Thursday, May 19, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Centre mulls special Mahadalit category

Centre mulls special Mahadalit category
May 19, 2011 6:27:41 PM

Usha Srivastava | New Delhi

Set to include them in BPL segment

In a step which can have a major bearing on Dalit politics in the
country and challenge Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's
undisputed hold over her caste people, the Centre is likely to carve
out a special Mahadalit category and include them in the Below Poverty
Line (BPL) segment.

The proposal is expected to come up for discussion before the Union
Cabinet on Thursday. Sources said the Mahadalit category will consist
of those sub-castes from Scheduled Castes which are economically,
socially and educationally most backward in comparison to others and
are landless, homeless and have symbolic representation in Government

The Congress feels that creation of this Mahadalit category will deal
a body blow to UP Chief Minister Mayawati and other Dalit leaders.

This proposal mooted by the Rural Development Ministry could become
part of the BPL census exercise once the Cabinet gave its seal of
approval. An official of the Rural Development Ministry said there was
need to reach out to the most backward and poorest section of Dalits
and this move will ensure their empowerment.

For the first time in 2007, NC Saxena committee report on Below
Poverty Line methodology talked about the need for giving especial
attention to Mahadalits and stressed that they be automatically
included in the BPL list.

Expressing happiness over the Centre's move, Saxena told The Pioneer
that "this will come as a big relief for hundreds of thousands of

On who will be identified as Mahadalits, Saxena said, "those who are
poorest among the poor and most backward among the backwards."

Saxena said Mahadalits are present in large numbers in States like
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Assam.

Bihar is the first State to treat Mahadalits as separate category.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's revolutionary step helped him
isolate his political rival Ram Vilas Paswan in a big way.

Saxena said that while the States will have flexibility to include
certain Scheduled Castes in Mahadalit category, but they will have to
ensure that the BPL sealing fixed by the Planning Commission is not
breached. He said his committee had also recommended exclusion of
'well-off' castes from the list of BPL.

Sources said the exercise to identify people below poverty line will
go hand in hand with caste census and be part of it.

The Cabinet on Thursday is likely to decide on the methodology and
agency to carry out this exercise. The Government will like to
complete it before September to take political advantage in the next
year's elections in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Goa and

Incidentally, hundreds of villages have been identified under Prime
Minister's Adarsh Gram Yojna, of which 25 are in UP. In such villages,
half of the population consists of the Mahadalits.

In October last year, the NAC had suggested inclusion of particularly
vulnerable tribal groups (PTGs), the Mahadalit groups, households
headed by single women or disabled persons or a minor, destitute
households which are dependent predominantly on alms for survival,
homeless and bonded labourers in the priority group for coverage under
the Food Security Act.


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