new, rich wisdom on poverty

New Delhi, Sept. 9: For the first time, caste and religion may help determine whether a family should receive poverty benefits if an experts panel’s suggestions are accepted by the government.

The criteria for inclusion in the below-poverty-line (BPL) list ought to be eased for Muslims, Dalits, tribals, the Most Backward Castes and the Other Backward Classes, the committee set up by the rural development ministry has recommended.

at last. somebody seems to have knocked some much needed sense into a small section of planners and policy makers in delhi. measuring poverty and deprivation in purely rupee terms has long been a favorite ploy of this brahminized state. in a country where 93% of the workforce can never claim access to a) regular jobs or b) regular incomes, unless one's parent/s held a job in the organized sector or went to a university (and built a transferable medical, legal or other professional practice) , or left urban immovable property or other assets like bank deposits, stocks, business goodwill etc, or passed on canal irrigated land, how can incomes be the sole, major criterion in measuring poverty? especially when most of india's national income itself is, at best, a very loose estimate? when the government doesn't really know how people make or don't make money, how can it confidently say that it can measure how much money they're making or not making?

what proportion of the brahminized classes, working in the unorganized sector, don't fit the above criteria (listed as exceptions to (b) above)?

some misguided politicians, including people who should know better (like mayawati) very often try to convey the picture that poverty and deprivation are as pervasive among the so-called upper castes of india as among those lower down the caste hierarchy or the minorities. policies proposing 10% to !4% reservations of jobs and seats in educational institutions (of available jobs and seats) for the poor among the upper castes are being mooted.

i had asked this question in the past, more than once: what proportion of the brahminized upper caste population in india is poor? if the poor among the upper castes constitute 10-14% of the total population in the country, then more than 40-93% of them are poor (making them the poorest section among the indian population, in the latter instance). because no reasonable estimate puts their total numbers above 15-25% of the total population of the country.

if poverty or deprivation were to be measured in clearly unmeasurable rupee terms, i wonder what kind of reservations or other benefits the poor among the dalits or muslims should demand? twice their proportion in the total population? or three or four times that, just like the brahminized upper castes? if they followed the example of the brahminized classes, percentage of reservations for only the poor among those sections would be substantially higher (or twice/thrice as high) than the proportion of all dalits or muslims in the total population.

i had said in this post:

seventy percent of indians have little or no basic reading/writing skills. and almost all of them belong to the lower castes, but no one involved in policy-making ever acknowledges the fact that almost all of them belong to the lower castes- euphemisms such as the poor, people below the poverty line etc., serve as effective purdahs. researchers go to great lengths to take the sectarian sting out of the truth, to purify bad statistics with good taste. 80% of india lives on less than a dollar a day. what does that tell you? nothing.
i am glad someone out there agrees with me.


Kiran said...

I read the news report in telegraph. And what surprised me was its focus on Muslims . I have often noticed a tendency among "liberal" north indian caste hindus to focus disproportionately on the urban cultured light skinned Muslims whenever the topic of social justice comes up.

Muslims are of course disadvantaged but there is absolutely no comparison with the dalits, bc etc. Muslims are largely urban, usually well fed, and have a very good presence in glamour, film and other high visibility industry. Is this done to dilute the focus on dailts ?

i dont know whether I am reading too much in to this but this para might help

"Prince Birjis Qadar (Wali of Oudh) urges his subjects in a proclamation dated 25th June 1858 that his government respected the right of religion, honour, life and property, in that order, something the British ostensibly didn’t. Then he explains his claim. ‘Everyone follows his own religion (in my domain). And enjoys respect according to their worth and status. Men of high extraction, be they Syed, Sheikh, Mughal or Pathan, among the Mohammedans, or Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaish or Kayasth, among the Hindoos, all these retain the respectability according to their respective ranks. And all persons of a lower order such as a Sweeper, Chamar, Dhanook, or Pasi cannot claim equality with them.’ Prince Birjis Qadar doesn’t stop here. He twists the knife deeper: ‘The honour and respectability of every person of high extraction are considered by (the British) equal to the honour and respectability of the lower orders. Nay, compared with the latter, they treat the former with contempt and disrespect. Wherever they go they hang the respectable persons to death, and at the instance of the chamar, force the attendance of a nawab or a rajah, and subject him to indignity.’ This is the reality the partition discourse tends to overlook. How much was the support of the Ajlaaf Muslims and the Ashraaf Muslims – the lower and upper crusts – to the Muslim League and the Congress respectively?"


kuffir said...


very interesting link. thanks for sharing.

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