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    No more Mayawati statues?

    by Rumbold on 18th September, 2009 at 4:48 PM    

    The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Mayawati, has been reprimanded by the Indian supreme court for continuing to spend taxpayers’ money on statues of herself throughout Uttar Pradesh. A Dalit (formerly known as ‘untouchables’), Ms. Mayawati commands significant support from many in that group, and her supporters point out the hypocrisy as Congres and other parties build statues of those associated with them. Ms. Mayawati might be labelled a ‘champagne socialist’ were she in this country, as she earnt enough money to pay around 250 million rupees (over three million pounds) in tax for 2007-08.

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    Filed in: Current affairs, India

    6 Comments below   |   Add your own

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    1. Chris Baldwin — on 18th September, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

      Francis Wheen once wrote a column entitled “The People’s Wine is Deepest Red”. I suggest that everyone try to track it down, since it puts the whole “Champagne Socialism” bullshit to bed forever.

    2. Shatterface — on 18th September, 2009 at 6:39 PM  

      I don’t think you should make a statue of anyone who is still alive.

      And that includes the Ken Dodd one at Liverpool Lime Street.

    3. johng — on 18th September, 2009 at 6:53 PM  

      I remember an interview with Mayawati some time ago. She was repeatedly asked by journalists about corruption, her own wealth etc. Her response? “I am not interested in your so called transparency and your so called ‘development’. I am interested in political power. The same kind of political power that you people have. Then see what happens to you”. The demagoguery plays well amongst the Dalit vote base who wonder why it is that her wealth or her political game playing attract so much attention (and the same was true of course of Lalu with his OBC constituency). If much of this is crude demagoguery the kind of backlash you see against Reservations of the upper castes, disengenuously dressed up as liberalism is far more disgusting. Mayawati’s strategy with the statues incidently is that when they are put up in villages the upper castes attack them and her supporters are mobilised. I think it is true that she is a demagogue. But there is a tremendous asymmetry in the way her practices are singled out for criticism. Much recent electoral comment tried to suggest that recent results show that these issues about identity have faded. I doubt that very much. For India watchers EPW had very good articles on the subject and its very worth subscribing to. I very much liked one article on Indian media which contrasted the PLU’s (people like us) and the TRUs (the rest of us) in order to explain why the Mumbai bomb blasts did not lead to an electoral shift to the right. But similarly there are real problems with certain ways of seeing Indian politics which effectively treat all those figures which just so happen to reflect backward caste assertion as the key villains of the piece, and remain largely silent on the stupidities and corruption associated with the ‘people like us’.

    4. Dr Anonymous — on 18th September, 2009 at 11:45 PM  

      Mocking Mayawati for ‘betraying’ the poor or dalits is like mocking Indira Gandhi for ‘betraying’ women’s rights - fair enough, but at least put it in context.

      Aspects of the Indian political system have been and continue to be designed to produce someone like Mayawati. All mass movements of the poor that can be crushed, will be - land reform was never enacted, and 77% of the population live at the margins. In the place of substantively addressing these issues (barring a couple of exceptions here and there, of which NREGA may be one), we get reservations policies that have some, but not nearly enough impact on the majorrity poor and on rapid eradication of casteism.

      If you want a Chief minister to pick on, try Narendra Modi, who was nearly given an award by an offshoot of FT until an outcry was raised that they were giving an award to a butcher.

    5. johng — on 19th September, 2009 at 11:30 AM  

      And the outcry against reservations (as dr anonymous puts it mere palliatives) puts the hysteria of the US Republican right into the shade. The difference is that this outcry is seen by many as in some sense Liberal and progressive. It is not. If you look at employment in middle class professions, the situation is worse then in the US in the 1950s. In such a situation the development of an argument which see’s talk of economic development and civil society as a cheat and brashly puts politics in command suggesting that the abuses of the old elites need simply be turned round to achieve equality: all critiques being treated as disengenuous attempts to protect privilage, has an undeniable plausibility for many. If racism in the US is redefined as having something to do with equality of opportunity, then the attempt to define castism as having something to do with Reservations or people like Mayawati is similarly unbalenced.

    6. Ruchika — on 23rd September, 2009 at 4:56 AM  

      Cheer up my son, buck up my boy,
      You are living in ‘The Land of Joy’.
      You go to school where they do not teach,
      In the House of God, they hatred preach.
      If you have merit, you will sigh and sob,
      If you are backward, you might get a job.
      Out of caste, if you dare to wed,
      Your kith and kin will chop your head.
      If you are honest, in north or in south,
      You will live from hand to mouth.
      If you are wily and your means sinister,
      You are likely to become a chief minister.
      But remember the new maxim, my lad,
      Defection is good, conversion is bad.

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