685-crore Dalit park, a Bokkasan style monstrosity

| A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

(October 14, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) At 5 pm Indian standard time today (14 October), the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Ms Mayawati, will inaugurate a park in Noida, that Mayawati claims is a Dalit memorial to symbolise Dalit liberation and power in India. Noida is close to New Delhi, the national capital. It is reported that the park, constructed at the expense of 685 crore Indian Rupees of taxpayers’ money, has more than two dozen statues of Mayawati and her political mentor, Mr Kanshi Ram. The park also has statues of real Dalit icons like Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, in an attempt to justify the expenses or probably to make a statement which Mayawati mistakenly believes, that Mayawati and Ambedkar are of equal standing.

While the Dalits for whom Mayawati allegedly work for continue to live in abject poverty, their votes have made her today a millionaire, from her humble beginnings as the daughter of a postal employee.

Hundreds of Dalits, including Dalit children starve to death each year in Uttar Pradesh, where Mayawati is the Chief Minister. It is estimated that every third Dalit child in the state is malnourished. Yet, spending such money on concrete, marble and granite in constructing what is called a Dalit park, is nothing but a shameful example of criminal wastage of public funds, for which Mayawati should be prosecuted. It is nothing more than a Bokassan style shameless self-indulgence.
While the Dalits for whom Mayawati allegedly work for continue to live in abject poverty, their votes have made her today a millionaire, from her humble beginnings as the daughter of a postal employee. With no other source of reported income other than her salary and allowances as an elected representative, none cares to ask how did Mayawati acquire such wealth.
It is reported that Mayawati has instructed her police officers to refuse registering cases, as much as possible, particularly concerning atrocities committed against the Dalits, so that on records, the administration can claim that during Mayawati’s tenure as the Chief Minister of the state, the crime rate in the state has drastically reduced. Yet, for today’s ceremony, the state administration has arranged for 2,500 policemen. This includes nine Provincial Armed Constabulary companies, 175 traffic policemen, 50 women cops, 1050 police constables, 184 Sub Inspectors, 25 Station House Officers, 15 Superintendents of Police and seven Additional Superintendents of Police. This is in addition to the anti-sabotage units, bomb disposal squads, National Security Guard teams, local intelligence units, fire service units, emergency medical assistance units and the members of the Chief Minister’s security. The mobilisation of these government agencies, just for the day, also involves enormous additional expenses to the public exchequer. None of this indeed will help a bit to improve the condition of the Dalits in Uttar Pradesh or in India. All this apart, the 84-acre project is also allegedly an environmental disaster. However, none of this has deterred Mayawati.
Had the state government of Uttar Pradesh intended to improve the conditions of the poor, in particular that of the socially boycotted Dalits, there are steps the government could have taken. This includes among others: cracking down on corruption in the public food distribution system, which is largely under the control of privileged castes like the Brahmins and Yadavs (many Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav as the Chief Minister); ensuring that the complaints regarding the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes are immediately dealt with; ensuring proper functioning of government schools that would allow the Dalit children to seek and obtain education; guaranteeing that there is no discrimination of the Dalit children and/or their mothers in rural health guaranty programmes; ensuring that the practice of bonded labour in the state that exploits the Dalits is put to an end; ending the evil practice of manual scavenging; and above all, complaints of discriminatory practices against the Dalits are investigated and prosecuted. The state government has done nothing in achieving any of these. Yet, the Chief Minister who heads the government believes, and many Dalit groups concur, that the park Noida would contribute profoundly towards ending caste based discrimination in the country.
To bring about social change, what is required are the tools for social engineering. This includes an administration with the resolve to end the unacceptable status qou of Dalit discrimination and a Dalit leadership who are willing to challenge corrupt individuals like Mayawati on the ground. It also requires a rule of law framework, which includes a functioning policing system and other institutions like the courts which are equipped to deal with crimes like caste based discrimination promptly and effectively. None of this is debated in one of the most lawless states of the country, Uttar Pradesh.
Yet, what it has today is a Chief Minister who wastes public money in constructing memorials and parks filled with her own statues. This is not any investment for the future, but sealing the destiny of some of the most underprivileged in the country. In that, the inauguration of the Dalit park today is the state sponsored celebration of the monstrosity of it.
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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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