brahmanical system.

He says that those who talk of identity politics among Dalits must
understand the social struggles and movements and should not speak
from ivory towers. 'Do not divide dalits on caste and sub-caste
identities as it will kill the movement? He feels those who are
talking of sub caste identities are actually making irresponsible
statements. They do not face ground reality. They should see it and
then talk. Caste identity helps individual leaders but at the end of
the day it harms. Dalit community is emotional and any appeal on caste
identity is based on that emotion and the political leader is not
responsible for any other work.

One of the major point of our discussion in the Jantar Mantar was
about globalization. What do you think of globalization as many of our
friends perceive it helping the Dalits, I ask. Udit Raj is very clear
on these issues, actually much more then those who claim to have
understood Ambedkarism. He says, not only as an individual but the
Confederation and Indian Justice party is oppose to globalization and
economic liberalization. Initially, some of us felt that globalization
would help change in mindset of the people. People are adopting new
technologies but not really changing their mindset.  Secondly, the
fact is that it is the Dalits and tribal who are losing their
livelihood, their lands, their work, their forest, water and their
jobs. So, how can we be insensitive to not think of this massive
onslaught on our right by them? International corporate works in close
cooperation with their Indian counterparts, so where is Dalits in this
entire agenda. He admits that it is the similar mistake that we made
in understanding communism. We thought caste and class was same but it
did not happen. We felt that the same would happen with globalization
that it would lead to change in mindset and liberate them but mind
never got globlised and upper caste hatred and prejudices remained
same against the Dalits.

Udit Raj also feels that the talks of smaller states are fraught with
danger. How can any body who claim to understand the issue of Dalits
think of dividing Uttar-Pradesh in to so many regions and disempowered
them. Today, Dalits in Uttar-Pradesh are organized and can stand
despite all our differences but if a Harit Pradesh come into being,
will the Dalits remain the same. A Harit Pradesh is nothing but a
dominant idea of a kingdom of high caste farmers who have always
exploited Dalits and been ruthless in their violence against Dalits.
Similarly it will happen in Bundelkhand where the Dalits remain
predominantly landless. Both, western UP and Bundelkhand has high
oppression of Dalits by the powerful farming communities. If these
regions are made states, Udit Raj, says, the Dalits will go back to
their early stages. Situation in Telengana is different then these
areas. In Telengana, there is substantive Dalit presence and they have
been part of the movement for long, fought different battles hence a
demand for a separate state in Telenagna can not be equated to that of
Western Uttar-Pradesh, Eastern Uttar-Pradesh and Bundelkhand. Dalits
will have nothing in their hand politically, if these states come into

Today Udit Raj decided enough is enough. The government does not
listen to the genuine demands of Dalits and their empowerment. One
must not ignore the cause of Dalit representation. Like land,
reservation is a potential weapon to empower the Dalits. It gives them
leverage to power structure. So, far only upper caste used to sit on
fast unto death for their cause, what is wrong with Dalits doing the
same for their cause. It is important Dr Udit Raj as cause of
reservation in these times, when the government is diluting and
political leaders remain conspicuously silent to get upper caste
votes, some body has to do the needful. Time has come for the
government of India to make the private sector accountable for the
cause of Dalits. We must have reservation in private sector. Udit Raj
needs your support for the cause.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Visit my blog at

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