Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh: Congress Response [1 ed.] 0415563135, 9780415563130

Dalit assertion has been a central feature of the states in the Hindi heartland since the mid-1980s, leading to the rise

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Table of contents :
Dedication
Contents
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Acknowledgements
Introduction: Developmental State, the Dalit Question and Political Response
Part I: The Congress Party: Dominance, Inclusion and the New Dalit Agenda
1. The Congress Party in MP: Origins and Early Patterns of Dominance
2. The Congress Party and the Politics of Social Inclusion: The 1980s and 1990s
3. Formulating a New Dalit Agenda: The Bhopal Document
Part II: Land Reform for the Disadvantaged: An Experiment in Public–private Partnership
4. Formulating the Land Reform Agenda: A Background
5. Public–Private Partnership in Land Reform: The Ekta Parishad and the Joint Task Force
6. Mapping Ground Reality: Implementation of the Land Distribution Programme in Selected Districts
Part III: Moving Beyond Reservations: The Supplier Diversity Experiment
7. Moving Beyond Reservations: The Debate on Affirmative Action
8. New Initiatives in Affi rmative Action: The Madhya Pradesh Experiment
9. Creating a Dalit Entrepreneurial Class: Selected Studies on Supplier Diversity
Part IV: Political Fallout: The Dalit Agenda and the 2003 Assembly Elections
10. The Dalit Agenda, Land Distribution Policy and the 2003 Assembly Elections
Conclusion
Postscript
Glossary
Bibliography
About the Author
Index
Recommend Papers

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Professor Ghanshyam Shah National Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla Dalit assertion has been a dominant feature of the states in the Hindi heartland since the mid-1980s, leading to the rise of political consciousness and identity-based lower caste parties. This book focuses on the different political response of the Congress party to identity assertion in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Unlike in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where, in response to the strong wave of dalit assertion, political parties employed strategies of political mobilization to consolidate dalit/backward votes and capture state power, in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress party attempted to mobilize dalits and tribals by providing them economic empowerment, using state power to improve their socio-economic conditions and provide equality of opportunity. Empirical data from extensive fieldwork based on a re-distributive paradigm is analyzed, which brings to the fore both the potentials and the limitations of the model of 'development from above' in a democracy. It suggests that the absence of an upsurge from below limits the ability of enlightened political elites manning the developmental state to introduce social change and help the weaker sections of society. This book will be of interest to a wide variety of readers—those who are interested in acquiring an in-depth knowledge of Indian states, public policy, identity politics in India, the working of the Congress party in the Hindi heartland, particularly Madhya Pradesh, etc. Sudha Pai is Professor, Centre for Political Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Jacket design by Pinaki De.

912 Tolstoy House 15-17 Tolstoy Marg New Delhi 110 001

ISBN 978-0-415-56313-0

Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

Although there are many studies on dalit electoral mobilization, identity politics and movements, this book is a pioneering empirical work on the impact of state-sponsored welfare programmes to transform the socio-economic condition of dalits and Adivasis in a democratic society. Pai interrogates the capacity of a democratic state to empower the deprived communities of Madhya Pradesh without their political participation from below, like that of UP. The book highlights the dilemmas and limitations of welfare programmes and raises larger theoretical issues related to the capability of the welfare state in bringing about social transformation in favour of the have-nots. The author examines a question: Can welfare programmes be effectively implemented without an upsurge from below and by one political leader without the support of the rank and file of the party?

Pai

In her meticulously researched book Sudha Pai shows up the limitations of the developmental approach taken to dalit empowerment in Madhya Pradesh under the Congress government of Digvijay Singh. Her conclusions—which are of wider, general significance—strongly suggest that in the absence of a political movement from below, from amongst dalits and tribals themselves, efforts by enlightened political elites to bring change from above are liable to be frustrated. This is a first class contribution to studies of dalit politics, and of the Congress party—and particularly of Singh's efforts at building a development state in Madhya Pradesh. Professor John Harriss School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver

SUDHA PAI

DEVELOPMENTAL STATE AND THE DALIT QUESTION IN MADHYA PRADESH: CONGRESS RESPONSE

Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh Congress Response Sudha Pai

LONDON NEW YORK NEW DELHI

First published 2010 by Routledge 912–915 Tolstoy House, 15–17 Tolstoy Marg, New Delhi 110 001 Simultaneously published in the UK by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2010 Sudha Pai Typeset by Star Compugraphics Private Limited D-156, Second Floor, Sector 7, Noida

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library ISBN: 978-0-415-56313-0

In memory of my parents

Contents List of Tables List of Abbreviations Acknowledgements Introduction: Developmental State, the Dalit Question and Political Response

ix xi xv

1

Part I: The Congress Party: Dominance, Inclusion and the New Dalit Agenda 1. The Congress Party in MP: Origins and Early Patterns of Dominance

27

2. The Congress Party and the Politics of Social Inclusion: The 1980s and 1990s 51 3. Formulating a New Dalit Agenda: The Bhopal Document

83

Part II: Land Reform for the Disadvantaged: An Experiment in Public–private Partnership 4. Formulating the Land Reform Agenda: A Background 125 5. Public–Private Partnership in Land Reform: The Ekta Parishad and the Joint Task Force

170

6. Mapping Ground Reality: Implementation of the Land Distribution Programme in Selected Districts

204

Part III: Moving Beyond Reservations: The Supplier Diversity Experiment 7. Moving Beyond Reservations: The Debate on Affirmative Action

287

8. New Initiatives in Affirmative Action: The Madhya Pradesh Experiment

317

9. Creating a Dalit Entrepreneurial Class: Selected Studies on Supplier Diversity

366

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Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

Part IV: Political Fallout: The Dalit Agenda and the 2003 Assembly Elections 10. The Dalit Agenda, Land Distribution Policy and the 2003 Assembly Elections

419

Conclusion

464

Postscript Glossary Bibliography About the Author Index

485 498 509 525 526

List of Tables 4.1 Distribution per 1,000 of Rural Households by Size Class of Land Possessed in MP and All-India 132 4.2 Dispossession of Land after Allotment (up to 1988) 136 4.3 Timetable for Allotment of Charnoi Land to SCs/STs 158 5.1 Government Assistance under the ‘Green Card Scheme’ by September 2002

191

6.1 Land Allotted in Four Selected Districts to SCs/STs under the Charnoi Land Distribution Programme (up to January 2003) 217 6.2 Percentage of Cultivable Pattas Allotted and Beneficiaries in Actual Possession in the Sample Districts 219 6.3 Beneficiaries of Land Distribution in Selected Villages in Morena District, Tehsil Joura (Number and Percentage) 222 6.4 Beneficiaries of Land Distribution in Selected Villages in Shivpuri District, Tehsil Shivpuri (Number and Percentage) 237 6.5 Applications Presented by the EP to the Task Force between September 1, 2000 and March 31, 2001 in Tehsil Shivpuri 244 6.6 Beneficiaries of Land Distribution in Selected Villages in Rajgarh District, Tehsil: Narsingarh, Biora, Rajgarh and Sarangpur (Number and Percentage) 252 6.7 Beneficiaries of Land Distribution in Selected Villages of Gwalior District, Tehsils Bhitarwar and Gird (Number and Percentage) 263 7.1 Social Pattern of Ownership of Business Establishments (Percentages)

299

8.1 Number of Dalit/Tribal Suppliers and Manufacturers Who Have Adopted the 30% SD Policy in 50 Districts of MP (2003–7) 340

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8.2 Targets Set and Achievements in the RDS for the State of MP between 2004 and July 2007 9.1 Dalit/Tribal Entrepreneurs Registered as Suppliers to the State Government Under the 30% Scheme in Bhopal DTIC up to September 15, 2006 9.2 Capital Invested and Annual Production by Dalit/Tribal Entrepreneurs under the Supplier Diversity Policy with DTIC Bhopal (up to September 15, 2007) 9.3 Socio-economic Background of Selected Dalit/Tribal Entrepreneurs in Bhopal 9.4 Investment and Income Gained from Business by Entrepreneurs Registered with the Bhopal DTIC 10.1 Caste-based Voting in the 2003 State Assembly Elections in MP, Post-poll Survey (Figures and Percentages) 10.2 Cases Registered and Arrests by Police in Land Disputes in All Police Ranges in MP

341

370

371 375 376

431 439

List of Abbreviations AICC AP BD BIMARU BJP BKD BLD BPL BSP CED MAP CII CM CMP CP CPI CPI(ML) CPRs CSDS DANIDA DC DCC DTF DTICs EGS EP FICCI GM GO GOI GR HD HDFC HDI

All-India Congress Committee Andhra Pradesh Bhopal Document Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party Bharatiya Kranti Dal Bharatiya Lok Dal Below Poverty Line Bahujan Samaj Party Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Madhya Pradesh Confederation of Indian Industry Chief Minister Common Minimum Programme Central Provinces Communist Party of India Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Common Property Resources Centre for the Study of Developing Societies Danish International Development Authority District Collectors District Congress Committee District Task Force District Trade and Industry Centres Education Guarantee Scheme Ekta Parishad Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry General Motors Government Order Government of India Green Revolution Human Development Housing Development Finance Corporation Human Development Index

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HDR HM IAS IBM ICICI ILO INC INTUC JD JFM JNU JTF KMPP LRU MB MLAs MNCs MP MPCC NABARD NDA NGO NH NHAI OBCs PCC PD PRIA PSP PWD RDS RJD RSS SAP SBI SC SCs/STs SD

Human Development Report Hindu Mahasabha Indian Administrative Service International Billing Machines Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India International Labour Organization Indian National Congress Indian National Trade Union Congress Janata Dal Joint Forest Management Jawaharlal Nehru University Joint Task Force Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party Land Reform Unit Madhya Bharat Members of the Legislative Assembly Multinational Corporations Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development National Democratic Alliance Non-governmental Organizations National Highway National Highway Authority of India Other Backward Castes Pradesh Congress Committee Protective Discrimination Participatory Research in Asia Praja Socialist Party Public Works Department Rani Durgawati Scheme Rashtriya Janata Dal Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Structural Adjustment Programme State Bank of India Scheduled Caste Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Supplier Diversity

List of Abbreviations xiii

SDM SEZs SIDBI SP SRC SSP ST SVD TF TN TWP UGC UP UPA US VP VRS

Sub-divisional Magistrate Special Economic Zones Small Industries Development Bank of India Samajwadi Party States Reorganization Commission Samyukta Socialist Party Scheduled Tribe Sanyukta Vidhayak Dal Task Force Tamil Nadu Total Watershed Planning University Grants Commission Uttar Pradesh United Progressive Alliance United States Vindhya Pradesh Voluntary Retirement Scheme

Acknowledgements In writing this book I have accumulated many debts only some of which can be acknowledged here. I am grateful to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti, New Delhi, for granting me a senior fellowship that allowed me to take time off from my university teaching and undertake this research. My foremost debt is to Professor Mridula Mukherjee, director, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library for her encouragement and for granting me permission to raise the funds required for the fieldwork. I would like to thank the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) for providing the grant for the fieldwork on which Chapter 6 is based. Without the kind help of Dr Ranjit Sinha this would not have been possible. I have thoroughly enjoyed my long and constant discussions with Professor C. P. Bhambhri while this work was in progress and thank him for reading all the chapters and giving very insightful suggestions. Discussions with Chandrabhan Prasad on the Bhopal Document and particularly the supplier diversity programme enabled me to understand the importance of the Dalit Agenda. I owe a special debt to my friend Shyam Babu for reading parts of the manuscript and sparing time on short notice to answer queries about various aspects of the two programmes selected for study. It was a pleasure to interview Mr Digvijay Singh, former chief minister of MP, and discuss some aspects of MP politics and the programmes examined in the book. Not much research has been undertaken by political scientists on the Congress party in Madhya Pradesh since almost the late 1960s. Hence, much of my work is based on discussions and interviews and fieldwork in the state. In Bhopal I would like to thank Mr Sarman Nagele, journalist and editor of the e-paper mppost.org, and his wife for their help and hospitality and introducing me to many government officials. A number of senior bureaucrats, very helpful and accessible at all times, were instrumental in providing me access to government reports and interviews with concerned officers and political leaders. Many members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs)

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who did not want their names mentioned provided an understanding of the working of the Congress party in the state. I am indebted to Dr Nirmala Buch and Dr Buch for their kind hospitality, affection and help in securing government reports whenever I visited Bhopal. I have benefited immensely from long discussions with Dr Amar Singh (IAS) former Secretary to CM Digvijay Singh who, despite his busy schedule, was kind enough to grant me time on Sunday mornings at his house in New Delhi while this work was in progress. Mr Kantha Rao and Mr J. N. Kansotiya were willing to share their experiences as district collectors in Madhya Pradesh during the implementation of the land distribution programme under the Digvijay Singh government and provide data and insights into its working. Mr R. L. Tiwari, general manager, District Trade and Industry Centre (DTIC), Bhopal, spent much time and effort in compiling the data for the supplier diversity programme for the entire state and I am grateful to him as without this input the analysis of this programme would not have been possible. Mr Ajay Singh whom I have not met, most kindly sent me data on the violence that took place in 2003 in Rajgarh district. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank numerous district officials and particularly villagers who were willing to spare time during my fieldwork to discuss the land distribution programme. These discussions provided much of the understanding on which the research is based. Similarly, I am grateful to the entrepreneurs interviewed for sharing their experience of the working of the supplier diversity programme with me. The fieldwork would not have been possible without the support of the Ekta Parishad, a Gandhian organization working for the landless in Madhya Pradesh. I am grateful to Mr Rajgopal, the present head, for a number of discussions with him in Delhi and for providing me support during the fieldwork. My stay at the Gandhi Ashram set up by the Parishad at Joura, Gwalior and Bhopal enabled me and my researchers to undertake fieldwork in the neighbouring villages. Mr Anil Gupta made very efficient arrangements for my stay. Their field staff, Mr Harendra Sharma and Muneesh at Joura, and many others helped in selecting the sample villages and

Acknowledgements

xvii

accompanied us on our fieldwork. I am particularly grateful to Mr Ram Prakash Sharma, Ekta Parishad activist at Shivpuri, for allowing me access to his personal collection of the papers of the District Task Force. I remain grateful to my former colleague Dr Pradeep Sharma for putting me in touch with the Ekta Parishad which enabled me to carry out the fieldwork easily. I am particularly indebted to Ph.D. students Avinash Mishra, Puja and David who accompanied me on the field trips, for their hard work in collecting data, excellent field notes and for making the trips most enjoyable and memorable. It was possible to analyze the working of the supplier diversity programme due to the help I received from Aseem Prakash and the meticulous fieldwork undertaken by him. My family members as always were very supportive and I am grateful to my husband for his patience while this book was being written. Finally, I would like to thank the team at Routledge, New Delhi for their extremely efficient and friendly handling of this manuscript.

Introduction: Developmental State, the Dalit Question and Political Response Historically, the ‘Dalit Question’, that is, the abolition of discrimination against dalits, improving their socio-economic situation and ensuring them a share in political power, has occupied centre stage in Indian politics. Since the colonial period political leaders have put forward various paths for the upliftment of this section, hoping thereby to mobilize them and obtain their support. This issue was the cause of the disagreement between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Ambedkar, which left its imprint on future political debates. Although the Constitution granted reservation and other benefits to the dalits, the issue of dalit upliftment was far from being resolved and has remained a salient question in post-independence India. The Dalit Question is important in the backward states of the Hindi heartland, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, as these states have a significant number of dalits in their population: 21.1 per cent, 16 per cent and 15.2 per cent respectively. In MP, tribals constituting 20.3 per cent of the population also form a significant part of the poor and marginalized sections. Consequently, in the case of MP, the Dalit Question remains incomplete without including the tribals.1 Unlike southern and western India, the Hindi heartland did not experience large-scale anti-caste movements in the colonial period. Dalit consciousness has been comparatively ‘late’ in this region. Levels of political consciousness and sense of identity were low, leading to their occupying a marginal position in the political system. The pattern of mobilization by the Congress in all these states was similar: they formed an important vote bank based on a patron–client relationship, and rising dalit/tribal leaders or movements were subsumed by the Congress party. However, since the mid-1980s the Dalit Question has acquired much greater urgency and political salience in this region. The states of the Hindi heartland have experienced a strong wave of dalit assertion leading to the rise of political consciousness, demands for a share in political power and

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emergence of identity-based lower-caste parties such as the BSP, the SP and the RJD. With the decline of the Congress system and the emergence of a multi-party system based on narrower identities, political mobilization of dalits has emerged as one of the most significant developments affecting politics in these states. Issues concerning dalits such as political empowerment, social justice, protection against uppercaste oppression, economic betterment, continuation of protective discrimination by the state and quotas in reservation have become significant in the politics of every state. All political parties are attempting to gain the support of this social group which in some states has emerged as a ‘Third Force’ that holds the electoral balance between all-India parties in both assembly and national elections (Pai 2004). An analysis of the states of the Hindi heartland shows that driven by both an ideological understanding of the Dalit Question as well as political necessities arising out of democratic politics, different patterns of socio-political mobilization using state power have emerged during the 1990s with significant consequences for dalit upliftment and state politics. In UP and Bihar, in response to the strong wave of dalit assertion that swept the region, the BSP, SP and RJD used strategies of political mobilization to consolidate dalit and backward votes and capture state power. In UP particularly, following the collapse of the Congress, despite the BSP, a dalit party, capturing power, the emphasis has been largely on providing political empowerment through dignity and selfrespect and symbolic policies based on recognition of ‘differ-ence’ and ‘identity’.2 In contrast, in MP, which did not experience assertion- or identity-based movements by dalits and tribals, the Congress party, under Digvijay Singh, initiated a new model of development when it came to power in 1993 based on the human development approach and organized the Bhopal Conference during January 12–13, 2002, which put forward a comprehensive Dalit Agenda. It attempted to mobilize dalits and tribals by providing them economic empowerment. using state power to improve their socio-economic conditions and provide equality of opportunity. In contrast to parties such as the BSP and SP in UP and the RJD in Bihar that used a castebased framework for development, what is specific about MP is that the Congress party used a developmental paradigm.

Introduction: Dalit Question and Political Response

3

The present study is focused on the political response of the Congress party in MP under the leadership of Digvijay Singh to identity assertion in the Hindi heartland. It seeks to understand the reasons underlying the adoption of the Bhopal Document (BD), its ideological underpinnings and proposals for reform that set it apart from earlier policies for dalit/tribal upliftment. Attention is particularly focused on the Dalit Agenda put forward by the BD, which represents a new effort to address the problems faced by dalits and tribals in keeping with liberalization and the emergence of a competitive market economy. The policies and programmes for dalits and tribals put forward in the Agenda and their adoption by a chief minister sympathetic to the needs of the weaker sections and willing to undertake bold experiments, make MP an exception to the general trend of dalit politics in the Hindi heartland. It can be argued that an important reason for the survival, albeit within a two-party system, of the Congress party in MP and remaining in power during the 1990s was to a large extent its ability to respond relatively better to the dalit upsurge and the more competitive political arena that has emerged following the decline of single-party dominance and emergence of narrower parties within a fragmented multi-party system. In brief, this work analyzes the pattern of mobilization employed by the Congress party in MP using state power from above to put into effect programmes for dalits and tribals and thereby widen its support base among them to meet the challenge posed by the BSP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Based on these arguments, through fieldwork in four selected districts of MP, interviews of a selected sample of dalit/ tribal entrepreneurs, political leaders and members of the bureaucracy, and government reports of the period, the aim is to examine the formulation and implementation of two major programmes for dalits and tribals—land distribution and supplier diversity. Although Digvijay Singh had already initiated the former in 1998, these programmes constitute the two most wide-ranging and important programmes for dalit/tribal upliftment announced in the Bhopal Declaration after being discussed at length at the Bhopal Conference. They provide an example of politically directed socio-economic change by the

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leadership of the Congress party in an economically backward state that has not yet experienced large-scale assertion from below. While much research in recent years has been undertaken on programmes introduced by the Digivijay Singh government such as the Panchayati Raj and other decentralization and participatory programmes, health missions and the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS), the land distribution and supplier diversity programmes, which have the potential to directly affect the livelihood of a large section of the disadvantaged population, have remained neglected. The larger underlying question is whether the state can be the major lever of social change for disadvantaged sections such as dalits and tribals in the absence of a strong democratic upsurge from below. Can state-induced change by political elites through policies and programmes targeted at these groups—in some cases with the help of civil society organizations—be a substitute for social movements emerging from civil society? Can elites based on enlightened self-interest introduce change or must there be a complementary demand from below? As the goal of state-sponsored programmes is to mobilize political support, a second, closely related issue, is the nature of the programmes implemented and the capacity of the state—administrative and political—to implement them for the upliftment of the subaltern sections. Third, the impact of these programmes needs to be examined as they impact on state politics. These questions assume significance in the case of MP as the state did not experience a strong wave of identity-based assertion by dalits/backward classes during the 1990s as in UP and Bihar. The magnitude of the defeat of the Congress government in the 2003 assembly elections demonstrates that the political response of the subaltern sections was far from positive. The framework within which these ideas will be explored is discussed in the next section. In recent years there have been a few studies on the Congress party in the Indian states, particularly in the Hindi heartland, a region where the party over the last two decades has undergone tremendous change. This is in contrast to the period from the mid-1960s to the 1980s when a number of studies were conducted on the changes taking place in the organization, leadership and functioning of the party in different

Introduction: Dalit Question and Political Response

5

states (Brass 1965, 1983; Narain 1972; Singh 1975; Sisson 1972; Weiner 1967a; Weiner and Field 1974 and 1975). In the case of MP, as part of one of the first attempts at understanding state politics in independent India, Mayne Wilcox undertook a pioneering work on the integration of the newly formed state of MP, its demography, social structure and socioeconomic and political patterns (Wilcox 1968). A number of studies examined electoral politics in the state in the 1950s and 1960s, instability and coalition governments, the decline of left-wing parties and the rise of a powerful right-wing party, the Jan Sangh, and pointed clearly to the move towards bipartisanship in the state (Ahmed and Singh 1976; Kogekar and Park 1956; Purohit 1975; Wilcox 1968). These were followed by a study that discussed the extent to which the Congress party was successful in the immediate post-independence period in politically integrating the state, which was formed out of a number of disparate regions, and how this contributed to a two-party system (Mitra 1990). These studies were collectively successful in identifying the specificities of political and economic patterns in MP. Subsequently, scholars seem to have lost interest in this large state standing in the middle of the country. There is no separate essay on MP in some of the classic volumes on state politics published during the 1980s and 1990s (Frankel and Rao 1990; Weiner and Field 1974 and 1975; Wood 1984). While a recent essay has compared patterns of mobilization and the response of the Congress party in MP and the BSP in UP to the Dalit Question and programmes in both states for dalits (Pai 2003), there has been little attempt to examine the development of the Congress party and its role in the politics of the state in the contemporary period. Perhaps this is because it did not experience large-scale movements based on either agrarian or caste-based issues as in other states and the old order remained entrenched. Moreover, the state does not enjoy the level of pre-eminence that the state of UP has always held on the national political scene. This study attempts a brief historical narrative of the emergence of the Congress party in MP, its defining features, and particularly focuses on the patterns of dalit/tribal inclusion and mobilization that distinguish it from its counterparts in

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other states of the region. It argues that understanding certain features of the Congress party in MP and the two-party system in which it is placed helps in explaining the alternative approach adopted by the party in the state to the emergence of identity assertion in the Hindi heartland. Thus, the effort is to fill an important gap in the understanding of the Congress party in MP, the reasons for its survival and its developmental agenda for dalits and tribals during a period of assertion from below in the country.

Politics and Social Change: A Framework of Analysis In the prevailing academic literature the role played by the state and societal forces in introducing social change has always been debated. This is particularly true with reference to the developing world where issues of re-distributive change have been central, which makes it relevant to this research. Beginning with theories of modernization and neo-Marxism in the postwar period, importance was given by many scholars to the social determinants—class forces, cultural orientations and interest-group pressures—of the political process (Almond and Verba 1963; Apter 1965; Bendix 1977; Finkle and Gable 1971; Geertz 1973; Moore 1966). Two developments were responsible: behaviouralism in the social sciences reflected in the work of, among others, Talcott Parson (1951), Robert Merton (1959) and Marion Levy (1952), and the formation of a number of new states emerging from colonialism perceived as having ‘a non-western political process’ (Apter 1965). Studies using this framework gave less importance to the role of the state in controlling and at times even transforming social structures and processes. Consequently, in the case of the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, a rich literature focused on the processes of modernization, democratization, industrialization, authoritarianism, culture, development and other aspects of change taking place within society and shaping the political order (Bienen 1967; Binder 1971; Cardoso and Faletto 1979; Collier 1979; Eisenstadt 1966; Hoselitz 1963; Huntington 1968; Philip 1984; Zolberg 1969).

Introduction: Dalit Question and Political Response

7

A good example is the work of Joel S. Migdal that has focused on the relationship between state and society in the Third World. He has argued that the capability of state institutions to penetrate society, regulate social relationships, extract, appropriate or use resources in determined ways was limited because of the existence of ‘strong’ societies (Migdal 1988). More recently, Migdal, in his ‘state-in-society’ approach, is critical of the basic Weberian notion that states are coherent and goal-oriented associations with the means and capability of fulfilling them (Migdal 2001). He argues that actual states in the real world have demonstrated less coherence than their theoretical counterparts, and despite their apparent resources have had great difficulty in transforming public policies into successful social change. Further, that states are fragmented and they face a multitude of social organizations—families, clans, domestic business, multinational organizations, political parties—that maintain and vie for the power to set the rules guiding people’s behaviour. Beginning in the late 1970s, the decline of behaviouralism led to the emergence of literature that brought the state ‘back’ to the centre of analysis of social change (Evans et al. 1985; Goulbourne 1979; Trimberger 1978). This approach argued for the need to move away from a society-centric framework towards a state-centred worldview emphasizing the central role of the state in society. There was a recognized need to improve conceptualizations of the structures and capacities of states, to explain more adequately how states are formed and reorganized and to explore how states affect societies through their interventions—or abstentions—and through their relationships with social groups. The state was now viewed as an independent actor capable of promoting economic development and social redistribution, and dealing with social conflicts. This perspective held that state intervention is an important variable for the study of social change as the logic of state action in society cannot be fully explained by reference to social conditions; political actions, specially the patterns of state intervention, partly reflect political interests and goals, and the political interest and goals are not always synonymous with the interests and goals of social actors.

8

Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

In the developing world one of the important reasons for this shift was the emergence of rapid industrialization in the newly industrializing countries (NICs), namely South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, which prompted scholars to take a closer look at the role of the state in this process in these nations (Amsden 2003; Wade 2004) as well as reopen the debate on the role of the state in Japan (Johnson 1982). A number of scholars began to employ this statist perspective for the study of individual states and comparative studies, providing it greater centrality (Bates 1981; Carnoy 1984; Nordlinger 1981; Skocpol 1979; Stepan 1978). Alfred Stepan most clearly views the state as a set of administrative and coercive institutions headed by an executive authority, while Eric Nordlinger focuses on the individuals occupying positions in state institutions. Much of the literature on the role of the state and society in social change discussed earlier is based on empirical analysis of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and East Asia. It drew upon data from the weak state in Africa due to continuation of tribal values (Wallerstein 1967), bureaucratic and other forms of state authoritarianism and militarism in Latin America (O’Donnell 1973) and the ‘embedded autonomy’ of the state in countries in East Asia (Evans 1995). Our argument is that India does not ‘fit neatly’ into either of these approaches used to investigate social change in the developing world. Unlike in many other parts of the developing world, in India, together with state and society, there is a third variable that needs to be taken into consideration. This is the presence of democracy—a democratic state structure interacting, and at times coming into conflict with gradual democratization in society. The Constitution established a democratic state that was expected to introduce social and economic change. Centralized planning, land reforms, industrialization and a public sector gave the Nehruvian state control over the commanding heights of the economy. However, with the inauguration of the Constitution a long-term process of democratization also began that has in turn, even during the Nehruvian period, determined state activity in many ways. With the quickening of democratization during the 1980s and 1990s there has been social deepening of democracy and demands from below that have further impacted upon state activity. Despite liberalization

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of the economy, there remains a dialectical relationship between state and society, the two constantly throwing up new political patterns. As a result of this difference, research on social and economic change in India has avoided the ‘rigidities’ of frameworks drawing on modernization or neo-Marxist dependency or subsequent state-centric theories to delineate the role of political authorities in socio-economic change (Kohli 1987: 18). Both the political and social aspects of change have been taken into consideration. This is seen in the work of a number of scholars such as Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph, Francine Frankel, Myron Weiner, Paul Brass, Baldev Raj Nayar and Rajni Kothari. The Rudolphs present a society-centric explanation for the loss of autonomy of the Nehruvian socialist state and its degeneration into a ‘state for itself’, the focus being on increasing demands from society (Rudolph and Rudolph 1987). Kohli, whose work is often described as falling into the genre of state-oriented scholarship (Kohli 1987, 1988, 1991), in an early work argues that political structures and process result from a ‘partially autonomous logic—a political logic that is not reducible to or derivable from social variables’. He adds that such a stand does not imply embracing a political determinism in exchange for a social one, but it suggests conceptualizing the state and society as being in mutual interaction and ‘the role of the state in development partially as being conditioned by socio-economic conditions and partially as reflecting the autonomous choices made by political authorities’ (1987: 21). Later, analyzing India’s democracy, he argues that this is best done from a perspective that highlights ‘state-society interaction’ (1988: 11); while he invokes Huntington’s concept of institutionalization he also provides socio-economic explanations of the crises of governability (1991: 24). Similarly, John Echeverri-Gent, in his study on public policy for the poor in India and the US, elaborates a conceptual framework for analyzing state–society relations beginning from the premise that policy implementation, as the site of tangible exchanges between state and society, provides strategic interaction among self-interested individuals, social groups and bureaucracies. The study demonstrates how this interaction can be harnessed to enhance the effectiveness of public policy (Echeverri-Gent 1993).

10 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

In recent years, against the backdrop of globalization, a number of studies have in different ways employed a state– society framework to understand transformative changes taking place in India. Leela Fernandes’s work shows how the politics of the new middle class thrown up by globalization is shaped in significant ways by its relationship with a range of state strategies and practices; the state itself being involved in the making and management of the new middle class, determining its boundaries and its new vision of the Indian nation. At the same time democratic politics, particularly ‘civic life’, has also been responsible for the construction of this class, its practices and ideas (Fernandes 2007). In the context of the emerging market economy, Aseema Sinha has examined the interactions, policies and politics between the central state and regional elites based in the three states of Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. She argues that the developmental failure of the Indian state is a product of central–local interactions and political choices made by regional elites (Sinha 2006). In sum, a focus on state–society relations does not do away with the old debates between developmentalists and the Marxists; both could still differ over the relative importance of culture, class and values as well as that of class conflict and economic interests. However, in the Indian situation neither set of variables is decisive. The task of empirical analysis, as in this research, is to explore the various aspects of the mutual interaction between society and the state. Against the backdrop of this discussion the following framework is employed: the state is conceived as a developmental actor attempting to introduce change from above for disadvantaged social groups, but its role is examined within the given social conditions. As the aim of the state is to redistribute scarce resources, state autonomy would mean the ability of state actors to insulate themselves from powerful, propertied social groups, but equally important, to be able to use state power to consciously introduce politically directed socio-economic change in an unequal society. However, an additional variable in the study is that the state, in its efforts to introduce change, entered into partnership with a civil society organization and used approaches and methods outside

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the state structure. This was to overcome weaknesses within its structure and in keeping with liberalization that brought the market and civil society into the process of development. Second, in terms of motivation, state-initiated development is viewed as less of demand from below and more of a political goal to be fulfilled by political elites interested in introducing change out of enlightened self-interest, felt needs and political necessity. Such actors could face opposition from powerful groups opposed to change and little support from the groups for whom it is intended. Third, the nature of the political elite determines the policies and programmes of development meant for the upliftment of disadvantaged groups. Individual state actors play a central role in formulating and implementing social change and their role is evaluated in this work. Fourth, the capacities of state institutions and personnel— both administrative and political—determine the nature and extent of change that can be introduced through implementation of policies and programmes for disadvantaged groups from above. Low state capacity or political opposition from within the ranks of the political elites can limit the extent of change that can be brought about despite the progressive nature of the policies selected. Finally, outcomes are important, as the aim is to obtain the political support of the groups for whom the programmes are implemented without which political elites would not be able to remain in power and their goals would remain incomplete. Thus, the focus is on the developmental role of the state for disadvantaged groups, but this is done keeping in mind the powerful social forces that enhance or constrain its role and thereby help shape the outcomes. This framework is applied to the analysis of MP in the next section.

Dalit Question and Political Response: The Congress Party in MP In MP the Congress party, while in power under the leadership of Digvijay Singh from 1993 onwards, introduced a state-sponsored model of development with programmes for weaker sections leading to the Dalit Agenda at the Bhopal Conference in January 2002. A central argument is that the

12 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

Congress leadership in MP showed better understanding of the process of democratization and decline of the Congress system in the Hindi heartland. The party leadership here quite early exhibited greater adaptability to the changing political configurations in the state and in the region, and second, displayed enlightened self-interest, that is, both an understanding of the need to address the problems of the disadvantaged sections and the necessity to strengthen the base of the party among them. In the immediate post-independence period the Congress party had the support of the dalits and tribals in all the states of the Hindi heartland. However, from the late 1960s the policies of the Congress party in MP towards these two groups diverged markedly. This was because in MP the period of single-party dominance was brief due to establishment of a competitive two-party system by the end of the 1960s. At independence the Congress party in MP was able to absorb the smaller opposition parties on the left but it was not successful in the case of the Jan Sangh that had strong roots in the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS formed in the colonial period. Consequently, over the first two decades after independence, a clear social and regional division took place with each party having its strongholds, leading to a twoparty system. Competition with the Jan Sangh pushed the Congress to adopt a more progressive image in the 1970s. It portrayed itself as a radical socialist force standing against a party representing traditional forces of reaction; identified in the attempts to spread literacy, improve the lot of the poor and abolish privy purses. When the Congress party returned to power in 1980, it felt the need to adopt a conscious policy of state intervention to strengthen the declining base of the party among the dalits and tribals and also meet the competition posed by the newly formed BJP. From the mid-1980s there was greater urgency due to the growing dalit assertion in the northern plains. These reasons underlie Arjun Singh’s bold initiative to vigorously implement a series of developmental/welfare programmes including increased reservations for disadvantaged sections during 1980–85 and again in 1988–89 when he was chief minister. Implemented prior to the Mandal movement and just

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as dalit assertion was beginning in the Hindi heartland, these policies—conspicuous by their absence in UP and Bihar— were therefore state-led reforms from above by self-interested political elites despite the absence of pressure from below. This legacy of radical programmes and linkages with the lower castes/classes was taken forward by Digvijay Singh when the party came to power in 1993, culminating in the adoption of the Dalit Agenda at the Bhopal Conference in January 2002. He was driven by both the political imperative to sustain the base of the party among these social groups and, as the many programmes implemented during his tenure indicate, a commitment to improve their socio-economic condition. The Dalit Agenda, therefore, was a strategy of ‘political containment’ on the part of the Digvijay Singh government, that is, an attempt to retain the support of dalits/tribals in MP during a period of a strong wave of dalit assertion in the Hindi heartland led by the BSP. Consequently, the role played by Digvijay Singh during his two terms in power, different from most chief ministers of the period in the northern states, has been controversial and evokes strong feelings of both appreciation as well as criticism. As Gail Omvedt has pointed out, in contrast to Mayawati’s symbolic policies built around self-respect and dignity, it was a Congress leader, and ‘a Thakur at that’, in a conservative state, who decided to provide programmes for the economic upliftment of dalits.3 James Manor has held that the various policies ‘taken together— despite some failures and many ambiguities— constitute an impressive developmental record’ (Manor 2004: 23). Commenting on the supplier diversity policy, Shaibal Gupta has argued that while it ‘marked a definite radical departure from the state initiated efforts of the past’ the neglect of the required parallel process of economic development, particularly the expansion of the market, hampered such programmes (Gupta 2005: 5097). Shashank Kela more critically argues that while Digvijay Singh introduced a number of programmes such as Panchayati Raj, the Education Guarantee Scheme and land distribution, his government introduced ‘no real change’ at the ground level for the people. In the case of the panchayats particularly, he points to a tiny elite in each caste group that has got integrated into the system and benefited (Kela 2003: 2815).

14 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

Rather, it can be argued that placed in a state with a traditional and feudal society, dominated by the upper castes/ classes and former princely rulers that had not yet experienced movements among the dalits, tribals or backward classes questioning the power of the upper castes/classes, or agrarian mobilization, Digvijay Singh’s role was that of an upper-caste/ class ‘reformer’ interested in introducing change from above and obtaining the support of the subaltern groups, rather than a lower/middle-caste political leader such as Mayawati or Laloo Prasad Yadav responding to and harnessing a strong democratic upsurge from below. The Congress party, under his leadership, was keen to provide economic upliftment to the dalits and tribals in order to gain their support, rather than mobilizing them for political empowerment. Moreover, Digvijay Singh was constrained by his own party members, including ministers, who, while recognizing the need to obtain the support of the lower orders in a period of assertion, were unhappy at many of the changes he was attempting to introduce, particularly, as we shall see, land distribution. The nature of the response of the Congress party in MP to the Dalit Question that is, the programmes formulated by the Bhopal Document (BD), was also markedly different. The two major programmes selected by the Digvijay Singh government: distribution of charnoi or common grazing land to landless dalits and tribals, and particularly supplier diversity, which gave them a 30 per cent share in all government supplies, were in keeping with the ‘post-Durban’ and ‘post-liberalization’ period in which traditional policies of reservation were no longer viewed as useful as in the past. It is for this reason that the BD has described it as ‘one of the most creative responses to the emerging challenges of the new global order’ as it ‘sought to liberate the dalit imagination from the grip of a job reservation framework’ (Nigam 2002: 1190). The implementation of these programmes by the Digvijay Singh government was also different and innovative. State interventionism in MP took the form of a partnership between a committed political leadership, a dalit/tribal intellectual class that provided a blueprint for action and a dedicated and efficient senior bureaucracy at the state level and in some districts selected by the chief minister. Besides this, Digvijay Singh used

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structures outside the state such as the mission approach and public–private partnerships with civil society organizations such as the Ekta Parishad. Finally, the political response of dalits and tribals to the state-sponsored Dalit Agenda and its impact upon state politics was also different in MP. In UP, identity-based mobilization by the BSP in the 1990s led to the consolidation of dalit votes behind it, and more recently, in 2007, in obtaining a majority and forming a government on its own. In contrast, in MP in the 2003 state assembly elections the Congress party, from a stable majority in 1998, was reduced to just 38 seats and its vote share came down from 40.5 per cent to 31.63 per cent. Most commentators pointed to the lack of vital infrastructure, namely, ‘B.S.P.’, that is, ‘Bijli Sadak Pani’ (power, roads and water); others to poor implementation of developmental policies; or, anti-incumbency as the party had been in power for a decade. Analysis of the electoral campaign of 2003 suggests that the Dalit Agenda, particularly the land distribution programme, contributed significantly to the defeat of the Congress party at least in some parts of the state. The land distribution programme raised political consciousness and aspirations among dalits and tribals, but it did not lead to assertion and a groundswell of support from below for the Congress party. Equally important, Digvijay Singh’s efforts to strengthen the support base of the Congress party among the dalits and tribals through redistributive/welfare programmes ignored the rising aspirations of the powerful OBCs, thereby increasing the already existing antagonism between these two upwardly mobile and ambitious caste groups. These developments provided the BJP an opportunity to fan the discontent in the countryside among both the dalits and the OBCs against the government, through a well-organized campaign with the help of the RSS and the Bajrang Dal, contributing to the defeat of the Congress party. These developments bring us back to the central question whether state-sponsored reform from above by political elites can be a substitute for social movements among the disadvantaged sections in a still conservative and feudal society.

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Dalit Agenda: ‘Charting a New Course’ for the 21st Century The BD, discussed at the Bhopal Conference of January 12–13, 2002 represents a significant milestone in the dalit movement in the country. It was the first time that an all-India conference brought dalit and tribal intellectuals and activists together to discuss the problems facing their communities and put forward suggestions in keeping with changes in post-independence society and polity. The Dalit Agenda represents a new intellectual effort by an educated, politically conscious, post-independence generation of dalit/tribal intellectuals/activists with a new vision for the upliftment of their communities. The BD has significance for the Indian democracy beyond its immediate political impact. Unlike documents in the past it is not merely a list of new policies for dalits/tribals to be provided by the state. It introspects upon larger issues such as the relationship between caste and Indian democracy, and whether without removing this hierarchical and oppressive institution India can become a substantive and not merely a procedural democracy. Yet at the same time it recognizes that in the course of progress towards this goal, a balance is required between the need for maintaining the universal values of democracy and the specific discourse of caste. Too much stress on the caste question can lead to differences with groups who could be allies in the democratization of civil society. At the same time the BD is a product of the period in which it was conceptualized, and recognized the need to frontally address two seminal developments in the Indian polity: the rising demand for social justice, and the impact of liberalization of the economy upon dalits and tribals. During the 1990s the politics of social justice became very important in the Hindi heartland with the rise of parties such as the BSP demanding that dalits must receive a share in the fruits of post-independence justice. The earlier discourse of social welfare where the state generated the resources to be distributed had become exhausted. With the onset of liberalization as the economic imperative, a ‘new distributional coalition’ was required (Mehta 2005). In this situation, charting a path away from the politics of identity, the BD questions whether political mobilization or

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capture of state power can help dalits and other weaker sections. Arguing for the need to move beyond symbolic politics to policies that can introduce genuine improvement in the economic condition of these communities, it suggests alternative ways of making direct links between liberalization and dalit empowerment by introducing affirmative action policies and programmes based on diversity. This would bring dalits, a key constituency in redistributive politics, into the market. A market-based economy, it was argued, will prosper only if we overcome existing social and economic contradictions, that is, discrimination and oppression of dalits. Thus, the authors of the BD differentiated themselves from the proponents of political mobilization in the electoral arena based on identity politics; at the same time they did not espouse radical or revolutionary change. These ideas led to a convergence of outlook on the Dalit Question between the authors of the BD and the Congress leadership in MP, making the Bhopal Conference possible. Both sides were keen to introduce orderly state-supported change and development rather than political mobilization and conflict as in UP or Bihar. Thus, the BD is a ‘middle-class’ document; the ideas and policies expressed in it were different from those of the BSP that propagated mobilization based on identity. Economic empowerment through the combined help of the state and civil society was to be through evolutionary and not revolutionary channels, by breaking the linkage between caste and traditional occupations and neutralizing those sections of the upper castes that do not support the caste system. This made it attractive for Digvijay Singh who was open to new ideas that would lead to both the upliftment of dalits and tribals and increase their support for the Congress party. Three salient features characterized the BD, distinguishing it from earlier attempts at the upliftment of dalits and tribals. With the retreat of the state and older forms of protective discrimination losing importance, it recognized the need to forge a ‘new consensus on the Dalit Question’ in keeping with the emerging market economy and polity and higher levels of political consciousness arising out of the process of democratization Second, the BD reflected the ongoing debate

18 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

in the country on the continued usefulness of older policies of reservation following liberalization and the need to bring in policies of affirmative action involving the private sector and the market. While it did not advocate removal of traditional statist policies for dalits and tribals such as land distribution, welfare, protection and reservations, it critiqued them as narrow, poorly implemented and creating over-dependence on reservations for dalits/tribals as the main instrument of progress. Third, while the Dalit Agenda gave an important role to the state in evolving the new consensus and in implementing fresh policies for dalits and tribals, more room was given to the private sector. The BD put forward new programmes based on the twin principles of diversity and democratization such as SD that would involve the private sector and were deemed suitable to the emerging market economy. They would lead to ‘democratization of capital’ and provide ‘economic empowerment’ to educated unemployed dalit and tribal youth, enabling them to enter into business/industry and thus creating a dalit/ tribal entrepreneurial and business middle class. At the same time, the Bhopal Declaration issued at the end of the Conference represents a consensus evolved out of out many different shades of opinion among the participants. The recommendations made by the Bhopal Declaration were a compromise between participants who believed that older policies such as providing land to the landless and reservation remain important, vis-à-vis those who believed that in the era of globalization the introduction of new programmes bringing in the private sector and the market was required.

Two Experiments under the Dalit Agenda The land distribution and SD policies implemented by the Digvijay Singh government constituted two public policy experiments for dalits and tribals during a period of globalization when most governments were moving towards a neoliberal agenda. While the former was meant for the poorer dalits in rural areas, the latter was for educated-unemployed dalits residing mainly in urban areas. Digvijay Singh’s attempts can be described as initiating ‘reform from below’, that is, targeted at disadvantaged groups at the bottom, compared to the economic reforms carried out by Chandrababu Naidu

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and S. M. Krishna. Considering the importance that land and the issue of reservation versus affirmative action has assumed in recent years, these policies have unfortunately not drawn the attention of scholars and have been forgotten following the defeat of the Congress party in the 2003 MP assembly elections.

The Land Distribution Programme The significance of the land distribution programme implemented by Digvijay Singh needs to be understood against the increasing political salience this scarce resource has acquired in recent years. In the 1990s many studies reported that economists were arguing that land reform legislations were no longer useful and had become institutional constraints to the growth process (Sinha and Pushpendra 2000). Beginning with Karnataka in 1995, many state governments introduced a range of market-oriented policies such as reversal of land reform/protection policies and encouraging private agribusiness companies that produced cash crops for the domestic and international markets (Panini 1999). In keeping with this shift the main goal of the Draft National Agricultural Policy announced by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government on July 28, 2000 was to make agriculture an industry. More recently, however, the issue of land as a means of livelihood for the poorer sections has assumed centrality as seen from the violent incidents in Nandigram in West Bengal, agitations by tribals in Orissa against grant of land to foreign companies in January 2006 (Das 2006) and unrest over alienation of public lands granted to the disadvantaged in Andhra Pradesh (Balagopal 2007). The attempt to establish Special Economic Zones (SEZs) by private industry has also generated widespread protest, with the central government ruling that it would not help private companies acquire land and no acquisition would be allowed without consent of the local farming and other communities involved. Since the early 1990s, a salient debate underlying the land distribution programme in MP has been on the type and nature of land reform policies that could improve the condition of the weaker sections including dalits/tribals. Many economists, civil society organizations/non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

20 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

and social workers have argued that in MP, in the absence of industrial development, land constitutes the only form of security and livelihood for dalits and tribals. Arguing that it is the only method to fight rural poverty, the Ekta Parishad put tremendous pressure on the Digvijay Singh government to draw up a comprehensive programme of land reform. On the other hand, some scholars, while advocating land reform, with the experience of the past, today no longer emphasize on distribution of land alone, but on addressing a number of associated issues: the quality of land distributed, supply of necessary inputs, linkages with credit, low productivity, lack of irrigation, absence of land records, need for strategies for dryland agriculture, etc. These need to be simultaneously and speedily addressed if the beneficiaries of the programme are to obtain a sustainable livelihood. The existing literature also points to shortage and conflicts over common grazing lands that the state government distributed as part of the land reform programme. From this debate two key issues emerge regarding the formulation of the land distribution policy by the Congress government: the feasibility of distributing land without the necessary accompanying policies for improving it, and the economic and social viability of distributing small amounts of charnoi land to landless dalits and tribals. These issues have importance beyond MP for states dependent on agriculture, particularly those situated in the Hindi heartland.

The Supplier Diversity Programme The importance of the SD programme stems from the contemporary debate, following globalization of the economy, on the need to move from traditional policies of protective discrimination to those based on affirmative action. So far the debate has mainly focused on affirmative action in higher education for dalits, tribals and OBCs and attempts to provide feasible alternatives to caste quotas.4 Some scholars describing changing labour market dynamics have argued that due to caste discrimination, despite modernization of the economy, the best jobs in the advanced sectors such as information technology (IT) have gone to the upper castes, making reservations for disadvantaged groups imperative (Mohanty 2006).5 But there are hardly any theoretical or empirical

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studies related to market discrimination based on caste and other group identities and their differential outcome. Some elaboration of the concept of discrimination has come from mainstream economics in the context of race and gender (Dalton 1999). Amartya Sen (2000: 10–13) has also argued that social exclusion results in ‘capability deprivation’ due to exclusion from social relations which can lead to other relational deprivations such as lack of education, employment, and exclusion from markets leading to economic impoverishment, which limits opportunities. A recent study attempts to develop a concept of caste-based economic discrimination, and market discrimination in particular, and relevant indicators for its measurement by carving them out of the larger concept of social exclusion which is multi-dimensional as it encompasses deprivation through exclusion in multiple spheres (Thorat 2009a). Another, using a three-fold criteria to measure the incidence of market discrimination, argues that market relationships are determined by structural, resource and normative logic of the dominant agents in the market who belong to the dominant upper castes, leading to high losses in terms of opportunities, income and confinement to low income sectors for dalits (Thorat 2009b: 138–44). However, much of the data is on labour discrimination experienced by landless labour in rural areas, in irrigation and land markets and access to common property resources (CPRs). Clearly, there is a need to develop frameworks for understanding the manner in which market discrimination works to keep dalits and tribals from participating in business and industrial sectors of the economy. The rich empirical data provided in this research, based on interviews of selected dalit and tribal entrepreneurs, could contribute to such an endeavour. Accordingly, an attempt is made to explore whether the policy of SD in an increasingly globalizing economy has the potential to create, over time, a business/industrial entrepreneurial dalit/tribal class that could produce significant changes within these communities. Unlike the land distribution policy, SD did not generate controversy, affected a smaller number of people, was easier to implement and has become an established state policy in MP for dalits and tribals. But some conditions are required if the policy is to benefit a larger

22 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

number of dalits/tribals, such as the presence of a sympathetic political leadership and committed bureaucracy that would help struggling dalit/tribal entrepreneurs adopt the policy and deal with the caste bias and monopoly practices of the traditional suppliers. Second, creating an entrepreneurial business class among historically disadvantaged groups, a ‘big push’ is required on the part of the government for the policy to actualize its full promise. So far such efforts to bring dalits/ tribals into the market economy have been ‘too feeble’ (Gupta 2005: 5097). It is for these reasons that many dalit intellectuals/ activists present at the Bhopal Conference were keen to use the opportunity to initiate a public debate on policies like SD that they felt have the potential to create an entrepreneurial business class among dalits/tribals. The Indian state they held should nurture and encourage private dalit business/ industrial enterprises, just as it has helped upper-caste Hindu industrialists both in the period of planning and now of globalization, to establish themselves. Equally important, with the retreat of the state, SD could be a viable alternative to reservations in the private sector. Only through such policies could the growing number of educated-unemployed be brought into the organized economy and their socio-economic condition improved. In sum, the narrative in the preceding sections shows that the study employs the hypothesis of state-led development— the use of political power to introduce change from above for weaker sections. But the working of the state is analyzed in the context of the society in which it is embedded, its ability to retain its autonomy in the face of powerful vested interests. Using this framework it generates empirical data from extensive fieldwork-based analysis of the implementation of two public policies based on a re-distributive paradigm, which bring to the fore both the potentials and the limitations of the model of development from above in democracy. The study suggests that the absence of an upsurge from below limits the ability of enlightened political elites manning the developmental state to introduce social change and help the weaker sections of society. These findings have relevance beyond MP for states in India where the process of politicization of the lower orders is gaining momentum.

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Notes 1. The Bhopal Conference held by the Congress government in MP in January 2002 put forward programmes for both. In our study the impact of selected policies and programmes will be examined on both dalits and tribals. 2. More recently, after attaining a majority in the 2007 state assembly elections and forming a government on its own, the BSP has put forward an economic agenda for development of all regions and all castes/classes in the state. However, it remains to be seen if it is implemented and important continuities remain from the past (Pai 2009). 3. Thakurs in the Hindi heartland have traditionally been oppressors of the dalits. This explains Omvedt’s statement. (Omvedt 2003: xvi). 4. See special issue on ‘Reservations in Higher Education’, Economic and Political Weekly, Volume 41, Number 24, June 17–23, 2006. 5. See special issue on ‘Caste and Economic Discrimination’, Economic and Political Weekly, Volume 42, Number 41, October 13–19, 2007.

Part I: The Congress Party: Dominance, Inclusion and the New Dalit Agenda

1 The Congress Party in MP: Origins and Early Patterns of Dominance Madhya Pradesh has been one of the major bastions of the Congress party in the post-independence period in the Hindi heartland. The origin and establishment of the INC in the colonial period and its early pattern of dominance vis-à-vis the lower castes and tribals, has been similar to the other states of the region particularly UP, Bihar and Rajasthan. The leadership of the party both in the colonial and post-colonial period in this region has been from the upper castes, but it has been able to gain the support of the lower castes/tribals, albeit through the system of patron–client relationships, which made them a vote bank of the party. Social and political consciousness among the disadvantaged groups has been low until recently with no large anti-caste movements in all these states compared to southern and western India. However, the Congress party in MP exhibited some specific characteristics in the post-independence period that distinguished it from its counterparts in other states of the Hindi heartland: traditional upper-caste leadership but with a strong feudal element, region-based factionalism and the early establishment of a two-party system. Legacies of the colonial period, the first two were due to the socio-political context in which the party arose, the manner in which the Central Provinces and later the state of MP was formed, its social structure, the process of elite formation and the resultant patterns of mobilization. The third is due to the rise of rightwing organizations such as the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS in the CPs, which laid the basis for the Jan Sangh and later the BJP. The importance of these features lie in the fact that they helped shape the differential response of the Congress party in MP to the dalit upsurge beginning in the 1980s across the north Indian plains.

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Accordingly, an attempt is made to trace the rise and establishment of the INC in the erstwhile CPs, the impact of the formation of the new state of MP and the nature of the Congress party in the immediate post-independence period. While a traditional and hierarchical outlook due to the leadership being in the hands of the upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, is a feature of the Congress party in the Hindi heartland, in MP, two accompanying features are a strong feudal orientation due to the former princely rulers comprising the Thakurs and Rajputs and the important position occupied by the Banias or trading castes. These features have been responsible for the continued dominance, after independence, of the landed and trading upper castes/classes and former princely rulers and jagirdars in all political parties, including the Congress. Another important reason is that the OBCs, dalits and tribals, despite their substantial number in the population, were not politically active. This is because the process of democratization in MP has been slow compared to the other states of the Hindi heartland, leading to low levels of political consciousness and absence of mobilization. Factionalism has been a feature of the Congress party in all the states of the Hindi heartland, but in MP it is region-based, that is, between leaders based in distinct regions of the state. Dating from the colonial period, it is a product of the manner in which diverse regions were brought together to create the erstwhile CPs and later the new state of MP. Mayne Wilcox, writing in the 1960s, held, ‘MP was formed because there seemed to be nothing else to do with its constituent parts … the state was not created on the basis of an indigenous demand and its constituent units in fact possessed almost no political affinity … the parts of the state are greater than the sum’ (Wilcox, 1968: 128, 132). Factionalism has allowed different factional leaders to co-exist and helped in the survival of the party in MP, albeit within a bipartisan political structure. But high levels of self-destructive factionalism have weakened the party, necessitated constant intervention by the central Congress leadership and effectively undermined the space available for dalit and tribal leaders. There has been little effort to make vertical alliances or to give dalit and tribal leaders

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positions of power and responsibility; most have been co-opted as pliant followers of upper-caste leaders. Factionalism, in short, has reinforced the traditional outlook of the party, as it is a struggle for position, power and patronage within the party. Region-based factionalism also contributed to the early formation of the two-party system as Congress factions could capture only certain core regions where the party was well established since the colonial period, leaving the others to the Jan Sangh and later the BJP. Bipartisanism has supported the conservative character of the state. Both the Congress and the Jan Sangh/BJP remain traditionalist forces that have reinforced the elitist character of the society and polity. A bipartisan political system also made it imperative for the leadership of the Congress party beginning in the 1980s to co-opt dalit and tribal leaders into the party and government and implement numerous policies and programmes for their upliftment using state power ‘from above’ in a bid to strengthen the base of the party among them and meet the challenge posed by the opposition party. The narrative presented forms a background to the next two chapters that analyze statesponsored attempts in the 1980s and 1990s by Congress leaders to strengthen the support base of the party among dalits and tribals, leading finally to the Dalit Agenda at the Bhopal Conference in January 2002.

Origins and Establishment of the Congress: A Background The CPs was an artificial contrivance created by the British colonial rulers for their administrative convenience in 1861 by uniting the Hindi-speaking regions of Saugor and Nerbudda in the north and Marathi-speaking regions of Nagpur and Berar in the south with little regard for their geographical, social and economic affinities (Baker 1979: 9). Prior to unification these disparate regions did not at any time constitute a single administrative unit and were ruled by diverse rulers at different points of time consisting of Rajputs, Marathas and even the Mughals in some parts. Politically the earlier administration of these two areas by two separate units under the

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British had not worked well. Hence, it was both administrative and political necessity that led to the unification of these regions into one compact province (Khan 1979: 15). There were differences between the two regions from the very beginning which remained throughout the colonial period. The population of the province was divided into two linguistic communities—those in the north speaking Hindi or its dialect Chhattisgarhi, and the other in the south speaking Marathi— that provided politics in the province its distinctive form. These communities also displayed differences in caste complexion, social customs and sense of identity (Baker 1979: 2). The population of the Hindi-speaking population was descended largely from those who conquered or entered into the area from the north or northwest; similarly invaders from other parts had entered into the southern districts of the CPs. These developments transformed the society in the southern plains as the Gonds withdrew into the hills and the language of the invaders—Marathi—replaced that of the original population (ibid.). These regional differences were responsible for a process of elite formation different from other states in the Hindi heartland. They had significant consequences for the formation of the new state of MP in 1956 that was formed out of the northern Hindi region of the erstwhile CPs, which were socially backward compared to the southern districts that were more progressive and witnessed a number of social movements. Up to the late 1800s it was notables from among the landed and trading classes created by the colonial authorities through land revenue settlements and trading concessions with big landowners, who were influential in the Congress in all parts of the CPs.1 Initially, the socio-economic changes leading to urban movements, the activities of the Congress and the leadership were largely confined to the southern Marathi districts around Nagpur (Baker 1993: 322). In contrast, the INC took root very slowly in the northern districts (ibid.: 327). Consequently, a process of differentiation arose between the two regions. The leadership of the early Congress in the Hindi region—the big landowners, bankers and traders—was gradually displaced by the educated middle class in the late

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19th century who were also from the upper castes. In contrast, in the southern region, though initially Maharashtrian Brahmins were dominant due to their upper-caste status and prestige and early establishment in politics, an educated, urban middle-class arose in the region with extensive interests in land, banking and commerce. Beginning from about 1918 onwards the position of the former began to be successfully challenged by the non-Brahmin movement and the Mahar movement under the leadership of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar (Baker 1979: 17). The southern districts also witnessed the establishment of the Hindu Mahasabha by B. S. Moonje in 1923 and the RSS formed by Keshav Baliram Hegdewar with a strong presence in Nagpur and Berar (Malhotra 2006). Economic factors in the Marathi districts also played a role such as building of the railways, cotton growing and industry. The decision to create Congress branches along linguistic lines in the 1920s created three branches: the Hindi region, the Marathi region and Berar, further isolating the northern conservative leadership (Baker 1993: 343). The result was in the Marathi region the non-Brahmin and the Mahar movement took up social issues of caste inequality and untouchability challenging the narrow view of the Congress (Baker 1979: 115). In contrast, in the Hindi region the Gandhian ‘Orthodox’ Congress, particularly after the entry of Gandhi in 1920, rarely took up social causes, its focus being on political activities centred on satyagraha, noncooperation and civil disobedience for attaining swaraj (ibid.). This made the Congress, as it evolved, a socially traditional party in the Hindi areas with little interest in issues of caste or inequality. Two developments contributed to the narrow traditionalist view of the Congress in the northern region. Gandhi’s new style of politics gained the support of a younger generation of upper-caste political leaders such as B. D. Shukul, Ravi Shankar Shukla and Govind Das, representing the educated middle-class notables and big money-lending landlords who had earlier supported the colonial authorities. By the 1930s such nationalist but tradition-oriented elements, built on an alliance between the upper castes and the landowning/banking

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interests, formed the base of the Congress in the northern region. The most important one, which shaped the politics of the region to a large extent, was the alliance between D. P. Mishra representing the educated upper castes/classes and Seth Govind Das, a wealthy landowner and banker. A second development was that the Hindi region from 1918 onwards moved away from the socially progressive politics of the southern region and came under the influence of various organizations from the Hindi heartland, which propagated the use of Hindi rather than English or other local languages. Prominent among them was the Hindi Sahitya Sabha, a body bringing together men of different political views from the Hindi-speaking areas of northern India. In 1910 many representatives from the province attended the first meeting of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan called by the great protagonist of Hindi from the United Provinces, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. This organization was firmly established in the CPs by 1918 and many annual meetings were held in the province. Political leaders from all the major factional groupings were associated with these activities: D. P.Mishra, Ravi Shankar Shukla and Makhanlal Chaturvedi (ibid.). They all belonged to the upper castes, in most cases were Brahmins or in some cases Banias, supported Hindi and were keen to maintain the position of the upper castes in public life. This process drew the Hindi region into the vortex of the National Movement led by the Congress in the traditional and socially backward Hindi heartland region, particularly Allahabad and Varanasi in the United Provinces that was also in control of the National Congress and separated it from the socially more progressive Marathi region (Baker 1979: 128–30). All this meant the emergence at independence of the state of MP under the leadership of upper-caste leaders of the Congress of the Hindi region. This was the triumph of the ‘orthodox’ Gandhian Congress in the Hindi region. In contrast, the nonBrahmin leaders joined the Nagpur Congress in large numbers in the late 1930s as in the Bombay region, and the Congress which emerged there was under the control of non-Brahmin Maratha leaders such as Y. B.Chavan. By independence there

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was a transfer of political leadership in the CPs from Marathito Hindi-speaking politicians. This was part of a larger shift on the national front with gradual assumption of power by Hindi politicians from northern India over the INC. Once the southern districts were removed and the princely states were added to the northern districts in 1956, a conservative and feudal state of MP emerged in which the lower castes, until recently, did not play a role in politics.

Post-Independence Period: Continuation of Elite Dominance The state of MP was formed in 1956 out of the northern Hindispeaking districts of the erstwhile CPs in which the upper castes were dominant and there were no organized social movements. To this were added three unions into which the former princely states had been integrated: Madhya Bharat (MB) consisting of 25 princely states in the Malwa plateau region the main ones being Gwalior and Indore; Vindhya Pradesh (VP) a union of 35 princely states in the Vindhya mountain region, the two big ones being Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand; and the large state of Bhopal. The more socially progressive Marathi-speaking areas were removed and added to the state of Maharashtra, and Berar to Hyderabad.1 Due to the manner in which it was carved out of the former CPs, a tradition-bound and feudal state of MP emerged. Consequently, most of the leaders of the Congress party in MP in the immediate post-colonial period were from the twiceborn upper castes/classes which furthered their economic and political dominance. While most of the early leaders in the Congress were from the landed and educated Brahmin and trading Bania community, after independence Thakurs and Rajputs belonging to the former princely families also came to have an important presence. As no large middle castes such as the Jats or Yadavs exist in MP, or a large Kayastha population as in UP, apart from the lower castes or tribals the Congress had to depend on the upper castes and the former princes. Change has taken place since the late 1980s and more particularly the 1990s. But it has been slow, and despite

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the entry of the OBCs, dalits and tribals into the party and into politics, the dominance of the upper castes, particularly some sections, has remained. This is despite the fact that the upper castes are numerically not very large compared to the lower castes. Based on the 1931 census Wilcox pointed out that the upper castes constituted about 12.9 per cent of the population (Wilcox 1968: 129). While Brahmins and Rajputs are approximately 5 per cent each of the population,the Vaishya 2 per cent and Jains form only 1 per cent (Singh 1999). In Bihar also Brahmins are 5 per cent of the population but in UP their numbers are much higher, reaching 9 per cent (ibid.). The Rajputs are the largest social group in MB numbering more than 9 per cent of the population, which is more than in Rajasthan, and the presence of a number of former princely states makes them important (Jaffrelot 2003: 356). Despite their smaller number, the upper castes are concentrated in parts of the state making them politically dominant. Brahmins are over 15 per cent in the northern districts of Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Rewa and Siddhi. A thinner but long patch is discernible from Khajuraho in the north to Hoshangabad and Seoni in the south and from Mandsaur in the north to Khandwa in the south running through Indore and Ujjain (Singh 1999). The Rajputs are found in the eastern parts of the state where they migrated from Rajasthan or Gujarat. They are also concentrated in the northern districts forming 15 per cent of the population in Morena and Bhind bordering eastern UP and all the extreme eastern districts up to Vidisha except Jhabua (ibid.). Apart from Bhopal, which was ruled by a Muslim family, Hindu Rajput Rajas ruled the remaining former princely states of MB and VP. The presence of a large number of princely states whose rulers and family members are still active in politics imparts a feudal outlook to the Congress party. In the 1950s the Congress attempted to co-opt a number of the former princes as within their own areas they had considerable social standing and influence in a number of constituencies. In 1957 about 170 out of 296 constituencies, that is, more than half, were located partly or wholly on the territories of former princely states (Jaffrelot 2004: 215). Until 1967 the princely families in

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Gwalior, Rewa Narsingarh and Chhattisgarh supported the Congress because they were not confident of their own position in the new dispensation (Purohit 1975). In the 1967 elections 36 princes and princesses stood for election: eight for the Lok Sabha and 28 for the assembly elections; 17 in the latter category were Congress nominees (Chandidas 1967: 1509). After 1967, however, the Maharani of Gwalior supported the Jan Sangh, and the Congress lost its hold over this part of MB which gave a fillip to right-wing and feudal politics in the state. Once privy purses were abolished many princes came back to the Congress, as many as 17 stood for election in the 1972 assembly elections (ibid.). Many important Congress leaders have also been from big Rajput jagirdar families: good examples being Arjun Singh and G. N. Singh who are sons of big landowners and were important political leaders in the Vindhya region. The dominance of the upper castes within the Congress party after independence is evident from the fact that although they constitute about 12 per cent of the population, during the period 1957 to 1967, between 40–51 per cent of Congress MLAs, that is, about half of them in the MP assembly, were from the upper castes (Wilcox 1968). Of these, 20–27 per cent, that is, one-fourth of them, were Brahmins, while the Rajputs and Banias were roughly between 7 to 12 per cent. The intermediate and backward castes were between 5 and10 per cent, SCs and STs between 11–18 per cent and 17–22 per cent respectively, uneducated, co-opted and elected almost entirely due to reservation of seats2 for them (Jaffrelot 2003: 81). An analysis of Congress governments (which provides a better idea of SC/ST presence in politics) between 1953 and 1967 reveals the dominance of the upper castes, particularly Brahmins. As much as 66 to 86 per cent members were from the upper castes: Brahmin members were 50 per cent in 1953 but fell to 33 per cent in 1967, Rajputs were between 13 to 19 per cent and Banias/Jains were 4 to 21 per cent. The middle castes did not find representation till 1964 when 9.5 per cent were from this group. SCs were better represented ranging between 16 per cent in 1953 and 25 per cent in 1967. STs

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gained representation only in 1957 when they gained 8.7 per cent of the posts within the government, a figure that had not risen in 1967 (ibid: 82). Although dalits constitute 15.2 per cent of the population both due to the continued dominance of the upper castes as well as low levels of political consciousness, lack of leadership, mobilization as well as social fragmentation, they have continued to support the Congress party. The northern districts experienced strong peasant mobilization by the Congress socialists in the 1940s and 1950s (Banerjee 2006: 78). These movements could have mobilized the SC/ST population of the region, but the socialist parties that emerged out of it—the Praja Socialist Party (PSP) and Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP)—were not able to sustain themselves and disappeared after the mid-1960s. The left parties faced a similar fate by the end of the 1960s. Most of these movements/parties were absorbed by the co-optive strategy of the Congress which Banerjee describes as the ‘carrot and stick’ policy, that is, use of domination as well as co-optation which led to their marginalization (ibid.). The BSP, which has challenged the support base of the Congress among the dalits since the early 1990s, is a party formed outside MP and has impacted only in the northern districts where dalits are concentrated bordering eastern UP and Bundelkhand where they form up to 25 per cent in about 10 districts (Singh 1999). The tribals in MP, who make up a larger share of the population than the dalits, have traditionally supported the Congress party, particularly in the first few decades of independence. The party does not have many tribal leaders nor have these leaders attempted to mobilize the tribals in various parts of the state. A major problem is that the tribals have not thrown up an educated middle class, lack leadership and therefore have been easily co-opted by the Congress party. It is only in the 1990s that leaders such as Jamuna Devi and Urmila Singh, both ministers in the Digvijay Singh government, achieved positions of significance within the party. A recent study on the Bhils of Jhabua district in the late 1990s points to an ‘emerging differentiation of the tribal community

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into two distinct classes, a process accelerated by the intervention of the state and market forces’ (Baviskar 1997). The study shows that a section of the small emerging educated class have taken to politics, but are too small and have little influence at present to play a determining role (ibid.). Equally important is the attempt at political mobilization— independent of the Congress—through the formation of the Gondwana party by the Gonds of the Mahakoshal region prior to the 2003 assembly elections. The party won three seats and 11 per cent of the votes cast. But it remains to be seen if the party will be able to sustain itself as many commentators have held that the party was formed by some disgruntled rebels from within the Congress party. The BJP has tried to penetrate into the tribal-majority districts through grassroots work among them and in 2003 it managed to gain a substantial chunk of tribal votes. Despite the competition between the two national parties for the support of this group, the tribal voice in politics remains weak in MP. A number of factors are responsible for the OBCs not being well-represented in the Congress party in MP until the 1980s. First is the absence of any single large agricultural caste such as the Jats in UP and Rajasthan or the Ahirs or Yadavs in UP. In the CPs the latter are mentioned during the colonial period as milkmen with much cattle. Second, none of the backward castes are spread across the whole state making horizontal mobilization possible. Only in three districts—Khajuraho bordering eastern UP, Bilaspur and Raipur in Chhattisgarh— do OBCs form over 15 per cent. They are found in lesser numbers in the eastern plains of Chhattisgarh and in pockets in the Mahakoshal region (Singh 1996: 153). Third, with the exception of the Yadavs none of the OBCs represent more than 5 per cent of the population (Jaffrelot 2003: 355–56). The Lodhs, Lodhis or Lodha Rajputs, who are agricultural castes and claim Kshatriya status, constitute 3 per cent of the population; they became important during the 1990s in the BJP in both UP and MP, good examples being Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati, former member chief ministers of these states (Singh 1996). Even amongst the dominant middle caste, most

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of them from the higher echelon migrated from other states, thus aborting the possibility of a cohesive social network. Thus in MP there was little pressure until the late 1970s to accommodate the dalits, tribals and middle castes in important positions in the Congress party or to form ‘downward alliances’ with the latter, as in Bihar. Here factional politics was largely between the upper castes, initially between the Brahmins and Banias and later the Brahmins and Rajputs. Low levels of politicisation among dalits and tribals and the absence of dominant middle-ranking castes with widespread influence and their fragmentation into numerous OBC caste communities never allowed them to air their aspirations beyond the parameters set by the Congress or the Jan Sangh. It was only after 1980 that the OBCs began to play a more determining role in state politics as a result of which the political trajectory of the Congress party became different from that of its counterparts in UP and Bihar.

Factionalism and Establishment of a Two-Party System High levels of region-based factionalism and the early establishment of a two-party system are two features that have impacted on the social inclusiveness of the Congress party in MP. In the immediate post-independence period when the Congress attempted to transform itself from a movement to a party, it had two interrelated tasks: integration of the various branches, often badly divided by factionalism, and widening of the social and regional base of the party. Factionalism along regional lines in MP was a product of the existence of a number of disparate regions that, as described earlier, were part of the CPs and were put together to form the new state in 1956. Integration required bringing strong, mostly uppercaste leaders who had built regional bases during the colonial period together and establishing a united organization by controlling factionalism through a process of ‘brokering’ and ‘balancing’ (Wilcox 1968). Broadening the social base required bringing various sections of the population including the middle and lower castes/classes, into the party. This task was urgent; by 1967 the tribal and SC population had 100 reserved

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seats out of 296 seats in the Legislative Assembly and could not be ignored. A third force in these processes was constant interference by the central leadership of the party to prevent persistent self-destructive factionalism, but with little success. Writing in the 1960s Wilcox recognized that integrating the party was a difficult task as factionalism was a long-standing phenomenon, but he pointed out that the Congress party had branches in every region of the state formed out of the former praja mandals, which could be the ‘building blocs’ on which a strong statewide party organization could be erected (Wilcox 1968). Moreover, there were ‘powerful integrating pressures’: one, party organization, which was the most important common institution in the state, and two, the increasing penetration of the local political arena by the central Congress leadership (Mitra 1990: 174). The party also had a core area—Mahakoshal—in which it had established itself as a strong political force by the end of the colonial period from where it could penetrate and bring the rest of the province under its control. But integration proved to be a difficult task as each of these organized subordinate local entities of the Congress party were ‘semi-independent’ with a leader and followers; substantive caste and economic interests and strongly embedded regional identities formed an important part of the historical legacies of each region. The Congress leadership also had the challenge of obtaining the support of all sections of the population if the party were to become a hegemonic force. Creating a more inclusive social base for the party proved to be difficult and the Congress continued to be dominated by the upper castes with much less space for members/leaders from the lower castes/tribals. As described below, factional groups led by dominant upper-caste leaders had a limiting impact on the pattern of social inclusion of dalits and tribals into the party. They did not feel the need to extend their support base outside their own caste/class boundaries to counter each other for power within the party. Brahmin–Bania rivalry occupied central place in the internal dynamics of the party initially, later it broadened to include the Rajputs as well. No attempts were made by factional leaders

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to incorporate the lower orders into the party. The presence of a large number of tribal and ex-princely rulers, hostility between different communities, struggles between former zamindars and village headmen resulted in fragmentation and fluid politics leading to a dominant but faction-ridden party. After independence the struggle for power between factions of the party both at the local and the regional level was not merely a personal conflict but was closely connected to competition between interests in the public policies of the government. As Wilcox points out, a ‘tangled skein of personalities, factions, local dynasties and external influence’ had developed during the colonial period (Wilcox 1968: 148). Thus, factionalism within the party had the conservative effect of maintaining the status quo in terms of the social composition of the party.

Congress Dominance and Factionalism In the late colonial period three Congress regional committees— Mahakoshal, Nagpur and Berar—dominated the Central Provinces and factionalism between the upper castes led by important leaders such as Ravi Shankar Shukla and D.P. Mishra was an endemic feature of the party’s organization that continued into the post-independence period (Baker 1993; Malhotra 2006; Mishra 1975). By the late 1950s four major factions had established themselves headed by the former governing Congress elites of the four regions of the newly formed state, who attempted to control the party and among whom Brahmin–Bania rivalry was important (Wilcox 1968: 156).3 In fact, there was more than one group in each region with struggles over power and patronage, and viable coalitions within the state after independence depended upon the cooperation of Mahakoshal (Jabalpur or Chhattisgarh) and MB. The second player was the business community composed of indigenous and ‘outsider’ groups, namely Gujarati and Marwari capitalists, the latter being stronger and exercising ‘extraterritorial paramountcy’.4 The third force in state politics was the central Congress leadership—in the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) and the central government— which intervened ostensibly to control factionalism but also to maintain its hold on state politics. The central leadership

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played such an important role in selecting CMs that the post was considered as a ‘fief for famous Brahmin politicians loyal to New Delhi’ (ibid.: 150). As a senior leader, Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla, an important Brahmin leader, became the first chief minister of the state. However, he died two months later in 1957 leading to intense rivalry as no leader had the stature to hold the party together or who ‘thought of the state as a whole’ (Purohit 1975: 224). Every successive CM was identified with a particular region—D. P. Mishra with Mahakoshal, S. C. Shukla with Chhattisgarh and P. C. Sethi with MB. As the regional leaders were from the upper caste and had links with the former princely rulers, little efforts were made to broaden the base of the party or bring in lower-caste or tribal leaders. The result was that the central leadership, especially during the period of Indira Gandhi, brought in ‘outsiders’ as it was expected that an outsider would be above regional parochialism and could hold the party together (Wilcox 1968: 148). A succession of ‘outsiders’ beginning with K. N. Katju and later D. P. Mishra,5 both viewed as leaders from UP rather than MP, were brought in in the 1960s. The post-1967 witnessed the rise of a new generation of regional leaders, the most important being Shyama Charan Shukla from Raipur in Chhattisgarh, the elder son of Ravi Shankar Shukla, who was made the CM on March 26, 1969 (Purohit 1975: 212). There were a number of ‘outsiders’, that is, central appointees in some cases from other states, again during the 1970s and 1980s: P. C. Sethi, Arjun Singh and Motilal Vora. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Congress leadership introduced a number of developmental/welfare schemes for dalits and tribals and attempted to bring them into the party. However, power did not devolve downwards and most of dalits/tribals brought into the party were pliant leaders who were co-opted into the party and did not receive any important posts or responsibilities. By the early 1990s the Congress was again divided into a number of groups. Factions headed by Arjun Singh, the two Shukla brothers, Motilal Vora and Madhav Rao Scindia created divisions in the party, which was responsible for the defeat of the party in the 1990 assembly election in MP.

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These groups were joined by two younger leaders, Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh, who were keen to play a seminal role in the state. The various factions briefly joined hands using a platform of development to defeat the BJP in 1993, but factionalism continued unabated once the party captured power. The two terms in office by Digvijay Singh were marked by attempts by the Arjun Singh faction and other factions who had opposed his selection, to remove him from office.

Towards a Two-Party System The failure to create ‘a single political community’ out of regional Congress units contributed to the move towards a two-party system. A study in the mid-1960s points to the close relationship between absence of factionalism, a strong party and better electoral performance by the Congress (Chandidas 1967: 1509). There was an early period of ‘structural consolidation’ when the party was able to establish itself firmly in the state; 1957 constituted the ‘high watermark of the Congress party in MP’ (Purohit 1975: 205). But factionalism proved too deep-seated to be removed. In the 1962 state assembly elections the Congress obtained only 142 seats. An investigation by the Congress high command pointed to internal sabotage by leaders of disaffected factional groups who had supported opposition candidates including the defeat of K. N. Katju, a former chief minister (Chandidas 1967: 1508). Eventually, the central leadership appointed D. P. Mishra as the chief minister in 1963 and he was able to unite the warring factions as a result of which the Congress performed better in the 1967 assembly elections, gaining a majority despite the revolt by a section of the party leading to the formation of the Jan Congress (ibid). Although the Congress improved its position and gained 167 seats, the emerging structure of bi-partisanship in the state is clearly seen in the 1967 elections. Due to the failure of the Congress to extend beyond its core areas the Jan Sangh had managed to improve its position from a mere six seats in 1952 to 78 in 1967, and vote share from 3.6 per cent in 1952 to 26.01 per cent. In fact, the two parties between them were able to gain 40.7 per cent and 28.3 per cent, that is, almost 70 per cent of the total votes cast. Moreover, in terms of seat percentage,

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the Congress and the Jan Sangh in 1967 between them gained 56.42 per cent and 26.01 per cent, that is, 80 per cent of the total seats (Chandidas 1967). The Jan Sangh grew steadily in the immediate post-independence period at the expense of the Congress. While the Jan Sangh was formed in many states in the Hindi heartland in the post-independence period, it had a strong base in the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh and the Hindu Mahasabha (HM) formed during the colonial period in Nagpur, in the former CPs, on which it could build in the new state of MP.6 In the post-independence period, first the abolition of zamindari and later the removal of princely purses aroused anxiety in the minds of the former princes, which the Jan Sangh was quick to exploit. Its growing influence is seen in every election in the MB region, Malwa and in Indore from the 1950s, though later the Congress put down roots due to the presence of the INTUC here.7 But the RSS and later the Jan Sangh had a narrow elitist base and the Maharastrian Brahmin outfit proved alien which explains the ‘uneven implantation of the Jan Sangh in MP’8 and the emergence of a two-party system. A second reason for the Jan Sangh not being able to spread more widely into MP was that the Congress leaders of the Hindi region were also from the upper caste and protagonists of the traditional Hindu viewpoint. Their defence of Hindi, protection of the cow and opposition to Christian missionaries, which were part of the Congress programme, robbed the Jan Sangh of three essential right-wing agendas. The growth of the two-party system led to the establishment of distinct regional bases by the two parties. The Congress party established a core area in Mahakoshal that it has retained over the years. It performed well in 19529 and 1957, capturing over 80 per cent of the total seats and over 56 per cent in the 1962 elections. In 1967 when the Congress improved its performance in the state gaining 167 seats out of 296, most of these were gained from Mahakoshal where the party gained 111 seats, which was over 70 per cent of the total seats in the region (Chandidas 1967: Table 2). Its position in Mahakoshal remained ‘almost unchallenged’ during this period. This is not surprising because due to its activities during the colonial

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period it had become well established and known to the people, and had an organization and a trained cadre of party workers (Wilcox 1968: 141). The Jan Sangh did not gain any seat in the region in 1957 but in 1962 and 1967 it was able to gain 10 and 23 seats respectively (Kogekar and Park 73–74). However, right-wing parties were not able to make inroads into the Mahakoshal region and the Congress has retained its dominance in this region even after the rise of a two-party system. In the MB and Bhopal area consisting of three major princely states the Congress managed to perform well in the 1950s—it was the strongest region for the Congress after Mahakoshal— as opposition parties had yet to be formed. But by 1967, the number of seats gained by the Congress dropped and the Congress party could not establish itself as a dominant party in the region. In the Vindhya region initially the Congress faced a strong challenge from left groups, mainly the Socialists who had led a strong movement here among the peasantry. However, there was fragmentation of votes in the 1952 elections as nine socialist/left parties such as the KMPP and the Socialists contested and the Congress gained as a result (Kogekar and Park 1956). The left groups in the long run did not pose a problem to the extension of the Congress into the Vindhya region (ibid: 317–18). Most of the left groups disappeared quite early, leaving the Congress well established in the region. Nor were parties of the right able to establish themselves in the Vindhya region. The Jan Sangh organized shortly before the elections by the RSS had a strong base in Chattarpur, Panna and Rewa. But the party failed to join hands effectively with other smaller rightist groups which disappeared soon afterwards (ibid.: 320-321). Thus between 1952 and 1962 the Congress was able to maintain its dominance in Mahakoshal, gain control over Bhopal and the Vindhya region, absorbing the incipient Socialist parties in the latter region which were the product of the movement of the 1940s, and gain a foothold in MB where it shared space with the Jan Sangh. Following the establishment of a pattern of two-party competition, two features are visible after 1967 continuing into the 1970s and 1980s: there is a constant alternation between the

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Congress and the Jan Sangh/BJP, the two parties accounting for the bulk of the votes between them which resembled a ‘see-saw’ movement—one went up while the other went down. Second, each party had a secure electoral base within a statewide structure of partisanship (Mitra 1990: 187). Large swings back and forth between the two parties became the norm; each party, when it won, could make inroads into the stronghold of the other while retaining its own area of strength. By the late 1970s it was clear that the Congress party had not been able to integrate the state of MP and was part of a two-party system. Despite the fact that the Congress had been in power for most of the post-independence period, by 1978 the state had been governed by 11 chief ministers in a period of 22 years. The party remained divided and it had not been able to make inroads into all regions in the state. Demands for the division of MP began to be made by politicians from all political parties including the Congress. While the main demand was for the separation of Chhattisgarh, demands for other regions were also raised.10 The 1980s witnessed competition for power between the new avatar of the Jan Sangh—the BJP—and the Congress within a bipartisan system. The victory of the Congress in 1985 can be explained by both the programmes for the lower castes and tribals and the surge of sympathy for Rajiv Gandhi following the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi. But by the early 1990s the BJP was able to establish itself in parts of the state using a variety of networks and strategies: the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram (Centre for Tribal Welfare) founded in 1952 with the support of the RSS, Sewa Bharati and schools in areas with a large tribal population, and ‘social engineering’ to attract the lower castes after Mandal (Jaffrelot 2003: 462). Consequently the two-party system is visible in the early 1990s. In the state assembly elections in 1990 the BJP was able to defeat the Congress party. The former was able to secure a two-thirds majority in the assembly, gaining 219 seats out of 320 (Election Commission of India 1990). While the Babri Masjid issue and the building of a Hindu vote bank across north India was an important reason, local factors such as factionalism within the party as described earlier, shift

46 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

of a large section of the upper castes towards the BJP and a section of the dalits towards the BSP in the northern districts were equally important. Beginning in 1991 there was a steep erosion of Congress support among the upper caste Hindus and to a lesser extent among the OBCs who moved towards the BJP (Yadav 2003). MP was one of the states where this is clearly seen in the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections. But in 1993 the BJP gained only 117 seats while the Congress was able to gain 174 (Election Commission of India 1993). The two parties between them gained the lion’s share of the votes and there were close contests between the two parties in a number of constituencies in the 1993 elections (Jaffrelot 1996: 129). The neat division of regional support in their geographical strongholds is clearly seen in the 1993 elections. The BJP performed well in its traditional stronghold of Malwa and Bhopal, particularly in the areas of the former princely states where the RSS had developed roots very early, which the Congress has not been able to enter into. In 1993 the BJP retained more than three-fifths of the 50 seats it had been able to win in 1990 that left it with a majority of seats in the region. In Bhopal it won nine seats out of 12, as against 11 in 1990 (ibid.). In contrast, the Congress performed well in the Mahakoshal area. In 1990 the BJP had won 61 out of 76 seats here but in 1993 its tally was reduced to 23, similar to its performance in 1985 when it was able to win only 15 seats. Nor did the BJP do well in Gwalior and VP in 1993: in the former it had won three-fourths of the seats in 1990 but could retain only half of them in 1993; in the latter its strength fell by half. In Chhatisgarh the BJP had managed to make inroads into this region in the 1985 state assembly elections, it gained five seats in 1990 but in 1993 it won 34 seats (ibid). The Congress and the BJP alternated in power, firmly establishing the two-party system around these two parties in the state. The two-party system has upheld the traditional nature of politics in the state. Both the Congress and the BJP are parties with an upper-caste leadership with strong linkages with the former princes. Consequently, as many scholars have remarked, the Hindu vote in MP has always been important

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and has assumed greater significance since the rise of the BJP. It is divided between the two parties and is a major basis of the two-party system. Yet the formation of a two-party system put pressure upon the Congress party from the 1970s onwards to broaden its social base in order to meet the challenge posed by the BJP. This began in the 1980s, an aspect taken up in the next chapter.

Conclusion A single dominant Congress system has been a distinguishing feature of the society and polity of the states standing in the Hindi heartland. However, arising out of their specific historical and social context, certain distinct features are found in each of these states that have determined their subsequent political trajectories. The effort in this chapter has been to identify the specificities of the Congress party in MP that differentiated it quite early from its counterparts in the other states of the Hindi heartland. This is a significant task as these features help explain the different response by the Congress leadership in MP to the rise of lower-caste identitybased mobilization in the Hindi heartland beginning in the 1980s. They also constitute the underlying aspects that have contributed to the survival of the party in MP—although within a two party system—while it has faced decline and collapse in UP and Bihar. A historical analysis of the Congress party shows that three distinct features characterized the party in MP in the immediate post-independence period: traditional upper-caste leadership with a feudal outlook, endemic factionalism along regional lines and the formation of a two-party system by the late 1960s. These features were legacies of the colonial period: the manner in which the CPs were formed; the origins of the Congress in an upper caste-dominated society with no progressive movements; and the existence of a number of princely rulers whose kingdoms remained outside the ambit of the national movement. The analysis shows that there has been continuance of elite dominance within the Congress party despite the fact that the tribals and dalits together

48 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

constitute over 35 per cent of the population while the upper caste constitutes only about 12 per cent. Until recently, a large percentage of the Congress MLAs was from the upper castes, the Brahmins, Thakurs and Banias being the most important. A considerable number of Congress leaders, including chief ministers, have been from the former princely families, which gives the party a feudal and hierarchical character. The OBCs also, until the 1980s, were not active in politics due to low levels of politicization; they are also divided into a number of jatis spread across the state making them difficult to mobilize with no single large caste which could provide leadership such as the Jats and Yadavs in UP and Bihar. Endemic region-based factionalism has remained a feature of the party continuing into the present. These divisions are not based merely on personal enmities but involve local economic interests and political rivalry for power and posts in the party/government. As they go down to the supporters at the grassroots they affect the political fortunes of the party. There is a relationship between high levels of factionalism and poor electoral performance which has continued to affect the performance of the party. Although there have been periods when leaders have joined hands due to strong leadership or to defeat the Jan Sangh/BJP such instances have been too few. Consequently, region-based factionalism in the post-independence period has contributed to the lack of political integration of the state and divided and weakened the Congress party. Region-based factionalism contributed to the early establishment of a two-party system in MP. Despite performing well initially in the 1950s, it was clear by the mid-1960s that the Congress could not penetrate and dominate the various regions as in UP or Bihar and establish a single dominant party system. Two factors made this difficult: factionalism within and the challenge of the Jan Sangh which entrenched itself in strongholds created during the colonial period by right-wing organizations. While the Congress in the immediate post-independence period successfully absorbed small left and socialist parties in the new state, it could not swallow

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the Jan Sangh, which was the product of mobilization by the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha during the colonial period with pockets of support in many of the princely states. A contributory factor has been the absence of a third social force strong enough to break the bipartisan model. Thus, the Congress has had to face the challenge of a strong opposition party—earlier the Jan Sangh and in more recent years the BJP—within a highly competitive two-party system, which, as subsequent chapters will show, made strengthening its traditional support base among the dalits and tribals imperative in the changed situation in the 1980s and 1990s. In conclusion, the Congress has been a traditional and hierarchical party in the post-independence period due to its upper-caste leadership and close linkages with the feudal elements in the state. Factionalism and the two-party system have contributed to the maintenance of these features. Factional divisions between upper-caste leaders squeezed out any space that may have been available for emerging lowercaste leaders. Both the principal parties—the Congress and the BJP—remain traditionalist forces that have reinforced the elitist character of the polity. It is against this understanding of the Congress party that we move to an analysis of the 1980s when significant changes in its character and policies are visible.

Notes 1. For a detailed description of the process of integration and state formation in MP see V. P. Menon (1956). 2. MP had 44 reserved seats for SCs and 75 reserved seats for ST, that is, a total of 119 reserved seats leaving 201 general seats out of a total of 320 seats in the legislature. 3. These were the Taktmal Jain and Kanhaiyalal Khadiwala group in Indore, the group led by Shankar Dayal Sharma in Bhopal, Shambu Nath Shukla and Captain Awadesh Singh in Rewa in VP and rival groups led by Ravi Shankar Shukla and Seth Govind Das in the Mahakoshal and Jabalpur region (Wilcox 1967). 4. The phrase is from Sunanda K. Datta Ray in two articles, ‘Madhya Pradesh’ in The Statesman, Calcutta, May 5, and May 12, 1964 and is quoted in Wilcox (1968: 150).

50 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh 5. Katju was an Allahabad-based politician. Mishra’s father was from Kanpur in UP and had settled as a contractor in the CPs. See Mishra (2001b). 6. For details on the formation of the RSS and the HM during the colonial period the Jan Sangh after independence, see Jaffrelot (2003). 7. Ibid.: 109–10. 8. Ibid.: 147. 9. The first General Elections held in 1951–52 were held separately for the three parts of the state: MP consisting of the Hindi areas of Mahakoshal and Chhattisgarh, Nagpur and Berar, the MB union consisting of Gwalior and Indore and the princely state of Bhopal. In our analysis the Nagpur and Berar regions have been left out. 10. See ‘Madhya Pradesh: Divide and Dominate’, Economic and Political Weekly, Volume 13, Number 16, April 22,1978: 680–81.

2 The Congress Party and the Politics of Social Inclusion: The 1980s and 1990s The pattern of inclusion of the dalits and tribals by the Congress

party in MP during the 1980s and 1990s has been different from the other states of the Hindi heartland. Beginning in the early 1980s, the strategies of the Congress party towards the lower castes and tribals in these states underwent considerable divergence with different political consequences. In states such as UP and Bihar, beginning in the mid-1980s, an upsurge from below led to strong identity-based movements that evolved into political parties such as the BSP, SP and RJD that captured state power in the 1990s with the support of the lower castes/backwards and led to the collapse of the Congress party. In contrast, in MP, the Congress party in the early 1980s— before the rise of dalit/backward caste assertion in the Hindi heartland—adopted a conscious policy of broadening its social base by providing more space to the dalits, tribals and the OBCs in the party and government and introducing policies aimed at improving the socio-economic condition of the latter in order to obtain their support. While in the early 1980s it was to meet the challenge posed by the Jan Sangh/BJP within a two-party system, from the latter half of the decade it was due to the emergence of the BSP’s identity politics in UP. The leadership in MP, in contrast to its counterparts in UP and Bihar, employed the politics of development/welfare rather than of identity to retain the support of these groups. It exhibited greater understanding of the need to adjust to the rapid and ongoing process of democratization among the lower castes/classes and the wave of identity politics during the 1980s and 1990s by broad-basing the party and implementing a number of special programmes for these sections. Under the leadership of Digvijay Singh this legacy was carried forward

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through the new model of development introduced in 1993 and culminated in the Dalit Agenda contained in the Bhopal Document in 2002. Madhya Pradesh therefore provides an example in the Hindi heartland of state-sponsored reform by political elites despite the absence of an upsurge from below. As this chapter shows, leadership was a significant determining factor in MP. Both an ideological commitment towards the upliftment of these groups and political imperatives based on enlightened self-interest on the part of the leadership, were responsible for the programmes adopted for dalits and tribals in the 1980s, and more particularly in the1990s/2000s. Digvijay Singh represented a younger-generation leader within the party who, influenced by the ongoing process of globalization, was open to fresh ideas and was prepared to experiment with new policies. The attempt by the Congress leadership in MP to use state power from above to meet the challenge of identity politics and strengthen its base among dalits and tribals helps explain the continued dominance of the Congress in MP while it has collapsed in UP and Bihar. Based on these arguments, an attempt is made in this chapter to analyze the developmental policies and programmes and greater representation in the party/government provided by the Congress leadership in MP during the 1980s and 1990s to dalits and tribals, and to a lesser extent the OBCs, in order to gain their support. These programmes laid the basis for the Dalit Agenda adopted for dalits and tribals at the Bhopal Conference in 2002. Yet, despite these changes the actual pattern of social and political inclusion of the dalits and tribals into the Congress party in MP has been in keeping with the socially backward and feudal character of the society in which it was embedded. As Shaibal Gupta has argued, one of the reasons why unlike its two neighbouring states of UP and Bihar the polity in MP remains essentially bi-polar, is that while the former have witnessed the emergence of new political forces such as the BSP, SP and RJD in the 1980s and 1990s that has brought some ‘authentic leaders of the subaltern groups’ into positions of power—whether they have actually helped the lower castes/ tribes is a different debate—such alternative processes of

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mobilization are as yet missing in MP (Gupta 2005: 1723–724). It is not that members from such groups are completely missing in the Congress party. There was, in fact, as this chapter shows, an increase in the number of upper backward and dalit/tribal political representatives in MP from 1980s onwards, but this increase took place due to co-optation under the broad canopy (or acquiescence) of upper-caste dominance and consequently the isolated leaders belonging to the backward/dalit casteclass are of a pliant nature, and the leadership of the party has remained firmly in the hands of the upper-caste/feudal sections. Accordingly this chapter discusses the shifts in the strategy of the Congress party in MP towards the needs of the dalits and tribals, and to a lesser extent the OBCs, that took place in the 1980s and particularly the 1990s, the reasons underlying it and the policies for these groups. It provides a background for understanding the adoption of the Dalit Agenda by the Digvijay Singh government in 2002.

Politics of Inclusion: The 1980s and 1990s As the dalits and tribals together constitute almost 30 per cent of the population in MP, they have always affected electoral fortunes of the Congress party in the state. Two factors in the early post-independence period affected the strategy of the Congress leadership towards these groups. While the Congress succeeded in maintaining its holdover the dalit and tribal vote there were indications of a slow erosion of support—more particularly in the case of dalits—in areas with a heavy concentration of these groups by 1967.Second, the major beneficiary of this erosion was the Jan Sangh, which points to the importance of the early establishment of a competitive two-party system in the state. A study that examines the trend of voting over the first four assembly elections shows that tribal groups in 17 districts where they have a substantial concentration, provided the Congress with consistently over 20 per cent of the vote in the reserved seats (Chandidas 1967: 1512). But in the case of dalits the vote percentage declined and by 1967 had fallen to 20 per cent or below in the reserved seats in almost all the 19 districts with

54 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

a large number of these groups in the population. These seats were won by the Jan Sangh, which gained 16 SC and 14 ST reserved seats out of a total of 39 and 61 reserved seats, respectively. The latter gained these seats in Madhya Bharat and Bhopal and to a lesser extent in Mahakoshal but failed to gain a single seat in the Vindhya region where the Congress continued to be strong until the rise of the BSP in the early 1990s. Due to these developments, the Congress party in MP perforce attempted to establish a radical image for itself quite early. By 1967 the base of the Congress was identified with secular forces such as literacy and urbanization and also the support of the SCs and STs (Morris-Jones and Dasgupta 1968). Factors such as literacy, urbanization, participation in productive activity and means of communication had a high degree of correlation in some parts of the state. In the early 1970s the latter was identified with the issue of abolition of privy purses of the former princely rulers; viewed as a revolutionary measure that marked the end of age old patron– client ties. 58 princes lost their purse due to Mrs Gandhi’s removal of princely purses. Most of the princes switched their loyalties to the Jan Sangh which took up the plank of Fundamental Rights for the princes (Purohit 1975: 211). In the election campaign the Congress portrayed itself as ‘a radical socialist party seeking an electoral mandate against the forces of reaction’ and got votes (Mitra 1990: 176). In the 1977 state assembly elections largely due to the Emergency declared by Mrs Gandhi, the Congress party in MP was badly defeated by the Janata Dal combine consisting of the Jan Sangh, socialist parties and some smaller groups which obtained 230 seats and 47.3 per cent of the votes. The Congress could obtain only 84 seats though it managed to retain 35.9 per cent of the votes cast (Statistical Report on General Election 1977). Accordingly, when the Congress returned to power in 1980 under the leadership of Arjun Singh it decided to initiate new strategies to strengthen the support base of the party in the state, particularly among the weaker sections which formed its traditional stronghold. The decade

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of the 1980s witnessed a strong wave of assertion by the dalits and OBCs in the Hindi heartland making such a move even more necessary.

Strengthening the Base in the 1980s In contrast to UP and Bihar, Congress governments in MP in the 1980s during the chief minister ship of Arjun Singh and Motilal Vora introduced a number of welfare and developmental policies to build the base of the party among the lower orders to meet the challenge posed by the Jan Sangh/ BJP following the dismemberment of the Janata Party.1 An immediate political reason was the selection of Arjun Singh as chief minister by Mrs Gandhi following the split in the Congress party in 1969 as he was loyal to her and willing to introduce her radical policies of Bank nationalisation and ‘garibi hatao’ in MP to defeat the conservative syndicalist wing of the party. In turn, he hoped to give the party a more progressive and radical image to strengthen the position of his own faction in the party vis-à-vis those of D. P. Mishra, S. C. Shukla and others. Under Arjun Singh, MP emerged as the only state in the Indian Union taking on the ‘mantle of state-sponsored social reform’ by stoking the aspirations of the backward and marginalized sections of the population. The initiative indicates a proactive strategy of inclusion of the subalterns in MP (Gupta 2005: 5093). His efforts are significant because they preceded the self-initiated upsurge of the backward classes in Indian politics. Other states followed suit but only after the implementation of the Mandal Commission report in 1989 and after they started feeling the pressure from below due to dalit assertion. MP, on the other hand, did not face any such pressure from below and yet the leadership thought it prudent to initiate measures for empowering the poor and the marginalized (ibid.). In spite of Rajiv Gandhi’s tilt towards economic liberalization in the 1980s, the Congress retained ‘its heritage of a radical social image and social linkages with the lower social strata’ in states such as MP. Consequently, we have a situation where during the mid-1980s the Congress

56 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

party was called upon to be ‘simultaneously ideological and consensual’ (Mitra 1990: 188).

Policies for the Backward and Marginalized The Congress party implemented a number of policies and programmes for the dalits and tribals and to a lesser extent the OBCs in the early 1980s. In 1981 the Congress government, under Arjun Singh, set up a Backward Classes Commission under the chairmanship of Ramji Mahajan, a former minister of state, to provide them reservation in educational institutions and government employment, and other important concessions (Mahajan 1983). MP was one of the states that had not so far set up such a commission. In the report submitted in 1983 the commission identified 80 OBC groups, which it reported made up 48.08 per cent of the population. Of these, 24 groups consisted of Muslims. The Commission recommended reservation of 35 per cent of the posts in the state administration for OBCs and 35 per cent of places in all educational institutions run by or supported by the government (ibid.). The government implemented one of the recommendations of the report, namely, granting of quotas for OBCs in technical institutions and scholarships for education, but the former was stayed by a court order. During the Mandal controversy, hence, there was not much mobilization on the issue of reservation in MP as in the rest of the states of north India. Arjun Singh also launched a number of reservation policies to help the poorer sections of the society, specially the SCs and STs, an important example being waiving the minimum qualifying marks for SC/ST candidates to medical colleges in pre-medical tests.2 Equally important were the programmes initiated by the Congress government for development of the rural areas. Arjun Singh toured almost all areas of the state to find out the problems faced by the rural population and devised a number of measures to help them. Madhya Pradesh was one of the few states to appoint a 20-Point Programme Implementation Committee at the state level and successive committees going down to the district and lower levels. More than 14,000 members were appointed to these committees. Homestead lands belonging to landlords on which farm workers had built houses were legalized, which provided the rural poor who

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numbered a little over 10 lakh, permanent homes. Under the 20-point programme 5 lakh plots were distributed for housing, subsidies provided to 95,000 homeless families, 3.5 lakh illiterates given adult education, 30,000 wells repaired, 42,000 electric pump sets installed to augment irrigation in more than 4,000 villages. All transfers of land since 1959 belonging to SCs/ STs were nullified unless the legitimacy of transfer could be proved. By this measure lands alienated by landlords from the SCs/STs for debt were restored. Over 1 lakh hectares of land were retrieved under the ceiling and given to 75,000 farmers (The Hindu, New Delhi, May 15, 1982). Top priority was given to education. In the first two years of the government’s tenure 4,200 primary schools, 1,130 middle and 165 secondary schools were set up in villages with a population of over 3,000. To help SC and ST students, textbooks worth Rs 53 lakh were distributed and stipends to the tune of Rs 5 crore granted. To protect STs an important measure was a ban on non-STs purchasing land from them. Many profarmer policies were also initiated such as drinking water in over 32,000 villages, a Rs 3 crore Kisan fund to help victims of natural calamities or loss of limbs while working on the field, etc. The government also completed a super thermal station with a capacity of 25,000 megawatts in Singh rauli in record time, which helped both farmers as well as provided power to industry (The Times of India, New Delhi, June 26, 1982). These measures for the rural poor had tremendous impact and created much support for the government. The state government also launched a 20-point programme to associate common people with the developmental efforts of the government. It decided to raise an army of 25,000 workers in the age group of 18 to 45 to involve youth in rural reconstruction. This army began work on the Bansagar irrigation project (The Patriot, New Delhi, February 26, 1981). In short, Arjun Singh attempted to change the face of the rural areas by giving relief and livelihood to the rural poor and created tremendous goodwill among the SCs/STs for the Congress. Vested interests in the rural areas tried to sabotage his measures. The RSS, involved in grassroots developmental programmes through its Kisan Morcha among the poor, found their activists shifting to the Congress (ibid.).

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Representation of the Backward and Marginalized While the dalits and tribals were able to gain representation in the assembly and government due to the reservation policy, there were few OBCs in the Congress party or governments until the 1980s. The rise of the OBCs in the states of the Hindi heartland took place at two points of time—when the Janata Party came to power in 1977and after the release of the Mandal report in 1989—though it was uneven across states. In MP the Janata Party was largely made up of the Jan Sangh consisting of upper-caste leaders and so the number of OBCs did not rise as dramatically as in Bihar or to a lesser extent in UP. But the number of OBC MLAs had begun to rise from the late 1970s/early 1980s itself, that is, much before Mandal. However, Arjun Singh did not promote low-caste leaders as candidates for the state assembly; therefore, the level of Congress OBC MLAs remained low, at around14–15 per cent, during the 1980s. The Mandal effect therefore is seen in MP, but was less evident, though the percentage of OBC MLAs rose by four points between 1990 and 1993 (Jaffrelot 2003: 359). The rise in the percentage of the OBCs in the late 1970s in MP was due to a gradual decline of Brahmin dominance among the Congress MLAs and ministers in state governments. In four Congress governments between 1969 and 1976 the upper castes constituted 55 per cent in 1969, 77 per cent in 1972,35 per cent in 1975 and 46 per cent in 1976. But in contrast to the 1960s Brahmin members constituted between 17 and38 per cent while Rajputs and Banias remained almost the same and Kayasthas who were not present earlier, made up5 to 11 per cent. Scheduled Castes were only 7–17 per cent but the proportion of OBCs rose from 11 per cent in 1969 to 23 per cent in 1976 and of the STs to 23 per cent by 1976 (Jaffrelot2003: 127). Thus, the Rajputs, OBCs and STs were the major beneficiaries of the fall in Brahmin representation in the government. In three Congress governments between 1980 and1995 this feature is more clearly seen. There were between 13.9to 18.2 per cent Brahmins though they rose briefly to 38.1 percent in 1985. The number of Rajputs increased over the earlier period, being between 13.6 and 19 per cent,

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Banias 5.6 to 6.8 per cent and OBCs between 14.3 and 19.4 per cent, that is, equal to Brahmins (ibid.: 360). Scheduled Caste representation did not rise being between 6 and 13 per cent in the government. The rise of the OBCs during this period is also visible in the BJP representing 22 per cent of the government formed in 1990 (ibid.). The Congress in the 1990s tended to represent more Rajputs while the BJP had more Brahmins and Banias. During the early 1990s the Congress party gave tickets, particularly in the 1993 assembly elections, to dalits leading to a substantial fall for the first time in the percentage of upper-caste Congress MLAs in the state assembly. However, despite these shifts in the composition of the Legislative Assembly, within the party organization an analysis reveals that even in the 1990s there were a fairly high percentage of upper-caste members. Between 1994 and 1999 over 50 per cent of the presidents of the district Congress committees (DCCs) in MP were from the upper castes: the number of Brahmins ranged from 18 per cent to 30 per cent, Rajputs 9 to 18 per cent and Banias 11 to 17 per cent. However, OBCs were between 15 and 26 per cent though they were divided over as many as about 12 sub-castes, STs from 3 to 7 per cent but only 1.3 per cent were from among the SCs (ibid.: 448). At the level of the PCC over the same period the percentage of upper castes was higher though OBC and ST members were roughly the same (ibid.: 450). It was only in the late 1990s that the Congress party under Digvijay Singh attempted to bring in lower-caste members into the DCCs and the PCC, an aspect discussed a little later. Thus the Congress party in MP did not have an ‘open elite system’ (Weiner 1967: 469) as in southern and western India whereby aspiring groups from the lower castes could enter into the party democratizing its social composition. It was in the post-Mandal period that the Congress party began to be under much greater pressure from the OBCs and lower castes leading to their inclusion in the echelons of the party. Much greater mobilization of the OBCs and SCs took place in the 1990s bringing change in the politics of the state and the public policies pursued by the Congress towards the OBCs, and particularly the SCs.

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The Process of Inclusion in the 1990s The Digvijay Singh government took forward the policies begun by Arjun Singh of providing welfare and greater representation to dalits, tribals and to a lesser extent OBCs, when it came to power in 1993. During the 1990s a number of developments were responsible for the continuation and in fact strengthening of the state-led approach of helping the weaker sections: the increasing need to strengthen the declining base of the Congress among the dalits and tribals; the challenge posed by the social engineering strategy of the BJP to mobilize the lower castes; pressure from the OBCs due to Mandal; the rise of the BSP and the emergence of a younger-generation Congress leader with new ideas which led to the adoption of a new model of development based on the human development approach leading to the adoption of the Dalit Agenda in 2002. The steps taken by the Congress party to help the dalits and tribals played a significant role in enabling the party to remain in power for a decade.

Need to Strengthen the Base among Dalits and Tribals By the early 1990s certain changes in the social base of the Congress party at the national and state level dictated the urgent need for such a strategy. In the post-independence period the Congress party could attract the votes of a wide range of social groups in the country. By the early 1990s there was decline of the Nehruvian consensus on secularism and socialism, which coincided with the decline of the Congress party, particularly in the states of the Hindi heartland region. The Congress party lost the support of the upper castes/ classes who moved towards the BJP attracted by its ideology of Hindutva. Consequently, the party became dependent upon the lower castes, and in MP the tribals, to a greater extent than before. This dependency in fact increased over the decade. A study points out that beginning with the 1991 Lok Sabha elections the Congress began to lose the support of the Hindu upper castes to the BJP. In 1991 the Congress secured 36 per cent votes from this category, which dropped to 27 per cent in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, 20 per cent in 1998, and only

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16 per cent in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections(Yadav 2003: 65, Table 1). A similar drop, though not of such magnitude, is seen in the case of the Hindu OBCs. However, the same study shows that the Congress retained the support to a much greater extent of the dalits and tribals over these elections. In the case of the former the drop is only from 39 per cent in 1991 to 32 per cent in 1999 and in the case of the latter from 45 to 40 per cent over the same elections (ibid.). Thus, it gradually moved from a broad aggregative party to a party of the weaker sections over the decade of the 1990s. A similar picture emerges at the state level. Empirical studies point to a shift in the social base of the party in a number of the states by the end of the 1990s: the reinvention of the Congress from a catch-all to a narrower party of the marginalized and poorer sections namely, the dalits, adivasis, Muslims and women (Yadav 2003: 66). In MP the Congress had a strong support base among the dalits and tribals, but it was stronger among the latter than the former, an important reason being the presence of the BSP in the northern districts of the state. The loss of upper-caste support was one of the reasons for the defeat of the Congress party in MP in 1990,though an equally important reason was the intense and self-destructive factionalism within the Congress, which weakened it. The Arjun Singh, Motilal Vora, Scindia camps and the Shukla brothers failed to work together which also had an impact on the party cadres that remained divided. A significant development in the early 1990s added to the need for the Congress party to maintain and strengthen the support of not only the dalits and tribals but also the OBCs. Following its defeat in MP and UP in the 1993 state assembly elections—the first after the destruction of the Babri Masjid— the BJP began a policy of ‘social engineering’ in these states. Its leadership realized that Hindutva had a narrow social base limited to the upper castes that required broadening to include the lower castes and tribals. In MP, while the BJP did try to mobilize support among the dalits and tribals, it gave the OBC stickets in elections, brought them into the party and gave them important positions. Most of the chief ministers in states where the BJP has subsequently captured power have been from the OBC category: Kalyan Singh in UP, Narendra

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Modi in Gujaratand Uma Bharati, Babu Lal Gaur and Shivraj Chauhan in MP. Thus, the Congress from 1993 was competing with the BJP for the support of the dalits, tribals as well as the OBCs. This made it imperative for the Congress to retain and improve its standing among the weaker sections in the state. However, the Congress party in the 1990s gave greater help to the dalits and tribals than the OBCs—an upwardly mobile group undergoing politicization due to mobilization by the BJP—a mistake it later paid for.

Developmental Issues in Electoral Politics During the early 1990s both the Hindutva ideology of the BJP and the identity-based politics of the BSP drove electoral politics, particularly in the northern plains. The BJP particularly tried to create a single Hindu vote bank across the north Indian plains through the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Consequently, in the 1990 state assembly elections the BJP won in all the states of the Hindi heartland including MP. But in MP the BJP government under Sunderlal Patwa was dismissed and president’s rule imposed after communal riots in Bhopal following the destruction of the Babri Masjid in December1992 (Deccan Herald, December 27, 1992). Despite this atmosphereof communal mobilization, during the campaign for the1993 state assembly elections the leadership of the Congress party in MP used a range of developmental rather than identity-based issues. Two reasons were responsible for this. A number of significant local developmental issues arose which the Congress leadership decided to make use of to defeat the BJP. However, equally important was the realization that an important reason underlying the defeat of the party in 1990 was the self-destructive factionalism among the top leaders, particularly Arjun Singh, S. C. Shukla and Madhav Rao Scindia, that had allowed the BJP to make inroads into its strong holds. Accordingly, the various faction leaders decided to set aside their differences and join hands to oppose the rise of the BJP in the state.3 A third factor was the rising importance of the BSP in UP though its full impact was felt in MP after the victory of the SP–BSP in UP and the entry of the BSP into the northern districts of MP in the 1993 assembly elections.

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During its brief tenure the Patwa government had become unpopular for its ‘pro-rich policies’ with the rural population, specially the tribals, dalits and OBCs (Jaffrelot 1996). It failed to fulfill a number of promises it had made to sections of the population and brought in some new policies that proved unpopular. In 1992 the Patwa government waived loans of farmers up to Rs 10,000 but not of those who had taken higher amounts, creating unhappiness. In some districts such as Sagar and Mandsaur this became a big issue. The Patwa government alienated the tribals by not allowing them to produce alcohol. It also tried to do away with a cooperativization schemefor plucking of tendu leaves introduced by the Arjun Singh government in 1989, which had increased the money gained by the tribals, bowing to pressure in both cases to the strong merchant organizations, particularly the tendu lobby in the state (Singh 1991). The private traders’ lobby, particularly the Banias who traditionally constituted a strong vote bank, was well-represented within the BJP in the state. The importance of the issue can be gauged from the fact that two-thirds of the tendu leaf for cigarettes and beedis comes from the forests of MP and provides employment to about 10 lakh people during the harvest season. The government had to reverse the tendu policy as it led to losses for the state as private operators quoted very low prices and acquired the best leaf.4 The Congress party in its campaign for the 1993 assembly election picked up these issues. Canvassing aggressively on a plank of development for dalits, tribals and women, Arjun Sing hand other Congress leaders used the theme of ‘vikas or vinash’ (development or destruction) that proved useful in a period when the BJP was still harping on the Hindutva theme. While Arjun Singh highlighted non-payment of bonus to tendu leaf pluckers that had become an important issue (Deccan Herald, April 21, 1993), Madhav Rao Scindia canvassed actively in the Gwalior area, which has been an important stronghold of the BJP. His followers projected him as ‘vikas ke masiha’ (themessiah of development). They were able to use this platform, as the BJP had not put forward major programmes for the weaker sections during its short tenure. The Congress manifesto prior to the 1993 state assembly

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election in MP highlighted the programmes implemented in the 1980s and made a number of promises to the weaker sections: unemployment allowance to educated youth, tax exemption on food grains and other essential commodities and free electricity to farmers using pumps of up to 5 horse power. In contrast, the BJP had begun to charge the electricity consumed for agriculture beyond six hours, something many peasants resented. The Congress also promised that peasants would not have to pay interest more than the amount of the loans and the penalty on farmers whose loans had not been waived in 1990–92 would also be waived (Jaffrelot 1996: 135). The prime minister (PM), Narasimha Rao, during his election tour of MP also concentrated on socio-economic issues. In fact, during his tour of Chhindwara and Bastar he criticized the lack of a pro-development ideology under the BJP government at a huge election meeting at Raipur in Chhattisgarh on April 17, 1993 (ibid.: 136). He pointed out at meetings at Bilaspur and other places in the region that developmental activities were absent, projects had stopped functioning, funds provided by the Planning Commission had not been fully utilized and diversion of bonus money had happened. He also announced central assistance of Rs 206 crore for drought relief and integrated rural development programmes (IRDP) and visited drought-affected areas in Sarguja (Deccan Herald, April 21, 1993).During the election campaign both Arjun Singh and Madhav Rao Scindia also took up the demand for full implementation of the Ramji Mahajan Commission, 1981 and the Mandal Commission report and the party took full credit for implementing reservations for the OBCs in the state in the1980s prior to the acceptance of the Mandal report in 1989 by the V. P. Singh government at the centre. The Arjun Singh government had in the 1980s recommended reservations of 14 per cent of the posts in the administration for the OBCs so that the total quota including the percentage for SCs and STs did not exceed 50 per cent. The Congress party also gave a large number of tickets to the lower castes: 70 OBCs, 74 STs and 45 SCs while Brahmins received only 55 and Rajputs 37. While the BJP also gave tickets to a large number of OBCs the number was less than in the case of the Congress and they were projected as ‘Hindu’ rather than ‘Backward Class’ leaders.

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Consequently, a section of the OBCs, particularly the Kurmis and Sahus who were showing heightened political consciousness, decided to support the Congress in the 1993 assembly election (Jaffrelot 1996: 135). Thus, in contrast to the caste- and community-based mobilization in the states of the Hindi heartland, especially UP, the Congress campaigned mainly on developmental issues in order to attract dalits, tribals and the OBCs. The Congress won a resounding victory with 174 seats out of 320 and a vote share of 40.8 per cent in the 1993 elections compared to its performance in 1990 when it gained only 56 seats and 33.49 per cent of the vote. There is little doubt that the developmental agenda helped the Congress party. The Ayodhya issue had lost its importance following the destruction of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 and there was no wave based on Hindutva as in 1990. Unlike in the other states, the Congress leadership in MP took full advantage of the loss of the Ayodhya issue and brought in issues of development and governance. Factionalism and rising indiscipline within the party which had once prided itself as a ‘party with a difference’ were also responsible for the defeat of the BJP in both UP and MP (Pai 2003). Former chief minister Kailash Joshi barely retained his Bagchi seat by a meagre 336 votes but at least 15other tall leaders of the BJP lost. The BJP, which had 220/320seats, now had only 114 seats (India Today, December 15, 1993: 44). However, MP had developed a two-party system and the results of the election show both parties being able to hold onto their own strongholds; but the Congress party performed better in some of its traditional strongholds. It performed well in its stronghold of Chhattisgarh but even more so in Mahakoshal, particularly in some districts such as Khandwaand Chhindwara. It did not do well in the Bhopal and Malwa region where the BJP performed well. In Gwalior, despite the BJP not doing well the Congress won only about half the seats (ibid.).

New Leadership in the Congress Party A significant development that sets the decade of the 1990s apart from the 1980s during which state-led policies were also pursued by the Congress party in MP, is the emergence of a chief

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minister belonging to a younger generation with a different agenda. Almost all chief ministers in MP with some significant exceptions such as Moti Lal Vora have been from the erstwhile royal families of the state. Certain characteristics set Digvijay Singh apart from the rest. Although belonging to a princely state he displayed few of the feudal characteristics and ideas associated with such leaders. Second, part of a new generation of Congressmen associated with Rajiv Gandhi, he was more familiar with and open to new ideas in a globalizing polity. A brief discussion on the leadership role of Digvijay Singh provides an understanding of the changes that took place within the Congress party in MP in the 1990s which sets it apart from its counterparts in UP and Bihar. Scion of the small princely state of Rahogarh in Guna district, Digvijay Singh started his political career from here. Popularly called ‘Diggy Raja’, he was only 46 years old when he became the chief minister. Singh is well-educated compared to many political leaders. A mechanical engineer and fond of sports, he showed little early interest in politics. Following the death of his father he was appointed president of the Rahogarh Municipal Committee in 1971 and a little later a director on the Guna district Cooperative Bank. It was in the former position that he learnt the art of politics, as the Committee had three Congressmen and three Jan Sangh his and he had to deal with their demands (India Today, December 21, 1998: 37). He was elected to the state assembly in the 1977 elections when many other princely rulers lost due to his record of helping the poorer sections of the people in his home constituency. A loyal supporter of Mrs Indira Gandhi for over two decades, it was Arjun Singh, her close aide, who nominated him to the MPCC in the mid-1970s, and in recognition of his work within the party, the president of the Youth Congress in 1978. Rajiv Gandhi made Singh president of the MPCC in 1984, a post to which he was reappointed in 1992.5 As MPCC chief Digvijay Singhwas credited with giving his party a sharp pro-poor ideological profile in contrast to the BJP’s pro-rich image (India Today, December 31, 1993: 43–45). By the 1980s he was well-versed in MP politics and emerged as an important young leader within the party. When the Congress swept the polls in MP in 1980he was appointed minister of agriculture in

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the Arjun Singh ministry. He built up a following of his own winning as an MP in 1984 and again in 1991 from Rahogarh. In 1993 due to the intense factional struggle over the post of chief minister between the Arjun Singh and V. C. Shukla faction, Digvijay Singh emerged as a consensus candidate. Motilal Vora was also keen but did not gain enough support (Financial Express, November 5, 1995).

Factional Politics and Selection as Chief Minister As explained earlier, factionalism has been an endemic feature of the Congress party and affected both its electoral fortunes and policies pursued. The manner in which Digvijay Singh was selected as the chief minister by the Congress party in MP following its victory in the 1993 state assembly election shaped his relationship with his colleagues in the party during his tenure. The internal pressures and compulsions within the Congress party were also instrumental in pushing Digvijay Singh towards the adoption of a distinctly pro-poor agenda in 1993. Arjun Singh, who had portrayed himself asa messiah of the tribals and dalits throughout the 1980s, was unhappy that Subhash Yadav, the emerging middle-caste leader of the state was not elected the chief minister (The Times of India, January 7, 1994).6 This was partly due to factional politics within the party and partly a display of ‘political statesmanship’ for inclusion of the lower castes (Gupta 2005: 5094).7 It is also possible that Singh wanted the party to take cognizance of the upsurge from below after the rise of Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar and Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati in UP. Any form of social churning was bound to have a direct effect on MP. In the early 1990s, following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress party was bereft of a charismatic leader, nor did it have any coherent agenda to deal with the identitybased politics in north India. Thus, Arjun Singh’s strategy, it has been argued, can be seen as a counter move of ‘real politik’ to renew the depleting base of the Congress party in the Hindi belt (Gupta 2005: 5094). Digvijay Singh tried to portray himself as standing above petty politics and not belonging to any faction, particularly the Arjun Singh faction of the party. His effort to portray himself as the messiah of the SCs and STs was also not liked by Ajit Jogi and his followers. Jogi tried to argue

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that programmes for tribal or dalits were best implemented by leaders from within the community.8 The constant demand even after the appointment of Digvijay Singh for a tribal chief minister was part of this attempt (The Statesman, July 6, 1995). On the other hand, V. C. Shukla tried to destabilize the new government and promised his supporters that the Digvijay Singh government would not last for more than a year. Opinion is divided over whether Digvijay Singh became chief minister against the wishes of Arjun Singh or, as rivals suggest, the latter succeeded in installing his ‘protégée’. This is because Arjun Singh made a speech at the Congress legislative party meeting called to elect the chief minister, about the need to install a person from the SC/ST ranks. However, others argue that this was done merely to keep out Shukla, a Brahmin. As Arjun Singh was not confident about defeating Shukla he used the strategy of introducing a ‘red herring’, that is, Subhash Yadav. The Congress high command, not sure of who would win, shirked from guiding the meeting, and S. C. Shinde sent as observer argued that Arjun Singh did not mention any name but merely made a speech about the desirability of installing a person from the SC/ST section of the party (‘Curious Turn of Events’, India Today, December 31, 1993: 43). On being asked how he felt as there was a demand for an SC/ST chief minister, Digvijay Singh pointed out, ‘If we impose such restrictions it would be casteism in reverse’. He pointed out that the Congress and its leaders including Mahatma Gandhi had a long history of working for the SCs/STs and it was not necessary to be born into a particular caste to work for it (Interview, India Today, December 31, 1993: 45). Digvijay Singh emerged a winner, but the importance given to the need for a chief minister from the lower orders was one of the reasons for the adoption of policies for the weaker sections during his term in office. Critics have pointed out that unlike in UP there was no dearth of lower-caste and tribal leaders whom the Congress could have promoted as chief minister in the state sending a strong message to these communities. Examples put forward are Vasant Rao Ulke, a tribal leader from the Jabalpur region, and Arvind Netam, also a tribal leader whose wife was given a cabinet berth. Shiv Bhanu Solanki was a tribal leader from

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the Dhar region who, as deputy CM in 1980, had the requisite training and image to be made CM but was denied the post both in the 1980s and 1990s.9 Another important leader was Dilip Singh Bhuriya instead of whom Digvijay Singh was selected; the then leader of the PCC who became a cabinet minister under Singh—Subhash Yadav—was also an important OBC face of the Congress in the state. There is no dearth of tribal women leaders as well, the most important being Yamuna Devi who was made deputy CM under Singh and is currently the leader of the opposition, and Urmilla Singh who was a minister in the Digvijay Singh government.10 The reason for these leaders being ignored is not just the conservative and feudal nature of the party but rather the manner in which lowercaste leaders and tribal leaders have been incorporated in the party, which has led to their marginalization. They were coopted to represent their communities and brought in by certain higher-caste/feudal leaders and did not emerge as leaders out of their own right through struggle and the mobilization of their own community.11 In contrast, the BJP has promoted a number of OBC leaders as chief ministers who have risen from the ranks in both MP and UP; well-known examples being Uma Bharati, Babu Lal Gaur and Chauhan in MP and Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh in UP.

Relationship with the Congress Party Due to the high levels of factionalism within the party it is generally agreed in MP that Digvijay Singh faced problems from his own party during his term as chief minister. However, certain developments in the Congress party distinguish the period of the 1990s from earlier decades, which perhaps explain why Digvijay Singh is the only chief minister in MP to complete his term and in fact, serve two terms.12 First, when he became the chief minister in 1993, the high command, which in the 1970s and 1980s under Mrs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi as described in the previous chapter was one of the players in the factional game constantly intervening in the states, was quite weak under leaders such as Sitaram Kesri. There was no ‘family’ high command and it was only in 1998 that Mrs Sonia Gandhi became the head of the Congress. Hence, he faced much less interference up to 1998. Even after

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wards, as a loyalist who had been close to Rajiv, he was able to gain her support against dissidents within the state who were not encouraged as in the past. Second, while various factions within MP as described earlier, created problems for him, up to 1996 the big leaders of the state—Arjun Singh, Scindia and Kamal Nath—were ministers at the centre.13 However, it is generally agreed in MP that Digvijay Singh faced a great deal of factional problems from leaders such as V. C. Shukla and Ajit Jogi during his first term between 1993 and 1998. He had to carve out a place for himself in the Congress party, which was extremely faction-ridden, and develop an understanding with other leaders. By 1998 Arjun Singh had lost two Lok Sabha elections in 1996 and 1998 and Shukla had faded out and was no longer a strong contender. In the March 1998 Lok Sabha elections the Congress party in MP performed badly, gaining only 10 out of 40 seats in the state, and it was felt that the central leadership of the Congress was looking for a replacement for Singh. But against the expectations of the party, the Congress gained a majority in the December 1998 state assembly elections, which led to Sonia Gandhi establishing Singh as CM for a second term. Two factors seem to have been significant in determining his victory in 1998. Digvijay Singh persuaded the high command to drop a large number of sitting MLAs and brought in many new faces, which perhaps brought victory in those elections but later made him unpopular within his own party (‘The Survivor’, The Telegraph, December 5, 1998). While in 1993 he was a compromise candidate, in 1998 he emerged as a leader in his own right (Rangarajan 1998). He was given a free hand in running the state but had to agree to make Ajit Jogi’s brother and Arjun Singh’s son Ajay Singh cabinet ministers. But Singh dropped nine earlier ministers and brought in new faces, some of them from among the dalits and tribals (India Today, December 21, 1998: 37). Second, as described a little later, his decentralization programmes at the grassroots in the area of education, water and health paid him rich dividends. Some critics in the party have held that one of the reasons Singh did not oppose the formation of the state of Chhattisgarh in 2000—which he could have delayed—was that he felt that it would rid him of two factional opponents,

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V. C. Shukla and Ajit Jogi, who would shift to the new state leaving him free to pursue the Dalit Agenda. Reasons put forward by many for Digvijay Singh’s success despite the divisions in the party, are his soft-spokeness, inclusive approach and ability to carry the faction-ridden Congress party together. He became well-known for conferencing and holding meetings or ‘vichar manthans’ with local leaders and made surprise visits even in remote rural areas to work out policies.14 Following the victory of the Congress party in the 1998 state assembly elections and his appointment as the chief minister again, he undertook a four-day-long thanksgiving tour of the state, making 16 landings in a chartered Beech craft and helicopter and drove hundreds of miles in between (India Today, December 21, 1998: 35).Another reason was the support of the highly influential and powerful Rajmata of Gwalior (Deccan Herald, April 22, 1994). However, Digvijay Singh’s relationship with his party and his immediate cabinet colleagues was at times troubled and even conflictual, particularly prior to the 2003 elections. With a few exceptions, most of his ministers concentrated on two non-policy matters: solidifying their personal networks of support (which were not formidable enough to threaten Singh) and self-enrichment (Manor forthcoming). The chief minister largely permitted them to pursue these matters as it left him free to deal with the implementation of policies he cared for. But Manor points out that this led to two problems, which Singh seems to have regarded as a price that had to be paid. First, it gave his ministers immense power in their bailiwicks that damaged some of the progressive programmes he was trying to implement. Second, it opened the way to serious corruption in the government (ibid.). Many of the ministers were not in favour of the Dalit Agenda and the programmes based on it, particularly land distribution, which they felt would be difficult to implement and undermine the base of the party among the influential landowning elements in the countryside. Some were themselves landowners and not in favour of upsetting the existing social order. Thus Singh had little support from his own party for his programmes for dalits and tribals and

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depended much more on support from sections of the senior bureaucracy that helped push public policy in the desired direction. A recent study, which compares political processes in the Indian states associated with economic reform, has shown how leadership makes a difference by comparing the role played by leaders such as Jayalalithaa, Chandrababu Naidu and S. M. Krishna. Much of the difference in public policy in these states is determined by patterns of political mobilization and competition, but leadership can give a different direction to the economy and the polity (Jenkins 2004). Singh’s non-political and development-oriented image sets him apart from most of his predecessors in politics like Arjun Singh and Motilal Vora in the Congress and Sunderlal Patwa of the BJP. It also sets him apart from his contemporaries such as Laloo Prasad Yadav, pushing him closer to Chandra Babu Naidu. However, Singh argues that Naidu, though a developmentminded leader, is ‘more on the side of hi-tech whereas my focus has always been on social engineering’ (India Today, December 21, 2006: 37). According to James Manor, he resembles certain ‘distinguished “pragmatic progressives” at the state level in the Congress during the 1970s such as Devaraj Urs’. Manor holds that on occasion he took serious political risks in his pursuit of progressive goals.15 The real contrast, however, is with a different dalit agenda in UP. In UP, a strong dalit party came to power a number of times in the 1990s but it did not bring in economic policies for the upliftment of the dalits, particularly the poorer sections such as land distribution, educational schemes or help to dalit entrepreneurs. Rather, it emphasized on self-respect and dignity and was able to provide political empowerment (Pai 2002). In MP the Digvijay Singh government held the first conference of dalit and tribal intellectuals and activists, endorsed the Dalit Agenda that emerged and tried to implement many of the programmes contained in it. There are sharp differences of opinion about Digvijay Singh and his policies evoke much debate and controversy. While some bureaucrats, political leaders and a section of academics admire him for his capabilities, vision and commitment to the poorer and weaker sections in society, others have described

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him as a shrewd politician who was able to time his policies and package them in a manner that made him popular. Shashank Kela calls him ‘a better politician than any of his competitors—more Machiavellian, more astute, a better party manager and . . . not much more corrupt’ (Kela 2003: 2815). A more thoughtful and constructive critique is from a senior retired bureaucrat who pointed out that Singh had the opportunity and capability to do much more for MP, putting the state on the path of a higher growth rate, but failed to utilize it.16 He headed two governments that unlike many state governments in the 1990s had a majority and therefore stability of tenure to carry out long-term policies. Second, as chief minister he did not invest substantially in infrastructure, power or industry, which would have given a boost to the economy of the state. Even in education public investment was low and the quality of the schools created was poor and the attempt at decentralization was not very successful. His land distribution policies were populist and did not provide much help to the poor, as encroachment on land remains a reality in the state that the government could not tackle. Digvijay Singh’s image improved due to international recognition of his Education Guarantee Scheme that won the Gold Award in the inaugural year of the Commonwealth Award for Innovation in Government and Public Action Programmes.17

The New Model of Development in the 1990s There were a number of pressures on Digvijay Singh when he became the chief minister to adopt a pro-poor agenda: the demand for a lower caste/tribal chief minister to counter the growing dalit assertion in the Hindi heartland, the legacy of the Arjun Singh ministry which had implemented a number of policies for dalits, OBCs and tribals, and the developmental plank adopted by the party leaders during the 1993 elections. Digvijay Singh was also aware that there had been a gradual decline in Brahmin dominance and increase in the number of dalit, tribal and OBC leaders in the party during the 1980s which had raised expectations among these groups. Moreover, there was just a 2 per cent difference in the total votes obtained by the Congress and the BJP in the 1993 assembly elections

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which pointed to the need to strengthen the base of his party. Due to all these reasons Singh felt that if the Congress were to survive it had to adopt a pro–weaker sections agenda. Responding to the demands for a chief minister from among dalit/tribal leaders in the Congress, Digvijay Singh, on becoming chief minister, brought in non-elite groups within the government and the party. He appointed a number of non upper-caste leaders to his cabinet and as office bearers in the party and two deputy chief ministers—Pyarelal Kanwar from among the STs, and Subhash Yadav from the OBCs. A series of dalit and tribal leaders were successively appointed: SC leaders such as Parasram Bharadwaj in 1994 to the post of head of the MPCC and Doman Singh Nagpure in 1997; between 1993 and1997 the number of tribal leaders in his government increased, for example, Urmila Singh, a tribal leader was made minister in 1997.18 Yet the major change was that Brahmin domination characteristic of the party in the past was replaced by that of the Rajputs. Following its victory in 1993, the Congress party also tried to bring in lower castes in important posts in the organization. In the new PCC appointed in 1993 the upper castes accounted for 55 per cent of its composition. The OBCs were 15.5 per cent, SCs 14 per cent; the vice presidents consisted of one SC, one ST and one OBC. The percentage of upper castes decreased from 55.2 per cent in 1993 to 45.6 per cent in 1996 but the share of the OBCs remained the same, it was the tribals who gained. However, the representation given to the OBCs in allotment of tickets for elections during the 1990s remained lower than within the BJP in MP. Digvijay Singh has argued that this was due to the fact that ticket distribution in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections during the 1990s was done by the central committee and not at the state level. The percentage of upper-caste candidates in the Congress remained at 40 per cent in the1999 Lok Sabha elections, whereas it was only 32.5 per cent on the BJP side. This probably explains why the Congress was able to attract less OBC voters compared to the BJP in 1998 (Frontline, December 10, 1999). On the other hand the Congress received about three-quarters of the tribal vote and 51 per cent of the dalit vote. It was able to attract former supporters of the BSP, which experienced electoral

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decline in 1998. As a result, the social composition of the government and party underwent a significant change and was more representative of the lower castes/classes compared to the Congress party in UP or Bihar, which even in the mid1990s did not have any lower-caste leaders. This, together with the new model of development and programmes, explains the victory of the Congress in the 1998 elections. After his victory in 1998, finding himself in a stronger position, Digvijay Singh tried to bring in a larger number of non-elite groups into the Congress party. Under his stewardship the Congress party in MP was the first state unit to reserve 53 per cent of the posts on the PCC as per the directive of the party high command in the wake of the Pachmarhi resolution. As a first step, in March 1999, a meeting of the presidents of the DCCs decided that 33 per cent of the posts in the district Congress units should be reserved for women and 20 per cent for SCs, STs and OBCs (MP Chronicle, March 14, 1999). A month later, 13 new office bearers were appointed to the MPCC in conformity with the Congress constitution which now reserved 33 per cent of the party posts for women and 22 per cent for SCs, STs and OBCs (ibid.). But the percentage of uppercaste DCCs remained significant—almost 57 per cent—as the decline of the Brahmins was compensated, once again, by the rise of the Rajputs. However, as Gupta has pointed out, there was a dearth of ‘takers’ in the subaltern society for these efforts by the Congress party. In spite of successive efforts by the political leadership, the emergence of the subalterns in MP has remained confined within the parameters of upper-caste dominance. It was a ‘piece of social engineering where the “supply” preceded the “demand” creation’. It proved to be a way in which the lower castes and tribes could be included in the system without upsetting the existing political order. As a result it failed to trigger social movements among the backward castes-classes as in UP and Bihar (Gupta 2005: 5093). Apart from changes within the party, Digvijay Singh also announced a series of policies for disadvantaged groups when he assumed power in 1993: unemployment allowance, land to the landless, free electricity to small farmers, and electricity and water to all villages (India Today, December 31, 1993: 45).

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Further, Singh implemented the 14 per cent reservation for OBCs in government departments, public undertakings and local bodies that the Ramji Mahajan Commission had recommended. He also tried to meet the challenge posed by the BSP by granting recognition to the SC/ST Employees Federation and giving good postings to SC and ST officers and increasing job reservation to dalits and tribals in the state (ibid.). Policies were framed to help SC and ST students in their education, new rules framed under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, and care taken to correctly implement the reservation policies in recruitment to police and other state departments. However, our study argues that the single most important policy decision during Digvijay Singh’s first term from 1993 to 1998 was the adoption of a new model of development based on the human development perspective. Based on this approach he had a clear goal for MP: he described it as a backward state—a sleeping giant—and wanted to make it into a ‘forward state, with the affluence of a Gujarat and the equity of a Kerala’ (India Today, December 21, 2006: 37). Hence his policies for weaker sections during the 1990s were quite different from those adopted during the 1980s. He represented a younger generation of leaders influenced by the globalization of the economy and new developmental ideas emerging at the time. Moreover, early in life Singh had come into contact with civil society activists and imbibed their participation-oriented methods of work that he experimented with in MP (Manor forthcoming). Consequently, he was open to experimentation with new schemes which in the mid-1990s were not well-known in the country. In the HD perspective adopted, political decentralization was the key concept and primary instrument through which programmes were put into action. MP, under Digvijay Singh, was the first state to prepare a sub-national HD Report and three reports were produced in 1995, 1998 and 2002. The first HDR provided intellectual support to a major policy passed in August 1994, namely, the Panchayati Raj. A wide range of powers were devolved to panchayats in three main areas: education, health and natural resource management, and later in 2001 through the establishment of ‘gram swaraj’ an attempt

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was made to further democratize panchayats and enable members, particularly dalits and tribals, to participate more actively. The Panchayati Raj institutions were complimented by the creation of plural grassroots organizations between 1994 and 1998 for community management of watersheds, Joint Forest Management (JFM), fish-workers cooperatives, and non-timber forest produce, etc. The second HDR took decentralization further by putting into place an Education Guarantee Scheme that provided a primary schooling facility to every habitation in the state through community participation. It also made innovations in health care involving people in the system put into place. The third HDR emphasized the need to build human capabilities to ‘consolidate grassroots democracy and move towards a rights based framework for these goals’ (MP HDR 2002). The reports drew attention to the poor level of human development of the SCs and STs and the need to build their capabilities in order to bring them to the same level as the rest of the population. Other innovative schemes were the Lok Sampark Abhiyan or Peoples Survey in 1996 in 34 districts (MP HDR 1998: 9) to obtain authentic and adequate information about some of the vital sectors such as education and provided an alternative People’s Information System on the status of primary education in these districts (ibid.). On August 30, 1994 seven tasks were converted into missions named the Rajiv Gandhi missions: universal primary education, watershed management, control of diarrhoea diseases, elimination of iodine deficiency disorders, rural industries, fisheries development and sanitation (MP HDR 1998). NGOs were made partners and collaborators in development with the state and the people. By adopting the mission approach and forming partnerships with NGOs Digvijay Singh attempted to bypass state structures for a faster and more efficient method of implementation. In this he took the advice of civil society activists who had knowledge about the state.19 The programmes implemented by the Digvijay Singh government under the new model of development between 1993 and 1998 proved to be a learning experience. New and radical

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ideas and methods were tried out and these proved useful in the conceptualization and implementation of the BD in 2002. They provided the government confidence that unconventional measures often helped. This, together with the victory of the Congress in 1998 and the appointment of Digvijay Singh as the chief minister for a second term, set the ground for the unfolding of the Dalit Agenda where some of these initiatives were to be guided towards a specific section of the population.

Conclusion This chapter has analyzed the attempts made by the Congress party in MP during the 1980s and 1990s through a series of inclusionary policies to strengthen its base among the dalits and tribals and, to a lesser extent, the OBCs. These groups, but more particularly the first two, traditionally formed the support structure of the Congress party in the post-independence period. However, beginning in the early 1980s, a number of political developments led the party leadership to adopt a more conscious policy of inclusion through development/welfare programmes and increased representation that impacted significantly on the future trajectory of politics in the state. This strategy differentiates the party in MP from its counterparts in other states of the Hindi heartland such as UP and Bihar where identity drove mass politics and issues of development were set aside. These developments help explain the survival of the Congress party and its continuation in power in MP while it collapsed in UP and Bihar. An important reason for the alternative path pursued by the Congress was the challenge posed by the Jan Sangh within a two party system by the late 1970s. From the mid 1980s a more important reason was the wave of dalit assertion in the Hindi heartland that brought the BSP to power in UP in the early 1990s and enabled it to win seats in the northern districts of MP. Simultaneously the BJP attempted, based on its ideology of Hindutva, to create a single Hindu vote bank inclusive of the OBCs and lower orders. The Congress party recognized quite early that with decline of the single dominant system in the Hindi heartland and fundamental changes taking place in

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the party system at the national and state level, it was imperative to adopt new strategies towards the weaker sections. From a broad-based umbrella party in the post-independence period, the base of the Congress had gradually shrunk by the 1980s as it lost the support of the upper castes and sections of the OBCs, reducing it to a party of the poorer and marginalized sections. Even among the latter sections while it retained much of its tribal base, its dalit base was eroded by the BSP. While these political challenges were present in all the states in the region, in MP a progressive Congress leadership displayed greater realization of the changes taking place and ability to deal with the rise of identity politics by taking concrete action. Despite the fact that the position of the upper castes/ classes was not questioned from below as in the other states of the Hindi heartland, it introduced state-supported programmes ‘from above’ for disadvantaged groups, particularly dalits and tribals, and tried to bring them into the party and government. Attempts were also made in the campaign for the 1993 and 1998 state assembly elections to counter the Hindutva ideology and identity issues posed by opposition parties with issues of development within the state that appealed to the electorate. During the 1980s Congress leaders such as Arjun Singh adopted a number of significant policies and programmes for dalits and tribals and other disadvantaged groups. Apart from reservations based on a Backward Classes Commission Report, the party granted land, housing sites, etc. and top priority was given to education and policies for rural areas that generated tremendous support for the party. Many of these were in continuation of the radical garibi hatao, 20-point programme adopted by Mrs Indira Gandhi during the Emergency. Thus, in MP the efforts to provide reservation, policies and programmes precedes and does not follow the Mandal Commission and the strong wave of assertion by the lower castes in the Hindi heartland region. There was also an increase in the percentage of OBCs, dalits and tribals in the Congress party and government. More important was the role played by Digvijay Singh when the party came back to power in 1993. Representing a

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new generation of educated younger leaders in the Congress influenced by globalization, Singh introduced a number of innovative policies based on the human development approach to improve the socio-economic conditions of the underprivileged. He decided to improve the social sectors such as education, health and housing, particularly in the rural areas, and bring in decentralization and participatory programmes at the grassroots level through innovative methods of implementation in a bid to improve livelihood and quality of life, which could help remove the backwardness of the state. This sets him apart from other chief ministers during the decade such as Chandrababu Naidu and S. M Krishna who introduced development in partnership with the private sector, encouraged industry, information technology and developed the urban areas. These programmes set the stage for the Bhopal Conference held in 2002, which unveiled a new Dalit Agenda. But in many of his actions he was constrained by both factionalism and opposition by party colleagues to many of the programmes for disadvantaged groups. However, much of this process of inclusion and broad basing of the Congress party in MP during the 1980s and 1990s has been through co-optation of dalit and tribal leaders into the party and government, and not rise of political assertion due to the new policies adopted by the Congress leadership. This is in keeping historically with the Congress policy of upliftment of the lower orders to obtain political support rather than mobilization leading to movements. MP remains a socially conservative and feudal state with both the Congress and the BJP attempting to accommodate the lower orders but without breaking down the existing system or devolving power to them. The Congress leadership was in fact reacting to changes taking place not in the state but in the northern plains. This explains the absence of social movements among the lower castes or tribals and the continuation of bi-polar politics between two conservative political parties. Thus, the route to social change in MP is different from elsewhere in the Hindi heartland and is taking much longer due to the nature of the society in which it is taking place. Keeping in mind these changes, we move to an analysis of the BD at the Bhopal Conference in January 2002 through which Digvijay Singh

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attempted to take this process of inclusion further through programmes targeted specifically at dalits and tribals.

Notes 1. Interview with Digvijay Singh at his office at the AICC, New Delhi, on August 28, 2006. 2. However, only 28 of the nearly 800 candidates who appeared could obtain the minimum required marks of 40 per cent and since there were at least 216 seats out of a total of 720 in six colleges the Arjun Singh government drastically lowered marks so that the quota could be filled. This was widely criticized and opposed by students and the public (The Hindu, September 20, 1980). 3. Media reports highlight this factor during the campaign for the 1993 assembly elections. 4. For details, see Jaffrelot (1996: 134–35). 5. Interview with Digvijay Singh, August 28, 2006, New Delhi. 6. Subhash Yadav began his career through his election to the mandi samitis and cooperative societies in the state. From here he moved to becoming a member of the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha. He was made deputy CM in 1993 and is currently leader of the opposition in the MP Vidhan Sabha. 7. In 1993, following the victory of the party, there were at least four factions led by important leaders who were keen to become CM or appoint one of their supporters: Arjun Singh, Scindia, S. C. Shukla and Kamal Nath. Arjun Singh was keen to appoint an SC or ST person as the CM in order to keep out Shukla. As at least 174 legislators, many of them supporters of Arjun Singh, supported Digvijay Singh, the former eventually agreed with Scindia and Kamal Nath to make Singh the CM provided Subhash Yadav was made the deputy CM. See India Today, December 31, 1993. 8. This was the reason that the controversy whether Ajit Jogi is a tribal or not became so important in MP. The issue was even taken up by the High Court. 9. A study points out that activists working among the tribals do not have a positive opinion about tribal political leaders. It shows that members of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath in Jhabua feel that leaders such as Dilip Singh Bhuria or Arvind Netam are simply interested in controlling the lucrative flow of resources from the state for their own benefit; though these leaders claim to represent exploited tribals, they are not committed to challenging the model of development that impoverishes these groups. Instead of questioning the resource-intensive pattern of industrialization being promoted and the alienation of tribal lands, they seek only to enlarge their own share of benefits. Thus tribal leaders within the Congress do not have

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10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

a strong base at the grassroots; co-opted into the party they have little understanding of the problems faced by tribals in the countryside. See Baviskar (1997: 211). Interview with Yamuna Devi and Congress MLA Satyadev Katare in Bhopal, August 2007. Yamuna Devi was important during the 1960s due to her work among the tribals. But later she was co-opted as a senior leader of the Congress party effectively removing her from grassroots politics. I am grateful to Shyam Babu for a discussion on the Congress party in MP on November 19, 2008 in New Delhi. Manor argues that these leaders could only trouble him through their followers in MP. See Manor (forthcoming). Discussion with Shyam Babu in New Delhi in October 2007. See Manor (forthcoming). For the reference to Devraj Urs see Manor (2002). A retired bureaucrat who did not wish to be named. Ibid Interview, Digvijay Singh, August 28, 2006, New Delhi. An activist close to Digvijay Singh during his period in office was P. V. Rajgopal, head of the Ekta Parishad.

3 Formulating a New Dalit Agenda: The Bhopal Document During the 1990s the Congress party in Madhya Pradesh attempted to broaden the base of the party and introduce programmes for the upliftment of the weaker sections, particularly dalits and tribals who have formed a significant part of its social base. However, the adoption of a Dalit Agenda as part of the Bhopal Document at the Bhopal Conference on January 12 and 13, 2002 by the Digvijay Singh government took this process forward by introducing radically new programmes for dalits and tribals. The policies adopted in 1993 when the party came to power—influenced by liberalization and the emergence of a more competitive economy in the country— were based on three premises: placing human development at the centre of the developmental ideology of the state, using political decentralization and grassroots participation for development, and deploying strategies of public–private partnership to implement programmes for the weaker sections. From here, the adoption of the Dalit Agenda was a step forward, a part of the larger vision that was now used to target a section of the population selected as disadvantaged and backward and in need of state assistance. The adoption of the Dalit Agenda at the Bhopal Conference was neither a sudden step, nor a change in ideology or direction by the second Digvijay Singh government formed in 1998. Many programmes for dalits and tribals put forward by the BD such as land distribution and education were already being implemented and these were carried forward. This chapter analyzes the developments leading to the Bhopal Conference of 2002 and the adoption of the Dalit Agenda that included programmes for both dalits and tribals by the Digvijay Singh government. It argues that the BD discussed at the Conference represents a new dalit intellectual initiative, by an educated class of dalits and tribal

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leaders keen to formulate a new vision for the upliftment of dalits and tribals. The ideas put forward by the authors of the Document were in keeping with globalization of the economy and shrinking of the earlier welfare state, as traditional policies of reservation were no longer viewed as useful. The Conference was a partnership between the political leadership and a new generation of dalit and tribal intellectuals. But equally important, the BD is undoubtedly a political document and Digvijay Singh found it politically salient to accommodate the new dalit effort. This study argues that both a commitment to weaker sections and political necessity pushed the Congress government towards policies for weaker sections in the state. A number of socio-political factors were important in pushing the Digvijay Singh government towards adoption of the Dalit Agenda: the social demography of the state which made it imperative to cater to the needs of SCs/STs in a period when identities were assuming salience; narrowing of the social base of the Congress party at the state and national level; a tradition of welfare policies for weaker sections adopted by previous governments; and the challenge posed by the BSP and the ‘social engineering’ policies of the BJP which attempted to gain the support of the dalits and OBCs. There was, hence, a convergence of interests between the dalit intellectuals and activists gathered for the Bhopal Conference and the Congress party. It ensured that the statesponsored project by the Digvijay Singh government was carried forward. The Dalit Agenda constitutes an alternative to the emergence of an independent dalit mobilization by Mayawati and the collapse of the Congress party in UP. In brief, this chapter explores the strategies for obtaining the support of the dalits and tribals employed by the Congress party in M Pagainst the backdrop of identity-based mobilization in the Hindi heartland. Examining official pronouncements enunciated in the BD, Bhopal Declaration and the Task Force (TF) reports, the chapter also seeks to understand the nature of the response to the challenge of dalit upliftment in MP and how it was different from earlier programmes for dalits. The new Dalit Agenda is different from earlier efforts to help this category in

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a number of ways. It is an attempt to forge a new social consensus inclusive of all sections of society that would render it socially legitimate, provide greater room and responsibility for the private sector and introduce new innovative programmes based on the twin principles of diversity and democratization suitable to the emerging market economy—educational and work place diversity in both public and private institutions and supplier and dealership diversity leading to democratization of capital. These constitute the ‘heart’ of the BD and its authors were keen to bring these ideas into the political mainstream and hoped through the Conference to make them part of the on going debate about the need to involve the private sector in various ways in providing reservation to disadvantaged sectors. While many programmes were put forward in the BD, the focus in this study is primarily on two: land distribution and supplier diversity. The chapter is divided into two parts. The first part examines the move towards and philosophy underlying the BD, its recommendations, how they are different from protective discrimination policies in the past and the response to the Dalit Agenda. The second part briefly describes the programmes for dalits adopted by the Congress government following the Bhopal Conference.

The Dalit Agenda: ‘Charting a New Course’ Following its victory in the 1998 State Assembly elections, the second Digvijay Singh government decided to support the efforts of some dalit intellectuals to formulate new policies for dalits/tribals more in keeping with the changes taking place in the country. These efforts culminated in a new Dalit Agenda contained in the BD that was discussed at the Bhopal Conference on January 12 and 13, 2002. The BD had its origins in the late 1990s in the attempt by a group of dalit intellectuals and activists to present to the Congress party a report focusing on the socio-economic conditions of dalits and a set of proposals that would go beyond the conventional state policies for this social category. While the Congress leadership was supportive of the proposals, it was not in a position to take action as it

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was out of power at the centre.1 In most states in north India that were also experiencing dalit assertion such as UP, Bihar and Rajasthan, the Congress party was not in power. Thus, it was the Congress leadership in MP—where the party won the 1998 state assembly elections—that took up the initiative and carried it forward. Digvijay Singh personally took interest and supported the document drafted by dalit intellectuals and held the Bhopal Conference.2 Two reasons made this possible. Under the leadership of Digvijay Singh the Congress had already put into practice programmes for the disadvantaged sections, though in contrast to traditional welfare policies these were based on human development, political decentralization and public–private partnerships. Second, the document provided a blueprint at a time when Digvijay Singh, following the victory in 1998, was seeking new programmes and policies to meet the challenge of rising dalit assertion in the Hindi heartland. There was a convergence in the new model of development already in place in MP and the new thinking about how to tackle the Dalit Question. Consequently, when a new dalit intellectual effort emerged in the late 1990s MP was the logical destination for its activation and implementation. Although it was conceived earlier the clearest enunciation of the new Dalit Agenda emerges in the BD of 2002.3 Drafted by the MP government and some dalit intellectuals prior to the Bhopal Conference held at Bhopal on January 12 and 13, 2002, it was circulated to a number of intellectuals, dalits and non-dalits, who were invited to discuss the strategies for upliftment of weaker sections contained in it. Invitees were requested to send their comments in advance or place them in the meeting. Following an extensive debate the Document was finalized and a ‘Bhopal Declaration’ issued after the Conference and incorporated in the final version. The Bhopal Declaration adopted unanimously at the end of the Conference consisted of two parts: the first part, through a declaration, affirmed and recognized the need to improve the conditions of dalits while the second put forward a 21-point agenda which provided the basis for the MP government to enact and implement policies for the improvement of the conditions of dalits.4 The BD was drafted by Chandrabhan Prasad, intellectual and journalist,

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well-known for writing a column in The Pioneer titled ‘Dalit Diary’. In 1999, Chandan Mitra, the editor of the newspaper, invited Prasad to write this column as he felt that there were no dalit journalists and the media was pro-upper caste in its thinking. Hailing from Azamgarh district of UP, Prasad was educated at Jawaharlal Nehru University and was initially a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI [ML]), and later started the Dalit Shiksha Andolan which has spread across UP. He epitomizes the new generation, and in his column attempted to show how Indian polity and society is exclusive, there being very few, or in some cases, no dalits in most of the leading public institutions, media, art sand institutions of higher learning, which he calls a system of ‘apartheid’.5 The column immediately became a forum for discussing dalit issues and also to profile dalit ‘achievers’, thus creating a visible community among the mainstream media. The BD had its more immediate origins in the ‘Dalit Millennium’ published by The Pioneer on January 30, 2000. To mark the dawn of the millennium, The Pioneer was issuing monthly supplements on various issues called ‘Millennium Supplements’. The ‘Dalit Millennium’ was a well-conceived and interesting supplement consisting of about eight pages, put together by a number of dalit intellectuals drawn from writers, academics and journalists and edited by Rajsekhar Vundru, a dalit Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and a poet.6 It dealt with a wide range of issues of significance for dalits for the first time. These ranged from problems of reservation, the controversial issue of merit, representation of dalits in state institutions such as the judiciary, need for better educational attainments, leadership, caste atrocities, the plight of dalit women, etc. Some articles pointed out that ‘diversification of dalits from government service to other fields’ should become the major trend in the years to come. Others argued that ‘correction of land-labour relations will be the most burning issue’ in the new millennium. A few pointed to the need for a new ‘Dalit Bourgeoisie’ in the field of business and industry. Thus many issues were taken up which found an echo in the BD at a later date. The 12-page broad-sheet received critical acclaim and was instrumental in bringing together

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the individuals who produced it and the government of MP which made the ‘Dalit Agenda’ a central theme of its developmental strategy. This partnership later culminated in the Bhopal Conference (Babu 2003: 10). The BD, which emanated from these efforts, is a response to a number of significant changes during the decade of the 1990s: the introduction of a SAP in 1991 leading to liberalization of the economy and a shift in the relationship between the weaker sections and the state; the decline of the Congress system and the rise of parties based on dalit identity; and most important, a strong wave of dalit assertion in the north Indian plains that had thrown up a new, post-independence, educated generation of dalits who were no longer prepared to put up with oppression and were keen to find new ways to help their community. The BD, consequently, was the product of a new, educated generation of dalit and non-dalit intellectuals, who, influenced by the changes taking place in the country, were keen to assess the impact of state policies for dalits pursued in the post-independence period, take a look at the problems faced by this community and make fresh suggestions in the light of the changing socio-economic and political context in the country. Unlike earlier demands the BD laid claim to a share in the country’s resources, assets and institutions and sought its share in land and capital. But it sought to introduce change not merely in the economic but in all spheres of the life of dalits and tribals (ibid.). Some international developments during this period also pushed dalit intellectuals such as Prasad towards finding new solutions to caste-based discrimination. The early 2000s was a period when apartheid was being dismantled in South Africa. It generated a debate in India whether caste-based discrimination can be equated with racial discrimination, a subject hotly argued at the World Conference Against Racism held at Durban in 2001. The Bhopal Conference held soon after the Durban Conference provided dalits a unique opportunity to meet and exchange views and review the progress made in their struggle (Frontline, ‘Dalit Cause’, Vol. 19, No. 3, February 2–15,2002). It has been described as an attempt to ‘redefine the Dalit Question and also to find the community’s place in

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the changing politico-economic environment’ (Babu 2003: 4). Many dalit intellectuals, arguing that race and caste are similar, held that raising international opinion against castebased discrimination was required to end it in India. They pointed out that apartheid in South Africa ended more due to international pressure than pressures from within (Prasad 2004: 137). Organizations such as the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, a coalition of NGOs, argued that both race and caste were premised on the doctrine of exclusion and denial and urged the UN to recognize caste-based discrimination at par with racial discrimination. Many intellectuals in India also felt that the existing system of protective discrimination was not working well and were influenced by the American experience of affirmative action/diversity. With globalization and there treat of the state in India they felt that such schemes must be implemented in India. These ideas, as discussed little later, found an echo at the Bhopal Conference and were incorporated in the final document. The Bhopal Conference of dalit intellectuals and activists was unique in many respects. It was the first time that a huge all-India dalit conference with more than 250 participants representing many shades of opinion within the dalit movement from all over the country met to take stock of the situation facing the community in the post-liberalization phase. Given its representative character, the Conference became part of the dalit discourse everywhere (Babu 2003: 13). For the scholars and activists the Conference was significant because for the first time after independence a state government had sponsored a major conference on issues facing dalits and invited even known critics of the government’s policies and approaches to participate and offer suggestions (Frontline, ‘Dalit Cause’,Vol. 19, No. 3, February 2–15, 2002). They had a definite agenda of bringing in new programmes in the context of liberalization of the economy and the conference provided a platform to showcase these programmes, give them publicity and the support of the Congress party. They were aware that the state government was favourably disposed to open up hitherto excluded sectors to the dalits, and particularly to implement the US model of diversity in its economic activities and

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what was needed was a conference to crystallize the agenda (Babu 2003: 13). Consequently, the exercise was more policyoriented than academic. The MP government organized the conference in that it provided infrastructural and financial support but the dalit activists determined the agenda, sessions, speakers, etc. Shyam Babu, a participant, argues that it was possible because there was a convergence of views and interests (ibid.). An observer who attended later wrote: It was clear to those attending the conference that though Digvijay Singh and his government were hosting the event it was almost entirely conducted by a committed group of dalit intellectuals and activists. Probably there was a mutual dependence of both sides on each other but clearly, the agenda and the discussions reflected an almost complete autonomy of the intellectual content of the conference (Nigam 2002: 1193).

Thus, the Document was expected to invite ‘a free and frank debate’ on new and innovative ways of ‘charting a new course’ for dalits in the 21st century (BD 2002). Yet at the same time the BD was undoubtedly a political document and a number of factors led the Congress government to hold the Conference and put into action the policies recommended by it. Many of the programmes recommended by the BD such as land distribution, restoration of tribal and dalit lands, education for rural SCs/STs in the form of the Education Guarantee Scheme and the use of reservation policies to fill up the bureaucracy had already been put into practice from the mid-1990s. The Conference presented an opportunity to the Congress government to publicize these welfare schemes and receive feedback from the activists. The BD acknowledges this fact and attempts to move forward in many areas based on existing policies. Digvijay Singh and some of his ministerial colleagues attended the conference and responded to some of the ideas expressed to improve the lot of dalits in MP. As Singh pointed out, ‘I have been a politician for thirty years. But this conference is not politics to garner votes. It is politics for development of a section of the society without whose progress the nation cannot progress’.7 In his speech he drew attention

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to the fact that most Congress leaders had forgotten Mahatma Gandhi’s message of removing untouchability and Indira Gandhi’s policies aimed at helping the dalits and other weaker sections.8 The Conference also provided a vehicle for ‘political consolidation’ among the target group, as the Congress feared that it was losing electoral support among dalits (Babu 2003: 12). The party had been steadily losing the reserved seats in the state to the BJP over the decade; in the 1999 elections the BJP won 12 and the Congress only three reserved seats (ibid.). Thus a similarity of ideas and interests between the dalit organizers of the Conference and the Congress party under Digvijay Singh is clearly visible. However, the term ‘dalit’ as used in the BD included both the SCs and STs who together constitute a large proportion of the population in MP. The report argues that they form one group for two historical reasons: they come from ‘common ancestors’ and second, they stand outside the Chaturvarna system and suffer from the prejudices of the caste-Hindus (BD 2002: 35). The number of dalits present was larger than the number of tribals, as the latter has not yet thrown up a substantial middleclass which can provide it intellectual leadership.9 In fact, the Conference organizers were hard put to find a respectable number of tribal intellectuals who could participate in the deliberations compared to dalit intellectuals and activists who then went on to dominate the proceedings.10 Finally, the significance of the BD can be understood from the fact that it found a mention in the Republic Day address of President K. R. Narayanan in January 2002.11 In a speech expected to dwell on the problems of fundamentalism and terrorism, the president described in detail and firmly supported the Document and emphasized the need for not only the state but also the private sector to adopt social policies that are progressive and more egalitarian for the upliftment of the deprived sections of society. He pointed out that the private sector in India could learn from the American example of diversity and other forms of affirmative action. While many commentators pointed out that Narayanan took up this issue due to his dalit background, yet it points to the increasing importance of the Dalit Question.

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Philosophy Underlying the BD While the BD put forward a new Dalit Agenda, it was done in the context of larger issues, such as whether Indian society without democratizing its traditional social/cultural/political institutions can become a genuine democracy. Can India evolve into a civil society without eliminating its varna/caste institutions (BD 2002: 30)? Can a country that keeps 250 million SCs/STs segregated from the country’s public institutions ever have a genuine democracy? It pointed out that without social democracy, political democracy is futile, an issue raised by Baba Sahib Ambedkar and which forms the crux of the problem in India (ibid.: 35). It raised the seminal question: Where will dalits be by AD 2100? It can hence be viewed as a ‘vision’ document. It is against this background that the Document attempts to find new avenues and policies whereby the SCs/STs can be brought into the mainstream of society and given their due share in all areas of life. A second characteristic of the BD which distinguishes it from earlier statements on development of SC/STs is that it fore grounded ‘a possible tension between universalistic as piration of social democracy and the particularity of the discourse of caste’ (Mehta 2004: 268). It realized that the reality of caste has impeded the creation of a genuinely universalistic aspiration of social democracy in at least two ways. First, too great an insistence on the caste question creates divisions amongst groups that might otherwise be possible allies for the democratization of civil society. Second, the discourse on caste seems to allow for the slow co-option of even sub-groups amongst the dalits. The report identifies the ‘upper varnas’ and ‘upper shudras’ as the two dominant blocks that own most of the nation’s assets and public institutions, and exclude the SCs/STs. It avoids criticizing Brahmanism directly and depicts a broader picture of the sources of dalit oppression (ibid.). Thus, the declaration, while it supported the cause of dalits, tried to place them as bearers of a more universal agenda rising above the narrow caste politics engulfing the country. It realized that to obtain freedom from caste, it will have to break open the confines of caste politics as well.

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For this reason the Document recognized that any change will have to be ‘more evolutionary than revolutionary’, non conflictual, taking into consideration the existing opinions in the society—both dalit and non-dalit (ibid.: 59). The BD raised questions about the impact of dalit movements and political mobilization on the socio-economic status of dalits. Critical of SC/ST politicians who hold that unless dalits capture state power nothing can be achieved, it pointed out that social movements and capture of power have provided ‘political rights’ but have had little impact on the economic condition of dalits (BD 2002: 37).12 In a critique, perhaps of the BSP, it queried, ‘Did Ambedkar win rights after capturing political power?’ Oragain, did ‘Ambedkar win rights after embracing Buddhism or, he won rights first, and then embraced Buddhism?’ (ibid.: 38).The attempt should be to create conditions where no SC/ST member is identified by his/her traditional occupation and break the ‘linkage between occupation and varna/caste’ which has been the ‘life blood of the Chatur-varna Order’ (ibid.: 59).The main avenue of change is education, but not the earlier liberal education leading to government employment; it is now technical and specialized education leading to different kinds of employment in keeping with the changing times. Therefore, improvement in the socio-economic condition of dalits through state action was emphasized as the correct path. It pointed out that dalits should not wait until political power falls into their hands and should instead articulate their demands and concerns immediately. Thus the BD represents a middle-class-driven attempt at change. The efforts of the dalit intellectuals who drafted the BD can be distinguished from, on the one hand, the identitybased BSP-led dalit mobilization whose aim is political empowerment, and on the other hand, the Dalit Panthers of Maharashtra who in the early 1970s represented a radical intellectual group based on the ideological combination of Marxism and Ambedkarism. This made it attractive for the Congress party in MP led by Digvijay Singh who was open to new ideas that would both lead to upliftment of dalits and also their support for the party. Although the BD can be described as largely a middle-class effort, radical views were put forward at the Bhopal Conference

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though they could not prevail. The Draft Declaration presented at the conference with regard to land distribution had two radical proposals: first, that the ceiling limit on private landownership should be brought down and second, that when land is distributed it should be separately registered in the name of dalit/tribal women (Nigam 2002: 1191). Kancha Illaiah also drew attention to the fact that religious trusts, temples and all denominations, which had increased in recent years, controlled the major share of landed properties (ibid.: 1192). He held that dalits must demand, first, a share of 16 per cent of all religious property, and second, lay claim on existing unused land before it was taken over by these institutions. In the Final Declaration both these proposals were dropped and merely land distribution mentioned.13 It shows that radical voices were present but they could not prevail on the others thus leading to a compromise. The pragmatic approach underlying the BD is seen in its statement that land distribution is very difficult in a capitalist economy where the landowning classes/castes have acquired political power and are not willing to share land. Building a new social consensus on land would be very difficult. Hardly any government, it pointed out, can now bring in a radical and reform policy of land to the tiller. The dalits also lack a substantial middle class in the rural areas that can take up the issue of land seriously. It was for this reason that the Document also explored an alternative method of capital formation among dalits, namely, supplier diversity, so that they can move from land to business. In fact, many dalit intellectuals involved in the drafting of the BD were not very keen on the issue of land distribution as they felt it would be difficult to implement and would lead to social conflict. They were keen on introducing the policy of diversity. However, many delegates felt that land was a crucial asset without which the vast majority of poor and uneducated dalits/tribals in the countryside would not benefit. Thus, both issues were taken up to satisfy all shades of opinion.14 Another significant feature is that while there is much continuity in the rhetoric and programmes of the MP government to those of the Congress party earlier, a shift is seen in the public pronouncements of the government. Unlike the past,

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government documents such as the BD, after paying a ritual homage to Gandhi and his attempts to remove untouchability and promote welfare of the dalits, do not mention him again. Although a Congress government held the Conference, the Declaration adopted at the end of the Conference at Bhopal does not mention Gandhi’s name. Rather, both documents invoke the ideas forwarded by Babasaheb Ambedkar. The BD opened with ‘declaring our belief in Babasaheb Ambedkar’s ideal of Social Democracy’. The Report of the Task Force set up by the government recalled the struggles that Babasaheb had waged for the emancipation of dalits and pointed to the continuation of social inequality though political equality was granted, and the lack of social democracy. Ambedkar’s notion of state socialism is invoked and also the need for state supremacy in order to overcome the traditional society (Task Force Report 2003: 3). Thus, through the BD the Congress party in MP attempted to appropriate the legacy of Ambedkar in order to meet the political challenge of the BSP, which describes itself as an Ambedkarite party. This is a shift from an earlier period when the Gandhian legacy of the Congress alone was projected. The BD consists of two parts: a discussion on the limitations of the traditional system of protective discrimination provided in the Constitution and the pattern of development in the post-independence period which lays the basis for the shift towards a new model of development; and specific programmes more conducive for upliftment of dalits and tribals in the present situation. It must be differentiated from the Bhopal Declaration—also discussed later—issued at the end of the Conference. There are significant differences between the two that need to be understood.

Critique of Existing Models The basic philosophy underlying the BD is that mainstream development paradigms, coupled with policies of protective discrimination and state welfarism, have failed to address the problems faced by dalits/tribals in post-independence India (BD 2002: 105). At independence it was assumed that the development of the Indian economy would lead to a

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‘trickledown effect’ and carry the SCs/STs forward. An alternative paradigm sought to remove the rural–urban divide and argued that unless rural areas were developed, small and cottage industries provided, improvement in the conditions of the SCs/STs and other weaker sections was not possible. The land reform paradigm held that equitable redistribution of land would ensure justice, but it failed to achieve the desired levels of redistribution of assets in society due to lack of political will and the connivance of the local bureaucracy. Similarly, the model of state welfarism assumed that if state funds were used to create employment, rural infrastructure, provide loans and scholarships, this would help SCs/STs. But there are limitations to the spending of resources in this manner. Under these paradigms the dalits/tribals remained mere recipients of welfare, landless/asset less, below the line of poverty, without a share in the capital in the economy and unable to improve their socio-economic status. The poorer sections have not been able to access education and therefore are not in a position to make use of reservation policies. The educated sections have on average been able to achieve only 12 years of schooling or graduation/post-graduation in the Humanities but have made little breakthrough into the pure sciences, professions or the new emerging areas of IT, which are becoming important in the new global economy. Consequently, even educated dalits remain on the fringes of the professional market in low-paying jobs; there are no dalit entrepreneurs or businesspersons; the presence of dalits in universities, public sector enterprises, the corporate world, the NGO sector, media and the arts is low. Improvement in these areas is required for the creation of a middle class, which can voice the needs and demands of the community. Most of the development paradigms have also ignored the tribals. Their remote and segregated existence, alienation from land, forests and other resources, lack of education and basic amenities, has kept them outside the process of mainstream development (ibid.: 106). The Document also examines non-Congress models based on different political formulations in the country, which, it is held, have enabled faster development of SCs/STs such as the Dravidian and the left model in Kerala and West Bengal.

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Here the Congress party has not been in power, the Dravidian and left parties have been ruling in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal for a long period of time. Have these models served the SCs/STs better? Based on quantitative data there port argues that the economic condition of SCs/STs in the southern states and in West Bengal is not much better than in the Congress-ruled BIMARU states, taking into consideration indices such as extent of landholding, number of landless agricultural labourers, employment in industry, etc. It is in literacy and educational attainments that the former score much high eras a result of which they have been able to enter into professional employment and the private sector. However, this was because they had a head start in literacy and educational attainments due to the efforts of the colonial authorities and Christian missionaries. In Kerala the princely kingdoms also made efforts to provide education to the SCs/ STs. Thus, the idea that the policies put forward by the nonCongress political parties benefited the SCs/STs to a greater extent is questionable as they do not provide models that could be emulated for the upliftment of the SCs/STs by the rest of the country.15 Due to these developments the BD portrays a deep disillusionment with the Indian state whose role, it is argued, in the post-independence period has been restricted to implementing policies for dalits such as reservations, poverty alleviation programmes, scholarships to students, loans, etc. Writing in the foreword Digvijay Singh points out that apart from some major policies such as zamindari abolition, nationalization of banks and insurance and land ceiling, the state has observed a stance of ‘neutrality’ (BD 2002: 4) and not intervened in the economic life of the country to re-distribute income to help the disadvantaged sections. The result has been a capitalist form of development that has increased inequalities and SCs and STs have been the ‘losers’ (ibid.: 4). In the post-1991 period the state has shifted to the path of globalization and retreated from economic activities leaving market forces to regulate the economy which has had a detrimental effect on dalits and tribals. To lay the basis for a move towards a new model of development, the Document provides a profile of the Indian

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economy to demonstrate that dalits have not benefited as much as non-dalits from the pattern of economic development in the post-independence period (BD 2002: 43–53). The large majority of the dalits remain in the agricultural sector where the per capita labour value is the lowest. While the rate of entry of dalits into the manufacturing sector is marginally higher than those of others, the rate of shift of dalits into the service sector where the per capita labour value is much higher is slow; it is much faster in the case of non-dalits. A few figures provided in the report make the point being made clear. Out of every100 SC main workers in the primary sector 63.54 are landless agricultural workers; in the case of ST the proportion is lower, being 36.36. In contrast, among nonSCs/STs out of every 100only 31.62 are landless labourers (BD 2002: 47). Moreover, less than half the dalits own agricultural land, including land taken on rent or sharecropping, the rest derive their sustenance by selling their labour. Only 32.81 out of 100 are cultivators; tribals are better off with 60.54 out of every 100 (ibid.: 47). As a marginalized category they become the victims of violence/atrocities. They have relatively less presence in household industry where a worker has an independent existence and many happen to own the enterprise. The share of dalits in larger industrial units is low: out of 2.18 crore workers in factories the SCs/STs comprise only 31.32 lakh which is 14.32 per cent (ibid.: 50). Even these are largely in the unskilled or semi-skilled category or in construction, which is one of the most unregulated industrial activities in India, while the non dalits are in the technical/professional workforce. Based on these facts the report concludes that at least 50 per cent of dalits in the country are very poor, uneducated and lack proper employment (ibid.: 52). Thus, there is urgent need to invest in skill development and training, enhancement of education and a responsive training system. A significant departure from the philosophy and approach underlying state-led policies for dalits in the post-independence period in the BD is a critique of the reliance on reservations and various forms of state welfarism as the ‘overriding phenomenon’ and ‘most decisive tool of progress’ for dalits. In the case of the former, the quota remains unfulfilled and in the

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case of the latter, it has not helped to lift the vast majority of dalits out of poverty and provide them a livelihood. The total reliance on reservations has also ‘shaped the consciousness of the SC/ST masses that have come to believe that education and reservations can help them and no other path has been seriously considered (BD 2002: 57). There has been ‘excessive belief ’ in reservations, the fact that the quota remains un fulflled in most government departments reinforces the belief that it can take dalits and tribals forward. The Document argues that it is necessary to realize that there are limits to reservations, as government jobs are not growing. For this reason the BD has been described as a ‘well-judged intervention’ that recognizes that while the policy of reservation served the important function of enhancing dalit political representation, creating elements of a middle class of dalit origin and keeping alive the issue around which dalit solidarities could take concrete shape, its actual benefits were relatively modest (Mehta 2004: 267). The Document cogently argues that even if the existing job quota available in the government under reservations were to be filled it would still leave a large number of SCs/STs without employment. According to the Annual Report of the Union Ministry of Labour, 2000–2001, the total number of jobs under the state (union government, public sector units [PSUs], state governments, local bodies) are 1.94 crore. This means that if the SCs/STs total existing quota of 22.50 per cent is given to them, the total number of dalit employees cannot go beyond 45 lakh. If we multiply this figure by 5 (assuming that every SC/ST employed under the state caters to a family of five), it shows that the benefits cannot reach beyond a population of 2.25 crore. This still leaves as many as 18 crore dalits still seeking employment. Thus, while education is seen as the path of emancipation, government employment through reservations is not possible for all. The government sector has outlived its potential and educated dalits must now look for other avenues. In the private sector the total employment available according to the Annual Report is about 86.98 lakh. If the private sector were to religiously implement reservations it would lead to an additional 19.57 lakh jobs, which if again multiplied by five would benefit another 97.85 lakh

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SCs/STs. Even then about 17 crore would be left which exemplifies the limits of reservations and also the limits of reservation-driven SC/ST movements (BD 2002: 57).

The New Model: Need for a New Consensus on the Dalit Question Based on this ‘introspection’ on past policies and experiences, the Document put forward a new model that it described as ‘developmental activism’. In this the state must play a key role in constructing a ‘new consensus on the Dalit Question’ and formulating a model that could satisfy all social and political groups in society. With rapid change due to the initiation of a market economy in India, no model of development can gain acceptance or legitimacy amongst planners/scholars—dalits and non-dalits—unless it is viewed as economically viable, pragmatic, keeps in mind development of the society as a whole, and yet at the same time matches with social needs of the disadvantaged (BD 2002: 107). The authors of the report were clear that they wanted to carry all sections of dalits as well the larger society along with them. While this model gives an important role to the state in the economic upliftment of the SCs/STs, it must be distinguished from the earlier pattern of state interventionism on their behalf under Congress rule. In the new model the needs of these groups must be accorded centrality in planned development so that they are incorporated in the larger developmental model of the country. At the same time it attempts to fashion policies for the SCs/STs that will ‘return more to the state’s GDP than it draws’ as the pattern of development must be inclusive. Thus, the authors of the report argue that they are experimenting with the model aware of the need for a new consensus, but they cannot wait for it to be fully formed (ibid.: 108). The new model attempts to bring together the old and the new thinking on the Dalit Question but acknowledges that the BD does not merely add new policies to the old; there is a definite shift in thinking which underlies it. Hence, within this model of development, the emphasis, on the part of both the authors of the BD and the Congress party, is on non-conflictual pattern of change, that is, conciliation

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and sharing between castes/classes based upon the acceptance by society of notions of equity and justice rather than on mobilization based on recognition of ‘difference’ and ‘identity’ as in UP, which it is alleged has led to violence between the upper and lower castes. The role of the state is seen as a ‘conciliator’ between the dalits and the rest of society. Economic change through the combined help of the state and civil society is to be through evolutionary and not revolutionary channels. The BD stresses upon the need to create a more equal civil society and argues that without democratizing its traditional social and cultural institutions it cannot create ‘genuine democracy’ (BD 2002: 30). This is to be achieved by neutralizing those sections of the upper castes that do not support the caste system. It holds that ‘rigid state control’ is required until society attains civility and democracy matures. The Document contrasts the role it expects from the state with the role it is playing in UP and Bihar. The state in the MP model, the BD argues, ‘opens up a new channel of communication with society. Considering the existing social dominance, the State is pursuing society to turn equitable on its own lest the society at large plunge into a more vicious cycle of tensions as being experienced in UP and Bihar’ (BD 2002: 4). A second reason is that the dalits are viewed as a small and disadvantaged group in need of help from the state and can in turn at best hope for a share in political power. This is in keeping with the position adopted by the Congress party vis-à-vis the dalit/tribal group in the post-independence period. As the BD pointed out, ‘The SCs/STs will have to keep in mind that the community is unlikely to capture political power on its own—the community must recognize the fundamental nature of its existence: that is, of being a minority’ (BD 2002: 59).

Two Key Policies: Diversity and Democratization At the heart of the new model of development are two policies to which the BD attached great significance: diversity in educational institutions and employment together with democratization of capital by bringing dalits and tribals into the world of business and industry. They are in keeping with the

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increasing liberalization of the economy. But they are also required because of the urgent need of a formidable, articulate middle class among the dalits and tribals which is lacking as their segregation from society has crippled them, prevented them from sharing in national prosperity and knowledge leading to their marginalization (BD 2002: 97). The inspiration for the creation of a powerful middle class is drawn from the US experience of affirmative action for blacks, native Americans and Hispanics following the civil rights movement in the 1960s and the more recent Black Economic Empowerment Programme in South Africa. The former is based on the recognition of the principle that ‘all existing minority communities find something like a proportional representation in all institutions public or private’ (Nigam 2002: 1190). The latter has been described as an attempt to ‘spawn a black bourgeoisie’, the aim being not merely economic advancement but also ‘de-racialization’ of South African society because ‘the colour of the skin has been the sole determinant of access to property, education and other social amenities’ and therefore must be extended to every sphere of social life (ibid.). Based on the report of the National Commission for SCs/STs the Document pointed out that dalit/tribal groups have been able to enter into the government sector though there are still many posts that remain unfilled. But in academic institutions such as universities and schools—public and private—as well as the business and corporate world, they account for a very small number. It alleged that institutions outside the state sector or outside the control of the state practice exclusion. Similarly, the near exclusion from the media, films and fine arts means they are not part of the opinion-making process in society. Nor do NGOs, the corporate world or the business world in general practice any policy of affirmative action in their recruitment policies. This means that SCs/STs have hardly any share in urban India’s assets, money market and institutions and do not participate in India’s organized sector (ibid.: 99). The articulate middle class does not emerge from the bureaucracy but from academics, arts, culture, media, social activism, business and enterprise. In this area, dalits/ tribals at present do not play a role. Therefore, the Document

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argued that while asking for filling up the government quotas, particularly in the higher reaches of the bureaucracy, SCs/STs must now be provided space within the private sector. Together with technical education suitable for a globalizing economy, diversity constitutes the tool whereby this is possible for the SCs/STs. The BD held that all public institutions, whether universities or any other academic body, must practice diversity, giving due representation to SCs/STs. Those who do not must lose their recognition and state funding. Similarly, all private/corporate houses must accept and implement diversity in the workplace immediately. Every government and private organization must implement supplier diversity from socially disadvantaged businesses and dealership diversity in all goods and services (ibid.: 99); the policies of diversity and democratization could prove useful for dalits and tribals and create the much required middle class in these communities. Similarly, there is need to democratize society through policies that attempt to democratize capital and bring SCs/STs into the mainstream economy making them capable of sharing the gains of economic development within the new market economy. If dalits/tribals have to share assets of the country, then a sizeable section from the SCs/STs must evolve into entrepreneurs, traders and business personnel. Only in this manner can the huge army of educated but unemployed SCs/STs be accommodated. The BD therefore called for a ‘progressive transferring of rights, and sharing of resources and profits has to be a natural corollary’ (ibid.: 107). The MP model takes this into account and acknowledges the very grammar of market economy. The report argued that it will take forward both the economy of MP as well as the SCs/STs in it. Hence it would be a more democratic model. It argued: It values resources more than the Development Models traditionally pursued so far. It democratizes capital, which, in turn, has a potential to democratize society more. The MP model extends political democracy to capital, which enters into the social structure to eliminate its anti-democratic essence—the main roadblock to the expansion of the market economy.

Thus the BD reopened the issue of the relative weight age to be given to the public and private sector in implementing reservation/affirmative action programmes for SCs/STs. Against

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this background the BD chalked out four broad areas for action by the state in MP (and elsewhere). 1. Distribution of land to landless dalits and restoration of tribal lands, which it argued must be accorded the highest priority, as it would provide an asset and means of livelihood. The government, it was pointed out, must find vacant land or buy land and distribute it among landless dalits/tribals. In short, a ‘new phase of land reforms’ must be begun which would bring in social democracy. Second, cultivators form the second largest occupational category among dalits/tribals and form the backbone of any dalit assertion in rural India. They need help as they have a very low infrastructure base in the form of irrigation facilities, hybrid seeds, farm equipment, credit and marketing facilities, etc. Without assistance the dalits in rural India will always remain subordinate to the dominant social blocs. The Digvijay Singh government had already started distribution of land to landless SC/ST farmers in 1998. It had reduced charnoi land from the existing 7.5 per cent to 5 per cent and again in 2001 to 2 per cent and distributed the surplus to landless SCs/STs. A special scheme of ‘Pattadar Possession/Verification System’ was begun in February 2000 to ensure restoration of land to dispossessed SCs/STs under which it was mandatory to record the state of possession of pattadars on a new land record form. A large number of pattadars were found to be dispossessed and given back their land. During the same period a special campaign on the settlement of forest land for tribals was initiated. This benefited 75,479 families and an equal number of pattas were issued, regularizing their possession on forest land (BD 2002: 124–25). In order to help small cultivators and landless labourers, particularly those belonging to the SCs/STs, the report recommended a system of food security and grain banks for use during the lean season or during drought for small cultivators and landless labour. The scheme was already operational in 2002 in 500 villages known for starvation spread over seven districts (BD

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2002: 129).16 The BD acknowledged that the Digvijay Singh government had already begun to distribute land and to provide help to small cultivators among the SCs/STs and took these schemes forward.17 2. Provision of compulsory and quality education to dalits both at the school and higher education level. Education was given central importance as it was seen as the path by which SCs/STs could come out of the traditional occupations that are related to the caste hierarchy and thereby ‘enter into a new phase of life’ (BD 2002: 59). The BD lauded the Education Guarantee Scheme started by the MP government. However, the need was not a general education such as matriculation, high school education and graduation or post-graduation that provided jobs till the 1990s to large number of dalits/tribals. Now unless dalit/tribals make an entry into areas of pure science, management and new emerging branches of IT and gain technical skills, they cannot find a respectable place in the globalizing Indian economy. The proportion of those who have been able to enter into professional courses is very few as their abilities are very low due to schooling in poor schools in comparison to those in the general category. The Document therefore called for making quotas applicable to all public and private institutions as well as every English-medium school. Newer forms of assistance such as reservations in autonomous institutions, universities and other literary and cultural institutions is required which would help overcome the digital divide, which is keeping them out of top professional jobs that have become the exclusive domain of the English-speaking middle classes in the country. 3. The report pointed out that reservations remain area feature that must be retained, as a large number of educated SCs/STs would be able to make use of this provision. In this area what is required is a drive to fill all backlog vacancies. This should be done by categorizing the SCs/STs as a special group in which the 50 per cent rule would not be applied, and relaxing marks in examination for these categories at the entry point and

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later in matters of promotion and other service matters. The MP government had already put both these special rules and many others into action and a recruitment drive had begun, beginning with recruitment in educational institutions and moving onto the government sector (ibid.: 122). 4. As mentioned earlier the twin policies of diversity and democratization were given special importance within the BD. Arguing that the traditional forms of reservation and state welfare are not enough, the report supplemented them with workplace diversity in both public and private institutions including educational institutions and supplier diversity and dealership diversity (BD 2002: 107). All private industry/corporate houses must accept and implement diversity in workforce immediately. Every government and private organization must implement supplier diversity from socially disadvantaged businesses and dealership diversity in all goods and services (ibid.: 99). Drawing upon the US example, diversity would require a commitment by all companies to providing equal opportunity to all sections of the population. It means the creation of a workforce at all levels that is broadly inclusive and draws upon the talent of all sections of society irrespective of ascriptive identities. Parallel to this, democratization of capital within the unorganized sector could provide SCs/STs new occupations, assets and businesses and create a class of entrepreneurs. This could provide an alternative to reservations, which so far had been seen as the only path of upward mobility and improvement of the socioeconomic conditions of SCs/STs. Thus, there was recognition of the need to devise programmes suited to every category among dalits and tribals and evolve multi-pronged strategies involving state and civil society, including the democratization of the unorganized sector. Giving dalits a secure future would require that they be given access to not only employment but also wealth-creating opportunities in the private sector and greater assets in the

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agricultural sector. This would accord the market economy greater legitimacy as dalits would be able to participate and it would help them overcome their poor economic condition to some extent. The BD recognized that most of the new wealth and jobs in the future will have to be created outside the state sector and the paradigm of reservation so far used does not deal with this seminal issue. The Bhopal Declaration adopted at the end of the Conference laid out the future goals to be pursued by the state of Madhya Pradesh for the dalits/tribals (see Appendix to this chapter). It is important to note that there is a difference in perception between the BD and the Declaration, which emerged out of the deliberations of the Conference. The former, authored by a select group of dalit intellectuals and circulated to all invitees in advance, was a draft for open discussion. While traditional policies such as land distribution and reservations were not left out, at its heart lay the desire for experimentation with new policies such as diversity and democratization based on affirmative action which, it was felt, was more in keeping with the new emerging challenges before the Indian economy. The latter represents a consensus based on the thinking of a larger group of scholars and dalit intellectuals at the end of the Conference. Thus, the Bhopal Declaration had a long list of 21 points including both traditional policies such as reservation, free and compulsory education, land distribution, ensuring tribal rights, removal of bonded labour, manual scavenging, etc. as well as new ones such as legal safeguards for dalits in the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution for housing, basic standard of living and public health, etc., reservation in the private sector and diversity in the workplace and democratization of capital.18 Yet at the same time a reading of the Declaration shows that both land and diversity were given importance. Six out of the 21 demands were on land-related issues such as minimum wages, equal wages for women, removal of bonded labour; and four dealt with the policy of diversity. All this points to differences of opinion within the larger debate on the issue of affirmative action among scholars including dalits within the country.

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The Task Force: Programmes Adopted for Dalits At the closing ceremony of the Bhopal Conference Chief Minister Digvijay Singh announced that a ‘Task Force’ on the Bhopal Declaration would be set up under his chairmanship to make recommendations to the government on the implementation of the 21-point agenda of the Bhopal Declaration. A 20-member Task Force was established on February 22, 2002 that was expected to work out the proposed strategies in detail. Six sub-committees were formed at the first meeting of the Task Force on March 15, 2002 at Bhopal. Each of the sub-committees was to work on specific issues, namely, land, reservations, diversity, education, human rights and tribal welfare. Assisted by senior bureaucrats the sub-committees held a number of meetings and submitted their reports by August 2002. These were circulated to various departments for their comments following which a full meeting of the Task Force was held on November 11, 2002 to consider these reports and finalize its recommendations. The final report was submitted to the government towards the end of 2002 and the government announced its acceptance of the report on January 12, 2003, the first anniversary of the Bhopal Conference. The Task Force examined the Bhopal Declaration in order to form a ‘road map’ for the future socio-economic development of the SCs/STs in the state. Two kinds of policies were proposed under the 21-point agenda for dalits for the 21st century: policies to provide immediate help to BPL dalit families, and longer-term policies such as providing cultivable land, minimum wages, free and high quality education, abolition of bonded labour, making reservation quota applicable to public and private institutions from primary to professional levels, introducing diversity in all public institutions, democratizing of capital, etc. (Task Force Report 2003: 3–8).

Response The BD received much attention from both the media and the academic community. While the various programmes which were put forward were widely discussed, one aspect,

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which was widely appreciated, was that the Conference had recognized the need to shift the emphasis from quotas as in the past to new forms of market participation based on affirmative action. In a section of the media the idea of democratization of capital was welcomed and promotion of supplier diversity recognized as the alternative to jobs that are not available. It was described as better than quotas which politicians promise for political gain.19 Given the centrality of dalit politics, political parties also discussed the BD. The Congress party was the first party to initiate a dialogue on the Dalit Question and to seek the help of the private sector to increase the presence of dalits in the private sector through workforce diversity (Ramachandran 2003). Jairam Ramesh, a member of the Congress party’s economic affairs department, wrote to the apex chambers of commerce and industry, seeking their support to build a national consensus through dialogue rather than agitations.20 The Maharashtra government has subsequently passed an Act making reservation of jobs in the private sector compulsory and other state governments are also toying with the idea.21 However, there was criticism from many quarters as well. Opposition parties were quick to criticize it. Both the BJP and the BSP treated it as a ‘ploy to mislead dalit voters’ (Babu 2003: 19). The former saw it as a document that exhorts dalits to desert Hinduism and convert to other religions which is an empty critique as there was no discussion on this issue at Bhopal nor does it find mention in the Document. The supporters of the BSP, on the other hand, feel their own methods of upliftment are better and provide greater empowerment. One of the party’s followers has argued: In the backdrop of the so-called ‘Bhopal Declaration’ about two years ago, what exactly has been achieved in MP is not clearly mentioned even by the supporters of the Declaration. Is it something that has really to be examined? In any case, when we have a got a role model, which is tried and tested and found useful for empowering the dalit masses, in the form of Mayawati’s achievements in Uttar Pradesh, do we really need to think about the ‘Bhopal Declaration’ as a ‘Model’?22

Yet at the same time the BSP will find it difficult to ignore issues of land and livelihood as well as the demand for

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affirmative action. Following its victory in UP in April 2007, the party leadership on May 18, 2007 announced that actual possession of gram sabha land allotted to dalits under a law enacted in 2002 will be ensured. It has also announced various tax and other incentives to industrialists who employ a certain percentage of dalits/tribals/OBCs and who offload dealerships and supplier ships to dalit businesses (Pai forthcoming). Thus the two central issues in the BD will remain significant despite the defeat of the Digvijay Singh government in 2003. Some critics have argued that the dalits will get only ‘crumbs’ from the diversity model due to the current shift to liberalization and the market economy in India as in the US.23 Others have challenged the statement in the BD that the ‘inhuman practice of slavery and systematic elimination of Native Americans is now a matter of the past’. They point to the continuing racial discrimination against African-Americans in the US and caution against euphoria about the ‘American model’ (Nigam 2002: 1193). The BD created sharp divides within MP. While a section of intellectuals and the media held that it a praiseworthy effort, others were skeptical. Some within the media held that it was a ‘new beginning for dalits’ as it was the first time that intellectuals met and discussed with seriousness the ‘future’ of this oppressed community (Nagele 2003: 2). For the first time development was the main issue: land in the unorganized sector and diversity in the organized sector were discussed and the issue of human rights of dalits was also highlighted. Dalit activists belonging to all ideological backgrounds were able to come together and discuss vital matters concerning the community. The BD directed attention to ongoing social change in MP and how it would come about. It provided a direction to the changes already taking place (ibid.). However, a section of the media dismissed it as a political gimmick and a way of capturing votes for the Congress, which was already facing difficulties in MP. The real significance of the BD is that it initiated a debate on the need to move beyond the traditional policy of reservation to various forms of affirmative action that would involve not only the state but also the private sector.

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Conclusion The Bhopal Conference was a historic event as for the first time after independence it brought together a large and diverse number of intellectuals and activists on a single platform to deliberate upon future policies for dalits and tribals in the light of the changing circumstances. The attempt in this chapter has been to analyze the developments that made the Bhopal Conference possible and the main ideas underlying the Dalit Agenda put forward in the BD. The impetus for the Conference lay in certain changes taking place in India’s polity and economy: a process of democratization that had brought the Dalit Question to centre stage; liberalization of the economy leading to the freeing of the private sector and the Durban Conference which had internationalized caste-based discrimination. The immediate reason was the rise of a postindependence, educated, politically aware generation of dalit/ tribal intellectuals and activists keen to put forward new ideas for the upliftment of their communities in the changed political and economic situation. Although Digivjay Singh had been moving in this direction on assuming power in 1993, factional politics and the need to keep the party together made it difficult until his victory of 1998. Two factors led him to support the new dalit initiative: a commitment to help the dalits and tribals witnessed in the policies implemented during his first term in office, and the need to strengthen the base of the party during a period when a strong wave of identity assertion had thrown up new political formations that posed a challenge to the Congress as the party representing these disadvantaged communities. Organized by the MP government, the deliberations of the Conference remained in the hands of dalit/tribal intellectuals/ activists with little political interference, though the accent remained on administrative policies rather than academic issues. It was possible because of commonality of interest between the two sides involved. While the dalit/tribal intellectuals required political support for their new ideas, the Congress, under Digvijay Singh, following its victory in the 1988 elections, was prepared to experiment with fresh policies through which he could gain the support of these groups.

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Both were keen to adopt a path of distributive justice different from the identity-based movements for political empowerment used by the BSP. The significance of the BD lies in the fact that it realized the need for a new consensus on the Dalit Question between the dalits/tribals and other sections of society. Equally important, it recognized that such an understanding was gradually emerging out of the changes taking place in the country, but it was not yet fully formed and hence the need for active intervention. Based on this understanding its framers realized that the older shared understanding forged at independence was no longer useful due to the decline of the Nehruvian consensus on socialism and the onset of globalization leading to the retreat of the welfarist state. Yet at the same time it was clear that the state would remain central to any initiative for dalits and tribals, only the pattern of intervention would undergo a change. Consequently, the policies and programmes set out in the BD constituted a break with the past and moved the Dalit Agenda beyond the limited confines of the traditional framework of reservation and the paradigm of social justice in which it has been stuck for some time. The BD put forward policies based on principles of diversity and democratization of capital which took affirmative action beyond government jobs and convincingly argued that the dalit community be given its rightful share in the economic activities of the government. Yet the Bhopal Declaration at the end of the Conference brought together traditional policies such as land distribution and improvement in reservation policies with new ones such as the urgent need for technical education and the policy of supplier diversity in order to satisfy all sections of opinion voiced at the Bhopal Conference. Thus, a major achievement of the Bhopal Conference was the initiation of a national debate on the Dalit Question and bringing into the mainstream the need for policies based on affirmative action. It was debated both in the print and electronic media including the vernacular press, which provided it widespread publicity and it was widely commented upon in academic journals. Thus, the BD was both a political as well as a ‘middleclass’ document produced by an urban educated class of dalits/ tribals. There was no sudden change, rather a continuity with

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the past was seen in some of the new innovative schemes that could be implemented without political controversy. These aspects made it attractive to Digvijay Singh; it gave him credit for helping in evolving new ways of looking at the Dalit Question in the Hindi heartland different from the identity assertion which led to instability, economic collapse, poor governance and violence in UP and Bihar. In fact, many of the programmes suggested by the intellectuals such as land distribution, education and programmes for women were already in place in MP. This enabled the government to both showcase them and obtain feedback on them from the participants. However, there were weaknesses that need to be recognized. Tribal leaders present at the Conference were unhappy at being subsumed within the category ‘dalit’ due to which their specific problems were not discussed and dalits dominated the proceedings. Though many grassroots workers took part in the conference, the language used was English and it was dominated by a second/third generation of English-speaking dalits. Many activists, particularly among the tribals, did not like this and expressed their unhappiness. A related factor of significance for MP politics was that many of the dalits and tribal leaders/intellectuals/activists who attended the Conference were from outside the state, many from the national capital and premier institutions in it. As MP is still an educationally backward, conservative and feudal society, it has not thrown up an educated middle class that could provide intellectual and political leadership. The result was that these intellectuals went back to their respective states and the impact of the Conference was not widespread on dalits and tribals, particularly in the rural areas. Once the Conference was over the BD was forgotten, particularly after the defeat of Digvijay Singh in 2003. A large amount of the data about dalits and tribals provided in the BD is aggregate data, which does not reveal the underlying dynamics. It places a great deal of stress on the differences between dalits/tribals and ‘others’ but tells us little about the inequalities within sections of these groups, which is considerable in MP. As a result, an issue that was not

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addressed was the social, economic and educational inequalities and deprivations among them. Similarly, the emphasis was almost entirely on the caste and tribal question with little room for discussion on the issue of class and the subaltern sections of the dalits and how globalization is affecting them. Despite the inclusion of policies for land distribution the preoccupation remained with urban-based programmes for educated dalits and tribals such as supplier diversity. Similarly, the faith of the BD in the American model of affirmative action and democratization of capital in introducing change in society—on which similar programmes for India are based— is misplaced. Racial discrimination continues to be high in the US and has not led to de-racialization, as claimed by the Document. Moreover, it is not the American state but struggles by blacks and other minorities, which have been responsible for change in social attitudes in the US. Despite recognizing the need for change, the BD places too much reliance on the state and presents a strong critique of civil society in India as unequal and hierarchical. The latter is also viewed as having subverted the reformist agenda of the state in the post-independence period, which is seen as the real embodiment of social reform and guarantor against the discriminatory practices of civil society. In fact, the BD argues for the need to ensure that all institutions abide by the principles of affirmative action or lose state funding and recognition. Every area of life, it held, was to be subject to rigid state control till society attains civility and social democracy matures. But a dalit critique of civil society should not be a total defence of the state, nor can there be total control of civil society; it would lead to dictatorship. It is worth remembering that dalit movements, which have challenged the existing hierarchical social and political order, have emanated from civil society, however unequal it may be at present. Closely related is the fact that there is no substitute for sustained long-term mobilization and struggle by dalits against exploitation in society. State-funded programmes alone cannot bring change. The rise of movements/parties such as the BSP that have emerged from civil society and introduce farreaching changes are the best examples of this. Therefore, the relationship between state and civil society as posited in the BD needs rethinking.

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In conclusion, while the BD undoubtedly constitutes a milestone in dalit politics and put forward an array of policies and programmes for the dalits, that is, the SCs and STs, what is required is an investigation into how far these were actually implemented. Many promises in the past have not been kept or have been unsuccessful at the stage of implementation. To what extent were these social groups in MP able to access these opportunities and improve their lives? Were they able to obtain land and make use of the opportunities provided by the policies of diversity and democratization of capital provided by the Digvijay Singh government? It is this question that we turn to in Parts II and III of the book.

Notes 1. One of the intellectuals involved in the drafting of the report, Chandrabhan Prasad, was known to Mrs Sonia Gandhi due to an article he had written on the Emergency, praising it and describing how it had helped the dalits. Discussion with Shyam Babu at the Nehru Memorial Musem and Library, New Delhi, October 30, 2006. 2. In ‘Dalit Diary’ Chandrabhan Prasad, dalit activist and one of the authors of the BD, thanks Digvijay Singh for providing a forum for the dalit intelligentsia in the form of the Bhopal Conference to discuss the issues raised by them. Prasad (2004: 171). 3. Different versions exist about the origins of the idea of the Bhopal Conference. One version by Dr Amar Singh, personal secretary to Digvijay Singh and architect of many schemes under the suppler diversity policy, is that the idea of adopting a series of policies specifically meant for dalits and tribals had been discussed by Singh with senior bureaucrats in the mid-1990s but was postponed due to various reasons. While bureaucrats do not mention the reasons for the postponement it was probably due to the high levels of factionalism within the Congress party during Singh’s first term because of the activities of the followers of Arjun Singh and S. C. Shukla. It was the victory of the Congress party in the 1998 state assembly elections and appointment of Singh as chief minister for a second term by Sonia Gandhi that with greater confidence these ideas began to take more concrete shape (Deccan Herald, November 30, 1998). In this context the ‘Dalit Millenium’ proved to be a point, which brought Digvijay Singh, and a number of dalit intellectuals involved in it together and made a conference and discussion on policies possible. Discussion with Dr Amar Singh at his residence at New Delhi, February 5, 2007.

116 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh 4. Given in the Appendix to this chapter. 5. Excerpts from the ‘Dalit Diary’ have been published as a book (Prasad 2004). 6. Among those who wrote in the issue were well-known academics Gail Omvedt, Tulsi Ram, Vimal Thorat, Sheoraj Bechain and journalists such as B. N. Uniyal. It also had excellent reproductions of paintings by the artist Savi Savarkar. I am grateful to Shyam Babu for giving me a copy of the ‘Dalit Millenium’ and discussing its importance on October 30, 2006. 7. See ‘Dalit Meet is Not Ploy to Get Votes’, The Indian Express, January 13, 2002. Also, ‘Dalits Must Get Their Full Rights: Digvijay’, The Hindu, January 6, 2002. 8. From his speech reproduced in MP Post, April–July 2003. MP Post is an online Hindi newspaper in Bhopal. See mppost.org. 9. In fact, Digvijay Singh expressed his unhappiness at the fact that schemes for STs were not as extensively discussed and implementation of schemes for this group was not carried out as satisfactorily. He pointed out that this was due to the lack of young educated leaders in the community who could have put forward the cause of their community as forcefully as in the case of the SCs. They have remained backward in terms of education and lacked intellectuals who could have framed policies specifically meant to remedy the problems faced by this community. Interview with Digvijay Singh, August 28, 2006. 10. The most important tribal intellectual who attended was Professor Munda from Bihar. Discussion with Shyam Babu, October 30, 2006. 11. For the text of the president’s speech dealing with the Bhopal Document, see Prasad (2004: 173–74). 12. In fact, the dalit intelligentsia traced much of the problems of dalits to the fact that no new leader of the stature and intellect of Ambedkar had emerged after independence. The BD raises the question: ‘Why has the post-Ambedkar Dalit generation not produced a single book which has an all India acceptance even amongst Dalits, comparable with Ambedkar’s “State and Minorities” or “Who were the Shudras”?’ (BD 2002: 38). 13. The Digvijay Singh government, however, passed a government order (GO) that all land distributed to dalits and tribals must be registered jointly in the name of husband and wife. During the fieldwork reported in Chapter 9 we found that almost all pattas issued were joint, i.e., had the name of both husband and wife. 14. Discussion with Chandrabhan Prasad at his residence in Delhi, November 2006. 15. This is questionable. A recent study shows that in TN human development indicators among dalits such as health, education, nutrition and fertility have improved in a much shorter period than Kerala and this has taken place in the post-independence period (Mehrotra 2007).

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16. The central government decided to implement the scheme at an all- India level and allocated 10 lakh tonnes of food grains to create similar grain banks in other states. 17. To provide support to SC cultivators, most of whom own small plots and lack infrastructural facilities to improve yields, the government had already introduced two main schemes—apart from minor ones providing help to SC cultivators—the Suraj-Dhara Yojana and the Annapurna Yojana—under which SC farmers desirous of cultivating cash crops receive subsidy, which helps in obtaining high-breed seeds and other inputs. During 1999–2000 the government earmarked a large grant for this scheme and a substantial amount of land belonging to SCs/STs came under cash-crop cultivation (BD 2002: 130). 18. Discussion with Chandrabhan Prasad, July 26, 2007. Chandrabhan feels that the result was a dilution of the new Dalit Agenda chalked out in the Bhopal Declaration but agrees that it is necessary to move forward based on consensual thinking. 19. See ‘Reserved Signs: Politicians Can Only Offer Job Quotas But No Actual Jobs’, The Times of India (Editorial), January 2003. 20. ‘Cong Takes Up Quota Issue with Pvt Sector’, The Hindustan Times, September 3, 2003. 21. See Chapter 7 for the Act. 22. Jamnadas ‘Ms Gail Omvedt’s Ill Advice to Dalit Bahujans’, June 16, 2003 at http://www.ambedkar.org/jamnadas/illAdvice.htm. Quoted in Babu (2003: 20). 23. Anand (2002: 31) quoted in Babu (2003: 20).

Appendix The Bhopal Declaration Adopted Unanimously By The Bhopal Conference: Charting A New Course For Dalits For The 21st Century Held at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, 12–13 January 2002 We—intellectuals and activists assembled at the Bhopal Conference, 12–13 January 2002, to deliberate the issues concerning the welfare of and justice to the 250 million—are: Declaring our belief in Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s ideal of Social Democracy and his prophecy that, “A democratic form of Government presupposes a democratic form of society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value and would indeed be a misfit if there was no social democracy”,

118 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh Endorsing the ideals of civil society enshrined in the Constitution of India, particularly its Preamble that declares the Indian State’s commitment to Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, Recognising that the tenets established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various other charters of the United Nations which our nation has acceded to also emphasise the same principles, Recognising also the tribals’ legitimate and historical rights over forest and forest-produce, Acknowledging the role of tribal communities, particularly tribal women, to the protection and conservation of the country’s rich biodiversity and natural resources as well as its culture and civilisation, Acknowledging also the need to ensure that SCs and STs are given due representation in all bodies of decision making, Recalling the struggles that Babasaheb had waged for the emancipation of his people and the historic rights he had won for them, Mindful of the fact that even after 54 years of Independence, the Dalit community is denied of its basic human rights and is also at the receiving end of the most brutal and oppressive forms of discrimination and exclusion, Reaffirming that concerted action by society as a whole—especially coordination among the political leadership, officials and grassroots activists—is necessary for the over-all development of the most oppressed of India, Bearing in mind the responsibility to take forward our struggle at this critical juncture in spite of the fact that most political formations are reluctant to pursue any policy favourable to the Dalits, Recognising that the social consensus over the Dalit cause— reluctantly agreed upon at the time of Independence—has by and large broken down, Convinced that informed and democratic discourse at all levels is essential to re-negotiate a new consensus over redeeming the pledges of the founding fathers of the Republic to do justice to Dalits, Convinced also that the national psyche and public discourse in the country accepts uncritically the rigid hierarchy and discrimination caused by caste and thereby denies that caste is a major source of prejudice and brutal violence, Emphasizing that Babasaheb’s stress on struggle through democratic and constitutional means is relevant today, Regretting that the post-Ambedkar Dalit intelligentsia has failed both in carrying forward his emancipatory movement as well as making a dent in the country’s intellectual life, Recognizing the need for Dalits to make common cause with other liberation and human rights movements in and outside the country,

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Conscious of the hurdles that caste-Hindu society—and its tentacles in government, media, voluntary sector, etc.—is likely to hurl at any serious movement that challenges the entrenched system of discrimination and exclusion, Noting that women—especially Dalit women—represent the most oppressed sections of our society, and that they face multiple forms of discrimination, including caste-based, religious and patriarchal ideology and practices, Welcoming the winds of change the world over that are conducive to Inclusion, Equal Opportunity, Diversity, Democratisation and Civil Society, and against discrimination, stereotype, stigma, exclusion and caste society, Hoping that this country will no longer remain an exception to the global norm of Progress, Equality, Justice, Peace and Social Harmony, and We hereby Solemnly proclaim that while we rededicate ourselves to work in unison to achieve basic rights of Dalits, we are convinced that unless the following issues are resolved no amount of activism on our part and pro-active measures from the State can liberate the community from the scourges of untouchability and exploitation. We therefore demand.

21-POINT ACTION AGENDA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY 1. Ensure that each Dalit family will own enough cultivable land for socio-economic well-being. The government should pursue all possible measures including the distribution of surplus land, government revenue lands and temple lands within a specific timeframe. If the need be, the government should purchase cultivate (sic) land and distribute it among Dalits. 2. Enact legislation and enforce it stringently to enable Dalits have (sic) an equitable share in the appropriation and use of the rural and urban common property resources. The law must be amended to ensure that lengthy litigation with the ulterior motive of denying Dalits of legal redressal, is not resorted to. 3. Enact legislation and enforce the right of Dalit agricultural labourers to living wages, to gender parity in wages, to job security, to better working conditions and welfare measures, and ensure punitive measures against offenders. 4. Appoint Statutory Committees at the national and state level to identify within specified time-frame all the Depressed Class lands occupied by non-Dalits, to assess the quantum of compensation to be paid by non-Dalits for their illegal utilization of lands, to

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5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

identify the original owners and their nearest kith and kin for restoring these lands back to them, to expedite legal proceedings in courts specially appointed for this purpose against the illegal occupants and to ensure punitive measures against them. Ensure the restoration of the alienated lands to the tribals, restore their rights over forest and forest-produce, provide them with compensation and rehabilitation measures, extend resources and capacity building measures for gainful utilization of their lands and forests and make those Dalits displaced due to construction of dams/developmental projects as shareholders of such enterprises. Democratise the capital so as to ensure proportionate share for SCs and STs. Make budgetary allocation for SCs and STs to enable them enter (sic) the market economy with adequate investment resources, and develop their capacities and skills for such market enterprises. Enforce with stringent measures the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and abolish forthwith child labour to ensure freedom with dignity for all the Dalits, and accordingly make suitable amendments in the appropriate legislations. Amend Art. 21 of the Constitution of India: Fundamental Rights so as to include the following rights for all citizens, but with special emphasis for SCs and STs, and on the basis of two criteria, namely low economic income and without religious discrimination: the rights to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of women and men equally, including food, safe drinking water, clothing, housing, public health and medical care, social security and social services; the right to living wage and the right to own 5 acres of cultivable land or to gainful employment. Implement compulsory, free and high quality education for all Dalits immediately, make allocation of funds proportionate to the number and level of the illiterates, ensure compensation to those families which forfeit their income from child-labour, increase the number and amount of scholarships, and provide better infrastructural facilities in SC and ST schools and offer marketoriented vocational and technical education. Make the reservation quota applicable in all the public and private educational institutions from primary to technical and professional levels. Every SC/ST child with low income-base must be given quality free-education at State’s expense. And every English medium school must implement Diversity in Admissions. Recognize SC and ST women as a distinct category among women, and accordingly make segregated data on Dalit women available in census reports, action taken reports and progress reports,

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13.

14.

15. 16.

17.

18.

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evolve national and state level perspective plan for mainstreaming SC and ST women in developmental programmes, market enterprises, financial allocation, reservation facilities in education, employment and health facilities, and mandate the National and State Commissions for SC and ST and for Women to study and report specifically the status of SC and ST women in their annual reports. Implement effectively in letter and spirit the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 & Rules 1995, especially with regard to atrocities against Dalit women, and accordingly prosecute the dominant caste leaders and their minions who stoke the fire of caste clashes and the police officials acting in connivance with them. In cases of atrocities against SC/STs, a system of collective punishment has to be evolved as oppressors enjoy community support and protection and escape the law. Ensure diversity or SC/STs’ due representation in all public institutions of India, whether universities or academic or autonomous or registered bodies. Those institutions, which do not abide by the principle of Affirmative Action, must lose recognition and state funding. All private industry/corporate houses must accept and implement Diversity in workforce immediately. Ensure that in all state and national budgets allocations are made as per the proportion of SC and ST population and penal action taken against unutilisation or diversion of funds meant for these sections. Every government and private organization must implement Supplier Diversity from socially disadvantaged businesses and Dealership Diversity in all goods and services. The State must assume sole responsibility in protecting the SCs and STs. The State must identify those atrocity prone areas and deploy forces. In addition, provide arms licences to the SCs & STs as stipulated in the Atrocities Act for self-defence purposes, make the setting up of Dalit self-defence groups from village onwards mandatory, and specially train Dalit women to handle weapons in self-defence against the perpetrators of crimes and atrocities. Eliminate the humiliating practice of manual scavenging on an urgent footing through effective rehabilitation, alternative and sustainable employment measures and developmental programmes, and prosecute violators of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, especially the gross violators, Railways, Defence and Urban Local bodies. Make it statutory for Parliament and State Assemblies to debate on the Annual Reports of the National and State level Commissions

122 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh for SC/ST and Safai Karamcharis within the following year, and ensure that these annual reports and the action-taken reports of the government are made public. 19. Make reservation mandatory in the private and corporate sector in the same proportion as in the public sector and government institutions and develop the capacities and skills of Dalits to help them cope up with the demands of these different sectors. 20. Implement policy of reservation to SCs and STs at all levels of judiciary and defence forces. And make transparent appointment processes in Judiciary by doing away with the nomination system. 21. Bring out a Truth Paper in two years on the status of reservation during the past 25 years and place it before Parliament and State Assemblies for debate, and on a war footing fill immediately all the backlog posts meant for Dalits and that, too, only with Dalit candidates. Source: Available at www.ambedkar.org.

Part II: Land Reform for the Disadvantaged: An Experiment in Public–Private Partnership

4 Formulating the Land Reform Agenda: A Background In the months following the Bhopal Conference the Congress government under the leadership of Digvijay Singh moved forward rapidly to implement the policies adopted at the Conference. The Task Force set up by the government after the Conference for this purpose also played a significant role in this process. One of the major programmes taken up was distribution of land to dalits and tribals. The government had already embarked upon a programme of land reform in the state beginning in 1998, consisting of distribution of a portion of the government-owned charnoi (common grazing) land to dalits and tribals, restoration of tribal lands, removal of encroachments and ensuring actual possession of land to owners and providing them assistance to improve their land. This programme had been incorporated into the Bhopal Declaration, according it greater significance.While land had been distributed to disadvantaged sections by Congress governments in the 1980s under the leadership of Arjun Singh and Motilal Vora, the land reform programme of the 1990s was qualitatively different. More wide-ranging, it attempted to introduce seminal changes in the landholding system of the state and improve the livelihood of the dalits and tribals. Also, under a Joint Task Force in 2000, it was undertaken in partnership with the Ekta Parishad, an NGO working for distribution of land to dalits and tribals in the state. During the 1990s, in keeping with the liberalization of the economy, many state governments such as Gujarat and Karnataka introduced significant changes in their land reform legislation, enabling the inflow of private capital into agriculture. Many economists who supported such moves argued that whatever could be achieved in this area had been done, land reform legislations were now infructuous, and in a market economy hampered growth in agriculture.1 In contrast,

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Digvijay Singh had decided in the wake of demands from the Ekta Parishad and other civil society organizations to distribute land to landless dalits and tribals. The significance of the land reforms programme in MP arises from the fact that these two groups form more than a quarter of the population of the state but have small/marginal holdings or are landless, while a small number of landowners from the upper castes/ classes have large landholdings (see Tables 1–3 in the Appendix to this chapter). In fact, actual land cultivated by dalits and tribals is much lower than the records show as, in many cases, individuals who legally own land do not have possession due to encroachments, those who have possession do not have pattas (legal documents) or, alienation of land has occurred due to many reasons. While the land reform programme incorporated a number of interrelated policies, this study focuses specifically on the policy of distribution of government-owned charnoi land to landless dalit and tribal agriculturists in the state. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the formulation of the land distribution policy of the Digvijay Singh government and the rules and regulations framed for its implementation. This is undertaken by examining the historical developments that have shaped the present-day landholding system and the position of dalits and tribals within it, and second, contemporary contending debates on the subject of land reform in MP. While the former provides a background, the latter, more importantly, provides the basis on which the policy itself and, in later chapters, its implementation can be evaluated. Analysis of the landholding system of MP in the colonial and post-colonial period reveals high landlessness among dalits and tribals, large-scale alienation and encroachment on lands held by them, and the presence of surplus land available which was not distributed during land reform to landless agriculturalists including dalits and tribals in the postindependence period. This validates the policy of the Congress government to distribute land to these disadvantaged sections to provide them a livelihood. However, an examination of contemporary thinking on land reform in MP indicates two diverse viewpoints. On the one hand, NGOs in MP such as the Ekta Parishad, working at the grassroots and aware of the impact

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of landlessness on dalits and tribals in a situation of lack of alternative employment for survival, emphasize the urgent and immediate need for land distribution in the state, though they are aware of the difficulties involved in such a step. On the other hand scholars, while not opposed to land distribution, keeping in mind past experience argue for major improvements of waste/surplus land prior to its distribution such as making it fit for cultivation, providing all necessary inputs, availability of timely water supply, linkages with the market, etc. They also point to dwindling common property resources, absence of land records, continuing alienation of tribal lands despite much legislation, and the need for strategies for dryland agriculture, that need to be simultaneously and speedily addressed. Digvijay Singh was aware of both the existing viewpoints on the issue of land reform in MP. However, the type of policies selected, the timing and the manner of implementation, were to a large extent determined by the advance of identitybased politics in the Hindi heartland. By the late 1990s not only had the BSP formed the government in UP more than twice, but both the Congress and the BJP were in decline. Consequently, dalit assertion had acquired a strong position and the BSP, it was felt, was making preparations in the next assembly elections to improve its position in MP. Thus, while there was a definite commitment to provide land to dalits and the tribals and an understanding of the need to improve the quality of land distributed, the need to rapidly strengthen the support of these groups to meet the political challenges facing the Congress party played a role in determining the nature and type of land reform programme measures adopted by the Digvijay Singh government.

Land and the Weaker Sections in MP: A Socio-historical Background A brief analysis of the colonial land revenue settlements; land reform undertaken after independence, and other policies associated with land in MP and their impact upon dalits and tribals provide a canvas against which the land reform programme of the Digvijay Singh government can be examined.

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Colonial Land Policy The entry of the colonial power into the area that constitutes Madhya Pradesh today was late compared to other northern regions such as the United Provinces and Bihar. But beginning in 1819 the British rapidly introduced complex land revenue settlements in the region over the already existing ones. As the state included five erstwhile regions given their historico-economic specificities with different agrarian structures, revenue laws, etc. they came to have a range of tenurial arrangements: the Sagar and Nerbuddha territories had a predominantly mahalwari system under which the revenue of an estate was estimated collectively; parts of Sagar also had the khalsa system wherein collection was entrusted to the highest bidder; west Nimar had ryotwari and izradari while Jabalpur practiced malguzari. The princely states of the region had their own system, most of them practicing zamindari or mahalwari with bhaichara in the Bundelkhand region (Roy 2002: 34). Forest and wastelands were also settled separately.3 However, there is enough evidence to show that in spite of different tenurial arrangements the basic position of the tenant-cultivator, most of whom were dalits or tribals, in the colonial region was miserable. Severity of demand by the colonial revenue collectors and high indebtedness resulted in a fundamental distortion of peasant land rights culminating in the gradual conversion of a large body of the peasant proprietors into mere tenants-at-will and landless labourers. High rents, sparse population and lack of interest on the part of landlords for revenue collection resulted in the absence of ‘true’ landlord tenures leading to, in effect, a ryotwari tenure being practiced with a direct relationship between the state and the peasant. But it was not formal ryotwari, rather closer to malguzari leading to the emergence of a largely parasitic body of rich landed landlords who scorned direct investment in agriculture for easier avenues of profit, such as rack-renting, usury, etc. (Jha 2002: 23). As Joshi has remarked, ‘the pattern of land relations developed in the wake of British rule was essentially characterized by semi-feudal landownership—by the presence of a landlord-tenant nexus’ (Joshi 1987: 5). The mechanisms at work also affected related areas such as forests, water bodies and other common property resources.

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During the colonial period the tribal areas of MP were opened for development ending their isolation and initiating a process of ‘systematic’ exploitation of their lands due to which they have been pauperized by either being pushed back into the most barren, marginal fields or into the ever-growing ranks of the proletariat (Mander 2002: 277). A number of changes in the tribal areas during the colonial period were responsible: introduction of private property in land and state ownership of forests broke down common ownership of property and forest rights; a monetized economy and construction of roads introduced the moneylender–politician–contractor–government functionary leading to perpetual indebtedness and dependency; and breakdown of isolation also led to a loss of traditional moorings, ways of life and self-esteem (ibid.). Some protective laws were passed by the colonial authorities such as the Central Provinces Land Alienation Bill (1 of 1916) that aimed at statutory protection to aboriginals living in well-defined areas and at restricting the alienation of their proprietary lands (ibid.). However, these were not successful in checking the exploitative changes mentioned earlier. Government policy after independence has also been responsible: 5 crore persons have been displaced since 1950 in MP on account of various developmental projects, of which more than 40 per cent are tribals (Mander 2002: 281). Thus colonial rule led to gradual dispossession and economic disenfranchisement of most of the rural population—most particularly dalits and tribals—from such crucial resources.

Post-colonial Land Policy: Land Reform In the post-independence period the manner in which land reform was planned and implemented in MP has had significant implications for dalits, tribals and other weaker sections. Madhya Pradesh was created in 1956 and a single property and revenue system was imposed on the whole area on October 2, 1959. In 1950 both the Abolition of Proprietary Rights Act and the Agricultural Raiyats and Tenants Act were passed, while the Zamindari Abolition Act was passed in 1951. The latter was meant to eliminate those who acted as intermediaries between the state and the tenant; the former made every tenant of a jagirdar a pacca tenant of the land

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cultivated by him personally. A sub-tenant or a tenant of a subtenant who was in possession of any land in a resumed jagir could also acquire the right of a legal tenant. The MP Land Revenue Code provides for only one class of tenure holders of land from the state known as bhuswami, who has a right of transfer and of mortgage, and protects rights of sub-tenants who are given the status of occupancy tenants (Land Reforms Unit [LRU] 1994, 2002).4 But in practice, various forms of concealed tenancy, particularly concerning SCs/STs, have remained widely prevalent according to a number of reports such as the National Sample Survey (NSS) and the National Commission on Agriculture (LRU 1994, 2002: 126). A number of ceiling legislations were passed to ensure equitable distribution of land to the weaker sections. The two main ones were the MP Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960 and the MP Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1974. Under the former the ceiling was fixed at 10.12 ha of irrigated, 20.24 ha of partially irrigated and 30.36 ha unirrigated land, though some exemptions were allowed.5 These Acts had certain progressive features as they fixed priorities in the distribution of agricultural land. The surplus land was to be distributed in the following order: to landless STs, SCs, freedom fighters, landless agriculturists or labourers who have been residing in the state for about 12 years and possessed no agricultural land. But there were many loopholes in the Acts, such as lack of definition of the term ‘family’, delays in implementing the ceiling and various ways in which big landowners, Rajas and malguzars managed to circumvent the ceiling legislation. In 1972, 1974 and 1984 amendments were passed that attempted to remove these failings and improve implementation so that they could not be misused and land transfers prevented. Despite this, not much land went into the hands of weaker sections. As a result of these failures, thousands of small farmers/landless farmers have been waging a battle for land since then (Singh 2002: 52–53). The failure of land reform led to large-scale encroachment by the bigger landowners, which have continued in some cases right down to the present.6 There have also been land-buying-cum-grabbing sprees in the state by a newly emergent class of nouveau rich industrialists and outsiders from tribals and poor peasants.7

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The political class lacked the will to implement the act firmly and some even became party to the land grabbing. An attempt was also made in the new MP Land Code of 1959 following the reorganization of the state to protect the landed interests of Scheduled Tribes through a number of strong and progressive provisions including imposing a ban on transfers of agricultural land owned by bhuswamis belonging to a designated aboriginal tribe, to a person not belonging to such a tribe, without the prior permission of the collector who must specify in detail the reasons for such permission in writing. These sections have subsequently been strengthened by a series of amendments beginning in the early 1970s.8 Despite these provisions a number of studies point out that tribal land alienation has continued unabated. Important reasons include poor awareness of the law and lack of mobilization on the part of tribals; actual implementation of such laws has proved difficult and cumbersome; cases remain pending in courts for many years; and even when a number of verdicts have been in favour of tribal landowners, ensuring actual possession to them is difficult given the power of non-tribal opponents. Mander’s study points to the ‘weak-kneed and ambiguous political and administrative will, which blocks effective implementation of the progressive legal measures designed to protect the tribals from land alienation’ (ibid.: 295). A study by Archana Prasad shows that the number of land alienation cases registered till June 1994 was 54,139. Of these, 54.67 per cent were rejected and land restoration took place only in 3.15 per cent cases (Prasad 2002).

Extent of Landlessness among SCs/STs As a result of these policy failures recent rounds of the NSS covering MP show that land distribution today in MP is very skewed. As Table 4.1 shows, rural households in MP own more land than households at the all-India level. But more important is the distribution of this land. The number of rural households owning less than 1 ha of land is higher in MP than at the all-India level, particularly, as the table reveals, among those owning 0.001 to 0.004 ha. Also, the number of households owning plots between 1 and 2 ha is higher. But what is significant is that the households owning above 2 ha,

132 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh Table 4.1 Distribution per 1,000 of Rural Households by Size Class of Land Possessed in MP and All-India Size Class of Land Held 0 0.001–0.004 0.005–0.04 0.41–1.00 1.01–2.00 2.01–4.00 4.01 & above Total

MP 26 160 192 176 181 174 90 1000

All-India 22 123 438 187 120 75 36 1000

Source: NSS 62nd Round (2004–05).

and particularly above 4 ha, are much higher. In short, the big landowning class in MP still has control over a large part of the arable land in the state. A similar situation is visible when we compare the land owned by SCs and STs with the land held by other sections of the population. Tables 1–6 in the appendix to this chapter provide data on the land owned by SCs/STs in six regions of MP in percentage and in absolute numbers.9 Despite large-scale alienations, historically, STs have held more land than the SCs in MP: STs possess 21,63,017 ha compared to 17,15,840 ha held by the SCs (see Tables 4 and 5 in the appendix to this chapter). Scheduled Tribes are more in number in the population, but in terms of percentage, only 4.7 per cent of the ST population does not own land. But the large majority—about 15.1 per cent—own less than 1 ha of land, a little over 20 per cent own between 1 to 2 ha, about 13 per cent over 2 ha and about 5 per cent over 4 ha (see Table 1 in the appendix to this chapter). There are marked differences between regions. The highest number own land in the southern region, followed by the Vindhya region, Malwa region, southwestern, central and northern regions (see Table 4 in the appendix to this chapter). This pattern is similar to the manner in which STs are distributed across the state. Table 2 in the appendix to this chapter shows that SCs own less land than the STs as over 6 per cent are landless. Moreover, a larger number of SCs own small plots below 1 ha: 21 per cent own between 0.41 to 1 ha, a total of 6.7 per cent

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own less than 1 ha, the numbers holding above 2 and 4 ha falling sharply compared to STs. Only 8.4 per cent own above 2 ha and 1.3 per cent above 4 ha. Again, regional differences are marked: the highest number of landowners among the SCs are concentrated in Malwa, followed by the Vindhya region, central, northern, southern and southwestern regions. The pattern to a large extent follows the distribution of the SC population which has pockets of concentration in districts where SCs are shown as having higher amount of land. In the Malwa region, SCs are concentrated in the region around Ujjain district, in the Vindhya around Satna and Rewa, in the central region around Bhopal; all the districts in the northern region have a large concentration followed by pockets in the southern and southwestern districts. In the population as a whole 4.5 per cent of the population is landless, which is only slightly less than the STs but 2 per cent less than the SC population (see Table 3 in the appendix to this chapter). The general population in MP holds as much as 87,99,596 ha; this is much higher than the amount held by STs and SCs (see Table 6 in the appendix to this chapter). However, Table 3 in the appendix shows that, in MP, landholdings are skewed. While on an average 8.9 per cent own over 4 ha, this figure rises to over 15 per cent in the southwestern region of the state consisting of East and West Nimar, Harda, Hoshangabad and the Betul areas of ST concentration. In Malwa 10.9 per cent of landholdings are over 4 ha, about 9 per cent in the central and northern regions, followed by Vindhya with 7.1 per cent and dropping to only 4.2 per cent in the southern region. On the other hand about 52 per cent of landholdings are below 1 ha (see Table 6 in the appendix to this chapter). However, the number owning above 1 ha are much more than in the case of SCs though closer to the figures for the STs, making the Digvijay Singh policy to distribute land to the landless valid.

Surplus Land and Distribution to SCs/STs The issue of whether today there is surplus land which can be distributed to the SCs/STs in MP, remains controversial and was raised when Digvijay Singh introduced a policy for land reform. A lot of literature exists which clearly establishes

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that not much land has been declared surplus or distributed, indicating that there is land that can be identified and distributed among the landless farming population. Roy argues that the estimated surplus in 1970–71 was 15,58,000 ha but in 1976–77 it came down to 11,48,000 ha that was further reduced to 8,02,000 ha under the present ceilings. Even then, according to Roy, this was the highest estimate of surplus land in the country second only to Rajasthan (Roy 2002: 34). Of this estimated surplus, 30,000 ha were actually declared surplus under the pre-revised laws, and 92,000 ha were declared surplus under the revised laws in 1995 leaving a surplus of 1,22,000 ha. Hence, with only 2–8 per cent of the estimated land actually being declared surplus, there is, it is argued, much land to be distributed (ibid.). A report based on a survey by the Land Reforms Unit points to two features: there are still big landowners in various parts of the state who have not yet been identified, and land ceiling laws have been poorly implemented (LRU 1994 in Jha 2002: 116). It points out that close to 60 per cent of the land initially assumed as surplus, was finally declared surplus, but 37.7 per cent of the land at the state level was released back to the landowners. Of the total declared surplus, the majority belongs to big landowners (98.5 per cent), which means the administration has been able to apprehend at least some of the big landowners in the state (ibid.: 118). But only 66.5 per cent of the land taken possession of has been distributed leaving a gap of 33.45 per cent. Thus, as of October 1992, 92,000 acres remained to be distributed at the state level, indicating a dismal performance of the state machinery (ibid.: 120). At the state level 33.11 per cent of the beneficiaries were from the STs, 22.38 per cent were from the SCs and 31.83 per cent were from other castes. Similarly, of the total area distributed 40.68 per cent was allotted to the STs, 26.63 per cent to the SCs and 29.92 per cent to other castes. The implementation of the Ceiling Acts has been a miserable failure: 41.6 per cent of the landowners in the state have more than 100 acres though the ceiling imposed in the rural areas is 18 acres for irrigated land. The report further shows that after 1980 no land ceiling cases have been instituted after 1980, indicating administrative apathy (LRU 1994 in Jha 2002: 117).

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Even the earlier cases have dragged on for many years: 73 per cent of such cases were settled in five years, 8.9 per cent in five to 10 years, and 17.9 per cent have been pending for more than 10 years. The delays are due to administrative indifference, lack of political will among the leadership of the ruling party and the capacity of big landlords whose land falls under the ceiling laws to resort to delays by influencing the legal process (ibid.). It is for this reason that one of the slogans of the Land Satyagraha in MP is ‘Zamin ka faisla zamin par hoga’ (Sail 2002: 64).10 The tribal population has suffered the most. The Verrier Elwin committee of 1952 recommended that all tribal cultivators should be given ownership rights in land and the size of the landholdings should be at least 2.5 acres.11 Though land ceiling laws were enacted and surplus land was distributed, the total beneficiaries were only a fraction of the total tribal population (Prasad 2002: 268). In many cases the beneficiaries did not know where the land allocated was located, some villages even lacked a map. As a result, land was allotted without acquiring land from the big landowners leading to the beneficiaries not gaining possession. The patwaris, the lower bureaucracy and the police sided with the landlords. Other studies show that even in cases where land reforms have had partial success in tribal areas, the official ownership of cultivable tracts is deceiving, as far as the nature of the holdings is concerned. A study by the Tribal Research Institute of MP suggests that many tribals are forced to sell their bullocks and other equipment in lieu of debts. There have also been cases when the land was in the name of the tribal but non-tribals who had given money to tribals as debts, cultivated it; in other cases, non-tribals got whatever harvest the tribals received from their lands in return for money lent.12 Since the productivity of these areas is low in general the tribals were left with little income or produce. Thus the informal money-lending system took a heavy toll on the tribal access to land and resources necessary for producing enough for a decent livelihood. Table 4.2 shows the high level of dispossession in MP after allotment to both SCs/STs up to the late 1980s. It shows that land given to dalits and tribals does not remain with them for long. In conclusion, the policy recommendations made by

136 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh Table 4.2 Dispossession of Land after Allotment (up to 1988) Particulars Total Entitlements Given/Dispossessed Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes Other Backward Classes Others Total Dispossessed Land

Number of Persons

Area in Hectares

805146

81949587.00

8775 10896 5342 2240 27253

9668.34 15811.97 3793.12 3473.87 32747.32

Source: Commissioners of Land Records and Settlements, MP Gwalior (up to December 1988) given in Chaudhary (2007b: 6, Table 1.2).

the LRU are very relevant for a policy to redistribute land: first, evolve a plan for distribution of land to weaker sections; second, ensure proper management and utilization of CPRs and their accessibility to weaker sections; third, evolve stringent measures to evict encroachers; and four, abandon the policy of regularization of encroachers altogether (LRU 1994 in Jha 2002: 140).

Land Reforms: The Contemporary Debate Any attempt to evaluate the land reform policy of the Digvijay Singh government must be placed in the context of the contemporary debate on the subject in the state. Two views exist on the type of policies to be framed and the manner in which the process of land reform was to be implemented. These views represent the deep divisions and strong feelings that the issue of land evokes in MP. Both viewpoints are rooted in changes in the economy and polity in the 1990s, but they both put forward different solutions.

Re-defining Land Reform: Land-use reform A number of scholars working on MP attach great significance to the need for land reform in the state given the vast inequalities in land ownership and the continued prevalence of insecure forms of tenancy. However, they argue that ‘structural reform’ alone is not of much use. In order to fulfill the objectives underlying it, the social matrix that follows land distribution—quality

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of land distributed, supply of vital inputs, linkages with credit, low productivity and lack of irrigation, etc.—needs to be addressed to make it meaningful and effective. As Mihir Shah and Vijay Shankar point out, a ‘redefinition’ of the agenda of land reforms in MP is urgently required. This would necessitate supplementing the ‘conventional agenda’ of land distribution with two other types of reform: a large-scale programme of ‘land-use reform’ and ‘land-record reform’ (Shah and Shankar 2002: 371–72). Together with this they argue that a third requirement is that the meaning of the term ‘land’ in MP must be expanded to include the other natural common property resources, equitable access to which is necessary to ensure livelihood security for the poorest. This would ensure a new and ‘more comprehensive’ agenda of land reform encompassing redistribution of surplus land, security and fair terms of tenancy, land-use reform based on a watershed approach, land-record reform, especially in the tribal areas, and common property access reform (ibid.: 372). It is in keeping with the idea firmly held by social activists that, in MP, the resources of land, water and forest need to be considered together. They further point out that the success of initiatives by the MP government towards decentralization of power, such as the Panchayati Raj amendment, remains predicated upon programmes of effective empowerment of the poor, of which land reforms would have to form the bedrock (ibid.: 373).

Land-use Reform Prior to Distribution ‘Land-use’ reform is needed for at least two reasons if it is to fulfill the programme of livelihood for SCs/STs in the state. First, even if the full potential of the land ceiling legislation were to be realized, the resultant size of the holdings distributed to the landless would not be economically viable; a calculation shows that each household would get a mere 0.5 ha, adding to the proliferation of marginal and small landholdings (ibid.: 377). Equally important, there is no significant trend since the 1960s, when land ceilings were first attempted, towards reduction of concentration of ownership or operational holdings.13 Rather, between 1971–72 and 1990–91 there has been a proliferation

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of marginal and smallholdings, an increase by nearly 100 per cent in all major agro-economic zones in the state. There is also a high tendency of insecure tenancy, that is, unrecorded tenants in the state. The NSS reveals that the absolute numbers of reported tenants and the area under tenancy are quite substantial covering about 25 per cent of the total area under lease.14 Land leases form an important part of the survival strategy of the poor and marginal farmer households in the state and therefore land reform remains an unfinished agenda in MP. Second, this is accompanied by stagnation in the net sown area by about 1970 after which there has been a distinct slowing down of growth in net sown area much of which is due to poor availability of water.15 The rapid rise in the population of MP due to substantial reduction in death rates without a fall in birth rates, which remain higher than the national average, has created demographic pressure on land that is likely to further intensify. Consequently, the pervasive low productivity in the agricultural sector since the 1950s has already forced a massive entry into the labour market of even ‘landed’ households, as the existing pattern of agricultural development has not been successful in checking this trend towards pauperization of the peasantry.16 In this situation Shah and Shankar argue that a new strategy of land-use reform is required based on a ‘watershed approach’ in the different agro-ecological regions of the state, described as a Total Watershed Planning (TWP) approach that seeks to identify the endowment and constraints of an environmentally balanced, equitable and sustainable growth path for a region (Shah and Shankar 2002: 391). Total Watershed Planning integrates interventions in the areas of soil conservation, water harvesting, groundwater recharge, sustainable agriculture, water optimization, forest conservation, wasteland development and renewable energy. The objective of TWP is to stabilize the natural resource base so as to facilitate its equitable and long-term use. The approach constitutes a significant departure from the conventional modes of thinking in three crucial respects: it attempts to provide environmental regeneration as a source of labour intensive growth, livelihood security to resource poor households, and a participatory development

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process which entails the empowerment of the people. A beginning was made under the Digvijay Singh government in 1998 based on the HDR 1998 that argues that from the point of view of growth, equity and sustainability, it is necessary to concentrate on dryland agriculture as MP has the highest proportion of India’s dryland districts (MP HDR 1998: 68).17 In a similar vein Archana Prasad raises the question whether, if tribals are distributed land, they be able to meet their livelihood needs. Land reforms, she feels, are not a viable proposition if they create private property rights in tribal areas. Tribal lands are mostly in unproductive tracts and measures promoting the restoration of lands to the tribal population have failed due to lack of the understanding that rights over pattas and ownership of land need to be accompanied by efforts to improve the productivity of land. She argues for the need to promote non-farm activities such as plantation of mixed forests and cultivation of economic and medicinal plants, easy access for tribals to knowledge, credit and technological inputs to add value to the produce resulting from such land use, so that their incomes can go up and the prospects for expanding production can also improve (Prasad 2002: 273). This can be done through a consolidation of holdings and provision for financial and technical assistance by the state. Consolidation requires institutions promoting cooperation, encouraged through legal and non-legal mechanisms such as collective farming and collective rights over the use of forest and wastelands. If this is done and land restoration encouraged then the costs and risks of increasing the production of land will reduce. She holds that ‘it is only in this context that land reforms will assume a meaningful relevance in the tribal societies of MP’ (ibid.: 274).

Land-record Reform and Social Justice Both Shah and Shankar’s study and the HDR 1998 underline the importance of effective land-record reform as important in ensuring justice in the ownership and operational use of land, with far-reaching implications for productivity (MP HDR 1998; Shah and Shankar 2002: 401). Farmers in MP, especially in the tribal segments, face the problem of out-dated land records as they do not have a proper title to the land that they have

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been tilling for years. As a result they are deprived of rights that accrue to farmers such as access to credit, electricity and agricultural inputs, and are also deprived of benefits of various anti-poverty programmes (ibid.). Preparation and maintenance of land records in MP has not been an easy task (Mehta 2002: 203). A number of developments have contributed to poor maintenance of land records: inheritance of a variety of records at independence, abolition of intermediaries, frequent land allotment drives, adoption of the ryotwari system, pressure of miscellaneous work on the lowest functionary, etc. Moreover, complete records were not available with the state government, as the former rulers, jagirdars, etc., did not hand over their settlement records at the time of the merger. Absence of accurate and adequate village maps and records, no systematic survey and mapping of large areas of cultivable wasteland, transfer of large areas of land from the forest department not covered in village maps and vice versa, encroachments on government wastelands not properly assessed causing revenue loss, etc. have hampered the process of land reform (Mehta 2002: 194).18

Common Property Resources and SCs/STs The closely related debate on common property resources also requires discussion as questions have been raised whether distribution of charnoi (grazing) land to SCs/STs by the Digvijay Singh government was an economically viable proposition.19 A related social dimension is that the bigger landowners have already encroached upon most of the charnoi land in MP and attempts to distribute it to SCs/STs can lead, as our fieldwork shows, to conflicts. Common property resources have been defined as a ‘community’s natural resources, where every member has access and usage facility with specified obligations, without anybody having exclusive property rights over them’ (Jodha 1995). An integral aspect of the social and institutional arrangements made to meet the everyday requirements of village communities and used as grazing land pastures or scrub forests, they are viewed as of particular relevance for the day-to-day survival of the landless, the agricultural labourer and the rural artisans. Such lands are called charnoi/charagah/gaucher/shamlaat or padit bhoomi (literally grazing lands) in local languages in

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different parts of the country but are described as ‘wastelands’ by the government.20 According to a study, such lands form almost 20 per cent of the total geographical area of the country (Asher 2006). The notion of common property resources prevalent today in MP took shape in the colonial period. Originally described as ‘unoccupied’ and ‘uncultivated’ wastelands, by 1890 the British realized their revolutionary potential as grazing lands that would provide revenue and expand state control over the people using these resources (Prasad 1994: 139). Simultaneously, these lands became important for Ahirs, Gowries and Banjaras who began to graze their cattle on them. However, wastelands under the colonial rule were deemed state property and the ‘commons’ denoted not community pastures and forests, as defined today, but demarcated pastures and forests that the village community was allotted for common use. The state had the right to regulate the commons and each village, on payment of specified dues, could use the nistar lands for grazing; it had no rights to any other wasteland that remained state property (ibid.: 145). The post-colonial state inherited these legal notions and under the MP Land Revenue Code, 1959 all land belongs to the state though private property granted by law is recognized by the state. According to the law as specified, since 1964 records of unoccupied land are to be prepared and kept for every village for the exercise of nistar rights that refers to ‘common land’ set aside for any public purpose. The state of MP, unlike many others, accepts the responsibility of providing nistar rights to all agriculturists, village artisans and labourers and it is mentioned in the Code. Three kinds of common property regimes are mentioned in the Code: common lands and the rights of the people to this land which are nistar rights, customary rights and easements which depend on usage and practice in the access and utilization of occupied land, and third, the rights to wasteland (common land) and to resources on such lands. The Nistar Patrika maintained by the collector describes the CPRs of each village.21 Lands set aside specially for any purpose mentioned in the Sub-section (1) cannot be diverted without the sanction of the collector (ibid.). According to Section 237 subject to the rules in the Code, the collector may set apart unoccupied land for the following purposes:

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• • • • • • • • • •

Timber or fuel reserve Pasture, grass or fodder reserve Burial ground or cremation ground For gaothan (cattle grazing, particularly for cows) For encamping ground For threshing floor For bazaar For skinning ground For manure pits For purposes such as schools, play grounds, park road, lanes, drains, etc.

The nistar lands have always been very significant for the village economy, an aspect to be kept in mind in evaluating the policy of distributing a portion of charnoi land to dalits and tribals. According to a study, these lands contribute to almost 12 per cent of the income of poor households across the country. In states such as Maharashtra, MP and Rajasthan a huge pastoral community entirely depends on these lands for livestock rearing (Asher 2006). Many activists have long recognized that the issue of charnoi/charai or jhakri land has created conflict between the need to provide land to the weaker sections and the shrinking of CPRs in the villages, which would affect all agriculturists and local development. As irrigated land is a small proportion of the cultivated area and lands are often left fallow after a single crop, the dependence on CPRs to fulfill subsistence needs in MP are pronounced (Ramanathan 2002: 204). Next to agriculture, the supply of timber, bamboo, fuel and fodder is crucial for ordinary livelihood (Buch 1991: 71). Resources such as grass and fodders are important as, in MP, free grazing rather than stall grazing has been the norm, which increases the importance of CPRs (Ramanathan 2002: 207). The state has not been able to meet the nistar needs of the villagers. In fact, the relatively large livestock population of the state is augmented by migratory herds of cattle brought in from neighbouring Rajasthan and Gujarat annually. It is estimated that every year over 10 lakh heads of cattle migrate annually into the state from Rajasthan alone (Buch 1991: 74). According to many experts, there is a tragedy of the commons approaching.

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Conflict among villagers due to encroachments on charnoi land is also quite common in MP. Traditionally, dalits did not have access to and utilization rights to these lands due to their low social status. This is perhaps one of the reasons why encroachers in MP who belong to middle and upper castes resent the distribution of these common lands to the dalits. The ‘encroacher’ on state land is often a person subsisting on common property and resources, particularly where it is a person belonging to the SC or ST category or a marginal farmer. But in many cases it is a person belonging to the dominant landowning caste of the area. The revenue department for long has been aware that a very large percentage of the land in most of the villages classed as grazing land was under unauthorized cultivation by encroachers. This practice was continuing for many years and the encroachers used to pay ‘jurmana’, or fine, to retain this land under their possession (Joshi 2007: 76). This was one of the reasons which led the Digvijay Singh government to decide to distribute this land to the landless as it was not being used as grazing land (ibid.). However, as this was done without removing the encroachers in many parts of the state, this created much discontent, social conflict and required judicial intervention. There is much greater need to preserve common resources in the tribal areas. Archana Prasad argues that it is necessary to go beyond land and include trees, plants, animals and other assets associated with it in CPRs, as well as the notion of temporary residence and seasonal use, all of which remain integral to tribal survival. Another characteristic of MP is that both the revenue and forest departments are in charge of nistar land. This has often created contradictions as the demarcations are not clear and the two departments put different versions forward, complicated by the fact that land records are not wellmaintained. The MP HDR 1998 recognizes that there are conflicts between the forest department and villagers over forest produce, which makes distribution of land very difficult to implement.22 The existence of corrupt practices in both departments also makes it difficult for villagers to take possession of land that they have been allotted and make full use of forest produce. The question of reform needs to be seen not merely in terms of ownership but also access.

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Land to the Landless: The EP Ranged against the scholars are civil society organizations in MP such as the EP, which based on their experience of working among dalits, tribals and other sections of the rural poor in MP, believe that there is immediate and urgent need to redistribute land and other natural resources in an equitable manner among these groups. The EP believes that this is crucial not merely for their livelihood but also for their very survival. They point out, based on their surveys and grassroots experience, that there is enough land to distribute to the poor as big landowners, religious and other institutions own large amounts of land beyond the ceiling allowed and many have encroached upon lands which belong to dalits and particularly to the tribals. They agree that the quality of land is poor and much needs to be done to improve agriculture in the state, which would increase yields and provide food. However, they stand for distribution first and feel that the government can then introduce policies for land improvement. Undoubtedly, much of this belief has its roots in the Gandhian values and outlook of the EP, which strongly holds that there is need to rejuvenate village India, and the organization stands for the rights of the landless and small farmer. It is keen that panchayats must be revived and sees land and the village as closely related to them. The Parishad describes land as a Fundamental Right and it redefines the nation as composed of the common people to whom the natural resources belong. The Parishad believes that land provides not only economic sustenance but also self-respect and dignity as well as confidence; while lack of land for these groups leads to not merely poverty but a sense of helplessness and loss of status in society, particularly tribal society.23 However, much of the urgency with which the issue is being pursued by civil society organizations such as EP since the 1990s is also because they feel that the increasing globalization of the Indian economy is leading to rising landlessness and this is having an adverse impact upon the rural poor, particularly the dalits and tribals. The Parishad is concerned that rural poverty is increasing leading to migration to cities, which can be stopped if land is provided to the rural poor. It also

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points to increasing food insecurity and holds that farmers, not MNCs, should produce food. Worried that land, water and forests are increasingly coming under the control of market forces and globalization, they constantly oppose those who believe that the traditional farming system is no longer viable and must give way to large agricultural companies and agribusiness. As MP has few industries and they are located in urban centres, land alone can provide security and livelihood to landless dalits and tribals. Thus, their primary goal since the early 1990s has been ‘Land First’ demanding a shift of focus from urban to rural, global to local and from dependent to autonomous communities (Carr-Harris 2007). Based on this thinking, by the mid-1990s the EP put forward a land reform agenda arising out of the specific problems of MP: 1. Many dalit/tribal landless agriculturists in MP have been provided pattas (entitlement papers), but they have no physical occupation of that piece of land, which the government gave to them under the land-distribution scheme. In fact, some have not even been shown the land by the revenue officials. They do not know where the land is, although they possess a piece of paper authorizing them and declaring them as landowners. Thus, it is essential that they should be provided actual possession over land to which they have land entitlements or pattas. 2. Much of government land in MP has been forcibly occupied and is being cultivated by the rich and the powerful and some have been provided pattas for such land, of course fraudulently, by the government agencies. It is only recently that the poor dalit/tribal landless or small farmers (having organized themselves through trade unions, institutions, NGOs, etc.) have begun to cultivate whatever small fraction of such government open land that was left out in the villages which is called charnoi, charai or jhakri land. Such dalit/tribal farmers should now be given legal possession. This requires regularization of land to those dalit/tribal agriculturists who are at present cultivating on government land but have no pattas.

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3. The Land Reform Act provides for the restoration of land to the tribals.24 Under Section 170(B), in MP, it was made mandatory for all those landlords who had come to occupy the tribal land, to file an affidavit in the court describing the details and the manner in which they came to posses the tribal land. The government magistrate/ official is empowered under this Section to restore the land to the tribal, if such an affidavit was not filed by the landlord by May 1985, or if he/she is satisfied that the declaration was false or fraudulent. This could not be done unilaterally. However, the process was inordinately delayed due to the landlords owning tribal land appealing to the higher courts. But the government, claiming to represent tribal interests, has never challenged or intervened in such cases on behalf of the tribals, who have no means to even know about the case, leave aside fight long drawn out battles. Regularization of land to those tribals who had possession on forest land before 1980 after proper verification is urgently required. 4. A large percentage of the rural population in MP continues to remain landless despite land reform. But equally important, tribals and dalits have been forced out of their ancestral lands. The rate at which this is happening leading to both increase in bonded labourers and migration has reached alarming proportions in recent decades. To overcome this problem the only solution is distribution of land to landless SCs/STs in every district after removing illegal settlers/encroachers or non-eligible persons or landlords. The EP put tremendous pressure on the state government during the 1990s through large, organized movements, which are described in the next chapter, to adopt the agenda of land reform outlined here. At the same time the government was aware of the views of experts and scholars writing on alternative methods of reform described earlier. Many of them had expressed these views in government documents and reports including the HDRs of MP. While both these viewpoints were available before the government, eventually politics played the deciding role. Digvijay Singh was sympathetic to the urgent

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need to provide livelihood to dalits and tribals as seen from many policies put forward by his government to improve the conditions of these sections. However, equally important was the need to gain their political support to meet the challenge posed by the BJP, but more particularly the BSP. Land was both an economic as well as an emotive issue, which could help the Congress strengthen its support base. By the mid-1990s the BSP had made rapid strides in consolidating dalit vote in UP and had formed the government with the support of the BJP in 1995 and again in 1998. Although the BSP eventually did not spread into MP as in UP, in the late 1990s it looked as if it was poised to enter into MP and form a third force between the Congress and the BJP leaving both of them vying for the support of the dalits and the tribals. In 1998 the government decided to distribute charnoi land to landless dalits and tribals. Some provisions were made in the policy for the improvement of the land, but the focus, as the next sections shows, remained on distribution. Equally important, according to a recent study, among her policies for dalits in UP Mayawati made provisions for land re-distribution on assuming power in 1995 and 1998 (Kumar 2007: 254). In a letter issued by Mayawati on September 1997 she presented details of the distribution of land during her tenure.25 According to her, 81,500 dalits received 52,379 acres of land in a special drive. Further, about, 1,52,000 dalits were given possession of land in which 1,20,000 acres of land were distributed, not only on paper but in reality. About 20,000 dalits benefited when 15,000 irregular land nominations were regularized in their names. The letter shows that 10,37,000 patta owners benefited when they got temporary rights to their land. The study argues that this was possible because the BSP government had deputed officers with dalit and OBC backgrounds who were sympathetic to the cause of dalits and even more land could have been distributed if the government had lasted longer (ibid.). While it is difficult to evaluate whether dalits gained actual possession given the caste-based power structure in the countryside, the fact that the government was attempting this step was perhaps a factor that propelled Digvijay Singh to undertake land distribution among dalits and tribals in MP.

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It is important to note in this regard that Digvijay Singh made the first announcement regarding distribution of land prior to the 1998 state assembly elections. A Task Force to implement this programme was formed in 2000 after the Congress won the elections and Digvijay Singh was appointed the chief minister. Moreover, in the Bhopal Conference 2002 along with the discussions on diversity and education, land was also a central issue. The approaching state assembly elections in 2003 also made the government formulate fresh rules and put pressure on the local administration throughout the state from March 2002 to implement the programme as an abhiyan in which the EP also played a role. Thus, while Digvijay Singh undoubtedly showed commitment to the upliftment of the disadvantaged sections, political necessity and calculations also played a role. The political fallout of the important and difficult decision to distribute land to dalits and tribals in the 2003 state assembly elections was significant and is dealt with in Chapter 10.

The Land Distribution Programme: Formulating Rules and Regulations The land distribution programme began in 1998 when the government decided to distribute charnoi land to the dalits and adivasis in the state. On March 4, 1998 and again on September 19, 2000 the government of MP issued orders to the district administration for redistribution of land gained by downsizing the area of charnoi in each village from 7.5 per cent to 5 per cent and again to 2 per cent respectively, in order to obtain more land for distribution among dalits and tribals.26 Though the land distribution programme was initiated in 1998 the local administration did not act on it immediately except in a few districts. It was only after the formation of the second Digvijay Singh government, the tremendous pressure exerted by the Ekta Parishad leading to the formation of the Joint Task Force in 2000 and the Bhopal Declaration in January 2002 that the programme to distribute land gained momentum. A Task Force consisting of members from both the government and the Ekta Parishad was set up in 2000 that was to be the central coordinating, directing and supervising

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agency for the land reform programme. Consequently, a major portion of the land allotted was distributed throughout the state in a massive abhiyan or ‘allotment drive’ begun in March 2002 and continued up to January 2003 when a stay order from the High Court halted the programme. During this period the land distribution programme was carried out almost on a ‘war footing’ and the state administration put enormous pressure on all district collectors and lower revenue officials to fulfill targets fixed by it. The government rules and orders framed for the implementation of the land distribution programme as it unfolded from March 1998 are discussed later. Based on field experience many amendments were required. Many timetables were set from time to time to push the revenue department and the local administration to distribute land by a set date, particularly after 2002. To familiarize the district administration with the programme and its implementation, these rules and their implementation were discussed at a conference of district collectors held on April 6, 2002 at Bhopal. Certain decisions made at this conference were then made into rules and issued to all revenue officials to follow.27 The Digvijay Singh government selected charnoi land for distribution, because it found that over the years big and powerful landowners were encroaching upon these lands in the villages. As these lands were not being used as grazing lands in most cases, particularly by the dalits and tribals, it was felt that it would be better to remove the encroachments and give the land to the disadvantaged sections so as to provide them livelihood. In this way they would obtain a share in the common resources of the village that they were currently denied. Charnoi land was selected because, unlike surplus land, which had to be identified for distribution or wasteland that required legislation, the former was identifiable within each village in the records, and being government land was under its direct control. The government did not need to pass any legislation to distribute charnoi land as it was under executive fiat, as described later. The process would also be much faster as identifying and declaring surplus lands would be controversial and time-consuming, whereas common lands were marked in the revenue books since the colonial period.28

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Identifying the Beneficiaries Under Section 237 of the MP Land Code certain lands are designated as grazing/common or charnoi lands and set aside in each village by the government. From 1959 to 1997 the amount of common land to be earmarked for charnoi purposes and how much that area would be in proportion to the cultivable area of the village was governed not by the Code but by executive fiat.29 The executive instruction provided that if the village had 1,000 acres of cultivable area a minimum of 10 per cent of the area would be reserved for charnoi purposes, later it was reduced to 7.5 per cent. Finding that over the years influential persons had encroached upon much of the village common land, which had shrunk considerably, the Digvijay Singh government decided to lower the amount of charnoi land and allot cultivable land to SC/ST individuals. The state legislature, by an amendment—the MP Act no. 1 on September 5, 1998—added Sub-section (3) in Section 237 of the Code according to which a minimum of 5 per cent was to be kept aside for nistar/charnoi purposes. Through a second amendment, Act No. 23 on August 16, 2000, the area was further reduced from 5 to 2 per cent.30 The state government by a Government Order (GO) on March 4, 1998 and again in September 2000 provided detailed rules to the district collector for identifying the grazing land available for distribution.31 After ensuring that enough land has been left for habitation and for official buildings the collector was to distribute this land in the first instance to landless STs or SCs who have already been occupying government/ common land for more than the last 10 years, but not if the SC or ST person has given out this land to others for cultivation.32 The remaining land would be given to the landless SCs/STs in the village: 1 hectare irrigated and 2 hectare unirrigated to each. While the aim was to provide land to as many as possible, no person was to be given less than half a hectare. All pattas would be in the name of both husband and wife, and provide a description of the land allotted. The patwari was responsible for making the list of persons to whom land would be allotted in each village based upon the rules framed by the government. The lists were checked by the revenue inspector (RI) and a

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sample check in the villages under his jurisdiction was undertaken by the tehsildar whose ultimate responsibility it was to see that the programme was correctly implemented. Much depended upon the district collector (DC) who, as the head of the district, was the kingpin of the programme and could play an important role in making it a success.33 The district collector was responsible for removing any encroachments prior to allotting the land to SCs/STs and to ensure actual possession of the land by these groups. Even after the allotment drive was over, if any individual was not allotted land he/she could approach the tehsildar and could be allotted land if the case was genuine and land was available. All villagers had the right to appeal in the revenue and civil courts against the decision of the DC or tehsildar.34 The entire process was to be carried out under the rules provided in the Land Revenue Code Rule 237 to avoid appeals and litigation in the courts later. Application forms were to be provided to all potential beneficiaries, training provided to all local revenue officials—patwaris, amils and revenue inspectors—and all DCs were instructed to strictly follow the rules. While giving the collector the right to decide on the land to be allotted, the Government Orders stipulated that any decision made by the collector had to be ratified by the gram sabha of each village.35 This was provided so that if the gram sabha felt that out of the land identified for disbursement some was required for some common purpose such as school buildings or panchayat bhawans, etc., that could be kept aside under the jurisdiction of the panchayat.36 This would also require the concurrence of the tehsildar who would examine the land and the feasibility of using it for cultivation given the amount of charnoi remaining in the village. A copy of the charnoi land allotted in each village was to be given to the zilla and block panchayat and it was mandatory for each gram sabha to display it prominently at a public place so that all villagers were aware of the allocations made in the village.37 In the orders issued after September 2000 a timetable was provided. All gram sabhas were to provide information about extra common land available for distribution by October 31, 2000 to the DC who by March 15, 2001 must issue orders to

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convert the land from charnoi to agricultural land. By June 30, 2001 the DC must issue orders distributing the land. Following this the gram sabha of each village, keeping in mind the future development of the village, would identify the beneficiaries of the programme and give the list to the tehsildar who would also look into the list and see that it was properly constituted. The pattas would be distributed in the gram sabha in the presence of the zilla and block panchayat presidents, the member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and MP of the district. The revenue officials of the concerned district would carry out a listing of the pattas immediately after their preparation so as to update the land records.

Defining the Term Landless and Providing Possession The definition of the term ‘landless’ proved to be problematic and had to be clarified more than once by the government revealing the complexities involved in the process of land distribution. The first order in 1998 had merely left the definition of a ‘landless person’ as given in the revenue records. Later, by a GO on June 1, 2000, the state government provided a definition of the term so as to clarify the potential beneficiaries of the programme.38 Any SC/ST person who personally, or whose ‘family’ defined as consisting of father, mother, wife/ husband, son and unmarried daughter, did not own any land and who had resided in MP for at least 12 years was eligible for receiving land under the programme. A person who had already received land from the government, but had given it out for farming to some other person/s was not eligible. While identified beneficiaries were eligible for 1 ha of irrigated land or 2 ha or unirrigated land; if enough land was not available in a village, 0.10 hectare could also be given out in order to provide land to as many persons as possible. However, in response to a letter from the DC of Dhar on November 30, 2000 which pointed out that three definitions existed of the term ‘landless’: in the Revenue Book Chapter 4, in the letter dated August 24, 2000 issued by the ST development officer, MP, and the third in the Land Revenue Code 1959. The government decided on March 2, 2002 through an amendment

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to Section 1 Clause D of Chapter 4 of the Revenue Book to create two categories of the ‘landless’.39 1) In the case of the first category the earlier definition of June 1, 2000 was retained. 2) The second category included SC/ST persons who, inclusive of their family, possessed hilly and rocky unirrigated land not above 1 ha, or 0.5 ha of cultivable land, or whose 0.5 ha of land is not fully irrigated, or who may be jointly cultivating land of the type specified here with some other person. It was also laid down that two or more landless persons belonging to the same family could be given land only in the eventuality that all other landless agriculturists in the village had been allotted land. The rules specified that 2 ha of irrigated land would be counted as 1 ha of unirrigated land. The order also clarified that after the first round of land allotment was over, if any land remained identified for distribution in a village, it could be given to SCs/STs of neighbouring villages, but not to those living in far off villages where land was not available, so that beneficiaries would not have to cover long distances to cultivate their lands. If landless SCs/STs of a village could not be given land in their own or neighbouring villages then in such circumstances they could be given land in villages within the same tehsil. In case in a village there were only category 1 SC/ST individuals and land was plentiful, then each person could be given at least 1 ha or, if available, up to 2 ha unirrigated land. But in case there was scarcity of land then no person should get less than 0.5 ha of land, and in case of irrigated land the upper limit would remain 1 ha. So the extent of land was kept flexible depending on the amount available in each area but an upper and lower limit was fixed so as to give to as many as possible. Despite these efforts on the part of the government, in January 2003 the Department of Panchayat and Grameen Vikas argued that to be defined as ‘landless’ a person must be on the BPL list, that is, must be earning not more than Rs 200 per month (Central Chronicle, January 25, 2003). The department pointed out that only 19,48,850 families out of a total of 36,83,126 BPL families in the state belonged to the SC/ST category. Despite this, out of a total of 11.69 lakh landless dalits in the state, 2,62,358 had been provided land. Thus, about 2.5 lakh persons had been provided land that were not

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in the BPL list and therefore according to their definition, held land. At a state-level meeting held to evaluate the Green Card scheme in early 2003, many district collectors acknowledged that the names of many persons who were allotted land were not in the BPL list. They pointed out that of the 2,62,358 dalit families allotted land up to January 2003, only 1,12,931 dalit families owned a Green Card provided only to families on the BPL list. Following these statements the government ordered an joint enquiry by the revenue and grameen vikas departments into the process by which beneficiaries were identified and allotted charnoi land up to 2003 (Dainik Bhaskar, January 24, 2003). However, revenue officers point out that this would create anomalies as lakhs of families were falsely registered as BPL and second, most of those belonging to this category lived in urban and not rural areas (ibid.). These differences created problems slowing down the land distribution programme throughout the state. In order to ensure that land could be expeditiously distributed, the government, by an amendment on June 20, 2001, reversed its earlier decision that the allotment of protected charnoi land would require the sanction of the gram sabha of the village concerned.40 This step became necessary, as in some gram sabhas there was no consensus over allotment of land. Instead, the state government made DCs responsible for ensuring that all cultivable charnoi land was distributed to landless SCs/STs in the villages in their jurisdiction. The order also made it obligatory to ensure that only ‘kabil kashta’, or cultivable land, was distributed. If the land selected was not cultivable and other cultivable unoccupied land existed in the same village, local officials were expected to exchange the two by March 15, 2002 to ensure that cultivable land was provided to beneficiaries.41 From its earlier experience of allotting land in 1998 and in 2000, the government had found that SCs/STs who were given pattas were unable to gain actual possession of the land allotted due to encroachments by powerful landowners in the village. Hence the GO of March 2, 2002 had specified that all encroachments must be removed prior to allotment of land to ensure actual possession. A drive to provide actual possession

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to those who had received pattas (vasthavik bhu-bantan) was held between Ambedkar Jayanti, April 14, 2002 and May 31, 2002 in the presence of the elected members of the panchayat of the area/village. However, this time schedule was described as ‘margdarshi’, that is, indicative of the need for a schedule. In case it could not be kept to, local officials could inform the district collector who would provide the state government the special reasons for not being able to adhere to the required schedule. At this time officials were required to ensure that all beneficiaries received the land distribution order, revenue booklet, Khasra copy and village map. Officials were to ensure that drawing of field boundaries, measurement of land and actual possession of the land by the beneficiaries also took place. However, providing actual possession of the land allotted to dalits and tribals proved to be, as the field study shows, the most difficult part of the programme.

Assistance in Improving Lands Allotted Recognizing that the large majority of the dalits are landless labourers, the government adopted a three-pronged strategy: distribution of land to dalits, help in buying land and restoration of all alienated land so as to make them independent cultivators; alternatively, move them into other occupations through capital formation with the help of the government; and third, as many dalits are small cultivators or sharecroppers, provide them assistance through a policy package addressing seed, pesticides, irrigation and credit requirements (BD 2002: 64, 110–12). In an attempt to help those beneficiaries who received land which was of poor quality or not yet cultivated, the government, on September 28, 2002, decided to provide them Green Cards through which they would obtain help in the form of fertilizers, money, grain and to build bunds, wells, land improvement, etc.42 All beneficiaries who held BPL cards would receive these cards from their panchayat offices, others from the state government. The state government set aside Rs 50 lakh in the 2002–2003 budget out of the 10th Five Year Plan of the state. The Gwalior Land Bureau would disburse the money and the Department of Panchayat and Grameen Vikas would be in charge of the disbursement of these funds

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and the materials given to beneficiaries. The selection of beneficiaries of this scheme would be the responsibility of the gram sabha. Apart from this the government promised many other schemes, particularly for STs in those districts where they formed a majority.

Problem of Litigation During the implementation of the programme, the government faced the problem of litigation, which slowed down the programme. Two types of cases were registered: by long-term encroachers belonging to the upper/middle caste who opposed the allotment of land to the SCs/STs, and in fewer cases, SC or ST beneficiaries unable to gain possession of the land allotted. The former were granted stay orders and continued to occupy the land as the cases dragged on for many years. The latter were rarely successful; many appealed for change of the allotted land if it was uncultivable. While many litigants approached a revenue authority such as the SDM or the tehsildar, others moved the civil court. The government directed that litigation on the land allotted in local or high courts or with district collectors was to be settled at the earliest so that the beneficiaries could occupy the land. A local official, not below the rank of a tehsildar in local courts and not below a district magistrate for higher courts, was designated to follow up the litigation by March 6, 2002 so that a settlement could be made at the earliest. All revenue officials were expected to follow up, be present in the court at every hearing, and attempt to personally settle long-pending disputes in the courts at the earliest. After each hearing attended by them they were to report the court proceedings to the tehsildar so that the necessary action could be taken to settle cases. Such a system was to be in place by March 31, 2002. However, these steps did not help much in clearing the litigation and many cases continued for years as a result of which the beneficiaries could not gain possession of the land allotted to them.

Setting a Timetable Up to 2002 the land distribution programme had not been taken seriously by the local administration. A GO dated May 13, 1998 pointed out that no district collector had sent in progress

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reports on the programme of distributing charnoi lands to SCs/STs begun in March 1998 although the exercise should have been completed in three months.43 The order extended the date of providing land to SCs/STs to June 30, 1998 and all information about this exercise was to reach the revenue department by July 5, 1998. New dates and targets had been constantly set but progress remained slow. Based on this experience, in March 2002, when the state government became more serious about the programme following the Bhopal Conference, it decided that the land allotment drive was to be conducted in a systematic manner within an agreed period of time. A timetable (see Table 4.3.) was also provided for the entire exercise of land allotment across the state, which was to be from March 6, 2002 to May 31, 2002. During this period, information about land allotment was to be sent by officials to the state government at regular intervals. All local officials were to send information to the DC: the tehsildar every week and other revenue officials every fortnight, that is, by the 15th of each month. Although the state government described this timetable as merely a road map, it meant that the programme was a timebound one. The advantage was that the local administration was geared up to complete the entire exercise within a particular period and report to the state government. However, the disadvantage was that the programme was conducted in a hurry, within a short period of time, and due to lack of preparation, led to many mistakes. Keeping in mind the condition of the land records in the state, it meant that at the local level the administration tried to show targets achieved on paper rather than ensure that the programme actually delivered land to the SCs/STs. Conducted on a war footing, the programme suffered from lack of time and detailed working out of the necessary details. The fieldwork experience presented in the next chapter amply bears this out. By mid-2002 the state government found that the process of identification of landless SC/ST persons and land distribution based on it was not proceeding as expected. Consequently, on July 11, 2002 the state government issued a fresh order extending the date by which land already identified was to be distributed to SCs/STs in the state to July 30 2002.44 The order

158 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh Table 4.3 Timetable for Allotment of Charnoi Land to SCs/STs Settling of all court cases and follow up by designated revenue officials Identification of government land available for allotment Shift in designation of charnoi land to agricultural land in the records Listing of landless potential beneficiaries village-wise Placing of these records before the gram sabha for its consent* Disposal of all cases in revenue courts dealing with encroachments on these lands Removal of all encroachments from land identified for distribution to SC/ST Any changes arising out of suggestions made by gram sabhas in the lands identified∗

By March 6, 2002

Informing the panchayat and gram sabhas and all villages, if necessary through drum beats, of the land identified Distribution of pattas to beneficiaries Preparations for actual measurement and allocation to beneficiaries Providing actual possession to the owners

April 1–3, 2002

By March 15, 2002 By March 15, 2002 By March 15, 2002 By March 25, 2002 By March 31, 2002 By March 31, 2002 By March 31, 2002

April 1–7, 2002 April 8–13, 2002 April 14–May 31, 2002

Source: GO, March 2, 2002: 21. ∗ By a subsequent order the need for consent of the panchayat and the gram sabha was removed.

pointed out that the survey and identification of charnoi land was not satisfactory. By reducing the charnoi land from 7.5 per cent to 2 per cent, the amount of cultivable land available would be 5 per cent, which should be approximately 13.14 lakh hectares. However, only 2.98 lakh hectares charnoi land was shown as available in the reports sent by the local revenue officials in the state to the Land Bureau. This meant that the survey and identification of charnoi land was not done correctly as a result of which 2.23 lakh STs and 2.21 lakh SCs remained landless and yet to receive land. The order held that there was still charnoi land in the state that could be distributed and directed the revenue department officials to obtain the correct figures of charnoi land available from their local officials in

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each district. A performa was provided which was to be filled and returned to the chief secretary, revenue, providing information on every village and the total land available in every district by July 31, 2002. In case there was less than 5 per cent land available in any district the reasons for it were also to be provided. Thus, constant attempts were made by the state government to refine the rules and regulations governing the programme and to improve the procedures of implementation in order to provide land to landless SCs/STs.

Conclusion The aim of this chapter was to provide a foundation for evaluating the formulation of the land distribution policy of the Digvijay Singh government. This was attempted with reference to the historical development of the landholding system responsible for the high levels of landlessness among dalits and tribals today, and some contemporary debates that endeavour to provide answers to these serious problems. The significance of this exercise stems from the fact that in an era of globalization, land reform has become a contentious issue. While some chief ministers are taking steps towards corporatization of agriculture in MP the Congress party under the leadership of Digvijay Singh decided to complete the unfinished agenda of land distribution to dalits and tribals. Such a policy has relevance beyond MP and merits attention. Studies show that during the colonial period the opening up of the former Central Provinces and exploitation of land and related resources through land revenue settlements and other policies led to large-scale alienation of land, indebtedness and separation from the vital resources of land, water and forests among dalits and tribals. In the immediate post-independence period it was hoped that land reforms would address these problems and provide land and livelihood to the disadvantaged sections, particularly dalits and tribals. But studies indicate that despite much progressive legislation and the availability of a substantial amount of surplus land in MP, not much was provided to these groups. Attempts were made in the 1970s and 1980s again to redistribute land but with little success.

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Consequently, official data and surveys in the 1980s and 1990s point to high levels of landlessness among dalits, tribals and other weaker sections, co-existing with surplus land above the ceiling in the hands of big landowners, creating a highly skewed landholding system. These characteristics underlie and validate the decision by the Digvijay Singh government to distribute land to landless dalits and tribals in the state. Analysis of the prevalent literature reveals that failure of land reforms in MP has generated, in the present-day context of a market-oriented economy, debates and different kinds of solutions from scholars and activists. These positions point to the complexity of the issue and the divergent opinions over how to address it. On the one hand, civil society organizations such as the Ekta Parishad, which has been working among dalits and tribals in the state, argue forcefully for the immediate need to re-distribute land to these marginalized sections in order to provide them livelihood, restoration of tribal lands and access to forests to resolve the problem of rural poverty in a backward state with little alternative employment. While aware of the need to improve the quality of agricultural land allotted to provide sustainable livelihoods, they view it as a subsequent measure to assist the beneficiaries of land distribution. They argue that large landholders including religious trusts own vast amounts of land which could be re-distributed, and put great pressure on the Digvijay Singh government in the 1990s to undertake an immediate programme of comprehensive land reform. In contrast, studies by scholars including the HDRs of the government point to the need to move beyond structural or institutional reform to address the urgent need to improve the quality of agricultural land. While agreeing on the need to redistribute land in a more equitable manner, they argue that land-use and land-record reform is required prior to distribution to ensure that dalits and tribals will be able to gain a livelihood from the lands allotted to them. Problems such as dryland agriculture, soil conservation, water harvesting, groundwater recharge, forest conservation, etc. need to be tackled so that the full potential of the land distributed is realized. Existing studies also show that common grazing lands today constitute

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vital dwindling resources required by all sections of the agricultural population for timber, fuel, fodder, pasture and common purposes such as lanes and school buildings. Second, following the failure of land reform and increasing pressure of population, upper/middle-caste landowners have encroached upon grazing and surplus lands creating a situation of potential conflict. Although Digvijay Singh was aware of these divergent viewpoints, political considerations played a decisive role in the formulation of the programme. The need to face the challenge posed by the BSP which captured power in UP in the 1990s and again in 2002 and adopted pro-dalit policies including distribution of land, and the BJP which was keen to obtain the support of the dalits, tribals and OBCs, proved to be significant. The campaigns by the Ekta Parishad for land reform during the 1990s and the Bhopal Declaration, 2002, which identified land as crucial for dalit/tribal upliftment, were also factors that pushed Singh in this direction. The study shows that the rules and regulations formulated by the state government for implementation of the land distribution policy were progressive and provided for removal of encroachers, ensuring actual possession and policies to improve the quality of land distributed. But due to political considerations the pre-occupation remained with efficient, timely and speedy distribution of land, timetables were set and pressure put on officials to distribute as much land as possible. The approach of the 2003 state assembly elections, as subsequent chapters show, pushed the government in this direction. The discussion in this chapter of the significant issues underlying the formulation of the land distribution programme provides the basis for evaluating its implementation, based upon fieldwork, in four selected districts in Chapter 6. An understanding of these problems will help us explain why despite high levels of commitment and political will the programme could not achieve its full potential. However, the policy was formulated in partnership with the Ekta Parishad, an NGO working on land in MP. We turn first to an analysis of the public–private partnership between the state government and the Ekta Parishad on the basis of which the policy was implemented in the state.

162 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

Notes 1. See the review of literature on this aspect in Sinha and Pushpendra (2000). 2. See, particularly, MP HDR (1998). 3. For details of the revenue settlements of the British, see Baden-Powell (1974). 4. Report of the Land Reform Unit, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, Government of India, 1994. The report is titled ‘Land Reforms in MP: An Empirical Study (1998– 1991)’. The data for the LRU was collected by IAS officer trainees between September 1988 and May 1991. An abridged version of the report is published in Jha 2002. Henceforth referred to as LRU 1994 in Jha 2002. 5. For details, see LRU (1994, 2002: 114). 6. During fieldwork in Joura tehsil in Morena district we came across landowners who were encroachers since the 1960s and have been paying a fine or ‘jurmana’ to the revenue department for the same. 7. For many examples, see Singh (2002). 8. The 1973 amendment held that no land belonging to a tribal can be attached or sold in execution of any decree/order whatever may be the circumstances; by the 1976 amendment certain areas were designated as ‘predominantly inhabited by aboriginal tribals’ where land transfers to non-tribals were permanently debarred leaving the collector to exercise his discretion only in the case of tribals living outside them; the 1981 amendment laid down the principles and facts that the collector must take into consideration while granting or refusing to grant such permissions and that the burden of proving that the transfer was not spurious or benami shall lie with the person who claims such a transfer to be valid. Significant additions to Section 165 also strengthened the hands of the collector in various ways in preventing land alienation. Finally a recent amendment in 1997 held that if a gram sabha in a scheduled area finds that a nontribal is in possession of land which belongs to a tribal without any lawful authority, it should restore the land to the person to whom it originally belonged or to his/her heirs (Mander 2002: 284). 9. I am very grateful to Pinaki Joddar of the Institute of Human Development for compiling Tables 1 to 6 in the appendix to this chapter from the NSS data for me. 10. Literally, decisions on land must take place on land and not in courts or administrative tribunals which causes tremendous delay and hardship. 11. The Verrier Elwin Committee, 1952 given in Prasad (2002: 268). 12. We encountered this situation during our fieldwork in village Urwa in Shivpuri district populated by Sahariyas. See Chapter 6.

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13. For details on landholdings, see Tables 15.1 and 15.2 in Shah and Shankar (2002: 373). 14. For details on tenancy, see Table 15.4 in Shah and Shankar (2002: 375). 15. On the nature of agricultural growth in MP, particularly in the different regions, see Shankar (2005). 16. Good examples are the pattern of unsustainable agricultural development in western MP through simple extension of the Green Revolution (GR) technology of intensive tapping of ground water through tube wells to a hard rock region, which has substantially lowered the water table, and the untapped potential of eastern MP which despite its vast endowment of natural resources remains neglected with agricultural stagnation and extreme poverty (Shah and Shankar 2002: 388). In the case of the former there is need to move away from GR and work out a path of sustainable prosperity for this region; for the latter a breakthrough in rainfed/dryland agriculture is a matter of highest priority in any agenda for development to which little attention has been paid. 17. The Rajiv Gandhi Watershed Mission is the largest initiative of its kind in the country and covered 10 lakh hectares by June 1998 and had an enhanced target of 31 lakh hectares. Drawing on the work of Mihir Shah and others, it attempted watershed management for livelihood security and raising productivity of dryland agriculture sector with a focus upon the poorest farmers. It is based on three major principles of natural resource management: livelihood security for the poor and marginalized, equitable arrangements entitling the poor to natural resource base and maximizing the end-use efficiency of resources. The report claims that the initial results are ‘extremely encouraging’ and it provides an alternative model of poverty reduction (MP HDR 1998: 80). 18. For details, see Mehta (2002). 19. Charnoi literally means grazing by cattle. In village panchayats all over the country a certain percentage of the agricultural land is reserved for grazing/sports/other purposes. In MP the proportion of such land in 1998 was 7.5 per cent of the total agricultural land (BD 2002: 110). 20. On this aspect, see Brara (1992). 21. Sections 235 to 237 of the Code detail how such a patrak is to be prepared. Every patwari has a copy and it is available at the tehsildar’s office. For the CPRs, see the MP Land Revenue Code 1959 given in Ramanathan (2002: 205). 22. We encountered this aspect in our fieldwork in Shivpuri district. 23. Interview with Rajgopal, head of the Ekta Parishad, in the New Delhi office of the Parishad, July 2006. 24. This is an important aspect but has not been taken up in our study.

164 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh 25. The letter is given in Kumar (2007: 254). 26. GO. F 4-96/97/2A, Bhopal, dated March 4, 1998. All government orders and rules mentioned in this chapter are taken from Bhopal Declaration, Task Force and Government Orders, Rules and Regulations, A Compilation of Orders on Land Distribution and Supplier Diversity, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal, 2001–2003. 27. GO F.4 4/2002/2A dated April 24, 2002. 28. Interview with Dr Amar Singh at his residence in New Delhi. 29. Changes have been made in the law governing land distribution by successive governments, which make it easier to allot land to various sections. Up to 1964 the allotment of agricultural land was governed by Section 162 of the MP Land Revenue Code when it was replaced through MP Act No. 25 of 1964 by executing instructions known as Revenue Book Circulars (RBCs). Part IV-3 of the RBCs contains the provision of allotment of agricultural lands to various categories of the population. It was through amendments in the RBCs that by the circular dated March 2, 2002 issued by the government of MP, excess charnoi land was allotted to dalits and tribals (Chaudhary 2007: 9). 30. GO F 4-7/2000/7/2A (September 19, 2000). This order discusses the reasons and provides the relevant legislation in detail. Thus, the programme had legislative approval and all political parties including the BJP, the largest opposition party, had passed the measure. Prior to the 2003 elections the BJP attacked the government for distributing charnoi land which they pointed out was well-known to be encroached upon and had the potential to create violence. 31. GO F4-96/97/7-2A dated March 4, 1998. 32. An order on May 13, 1998 specified that those SCs/STs who were occupying charnoi land for 10 years were to be given pattas within a period of three months. GO F 4 – 96/97/7-2A. 33. Three administrative hierarchies going down into the districts can be identified that were involved in the implementation of the land distribution programme. The revenue administration consisting of the divisional commissioner at the head of each division, the district collector at the district, the sub-divisional magistrate and the tehsildar and naib-tehsildar at the tehsil level. Below the district the revenue administration works through revenue circles within which the tehsils are placed. Below the tehsildar are the revenue inspector, the patwari and the village kotwal. A second parallel hierarchy is responsible for the maintenance of land records and comprises the commissioner of land records, divisional commissioner, superintendent of land records and the RA. Finally there is the Revenue Board that is an autonomous quasi-judicial body. Interview with Kantha Rao, former district collector of Shivpuri district, on May 28, 2007 in his office in New Delhi.

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34. They had to appeal within 45 days but in practice the courts heard appeals even in 2006. 35. GO. F 4-96/97/2A, Bhopal, dated March 4, 1998. 36. The decision to make the gram sabha responsible arose out of an order issued by the Jabalpur Land Office on February 15, 2001 and was then made applicable to all districts in MP on May 5, 2001. 37. GO. F 4-96/97/2A, Bhopal, dated March 4, 1998. 38. GO F 46/2000/7-2A dated June 1, 2002. 39. GO. 4-7/2002/2A dated March 2, 2002, Bhopal. 40. The Madhya Pradesh Land Revenue Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2001. Dated June 20, 2000. 41. This order proved beneficial in Shivpuri where the DC used his powers to provide fertile land to the Sahariyas in areas where the land was barren. See Chapter 6. 42. GO F 16-46/2002/7/2A dated September 28, 2002. 43. GO F4-96/97/7/2A dated May 13, 1998. 44. GO FK 4-7/2000/7-2A dated July 11, 2000.

Appendix Table 1 Percentage Distribution of Land Owned by Regions in Madhya Pradesh (Scheduled Tribes)

0.005~0.40

0.41~1.00

1.01~2.00

2.01~4.00

4.01 & Above

Total

Vindhya Central Malwa South Southwestern Northern Total

0.001~0.004

Regions

0.000

Land Owned (ha)

0.6 20.6 4.3 4.6 1.3 9.6 4.7

10.2 21.1 6.9 15.1 30.2 13.4 15.1

39.1 20.1 8.4 19.2 13.8 24.7 20.8

21.7 13.7 31.1 18.6 7.5 21.1 19.9

12.9 12.2 35.0 23.1 12.5 18.6 20.5

10.0 4.9 10.8 16.0 21.8 12.1 13.5

5.4 7.4 3.5 3.5 12.9 0.6 5.5

100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Source: Calculated from the unit level data for NSS 61st Round, Schedule 10, 2004–5.

166 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh Table 2 Percentage Distribution of Land Owned by Regions in Madhya Pradesh (Scheduled Castes)

0.001~0.004

0.005~0.40

0.41~1.00

1.01~2.00

2.01~4.00

4.01 & Above

Total

Regions Vindhya Central Malwa South Southwestern Northern Total

0.000

Land Owned (ha)

8.8 10.4 13.6 0.4 2.2 0.1 6.7

13.3 17.9 25.6 23.6 41.3 15.6 22.0

39.5 34.8 15.7 36.2 9.5 19.0 26.1

19.2 15.7 28.4 15.1 10.4 31.9 21.0

14.8 13.4 13.5 14.7 15.9 15.0 14.4

4.1 6.5 3.2 6.8 18.1 16.7 8.4

0.2 1.4 0.0 3.2 2.6 1.6 1.3

100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Source: Same as Table 1. Table 3 Percentage Distribution of Land Owned by Regions in Madhya Pradesh (All)

Regions

0.000

0.001~0.004

0.005~0.40

0.41~1.00

1.01~2.00

2.01~4.00

4.01 & Above

Total

Land Owned (ha)

Vindhya Central Malwa South Southwestern Northern Total

3.5 9.3 6.1 2.8 4.0 1.5 4.5

6.9 15.4 14.6 19.6 24.4 11.5 14.8

30.8 25.9 9.4 21.7 10.5 14.0 19.2

20.6 14.2 21.9 18.0 9.1 24.4 18.7

16.1 12.9 21.4 18.6 14.4 20.3 17.7

14.9 13.2 15.6 15.1 22.1 19.2 16.3

7.1 9.1 10.9 4.2 15.6 9.0 8.9

100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Source: Same as Table 1.

2,924 32,854 19,597 26,569 4,480 14,680 101,105

0.000

47,083 33,554 30,919 88,130 107,178 20,520 327,384

0.001~0.004 180,734 32,030 37,993 111,736 48,887 37,924 449,304

0.005~0.40 100,348 21,754 140,077 108,638 26,564 32,422 429,803

59,695 19,438 157,665 134,467 44,310 28,500 444,074

1.01~2.00

Land Owned (ha) 0.41~1.00

Source: Calculated from the unit level data for NSS 61st Round, Schedule 10, 2004–5.

Vindhya Central Malwa South Southwestern Northern Total

Regions 46,162 7,797 48,852 93,210 77,490 18,508 292,020

2.01~4.00

Table 4 Distribution of Land Owned by Regions in Madhya Pradesh (Scheduled Tribes)

24,860 11,739 15,550 20,401 45,930 846 119,327

4.01 & Above

461,807 159,166 450,653 583,151 354,839 153,401 2,163,017

Total

26,714 31,152 50,785 1,094 4,457 265 114,466

0.000

Source: Same as Table 1.

Vindhya Central Malwa South Southwestern Northern Total

Regions

40,358 53,718 95,774 61,350 84,275 42,852 378,327

0.001~0.004 119,576 104,624 58,588 94,065 19,489 52,340 448,682

0.005~0.40 58,146 47,309 106,045 39,085 21,161 87,811 359,557

0.41~1.00 44,784 40,314 50,517 38,173 32,498 41,352 247,638

1.01~2.00

Land Owned (ha) 12,404 19,514 11,797 17,532 36,969 46,078 144,294

2.01~4.00

Table 5 Distribution of Land Owned by Regions in Madhya Pradesh (Scheduled Castes)

8,340 5,232 4,525 22,878

578 4,203

4.01 & Above

302,558 300,833 373,507 259,639 204,081 275,222 1,715,840

Total

66,344 101,387 115,139 47,628 43,514 17,768 391,780

0.000

Source: Same as Table 1.

Vindhya Central Malwa South Southwestern Northern Total

Regions

131,358 168,408 275,454 332,626 262,979 132,328 1,303,154

0.001~0.004 582,969 284,083 178,198 368,658 112,749 161,105 1,687,762

0.005~0.40 390,668 155,728 412,768 305,127 97,859 280,731 1,642,881

0.41~1.00 305,260 141,372 404,498 316,398 154,852 233,463 1,555,843

1.01~2.00

Land Owned (ha) 282,326 144,501 293,911 255,526 238,222 220,600 1,435,085

2.01~4.00

Table 6 Distribution of Land Owned by Regions in Madhya Pradesh (All)

134,106 99,595 206,442 71,742 168,291 102,914 783,091

4.01 & Above

Total 1,893,030 1,095,075 1,886,410 1,697,706 1,078,467 1,148,908 8,799,596

5 Public–Private Partnership in Land Reform: The Ekta Parishad and the Joint Task Force A significant feature of the land reforms programme of the Digvijay Singh government was that it was undertaken in partnership with a civil society organization, the Ekta Parishad.1 A Joint Task Force (JTF) consisting of members from the state government and the Parishad was constituted in 2000 as a central mechanism to provide overall guidance in the formulation of a comprehensive land reform policy for the state and its proper implementation at the local level. The EP, which describes itself as a social movement and a Gandhian organization, has its roots in a group of activists working in the Chambal who came into contact with the dalits and tribals of this region. Formed in the mid-1980s, the organization took up various issues such as unemployment, bonded labour, low wages and exploitation by government officials. Based on their experience at the grassroots, by the early 1990s the leaders of the Parishad were convinced that provision of land alone could provide a livelihood to dalits and tribals and a solution to rural poverty. Since then the organization has been leading numerous movements against governments in MP demanding land reform in the state. Beginning in 1993 when the Congress government came to power, the EP began to put pressure upon Chief Minister Digvijay Singh to adopt a policy of land distribution leading to the formation of the JTF for this purpose. Civil society has been variously conceptualized as a movement against a hegemonic state (O’Donnell and Schmitter 1986), a ‘third realm’ (Cohen and Arato 1992), a voluntary sector (Van Til 1988) and an arena of dense networks and associational life contributing to democratic life (Putnam 1993). In our study the framework of civil society as a site for struggle by the poor and marginalized sections against a non-inclusive and authoritarian state is relevant for understanding the movements led by the EP. Scholars in India have used such a framework to understand

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‘new’ and ‘alternative’ movements emerging since the early 1990s in areas such as land, women’s rights, education, human rights, etc. (Chandhoke 1995; Mohanty et al. 1998; Omvedt 1998; Shah 2004). The EP led many movements against the state demanding land and livelihood for weaker sections. But at the same time it also joined hands with the government in a public–private partnership to set up a joint mechanism—the JTF—to chalk out and implement a programme of land reform. Thus, it must be understood as both a social movement as well as a civil society organization. The JTF was formed at two levels: a central body at the state level and one in each district with both the government and the EP having substantial representation in both. The former was conceived as an apex body that would evolve a wide-ranging policy of land reform and provide overall guidance in its implementation, while the latter would be directly associated with its implementation at the local level. This chapter examines the evolution of the public–private partnership between the government and the EP out of strong movements demanding land reform, the formation of the JTF at the state level in 2000 and its role as a central, monitoring, advisory and supervisory body in the implementation of the land reform policy. While the formation of the district-level Task Force is discussed, the actual functioning of this body during the implementation of the land distribution programme is dealt with in the next chapter. An understanding of the nature of the JTF and its functioning requires an analysis of the emergence and organization of the EP, its ideology of land reform and mobilization of dalits and tribals for land distribution. The formation of such a body suited both the parties involved. As mentioned earlier, Singh had already announced, prior to the 1998 state assembly elections, the distribution of charnoi land, as he was keen to gain the support of dalits and tribals, and following his victory he agreed to the formation of the JTF. The leaders of the EP on their part, convinced through their work at the grassroots among the dalits and tribals that land could provide them a significant source of livelihood, were of the opinion that land reform was possible in MP only by

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creating an autonomous structure outside the bureaucratic structures of the state. The close personal equation between Rajgopal P. V., the head of the EP, and Digvijay Singh also made such a partnership possible. These factors provided the common ground for the creation of a JTF on which the two sides could come together and jointly undertake a land reform programme for weaker sections suited to the state. The EP, through strong and sustained movements from the mid-1990s onwards, was successful in pressurizing the state government to form a JTF for the implementation of land reform in the state. The movements generated immense awareness among the dalits and tribals and media coverage, giving the issue of land central importance that the government could not ignore. Equally important, the EP, via the mechanism of the JTF, was able, through a wide-ranging and comprehensive plan, to provide direction to the land reform programme the government had been pursuing rather slowly since 1998. Based on their grassroots experience, the Parishad identified key issues which would help dalits and tribals: ensuring actual possession over land to those dalits and tribals who have pattas; regularization of land to those at present cultivating government land; regularization of land to those who had possession of forest land before 1980 after verification; and distribution of land to all landless dalits and tribals after re-moving encroachments. These formed the terms of reference of the JTF. The JTF made significant decisions which helped the beneficiaries of the programme, such as providing direction to the District Task Force (DTF) and providing Green Cards for giving various inputs and financial assistance to improve the land allotted. The chief minister also gave the programme importance and put pressure on the bureaucracy to see that it was implemented in the proper manner. The leaders of the EP regularly attended meetings of the state-level Task Force where they were able to raise many significant issues and put pressure on the government to actually implement land distribution, which might have otherwise remained on paper. As the reports of the Task Force show, by 2003, considerable amount of land was distributed, land alienated was restored

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and encroachments removed. Treated with respect by the government, it played the able role of a watchdog. In short it was a unique experiment in which the senior bureaucracy and a civil society organization came together to implement a government programme. Despite this, as a Gandhian organization, the leadership of the EP feels that while the government listened to their viewpoint and tried to execute some of the proposals they put forward, a true partnership between the two sides that aimed at ‘resource distribution to the poor’ did not evolve.

The Ekta Parishad and the Land Question: Forming the Joint Task Force The Ekta Parishad: Emergence and Organization A variety of movements associated with the demand for land by dalits and tribals have taken place in parts of MP both in the colonial and post-colonial period. While many of them were against take over by the state of common property resources leading to a strong ‘feeling of separation from access to all resources, including land’ (Roy 2002: 35), there have also been peasant/class-based movements against feudal exploitation by landlords in parts of the state such as Bundelkhand, Rewa, Shahdol, Bhopal and elsewhere which continued into the immediate post-independence period under the leadership of the socialists and communists but lost their base in the 1960s (Banerjee 2006: 78). In contrast, the Ekta Parishad has its roots in ‘new’ movements based on ‘alternative’ mobilizations that began in the 1980s led by non-party organizations within civil society on issues such as rights of tribals, dalits, women, the environment, human rights as well as land (Shah 2004). Some scholars categorizing them as ‘new social movements’ hold that in the Indian context they reflect the general crisis of the capitalist system in the country and a growing concern about environment, gender, human rights and social justice arising from the failure of the state to address these issues (Omvedt 1998). They have been variously characterized as ‘people’s movements’ for rights in a post-colonial context, which share

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a vision of democratic transformation that is both historicized and concretized as a struggle for liberation from all kinds of domination and affirmation (Mohanty et al. 1998: 12). Others have applied a broad conceptualization of social movements as ‘collective action to effect change’ within a democratic framework (Katzenstein et al. 2002: 242). These are movements led not by peasants/farmers, but by social movements and voluntary organizations of many types, particularly NGOs working in the rural areas of the state that have demanded, among many other changes, land reform. The SAP and the onset of economic reform in the early 1990s had led to the retreat/involvement of the state from agriculture; in fact a number of state governments in keeping with the new neo-liberal regime began to reverse land reform/protection policies. As the involvement of the state declined, a number of NGOs—the Ekta Parishad providing a good example—emerged to fill this space and took up the problems of the farming community, particularly the landless and small farmers. This phenomenon is witnessed not only in MP but in many parts of the country. In MP the new movements arose in the late 1970s beginning with the Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh in Dalli Rajhara to be followed by various tribal mobilizations such as those against the Bhopal gas tragedy and the Sardar Sarovar dam on the river Narmada in the 1980s. These movements never reached the same mass strength as the older movements led by socialist and communist parties, but they were more visible in the press nationally and internationally (Banerjee 2006). By the 1990s, MP came to have a large number of civil society organizations such as Eklavya, Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), Samarthan, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Action Aid, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Gramin Khetikar Majdoor Sangathan, the Ekta Parishad, etc. A number of these civil society organizations took up the issue of land, water and forests, which affected the tribals and dalits in the state. A prominent one among them was the EP dealt with here. It is at present the largest NGO in the country with networks with many international civil society organizations working on land elsewhere in the world.

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Described as an NGO by the government and by scholars writing on it (Jha 2002; Gupta 2005), the EP describes itself as a social movement, a ‘Gandhian organization’ working towards ‘community-based governance (gram swaraj), local self-reliance (gram swavalamban) and responsible government ( jawabdeh sarkar)’ (EP n.d.). To achieve this, the EP has organized deprived sections of the population into two complimentary streams: first, it brings people together to struggle for their livelihood rights taking action only when dialogue has proved impossible; and second, it develops communitybased economic systems that enable local self-sufficiency so that dependence on welfare and dysfunctional government programmes is lessened. The EP has its roots in the late 1970s in a group of activists in voluntary groups working in the Chambal region of MP among the dacoits in a bid to rehabilitate them and provide them alternative livelihood.2 Some of them, particularly a group led initially by Subba Rao and later by Rajgopal P. V., the present head of the EP, were influenced by the ideas and actions of Jayprakash Narain when a large number of dacoits surrendered before him and agreed to abjure violence.3 Working among them they came into contact with the landless tribals and dalits of the region and their struggle for livelihood in the face of exploitation by both society and government officials. Some of the social groups they gradually began to work with in the state were the Sahariya tribes and dalits in Chambal; Gond tribes and dalits in Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand; Baiga, Koraku and Gond tribes in Mahakoshal and the Bhil, Bhilala and dalit in Malwa. They decided to initiate a non-violent struggle for the rights of this downtrodden section of society. In the 1980s a number of voluntary/action groups in the region such as Prayog, Nayi Disha, Navrachna joined hands to address issues of livelihood for the poor in the state, particularly the northern districts. They adopted a ‘bottoms up’ approach, that is, of putting people’s needs first. As a result of their work, EP was registered as an NGO in 1984 in MP and gradually expanded its activities to cover the entire state (Ekta Parishad 2002). But as a network of a number of organizations working on land it was established in Tilda in Madhya Pradesh in 1991. It took up various issues of the

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poor such as wages, migration, bonded labour, rehabilitation, employment, etc. in all parts of MP. The EP’s vision is the ‘creation of a society which is free from fear, exploitation, injustice and hunger’. Working among disadvantaged groups, they were able to gain their confidence and organize them. But by the early 1990s the organization began to focus upon land and associated livelihood issues important for the weaker sections, particularly the SCs/STs. Based on their years of struggle among the people of the state, the leaders of the organization were convinced that providing land and associated assets, and not government welfare measures and programmes, was the solution to rural poverty. The Parishad’s basic ideology, hence, is ensuring ‘people’s control over natural resources, namely over land water and forests’. Once its major aims were clear, the EP established an organizational structure in the early 1990s stretching from the village, state to the national level.4 The lowest tier on which it was based was the village committee headed by a mukhiya or village-level leader familiar with the local problems, rising to committees and leaders placed at the district, state assembly constituency, division, state and national level. The Parishad took up documentation, information generation, dissemination of communication material and policy and advocacy of land problems.5 While the Parishad has spread and it organizations are established in eight states: UP, MP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu (TN), its primary base is in MP where it was formed. It is currently working in more than 60 districts in these eight states touching 4,000 villages with a population of more than 50 lakh.6 The EP has passed through three periods in its efforts to build up a strong organization for the land movement: 1991 to 1998, 1999 to 2000, and 2001 to 2004. The first period was devoted to the formation of the Ekta Parishad and the development of livelihood rights (Carr-Harris n.d.). One of the first big events that helped its consolidation was the ‘Jai Jagat Jeep Yatra’ (Fellowship Tour by Jeep) across Madhya Pradesh over a period of one month. This use of ‘touring’ was common to both Vinoba Bhave’s period (who had been on continual long march for 14 years), and to Jai Prakash Narayan who had two decades earlier called on the youth to oppose the misuse of political power.

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The second major event was the first and most significant of the long marches (December 1999–2000) from Sheopurkala (bordering Rajasthan) in December 1999 and ending on June 21, 2000 in Raigarh city on the eastern border with Orissa, described a little later. This period was the turning point of the EP from a localized grassroots movement into a force to be reckoned with across the whole state of Madhya Pradesh. The third has been a period of building state-level organizations and movements in a number of states as a base for building a national campaign. Five large-scale long marches took place in Bihar (September 2001), Chambal (April 2002), Chhattisgarh (February 2003), Bundelkhand-Bagelkhand (September 2003) and Orissa (February 2004) (ibid.).7 The tools used by the EP for its struggles are derived from Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence and non-cooperation (ibid.). Apart from Gandhi the ideas of Vinoba Bhave and Prem Bhai of the Banwasi Ashram in MP have guided the Parishad leaders. Through the EP, Rajgopal attempted to redefine and re-establish Gandhian values against those who considered these principles as irrelevant in modern times. Purification of the mind and simple living are as important as the struggle against external forces. A major goal is working to combat ‘structural violence’ which is embedded in the existing developmental paradigm and to achieve social, political and economic change through non-violent and democratic methods. Based on an approach that emphasizes a broad people’s movement for their own empowerment and right to a dignified life, EP has been able to mobilize a large number of underprivileged people including tribals and dalits and other backward communities. Following from this, its strategies have been campaigns for land rights of the deprived sections through mass-based organization and non-violent action such as padyatras (long marches), satyagrahas (expressional dissent), dharnas (sit-ins), gheraos (prevent unjust incidents from taking place), chakkajams (road blockages), economic programmes and education (ibid.). In these strategies at one end of the continuum is dialogue and the other end is struggle. These are interlinked: there is a ‘struggle-dialogue’ direction or a ‘dialogue-struggle’ direction. This framework captures the dynamic quality of a rights movement in which people are struggling at the ‘bottom level’

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and their struggle is shaped into a formation by outside catalysts so that they can express dissent (using their democratic right) at the ‘top level’ through dialogue or vice versa. In this process there are catalysts or supporters dialoguing at the top level to give space for political action or struggle at the bottom level (ibid.). A constructive response to the existing unjust system is also attempted through development of village industries, establishment of grain banks, women coming together in mutual help groups, etc. In order to build organic links with all mass organizations working for the cause of the downtrodden, EP participates in campaigns launched by them. As it is an organization born in a period of globalization, it also documents the relentless attacks of the market forces on the weaker communities and prepares them for creating wider awareness (Ekta Parishad 2002: 71). As a civil society organization the EP has adopted a twofold strategy towards the state whether in MP, or elsewhere. It attempts to put pressure on the state to introduce policies beneficial to the disadvantaged sections. At the same time it also attempts to collaborate with the state to achieve these goals. For this reason its movements are based on the principles of ‘Samvad, Sangharsh and Rachna’ (dialogue, struggle and construction, respectively) (ibid.: 70). Samvad involves a long process of dialogue with state institutions in order to put pressure on them to initiate and implement people-oriented programmes. The Parishad calls upon the government to implement people-implemented development policies by involving the affected people both at the policy formulation and implementation levels. If such sensitization does not come about through dialogue, then the Parishad chooses the path of sangharsh to convey to the government that people are willing to struggle for their rights. Around the core issue of control of land, water and forest resources, the EP organizes campaigns either with or without the meaningful involvement of the government. In the former, the Parishad’s objective is to consolidate the gains that could be made through better implementation of the various schemes and programmes run by the government for the uplift of the tribals and dalits. However, as the government is often interested in maintaining the status quo or at best incremental improvements, EP also appreciates the crucial importance of

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mass struggles for radical changes in social structures. But it believes that such struggles must necessarily be non-violent in nature. Rachna is essentially Ekta Parishad’s approach towards poverty eradication and involves a process of consolidation of gains achieved through struggle. By better and creative utilization of the resources won through struggles, betterment in the standard of living is sought to be achieved. The Parishad tried to put these principles into action in its attempt to both influence and work with the state in MP (ibid.). The Parishad’s work on land in MP can be viewed as falling into two stages: identification of land problems, and second, implementing them in association with the state. Both these stages are discussed in the following sections.

Ekta Parishad and the Land Question The EP views land as a primary condition of development and source of food security, and believes that changing land relations, although very difficult, is necessary, if poverty is to be eradicated. In many of its documents it has argued that the nations of East Asia have been able to remove poverty and attain some measure of economic prosperity due to the effective land-to-the-tiller programmes implemented by them in the immediate post-war period when they attained independence from colonial and other forms of dominance. They point out that in China 43 per cent, Taiwan 37 per cent, South Africa 32 per cent, and in Japan 33 per cent of agricultural lands were distributed to landless farmers under the land reform programme. In contrast, in India, a much larger country, only 1.25 per cent has been distributed (Ekta Parishad 2007: 3). This conviction also arose out of their Ekta Pura village experiment where they led a people’s movement demanding land for the landless, occupied government land and got it legalized through the patwari after five years. The primary aim therefore is to translate the existing land laws into reality, which the Parishad realizes is a long and difficult struggle as the state uses legitimate force and supports the better-off sections of society. It has adopted the slogan ‘Jal, Jangal aur Jameen hon janata ke adheen’ used in most of its rallies.8 A problem in achieving its aims is that the legal structure on land is anti-people as it is dependent

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on the structure and laws put into place by the colonial authorities: the patwari, collector, police and lower judiciary. Consequently, the law is very tortuous, surplus land remains under encroachment of the powerful, and distribution of land to the SCs/STs is an uphill task leading to conflict. The EP thus calls for a new bureaucratic and legal system which is for the people and not oppressive. Based on these ideas the EP began to study and compile land problems in MP in a systematic manner in the early 1990s. During its work the Parishad realized that landlessness was only one issue and it identified certain problems connected with land affecting the dalits and tribals such as alienation, lack of pattas, lack of possession, absence of record of ownership, etc. that needed to be taken up. This stage of its work is important as it provided the clarity that underlies much of the success achieved in land reform in the state. This identification was based on field surveys carried out by the Parishad during the early 1990s in six regions of MP: Bundelkhand, Baghelkhand, Chhattisgarh, Mahakoushal, Malwa and Chambal. The available data for these regions was drawn from 23 districts, 40 tehsils, 41 state legislature constituencies, 203 gram panchayats and 316 villages (Ekta Parishad 2002: 72). The Parishad was able to collect, among others, many examples from these villages of the problems listed here: 1. Displacement from land, leading to migration 2. Possession over a long period of time but no patta granted 3. Poor quality land allotted 4. Land under the dispute of the revenue and forest departments 5. Entitlement but no actual possession 6. No joint title for women 7. Illegal transfer of land, particularly from tribals to non-tribals 8. Land grabbing of lands of tribals, dalits and women by big landlords or private companies 9. No demarcation of entitlements 10. Bonded labour and physical abuse 11. Land under litigation for many years (ibid.).

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The Parishad also identified problems associated with forest lands which specifically affect the tribals, such as, which lands were to be included in reserved forests, in parks, for wildlife conservation, given by the government to private and international companies for industrial development, etc. A major demand of the Parishad was that all tribals who were occupying forest land since before the 1980s should not be evicted and should be granted ownership pattas. This was an important issue as many tribals have been evicted and jailed for cultivating these lands.9 In this way the land satyagraha was strengthened due to a scientific survey of the land in the state and parallel land records have been created and made available to the people. This has challenged the fraudulent and false records maintained by the revenue officials. It is for this reason that one of the prominent slogans of the Land Satyagraha in MP has been ‘zamin ka faisla zamin par hoga’ (all land issues will be settled on the very land itself) (Sail 2002: 64). A novel method of staging dharnas, hunger strikes, etc., on the disputed land was the demand that the patwari, tehsildar and police should come there and settle the issue. Due to ‘legal delays’ the poor have to run from court to court and wait long years for a settlement which may not be in their favour. A second slogan coined in 1993 was ‘zamin do ya jail do’ (give us land or imprisonment). Thousands of landless and small farmers—men and women— courted arrest and went to jail under Land Satyagraha starting on May Day in 1993 for at least a fortnight. The slogan used was ‘ham jail, police se darte nahin, apna adhikar chorte nahin’ (we are not afraid of jails or the police and will not give up our rights). This left the government with no other option than to agree to some of their demands (ibid.: 64–65). Movements of this kind led to the formation of the JTF.

Towards a Joint Task Force Based on their surveys on land problems in MP the Parishad held a number of popular movements demanding land reforms for dalits and tribals during the 1990s. These activities of the Parishad coincided with the defeat of the BJP government and assumption of power in 1993 by the Digvijay Singh government with its focus upon weaker sections. Important events

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organized by the EP to influence the new government included, among others, a national convention (March 12–14, 1994) in which more than 1,000 representatives from MP and other states participated; the Bhu Abhiyan (land campaign) launched on March 14, 1994; Bhu Adhikar rally on December 10, 1996; the fight to expose the Markatola land scam and construction of a ‘stop dam’ in Alaria village in Chhichhiya block. In March 1994, from the 316 villages it had surveyed, the Parishad gave 7,000 applications related to the earlier listed 11 land problems to the chief minister for action. A national workshop was organized in which 700 men and women participated, after which a rally was held and a declaration was made to launch the land rights movement. Bhu Kranti Diwas (Land Struggle day) was organized in April 1994 wherein the voice of the deprived communities was raised through many different rallies, demonstrations at the district, tehsil and local levels across the state.10 In 1994–95 around 14,529 applications related to the land problem were collected by EP activists in the Chambal, Bundelkhand, Baghelkhand, Malwa, Mahakoushal and Chhattisgarh regions. The Parishad organized a big rally of 20,000 people on World Human Rights Day in 1996 and these applications were handed over in the form of a memorandum to the chief minister. By 1997 10,398 applications were collected from deprived sections in 566 villages in five regions and an Adivasi Sammelan was held in Bhopal. All these activities led to a strategy for a land rights campaign through a National Land Conference at Bhopal on January 15–16, 1998. The Parishad also filed a public interest litigation (PIL) application in the High Court under the Malik Makbuja issue over the felling of over 21 crore trees by 105 officials of the forest department.11 During the period of the two Digvijay Singh governments the Parishad was able to achieve some success in its aim of providing land to the weaker sections, namely the dalits and tribals. This was partly because of the relentless pressure it was able to put on the Congress government, based on its now clear vision and aim regarding the land question. The EP employed many novel methods using a large number of people

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during the mid-1990s. For example, on April 24, 1995 the satyagrahis staged a sit-in at about 21 points blocking the National Highway Number 6 covering some 200 km (Saraipalli to Bhilai) when the chief minister was on tour for the selection of Congress candidates for the mid-term polls, creating immense pressure on him to solve their problems (Sail 2002: 66). In response to various such dharnas, Digvijay Singh decided in 1998 to lower the amount of charnoi land and distribute it to dalits and tribals in the state. He had already adopted a new model of development for weaker sections and was prepared to listen to the demands made by the Parishad on behalf of the people. The approaching state assembly elections in late 1998 in which the Congress party needed the support of the dalits and tribals was an equally important factor. However, the EP was keen to introduce a comprehensive policy of land reform in the state covering all the numerous problems it had identified. The victory of the Congress government in the 1998 state assembly election and the appointment of Digvijay Singh as the CM for a second term by the Congress high command intensified the movement led by the Parishad. A Bhu Adhikar Pad Yatra (land rights non-violent walk) was held from December 10, 1999 to June 20, 2000. The magnitude of the task undertaken and the impact it had on the area it covered can be understood by looking at some statistics about the yatra. The Bhu Adhikar Yatra began in western MP from Sheopurkalan village, Ekta Pura, in the Chambal valley and ended in Raigarh city in Chhattisgarh on ‘Swabhiman Day’ (selfpride day), June 20, 2000 (Carr-Harris n.d.). Approximately 4 lakh people participated directly or indirectly in the yatra led by the Parishad, which was a massive demonstration in the belief in non-violent movement and protest. The yatra took 190 days and covered 3,800 kilometres, passing through directly or indirectly 1,500 tribal- and dalit-dominated villages from 18 districts of Chambal, Bundelkhand, Baghelkhand, Mahakoushal and Chhattisgarh. The yatra generated immense press coverage. The aim was to raise consciousness and make the dalits and tribals aware of their rights. During this yatra about 11,083 persons belonging to marginalized and deprived sections submitted their problems related to revenue land before Jan Adalats (public courts) held in the villages for this purpose. At the same time around

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8,300 tribals submitted a memorandum related to their rights to forest and other types of land at these Adalats. Most of them related to land to which they had rights but were encroached upon by others. The Parishad collected all these applications and handed them over to the chief minister, Human Rights Commission, to the chairman of the Vidhan Sabha and other responsible officers of departments such as revenue, forest, commissioner of SCs and STs and the social welfare and tribal welfare departments. This was perhaps the first time that such a large-scale effort was made to give the deprived sections their rights on land. During the fifth month of the Bhu Adhikar Pad Yatra on May 10, 2000, to gain the attention of the media, 70 tribals staged an ‘Umbrella Dharna’ (sit-in) in the main thoroughfare of Bhopal demanding immediate redress to their demands (Dainik Bhaskar, May 11, 2000). Under the blistering sun of 43 degrees, people used black umbrellas as a way to capture media attention. Slogans were written in white on the black umbrellas so that passersby could see the demands. The next day the protestors gheraoed (stood in front of) the chief minister’s house. While the yatra had not received much coverage, the dharna did, putting pressure upon the CM to agree to their demands. During the monsoon, EP began the Jito-joto Andolan (win-cultivate movement) to get people to go back and till their lands.12 Subsequent to the yatra, based on the data collected, EP put forward a document titled ‘Thirteen Proposals’ that provided concrete methods of solving land problems in the state.13 It also demanded that the government drop the cases filed against tribals and return seized equipment from the tribals within six months. The Parishad also mooted to the government that it constitute a JTF committee to solve the land problems of deprived sections and to allot land to landless families. Two movements to pressurize the government to form the JTF were also announced with the consent of the mukhiyas or village leaders: the ‘Jan Pratinidhi Gherao’ (surrounding the people’s representatives or MLAs) movement on August 15, 2000 in order to involve the members of the Vidhan Sabha and to inform them of their struggle; and the ‘Janmabhoomi Vapasi Andolan’ (return to the motherland) movement in which lakhs of landless forest dwellers marched towards the national parks

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and sanctuaries to claim their rights to land taken away from them (EP 2003). Faced with these movements, the government agreed to their request to establish a JTF. By this time significant contacts had built up between Digvijay Singh and the Ekta Parishad, particularly a close equation had developed between the CM and Rajgopal, that made it possible for them to work together. This made a partnership between the government and the EP possible and the fashioning of a comprehensive policy of land reform in which the state bureaucracy and the leaders of the EP collaborated closely Against this backdrop the next section deals with the formation and working of the JTF.

The Joint Task Force: Formulation of a Comprehensive Land Reform Policy The JTF formed on May 24, 2000 was headed by the minister of revenue and had six members consisting of the minister, forest department, chief advisor of the chief minister, principle secretary, revenue department, principal secretary, forest department, land commissioner, and the national convener of the Ekta Parishad. The additional secretary of the revenue department was appointed the secretary of the committee. The Task Force was set up at two levels: one at the state and the other in each district and their terms of reference were provided.14 The EP considered the formation of the JTF a great victory as it provided a platform for the first time on which the two sides could discuss and debate matters. The state government was not keen initially to set up a Task Force at the district level. Suggestions were made that a DTF could be established in one selected district and, based on the experience gained, others could be set up later. However, the EP members insisted on the immediate establishment of a Task Force in each district that would be in charge of monitoring the implementation of the programme at the local level.15 For the EP, the establishment of the JTF and the DTF was a great step forward in their agenda, achieved after much struggle and they were not prepared to postpone the latter to a further date. In fact, as described a little later, the formation of the Task Force at both levels was a key component in the agenda of the EP.

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The first meeting of the state-level Task Force was held in Bhopal on May 24, 2000 under the chairmanship of the CM. A statement on the agreed terms of reference of the Task Force was issued. These were based on the ‘Thirteen Proposals’ put forward by the EP for resolving the land problems of dalits and tribals in the state. Under the terms of reference it was agreed between the EP and the government that the Task Force would take up the following four issues of land reform:16 1. Ensuring actual possession over land to those SC and ST families that have land entitlements (pattas) but have not been able to gain possession. 2. Regularization of land to those dalit/tribal agriculturists who are at present cultivating on government land but have no pattas. Such SC/ST farmers should now be given legal possession. 3. Regularization of land to those tribals who have had possession on forest land before 1980 after proper verification in accordance with the rules and regulations provided by the law.17 4. Distribution of land to landless SCs/STs in every district after removing illegal settlers/encroachers or non-eligible persons or landlords. The state government, acknowledging the grassroots experience of the EP, accepted the ‘Thirteen Proposals’ document put forward by it and set up a committee under a minister to examine them in greater detail. The Thirteen Proposals (see appendix to this chapter) are important for at least three reasons.18 They represent the first comprehensive attempt to identify and define all the complex problems associated with land and livelihood of the dalits and tribals in the state. Second, these proposals were born out of experience of grassroots struggle for land rights for the dispossessed. Third, the proposals formed the basis of the understanding between the government and a civil society organization making the implementation of the proposed programmes possible. The ‘Thirteen Proposals’ form the cornerstone of the EP position on the land question as well as the need for the JTF and the DTF. The document identifies a basic reason according to the EP why land reform and distribution of land to dalits

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and tribals has not been possible in MP. It argues that the revenue or forest departments of the government are unable to solve the land problems of the SCs and STs as almost all officers beginning from the lowest level of the patwari to the top officials are corrupt and interested only in making money. This necessitates the establishment of an autonomous JTF consisting of ministers and members of civil society organizations that would bypass the administrative structure of the state, which alone would allow land reform to be carried out. The JTF as well as the DTF were to be based on what Rajgopal has described as ‘a partnership for resource-distribution’ to the poor and dispossessed.19 Based on this position, the Thirteen Proposals call upon the government to implement the Land Ceiling Act in a time-bound manner so as to provide land to the landless. The document holds that during the postindependence period gradually the dalits and tribals have been removed from agricultural lands they cultivated and forests they lived in thereby losing their livelihood. They have lost control over jal, jangal, jameen (water, land and forests) and all attempts by tribals and dalits to plough land in forests or other arable land has led to confiscation of their equipment making it difficult for them to carry on agriculture. Registration of false cases against them has also been a means of harassing them. Based on these observations the proposal called for 1) distribution of land secured by the government through imposition of ceiling from temples, trusts and large companies, industries, plantations, etc. to SCs and STs; 2) Restoration of land alienated by landlords and other persons through various means to the dalits and tribals and all mortgaged lands, a long-standing demand of these social groups; 3) Provision of protection to tribals against false cases on them, preventing them from entering forests and taking away their tools and equipment. 4) Proper documentation of land-related data to ensure security in future. Apart from the Thirteen Proposals the EP outlined some steps that they were keen the government should take to make land reform possible (Carr-Harriss n.d.): • The chief minister should send signals to the administration that the policies related to land reform as a poverty eradication measure have his fullest support.

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• Provide incentives to state administrators (DC, ADM) for taking appropriate action in land distribution. • Make data on land available and that which has been distributed more transparent. • Make the police aware that it must be in step with the state administration on land reform, and not act at crosspurposes. • Set up a special court to avoid delays in distribution of justice. • Identify revenue land that is in excess of the land-ceiling act. • Provide land for industrialization under certain conditions and monitor that the required conditions are maintained. • Work towards making land grabbing a criminal offense under the Indian penal code. • Ensure the regularization of pattas of those people living in forest areas before 1980 and have this attested by the gram sabha. • Ensure that development programmes be carried out if and only if people’s livelihood resources are not threatened. Apart from its inaugural meeting on May 24, 2000, the state-level Task Force held four meetings: September 30, 2000, June 25, 2001, November 30, 2002, and May 26, 2003.20 As the CM took personal interest in the land reform programme, almost all meetings of the TF were presided over by him. Government officers were often special invitees to deal with the complex problems thrown up by the land reform programme. For example, at the June 2001 meeting the head of the SC/ ST welfare department was invited as issues pertaining to these social groups were being discussed. Both the EP and the government members took the meetings seriously, senior persons from both sides attended and took part in the deliberations. Together with Rajgopal at least six members of the EP attended the meetings of the TF and presented well-worked out written submissions of problems they felt needed to be attended to.21 The meetings were held in a cordial atmosphere and the government took note of the problems raised by the EP, and Action Taken Reports were presented at the next meeting.

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However, there remained difficult issues that the EP raised often but the government was unable to resolve, such as the disputed issue of forest land. Despite this, during these meetings some major decisions regarding land reform in the state were taken. While agreeing that the political leadership and senior officials of the government took the JTF meetings seriously, Rajgopal has pointed out with a sense of regret that officials were ‘defensive’ in their attitude about the tasks to be carried out rather than being ‘truly cooperative’. Reasons were constantly found for many aspects not being implemented. The land reform programme, consequently, he argues, could not become a ‘partnership’ in the true sense of the term. A proposal made by Rajgopal that the JTF should start the comprehensive land reform programme in one district which would then form a model for others, was not adopted as it would have made land reform a long-term measure while the government was keen to obtain quick results. Eventually unhappy at the progress of the programme he held that four steps were required in this partnership that did not work out: joint resource mobilization, improvement in land records, speedy land distribution in nondisputed areas and fast track courts to deal with litigation.22 A brief look at some of the issues raised during these meetings provides us an understanding of the working of the JTF. A major responsibility of the JTF was to review the progress made in the implementation of the land reforms programme in the state and monitor the working of the district-level TF. Viewed as an important flagship programme (uchh pratimikta yojana) whose progress was monitored by the CM himself, the revenue secretary presiding over a meeting of the JTF described this committee as an ‘advisory and monitoring body’ to oversee this programme.23 Both sides discussed major problems encountered by the programme and an attempt was made to resolve them and provide clear guidelines to the district TF working below them. Thus the TF provided a platform for a dialogue between the two sides and attempting to find solutions and take action on the part of the government, though the latter was not possible in all cases. In the meetings of the TF the EP played a twofold role: it stridently raised critical issues which it felt had been ignored

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or not dealt with properly by the government. A seminal issue that the EP members repeatedly brought up in meetings was the complex issue of forest land.24 They felt that the MP government had committed a serious mistake in allowing transfer of land by the revenue department to the forest department. Equally worried about the revenue land acquired from the forest department, the EP members held that a time-bound programme for distribution of pattas to the landless on this land including a survey to find out the occupants prior to 1976 or 1980 was urgently needed. Concerned that the issue of who is eligible to continue on forest land had become a contentious issue, they pointed to action being taken by the government on encroachers on forest land prior to 1980 although it had been agreed that they were not to be disturbed; the ground reality was that they were being removed after being shown as encroachers after 1980. They also took up the question of whether van grams would be converted to revenue villages. The EP, however, expressed its satisfaction at the cancellation of pattas on forest land given by the revenue department, the policy that land within city limits would not be distributed and withdrawal of forest crimes on STs prior to 2002 except in cases of vehicle theft, etc., which led to unnecessary harassment and suppression of tribes, and wanted wide publicity of these steps so that beneficiaries became aware of it. Second, EP members put forward proposals in the TF meetings that would help implement the land distribution programme and benefit the dalits and tribals. Some of the significant proposals tabled by Rajgopal were: arrangements must be made to form TF at the district level; all information required by the EP members of the TF be made available to them; computerization of the ongoing land distribution which would help the SCs/STs; establishment of special courts to deal with litigation which was holding up land distribution; only those who are totally landless should be given land and the term ‘family’ should not be included. Apart from this the EP tabled 11 items on which extensive discussion was held and action promised by the government.25 These dealt with timebound completion of litigation on lands allotted to SCs/STs; removal of encroachments and ensuring that SCs/STs were able to gain actual possession; distribution in some areas of

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tribal lands held collectively without proper survey; distribution of forest land and in protected forests; disputes over Orange areas (parts of the forest under dispute between the revenue and forest department and coloured orange on maps to indicate this), etc. The senior members from the government on the TF promised to look into these matters and an Action Taken report was provided in the next meeting. However, some of these issues came up again and again as they were difficult to resolve. Some major decisions were made by the TF to help take the programme forward. It decided to give all SC/ST landless individuals to whom land was provided financial assistance up to Rs 3,000 in the form of fertilizer for improvement as part of the village improvement programme. Green Cards would also be provided to all BPL individuals for providing further assistance to the new landowners. For these schemes, the government decided at the meeting to keep aside a sum of Rs 2.84 crore.26 Assistance provided by the government under the ‘Green Card Scheme’ by September 2002 is shown in Table 5.1. Table 5.1 Government Assistance under the ‘Green Card Scheme’ by September 2002 Total Beneficiaries 1,50,916

Cash (Rs)

Foodgrain Cost (Rs)

1.28 Crore

21.19 Crore

Total Assistance (Rs) 22.47 Crore

Source: Order No. F-16-46/2002/7/2A, September 28, 2002.

By May 2003 every district had been allotted Rs 3,75,000 and Rs 4,03,000 financial assistance through the Green Card Scheme for improvement of the land provided to STs and SCs respectively.27 In keeping with the declaration made by the Bhopal Document, the Task Force decided to purchase land for distribution to landless SCs/STs in the state. The government required the permission of the Supreme Court for carrying out this scheme as the land reform programme was in the purview of the court. The state government considered the recommendation and decided to set aside Rs 37.50 crore in the 2003–4 budget for this purpose and provision was made in the subsequent bud-

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gets of the revenue department.28 All district officials were expected to widely publicize the scheme through panchayats so that potential beneficiaries could apply for the scheme. The government calculated the number of beneficiaries per district based on the population of dalits and tribals. Under the scheme each eligible beneficiary would receive land worth not more than Rs 75,000, which, it was calculated, would be enough for about 5,000 individuals. The amount of land purchased for each person would be not more than 1 ha and if the person wanted to acquire more land he/she would have to pay the extra amount. All dalits and tribals falling within category I of the land distribution scheme were eligible and they would be selected by lots cast by the DC in a public function at the zilla panchayat. The scheme would be operative in every tehsil of the state and would continue in a phased manner until every landless dalit and tribal person gained land. If the collector was satisfied that the person selected by the lottery was eligible, the payment would be made by him and actual possession would be given within 15 days. The scheme was, however, introduced too late for a substantial number to benefit from it. The state government also decided to distribute, free of cost, ‘land rights and loan books’ (Bhu Adhikar Aur Rin Pustikayen) to the farmers. By mid-2003 books had been distributed to 12,36,139 SC farmers and 15,29,093 ST farmers. The government also considered bringing suitable amendment to the provisions concerned to enable such allottees bank loan facility against the land. The TF held its last meeting on May 26, 2003 and reviewed the implementation of the land reform programme. Presided over by the revenue minister, a number of government officials were special invitees: the secretary, cooperatives, conservator of forests, secretary, forest department and the additional secretary, revenue. Together with Rajgopal six senior members of the EP were also present.29 It presented a report on the amount of land distributed, tribal land restored, Green Cards distributed and the progress of the litigation against the programme. The records of the state Task Force show that till December 2002, 2.79 lakh hectares of charnoi land declared surplus was distributed among SCs/STs: 1.19 lakh hectares among

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SCs and 2.24 lakh hectares among ST persons. Following this, 0.93 lakh hectares were yet to be distributed. A total of 2.10 lakh ST and 2.22 lakh SC individuals remained to whom land was to be distributed.30 EP records show that by April 2003, total land available was identified at 37.3 lakh ha out of which 17.9 lakh ha had been distributed among 2,24,353 dalits and 10 lakh ha had been distributed among 1,19,976 tribals (EP 2003b). Government figures of the district-wise break-up of land distributed up to December 2003 are given in Table 1 in the appendix of Chapter 6. It shows that a total of 1,00,590.681 ha of land had been distributed to 3,48,177 SCs/STs under the land distribution programme. Scheduled Castes received a larger share of the charnoi land than STs: 2,27,374 SCs received 1,81,622.388 ha of land while 1,20,806 STs received 1,00,590.681 ha of land.31 Regarding verification of land ownership of SC/ST individuals and restoration to the legal owners after removing encroachers, which was also part of the land reform programme adopted by the government and the EP, The state Task Force report shows that the revenue department had undertaken verification on a total of 7.15 lakh holdings and considerable land had been restored to rightful owners.32 Only 1,330 SC and 360 ST landowners had yet to be given actual possession of their land. The minutes of the meeting of the Task Force of March 26, 2003 report that progress in the process of removal of encroachers and restoration of tribal land up to April 2003 was as follows: Total number of cases registered: 15,610 Total number of cases resolved: 14,919 Total number of cases resolved in favour of tribals: 8,505 (56 per cent) Total number of cases resolved against tribals: 6,414: (44 per cent) Pending unresolved cases: 69133 Number of tribals given possession of land: 10,349 Cases where tribals had yet to be given possession of their land: 50 Total area under given possession: 8,807 hectares.

District Level Task Force The district-level Task Force can be described as the kingpin in the implementation of the land reforms programme. It was here that the greatest challenges to the implementation of the

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programme—identification of the land, the beneficiaries of the programme and providing them actual possession of the land allocated often in teeth of opposition from encroachers— were to be met. So while the state-level Task Force was a discussion forum, this was much more of an action forum. The state government in a letter issued to all district collectors on August 10, 2000 set out the terms of reference of the DTF. It was to be constituted in each district under the chairpersonship of the district collector and would have a maximum of five members from the Zilla Yojana Samiti and from the Ekta Parishad.34 The DC, using his discretion, could co-opt more officials from local bodies who could help in the implementation of the programme. At this level the EP members consisted of younger members in charge of the local office, and local activists selected from the villages in which the land was to be distributed, who in many cases belonged to the dalit or tribal community. While the former provided the direction to the working of the organization in the district/tehsil, much hinged on the latter and their relationship with and commitment to the welfare of the dalits and tribals for whom the programme was designed.35 The successful working of the DTF also depended upon the relationship between the officers in the district and the members/workers of the Ekta Parishad. Our fieldwork in four districts in the next chapter makes this clear. The DTF was given specific tasks that were undertaken by government officers in collaboration with the EP. Monthly meetings were to be held under the chairmanship of the district collector and minutes maintained, copies of which were sent to the state Task Force. The DTF was expected to maintain a complaint register to record the complaints submitted through the Ekta Parishad by villagers and other local bodies. These were to be tabled in meetings, discussed and solved within a given time frame. The report of the action taken by the DTF was to be sent to the revenue department so that the government could respond to every complaint within 60 days of its receipt. If the case pertained to the revenue department, then they would solve the case, otherwise the DTF was expected to find a solution to the problem. Meetings of regional-level Task Force were also held in each region. The first meeting of the Gwalior-Chambal Regional

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Task Force, in which three of four of our selected districts fall, was held on September 30, 2000 at the Institute of Management in Gwalior and was addressed by the chief minister Digvijay Singh who emphasized on the need to implement land reform in the state and to ensure the livelihood of the disadvantaged sections. District collectors from seven districts attended: Bhind, Gwalior, Shivpuri, Morena, Dattia, Sheopurkalan, and Guna. Almost all the five zilla panchayat members and all the five Ekta Parishad members were present (Carr-Harris n.d.). The working of the district-level committees was discussed. Some of the problems highlighted were: shortage of landholding data on the districts; problems in holding surveys; lack of funds; lack of checks on the patwari; threats to DCs by vested interests; lack of adequate manpower, etc. It was agreed that these problems would be addressed, work ought to be undertaken in earnest, and the regional- and district-level committees were to again report back to the state-level Task Force. Some of the tasks identified by the Gwalior-Chambal Regional Task Force in September 2000 specifically for the region were the following: • Provision of revenue land for landless people, many of whom have resided in the village for more than 15 years; • Possession of land that has been allotted (entitlement is clear on paper) but in reality given to someone else; • Removal of illegal possessor; • Provision of land title (patta) as the holder is in possession of the land; • Proper demarcation of land plot; • Restoration of land to owners whose land entitlement was cancelled because of acquisition by the forest department without due notice or compensation; • Right of forest-dependent communities to pattas in forest areas (ibid.). There are major differences in the manner in which the DTF functioned in various districts in the state and generalization about its working is difficult. However, the large majority of the DTF did not function as expected.36 This was evident quite early. Reviewing the progress made in the constitution of the

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district-level TF at the meeting of the state Task Force held on June 25, 2001, members expressed concern when informed by the revenue secretary that the TF had been formed only in 21 districts, and in others the DCs had been advised to immediately constitute them and send reports of meetings held so that progress at the district level could be ascertained. Members held that it was imperative that the DTFs should meet regularly and function efficiently, as these committees should resolve problems at the local level; only if they could not be resolved should they be sent up to the state Task Force. A suggestion was made that the next meeting of the state Task Force could be held at the Government Academy, Bhopal and arrangements made for video conferencing so that discussion could take place between the central- and the district-level committees. At various meetings and camps held by the EP the progress of the DTF with which they were closely associated was discussed. The complaints put forward invariably were that DCs and other lower officials did not show much interest and did not take the idea of a joint mechanism seriously; in some cases such committees were not constituted; meetings were held only once in three to four months; despite being free district officials did not bother to take up the task of land allotment speedily; the problems brought up by the EP were not taken seriously and Action Taken Reports were rarely tabled. However, in a few districts such as Guna, Shivpuri, Sheopur, among others, the DTF took its work seriously and the land distribution programme made considerable progress. Our case study of Shivpuri district in the next chapter shows this. In the last meeting of the state-level TF on May 26, 2003 the senior members of the EP expressed their unhappiness at the working of the DTFs describing them as having become ‘irrelevant’ and not carrying out their assigned duties. They held that the members of the EP could have contributed much more if these committees had worked properly. One reason for this, they pointed out, was lack of guidelines at the state level for monitoring of these committees. The government pointed out that all DCs had been asked to hold regular monthly meetings and the commissioner requested to monitor the

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working of these committees in their area at least every second month.37 Following this a letter was issued on July 18, 2003 to all district collectors and divisional commissioners informing them of the unhappiness expressed by the chief minister on being informed by Rajgopal, the head of the EP, about the poor working of the DTFs in many districts, leading to nonimplementation of the land distribution programme. However, despite many efforts the public–private partnership could be a success only in a few districts.

Conclusion Our chapter has dealt with a key feature of the land distribution programme—the JTF—formed by the state government and the EP, a civil society organization, to formulate a comprehensive agenda of land reform and monitor its implementation. The EP represents new or alternative movements in the 1990s led by non-party, civil society organizations in areas such as education, women’s rights, health and land. From the 1960s onwards, political parties, with the exception of the left parties, have shown little interest in mobilizing the landless and marginal farmers on issues of land and livelihood. Rather, since the 1980s, all political parties have been pre-occupied with issues of identity based on caste and community. With the liberalization of the economy and the retreat of the Indian state from its earlier welfarist agenda for the poor and disadvantaged in agriculture and other areas, organizations such as the Ekta Parishad have emerged to fill the gap. The EP, as our study shows, is both a social movement as well as a civil society organization that has been working at the grassroots in MP and other parts of the country. With roots in the Chambal region of MP in the late 1970s and registered as an NGO in 1984, the EP, by the early 1990s, had decided to concentrate on the issue of land and livelihood for dalits and tribals in selected districts in the state. Some central features of the EP have enabled it to emerge as a strong organization in MP and put pressure on the state to adopt a land reform agenda. The first is the attempt—still continuing—to mobilize the dalits and tribals to make them aware of the need to fight for their rights. The leadership of

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the EP believes that without awareness and struggle, dalits and tribals will not be able to overcome problems such as encroachments on land and corruption among officials and obtain land rights. For this it has created a strong organizational structure from the village to the state and national level. It has been through a number of stages of movement-cum-organization building during the 1980s, which has enabled it to emerge as a strong organization today. This has allowed it to spread into eight states in the country, and it has led movements for land reform in all of them. Second, it draws its strength from being a Gandhian organization that believes in struggle and dialogue. Due to a responsible and committed leadership as our study has described, the Parishad led large-scale, well-organized and disciplined movements of the dalits and tribals for land reform against the government, which are still continuing, as the recent Janaadesh (2007) shows. Third, the EP has, through surveys across a large number of districts, grassroots work and documentation, been able to put forward an ideology, and a concrete set of proposals for land reform before the government for implementation. This allowed it to put pressure on the Digvijay Singh government to implement land reform from the early 1990s onwards leading eventually to the formation of the JTF. The Thirteen Proposals document attempted to list the specific reasons for the failure of land reform in MP, and provided the government four concrete policies for land reform even though all of them could not be implemented. In the post-reform period, with the retreat of the state and greater space for the private sector, many kinds of public– private partnerships have been attempted over the last decade in areas ranging from education, health, infrastructure, and power in MP and elsewhere in the country. However, the JTF constitutes a unique experiment, as it was a partnership between the government and a Gandhian organization for equitable distribution of land to the poor and dispossessed. Certain features set it aside from other public–private partnerships. The JTF was born out of struggles and movements of the poor and landless led by the EP that was able to prevail upon the government to join hands with it. The JTF had a clear agenda of land distribution that was to be carried out by both the

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organizations together. It was formed at two levels—the district and state level. At the central level it was meant to be an apex organization formulating, coordinating, guiding and supervising the land distribution programme. While at the district level the DTF made up of both bureaucrats and EP activists, was responsible for the actual implementation of the programme. Even after the formation of the JTF the EP continued with its movements in the countryside; it remained a social movement/ pressure group and continued to make demands on the state government to carry out the re-distributive agenda. What is important for our purposes is the impact that the formation of the JTF had upon the land distribution policy. An analysis of the meetings of the JTF shows that the government welcomed the comprehensive land reform agenda put forward by the EP members. As it was a flagship programme of the government, the chief minister took personal interest and attended many of the meetings. The JTF became a platform for serious discussion on issues pertaining to land reform. Suggestions and complaints made by the members of the EP were attended to promptly and meetings held in a cordial manner. Important decisions such as the need to buy land for distribution to dalits and tribals, provide assistance to the beneficiaries and distribute Green Cards were taken. However, there remained issues, particularly those pertaining to tribal and forest lands, on which the two sides could not agree and which therefore could not be addressed. Despite these achievements the leadership of the EP feel that they were not able to construct a partnership for equitable land distribution to the poor, which they argue led to problems in the implementation of the policy. The real problems arose in the working of the DTF, which unlike the State Task Force (STF), was an action forum for implementation. Here, the young activist members of the Parishad had to work in close cooperation with the local bureaucracy and both sides were disappointed with the functioning of the DTF. While generalizations regarding its functioning across the state are difficult and there are instances of success as the next chapter will show, in a majority of the districts the DTFs were not constituted or constituted too late to have an impact, meetings were not held regularly, there were allegations of corruption, the

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programme was not well-implemented and problems brought up by the EP not addressed. In short, the public–private partnership did not function properly at the local level. Against this background we move to an examination of the implementation of the land distribution programme, including the working of the DTF, in four selected districts in the next chapter.

Notes 1. Literally, the United Network. The name was selected as it was formed by a number of organizations coming together in the mid-1980s to work among the dalits and tribals in MP. 2. Most of this section is based on an interview with Rajgopal P. V., head of EP, on August 3, 2006, at the EP office in New Delhi. 3. Subba Rao was one of the founders of the organization and was particularly active in Morena and Gwalior districts. He established the Gandhi Seva Ashram at Joura where we stayed for our fieldwork and is still remembered and highly respected by the people of the town and surrounding villages for his dedicated work among them. 4. The EP has centres in six district headquarters in MP: Gwalior, Jabalpur, Vidisha, Bhopal, Dhar and Mandala. It has a Gandhi Ashram centre in Joura tehsil, Morena district. 5. This section is based on documents of the Parishad and interview of Rajgopal on August 3, 2006. 6. There are at least 16 organizations supporting EP in different parts of the state, such as, 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Bundelkand Samiti Ekta Lok Kala Manch Gandhi Sarvodaya Ashram Gramin Yuva Abhikaran Gramin Vikas Prastisthan Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram in Morena and Baihar Majdoor Kisan Sangathan Manav Jeevan Vikas Training Centre Nayu Disha Samaj Seva Sanstha Parivartan Prayog Samaj Seva Sansthan Sarvoday Ashram Tikamgarh Viklangh Shiksha Kendram Vishwa Ekta Ashram

(Available at http://www.ektaparishad.org/index/html, the website of EP: People’s Rights over Livelihood Resources).

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7. For the Chhattisgarh yatra, see Drakakis (2003). For the Bundelkhand-Bagelkhand yatra, see (EP 2003a). This report covers all the major yatras and issues underlying them in detail. 8. Literally, it means—‘resources such as water, forest and land should be under the control of the people’ (EP n.d.). 9. On tribal land alienation, see Mander (2002). 10. For details, see EP (2003a). Also, Carr-Harris (n.d.) 11. Ibid. 12. Ibid. 13. See appendix to the chapter. 14. The orders setting up the state-Level Task Force and its terms of reference were contained in General Administration Dept. Mantralay, MP order no. F-19-88/2000/1/4, dated May 24, 2000, Government of MP, Bhopal. 15. Interview with Rajgopal on February 13, 2008 at the EP office, New Delhi. 16. The four issues are taken from the Terms of Reference of the Committee under order no. F-19-88/2000/1/4 dated May 24, 2000 issued at the first meeting of the State Task Force, held on May 24, 2000. Minutes of the Meeting, Government of MP, Bhopal. 17. This is an important aspect but has not been taken up in our study. 18. The Thirteen Proposals are provided in the minutes of the first meeting of the State Task Force, May 24, 2000. 19. Interview with Rajgopal on February 13, 2008 at the EP office, New Delhi. He identified the lower courts, revenue and forest officials and the police as being complicit in various ways in the corrupt practices that have stood in the way of proper implementation of land reforms in MP. To some extent this is borne out by our fieldwork experience reported in the next chapter. 20. Agenda papers of the State Task Force Meeting, May 26, 2003. Department of Revenue, Government of MP, Bhopal. 21. At the June 2001 meeting these were Ransingh Parmar, Shraddha Kashyap, Nandlal Singh, Naresh Vishwas, Ramesh Sharma and Bhole Thakur. 22. Interview with Rajgopal on February 13, 2008 at the EP office, New Delhi. 23. Minutes of the Meeting of the State Task Force, June 25, 2001 at Bhopal. Issued on 4/11/2000/7-2A, July 23, 2001. Department of Revenue, Government of MP, Bhopal. 24. This was extensively discussed in the meeting on June 25, 2001. 25. See agenda papers of the Task Force meeting on May 26, 2003, which listed all the demands made by the EP and the action taken by the government on many important issues raised during the period of the functioning of the Task Force. 26. Agenda papers of the meeting of the Task Force on March 26, 2003, Government of MP, Department of Revenue, Bhopal, p. 2.

202 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh 27. Report of the Finance Ministry dated May 21, 2003, Government of MP, Bhopal. 28. The government issued an order, F 4-10/2002/7-2A dated June 26, 2003, under which the scheme became operative. 29. These were Jagat B. Singh, Ransingh Parmar, Vechan Ram, Rajesh Ojha, Rakesh Dikshit and Ramesh Sharma. 30. Minutes of the meeting of the Task Force on March 26, 2003, Government of MP, Department of Revenue, Bhopal, p. 1. 31. ‘Charnoi Ka Rakba Kum Karne Par Bhumi Bantan Ki Pragati—Mah December 2002 Tak’ (Hindi Report). Report of the Land Bureau, MP 9-Bhu-Abhilek/2003, dated January 2003. 32. Minutes of the meeting of the State Task Force held on March 26, 2003, Government of MP, Department of Revenue, Bhopal, p. 1. 33. In most cases where possession was yet to be given it was because of cases pending in the courts against the decision of the government. 34. The order constituting the district-level Task Force committees was issued by the revenue department, mantralay, Bhopal, order no. f-4-1/2000,7/2-A dated August 10, 2000. 35. Discussion with Harendra Sharma, EP in charge of Joura district at his office at the Gandhi Seva Ashram, Joura on March 21 and 22, 2007. 36. Interview with Rajgopal on February 13, 2008 at the EP office, New Delhi. 37. Issues raised by the EP members and the reply by the government at the meeting of the Task Force on May 26, 2003. Agenda papers of the Task Force meeting, May 26, 2003. Department of Revenue, Government of MP, Bhopal. 38. Translated from Hindi by the author.

Appendix The ‘Thirteen Proposals’ put forward by the Ekta Parishad consisted of the following:38 Constitute a Task Force to solve the land issue. Provide land entitlement to those tribes/dalits and other communities who have been residing in and around the forest areas. Revoke all false cases against tribals for entering the forest areas by confiscating their tools and implements and cattle, etc. Implement the land ceiling act passed by the government within the given time frame.

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Ensure possession and safety to the legal owners of the land. Counteract illegal possession of forest and revenue land by those not eligible or those using bribery or other corrupt means to secure land. Nullify the pattas given to the landlords and rich people. Return mortgaged lands to owners and lodge criminal cases against those (officers) who are responsible for it. Distribute the large amount of land which is in possession of temples and trusts in MP among the poor. Distribute land after taking the land from companies, industries, plantation companies, etc. Ensure proper distribution of land available to agriculture and tribal cooperative committees. Ensure proper distribution of ponds and talabs in different parts of MP. Create and organize proper documentation of land-related data.

6 Mapping Ground Reality: Implementation of the Land Distribution Programme in Selected Districts Against the background of the extensive discussion on the

formulation and features of the land distribution programme of the Digvijay Singh government presented in the earlier two chapters, we move now to an analysis of its implementation based on fieldwork in four selected districts in MP: Morena, Gwalior, Shivpuri and Rajgarh. Our study focused upon three aspects of the land distribution policy during the fieldwork: first, the actual amount of land distributed in the sample villages and the difficulties encountered such as encroachment, lack of pattas, quality of land and problems in providing the selected beneficiaries actual possession of land; second, the nature and amount of support provided to beneficiaries through Green Cards and other mechanisms, as without such help much of the land distributed could not be cultivated; and third, social conflicts, violence against dalits and the extensive litigation arising out of the distribution of land in the selected districts. The land distribution was undoubtedly progressive and reflected political commitment to the welfare of the socially disadvantaged groups in the state. As discussed earlier, the government formulated detailed rules and issued numerous orders for the correct implementation of the programme. Government data claims that as much as 1,81,622.388 ha of land was distributed to dalits and 1,20,806 ha to tribals by January 2003. The fieldwork undertaken shows that each one of the 763 respondents interviewed had received a patta entitling him/ her to a piece of land ensuring livelihood. Information levels about the programme were high in the rural areas due to the EP and it was very well-received by the landless. However, the fieldwork in the four selected districts analyzed in this chapter shows that not all dalits/tribals who received pattas were able to gain actual possession as a result of which the goals of the policy could not be fulfilled. Big landowners had

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encroached upon most of the fertile charnoi land, leaving in many places only barren sections free for distribution, the local revenue administration was often corrupt and land records in the state were poorly maintained. Little examination of the availability of land and the complexities of allotting it to landless and disadvantaged groups seems to have been undertaken by the state government prior to implementing the land distribution policy. Together with inadequate preparation, implementation of the programme was also carried out too fast in the form of an abhiyan during the last two years of Digvijay Singh’s term, which put tremendous pressure on the local administration to produce results in the form of statistics regarding the large number of pattas awarded and land distributed on paper. Nor could the District Task Force play an effective role in the process of implementation of the programme. In some districts the programme led to violent conflicts. Local courts, and even the High Court, in their judgements, found fault with the implementation and questioned the policy of giving land to one section of the population which in turn encouraged encroachers not to vacate land earmarked for distribution. At the same time, generalization for the state as a whole regarding the success/failure of the programme is not correct. The fieldwork data suggests that in the process of implementation of the programme at the local level, three major factors determined the success/failure of the programme: availability of fertile charnoi land in the absence of which barren land was often distributed; presence/absence of encroachments by upper-/middle-caste landowners which were not removed in many villages prior to allotment, making it impossible for the weaker sections to take possession and when they were removed and, in some cases, their ejection led to violent conflict; and the presence of a committed and efficient administration which attempted to overcome these problems and provide land to the dalits and tribals. As a result, our findings point to considerable differences in the manner in which the programme could be implemented in the selected districts. The field experience raises the question whether the Digvijay Singh government was serious about providing land to the underprivileged as it was aware about the lack of fertile

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charnoi land, existence of encroachments and possibility of violence due to hostility of the OBC landowners to distribution of land to dalits/tribals. Some commentators have argued that despite knowledge about these problems, the government implemented the programme to gain the political support of the rural poor to meet the challenge posed by the BJP and the BSP. Others have held that aware of the obstacles, Singh went ahead in an ‘activist mode’, hoping that it would produce results if he put pressure upon the bureaucracy to perform and obtained the support of the potential beneficiaries.1 This study argues that political will and social commitment was not lacking, but the implementation of the programme proved to be faulty. The chapter is divided into two parts. The first discusses the rationale for the selection of the sample districts and villages and presents a description of them. This provides a background for the next section that analyzes the field data. As discussed earlier, the Digvijay Singh government began its programme of distribution of charnoi land to dalits and tribals in 1998. A more systematic distribution of land began after the establishment of the Task Force with the Ekta Parishad in 2000. Finally, the programme received an impetus from the Bhopal Declaration, which also stressed upon the need to provide land to dalits and adivasis. Thus, it was from 2002 that the programme was implemented in a serious and planned manner in many parts of the state. It is upon the implementation of the land distribution programme in 2001–2 in Rajgarh and in a phased manner during the period March 2002 to May 2003 in the other sample districts that the field study is focused. The concluding section draws some conclusions from the MP experience in attempting land distribution to dalits and tribals.

The Sample Districts and Villages: Rationale and Description Rationale for selection of districts Following the formation of a separate state of Chhattisgarh in 2000, MP consists of 45 districts and nine divisions. Of the four districts selected, Morena lies in the Chambal division,

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Gwalior and Shivpuri in the Gwalior division and Rajgarh in the Bhopal division. These districts were selected because of the large number of dalits and tribals in their population and second, the presence of certain features that have played a seminal role in the success/failure of the land distribution programme, such as, role of a sympathetic and efficient district organization, effective functioning of the DTF, presence of the BSP, role of the EP, encroachments, social conflict, etc. The reasons for selection of these districts are elaborated upon here. 1. Dalits and tribals constitute about 16 per cent and 21 per cent of the population of MP respectively. However, the distribution of these groups across the state is not even. Dalits are largely concentrated in the northern Chambal and Baghelkhand region bordering UP, and in the districts of Malwa north, comprising mainly the Ujjain division. In the Chambal and Gwalior division they form over 17 per cent of the population in most of the districts. In constrast, tribals are found primarily in 15 districts of the state ranging from 85 per cent in Jhabua to 21 per cent in Balaghat in two regions of the state: eastern Gondwana region parallel to Chhattisgarh comprising among others of the districts of Siddhi, Shahdol, Umaria, going southwards to Mandla, Dindori and Balaghat and second, the southern Malwa plateau region comprising among others the districts of Jhabua, Dhar, East and West Nimar and Betul bordering Rajasthan and Maharashtra. However, in these two latter regions the proportion of dalits in the population is comparatively low. It is in the belt running from Morena district in the Chambal division to Shivpuri district in the Gwalior division that we find a high proportion of both dalits and tribals, which makes the region useful for this research. Rajgarh district lying in Mahakoshal region also has 18 per cent of dalits in the population. Another significant feature of this region is that among the tribal groups found in MP, the Gonds and the Bhils/ Bhilalas have been studied extensively by scholars (Baviskar 1997; Sundar 1997) but much less attention has been paid to the Sahariyas found in the Chambal

208 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

and Gwalior region and in large numbers in the selected district of Shivpuri. The Sahariyas fall within the category of the ‘most primitive’ tribes in MP and having recently emerged from slash and burn to settled agriculture, are at present totally dependent on land. Hence, an analysis of the impact of the land distribution programme on this social group is of importance. Among the dalits the Chamars, or Jatavs, as they are called in the Chambal and Gwalior divisions, form the largest sub-category followed by the Kolis/Shakya, Khatik, Baghel and other smaller groups. Thus while in Morena, Gwalior and Rajgarh the sample consists mainly of dalits with some tribals, in Shivpuri the sample consists almost entirely of Sahariyas. In this way both groups are adequately covered. 2. While it is true that unlike in UP, the BSP has not spread much beyond the northern districts of Madhya Pradesh, it has had an impact on the dalits in the sample districts lying in this region. In the 1990s BSP performed well in state assembly elections in MP in these districts. In 1993 it gained two seats in Morena (with 25.8 per cent of the valid vote) and one seat in Gwalior district (23.8 per cent) and performed well in some of the neighbouring districts. In the 1998 assembly elections it stood third after the Congress (41.73 per cent) and the BJP (39.28 per cent) gaining 6.15 per cent of the votes in the state. In the 11 constituencies where it won, the party obtained 40 per cent of the vote share in two and 30 per cent in five constituencies (Pai 2004). The BSP has impacted upon the Jatavs in the sample villages of Morena particularly, as seen in their assertion against upper/middle-caste landowners and litigation to remove encroachers on land allotted to them. In Rajgarh where violent conflict against land distribution to dalits took place in 2002–3, the BSP has a base and has attempted to mobilize the large population of dalits in the district. 3. Morena provides a good example of a district where the implementation of the land distribution programme was a failure due to two interrelated problems: encroachments by powerful OBC landowners and allotment of poor quality of land leading in some cases to litigation.

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Historically, encroachments are due to failure of land reforms to distribute surplus land to the landless and are now very difficult to remove; the remaining unencroached land, which is barren or of poor quality was distributed during the programme. The fieldwork in Morena provided an understanding of these twin problems and the failure of the administration to deal with them; aspects which affected the land distribution programme in a number of districts in the state. 4. Three selected districts—Morena, Gwalior and Shivpuri— provide the setting for examining the functioning of the public–private partnership for implementation of the land distribution programme: the District Task Force formed jointly by the government and the Ekta Parishad.2 The northern districts of Chambal and Gwalior constitute the region from where the Ekta Parishad began its activities and even today it is very active in this region. However, among these districts it is in Shivpuri that the Task Force played a seminal role in the success of the land distribution programme. The chapter provides details of the functioning of the District Task Force in this district. 5. Shivpuri also provides an example of a district where a sympathetic and capable district administration was able to provide cultivable wasteland to the Sahariyas even in villages where charnoi land was not available or of poor quality. Potential beneficiaries were correctly identified, enroachments on most of the land allotted were removed and the administration also went beyond the dictates of the programme in providing help to the beneficiaries in improving the land allotted to them. 6. Rajgarh was selected because violent conflict and caste atrocities on dalits on a large scale took place in 2002–3 due to social jealousies over successful land distribution by the administration. The administration was quick to put down the violence, protect the dalits and large number of those who perpetrated the violence were convicted and jailed. The violence was also closely related to politics, as it is the parliamentary constituency of Chief Minister Digvijay Singh. Moreover, the study indicates there was active encouragement to the perpetrators of violence by

210 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

the BJP cadres in the district as elections were due in late 2003. 7. Gwalior provides an example of a developed district in which tehsils from both the poorer rural areas as well as the more urbanized region have been selected. Among the sample districts it falls in-between, representing districts that achieved a medium level of success in the land distribution programme due to both availability of cultivable land for allotment and lower level of encroachments due to the absence of a large, landholding middle caste. Here the level of encroachments and allotment of uncultivable land was much lower than in Morena, but it did not achieve the level of success attained in land distribution in Shivpuri and Rajgarh.

The Selected Districts: A Description Morena, Shivpuri and Gwalior lie in the northern portion of MP bordering UP and Rajasthan. While Morena and Gwalior lie in the Gird region close to Rajasthan, Shivpuri straddles the Gird and lies close to the Bundelkhand region with two tehsils— Picchore and Katera—lying in the latter region. Morena district lies on the contact zone of the Vindhyan Plateau and the low-lying Chambal valley (Sinha 1996). The southern and southeastern parts of the district lie on the former extending up to Gwalior north of the Narmada, while the northern and northwestern part lie in the latter. The Chambal, which joins the Yamuna and forms the northwestern and northern boundaries of the district, forms the boundary between Rajasthan and MP. It has high banks with ravines on both sides, which are deep and widely developed in Morena and Bhind (ibid.: 5). Morena, Gwalior and Shivpuri have a similar topography with light alluvial soils, wheat and jowar being the major crops. Rajgarh district lying in the Malwa plateau has a different topography. It has medium black soil and falls into the crop zone of cotton, soyabeans and jowar. With an area of 6,154 sq kms Rajgarh is one of the smaller districts in MP.3 All the selected districts except for Rajgarh and some portions of Shivpuri were part of the princely state of Gwalior. Thus they were not part of the colonial administration. The Gwalior state

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prior to independence, which includes present-day Gwalior, Morena and parts of Shivpuri, was historically controlled by the Tomar Rajputs from the 11th century onwards and, though challenged by local Rajas in the early 1800s, remained under the Scindias. In 1948 with the formation of Madhya Bharat the boundaries of Gwalior state were revised. It was decided to divide Madhya Bharat into 16 districts and Morena was one of them. The Sheopur district of former Gwalior state was abolished and merged with Morena, though in more recent years this has been reversed and the former district has been reconstituted separately (Sinha 1996: 2). In 1956 with the reorganization of the states the new state of MP was formed. At present Morena district has six tehsils and 12 Legislative Assembly seats.4 Shivpuri has seven tehsils and five Legislative Assembly seats.5 In contrast, Gwalior is a smaller district with only three tehsils but has six Legislative Assembly seats.6 Rajgarh also has six tehsils and five Legislative Assembly seats.7 Among the selected districts Shivpuri is the largest in size (10,278 sq kms) while Gwalior is the smallest (4,560 sq kms), although the latter has the highest population due to the presence of many congested urban areas.8 Dalits constitute more than 18 per cent of the population in all the selected districts except Rajgarh where they represent 17.4 per cent, which is higher than the state average of 15.2 per cent (Census 2001). The percentage of dalits and tribals in all the selected tehsils is higher than in the total population of the district. Shivpuri has the highest percentage of tribal population (11.19 per cent), mainly Sahariyas, followed by Rajgarh while Morena has barely 0.5 per cent. Morena has the largest percentage of dalits, concentrated in the tehsils of Ambah and Morena followed by Sabalgarh and Sheopur, while Bijeypur has the least. Apart from the Chamars who form the largest sub-caste, other important groups in descending order are Mahar, Koli or Shakya and Bhangi or Valmiki (ibid.). Although Chamars are concentrated primarily in Sagar, Morena, Rewa Bhind and Chattarpur districts, they have their highest proportion (75.7 per cent) in Morena where with some Bairwa, Bhambi, Mochi or Regar they form nearly three-fourths of the SC population (Singh 1999). It is for this reason that they form

212 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

almost our entire sample of respondents in Morena. In Gwalior the dalits represent above 20 per cent of the population in all the four blocks in the districts except in Ghatigaon where they constitute 13.22 per cent. Kolis, or Shakya as they are called, form the largest number, but others such as Khatiks and Bhangis are also found (MP HDR 2002: 190–93). Shivpuri has almost 20 per cent of dalits in the population but Sahariyas are concentrated in the tehsils of Shivpuri, Karera, Narwar and Kolaras (ibid.: 294). In Rajgarh, the dalits, mainly Chamars, form over 17 per cent of the population and are found in all the tehsils. They are between 17 to 20 per cent in all the six blocks in the district except in Khilichipur block where they form 11.92 per cent (MP HDR 2002: 257). In all the selected districts, but particularly in Shivpuri, the STs consist of the Sahariyas classed as the ‘most primitive’ among the tribes of the state. In other districts, particularly Morena, they are few in number and found in tehsils where forests abound (Sinha 1996: 67).9 First noted in the census of 1901 by the British colonial authorities, the Sahariyas were described as tribes found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Central India Agency, Rajputana Agency and the United Provinces (Singh 1996: 855). Prior to 1980 no scholar took any interest in this tribe and even today there are very few studies on them (Mandal 1984; Naik 1984). At present they are found mainly in MP and the neighbouring states of UP, Orissa and Rajasthan. In MP they are concentrated in Bhopal, Datia, Guna, Gwalior, Morena, Raisen, Sagar, Shivpuri and Vidisha districts. They are also called Seharia or Sahar and consist of exogamous clans/units called Bansoria, Chouhan, Deshbharia, Brishremani, Gidani, Karwar, etc. (ibid.). The word Sahariya or Saharia means people associated with the forest, but it also means a companion of a tiger. According to legend they were blessed by Lord Shiva to have access to the jungle like a sher (tiger or lion). The Saharias trace their origin to Shabri of the Ramayan fame and some believe they are descendants of Baiju Bheel, a worshipper of Shiva. They profess Hinduism and use the services of Brahmin, Dhobi, Chamar, Lohar and Badhai (Mandal 1984). Crooke, writing in the late 1800s, was of the opinion that their community name is connected with ‘Savaras’ which in turn is related to the

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Kolarian or other tribes who dwelt in the highlands of central India and included races such as Kols, Mundas, Kurku, Bhils and Bhuiya (Crooke 1896). They are divided into a number of gotras and are an exogamous community divided into clans traced in the male line.10 Their women play some specific roles in the economic, social, ritual and religious spheres which are considered very important. The Sahariyas speak Hindi and use the Devanagari script. Till recently their literacy levels were very low being only 2.74 per cent in the 1981 Census and their attitude to formal education is not favourable (Singh 1996: 856). Their main occupation today is agricultural labour together with collection and selling of firewood from the jungle. As they are largely landless apart from some who carry on sharecropping, the forest is their main resource. Woodcutting, honey collection, basket making, mining, quarrying and stone breaking are other sources of livelihood. A very small number are educated and in government service (Singh 1998: 3074–76). The importance of the land distribution programme for the Sahariyas stems from the fact that they have only recently shifted from a semi-nomadic forest dwelling economic system to settled cultivation and manual labour (Mandal 1984: 1). Until even the last part of the 20th century the Sahariyas survived by hunting and food gathering. Since the last century a large number of Rajputs have migrated from neighbouring areas and taken over much of the cultivable land for cultivation. As a result the Sahariyas have lost their good cultivable land and today they are facing a new economic environment centring on daily wage labour (ibid.). Except for Gwalior all the selected districts are backward districts. Morena and Shivpuri lie in a backward region of the state. Although Rajgarh is in the better-off Mahakoushal region, all three are ranked low in the HDI of MP falling within the last 13 districts among the 45 districts in the state. Shivpuri ranks the lowest at 40 followed by Rajgarh at 34 and Morena at 32. Rajgarh has the highest level of poverty among the districts at 28.7. Gwalior is a developed district ranked second among the districts of the state with a higher rate of urbanization and industrial development. However, in terms of poverty Gwalior stands at 24.2 higher than Morena at 20.5 and Shivpuri at

214 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

16.1 (MP HDR 2002). The Census of 2001 shows that the percentage of urban population is low in Morena, Shivpuri and Rajgarh ranging from 16 to 21 per cent making them both predominantly rural districts, while in Gwalior it is as high as 60.3 per cent (Census 2001). While rural electrification has made some impact and almost all villages have access to electricity, the condition of roads, particularly rural roads, is very poor in these districts. The road length per 100 sq. km is between 13 to 20, and about 80 per cent of villages in Rajgarh, 69 per cent in Shivpuri, 43 per cent in Morena and 53 per cent in Gwalior district are not connected by a pucca road.11 These are industrially backward districts except for Gwalior where industry is concentrated in some pockets close to the district capital. Thus the dalits and tribals in these districts have few avenues of employment apart from agriculture, which makes the need for land distribution to the disadvantaged groups important in these districts. All the selected districts have made considerable progress in literacy over the last decade though the gap between the general population and dalits/tribals remains considerable. In 1991 the literacy rate in the population in the state as a whole was 44.67 per cent but it rose to 64.11 per cent in 2001, an increase of over 20 points. This is reflected in the sample districts: in Morena and Gwalior it has risen above the national average; while in Rajgarh and Shivpuri where it was much lower, it has risen above 50 per cent.12 Among SCs, literacy has risen in the state appreciably from 34 per cent in 1991 to 58.6 per cent in the 2001 Census, though it remains almost seven points behind the general population. This is higher than the national average of 54.7 per cent aggregated for all SCs. Male and female literacy (72.3 per cent and 43.3 per cent respectively) are higher in comparison to those at the national level (66.6 per cent and 41.9 per cent). All the major SCs except the Chamars have registered a higher female literacy rate than that of the national average, with Mahars having more than 60 per cent female literates (Census 2001). The MP HDR report 2002 points to high rates of enrollment of children in schools in the state, and in the selected districts it goes beyond 80 per cent in all cases.13 However, Census 2001 figures show that among literate SCs, 44.2 per cent in MP are either without any educational level or have attained education

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below primary level. The proportions of literates who have attained education up to primary and middle levels among SCs constitute 28.5 per cent and 13.9 per cent respectively. Literates educated up to matric/higher secondary level constitute 10.8 per cent only, and graduates and above are 2.5 per cent. Out of the total 25.3 lakh SC children in the age group 5–14 years, only 16.4 lakh have been attending school, constituting 64.7 per cent. In fact, as many as 8.9 lakh children in the corresponding age group have not been going to school. Among the major SCs, the Mahar have the highest share of school-going children followed by Koli, Chamar, Bhangi and Balahi (Census 2001). The census data shows that the sex ratio in MP and in the selected districts has also improved over the last two decades. Among SCs it is 905, which is, however, lower than the national average of 936 for the total SC population. In the selected districts, it is higher in the ST than the SC population being 924 in both Rajgarh and Shivpuri. Among SCs it is above 900 in only one district—Rajgarh—where it is 922. Another feature in the HDR 2002 that affects dalits/tribals working on land is the fairly high levels of agricultural intensity leading to pressure on agricultural land. Among the sample districts it is the highest in Rajgarh being over 145 per cent (MP HDR 2002: 256). In Morena and Rajgarh more than 50 per cent of the land is already under cultivation, but it is lower in Shivpuri and Gwalior as these districts have more area under forests. The amount of fallow and cultivable wasteland in these districts is not high; rather, the uncultivable land is quite high. The net irrigated area to sown area is higher in Morena and Gwalior while it is much lower in the other two districts.14 The intense pressure on agricultural land in the selected districts, together with the lack of industrial development which could have provided alternative avenues of employment, explains the desire to obtain land as well as the conflict over land during the land distribution programme. Even where there is no active conflict an underlying current of tension is visible in every village visited.

Land Distribution in Sample Districts Table 1 in the appendix to this chapter provides the land allotted to dalits and tribals in every district of the state up

216 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

to January 2003 following the lowering of charnoi land by the government in 1998 and again in 2000. It shows that it is only in about eight districts, spread across different divisions, that fairly large amounts of land were allotted to dalits and tribals. Of these, three districts—Morena, Shivpuri and Rajgarh—are included in the sample for field study. In Morena and Rajgarh a substantial number of dalits, and in Shivpuri, Sahariya tribals were the beneficiaries. The other districts are Dewas, Mandsaur, Chattarpur, Jhabua and Rewa. Among the nine divisions in the state, in Indore, as the table shows, hardly any land was distributed. However, these are official statistics on paper and do not in all cases represent actual ground reality due to problems such as encroachments on the land allotted and allotment of uncultivable land in some cases, as the fieldwork data will show. One assessment of the impact of the land distribution programme is provided by the EP, which points out that in about 18 districts of the state some dalits and tribals did gain possession and benefited from the programme.15 The two regions where it had the least impact and was badly implemented were Mahakoshal and Malwa.16 Table 6.1 provides the official data on the amount of land distributed to SCs/STs in the four selected districts. The largest amnount of cultivable charnoi land available for distribution was in Shivpuri followed by Rajgarh, Morena and Gwalior. Scheduled Castes received the largest amount of land in Rajgarh district followed by Shivpuri, Morena and Gwalior. In the case of STs the largest number who received land were in Shivpuri followed by Rajgarh, Gwalior and Morena. But as mentioned earlier, these are official figures on paper, they do not provide the number who gained actual possession of the land allotted.

Sample Villages: Number and Rationale The sample villages in the four districts were selected on a twofold basis. In each district tehsils, and villages within them were selected, where a large amount of charnoi land had been allotted to dalits/tribals. Second, those villages were selected where significant factors such as encroachments, social conflict, appeal and litigation, positive role of the administration, etc. had impacted upon the success/failure of the land

11196.95

5096.49 32165.00

30822.514

283818

232789 481153

479914

25541

3595 17668

10789

18824.572

2251.384 13095.376

7768.19

2776

1801 15884

560

3005.28

Land Left for Allotment

1951.591 10046.351

1044/96

0/0 0/0

0/0

4825/241

Total SC/ST to be Allotted

2192/194

3235/290

2415/1396 2419/1396 1846/1549 1846/1549

4825/241

Category 1 Category 2 SC/ST SC/ST (To be (To be Allotted) Allotted)

Land Yet to be Alloted to SC/ST

1202.333 1642.772 11718.04 7351.614

423.48

Land Allotted to ST (ha)

Source: Revenue Department, Government of MP, Bhopal, January 21, 2003, Government Order: F301/13/2002/7-2A.

1. Chambal Morena 2. Gwalior Gwalior 3. Shivpuri 4. Bhopal Rajgarh

Division/ District

Land Alloted to SC/ST

Land No. of Land Total Available SC Allotted to No. of Land for (Persons) SC ST Cultivable Distribution Allotted (hecs) (Persons)

Land Available for Distribution

Table 6.1 Land Allotted in Four Selected Districts to SCs/STs under the Charnoi Land Distribution Programme (up to January 2003)

218 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

distribution programme. This enabled a study of the factors— administrative and socio-economic—that affected the land distribution programme. Accordingly, seven villages were selected from Joura tehsil in Morena, six villages from Shivpuri tehsil in Shivpuri district, and seven villages from Gird and Bhitarwar tehsils in Gwalior district.17 The five villages selected in Rajgarh district are from four different tehsils: Narsinghgarh, Biora, Sarangpur and Rajgarh. They were selected because they experienced violent conflicts between the OBC landowners and the dalits over the land distribution programme.18 A description of the villages is provided with the analysis of the implementation of the land distribution programme in each district in the next section. Thus a total sample of 25 villages was selected. An equal number of respondents from each sample village were not possible as the number of dalits/tribals allotted land differ from village to village depending on the amount of charnoi land available and distributed in each village. Accordingly, in Morena the number of respondents was 210, in Gwalior 201, in Shivpuri 219 and in Rajgarh 133, that is, a total of 763 respondents. Within each village a questionnaire was used to obtain data from the respondents consisting of beneficiaries drawn from both SC and ST households.19 Some members of the upper/middle castes, that is, ‘non-beneficiaries’ were also interviewed to obtain their views, as much of the opposition and hostility to the programme has come from this group. This also enabled an examination of litigation cases in many villages. Local officials such as the tehsildar, SDM, DM and patwari were also interviewed.

Field Study of the Four Selected Districts There are considerable differences in the success/failure achieved in the implementation of the land distribution programme in the selected districts. As mentioned earlier, they were selected to enable an understanding of the factors—social and administrative—that have determined the impact of the programme. While the land distribution programme was announced in 1998 by the Digvijay Singh government, it was from 2000 that it was implemented in a number of districts

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by efficient and conscientious DCs when the JTF and DTF were formed; in the large majority of districts it began after the Bhopal Conference in 2002. Among our sample districts in Shivpuri and Rajgarh the programme began to take effect in 2000 itself though it speeded up considerably in 2002, while in Morena and Gwalior it began from early 2002. A second aspect to be kept in mind is that the EP does not have a network in Rajgarh so no DTF was formed in the district, the presence of which might have prevented the conflict over land distribution. Table 6.2 provides a comparative picture of the percentage of pattas of cultivable land distributed and beneficiaries in actual possession among the sample respondents in the four selected districts. It shows that the highest percentage of beneficiaries who were in possession and benefited from the programme, are in Rajgarh and Shivpuri. While in Rajgarh the number of beneficiaries in possession is high being 97.74 per cent, many plots allotted, as described a little later, are ‘partly cultivable’ due to both poor quality of land and in some cases encroachments. Moreover, here the very success of the programme, particularly the removal of encroachments, led to violence and killing of dalits in the sample villages which gave a setback to those who had benefited from the programme. In Shivpuri the programme can be described as a success as over 63 per cent were allotted cultivable plots and over 62 per cent Table 6.2 Percentage of Cultivable Pattas Allotted and Beneficiaries in Actual Possession in the Sample Districts

Districts

Number of Villages Selected

Morena Gwalior Shivpuri Rajgarh

7 7 6 5

Total Sample of Beneficiaries Cultivable in Selected Pattas Villages Allotted (Number) (Percentage) 210 201 219 133

21 43.28 63.93 37.59*

Source: Compiled from fieldwork data. ∗ This figure is low as many pattas were ‘partly cultivable’. + Many plots were partly encroached.

Beneficiaries in Possession (Percentage) 15.71 43.28 62.56 97.74+

220 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

of the beneficiaries were in possession of the plots allotted. In contrast, in Morena only 21 per cent of the pattas allotted were cultivable and only 15.71 per cent of the beneficiaries were in possession making the programme a failure. Gwalior stands in-between with over 43 per cent of dalits and tribals in the sample able to gain actual possession due to lower level of encroachments. The wide variation in the nature of the implementation of the programme in different districts points to the need to examine the factors responsible. We turn now to an examination of the process of land distribution and the factors that produced this differentiated picture in the selected districts.

Morena District: Encroachments, Uncultivable Land and Litigation In Morena district, tehsil Joura was selected, as dalits constitute over 20 per cent of the total population (MP HDR 2002: 237). The STs are in very small number consisting mainly of Sahariyas with some Saperas and Majhis. Joura is the most backward tehsil with the lowest percentage of urban population of 9.5 per cent while in tehsil Sabalgarh 23.2 per cent of the population is urban. It also has the highest percentage of agricultural workers and worker participation ratio (ibid.). Although 58 per cent of the population is literate, female literacy is low and Joura falls below the other tehsils with the exception of Porsa tehsil (ibid.). The dalits consist mainly of Jatavs who constitute 65 per cent of the dalit population followed by the Shakyas or Kolis who make up 35 per cent and a few Khatiks.20 The Jatavs are dominant in all respects: landowning, literacy and political awareness. As mentioned earlier, in recent years this region has experienced a strong wave of assertion by them against the upper and middle castes with the emergence of the BSP in eastern UP and the northern districts of MP, which has coincided with the land distribution programme. This is evident in the antagonism between the two sections, the refusal by encroachers to give up land allotted to dalits and a large number of appeals and court cases filed by both dalit beneficiaries and encroachers in the sample villages.

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The seven sample villages lie within 10 to 30 kms of Joura town, the headquarters of the tehsil.21 They are fairly large in size, with population above a thousand in all cases. Narhela and Gaddi Dhamkan (henceforth Dhamkan) have the largest number of households. Gebri and Gebri ka Pura consist of two hamlets that constitute one village in the revenue records. All the villages have at least one primary school. In all the villages the post office, bus stand and primary health centre are within 2 kms. Only Dhamkan, the largest village, has a middle school and a post office. The villagers are dependent mainly on wells or handpumps for drinking water, and not much agricultural land is irrigated. In all the villages there is hardly any charnoi land left for distribution, most of it having been brought under the plough due to encroachments.22

Sample of Beneficiaries Table 6.3 provides information about the sample of beneficiaries of the land distribution programme interviewed in the selected villages in Joura. In all the sample villages except Dhamkan, which is a large village, all the beneficiaries of the land distribution programme were included in the sample of respondents as the number was not large. In Dhamkan, a sample of 26 out of 55 total beneficiaries were questioned. As table 6.3 shows, all the beneficiaries selected in the seven villages were mainly Jatavs or Kolis with a few Valmikis. In three villages—Narhela, Burawali and Sankara—all the pattas fell into category I; in the other villages, as the table shows, both categories are seen. In no village were joint pattas distributed to all; in Sankara village, for example, there were only 13 joint pattas. The plots range from 2.5 to 5 bighas, which is less than a hectare, which is in keeping with the rules of the programme.23 Some beneficiaries had been allotted temporary pattas (asthayi patta) for only 10 years. There was little attempt by the local administration to provide help in cultivating the land allotted. Only in Dhamkan Green Cards were provided to all beneficiaries; in Gebri Pura none had received them and only a few beneficiaries received theirs in the other villages. But all beneficiaries received 3 quintals of wheat from the local administration, which was

21/21 26/26 29/29 24/24 31/31 53/53 210

Gepri Pura Mai Narhela Nidhan Sankara Burawali Total Percentage

2 Valmiki I Jatav 23 koli 21 Jatav 26 Jatav 29 Jatav 10 Koli 14 Jatav 31 Jatav 53 Jatav 210

Caste of Beneficiaries in Sample

16/5 NA 29/0 19/5 31/0 53/0 161/23

13/13

Category of beneficiary I/II (No.)

9/12 0/26 0/29 24/0 0/31 0/53 33/177

0/26 9/2 0 9/4 20/6 9/1 16/9 63/30 15.71

0/8 19/10 26/26 5/0 15/1 29/21 9/0 121/76 21.00

18/18

2 0 24 6 2 44 86 40.95

8

0/1 0/26 19/0 0/3 4/0 30/0 53/33

0/3

Allotment: In Possesion/ Cultivable/ Number of Inside/ Non-cultivable Encroached Non-cultivable Appeals/ Outside Plots (No.) Plots (No.) Plots (No.) Litigation

Source: Fieldwork in March 2007. Note: In terms of cultivable land the actual beneficiaries are 21%, i.e., 121 minus 76 or 45, out of a sample of 210. In terms of possession the actual beneficiaries are 15.71%, i.e. 63 minus 30 or 33, out of a sample of 210. ∗ The sample is drawn from among those dalits who have received land under the programme, hence it is different in each village.

26/55

Villages

G.Dhamkan

Beneficiaries in Sample/Total Beneficiaries*

Table 6.3 Beneficiaries of Land Distribution in Selected Villages in Morena District, Tehsil Joura (Number and Percentage)

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meant to help them during the period when the land was being improved for cultivation or which could be used to employ labour to prepare the land. No money or fertilizer was distributed as envisaged in the policy. However, all respondents agreed that the policy was beneficial to them. They preferred it to employment generation policies that they argued were not wellimplemented, were for a short duration and were subject to much corruption. Among the selected districts Morena falls in the category of ‘low’ implementation, that is, the amount of land distributed was much less than in the other districts. Official data shows that out of 2,83,818 ha of land available for distribution only 7,768.19 ha was distributed (Table 6.1). Moreover, the fieldwork shows that the rate of failure of the land distribution programme is high, as a large number of dalits did not acquire actual possession of the land allotted to them. Three reasons were responsible for this: encroachments on land allotted, allotment of uncultivable land, and litigation. Table 6.3 shows that out a total of 210 beneficiaries only 63 were in actual possession of the land allotted to them; in the case of 30 the land was uncultivable making possession of little use. The plots allotted to 121 beneficiaries were cultivable but on 76 there were encroachments and 86 out of 210 plots were not cultivable. Percentage-wise in terms of cultivable land the actual beneficiaries are only 21 per cent, that is, 121 minus 76 or 45 out of a sample of 210. In terms of possession the actual beneficiaries are only 15.71 per cent, that is, 63 minus 30 or 33 out a sample of 210. Only in one village—Nidhan—did the programme achieve some success.

Encroachments: A Socio-historical Problem Encroachment on land by the powerful landowning upper/ middle castes/classes is a long-standing feature of the Chambal region. Lying close to eastern UP and Bundelkhand, Morena has a much larger number of locally dominant, powerful middlecaste/OBC landowners mainly Yadavs, Kushwahas, Rawats and Thakurs, compared to the other districts. A ‘gun culture’ left over from the time when dacoits infested the Chambal region makes this encroacher class prone to violence that makes removing them very difficult. Following the failure of

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land reforms, this class encroached upon the remaining fallow land, including charnoi land, and is found in larger numbers where the land is fertile. In fact, common lands have virtually disappeared due to increase in population, fragmentation of land due to partition in every generation, encroachments due to lack of supervision by the local administration or in some cases, in connivance with them, and poor maintenance of land records.24 The encroachers are unwilling to give up the land allotted to dalits/tribals not only because they will lose the land, but also because they will lose cheap and readily available labour and it will affect their powerful socio-economic status in the village.25 The encroachers are no longer paying jurmana (fine for illegal occupation) as the fields now legally belong to the dalits, but they continue to reap the benefits of the land. The beneficiaries on the other hand do not have actual possession, but are paying the land revenue as they have pattas to the land and would not like to lose their legal rights. Table 6.3 shows that four out of seven villages—Dhamkan, Gepri Pura and Mai and Sankara—have a high level of encroachments. In Dhamkan, out of a sample of 26 beneficiaries, although every one of them had received pattas, not a single person had been able to gain actual possession and cultivate the land allotted. In the case of 18 beneficiaries, that is, 70 per cent, it was due to encroachments by the upper/middle-caste landowners, the rest of the land allotted being uncultivable. In Mai all the land allotted is fertile and the encroachers, as described a little later, reluctant to give it up, went to court leading to the cancellation of all pattas. In Gebri Pura, 19 beneficiaries out of 21 had received land that was cultivable, but in the case of 10 the Rawats had encroached upon the land. Nine were able to gain possession out of which in the case of two the land was not cultivable. In Sankara, while 29 beneficiaries had received cultivable land only nine had managed to gain possession of which one plot was not cultivable. Moreover, as Table 6.3 shows much of the land allotted to dalits is not in their own villages as there is no charnoi land available, but in others often at a considerable distance. While in Gebri Pura land was allotted in villages about 5 kms away, in Sankara it was allotted in villages between 5 to 20 kms away. In Dhamkan and Mai land was allotted in Mudawali, Purtapura, Dhalan and

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Kirori, villages that are over 20 kms away. The beneficiaries pointed out that they receive little support from the dalit community in these villages against the encroachers, and are unfamiliar with the patwari and other officials responsible for the allotment.26 A few examples reveal how complex the problem of encroachments has become and the difficulties faced by dalits in obtaining land allotted to them. When beneficiaries from Dhamkan tried to take over the lands allotted to them in Mudawali village the encroachers brought out their guns after which no person has dared to try again. The Rawats in Simroda village did not allow the beneficiaries from Gebri Pura to enter the fields allotted to them. Ram Charan Lal Tyagi, a landowner with 15 bighas in Gebri Pura, pointed out that beneficiaries settled on the 25 bighas of charnoi land available in the village did not face encroachments, hostility or threats, whereas those who were allotted land outside could not take possession. An attempt by one of the respondents from Sankara to call the police to village Badhona where he was allotted a plot to remove the Yadav encroachers ended in failure. The police could not persuade the Yadavs and withdrew, as the latter threatened to use their guns and it could lead to bloodshed. Similarly, others described the Thakurs of Simhauli as ‘ready to kill’ to keep their land. The ‘encroachers’ on their part argue that they have been in possession of their lands for a long period of time—in some cases since the 1960s—and have been paying jurmana to the revenue department. The legal implications of the fine they are paying are not clear. While the former patwari of Dhamkan held that the fine was levied to prevent encroachment and that the encroacher must promptly vacate the land, the jurmana receipt does not state this, and those paying it believe that it has, over the years, provided them at least partial possession.27 Many, such as Preetam Kushwaha of Mudawali who has encroached upon the land allotted to dalits from Dhamkan, argued that they have spent considerable amount of money and labour to make the land cultivable and therefore the government should allot it to them and not to the dalits.28 He pays a fine of Rs 1,500 annually while some others in the village pay up to Rs 2,000. Shiv Charan Kushwaha held that none of them are wealthy persons and all are dependent on land. Some of the

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encroachers already possess ancestral land, that is, land they inherited and over which they have full legal rights. A Brahmin encroacher interviewed in Mudawali possessed 7 bighas of land and had encroached upon 1 bigha that had been allotted under the land distribution policy. However, some of the Kushwahas had no land and had encroached upon available charnoi land. The Kushwahas pointed out that no one from Dhamkan had come to take possession of the land, but if they did ‘hum hone nahi denge’ (we will not let it happen). However, they agreed that if the administration took firm steps to see that the dalits got the land they might not have any option left. Nidhan has three powerful Tyagi landowners who possess substantial amounts of ancestral land, which they have been tilling for many years.29 Matadin Tyagi’s teenaged son argued that it was wrong to take away land from those who were already cultivating and give to others who are traditionally not agriculturists but labourers on the field.30 He pointed out that it was leading to unnecessary social conflict in the village. The government should set up industries and provide employment to the dalits rather than taking away land, which had traditionally been tilled by the middle castes. The Tyagis alleged that some dalits have sold the land given to them rather than cultivating. In reality, as the villagers point out, the Tyagis oppose the land distribution policy because it has the potential of upsetting the old order and are not prepared to share land and equal social space with the disadvantaged sections. They are particularly opposed to giving land to the Jatavs who have in recent years become very assertive and will not work on their fields. The encroachers are not alone in holding this view but have sympathizers in the administration. The SDM of Joura described the policy of the Digvijay Singh government as ‘taking from one and giving to the other’ which he felt was not justifiable and difficult to implement.31 Consequently, the land distribution policy, he pointed out, was a success only in certain circumstances. First, where the dalits were settled on land they had already encroached upon and were cultivating. Here the task of the administration was limited to giving them legal possession over land they already had control over. Second, where the land allotted to them was uncultivable and of which

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there were many examples in Joura tehsil. Only such land, he argued, was not encroached upon and could be allotted, but since it was uncultivable it provided no benefit to the allottee. Third, where the administration cleared encroachers from the land and then allotted it to the dalits, which he admitted was difficult and done in few cases. Removing encroachments, he admitted, was not a ‘priority’ of the administration as it took time and involved using police force against them, which it is reluctant to do as many have political connections. Even where this was done there were cases of the encroachers trying to gain repossession from the dalit and succeeding in some cases. He held that the Congress party had lost the election due to the land distribution policy, which gave land to a selected section leaving out the large majority. Another reason for failure, he pointed out, was because it was undertaken as an abhiyan, that is, with little time to make an action plan, check records, clear encroachers, etc. The reason was that Digvijy Singh’s term was nearing its end and fast implementation was emphasized. As a result too much pressure was put upon officers in the local administration to show results, which led to the policy being poorly implemented. He also argued that land should be allotted to the poor and landless belonging to all social categories not only the SCs/STs. However, in Joura, although encroachment and attempts to gain possession have caused considerable social tension, heated verbal arguments and small fights, it has rarely led to violence or killings of dalits as in Rajgarh. The beneficiaries blame the patwari and the revenue inspector who they allege made little attempt to remove encroachments and give them possession of their land. The patwari and revenue inspector on the other hand hold that their job was to provide the pattas, measure the plots allotted and hand them over to the beneficiaries; removal of encroachers would entail use of police force which is not under their control. In Joura, Patwari Dinesh Srivastava was of the opinion that dalits should be provided security by the police until they are able to establish complete control by cultivating the land.32 However, at times encroachers have been tempted to snatch the land after the dalit owner has put in considerable effort and achieved a good standing crop.

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Administrative Failure: Uncultivable Land An important lacuna on the part of the administration is the allotment of usar or pathreeli (barren or rocky) land during the process of implementation of the land distribution programme. Some local officials argued that the implementation was undertaken as an abhiyan or drive leading to mistakes. But it is too widespread to be dismissed in this manner. Land that is uncultivable is not encroached upon as it is useless, and hence can be easily allotted, but is of no use to the allottee. While in Dhamkan and Burawali where land was allotted outside the village much of it is uncultivable, among the sample villages Narhela provides a prime example of allotment of uncultivable land. Twenty-four out of a total of 29 plots allotted to dalits are on hilly and rocky land, which cannot be made cultivable. Moreover, all the plots are at a considerable distance from the village; in some cases 4–5 kms away in villages such as Payee, Baghora, Nidhan, and in some cases villages such as Sangli and Bhadora as much as 15 to 20 kms away. Out of 29 only five plots are cultivable which means that as much as 83 per cent of the land allotted is not worth cultivating, only 17 per cent being cultivable. Nine persons have taken possession of the plots allotted to them out of which four are not cultivable. This means that only five persons who were allotted land are now cultivating land in the village. A few Gujjars in the village have encroached upon the uncultivable land and use it to graze their cattle or store their grain harvest, etc. The remaining persons have refused to take possession of the land allotted to them on the grounds that it cannot be cultivated. They pointed out that the patwari did not bother to measure the land, as it is not worth doing. There were many allegations of corruption on the part of local officials by beneficiaries in all the selected villages. The constant refrain indicates the existence of institutionalized forms of corruption, that is, it is accepted by both the villagers and the revenue officials that some monetary gratification is expected when a person receives land from the government. The most common complaint by many beneficiaries was that they had to pay the patwari/revenue inspector to get good quality land, measure their land and give them their pattas

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and actual possession. Those who could not afford to do so were not allotted land or were given land of poor quality.

Example of Comparative Success Among the sample villages, Nidhan provides an example where the land distribution policy can be described as successful. As Table 6.3 shows, out of a sample of 24 beneficiaries in Nidhan 20 had been able to gain possession out of which only six were not able to cultivate. Out of the 24 allotments 15 were cultivable and only one was encroached upon. Thus, here, 83 per cent of those allotted plots were in possession, 62 per cent of the plots allotted were cultivable and 25 per cent were non-cultivable. The reasons were the availability of considerable amount of common land of good quality without encroachments; and as land was available plots were allotted within the village making it easier for the beneficiaries to obtain possession. One of the respondents, in fact, pointed out that there is still some common land left in Nidhan. There are encroachers belonging to the Tyagi landowning caste in the village, but they have not encroached on much land, as they already own substantial amounts of ancestral land. While one of them possessed 25 bighas and controlled another 75 bighas of Mafi lands belonging to a temple, another had 30 bighas of ancestral land. But an equally important reason for fewer encroachments is the newfound assertiveness among the Jatavs, a good example described a little later being set by Ram Het who has challenged the Tyagis in court. Factionalism among the Tyagis, one of whom has encouraged Ram Het, is also a factor. Hence, while the Tyagis continue to encroach on the lands of the dalits it is much more to prevent the latter from owning land and becoming self-sufficient and independent in outlook than to gain extra land, as they already own substantial land and by village standards, can be described as wealthy.

Litigation and Appeals A feature of the sample villages, which proved a serious detterent to the land distributon programme, was the large number of appeals to the local administration and litigation in the revenue and civil courts by both the beneficiaries of the programme and the encroachers. As many as 33 court

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cases and appeals by 53 persons to the local administration are pending in the seven selected villages. The government order had specified that all appeals and litigation cases were to be filed within 45 days of land being allotted. However, the courts have registered complaints even after two or three years. Moreover, in most cases, even if courts have upheld the rights of dalits to the land allotted, the administration has not enforced these judgements, which means that they have not been able to gain possession. As the encroachers are big landowners the administration and the police find it difficult to take action against them. Moreover, court cases take very long, many cases are pending in the revenue and civil courts and many applicants have given up hopes of getting justice. Among the selected villages, in Dhamkan, Narhela and Burawali, beneficiaries have appealed to the SDM or DM to remove encroachers or allot alternative cultivable land.33 In Dhamkan all the beneficiaries tried with the help of the EP to gherao the SDM who promised to help, but no action was taken. In Burawali, following an inquiry into land allotted in a different village, the administration cancelled all plots but alternative plots have not yet been given. With the failure of the administration to respond to appeals beneficiaries have moved the courts. Some examples are given in the following paragraphs. A good example is the case of Ramji Lal, a Shakya in Dhamkan, who moved the civil court at Joura on May 20, 2002 to remove Purshottam, a Brahmin ‘encroacher’ who refused to hand over the land allotted by the administration in village Mudawali.34 In the court Purshottam claimed to be the ‘owner’ as his family had cultivated the disputed plot of land for over 40 years. He pointed out that the state government had not passed any law changing the ownership of the land, nor did the local administration issue a notice to him when the land was allotted to another person. The court ruled on September 10, 2003 that as per the rules made by the government, Ramji Lal was allotted the land and he be given possession immediately. In an appeal by Purshottam in a higher court in December 2004 the court again ruled in Ramji Lal’s favour on March 14, 2006.35 Despite having won this long court battle, Ramji Lal has not been able to gain actual possession of the land as

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Purshottam has refused to vacate and there is little that the former can do. A report in the local police thana on July 18, 2006 yielded no results and the administration has done little to help Ramji Lal.36 Similarly, in Nidhan, two Jatavs, Babu and Netri Singh Jatav, who received 2.5 and 5 bighas of land are still embroiled in a court case to get back their lands from Tyagi landowners who have encroached upon their fields. In Gebri Pura, Prem Das, who received land in a neighbouring village, and won his case, is still trying to gain possession of the land and facing threats from the encroacher. However, in Sankara, Gabbar Singh, a Jatav beneficiary, moved the SDM court against Dhiman SinghYadav who tried to take back land allotted to the former and cut his standing crop. The SDM ruled in favour of Gabbar Singh and he was able to regain possession. But beneficiaries pointed out that such cases of obtaining possession were few. In Sankara, Nidhan and Mai, the encroachers have moved the court against allotment of land to the dalits. In Shankara and Mai the courts supported the encroachers and questioned the land distribution policy and the manner in which it had been implemented by the administration. Two encroachers moved the court on September 27, 2002 appealing against land allotment to eight dalit beneficiaries on May 5, 2002 in their village, of whom only five belong to Shankara.37 They objected to outsiders being given land in their village while there were landless in their own and in close by villages. In an important judgement, the court ruled in favour of the encroachers and cancelled all the eight pattas. The court held that the allotments were not in keeping with the definition of ‘landless’ in the MP Land Revenue Code. Equally important, it pointed out that the encroachers had been in possession of the land for a long time and were cultivating it. It was also alleged that the landless beneficiaries had sold it and were not cultivating it, a charge that the latter vehemently deny. In Nidhan, Matadin Tyagi, a big landowner appealed against a ruling of the Joura revenue court on April 30, 2002 in favour of Ram Het, a Jatav beneficiary whose land he had encroached. A part of the 25 bighas owned by Matadin Tyagi encircled a portion of the 1.5 bighas of land allotted to Ram Het, which the former refused to hand over, at the same time encroaching on

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some more portions lying adjacent to his land.38 The amount of land involved is not much and the case was largely due to the factionalism and rivalry among the Tyagis, one of whom encouraged Ram Het to go to court. It also demonstrates the growing animosity between the Tyagis and the Jatavs, which the land distribution programme has only worsened. Ram Het represents the educated and politically assertive Jatavs in the village and following a long battle he won the case. A Congress supporter and an EP worker, he has taken part in many rallies, which has brought him into contact with many officials in the district administration. His action has, however, earned him the animosity of Matadin and his family who are staunch supporters of the BJP. On Matadin Tyagi’s appeal the SDM court upheld the earlier ruling pointing out that he had made his appeal on June 26, 2006 and that the four years’ delay could not be condoned.39 More important, it upheld the grounds on which the land was allotted to Ram Het. One of the most important court cases, which encouraged the encroachers, was in Mai where 26 Jatavs were allotted land in village Kirori, which was opposed by the landowners of the latter village. The Jatavs appealed to the naib tehsildar on May 20, 2002 who upheld their allotment on July 23, 2002. Meanwhile, five of the encroachers from Kirori appealed to the tehsildar’s court at Joura on November 11, 2002. They argued that the allotment was against the existing records and the law as they were in possession and had been paying jurmana on the disputed area; it was done without any public notification or notice to them although they they were in possession; and the administration did not take deposition of any independent witness about the legal position of the land relying only on information provided by the patwari. In short, they argued that the legality of the land in dispute was not fully explored by the administration prior to allotting it to the dalits. Finally, the persons to whom it was allotted were not from Kirori but from Mai, which is at considerable distance, in contravention to rules that dalits were to be given land in adjacent villages. Upholding these arguments, the court cancelled the plots allotted. In a subsequent appeal by the beneficiaries, the superior court on December 14, 2005 upheld the order canceling the

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plots. More important, in a judgement criticizing the administration, it raised serious issues about the manner in which the allotment was done: no public notification or even date of such a notification was provided in the appeal; there were discrepancies in the list of landless given by the patwari and the gram sabha of Kirori; respondents had not produced the pattas or papers in their application to the court to prove that they were given land. Further, the court held that on July 23, 2002, out of 40 applications received from eligible landless persons 15 were allotted land in Kirori without the approval of the gram sabha despite the names of many not appearing in the list of landless. Again on January 21, 2003, 12 pattas given in Kirori were cancelled and the land was given to persons living in other villages such as Sarsaini Majra, Panchampura, etc. and there was no evidence of permission obtained from the district collector which was mandatory when allotting land to persons from outside the village. Based on these serious errors the Court upheld the cancellation of the plots. But it added that the respondents could be provided alternative plots of land in accordance with the rules framed in the GO of March 2, 2002.

The DTF and the Role of the Ekta Parishad Although in Morena the DTF was formed quite early on September 21, 2000, it had little impact on the actual implementation of the land distribution programme. It had 15 members—five from the EP, five officials and five from the Zila Yojana Samiti with the DC as the chairman. Records show that some meetings were held; the first on September 26, 2002 and the second on December 6, 2002, in which both officials and EP members took part. Subsequently, although a few meetings were held in which the tribal demand for land in Kolaris tehsil was tabled, they had little impact on the programme.40 The EP has a strong presence in Joura tehsil, particularly in the sample villages. The Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram at Joura town is one of its earliest mobilization centers, well-known and highly respected by the rural population. The EP has activists in each tehsil who were expected to help dalits/ tribals during the implementation of the land distribution programme: in the selection of potential beneficiaries, assist them in filing the necessary applications for land, place their problems before the TF, help them in fighting court cases, etc.

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Selected EP members raised significant issues at meetings of the TF: alternative plots to those dalits/tribals who had been given barren land; protection against violence by big landowners to these groups; better measurement of the plots allotted by revenue officials; officers being present when encroached land was distributed; lawyers for beneficiaries when they have to fight a case in court, etc. In fact, EP members threatened that they would encourage and lead dalits and tribals to take over alternative cultivable lands in the district if the administration did not heed to their appeal for good quality land. However, the views and activities of the EP were not taken seriously by the administration. The TF remained at best a ‘reporting desk’.41 The members of the EP point out that a fundamental problem was that the objectives of the TF, its powers and responsibilities and those of its members were not clear, which was the root cause of its ineffective functioning.42 The implementation of the programme at the village level remained entirely in the hands of the district officials. Consequently, in Morena, the EP was successful in mobilizing dalits and tribals and spreading awareness about the land distribution programme, many of the respondents had been on many rallies and dharnas organized by the Parishad. But, it could not participate effectively in the distribution programme on the ground and resolve issues such as encroachments and allotment of barren land or litigation as it did in Shivpuri. There was at best a casual interest on the part of the administration in issues raised by the EP. In short, the public–private partnership did not work in the case of Morena district.

Shivpuri District: Effective Partnership in Land Distribution Fieldwork in the sample villages in Shivpuri revealed that the land distribution programme here was more successful than in the other selected districts. A major reason for the difference was the availability of large tracts of surplus land and lower levels of encroachments in Shivpuri than in the other two districts. As Table 6.1 shows, in Shivpuri, 32,165 ha of land was available for distribution, which is higher than in the other selected districts. Moreover, apart from Karera tehsil in Shivpuri district, which receives irrigation water from a nearby

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dam in Dabra tehsil of Gwalior, in all the other tehsils there is shortage of water for cultivation. Much of Shivpuri district also consists of hilly and forested land that requires much hard labour to make the land cultivable. In Morena and Gwalior, with the availability of both irrigation and communication, the demand for land has risen steeply creating intense competition leading to land grabbing and encroachments.43 In Shivpuri the lack of these facilities has meant lower level of encroachments though it has begun to rise in recent years. Moreover, Shivpuri, in contrast to the northern districts, particularly Morena with its proximity to UP, does not have a large middle caste of big landowners. The encroachers here are Gurjars, a hardworking class of agriculturists, who unlike the Brahmins and Thakurs of the northern districts, are prepared to venture into remote hilly areas and have the skill and patience with hard labour to make land cultivable. The Sahariyas, found in large numbers in Shivpuri tehsil, who until recently carried out slash and burn agriculture (Mandal 1984) have encroached upon fertile irrigated lands and were settled by the district administration on the same land. This is also one of the factors for the high percentage of beneficiaries who have received cultivable land and who are in actual possession of that land. Nevertheless, these situational factors cannot detract from two others that are responsible for the higher rate of success of the programme: the sympathetic and efficient role of the district administration and the strong presence of the EP, particularly its local activist Ram Prakash Sharma in Shivpuri tehsil, which made it possible for the District Task Force to play a positive role.44 As described a little later, the district administration tried to ensure that as far as possible only cultivable land was distributed and encroachments were removed. The EP members of the DTF on their part provided information to the DC and other senior officials about availability of land and problems and lapses in the implementation of the programme that were then rectified. The EP also helped the beneficiaries by providing information about the programme and ensuring that they got land that was cultivable, filing applications, providing assistance in making appeals to the local administration, etc. Proper coordination and cooperation from both sides made a public– private partnership possible through the district-level Task Force leading to effective implementation of the programme.

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Sample Villages and Beneficiaries: The Sahariyas In the field study Shivpuri tehsil was selected as it has the highest percentage of Sahariyas among the eight tehsils of the district (MP HDR 2002: 297). The sample of six villages in Shivpuri consisted almost entirely of Sahariyas, as the sample in Morena and Gwalior consisted almost entirely of dalits. Shivpuri has the highest level of urbanization among tehsils, all others being less than 10 per cent but it is backward in many other respects. Rural literacy is lower and except for Narwar it has the lowest sex ratio among the tehsils. It also ranks low in number of agricultural labourers, and particularly in worker participation ratio (MP HDR 2002). Some of the selected villages are small—Mohammadpur has only 55 households— and all are backward in terms of facilities. They all have a primary school but no post office, primary health centre or bus stand, all of which are at least 3 kms away. The nearest town is Shivpuri or Picchore in the case of Mohammadpur. All the villages have electricity but the roads are in poor condition, and wells and handpumps are the only source of drinking water. Some of the villages have large areas of unirrigated arable land and little culturable wasteland. In Baanskheri 11 Sahariya families have formed a small basti within the village called Murti Gram consisting of freed bonded labourers from Ganjh Vasoda in Vidisha rehabilitated by Swami Agnivesh in this area. As in many parts of the tehsil there is serious water problem in Baanskheri village. In all the sample villages the beneficiaries have heard of the EP and many have been to rallies organized by it. All the beneficiaries, as Table 6.4 shows, are Sahariyas except for a few dalits in Mohammadpur and Baraha villages. As the number of beneficiaries in all the villages was small, all of them were interviewed. All of the beneficiaries fall into category 1, but many Sahariyas were settled on land they had encroached and were already tilling in their villages. In four villages the beneficiaries had received land inside the village itself, in the remaining two land was allotted outside the village. Most beneficiaries had received between 2.5 to 5 bighas of land and almost all in comparison with Morena and Gwalior had received joint pattas. There are no appeals or cases of litigation pending in these villages. However, this is not absent in

33/33 55/55 21/21

219

Dadol Baraha Mukhera

Total Percentage

33 Sahariya 32 Sahariya 11SC 34 Sahariya 33 Sahariya 55 Sahariya 1SC 20 Sahariya 12 SC 207 Sahariya

Caste of Sample Beneficiaries

219/0

33/0 55/0 21/0

33/0 32/0 45/0

Category of Beneficiary I/II (No.)

141/78

0/33 55/0 21/0

33/0 32/0 0/45

150/13 62.56

0/0 55/00 21/00

30/0 31/0 13/13

In Possession/ Allotment: Non-cultivable Inside/Outside Plots (No.)

196/56 63.93

33/30 55/00 21/00

33/3 32/1 22/22

Cultivable/ Encroached Plots

23

0 0 0

0 0 23

Noncultivable Plots

Source: Fieldwork in April 2007. Note: In terms of actual possession the percentage of beneficiaries is 62.56, i.e., 150 minus 13 or 137, out of a sample of 219. In terms of beneficiaries with cultivable land the percentage is 63.93, i.e.,196 minus 56 or 140, out of a total sample of 219. The sample is drawn from among those dalits/tribals who have received land under the programme hence it is different in each village.

33/33 32/32 45/45

Baanskheri Shir Baanskheri Mohammadpur

Villages

Beneficiaries in Sample/Total Beneficiaries

Table 6.4 Beneficiaries of Land Distribution in Selected Villages in Shivpuri District, Tehsil Shivpuri (Number and Percentage)

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Shivpuri, as we heard about some cases, particularly appeals against cancellation of pattas in neighbouring villages of Sakalpur-Chand, and Kherai.

Successful Cases Table 6.4 shows that in four out of the six villages surveyed, namely Baanskheri, Shir Baanskheri, Baraha and Mukhera the programme can be described as a success. In these four villages all the land allotted is fertile, no beneficiary has received barren land and the extent of encroachment is very low compared to the sample villages in Morena. In Mukhera there are no landless left in the village. There were encroachments in four villages: Baanskheri, Shir Baanskheri, Mohammadpur and Dadol. However, as the table shows, only in the case of Mohammadpur and Dadol are the number of encroachments high and the land allotted is outside the village, which makes it more difficult for the allottees to gain possession. As in Morena, it is upon the plots allotted outside the village that high level of encroachments were found. In Shir Baanskheri, apart from one plot that was encroached, Sahariyas had earlier encroached upon the land and were cultivating it, and this land was allotted to them. The programme has provided considerable number of Sahariyas with land and they are actually cultivating it. They are happy at having received land; in the words of one of the beneficiaries, ‘we are now getting something to eat’. The table shows that in terms of actual possession the percentage of beneficiaries was 62.56 and in terms of beneficiaries with cultivable land the percentage was 63.93. The number of beneficiaries with uncultivable land is much lower than in Morena and Gwalior because of the efforts of the district administration. During his tenure as district collector, V. L. Kantha Rao defined the rules governing the programme in the broadest terms possible and made full use of the powers delegated to him as the head of the district administration.45 As he pointed out, there is room for ‘much innovation and entrepreneurship’.46 First, if charnoi land was not available then other wasteland in the district/tehsil belonging to the government could be substituted with permission, as the aim was to provide arable land to the landless. Second, the DC can interchange the designated common land in the village with

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other types of land if the former is of poor quality to ensure worthwhile land to the allottee. For example, in many villages the cultivable land is often under use for habitation, roads, and cremation grounds or for school buildings, while the leftover charnoi land is barren. Rao held that a DC has the powers to interchange the two so that the fertile land in the village is used for agriculture whereas the barren land can be deployed for common purposes. Commenting on the work done in Shivpuri, Rao pointed out that much more could have been done if the land records were in better condition which would have shown the availability of land with greater precision. The example of village Dongar where the Task Force headed by the DC used government land lying fallow is described a little later. As part of the land distribution programme the district administration was expected to provide help to the beneficiaries in the form of wheat, seeds, tractors for ploughing land, fertilizers, etc. so that they could adequately prepare the land for cultivation. In Shivpuri the district administration distributed wheat supplied by the state government as in the other sample districts. But it went beyond what was expected in the programme and made special efforts to help those allotted land. Arguing that allotment is only the first step and the district administration has the responsibility to provide assistance to the allottee and funds can be found, two steps were taken by the DC.47 First, funds from existing village schemes such as the Jawahar Rozgar Yojna (JRY) were used to improve cultivable land by building bunds, create common water resources such as small check dams/tanks, provide fertilizer, etc. Tractors were hired to level and plough the fields of all the small farmers. An attempt was made to provide permanent assets such as sickles, ploughs and other required implements/tools to allottees who were cultivating for the first time and did not possess them. Ancillary agricultural activities were also promoted such as poultry and buffalo rearing so that the land allotted could be fully utilized in multiple ways. Second, funds were raised under special projects with 100 per cent subsidy to help the small farmers. Rao obtained a special project of Rs 10 crore from the Government of India for providing tube-wells, dugwells and watershed management as the district suffers from water shortage. During his tenure about

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Rs 3 crore had been spent on such schemes.48 By dovetailing existing schemes with new ones the administration was able to provide considerable assistance, which improved the land allotted in many parts of the district. The efforts were seen in some of the sample villages, particularly Baanskheri and Shir Baanskheri where tractors were provided for tilling the land and efforts made to provide irrigation facilities.

Few Problem Areas However, this does not mean that there are no ‘problem areas’ in the land distribution programme in the sample villages in Shivpuri tehsil though they are fewer than in other selected districts. A problem faced by beneficiaries in two villages— Mohammadpur and Dadol—is that the land allotted is outside the village, often at considerable distance, making it difficult for the beneficiaries to gain possession. In Mohammadpur plots have been allotted in Karai, Dulani and Boodhi Barot villages that are between 10 to 15 kms away. Four pattas allotted to beneficiaries in Karai have been taken by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Public Works Department (PWD) to build a road; another 5 pattas in other villages was similarly taken over and the encroacher was paid for vacating the land. Similarly, in Dadol all the pattas are outside the village in Boodhi Barot. According to the beneficiaries, this is despite the fact that closer to the village there is about 2,000 bighas of wasteland. Big landowners have encroached upon at least 200–300 bighas of land and the remaining is encroached by Sahariyas. The villagers also allege that the forest department has taken over much of the charnoi land. Even in Baanskheri where all the land was allotted inside the village, beneficiaries pointed out that there was charnoi land available in the village, a large part of which is encroached by both Sahariyas and Thakurs. Despite this there are still eight Sahariyas without land in the village. Encroachments are less than, but as difficult to remove as in other districts. In Mohammadpur, as Table 6.4 shows, beneficiaries face the twin problems of uncultivable land and encroachments. Out of 45 plots allotted, 22 are cultivable but all are encroached upon leaving only 13 barren plots in possession. The encroachers are Goswami, that is, Brahmins, and

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Kirars, Kumhars and Sardars. Enquiries revealed that four plots that are cultivable are encroached by a Sardar landowner who in return pays the beneficiaries Rs 750 per year. In Dadol there are encroachments on 30 out of 33 plots allotted to the Sahariyas in Boodhi Barot. None of the beneficiaries has dared to try and gain possession of the land, which is encroached upon by Gurjars, Rawats and Kirars. Even the patwari was not keen to measure the land and had only described the position of the land to the beneficiaries. In Baanskheri, the encroachers are Muslim landowners, and in Shir Baanskheri, Yadavs, or Thakurs, as they are called. In the latter, a Thakur family had encroached on one plot. Amar Lal, the Sahariya to whom it is allotted, held that the patwari did not even bother to measure it properly, as it is difficult to remove an encroacher. However, in Mohamadpur, Dadol and some neighbouring villages such as Birpur, the Sahariyas are planning to encroach upon fertile, vacant forest land closer to their own habitation and replace it with the patta land allotted to them. The EP activist, Ram Prakash Sharma, is encouraging them as he hopes that the administration will eventually agree to grant them legal possession on the forest land.49 In fact, in Dadol some of the Sahariyas who could not take possession of the land allotted in Boodhi Barot have already started cultivating the forest land. Some of the other problems pointed out by many beneficiaries were that the land allotted was not properly measured by the patwari; in some villages they did not receive the wheat or funds distributed by the state government.50 Only some received ploughing tools, etc. However, many of them feel that 2.5 bighas is too small an amount. If they build a house on a part of this land they would be left with hardly a little more than a bigha, which is not economically viable for cultivation. They feel that if they had been allotted at least 5 bighas it would have helped them much more. The government officials, they allege, merely want to show a large number of pattas distributed on paper; they are not concerned about the size and viability of the land for agriculture. In some cases the poorer beneficiaries use the patta as an instrument to fulfill emergency needs. They approach the encroacher for money during periods of hardship as the former, in many cases, has a sharecropping arrangement with the latter, despite having legal possession of the land.

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Rao agreed that the amount of land distributed could at best be used for subsistence agriculture. It must be supplemented by other means of employment and livelihood, which explains his attempts to encourage other income-generating activities such as poultry and cattle rearing. He agreed that education, industrial development, and non-agricultural employment are the means for removing poverty and improving backward districts such as Shivpuri.51

Working of the Task Force Much of the success of the land distribution programme in Shivpuri can be attributed to the effective working of the Task Force. In many districts the TF was set up very late and few meetings were held.52 In contrast, in Shivpuri the TF was set up on September 23, 2000 and met regularly once a month or more often to deal with urgent matters.53 It consisted of five members from the government, five from the EP and five from the Zila Yojana Samiti. Meetings were held between the 2nd to the 5th of each month so that members could attend regularly and villagers knew that applications must be submitted prior to these dates. Held at the collectorate under the chairmanship of the collector, the TF meetings were attended by a number of officials from the tehsil and district such as the SDO and tehsildar of every tehsil, forest officers, deputy collectors, revenue officials of the district, chairman of the zilla panchayat and three–five members drawn from the EP consisting of the district in charge and local activists from all tehsils in Shivpuri.54 A minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 members were present at meetings, which indicates the high level of involvement of district officials. A procedure was established under which applications were invited from villagers which were sent by the DC to the concerned official who was expected to take action and report back in one month.55 Minutes show that the regular meetings of the TF provided a forum for monitoring the ongoing programme in the district; members drew the attention of the concerned officials to lapses, applications from villagers were considered, there was active discussion on the steps to be taken in particular cases, Action Taken Reports were tabled, etc.56 Effective functioning of the TF in Shivpuri was possible because the district administration and the EP joined hands

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to make it an effective mechanism for dealing with problems that arose during the land distribution programme. On the government side it was due to ‘active use’ of this forum by the district administration, an open work culture that encouraged criticism, frank discussion and suggestions, and the fact that the administration maintained open communication with villagers through the TF.57 On their part, the EP members functioned as a channel for applications by villagers to the district administration, and reported back on the implementation of the programme in the tehsils under their charge. Fieldwork indicated that in Shivpuri, while EP has a presence as an organization, it is Ram Prakash Sharma, a dedicated EP activist in Shivpuri tehsil, who has worked tirelessly with the TF to provide land to the Sahariyas. A close personal equation developed between him and Kantha Rao that enabled them to work together. Rao pointed out that he relied on Sharma to provide an independent feedback on the progress of the programme, which helped him to take necessary action and often, corrective steps.58 The EP also used the forum provided by the TF to raise problems specific to Shivpuri such as conversion of forest land to revenue land, assuring actual possession to STs in Shivpuri, settling all court cases involving STs in a time-bound manner, etc. A list of these issues was presented in written form to the Task Force by Rakesh Dikshit, senior EP member in charge of Shivpuri and member of the Task Force in the district (see Table 2 in the appendix to this chapter). A perusal of the minutes of some of the meetings of the TF shows that many of the issues raised pertain to aspects we had encountered during the survey: need to remove encroachments, provide good quality land, appeals for proper measurement of land, need to improve the quality of land allotted, etc. Ekta Parishad members, particularly Sharma, introduced numerous applications/appeals from SC/ST beneficiaries who faced problems, which were considered by the DC. They also drew attention to lapses in the implementation of the programme. For example, in the meeting held on August 11, 2002, they pointed out that measurement of the land allotted had not been carried out in villages in Karai, Kolaras, Pohari and Pichore tehsils despite applications by beneficiaries. Officials were called upon to explain why this had not happened and to

244 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

take action where necessary. The EP members were also active in pointing out where land was available for distribution. On their advice it was decided to build a dam at villages Mudhena and Raishri for irrigation. At the meeting the collector assigned cases to various officials of the revenue and other departments for action, which was recorded in the minutes for follow up afterwards.59 Table 6.5 provides an example of the type and number of applications made by beneficiaries and their resolution by the administration. The process began quite early in September 2000 when the DTF was formed. As the table shows, the largest number of problems arose on obtaining undisputed division and possession of the land allotted followed by the oftenmentioned problem of measurement. While the former two were resolved easily by the district administration, measurement of the land proved to be problematic. However, unlike in many other districts, in Shivpuri the DTF took cognizance of such issues, discussed and attempted to resolve them. During the meetings held in 2003 problems arising out of the ongoing and rapid land distribution programme in the district were extensively reviewed and resolved. In the meeting held on March 15, 2003, Ram Prakash Sharma moved a resolution that by April 2003 the measurement of all the land allotted so far should be completed so as to provide actual possession. The DC immediately asked all the tehsildars to undertake this responsibility and report back to the Task Force. As a result, this process was undertaken speedily. Many complaints were Table 6.5 Applications Presented by the EP to the Task Force between September 1, 2000 to March 31, 2001 in Tehsil Shivpuri Serial

Type of Application

1 2 3 4 5 Total

Undisputed Possession Disputed Possession Measurement Undisputed Division Disputed Division

No. Obtained

Resolved

155 32 141 425 50 803

155 14 21 425 40 655

Left – 18 120 – 10 148

Source: Task Force Papers, Shivpuri, provided by Ram Prakash Sharma, member DTF, Shivpuri (Translation from Hindi my own).

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made in TF meetings concerning irregularities or tasks not completed; in villages Lalpur, Langda, Pachavali, Lukwasa and others, pattadars had not yet been able to gain possession, and in village Dhekua in Kolaras tehsil it was reported that illegal pattas had been allotted. In the meeting held in March 2003, EP members also pointed out that as much as 21,000 ha of arable land in the district which was cultivated by small landowners between 1960 and 1980 was now shown as forest land in the records. They were advised to produce the records, and if it were found true an attempt would be made to rectify the mistakes. In villages Karodi, Barodi and Ainpura, Sahariyas were given land for building houses. Similarly, in the meeting held on May 14, 2003 it was reported that in villages Nizampur and Barkhadi, among others, no pattas were given so far to the landless. In all cases the DC issued orders that the irregularity should be removed or the task should be speedily undertaken. As mentioned earlier, the district administration tried to provide facilities to the beneficiaries in order to improve the land allotted. A range of issues from provision of water, cleaning of village ponds to provision of wheat to agriculturists during the lean season, was taken up and solutions attempted. Such issues were discussed in a number of meetings and took up a lot of the TF’s time.60 In the meeting held on March 15, 2003, the DC emphasized that facilities for irrigation and credit should be provided immediately to all the landless SCs/STs who had been recently allotted land. The members of the EP were requested to oversee this effort on the part of the administration and report back. In subsequent meetings a review of the work done was also taken up. In the meeting on May 14, 2003, following reports of severe water problems in villages in Narwar and Kotak tehsil, the DC ordered the installation of hand pumps and motors to wells where water was available. On a report by EP activists that drinking water for cattle was a serious problem in many villages with the onset of the hot weather, the DC directed the sarpanch that the panchayat use the money allotted to them to resolve the problem. Tractors were allotted to villages where the land required leveling and tilling prior to cultivation. This helped the Sahariyas who had few means to use such facilities on their own.

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Many reports by EP activists on problems faced by SC/ST beneficiaries in the villages were speedily addressed. A few examples demonstrate this: Ram Prakash Sharma’s request that in villages Bhangad, Satanwada, Survaya and Subashpura the fodder depot had been shut down and should be kept open until the rains started to prevent scarcity was agreed to and the veterinary department asked to take action. On reports by EP members that wheat meant to cover the lean dry months was available but it was not being distributed, orders were issued to all officers on tour to see that it was distributed. On the request by EP members in village Karsena an old pond was deepened and desilted to collect rainwater. The DC issued orders that all such old ponds in villages should be made usable to prevent water shortage. However, the allotment of land in Dongar, a village lying close to the sample villages, provides the best example of the attempt by the TF to provide cultivable land to all the potential beneficiaries of the programme. In Dongar, the land available for distribution was of poor quality. Ram Prakash Sharma informed the DC that cultivable land belonging to a nonfunctioning Krishi Sahakari Sanstha (Agricultural Cooperative Society) close to the village created almost 40 years ago by the government was lying vacant. As it was government land, and the cooperative was not functioning, the DC decided to gain permission and distribute this land to the landless SCs/STs in Dongar village. As a result, 102 landless persons—Sahariyas and Jatavs—received land. Most were given 1 ha, except for a few who received 2 ha. Sixty-four of the pattas were given to beneficiaries residing in the village while the remaining 38 were given to those residing in surrounding villages, such as Mamoni, mostly to Jatavs. All the pattas allotted were cultivable. The official records show that all the beneficiaries were given actual possession but the investigation in the village revealed that in 15 cases there are encroachments.61 The Dongar example shows that it is possible for the district administration to take positive steps to distribute land. Elected members of the district panchayat who were members of the TF also played a role. In the meeting held on August 11, 2002 the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the zilla panchayat, Shivpuri district, tabled a number of applications

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from villagers in the district for the consideration of the tehsildar—for distribution of land, exchange of pattas, request for pattas within their own village, cancellation of pattas, granting of pattas to outsiders in villages such as Udwaya, Barkhedi that had a number of landless eligible persons, etc. Both drew attention to villages where the Sahariyas were still landless and awaiting land from the government. Maya Jatav, a member, tabled a letter from Kaluva Jatav of village Ramgarh in tehsil Kolaras who had been promised land, but had not yet obtained a form nor had any attempt been made to identify and measure the land to be given to him.62 The collector asked the concerned officials present to look into these matters and provide a report at the next meeting. Directions were given to the tehsildar to provide land to all the landless SCs/STs in villages where it was available and had not been done and to find out why it was not given so far.63 At the meeting it was decided that where available pattas to ponds for fishery could be given only to SCs/STs and not others. In the meeting held on September 11, 2003 there was discussion on the issue of encroachments and how the administration should deal with it and the distribution of barren and rocky land to the Sahariyas and the need to provide better land in exchange. Action Taken Reports were discussed; in the meeting held on November 13, 2003 the tehsildar reported that in village Sairona in tehsil Pichore five persons who had not been able to gain possession of their land had been provided possession. Thus the TF played the role of a watchdog for the district administration during the land distribution programme in Shivpuri and this fact underlies the large amount of land distributed in the district.

Rajgarh District: Social Conflict Over Land Distribution As in Shivpuri considerable land was distributed in Rajgarh due to a pro-active and sympathetic district collector keen to provide land to the dalits/tribals. The land distribution programme had begun in 1998 itself as in Shivpuri, but it speeded up following the Bhopal Conference in January 2002. However, in contrast to Shivpuri, the district experienced violent conflicts around the issue of land distribution between the

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dominant landowning middle castes and the landless dalits. In a number of districts including Rajgarh, between January and October 2002 acts of violence against the beneficiaries of land allotment are reported in police records from 62 villages. Dalits and tribals, emboldened by the steps taken by the Congress government and promises made at the Bhopal Conference, retaliated, worsening the situation. Rajgarh experienced a number of incidents because a large amount of charnoi land was distributed in this district between 2000 and 2002 amounting to over 30,000 ha (Deshbandhu, August 19, 2002). The basic reason underlying the violent conflict in Rajgarh is the same as in the other sample districts: charnoi land was already encroached upon in the villages and the middle castes were not willing to surrender it to the dalits. Competition and conflict between the upper and lower castes over land, which is a scarce resource, has a long history in the state. The initiative by the Digvijay Singh government to distribute charnoi land and the attempt by the district administration to ensure that dalits gained actual possession of the land intensified already existing conflicts. In Rajgarh, from the very beginning, the upper castes had strongly resented the policy of allotment of land to the dalits and tribals and in 2002 began to actively oppose it leading to many dalits being killed. Two immediate reasons sparked off the violence in Rajgarh. First was the attempt by the district administration to remove all encroachments and provide actual possession to dalit/tribal beneficiaries. Second, the land distribution policy in 2002–3 became highly politicized prior to the state assembly elections of 2003, which, in a situation already charged with hostility between the landed middle castes and the landless dalits, led to conflicts that spread over a large part of the district.64 The district forms the parliamentary constituency of Digvijay Singh and prior to the 2003 state assembly elections, the BJP, with the help of the RSS and the Bajrang Dal, mobilized the middle castes against the land distribution policy, who, already unhappy with it, used violence against the dalits. During these rounds of conflict over land distribution, the five villages in the sample experienced high levels of conflict, many big landowners belonging to the OBCs were jailed, and one was convicted for the murder of a dalit. The selected villages are

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hence representative of social conflict over land in the state due to increasing political dominance of the OBCs and rising social awareness among the dalits.

Selected Villages The five selected villages of Khedi, Lasudia Maharaj (henceforth Lasudia), Selapani, Latahedi and Punarkhedi are in Narsingarh, Biora, Rajgarh, Sarangpur and Biora tehsils, respectively. All the villages lie between 90 to 130 kms from Bhopal.65 They exhibit characteristics typical of villages in Rajgarh district. Small in size, they consist of a number of dispersed hamlets and most are not on the main road and cut off from the rest of the district. However, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (Prime Minister’s Rural Road Programme) is now rapidly connecting them with the national highway.66 They all have about 100 to 200 households with about 40–60 dalit households. All of them have at least a primary school, Lasudia has a middle school and Punarkhedi has a middle and high school. None have any public facilities such as post office, bus stop or health centre but all have handpumps for drinking water. The dalit bustees looked much poorer than those in Morena and Gwalior. In some villages such as Punarkhedi the dalits are spread through the village, but the Chamar, Balmiki and Balahi tolas are separate reflecting the lack of unity among dalits in the village. Yadavs and Dangis form the dominant landowning social group while the dalits form a small minority, traditionally landless in this region.67 The former have encroached all the fertile land in the village. In none of these villages have the OBC landowners been paying jurmana or fine as in Morena. In Punarkhedi some dalits received land about 20 years ago during the regime of Arjun Singh when land was distributed to dalits. However, the amount was very small and it is now divided among many brothers. All the sample villages still have some charnoi land—between 30 and 60 bighas—but it is under the control of the Yadavs and Dangis. Consequently, in every village there are at least 5–10 landless dalit families who complain that they were not given land. In Punarkhedi some of them complained that they were not told about the land distribution programme and failed to fill in the necessary

250 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

application forms. In Lasudia some alleged that it was due to the influence exerted by the Dangis on the patwari. There is little common land left without encroachment in these villages and cattle have to be grazed in their own fields or at home in stalls. There were complaints that there is now no space left for even roads due to encroachments and allotments in these villages. The dalits consist mainly of Chamars, with a few households of Balahi, Mehtar, Balmiki, Varma, Malvi, etc. All the beneficiaries were practically illiterate though a few claimed they had been to school for a few years. As the plots allotted to the dalits are small, in fact, as the study shows, less than the amount mentioned in the pattas, they find it necessary to work outside the village on road building and construction sites to maintain their families. Most of the beneficiaries do not have Green Cards and are unaware of these cards. In order to improve the land allotted, all of them received three quintals of wheat but no other help from the government. In all the sample villages the beneficiaries as well as the middle castes were aware of the wave of conflicts that swept the Malwa region.68 While a few had read about it in the newspaper others had heard about it from neighbouring villages. The Chamars of Rajgarh are much more passive compared to those of Morena district. Smaller in numbers in most villages, residing in remote villages in a backward district and in the absence of a dalit party like the BSP, they have much lower levels of awareness and do not migrate in search of jobs as the Chamars in Morena.69 The dalits in the district are divided into many sub-castes separating them. Traditionally landless, with no other source of employment, they have been dependent and tied labourers to the Dangi or Yadav landowners, who are opposed to land distribution, as it would remove a source of readily available cheap and exploitable labour. Fieldwork in the sample villages revealed that the caste system and feudal values remain deeply entrenched. A reason for this and the lower levels of assertion by the dalits are the strong presence of the BJP and the RSS in the district, which encourages the middle castes to behave in an oppressive manner.70 Moreover, the EP does not have a network in Rajgarh, which could have helped the dalits/tribals during the land distribution programme.

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However, in recent years there have been simmerings of protest beneath the surface by the dalits as a result of which when the land distribution policy was implemented they were keen to own land and throw off their dependence on the Dangis. The latter on the other hand were keen to continue the earlier feudal relationship and opposed the land distribution policy. The violent incidents in these villages have introduced significant changes. Dalit beneficiaries pointed out that while a feudal attitude always existed and they maintained a distance from the Yadavs and Dangis, since they were given land by the government, open ill-treatment in the form of abuse, hitting and berating has become very common. However, most beneficiaries held that it is not so much ‘jatiwad’ (caste discrimination) as an attempt to prevent land from coming under the control of dalits. They feel that during the period of the Congress government under Digvijay Singh there was a difference. Government officials dealt with them more sympathetically and even the OBCs—apart from the period of the social conflict—were more wary about treating them badly. At the same time the violent incidents have increased social and political awareness among the dalits making them more aggressive. Following the violence, in Khedi and Lasudia village the dalits no longer work on the lands of the Dangis. They prefer to cultivate their own fields and supplement it with labour outside the village. An air of hostility still permeates the villages and affects relationships between the two sides. Hence, the beginnings of assertion can be witnessed which the BSP, following its victory in UP in March–April 2007, is trying to take advantage of. During the fieldwork we were told about rallies being held in the district by the party and many dalits were keen to attend them.

Sample of Beneficiaries Table 6.6 provides the sample of beneficiaries in the five selected villages. As these are small villages all the beneficiaries were covered. The total sample of beneficiaries in the five villages was 133. Most of the beneficiaries are Chamars with some Balahi, Balmiki or Mehtar, Varma, Malwi and a few families of STs consisting of the Bhils, or Bheels, as they are locally called. All the beneficiaries had heard of the land distribution programme from the patwari or from community members

24/24 33/33

133

Selapani Latahedi

Total

14 Chamar 17 Chamar 7 Bhil, 2 Balmiki 2 Balahi, 34 Chamar 24 Chamar 31 Chamar 1 Malwi, 1 Varma 133

Caste of Sample Beneficiaries

131/2

23/1 32/1

14/0 17/0 45/0

Category of Beneficiary I/II

133/0

24/0 33/0

14/0 17/0 45/0

Allotment: Inside/ Outside

133/3 97.74

24/0 33/1

14/0 17/2 45/0

130/80 37.59

24/2 32/33

14/0 15/1 45/44

In Possesion/ NonCultivable/ cultivable Encroached* Plots (No.) Plots (No.)

3/many plots are partly cultivable

All partly cultivable 1/ 32 partly cultivable

0 2/15 partly cultivable All partly cultivable

Non-cultivable Plots/partly Cultivable

3

1 1

0 0 1

Number of Appeals/ Litigation

Source: Fieldwork August 26 to September 1, 2007. Note: * All plots are partly e encroached. In terms of possession the actual beneficiaries are 97.74%, i.e., 133 minus 3 or 130, out of a total sample of 133. In terms of cultivable land the actual beneficiaries are 37.59%, i.e., 130 minus 80 or 50, out of a sample of 133. The sample is drawn from among those dalits/tribals who have received land under the programme and hence is different in each village.

14/14 17/17 45/45

Khedi Lasudia Punarkhedi

Villages

Beneficiaries in Sample/ Total Beneficiaries

Table 6.6 Beneficiaries of Land Distribution in Selected Villages in Rajgarh District Tehsils: Narsingarh, Biora, Rajgarh and Sarangpur (Number and Percentage)

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in the neighbouring villages. With two exceptions in villages Selapani and Latahedi, all the beneficiaries in the other villages belong to category I, that is, they did not own land earlier and almost all the pattas given are joint. All the plots have been allotted inside the villages and they range from 2 to 3 bighas of land. In Rajgarh, in all the sample villages, almost all dalits who had been allotted land were in possession, most of the plots allotted were cultivable and were not outside the village. The best example of this, as Table 6.6 shows, is Khedi village where, out of a total of 14 beneficiaries, all were in possession and had good quality land. There were no appeals or litigation in the village either. However, in Lasudia two plots and in Latahedi one plot were not cultivable out of a total of 17 and 33 plots allotted respectively. In the case of the former the land was stony and of poor quality, while in the latter case the land was low-lying—being a water pond for most of the year—making cultivation impossible. There were three appeals/cases pending in the sample villages dealt with later. However, this does not mean that the sample villages in Rajgarh district are free of the twin problems of encroachment and poor land visible everywhere in MP. Rather, here the problem, as described later, has taken a different form, which underlies the violent conflicts in them.

Partial Encroachments through Socio-economic Control In Rajgarh district due to the presence of a sympathetic and efficient district collector, J. N. Kansotiya, committed to the programme, the local administration tried to distribute land to landless dalits/tribals and remove all encroachments prior to giving the beneficiaries actual possession.71 Between 1997 and 1999 Kansotiya, as district collector in Chattarpur district, was one of the first officers to distribute as much as 22,000 ha of land in two years which is 70–80 per cent of the total charnoi land available for distribution to dalits in the district. Appointed in 1999 as collector in Rajgarh district, he was able to distribute 28,000 ha by the end of 2002. Kansotiya, unlike many other officers, argues that it is possible to remove encroachments and allot land to dalits if the local administration is willing and committed to do so.72 However, in Rajgarh district

254 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

he faced two kinds of problems: hostility from landowning OBCs such as Dangis and Yadavs and opposition from local political leaders including those belonging to the Congress party. Thus, the problems in Rajgarh were social and political in nature. An analysis of the implementation of the pattern of land distribution in the five sample villages makes this clear. There are no encroachments ‘visible’ in the sample villages and on paper all dalits are in possession of the land allotted.73 In terms of possession, as Table 6.6 shows, the actual beneficiaries are 97.74 per cent, that is, 130 out of a total sample of 133. But in actual fact, apart from Khedi, in all the other villages, almost all the land is partially encroached. As the table shows, in Lasudia one, Selapani two, Latahedi 33 and Punarkhedi 44 plots were partially encroached upon by the local big landowners consisting of the Dangis, or in some cases the Yadavs. The most complaints were heard in Punarkhedi. As Mangi Lal and Kalabai of Punarkhedi argued, out of the 3 and 4 bighas allotted to each of them, at least 1.5 bigha was encroached upon. This was because the neighbouring plots either belonged to or were already encroached upon by the Dangis who were not prepared to give up an inch of land to the dalits. There were perhaps more beneficiaries whose lands were partly encroached but were afraid to complain, as they were afraid of the consequences. In Selapani particularly, due to the violent conflict and murder that took place, there is still a palpable sense of hostility and fear, which keeps the dalits quiet. Second, although the pattas mention the exact amount allotted to each beneficiary, they point out that in almost all cases the land was not properly measured by the patwari, but merely indicated by a ‘straight line’ as a result of which most plots were actually much less than the 2–4 bighas they were allotted.74 The patwari was either scared or preferred to avoid conflict, or as the beneficiaries alleged, took money from the Dangis to give them smaller plots. In some cases even after the land was allotted the Dangis encroached upon neighbouring plots allotted to dalits and used it to store their harvest or graze their cattle, and the latter were unable to protest or do anything about it. In Latahedi beneficiaries alleged that they had to pay money to the patwari to get land, as a result there remain about

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five families who did not get land as they could not pay. They also pointed out that the Yadavs paid money to the patwari and got back some of the land they had encroached, which had been cleared and allotted to the dalits. In Lasudia, one of the beneficiaries pointed out that the patwari did not give him land and it was only after he went to the tehsil headquarters and met the SDM personally that he was allotted land. Thus, these villages experienced encroachment, which was not ‘legally visible’ and different from the ‘open encroachments’ on entire plots seen in Morena and Gwalior. The beneficiaries pointed out that there was little they could do about this state of affairs as they were economically dependent upon the Dangis and Yadavs for employment and were also afraid of retaliation. They agreed that they felt economically somewhat better-off as they had some land on which they could grow food, which also provided them a sense of security. But at the same time they remain very frustrated and unhappy that they have not obtained the full benefit of the programme by tilling all the land allotted to them. It was this sense of frustration and anger that led them to retaliate when the OBCs let their cattle into their standing crops leading to fighting in all the villages. Despite the presence of honest and efficient senior officers, partial encroachments were possible due to high levels of bribery and corruption in which the patwaris of the district played a dubious role. During the tenure of Kansotiya at least 25 patwaris in the district were suspended and a few were dismissed from service for bribery or not allotting land correctly.75 Following the violent incidents that took place in these villages, based on appeals made by beneficiaries, an enquiry was held into the allotment of plots, which revealed the role played by the patwaris. Patwari Shivnarain Mandloi (Sarangpur), on a complaint by a villager of having taken a bribe to allot land, was jailed on July 7, 2002. Subsequently, the district administration cancelled all the pattas allotted by him. In village Selapani Patwari Mangelal Malviya was jailed for having taken a bribe from a dalit, Dheeraj, and not giving him the land. Dheeraj subsequently committed suicide out of frustration. The administration found that Patwari Pokhraj in Latahedi had taken bribes to return land to the Yadavs and the district collector suspended him. In the enquiry it was established that

256 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

in some villages including Latahedi the patwari had taken money from the middle-caste landowners and they were able to keep some of the land they had encroached upon. In Selapani and Latahedi the patwari was suspended for not measuring the land properly (Dainik Bhaskar, August 19, 2002). A few persons were allotted land after the enquiry, but no major changes were made in the pattern of land distribution as the elections intervened and the term of the Digvijay Singh government was over. The reasons for the encroachments and pattern of land distribution in the sample villages in Rajgarh are historical and now difficult to rectify. Traditionally, Rajgarh was a district in which the villages had a great deal of charnoi land, as it is a flat and fertile plain unlike Morena, which has ravines and stony soil.76 In the post-independence period, following the failure of land reform to distribute land to the disadvantaged and poorer sections, much of this gradually came under the control of the landowning dominant Dangis and Yadavs, many of them now part of the socially oppressive and politically powerful group of OBCs. In some of the villages the encroachments are more recent and some even took place after the announcement of the land distribution programme. Consequently, many of the Yadavs own 50–100 bighas of land and are not prepared to give up land to the dalits. The Yadavs feel that if the latter were to obtain land they might stop working on their fields as has happened in Khedi, following the violent conflict between the two sides. Some of the beneficiaries in the sample villages agreed that distribution of charnoi land was not a good policy as now no land is left even for roads in the village. They also felt that while on the one hand they had gained land, encroachments had increased and conflict had also risen disturbing the peace of the village. In Punarkhedi, the scene of much conflict, almost all the charnoi land has been distributed. As a result the OBCs now walk through the fields of the dalits making it a common path for all. As a result the latter suffer both indignities as well as loss of that part of the land. In some cases the cattle of the OBCs also graze on the lands of the dalits and there is little they can do about it. These developments have increased after the distribution of land and the conflict, making the situation

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worse for the dalits. In Latahedi some beneficiaries unhappy with the violence argued that providing employment was better than giving land. They pointed out that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme—working near the village during the fieldwork and paying them Rs 63 per day—provided cash and did not lead to conflict in the village.

The Problem of ‘Partly Cultivable’ Land A second problem, which contributed to the discontent of the dalits in the sample villages, was that the plots allotted are ‘partly cultivable’, that is, some parts are stony and uneven. Consequently, many beneficiaries are cultivating on only a part of the land allotted. In Lasudia 15 out of 17, in Latahedi 32 out 33, and in Punarkhedi and Selapani all plots were described as ‘partly cultivable’. In Latahedi one of the plots allotted was completely barren and could not be cultivated. In terms of cultivable land, as Table 6.6 shows, the actual beneficiaries are only 37.59 per cent, that is, 50 out of a sample of 133. Further probing revealed that the dalits were disillusioned and dissatisfied over being allotted the left-over poorer quality land after the Dangis and Yadavs had over a period of time taken over the most fertile and well-watered lands of the village. In fact, the portion of each individual plot encroached upon by the Yadavs and Dangis was the fertile section; while the portion left for the dalits was of poorer quality and difficult to cultivate, or in some cases barren. This explains the partial encroachment by the Yadavs and Dangis. The land under the control of the dalits had not been cultivated for a long time, it was uneven and stony in parts, which meant that tremendous labour and money would be required to make it cultivable to yield a crop. Consequently, the dalits in the sample even today feel cheated, as they have not been able to gain as much as they had hoped from the programme. A second problem is that these plots are far away from the water sources of the village such as the river, wells and ponds. The dalits cannot afford pumpsets and borewells to irrigate their land and therefore are not in a position to gain full benefit from the land allotted. The beneficiaries are hence cultivating only parts of the land and gradually improving the rest, a longdrawn-out process in which they allege they have received little

258 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

help from the government.77 In Latahedi some beneficiaries pointed out that they were entirely dependent upont the rain. In Khedi at least two beneficiaries pointed out that due to lack of funds (or fear of being targeted by the OBCs) they had not been able to cultivate their lands during the first two years after allotment and are only now beginning to make an effort. In Lasudia all the land allotted to the dalits is in the dry and rocky area of the village, while the watered area is under encroachment. It is possible to tap water by digging a borewell but this would involve expenditure, which they cannot afford. Badri Lal of Lasudia pointed out that he would need at least Rs 50,000 to make his land cultivable and irrigated. In 2004 the BJP government began the Akal Yojana of digging wells to provide irrigation to the dry areas of the district, but work on it has been slow. Appeals and litigation against encroachments are however few in Rajgarh district despite encroachments and poor quality land. A total of three appeals/litigations were found in the sample villages. In Selapani, Hajarilal was allotted 4 bighas of land, which he cultivated for about three years following which a Yadav who claimed he had a patta to the land had encroached on it. Hajarilal has instituted a case in the civil court at the tehsil headquarters and two hearings have been held so far. The real reason for the encroachment is that the land in question is of good quality and had been considerably improved by Hajarilal, which made it attractive to the Yadav landlord. Thus encroachments continue to be made on the lands of the dalits even after the allotment of the land. In Latahedi the land allotted to Vikram Singh is under water most of the year forming a pond as it is low-lying ground. He has made many appeals to the district collector and the tehsildar but no avail. He alleges that the present administration does not listen to the dalits; during the Congress regime many dalits were successful in changing the land allotted on similar grounds.

Violence Over Land Distribution It was in this atmosphere of unhappiness on the part of the dalits and growing antagonism of the middle castes that political developments in July–August 2002 sparked off the violence present just beneath the surface in the sample villages in

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Rajgarh and some other districts. Movements by the BJP against the land distribution programme and a series of judgements by the MP High Court critical of the programme encouraged the middle castes and eventually led to large-scale violence against the dalits.78 The violence was planned by the OBCs who decided to teach the dalits a lesson. The violence began in Selapani where on July 30, 2002, unhappy at the failure to gain possession of land allotted to him, despite bribing the patwari, a dalit youth committed suicide. The incident created widespread unhappiness in Rajgarh district, despite the fact that two patwaris were jailed for taking the bribe from the youth. Following the judgement of the High Court in August 2007, the violent conflict spread rapidly in the sample villages: Lasudia on August 9; Selapani and Punarkhedi on August 10; and Latahedi and Khedi on August 12, 2007.79 In all these villages the pattern of violence was similar. Most of the dalits had received land in 2001 and by August 2002 they had managed to grow a first crop. Due to good rainfall in 2002 the crop in the villages was good which aroused the jealousy of the Yadavs and Dangis already unhappy at the dalits gaining land. They destroyed the standing crop by either sending their cattle into the fields or burning it in some places. As soon as the cattle were led into the fields, dalits opposed it and fighting and violence spread rapidly through the villages.80 The news spread and in Selapani and other villages there was fighting between the Yadavs and the dalits but the police and the district collector intervened in time to prevent a major incident. However, in Latahedi they were not in time to prevent the murder of Ghisalal, a dalit panch. Even today in Latahedi there remains a palpable air of hostility towards the dalits who continue to work for the upper/middle castes. As one of the women pointed out ‘if we keep our mouths shut and work on their fields there is no problem. But if we ask questions and raise issues then there can be real trouble.’81 The Yadavs remain hostile to the idea of giving land to the dalits though some of them regret the violence. As Nanhe Singh, a Yadav from Latahedi, ruefully admitted, ‘we thought we could take over all the land so we fought, and Ghisalal died’.82 Singh’s son is still in jail and will be released shortly. Singh strongly feels that the policy was incorrect as the Yadavs and Dangi had

260 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

cultivated the land for a long period of time. The role of the BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal in encouraging the OBCs against the dalits, the impact of the court judgements, the action taken by the government and the political impact on the 2003 state assembly elections is dealt with in detail in Chapter 10.

Gwalior District: Medium Success The land distribution programme in Gwalior was not as successful as in Shivpuri but its performance was better than in Morena. As many as 43.28 per cent of the beneficiaries were able to obtain actual possession and similarly, about 43.28 per cent beneficiaries received land that was cultivable. Although it is a small district, over 4,000 ha were distributed to dalits and tribals. It is important to note that while the sample had more dalits, it also had a number of Sahariyas who were settled on land they had encroached earlier. While the twin problems of encroachments and uncultivable land were not absent, the numbers were definitely much lower. As a result appeals and litigation in the sample villages in the district and hostility between the dalits and landowing middle castes were much less than in Joura. However, the investigations revealed some ‘hidden’ problems, which indicate that the impact of the programme on the dalits/tribals was not as beneficial as the figures suggest. In some of the villages good quality land is available but the poorer land was distributed; landless dalits remain in some villages despite land being available for distribution; mortgages and some form of sharecropping on land allotted to Sahariyas was reported; and in some cases land allotted was sold. Despite these problems, in the sample, Gwalior district falls in the ‘medium’ category where the land distribution programme achieved a modicum of success. Fieldwork suggests that two factors were responsible for the programme performing much better than in Morena. More fertile land was available in the Gwalior region than in Chambal, which has ravines and rocky tracts, and encroachments on charnoi land are lower. Further away from the Bundelkhand-Baghelkhand region, the district does not have a large, oppressive, landowning middle caste as in Morena. Consequently, the administration found it easier to achieve the targets set by the programme. As officials admitted, fertile

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land was available and many dalits and tribals were settled on land they had already encroached upon. Gwalior is a much more developed district than Morena and more employment opportunities are available in the urban areas making the pressure on land not so intense, though it is not absent. At the same time, the EP was not as active in Morena and its villagelevel activists did not take much interest in the programme. Nor did the DTF play an active role as in Shivpuri; the administration was responsible for the implementation of the programme.

Sample Villages Two tehsils, Bhitarwar and Gird, in Gwalior district and seven villages within them were selected for field study.83 Gwalior is a more developed district than the others; Bhitarwar represents the rural areas while Gird has the features of the urbanized section of the district. Five of the villages—Kishoregarh, Banwar, Mastura, Urva and Pura—are in Bhitarwar, while the remaining two—Kalwaha and Samrai—are in Gird. More villages were selected in Bhitarwar as it has larger number of dalits and tribals in the population, more land has been distributed here and it is a more rural tehsil with only 13.6 per cent of urbanization while in Gird urbanization is much higher being 73.6 per cent. The percentage of literacy is also lower in Bhitarwar, literacy among women is almost half compared to Gird, though there is not much difference in the percentage of literacy in the rural areas of the two tehsils. The percentage of agricultural workers and worker participation ratio is also higher in Bhitarwar. However, sex ratio is higher in the more backward tehsil of Bhitarwar than in Gird (MP HDR 2002: 193). Except for Mastura, which is 12 kms from Bhitarwar town, all the sample villages are in the interior, the nearest town being Gwalior, which in the case of Kalwah is 57 kms away. The population in the villages ranges from barely 118 in Kalwah, which has only 14 households to a little over 2,400 persons in the case of Mastura. Compared to Shivpuri there were fewer Sahariyas in the selected villages; out of the total sample of 201, 115 were dalits and 86 were Sahariyas. All the villages have at least one primary school; only Mastura and Urwa have a middle school. Mastura and Urwa have a post office and two villages have a bus stand also. In the other villages the

262 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

post office, bus stand and primary health centre are situated outside the village, about 2 kms away in neighbouring villages. All the villages are dependent on wells and handpumps. The cultivable waste in the sample villages is not much except in Kalwah and Urwa and apart from Kishoregarh in all the villages considerable agricultural land is not irrigated. None of the villages have a pucca road leading to the main road. In Samrai the Rajiv Gandhi Watershed scheme was implemented and some land was given for this scheme. Table 6.7 provides information about the sample of beneficiaries of the land distribution policy interviewed in the selected villages of Gird and Bhitarwar tehsils. As the number of beneficiaries is not high, all of them totaling 201 were interviewed. Apart from 86 Sahariyas in Kishoregarh, Banwar Mastura and Urwa, all the other beneficiaries are dalits, mainly Jatavs with some Kolis, Valmikis, Dhanuks and Parihars. The beneficiaries fall mainly into category I except for some in Pura, Banwar, Mastura and Urwa. Not many families have received joint pattas but some women have received pattas in their individual names. As many as 195 beneficiaries in the total sample have received Green Cards, the largest number being in Mastura and Banwar, with none in Kalwaha. Out of 201 only eight beneficiaries—in Banwar—have received land outside their village, an aspect much appreciated by the beneficiaries. The number of uncultivable plots is only 71 and in three villages, Urwa, Samrai and Kalwaha, there are no uncultivable plots. As a result 158 persons are in possession of which only 70 plots are uncultivable, mainly in Kishoregarh, Banwar and Mastura. Out of 130 cultivable plots only 43 are encroached, mainly in Banwar and Mastura. Both the actual beneficiaries possession-wise and cultivable-wise are 43.28 per cent which is higher than in the villages in Morena but lower than in Shivpuri district. The reasons for the performance of the programme in the individual villages are discussed later.

Medium Level of Encroachments and Uncultivable Land In the selected villages in the Gird and Bhitarwar tehsils, as Table 6.7 shows, the incidence of encroachments is lower than in Morena. Though there are encroachments mainly in

32 3 7 12

201

Urva Kalwaha Samrai Pura

Total Percentage

16 Jatavs18 Sahariyas 34 Jatavs 29 Sahariyas 29 Jatavs 1Koli 2 Valmikis 7 Dhanuks 11 Sahariyas 28 Sahariyas 4 Jatavs 3 Parihars 5 Jatavs 2 Kolis 11Jatavs 1 Koli 115 Dalits 86 Sahariyas

Caste of Beneficiaries in Sample

179/22

28/4 3/0 7/0 11/1

34/0 50/13 46/4

193/8

32/0 3/0 7/0 12/0

34/0 55/8 50/0

158/71 43.28

31/0 0/0 6/0 4/9

34/31 49/13 34/17

130/43 43.28

32/1 3/3 6/1 3/8

3/0 50/14 33/16

Category In of Allotment: Possesion/ Cultivable/ Beneficiary Inside/ Non-cultivable Encroached I/II Outside Plots (No.) Plots (No.)

71 35.32

0 0 1 9

31 13 17

Noncultivable Plots

2/7

0/0 0/0 0/0 0/2

0/0 1/5 1/0

Number of Appeals/ Litigation

Source: Fieldwork in March–April 2007. Note: In terms of possession actual beneficiaries are 43.28%, i.e., 158 minus 71 or 87, out of a sample of 201. In terms of cultivable land actual beneficiaries are 43.28%, i.e.,130 minus 43 or 87, out of a sample of 201.

34 63 50

Kishoregarh Banwar Mastura

Villages

Beneficiaries in Sample/ Total Beneficiaries

Table 6.7 Beneficiaries of Land Distribution in Selected Villages of Gwalior District Tehsils, Bhitarwar and Gird (Number and Percentage)

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Banwar, Mastura, Kalawah and Pura, out of a total of 201 plots allotted to beneficiaries, 43 were encroached. In Kishoregarh there was no encroachment on any of the 34 plots allotted and in Urva only one had been encroached upon. One reason is the allotment of uncultivable land, particularly in Kishoregarh, Banwar and Mastura, which does not attract encroachments, though the total uncultivable plots are 71, which is again lower than in Morena. But an equally important reason is that in all the villages the plots have been allotted within the village itself except in Banwar where eight plots are outside the village. This has helped the beneficiaries in obtaining actual possession of the land allotted. As Table 6.7 shows, in Mastura, out of a total of 50 beneficiaries, 34 are in possession of allotted plots, of these 17 are uncultivable. Out of 33 cultivable plots 16 are encroached upon. The encroachers consist, among others, of two Sikhs who have settled here, a Brahmin, a Sahariya and a Jatav and three Rawats. The Rawat brothers who own between 25 and 30 bighas of ancestral land, have encroached upon the lands allotted to dalits/tribals and have also bought land from some of the dalits in the village.84 They are keen to increase their holdings in the village and practice agriculture on a large scale. Similarly, in Banwar, 14 plots which are of good quality land have been encroached upon, but 49 persons are in possession out of a total of 63 plots allotted. In Samrai only one plot is encroached by the local Rawats. However, beneficiaries claimed that land remained in the village, which could be distributed, but it was encroached. In Kalwah three Parihar families had received plots in the village, but all of them are encroached (as the land is of good quality) upon by Gujjars of the nearby village of Dangora. They also held that the land was not measured properly. In Pura only four out of 12 plots allotted are in possession of the beneficiaries of which nine are uncultivable. In all the villages the level of awareness among the dalits was low and none of them had made any attempt to gain possession of the land allotted or to appeal to the administration or the courts. They pointed out that the encroachers are powerful and they were not in a position to confront them. In Samrai out of seven plots allotted six are cultivable. It was not clear why only seven families received land, as there

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are about 37 landless dalit families in the village. Moreover, each beneficiary received 5.5 bighas of land, which is not in one piece but is divided into two parts: 4 and 1.5 bighas. The beneficiaries held that the land distribution was decided by the panchayat. All the landless dalit families submitted applications but only seven persons were given land. There were allegations that those who bribed the patwari received land. However, the real reason is the existence of encroachments. Out of 70 bighas of land available in the village from which allotments were made, 35 bighas is encroached, but the landless dalits are not keen to talk about it. The beneficiaries also mentioned that the patwari and revenue inspector did not measure the land properly. However, those who have received land are happy. In the words of a beneficiary ‘earlier I worked on the land of others, now I work on my own land’. In Kishoregarh, despite good land being available, the land allotted is of poor quality. A reason is that a majority of the beneficiaries are Sahariyas, who, unlike the dalits are unable to defend their own interests within the village. All the 34 beneficiaries are in possession but in the case of 31 beneficiaries the land is not cultivable and therefore only three are at present able to cultivate small patches of the land allotted. Some beneficiaries alleged that despite paying bribes to officials they were allotted uncultivable land even though there is still 23 bighas of cultivable land in the village encroached by a Thakur, Dileep Singh, of Karar a nearby village. The Thakurs of Karar have a hold on Kishoregarh as it was found that many of the Sahariyas have mortgaged their lands to them. In Pura the situation is bleak due to allotment of poor quality of land. The village has 60 Jatav families but only 12 plots were allotted and many remain landless. The beneficiaries claim no one came to their village asking them to file applications; they directly approached the tehsildar and received land. Out of the 12 plots allotted nine are uncultivable; only four beneficiaries have gained possession but the land allotted to all of them is not cultivable. In Banwar village, as Table 6.7 shows, out a sample of 63 beneficiaries, 50 had received land that was cultivable, only in the case of 13 was it uncultivable. One of the beneficiaries mentioned that in the 1970s the village had considerable fertile

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common land but very little was now left as it had successively been encroached upon. Ten Sahariya beneficiaries were settled on land they had already encroached upon and were cultivating; one of the encroachments being over 25 years old. Another 14 plots are encroached by two Brahmin and one Thakur family who refused to give up the land allotted to the Sahariyas as it is fertile land lying within the village. As a result, many Sahariyas are not happy with the allotments. Some argued that the Jatavs, being more assertive, had a greater say in the allotment of plots and had received land within the village while at least seven of the Sahariyas were given land outside. There were other complaints: a Sahariya widow had encroached about 4 bighas but was allotted only 1 bigha. However, there seemed to be no marked difference between the quality of land allotted to the Jatavs and Sahariyas. On the surface Urva seemed a ‘successful’ village as all the 32 plots allotted consisted of fertile cultivable land and 31 beneficiaries were in possession and tilling the land. Only one plot was encroached, while another was partially encroached by Baghelas, described as Thakurs in the area. As in Banwar 20 Sahariya families have been settled on fertile land they were tilling as ‘encroachers’ earlier. However, some probing revealed a form of ‘concealed encroachment’. The Jatav beneficiaries informed us that except in the case of four, the land owned by the Sahariyas in the sample is mortgaged to the Banjaras, a locally dominant, landowning OBC. Consequently, the land is actually controlled/cultivated by the Banjaras who give a small part of the produce to the Sahariyas from time to time. The reasons lie in the extreme poverty of the Sahariyas, which has led them to mortgage their land thereby losing control over it. However, the Jatavs held that it was lack of interest in cultivation on the part of the Sahariyas leading to indebtedness to the Banjaras that enabled the latter to exploit them.85 As the Banjaras were present in the village during the fieldwork the Sahariyas could not speak openly about this situation. The Jatavs are unhappy with the priority in land distribution given by the local administration to Sahariyas.86 Land allotted to some Jatavs was cancelled leading to appeals to the DC and litigation described later. As a result beneficiaries point out that although there is still about 100 bighas of land available

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for distribution and 20 landless dalit families in the village, no further land distribution has been attempted. The Jatavs also allege that the patwari had asked for money to help them obtain pattas from the land earmarked for distribution. Not much effort has been made by the local administration to help beneficiaries improve the land allotted to them. Though Green Cards have been provided to a number of the beneficiaries, the only assistance has been in the form of about 3 quintals of wheat. In Kalwaha the beneficiaries had not received Green Cards but had been given soya seeds and fertilizers. In Mastura, unable to cultivate the land allotted and with little monetary assistance from the government, some of the beneficiaries have sold the allotted land to the locally dominant landowners: three beneficiaries had sold to Rawats and four to Brahmins, and in the case of three the buyers could not be ascertained. In Kishoregarh the beneficiaries claimed that the government had provided a tractor and fertilizers to help improve the quality of land but the sarpanch did not allow the beneficiaries to make use of it and all benefits provided by the government were cornered by him and his supporters in the village.

Appeals and Litigation In the selected villages in Bhitarwar and Gird tehsils the number of appeals are lower than in Morena and there are few cases of long-pending litigation. Some of the villages in Ghatigaon Block in Bhitarwar tehsil are in a remote and hilly area with poor communication with the outside world. The level of awareness and assertiveness of the dalits and tribals in this district is also much lower than in Morena. Another important reason is that unlike in Morena the EP is not very active at the grassroots in helping beneficiaries file appeals and court cases. The large Resource Centre in Gwalior, despite being better equipped than the rather rudimentary office in Joura, is not as close to the beneficiaries in the village or as knowledgeable about their problems. Few of the beneficiaries in the sample village had heard of the EP and none had been to rallies organized by it. Consequently, despite the poor quality of land allotted there were no appeals by the beneficiaries in Kishoregarh to the

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administration to change the poor quality of land allotted. In Banwar and Mastura a number of appeals by beneficiaries were pending: for change of uncultivable land; removal of encroachments; correct measurement of land by the patwari and revenue inspector, which has led to less land given by the patwari than shown in the patta and has encouraged encroachments to continue; complaints of demands for money for giving good quality land; complaint by a Jatav whose land is divided by a road running through it reducing it by 2 bighas, etc. Five Jatav beneficiaries had initiated litigation for removal of encroachments pending in the civil courts. In Sabrai, despite problems, there are no appeals or litigation. In Pura litigation is pending on two of the plots allotted by the Kushwahas who have encroached on the land allotted to the Jatavs. The beneficiaries have little hope of their appeals being heard and justice being done to them. In Urwa the land distribution programme has led to competition for land between the Jatav and the Jat landowners of the village. The SDM court canceled the pattas allotted to four Jatavs when the Jats moved the court pointing out that the Jatav brothers collectively owned about 42 bighas of ancestral land and were not eligible under the land distribution scheme. The patwari also gave in writing to the court that there is no landless dalit left in the village. Initially the SDM court at Dabra did not take cognizance of the appeal as the case was already five years old, but a new SDM court formed at Bhitarwar accepted the appeal and cancelled the pattas.87 The Jatavs appealed in the commissionary court on the grounds that they had been cultivating the land for eight–10 years and it was only after a canal was built in the area and irrigation facilities improved that the Jats had developed an interest in the land. They alleged that the Jat Samaj covering 12 to 15 villages in the area had declared that no ‘Harijan’ should be able to get land. Moreover, they pointed out that one of the Jat landowners has encroached on almost 100 bighas of land.88 The commissionary court has granted a stay order and the Jatavs are still cultivating their lands. Thus, unlike the Sahariyas, the Jatavs are able to assert themselves and have the capacity to protect their interests.

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The Ekta Parishad and the Task Force Though formed earlier in Gwalior, the DTF was reconstituted on August 25, 2003. It was only after repeated reminders by the district administration and a letter from the district collector dated July 23, 2003, that the Gwalior branch of the EP was able to provide names of five persons who would represent the organization in the district TF.89 A DTF of 15 persons was formed made up of both officials and members of the EP. Although the district collector held some meetings, there was not much interest on the part of the EP in the working of the TF in 2003 or earlier. The Parishad was not very active in the villages of Gwalior district during the land distribution programme. Most respondents in the sample villages showed little interest in the organization; in Samrai and Kalawah the villagers had not heard about it. The reasons lie in significant changes visible in the organizational structure of the EP. The Joura Ashram still retains to a large extent its ‘mobilizational mode’ and looks upon the EP as a social movement, whereas the larger Resource Centres at Bhopal and Gwalior have entered into a more ‘bureaucratic mode’ where maintaining data files and organizational work has become more important. This is reflected in the difference between the local activists in Joura and Shivpuri who are far more active in the field than in the larger centres of the Parishad at Bhopal or Gwalior. The local EP activist in the selected tehsils in Gwalior, Raje Lal, a tribal, belonging to the district was not as active as the activists in either Morena or Shivpuri; nor was he familiar with many of the villages we visited. Thus the public–private partnership did not develop in Gwalior.

Conclusion Based on the field data presented, it is now possible to evaluate the implementation of the land distribution programme of the Digvijay Singh government. The implementation of the programme can be judged on three counts: clarity of the goals to be achieved, the capacity of the machinery for implementation and whether the recipients received the land meant for them. The programme had two goals. The Digvijay Singh government

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decided to distribute grazing common lands to dalits and tribals to ensure livelihood in an industrially backward state where little or no alternative avenues of employment exist. Second, the programme was part of the political agenda of retaining the support of the dalits and tribals in the state who, it was feared, were increasingly being attracted towards opposition parties. The study indicates that the land distribution programme was progressive, well-conceived, the government orders issued for its implementation were clearly formulated and a timetable was set up for implementation. The programme also had the support of a civil society organization that had been working on the land issue for a decade and a joint mechanism was established for the implementation of the programme at the village level. However, the implementation programme proved to be a limited success as it failed to provide actual possession to a large number of dalits and tribals in at least two of the selected districts and hence could not fulfil its stated goal of providing livelihood. In Morena only about 15 per cent of the selected beneficiaries were able to obtain possession of the land allotted; in Gwalior the situation was better as about 43 per cent could gain possession, though hidden forms of encroachment/ sharecropping seem to exist reducing the effectiveness of the policy. In Shivpuri and Rajgarh the situation was markedly better, with 62 per cent and 97 per cent of the beneficiaries gaining possession respectively. But in the latter partial/ hidden encroahments, violence and killing of dalits did not allow the programme to be a success. Even in these two districts not all beneficiaries, despite the efforts of a sympathetic administration, were able to gain full possession of the land allotted. The reasons lie in the prevailing power structure in the villages and the capacity of the local administration to implement the challenging and complex tasks involved. Nor did the government address the agenda of land improvement advocated by many scholars as central to the success of any land reform programme. Evaluation of the capacity of the district administration in MP to administer a programme involving equitable distribution of public assets shows that it was faced with two major challenges that most officials were not capable of, or

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unwilling to deal with: encroachments and lack of cultivable land. The former were due to failure of land reforms in the post-independence period leading to encroachments by big landowners on vacant lands. These encroachments are now difficult to remove as the landowners belonging to the locally dominant middle castes are prepared to use violence to prevent dalits and tribals from obtaining land, and also in many cases have political connections and sympathizers within the administration. Due to these encroachments in many districts there is little vacant cultivable wasteland—either charnoi or surplus land—available for distribution. Absence of wellmaintained land records added to the difficulties faced by the administration. Consequently, officials in many districts argued that land distribution would entail use of police force and lead to unnecessary violence, that the encroachers had been tilling the land for decades, or that cultivable land was not available to justify such a programme. Another reason for failure was that the land distribution programme was carried out too fast as an abhiyan, leading to mistakes such as allotment of poor quality land, or land far from the village of the beneficiary. However, such instances are too numerous to be explained in this manner. It is only in some districts such as Shivpuri and Rajgarh that a sympathetic and capable district collector made an effort to remove encroachments and to find cultivable wasteland that could be distributed. Even here there are instances of encroachments after allotment of the land to dalits/tribals. In the latter district it led to considerable violence and killing, suggesting that land reform is not an easy task even for highly motivated district officials. The district administration, with the exception of that in Shivpuri, did not provide assistance to the beneficiaries in improving the land allotted to them. Much of the land allotted, even if not barren, was of poor quality, or not cultivated earlier and required considerable help to make it cultivable. Only in Shivpuri the district collector provided tractors, fertilizer, seeds and water so that beneficiaries could make full use of the land provided. The study also shows that various forms of institutionalized corruption definitely played a role in the poor implementation of the programme. Beneficiaries had to pay bribes to obtain land

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and pattas, or for measurement of the land, while the bigger landowners were able to bribe the lower officials and retain control of encroached land. Everywhere it was the patwari who played the key role through bribery and use of influence and often joined hands with the big landowners to deny land to the dalits and tribals or gave them the poor quality land in the village. This was true even in districts such as Rajgarh, where an efficient and honest district collector had to suspend/dismiss many patwaris during the land distribution programme. Finally the Joint Task Force created at the district level did not function well in the sample districts with the exception of Shivpuri. In the other districts, the local administration did not take the role of the EP seriously; even where meetings were held, the grievances put forward were not dealt with. The result was that the Parishad was able to raise awareness, focus attention on issues such as tribal land and lead movements but could not participate actively in the actual implementation of the land distribution programme, which remained in the hands of the local administration. One of the key reasons perhaps is that most of its village-level activists are drawn from among the dalit and tribal communities. While this helps in making contacts with this section in the village, it puts them at a disadvantage in their dealings with the upper/middlecaste landowners who do not bother to listen to them. In some districts such as Gwalior the activists of the Parishad did not take adequate interest in the programme. In conclusion, the findings reveal how complex and difficult it is to carry out a programme of equitable land distribution today for weaker sections. Given the importance of land, particularly in the poorer states of the Hindi heartland that are industrially backward, both the socio-economic and administrative obstacles are daunting. The Digvijay Singh government, despite its best intentions, found it difficult to implement its land distribution programme completely and effectively. As Chapter 10 will show, it paid for it politically as well in the 2003 state assembly elections. Keeping the experiences of the land distribution programme in mind, we move now to an enquiry into the impact of another significant but new programme adopted by the Digvijay Singh government at the Bhopal Conference for dalits and tribals, namely, supplier diversity.

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Notes 1. Shyam Babu used this term in a discussion with him about the policy in November 2006. Many bureaucrats also agree on this assessment. 2. The EP does not have a presence in Rajgarh district and hence no TF was formed there. 3. Compiled from the District Factsheets in MP HDR (2002). 4. Sabalgarh, Kailaras, Joura, Morena, Amba and Porse. 5. Pohari, Shivpuri, Narwar, Karera, Picchore, Kolaras and Khaniyadhan. 6. Gird, Bhitarwar and Dabra. 7. Jirapur, Rajgarh, Narsingarh, Khilchipur, Biora and Sarangpur. 8. Compiled from the District Factsheets in MP HDR (2002). 9. The term ‘most primitive tribe’ was given on the basis of the report of the Dhebar Commission and Study Team on Tribal Development Programmes in 1975. The commission recommended that the government should give emphasis to the extremely backward tribal groups that were described as most primitive. Three criteria are followed for identification of ‘primitive tribal groups’. 1) pre-agricultural level of technology; 2) low level of literacy; 3) a stagnant or diminishing population. On this basis five groups in MP were identified: Sahariayas, Abujhamarias, Baigas, Bharias and Hill Korbas. The Sahariyas are also classed as most primitive in Rajasthan, but in UP they are SCs. See Mandal (1984). 10. For details, see Mandal (1984). 11. District Factsheets in MP HDR (2002). 12. Ibid. 13. See detailed figures for the state as well as for each district in the report. According to the MP HDR 2002, school enrollment of children between six and14 in all the selected districts is above 80 per cent reaching 98.7 per cent in the case of Morena; the percentage of habitations with a primary school has in all districts reached 100 per cent. The number of middle and high schools is much lower in all the districts being between 30 to 47 per cent in the case of the former and 8 to 13 per cent in the case of the latter except in the case of Gwalior where it is much higher being 58.3 per cent in the case of middle schools and 24.7 per cent in the case of high schools. From the District Factsheets in MP HDR (2002). 14. For details, see District Factsheets in MP HDR (2002). 15. Interview with Rajgopal on February 13, 2008 at the Janaadesh office of the Parishad in New Delhi. 16. Ibid. 17. They were selected with the help of the Ekta Parishad whose villagelevel workers were familiar with the land distribution programme and its impact on the villages of these districts. 18. They were selected with the help of J. N. Kansotiya, former district collector of Rajgarh.

274 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh 19. The Ekta Parishad has collected data on the land distribution programme of the Digvijay Singh government pertaining to some parts of MP. However, since it is meant for mobilization and advocacy it is not systematically collected using a scientific sample. It is based on ‘Jan Sunwais’ and group discussions in the village around problems faced by villagers to raise awareness. In this study I have not used any data of the Parishad, preferring to collect data through a systematic questionnaire-based survey of four districts and respondents in 25 villages, from March 21, 2007 to April 7, 2007, and again from August 25 to September 1, 2007 described in this chapter. However, in the collection of this data I am grateful to the Parishad for the support extended during the fieldwork and their village-level activists who accompanied us during the field trip. 20. This information was provided by Muneesh, the EP village-level activist who belongs to the Jatav community. 21. The fieldwork in Joura tehsil was done from March 20 to 27, 2007. The villages were selected with the help of Harendra Sharma, in-charge of the Ekta Parishad Gandhi Seva Ashram at Joura, and Muneesh, EP village activist for the tehsil. 22. Interview with patwari on March 25, 2007 in his office in Joura. 23. One hectare is equal to 6.25 bighas and 1 acre is equal to 2.5 bighas (1 ha is equal to 2.5 acres). 24. These features were mentioned by all officials we held discussions with during our fieldwork in Joura. 25. Interview with Harendra Sharma, head of the Gandhi Seva Ashram of the EP, on March 21, 2007. 26. Collective discussion with the beneficiaries in Dhamkan with the help of EP activists. 27. Interview with Patwari Dinesh Srivastava, who was patwari of Dhamkan in 2003, on March 22, 2007 at his residence in Joura. 28. We visited Mudawali on March 25, 2007 and spoke to some encroachers. While the majority consists of Kushwahas, there were some Brahmins also. They provided us with receipts of the fine they are paying. A copy of a receipt dated 1963 is given in Figure 1 in the appendix. While initially they were keen to discuss the issue of encroachment, gradually the discussion turned hostile indicating that the Kushwahas are not willing to hand over the land allotted to the dalits at any cost. 29. Interview with the Tyagis, including Matadin Tyagi’s son at his residence on March 26, 2007. 30. Matadin’s son felt that the dalits were fit only to do majduri (agricultural labour) and argued tauntingly, ‘Unki garibi to nahi gayee isey’ (they did not lose their poverty through this policy). 31. Interview with the present SDM at his office, March 24, 2007. 32. Interview with Dinesh Srivastava, present patwari of these villages, on March 26, 2007 in his office at Joura.

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33. The information about the appeals was given by the villagers and the EP. 34. The case was heard in civil court no. 2 by Judge A. K. Mishra. Case no. 47-A/2004 E0D0. The details are taken from the court papers. 35. The court ordered Purshottam to pay the costs of the litigation borne by Ramji Lal. 36. Details taken from the FIR lodged by Ramji Lal at the town police thana in Joura. 37. Case no. P.K. 03/01-02/A M in the revenue court, Joura. 38. The case reveals the careless manner in which the revenue inspector and patwari demarcated the land allotted to Ramhet; many such examples exist in our sample villages. 39. Case no. 51/2005-06/A M. 40. Records of the EP on the functioning of the Task Force in different districts, Bhopal office, Shyamala hills, Bhopal. 41. Ibid. 42. Ibid. 43. This section on the differences between Morena, Gwalior and Shivpuri and their impact on the land distribution programme is based on a discussion with the former DC of Shivpuri, V. L. Kantha Rao. Rao was the DC between December 2000 and December 2003. Interview with Rao on April 15 and June 27, 2007 in his office in New Delhi. 44. Shivpuri has been fortunate in having three successive DCs who have taken great interest in the land distribution programme: Shailesh Pathak 2001 to 2002 December, V. L. Kantha Rao from December 2002 to December 2003 and M. Geeta from December 2003 to early 2004. Ram Prakash Sharma, the local EP activist, has devoted much time and energy to the programme and helped provide land to the Sahariyas in Shivpuri tehsil among whom he is popular. Discussion with Sharma during the fieldwork at his office in Shivpuri town, April 1–6, 2007. 45. Interview with Kantha Rao on April 25, 2007 in his office in New Delhi. 46. Ibid. 47. Interview with Kantha Rao on June 28, 2007 in his office in New Delhi. 48. Ibid. 49. Sharma, despite being a member of the DTF, retained his activist identity and was not averse to pushing and pressurizing the administration to agree to such changes, as he argues that his job as part of the EP is to provide land to the landless. 50. In most cases the amount was Rs 400 but all of them were not able to recall the exact amount. 51. Interview with Kantha Rao on June 28, 2007 in his office in New Delhi. 52. As late as June 2001 DTFs had been set up in 21 out of 45 districts. Records of the EP, Bhopal Office, Shyamala Hills, Bhopal. 53. Records of the EP, Bhopal Office, Shyamala Hills, Bhopal.

276 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh 54. Minutes of the meetings of the TF, Shivpuri district, records of the EP maintained by Ram Prakash Sharma, member TF. I am grateful to Ram Prakash Sharma, the local activist of the EP, for giving me copies of the TF meetings which he has carefully preserved. They could not be obtained despite my best efforts from either the Bhopal or Gwalior offices of the EP. 55. Ibid. A list of such applications and Action Taken Reports show that villagers sent in a large number of applications which were speedily dealt with. 56. Ibid. 57. Interview with Kantha Rao, June 28, 2007. An analysis of the minutes of the TF also suggests this, as there was frank and open discussion with many demands made by members present upon the officials present. 58. Ibid. 59. From the minutes of the TF meeting held on August 11, 2002 at the collectorate, Shivpuri. 60. These issues were particularly taken up during the period when Kantha Rao was the DC. 61. The land was allotted during 2003 when Kantha Rao was the DC. There are many examples of big landowners encroaching land after it was allotted to dalits and tribals in our sample districts. This seems to have happened in the case of Dongar as well. 62. From the minutes of the meeting of the TF held on August 11, 2007 at the collectorate in Shivpuri (from the collection of TF papers maintained by Ram Prakash Sharma). 63. Some of the villages mentioned where land was still available and land could be distributed were Nizampur, Tanpur, Kabirkhedi, Sonchirayya, Hajinagar, etc. Ibid. 64. While the first reason is dealt with here, for the details of the BJP campaign and resulting violence see Chapter 10. 65. Khedi is the closest to Bhopal being about 90 kms, and is about 20 kms from the tehsil headquarters. The others are considerably inside the district: Punarkhedi and Lasudia are about 35 and 40 kms respectively from the tehsil headquarters at Biora; Latahedi about 40 kms from tehsil headquarters at Sarangpur; and Selapani is 25 kms from the tehsil headquarters at Rajgarh. 66. This was a centrally funded programme begun by PM Atal Bihar Vajpayee when he was heading the NDA coalition between 1999 and 2004 to connect all villages to the national highway in all states in the country. 67. An OBC group standing in the middle of the caste hierarchy similar to the Yadavs and Tyagis in MP. 68. A youth was able to produce a cutting from Dainik Jagran which carried the news and graphic pictures of the violence in these villages.

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69. I am grateful to Mr J. N. Kansotiya, former district collector of Rajgarh during the Digvijay Singh period, for pointing out these characteristics. Interview with Mr Kansotiya at his house in Bhopal, August 27, 2007. 70. Historically, since the colonial period, the RSS and later the Jan Sangh and BJP have had a strong presence in the Malwaanchal region as a whole. See Chapter 1. 71. Mr J. N. Kansotiya was district collector from 1999 to 2003. 72. Interview with J. N. Kansotiya, former district collector of Rajgarh, at his house in Bhopal, on August 26, 2007. 73. Unlike in Morena no plots are completely under the control of the Yadavs or Dangis. 74. ‘Patwari ne sahi semankan har taraf se nahi kiya’, or the patwari did not measure all the sides properly, as the respondents explained. 75. See report in Dainik Bhaskar, August 19, 2002. 76. As Kailash, a beneficiary in Punarkhedi, held, the village had at one time at least 350 bighas of charnoi which over a period of time has been gradually encroached upon. 77. Kansotiya pointed out that in the years when there is adequate rain the dalits are able to grow at least soyabean and jowar in the summer and rainy season. They are unable to grow paddy or wheat, which they are keen to grow as they fetch a better price in the market. 78. For details see Chapter 10. 79. Police Report, January 2003, File no. MP-108-Bhopal-03-05. Mantralya, Vallabh Bhawan, Bhopal. 80. Interview with beneficiaries in the sample villages that experienced violence. 81. In Selapani we were berated for talking to the dalits and ‘sitting only’ in their basti. Unlike in Morena and Gwalior the upper and middle castes were not prepared to share their views on the land distribution policy. Their opposition to it was apparent from their attitude. 82. Interview of Nanhe Singh, a Yadav landowner from Latahedi, on August 29, 2007 at village Latehedi. 83. The fieldwork in Bhitarwar and Gird tehsil was undertaken between March 24 and April 3, 2007. The villages were selected with the help of Anil Gupta and other EP members at the Gwalior Resource Centre of the EP. 84. The brothers and members of some other landowning Rawat families in the village were interviewed on March 27, 2007. 85. The Jatavs argue that the Sahariyas are not prepared to work hard on their land and are content in getting some money to drink mahua. This reflects the popular ideas about the Sahariyas as a lazy and leisureloving people. But many Sahariyas were clearly unhappy about the situation in which they were placed. 86. However, the SDM, M. K. Geeta, pointed out that orders were clear that priority should be given to both SCs and STs.

278 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh 87. The SDM court at Dabra under R. K. Gupta refused to entertain the case. The new SDM court at Bhitarwar, under B. P. Mathur, agreed to entertain the case and cancelled the pattas given to the four Jatav brothers on the ground that they already owned considerable amount of land and hence were not eligible under the land distribution scheme. 88. Interview with the Jatav brothers during the fieldwork. 89. In 2001 district collectors sent letters to the EP in those districts where the organization had failed to provide names of members for the TF. Records of the EP, Bhopal Office.

1. Chambal Sheopur Morena Bhind 2. Gwalior Gwalior Shivpuri Guna Datia 3. Ujjain Ujjain Dewas Ratlam Shajapur Mandsaur Neemuch

Division/ District

Land Alloted to SCs/STs

10270 11196.95 9586.74

5096.49 32165 34802.94 3292.82

6086.72 10077.21 3230.23 7400.96 10030.35 3143.14

193972 283818 351716

232789 481153 643121 220839

532729 392384 349007 499257 356990 177080

6990 6927 3503 5525 13813 2871

3595 17668 18804 3552

4546 10789 6526

5502.75 5801.42 1683.58 3486.11 8768.62 1719.63

2251.384 13095.376 15334.54 2855.23

3823.3 7768.19 6582.32

525 3458 2594 5142 1651 2461

1801 15884 9544 276

2311 560 0

3408.03 3005.28 3004.42

378.38 3973.04 1546.65 3914.87 1261.73 1423.51

205.59 302.75 0 0 0 0

1202.333 1642.772 11718.04 7351.614 7250.04 12218.36 210.3 227.29

3038.94 423.48 0

4231/228 2667/1785 0/0 206/51 0/0 0/0

0/0 0/0 0/0 612/341

1023/2326 0/0 770/0

Category 1 SC/ST (To be Allotted)

15023/896 11263/8711 0/1225 206/249 0/0 338/315

2419/1396 1846/1549 167/1345 1110/618

1822/4090 4825/241 2995/0

Total SC/ST to be Alloted

(Appendix Table 1 continued)

10792/668 8596/6926 0/1225 0/198 0/0 338/315

2415/1396 1846/1549 167/1345 498/277

799/1764 4825/241 2225/0

Category 2 SC/ST (To be Allotted)

Land yet to be Alloted to SCs/STs

Land Land Left Land No. of Land No. of Available for Alloted STs Alloted SC for Total Land Cultivable Distribution (Persons) to SCs (ha) (Persons) to STs (ha) Allotment

Land Available for Distribution

Table 1 Land Allotted to SC/ST Following Lowering of Charnoi Land in MP (Up to January 2003)

Appendix

4. Indore Indore Dhar Jhabua Khargaon Badwani Khandwa 5. Bhopal Bhopal Sehor Raisen Rajgarh Vidisha Betul 6. H-bad H-bad Harda 7. Sagar Sagar Damoh Panna Chattarpur Tikamgarh

Division/ District

Land Alloted to SCs/STs

4007.39 6803.74 3862.73 5054.39 465.61 1680.1

4092.37 8777.475 8664.918 30822.514 17365.592 338.424

3877.183 2610.65

16591.32 4191.75 9006.98 42581.61 96344.009

286607 527468 356040 458672 23781 490362

162220 405192 447672 479914 531906 515675

347230 198044

596315 332105 285623 525536 305258

9851 1989 4407 25259 7910

2348 474

1525 5884 5113 25541 14369 54

4879 94 131 0 114 16

7982.28 1655.95 4155.99 24778.53 5914.665

1870.218 672.29

1794.634 6119.747 4507.773 18824.572 12696.771 58.034

2826.09 69.53 88.71 0 92.35 17.73

6674 1757 4207 4496 1767

1983 1560

201 2112 4215 2776 4050 247

1911 305 5549 0 521 86

0 6498.75 0 5054.38 0 1581.24

386.604 3.7

5946.04 2663 1792.09 743.71 4850.99 0 5169.23 12633.85 1324.194 2395.15

1620.161 1934.66

219.418 2078.318 2469.93 187.798 4143.358 13.787 1951.591 10046.351 3577.16 1091.661 280.39 0

1181.3 235.46 3774.02 0 373.268 81.13

2920/1765 5135/2643 0/0 1959/1000 0/0

6264/4508 128/223

1085/347 1356/231 4054/3561 1044/96 3122/1947 1996/4557

2779/467 2487/4407 0/0 12939/10252 1886/3662 1535/1679

Category 1 SC/ST (To be Allotted)

2793/1101 4466/2436 4781/1481 1596/1211 0/0

10120/8793 183/438

530/138 2896/990 4250/2301 2192/194 6332/1931 4207/12218

2370/2002 4802/15109 0/0 2471/3057 662/6620 305/337

Category 2 SC/ST (To be Allotted)

Land yet to be Alloted to SCs/STs

Land Land Left Land No. of Land No. of Available for Alloted STs Alloted SC for Total Land Cultivable Distribution (Persons) to SCs (ha) (Persons) to STs (ha) Allotment

Land Available for Distribution

(Appendix Table 1 continued)

5713/2866 9601/5079 478/1481 3555/2211 0/0

16384/13361 311/661

2335/485 4252/1221 8304/5862 3235/290 9454/2978 6203/16775

5149/2469 7289/19516 0/0 15410/13309 2548/10282 1840/2016

Total SC/ST to be Alloted

441 2825 1859 65 590 407 63 492 2570 393 1982 183 435 227371

1515.06 14959.9 2586.889 328.407 2152.53 3728.49 292.23 930.45

3573.43 4231.96 3184.616 1123.64 1906.03 367322.257

1345.617 375.03 1301.359 173.37 292.59 181622.388

426.88 2090.51 1690.349 73.389 534.51 178.56 27.09 314.72 3888 3189 2711 1019 2246 120806

1094 8178 859 265 1714 4721 514 753

36.17 6499.64 65.773 0 0 1060.59 0 0

4807/5900 1780/6900 1448/687 1507/2529 2079/4132 122/538 29/740 3509/2592

2062.663 165.15 9897/14161 3389.79 467.14 836/4634 1523.348 59.909 2036/1875 950.27 0 0/0 1603.24 10.2 985/2389 100590.681 85109.188 89953/90449

1052.01 6369.75 830.767 255.018 1618.02 2489.24 265.14 615.73

6309/8905 5689/8592 2555/1654 4014/6514 2079/9642 275/1150 348/3679 6875/5830 9205/8698 19102/22859 1724/11317 2560/15951 3203/2854 5239/4729 0/138 0/138 2095/4382 3080/6771 116551/127402 206504/217851

1502/2005 3909/4496 1107/967 2507/3985 0/5510 153/612 319/2939 3366/3238

Source: Revenue Department, Government of MP, Bhopal, January 21, 2003. Government order F-30/13/2002/7-2A ‘Charnoi Ka Rakba Kum Karne Par Bhumi Bantan Ki Pragati—Mah December 2002 Tak’ (in Hindi). 2003. Report of the Land Bureau, 9-Bhu-Abhilek/2003, January, MP.

8. Jabalpur Jabalpur 332231 Katni 279657 Narsinghpur 326448 Chindwara 586788 Seoni 463415 Mandla 296747 Dindori 280380 Balaghat 337794 9. Rewa Rewa 476681 Shahdol 419176 Satna 438848 Umaria 155115 Siddhi 409125 16792880 Grand total

282 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh Table 2 Issues Raised by the EP in a Written Note to the Task Force in Shivpuri District a) Conversion of forest land within 5 bighas to agricultural land and its distribution to landless SCs/STs. b) Provide legal pattas to all SCs/STs on the land they were cultivating up to 1990. c) Settle immediately in a time bound manner all long-pending court cases on SC/ST land in the district. d) Carry out a verification drive to establish at the patwari level if all SCs/STs who were given land in 1990, 2000 and 2001 are in actual possession. e) Do not charge STs measurement fees when land is allotted to them under the programme. f) During Rajgopal’s movement for land in village Kresar Colony the then DC had granted plots of land to landless STs. However, due to poverty and drought, the STs could not cultivate the land and the plots were being cancelled. This must be stopped immediately and they should be given alternative plots. g) Investigation into the allotment of land belonging to the Sahakari Agricultural Society immediately in village Chhatpur tehsil Pichore, Chitri in Karaira tehsil and Amolpatta Karaira tehsil. h) The sarpanch and the panchayat secretary must be involved in any identification or measurement of forest land or distribution of fertilizer, etc. i) In all selection of individuals to the village protection committees care should be taken to select those who do not have a criminal record or whose family members have such a record. j) Land belonging to the revenue department has gone into the forest department in Shivpuri, examples being: 44 plots in Lengda in Pohari tehsil prior to 1980; Kalakhet in Narwar where agriculture has been practiced for over 50 years; Bhaisera in Shivpuri tehsil where seven years ago plots were allotted; Kalyanpur in Shivpuri where plots were given five years ago, etc.

Mapping Ground Reality

283

Figure 1

These are receipts that show people paying penalty of Rs 700 and Rs 2,100 for encroaching upon a piece of land in Mudavali village of Joura tehsil for the year 1992–93 and 1996–97 respectively. On the left side of the receipt while there is a thumb impression of the depositor, on the right side it is duly signed by the concerned officer. These receipts were primarily used for claiming their possession over the land that was distributed to SCs/STs. Some such receipts showed by the villagers were as old as the 1960s and 1970s.

Part III: Moving Beyond Reservations: The Supplier Diversity Experiment

286 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

7 Moving Beyond Reservations: The Debate on Affirmative Action Together with land reforms, ‘supplier diversity’ was one of the

important policies initiated by the Digvijay Singh government specifically aimed at improving the conditions of dalits/tribals in the state. While this new and innovative policy formed the heart of the Dalit Agenda put forward by the authors of the Bhopal Document, it has its roots in the ongoing debate in the country since the 1990s on the need to move beyond traditional policies of reservation to new ones based on affirmative action. Two significant developments have been responsible for this debate. The liberalization of the economy in the early 1990s led to the retreat of the state re-defining its relationship with dalits and tribals. Simultaneously, the decade witnessed the rise of a new, educated generation of dalits/ tribals—a product of both protective discrimination (PD) and democratization—who questioned the continued relevance of the older established policies and directed attention towards the desirability of bringing in new ones better suited to the new polity and economy. The emergence of a market economy and an expanding private sector made policies such as SD attractive to this younger generation, many of whom were responsible for the drafting of the BD or took part in the deliberations at the Bhopal Conference. Accordingly, an attempt is made to analyze this contentious debate among intellectuals/activists on the future direction that public policy should take for dalits and tribals. Much of the academic debate on reservation policy in recent years has centred on issues such as the demand by OBCs for 27 per cent reservation in institutions of higher education, providing alternative affirmative action policies in higher education; removal of the ‘creamy layer’ among SCs, or the need to extend reservations to the private sector (Mohanty 2006; Thorat and Kumar 2008; Thorat and Negi 2005; Yadav and Deshpande 2007).

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The focus here is specifically on policies closer to affirmative action put forward in this debate to enable dalits and tribals to enter into the area of business/industry. Such an exercise has relevance for understanding the MP experiment with SD. It will also locate the policy of SD among the many different types of policies being put forward in this debate, which will help in evaluating its potential to provide economic betterment to dalits and tribals in MP and elsewhere. The term ‘affirmative action’—widely employed in this debate—was first employed in the US in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to introduce policies in the public and private sphere that would provide equality of opportunity to all citizens and end discrimination against African Americans (Sowell 2004; Weisskopf 2004). In contrast to the traditional policy of reservation as practiced in India the state does not fix quotas, these policies are voluntary by nature, and encourage institutions to show a degree of preference to select persons from groups that have faced discrimination.1 In the US they have not been made into laws, though in the 1970s the federal government set targets and courts have taken cognizance of their existence and pronounced on their implementation (Glazer 1975: 44–48). Diversity is one aspect of affirmative action policies based on the principle of preference for weaker sections within the existing system in a number of areas, most often education, employment and business/industry that create ‘diversity’, that is, provide opportunities to disadvantaged sections leading to a more egalitarian society (Katz 1977; Wasby 1986; Weiner 1984). Thus, introduction of policies based on diversity in India would introduce considerable change. It would mean extending the existing PD policies to the private sector and/or designing new policies based on a greater element of voluntariness rather than fixed quotas. Second, an attempt is also made to discuss the significant positions that have emerged in the debate on the types of policies to be introduced keeping in mind the Indian situation. While the term ‘affirmative action’ is used and the American model invoked, various combinations are visible in the policies put forward. A section of scholars/activists are demanding ‘equal opportunity’ or extension of job reservations to the private sector, but sanctioned by legal means, to overcome

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discrimination in employment practices. In fact, they use the terms ‘reservation’ and ‘affirmative action’ interchangeably as they see the policy as state-supported. Others, particularly the authors of the BD, argue that there is need for introduction of policies of diversity in the field of business and industry by both the government and the private sector. This would lead to ‘democratization of capital’ and provide ‘economic empowerment’ to educated unemployed dalit and tribal youth enabling them to enter into business/industry creating an entrepreneurial and business middle class that is lacking. Supporters of the second position, which underlies the policy of SD, point out that due to the caste system, historically dalits and tribals have been kept out of business and industry which has been the preserve of the trading and the upper castes. It has resulted in various forms of ‘discrimination’ in the market that work against these disadvantaged groups. They further argue that through dealer and supplier contracts provided by the government, dalits/tribals can overcome these obstacles, enter into ‘the supply chain’ and eventually into manufacturing. While its advocates draw upon the American model of affirmative action for Blacks and other minorities, particularly the system of supplierships/dealerships provided by the federal government and private industry, at the same time there is recognition of the differences between the two countries and attempts have been made in MP to tailor the policy to the needs of the Indian situation. It is this position that is examined in detail. In this debate the position of the corporate sector also needs to be understood. For the first time in post-independence India, much against its wishes, the corporate sector has been brought into a discussion on affirmative action. While much of the corporate sector is firmly opposed to legal sanctions by the government under which they would have to provide reservation quotas in employment and supplierships/dealerships for dalits/tribals, some sections are open to recruiting and training individuals from the disadvantaged sectors in entrepreneurial skills and participating in supplierships, provided it is on a voluntary basis and based upon merit. A recent CII-Assocham Action Plan puts forward specific methods by which it aims to create industrial entrepreneurs, and promote

290 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

knowledge about industry/business opportunities among dalits/ tribals and other weaker sections. In short, a section of opinion is gradually developing in the country which, while not advocating abandoning of the policies of PD, is open to considering the adoption of some policies of affirmative action. However, the debate has barely begun, there is as yet little consensus on the issue and public opinion has not yet crystallized. It is in this context that the experiment attempted by the Digvijay Singh government assumes significance.

The Contemporary Debate: Moving Beyond PD Till the late 1980s scholarly attention was centred on the effectiveness and impact of the policy of PD, more specifically, reservations. Beginning with the discussion in the constituent assembly these policies have encountered much controversy in post-independence India (Dharampal 2000; Mcmillan 2005). Criticism of the policy has ranged from poor implementation, jobs being available only in the lower rungs of the bureaucracy, the policy not having the desired impact, only better-off urbanbased groups benefiting, encouragement to sub-caste divisions, to more fundamental issues of individual rights, justice, merit and efficiency (Ramaswamy 1974; Sowell 2004; Velaskar 1998; Weisskopf 2006). Some of these problems were also pointed out by government reports quite early on (Elayaperumal Committee 1969; Report of the Commission for SC and ST, First Report July 1978–March 1979). Policies that target broad social groups, it was pointed out, cannot act as powerful tools of social justice as too many of the disadvantaged would be excluded in favour of the more privileged in all areas. In all cases it was found that there were a number of complementary factors that were required to be able to get a job: a good educational background, job skills and experience and high information levels. But not all scholars are convinced. Many argue that reservations are the ‘most workable method’ to help remove long-standing discrimination (Ghosh 2007), and that reservations follow the democratic and rational path of change chartered by Ambedkar (Iliaih 2006). Others have pointed to inequality in education, employment and the labour market

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making it necessary to expand reservations to the OBCs as well (Mohanty 2006). A recent study, after examining the working of PD policies in India and the US, argues that the case for such policies remains strong if ‘the policies are carefully designed to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs’ which it admits is not the case most of the time (Weisskopf 2006). However, this debate remained largely confined to problems of implementation and did not question the viability of the policy or need to replace or supplement it, until recently. It is with the adoption of policies of globalization and liberalization of the economy in the 1990s that there has been a marked shift in the contours of the debate on PD. The continued usefulness of this policy has come to be fiercely debated and contested. The shrinking of the state and economic reforms has meant fewer jobs in the state sector despite attempts by state governments to fill the backlog due to rising demands from dalits/tribals. The growth of the private sector following the freeing of controls and the emergence of a competitive market has led to efforts to devise new measures based on affirmative action so that dalits/tribals could gain a share in the new emerging economy.2 Another reason for the stridency, which the demand for affirmative action has acquired, has been the internationalization of the debate. The issue of discrimination found international visibility during the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban in 2001. A strong contingent of human right activists raised the issue at the conference despite the position taken by the Indian government and some scholars that race is not caste (Thorat and Umakant 2004). Apart from this, a range of PD instruments have been evolved to do away with discriminatory practices such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination that has a number of articles that call for measures to remove all forms of racial ethnicity-based discrimination. The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted in 1998 reiterates the need to ensure equality of opportunity to those with special needs. It emphasizes the link between social progress and economic growth and the guarantee of the right to work free from discrimination as of particular significance as it enables persons to claim a fair

292 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

share of wealth generated in society.3 Due to these influences, in recent years many scholars have put forward the American, Malaysian and South African model as worth emulating. In this changed situation questions have been raised whether affirmative action can be a useful method to reduce the social and economic marginalization of these communities.

Contrasting Positions and Supplier Diversity While there is growing recognition of the need to move beyond state-led reservation policies and devise new and innovative affirmative action policies to help dalits/tribals, scholars/ activists are divided over the type of strategies to be used. Two positions can be discerned in the existing literature. The first believes extension of reservations to the private sector is needed, as this is the fastest growing sector in the country today. It also argues that legal sanctions are required without which the policy, unlike in the US, will not be successful. The private sector, it is alleged, practices caste-based discrimination and human capital differentials such as education, skills, and training alone cannot explain the lack of advancement of disadvantaged groups. This has been true historically in India and has continued through the colonial period to the present (Papola 2005; Thorat and Newman 2007). Neither greater investment in education or globalization or the emergence of a more open, competitive market and a strong private sector with more jobs can correct this ‘inefficiency in labour allocation’ based on serious discrimination. They therefore point to the urgent need for state regulation and sanction (Thorat and Newman 2007). The second position, in contrast, emerging mainly from the authors/supporters of the BD, lays greater emphasis on the market mechanism and the need for democratization of capital in India, and demands that both the state and the private sector practice diversity policies such as giving dealerships and contracts to dalits and tribals, together with other supportive measures such as provision of credit to bring them into the field of business/industry (BD 2002). It points to the urgent need to ‘broaden’, through policies of affirmative action, the ownership of capital and end the marginalization and exclusion of dalits and tribals from this sector. Drawing to a greater extent on the American model and on voluntariness,

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it argues that the market, technology and skill development can play a determining role. This will lead to the creation of an entrepreneurial middle class from these communities that will bring this section into the mainstream, make them part of economic decision-making and give them a share in the fruits of development. It is also argued that such a policy will in the long run take the pressure off reservations for higher education as well with more and more dalits/tribals attracted to the world of business and industry. It is based on this position—as yet not well-known—that the policy of ‘supplier diversity’ has been formulated and implemented in MP. Put forward in the Bhopal Conference for the first time where it was extensively discussed, it was later implemented by the Digvijay Singh government. The advocates of the second position do not recommend doing away with reservations. They expect the government to implement the policy better and fill the entire backlog. But as discussed earlier, they point to the limitation of the ‘emancipatory role’ of these jobs (Prasad 2005: 167).4 Pointing to the many problems of the state-led reservation model such as poor implementation, slow progress seen in the fact that even after 60 years of independence the number of class I officers remained few and posts were difficult to fill, Prasad argues that mere extension of this model, that is, of reservations into the private sector being demanded by many scholars/activists would not be of much use. He holds that at a conservative estimate, low-skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers add to more than three-fourths of the workforce of the private sector. Out of some 20 lakh white-collar jobs, the share of the SCs/STs through reservation would be about 5 lakh. Moreover it remains to be seen if the private sector will calculate the backlog in these jobs—which are currently held by non-dalit/ tribals—and fill the vacancies. Even the government has not been able to do so till date. In terms of new appointments in the private sector, he points out, the same will run into a few thousands at the best of times (ibid.). Moreover, Prasad argues that reservation of jobs in the private sector, if introduced, must be voluntary and part of the diversity policies adopted by both the government and private sector, as in the case of the United States described later.

294 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

Invoking the American Experience for SD The advocates of the policy of SD draw on two sources: the American experience and the need to democratize capital in the Indian economy by removing the monopoly enjoyed by the upper castes vis-à-vis the lower castes. The authors of the BD drew on the US model because they wanted to put forward a Dalit Agenda suited to a liberalized economy different from the state-supported PD policies of the past.5 The US experience is particularly useful because the American state has adopted a number of measures to bring in minorities into the area of business and industry that are of considerable relevance in any attempt to design policies based on affirmative action in India. Since the 1970s it has particularly made serious attempts at ‘democratizing capital’ in the domestic market. Conceding that empirical evidence demonstrates that there is a disparity in credit accessibility among certain demographic groups and that the future of the nation’s economic growth depends on the inclusion of minority-owned businesses, the following steps were taken: 1. All purchases by the government have to have at least 5 per cent set aside to purchase from minority suppliers. The total expenditure on this count came to US$ 1,950 crore in 1998 of which US$ 113 crore were from Black/other ethnic groups. This means that a large number of minority suppliers/business houses benefited from this policy and in fact some turned into millionaires (BD 2002: 84). 2. All government contractors are bound to have a certain percentage of their contract work sub-contracted to minority sub-contractors, obligatory by law. 3. Obligatory non-discrimination by law in any constructions contract where federal funds (grants or loans) or assistance (insurance, guarantee, contract) are involved, such as buildings, bridges or involving real estate. 4. Non-discrimination obligations from all government contractors that they will not discriminate in their employment practices. While there is no constitutional sanction behind this policy, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission oversees government and private sector practices and can sue for damages if either is found practicing discrimination.6

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In 1977 the US government also enacted a legislation titled ‘Community Reinvestment Act’ (CRA) making it mandatory for banks and other financial institutions to cater to credit requirements of ‘underserved’ groups including elderly and small businesses. The BD claims that so far US$ 1,000 crore has been invested/lent out by the CRA reporting institutions to ‘underserved communities’. Consequently, Black/ethnic minorityowned businesses registered a growth rate of 17 per cent during 1987–97, six times higher than the overall business in America. Further, sales across all firms rose by 13 per cent annually and for Blacks/ethnic minority-owned firms sales rose by 34 per cent, more than twice the national average. Drawing an analogy with statements heard in India, the authors of the BD point out that till about two decades ago, minorities, particularly Blacks, were considered ‘incompetent’ in running business but are now surpassing white business (ibid.). Not only the government but private industrial giants in the US are also practicing diversity by both employing and providing entrepreneurial opportunities to the minorities. Some of the examples given are Exxon Mobile, IBM, Microsoft, Wal-Mart Stores, Harvard University and General and Ford Motors. These companies have adopted diversity statements such as ‘Respect, Equality, Opportunity and Growth’ (adopted by Wal-Mart stores); they give diversity figures in their yearly statements and also distribute a chunk of their profits to organizations involved in civic services.7 Companies such as Microsoft and Harvard University also offer scholarships to minorities, expand minority recruitment and retention schemes, organize professional training, and take up community programmes. The authors of the BD argue that these companies could not have risen to the top of the ladder in their respective fields if they had compromised on ‘merit’ and ‘competitiveness’— an argument commonly put forward by companies in India when they are expected to follow similar policies. It points to IBM, a top company in the IT sector internationally, which upholds ‘a legacy of inclusion’ on its web page on diversity (ibid.: 81). In the field of creative arts, the Writers’ Guild of America regularly commissions studies to ‘track employment trends of writers of colour, women and older writers in American motion pictures and TV networks’ (ibid.: 78).

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Moreover, diversity in the workplace and in business goes hand in hand, which Chandrabhan Prasad argues, provides a good model for India (Prasad 2005: 170). It provides both jobs as well as a share in capital. General Motors (GM), he points out, has a department of diversity which reveals details of racial/ethnic workforce composition. By 2000 the minorities composed 23 per cent of the workforce with almost 20 per cent in the managerial category. More important, in 2003 the company purchased goods and services worth US$ 72 crore from minority suppliers—$10 crore more than the previous year. General Motors has made it mandatory that the bigger suppliers to the company—often white—purchase some of their supplies from smaller minority suppliers. For instance, Johnson Controls Inc., a major auto parts supplier to GM, purchased goods and services from minority suppliers worth $10 crore during 2003–4. Under its dealership diversity practice, by 1999, GM had 320 minority suppliers, with sales of $95 crore per year. The company also has welfare programmes: it has tied up with many minority businesses who recommend candidates for jobs and supply many goods and services, and its diversity department holds job fairs in minority-run institutions and ‘on-the-spot recruitments’ as part of the diversity drive. Prasad therefore holds that Indian industry should free itself from its ‘caste interests’ and democratize its workforce and capital, which would be in its interest (ibid.). Further, the authors of the BD claim that an analysis of the American experience of diversity reveals that since the late 1960s, American society has ‘undergone a sea change in its attitude’. The whites have, even if reluctantly, decided to share assets, institutions and knowledge industry with the deprived/ ethnic groups: African-Americans, Native Americans, Asians and Hispanics who constitute 12.7 per cent, 0.9 per cent, 3.8 per cent and 10.9 per cent respectively, that is, together roughly a quarter of the population (BD 2002: 67). Based on data from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the BD concedes that the white majority owns most of the assets in the American economy, but holds that there is ‘realization’ that assets, institutions and knowledge must be shared with the disadvantaged groups if the country has to evolve into ‘one nation and a healthy democracy’ (ibid.: 70).

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Scholars also hold that today in the US it is assumed that there is an equal distribution of capacity among all social groups, that apparent differences are social and not biological and that the very existence of diverse social groups means that businesses must have representation (Omvedt 2005: 203). Referring to a recent judgement of the US Supreme Court that upheld the use of affirmative action in two cases, Omvedt points out that it was supported by at least 65 major US corporations including GM and Microsoft (ibid.).8 In fact, the court, in its statement, argued in support of its decision that ‘major American businesses have made it clear that the skills needed in today’s increasingly global market place can only be developed through exposure to widely diverse people, cultures, ideas and viewpoints’ (ibid.). Consequently, today industry supports affirmative action policies on grounds of ‘social utility’ and efficiency, as it creates a diverse environment conducive for broader societal and institutional goals like breaking down racial stereotypes, and developing a diverse business community (Puri 2005: 350). Thus, they have supported affirmative action not because of altruism or recompense for past oppression but out of a realization that it is in their own self-interest (ibid.). However, the authors of the BD do not take cognizance of the literature that critically assesses the American experience. In fact, a scholar associated with the BD argues that the purpose of invoking the American example in the Document was to highlight the voluntary commitment of companies and community leaders to make their workforce and industry more diverse reflecting societal diversity and not so much the similarities between the actual US and Indian experiences. While Prasad concludes his agenda with an appeal to adopt the US model of diversity in India, he is careful in maintaining that diversity ought not to be mistaken as a ‘quota’ system. It is ‘opportunities not quotas’ that is the central message of the Bhopal Conference (Babu 2003: 15).9

SD and the Need to Democratize Capital While the concept of democratizing capital is borrowed from the American experience, the need to democratize it is drawn

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by scholars from India’s unequal society and the resulting backwardness of dalits and tribals. It is argued that so far capital has remained the monopoly of a small and select group of individuals/families belonging mainly to the trading community (Markovits 2008; Tripathi 1984, Tripathi and Jumani 2007). Lower-caste groups such as the Nadars in the Tamil region, Ramgarhias in Punjab and the Mahishyas of Bengal perhaps provide the few exceptions (Tripathi 1984). A recent study by Harish Damodaran investigating the caste origins of many of India’s industrialists identifies three main historical trends (Damodaran 2008: 315–16). First, what he calls a ‘bazaar to factory’ route, is the passage of hereditary traders into industry. However, in the specific case of northern India, he argues, some castes’ monopolies have discouraged them from leaving their traditionally prescribed employment. So members of north India’s farming castes—for example, Jats and Yadavs—rarely own a sugar or flourmill (ibid.). Second, a route from ‘office to factory’, that describes a recent movement of well-educated high-caste Hindus, including Brahmins, into business. Lacking capital, these sophisticates tended to enter the service sector, where start-up costs are relatively low. India’s world-class computer-services industry, including companies like Infosys, is the result. The third trajectory, from ‘field to factory’, is the transition into the business world of members of India’s middle and lower peasant castes. This must be the path of India’s dalits and tribals too. But they have not trodden it yet; across India, Damodaran could not find a significant dalit industrialist, not even in the south (ibid.: 315). While a number of social groups have broken into the monopoly of the business/trading banya community, the major exception is the dalit community. With the rise of the BSP some business groups have emerged in UP, but they are still small and cannot compare with big or even medium business houses in the country. It is this third group that the supporters of the policy of supplier diversity wish to create. Official data also shows that few dalits or tribals have been able to enter into the field of business/industry. The latest Economic Census 2005 shows that over half the business establishments, that is, 51 per cent, are owned by socially disadvantaged groups, mostly OBCs, with a slim contribution

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from the SCs and STs (Nagrajan 2008a). This is a rise from 45 per cent at the time of the last Economic Census in 1998, with OBCs registering the largest chunk of this growth. However, a closer look at the data shows that over threequarters of businesses owned by SCs and STs are familyowned establishments, that is, own account establishments (OAE) without any hired labour, and possibly mainly efforts at self-employment (ibid.). The proportion of such establishments owned by OBCs is 71 per cent and by the general category 56 per cent. Table 7.1 provides data on the ownership patterns of business among the weaker sections. It shows that business ownership by the SCs is very low compared to the OBCs and general category, and is limited to a few states such as Punjab, Table 7.1 Social Pattern of Ownership of Business Establishments (Percentages) States

SC

ST

OBC

General

Manipur Rajasthan MP Chhattisgarh TN Karnataka Orissa Gujarat Haryana Maharashtra Tripura Sikkim Assam Punjab Uttarakhand HP Goa W. Bengal J&K AP Nagaland Meghalaya Mizoram

4 8 10 7 6 5 14 2 10 7 18 4 12 15 9 13 1 18 4 5 12 5 0

14 3 4 14 3 3 12 4 1 4 13 23 7 1 3 3 3 2 4 28 50 56 79

47 45 45 43 43 40 35 32 28 24 23 20 19 18 18 11 9 8 7 6 5 4 0

35 43 41 36 47 51 39 62 61 65 46 53 62 66 70 73 87 72 85 61 33 35 20

Source: Economic Census 2005, given in Nagrajan (2008b).

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HP, West Bengal, MP and Haryana which have a considerable SC population. Among STs it is high only in states in the northeast where they form a substantial chunk of the population. A recent study that examines the present-day pattern of ownership of private enterprises in India also shows that they are not equally distributed across social groups (Kundu and Thorat 2007). Of the 98 per cent of enterprises that were owned by the private sector in 1998, SCs and STs showed low ownership of private enterprises: the SCs owned 10.2 per cent and STs 5.84 per cent of private enterprises in rural India, while OBCs owned 40 per cent and others 43.2 per cent. In urban areas the disparity is even more: SCs owned only 6.1 per cent and STs 2.4 per cent in comparison with OBCs at 30.5 per cent and others at a high of 61 per cent. More important, the study also underlines that SCs/STs owned largely small self-owned household enterprises—mostly agriculturalbased—either using household labour or very little outside labour (ibid.). The Bhopal Document also provides figures that show that both in the ownership and worker category in largescale private industry, SCs/STs remain peripheral. Both these categories have a very low presence in trade and commerce being largely confined to low-value businesses/occupations. For example, they are mainly workers in transport and storage industries while the non-SCs/STs own the trucks, buses and godowns, etc. It is only in government employment where there is reservation that SCs/STs are not as badly underrepresented (BD 2002). The situation described here is a reflection of the historical exclusion of dalits and tribals from assets such as land and capital and from business and industry that the policy of affirmative action hopes to address. One of the important reasons for the low presence of dalits/ tribals in business/industry is that access to credit by dalits has a very poor record. The Government of India has established agencies such as the National Scheduled Castes Financial Development Corporation (NSCFDC), Scheduled Castes Development Corporation (SCDC) and the National Backward Classes Financial Development Corporation (NBCFDC) to provide loans to SCs/STs and train them for income-generating activities. But there is little evidence whether such loans have

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had a significant impact and are cost effective. A review of the NSCFDC state corporations by the National Institute of Financial Management in 2006 paints a poor picture (Varma 2007). Most of these agencies have put their funds in fixed deposits instead of giving loans to needy dalits—on an average their equity-debt ratio was 65:35. The report says that there is widespread irregularity in selection of beneficiaries—cases of submitted lists not matching actual recipients have been recorded. Most state corporations have not prepared accounts for anything between six to 16 years. Loan recoveries are about 45 per cent with some states like Assam having as low a rate as 14 per cent (ibid.). A parliamentary committee looking into the working of NSCFDC found that between 2001 and 2004, only 281 dalit artisans had been provided loans in the entire country. The number of dalits provided job-oriented training was low ranging between 1,400 to a little over 2,000. Nor are dalits receiving bank credit to run their own businesses if they cannot get funds from the government. Data from the Reserve Bank of India shows that the amount of credit per capita declined from Rs 495 in 1993 to Rs 285 in 2001 and further to Rs 225 in 2004 while that for non-dalits per capita rose to 708, 756 and 936 for the same years respectively. In fact, the number of small borrowal accounts of dalits declined from 77 to 23 per thousand. With liberalization of the economy, public sector banks are no longer as willing as in the past to provide loans to disadvantaged sections (ibid.). This makes the policy of supplier diversity more necessary. In MP, under the Rani Durgawati Scheme, as explained in the next chapter, the government provides the margin money needed to obtain a loan and provides help in actually obtaining it from a bank.

Creating Dalit/Tribal Entrepreneurs Based on such statistical data the advocates of the policy of SD point out that there are hardly any entrepreneurs among dalits and tribals. But they argue forcefully that they can be ‘created’ with state support if the private sector is reluctant to participate in this process. A major reason for the need for some form of affirmative action is, as Chandrabhan Prasad says,

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‘Trade and enterprise have never been part of our tradition’.10 He holds that rather than reservation in the private sector, it is the business sector, which has not been explored yet, which holds the greatest promise in the years to come with a large number of educated unemployed moving out of universities and colleges. Pointing out that the Indian state has helped the industrial entrepreneur both during the period of protection and the era of globalization through various incentives such as lower taxes, land at concessional rates, etc., Prasad holds that the state should help the dalit entrepreneur enter into the industrial arena. The attempt to create such entrepreneurs can begin with SD policies in areas where little formal education and no complex skills are required, such as supplying ordinary goods like stationery and furniture that the public and private sector buy in great bulk. Dalits and tribals will need special privileges in their attempt to become entrepreneurs because the system of enterprise and trade requires traditional social networking. As these groups are not in the social loop, so industry has to make a conscious effort of ‘integrating them in the supply chain’.11 Dalit and tribal businesses can be stimulated if government departments such as the PWD, irrigation, municipal and health, reserve even small government contracts that run into a few lakh each for them. If a proportion of government purchases were kept aside for chemists amongst the dalits/tribals for example, it would be very beneficial to them. Similarly, if the public sector oil companies reserve 22.5 per cent of their petrol, diesel and kerosene and LPG dealerships for them, or if government decided to introduce supplier diversity even in the areas of office equipment, electrical gadgets, etc. this could stimulate business. Over time such entrepreneurs could graduate to becoming manufacturers.12 Regarding the private sector, Prasad argues that if it has a problem with job reservations, they should start by making dalits and tribals partners in the business by keeping aside 5 per cent or 10 per cent outsourced services for them. It would, he argues, lead to much lower displacement than job reservations in the private sector, would not become an emotive issue and there would be less social polarization. Moreover, it is not necessary to replace existing dealers, but when new

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dealerships are given out, some could be reserved for these groups. He provides two examples where both these groups and the industry concerned could gain. The first example is Hindustan Lever, which has 43,000 employees and 2 lakh dealers. As the latter is a larger pool, giving a share to dalits/ tribals would not displace many. Assuming a Hindustan Lever dealer gets a 1 per cent commission, he can earn a minimum of over Rs 60 lakh a year. A dalit or tribal could take up this dealership, taking less commission than others. A second example is of a small factory making gear stick covers for Eicher tractors which are sold to a wholesale dealer for Rs 5 a piece, who in turn sells it to Eicher for Rs 10. If Eicher bought the same item directly from a dalit/tribal manufacturer, without compromising on quality, it would cost Rs 7.50 in which case both gain financially. Starting with these small ventures, these groups can earn enough to educate their children who will then not need reservations.13 Underlining that coming together of the upper and lower castes through business is much better than passing social reform laws that create divides, Prasad points out that the Congress party throughout its four-decade rule in the country has not been able to create a dalit or tribal entrepreneurial class. At present the party is selling the ‘private sector job quota dream’ which is a repeat experience of the reservation policy when these groups competed for government jobs and provided the electoral support base of the party. An economically strong dalit/tribal community could be ‘a headache for the mainstream polity’ and they are not keen to create it (BD 2002: 169). Prasad feels that well-educated and better-off dalits and tribals should enter into the business arena. This will end the marginalization and exclusion of these disadvantaged groups in the economy. The emergence of a creamy layer will take time and only later there should be any restriction. The emergence of an entrepreneurial class will also take the pressure off demand for higher education. He also feels that it is less contentious than giving land to dalits and tribals, which produces conflict. The rise of a dalit/tribal bourgeoisie would help eliminate social tensions and if the big industrialists understand this reality, it would further good relations and remove social bias. But he agrees that unless a consensus

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could be reached with the private sector there was little sense in pushing new policies on it. Until it agreed to some form of affirmative action either due to fear of government legislation and quotas, or a realization that it was of benefit to them and society as a whole, there was little sense in adopting them.14 The demand for policies based on diversity and democratization of capital has received support from a growing cross section of scholars. Vaidyanathan points out that rather than reservation of jobs in the private sector, it is more pertinent to demand a share in the ownership of private capital. The government and private capital have only a small share in the total workforce of the country, most of which is in the unorganized sector. Even if all the jobs in the private sector were opened up for dalits the gains would be meager (Vaidyanathan 2005: 358). Rather, what is needed is increased access of SCs/ STs to capital and support in becoming entrepreneurs. He points out that the economic survey reveals that the overall growth of enterprises belonging to SCs has declined from 3.42 per cent in 1980–90 to 0.40 per cent in 1990–98, the decline being observed in both rural and urban areas (ibid.). While the reasons need to be examined, Vaidyanathan argues that if it is due to the process of liberalization, there is need to help dalits in the new market economy. Rajindar Sachar holds that the need to enforce the principle of affirmative action in the private sector has become ‘a compulsion’ because the public sector is being rapidly dismantled (Sachar 2005: 157). Following the 44th Amendment to the Constitution, the right to property is no longer a fundamental right, nor does Article 19 confer any inviolable right on a company or individual to carry on business with the government. Therefore, any obligation on the private sector to share its gains proportionately with dalits/tribals cannot be legally faulted, particularly in funds or contracts given by the government, because this action only subserves the constitutional directives. However, Sachar also strongly urges that it is not jobs but ‘business opportunities’ that need to be opened to dalits. He points out that central and state governments award thousand of crores worth of public works and contracts to the private sector. Even without legislation, a direction can be

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given by the government that funds spent by the private sector in connection with public works like roads, etc., will carry an inbuilt clause that, to start with, 15 per cent would be used to procure services or supplies from dalit businesses. Government can direct by executive orders that a certain portion of this money available will be utilized either for providing employment or for sub-contracts to dalits (Sachar 2006). Taking the US example Sachar points out that the Public Works Employment Act 1997 in the US has a minority clause in it which provides that 10 per cent of the federal funds granted for local public works must be used by state and local grantees to procure services or supplies from businesses owned or controlled by minority group members. Though challenged as running counter to the Equal Protection Clause provided under the 14th Amendment of the US constitution, it was upheld by the US Supreme Court because it contained provisions designed to uplift socially and economically disadvantaged persons to a level where they could participate in the US economy. Sachar points out that Article 14 of the Indian Constitution is largely adopted from this amendment. The Indian Supreme Court, he argues, is now ‘more poor-oriented’ than the US Supreme Court. There is no reason for it to reject a challenge similar to that posed by the 1997 US legislation. The overriding question is whether there is political will and determination at the centre and in the states to take up the combined forces of big business (ibid.). In a similar vein Pratap Bhanu Mehta points out that rather than extending reservation in the private sector to dalits, a better method is awarding of government licenses to create entrepreneurs. Government disburses thousands of liquor licenses, numerous broadcasting licenses and so forth that could be used to give dalits access to the private sector. He argues that this would benefit society as a whole. The structures of entrepreneurship in a society are a creation of the ways in which governments disburse monopoly powers (Mehta 2004: 216). Every society which has a system of private industry and the market as a system of allocation, needs social legitimation, a part of which at least, comes from values that the society collectively decides are important. In the Indian context, the architecture of the Indian economy cannot be called socially

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legitimate if dalits and other marginalized communities do not have a share in the private sector jobs and profits. Second, it is necessary to take into consideration that a large section of dalits feel that they stand to lose from liberalization of the economy and therefore new policies are required to address this feeling (ibid.). A recent study also argues that policies in which resources are redistributed to members of the disadvantaged community are better than preferential selection for educational institutions or jobs (Weisskopf 2006: 718). Such resource transfers could be directed to members of those communities in such a way as to enable them to develop the skills needed to qualify for better jobs or to acquire the capital needed to launch business enterprises, thus contributing directly to economic development as well as social uplift. Preferential selection policies also concentrate losses on those applicants displaced by the admission of the beneficiaries, and this leads not only the applicants thus displaced but many other rejected applicants to attribute their rejection to the unfairness of preferential policies. A programme of developmental aid on the other hand, involves costs spread much more broadly among the general public and the burden falls largely on those who can afford to pay. This makes such policies easier to support for political leaders (ibid.).

The Corporate View on Affirmative Action In the ongoing debate the need for a well-defined affirmative action policy for the private sector to fulfill its ‘corporate social responsibility’ has been raised. It has been pointed out that at present the private sector is completely free from any obligation towards minority businesses that suffer from discrimination and lack of capital (Thorat 2004: 2562). Government provides a range of safeguards to the private sector to promote their business: tax concessions, supportive export-import policies, support from public sector banks, land at a cheap rate, better institutions for improving trade and industry. Uplifting of the SCs/STs enshrined in the Constitution is the obligation of the government as well as the private sector. Hence, it has argued that if private sector does not fulfill these obligations,

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legislation is required. The BD also stressed on the need to involve the private sector in the practice of SD. While the policy requires state support, in a globalizing market economy with a growing private sector, it is essential to bring in the latter. The Document points to the American experience where large corporations, as described earlier, are part of this policy. However, the corporate sector in India has not responded favourably to the idea. The corporate sector, through its business chambers, has made it clear that it is opposed to reservations and supplierships/dealerships based on legal sanctions.15 Some are open to these practices provided these are on an informal and voluntary basis subject to merit.16 While the reasons for the corporate sector adopting this position may lie partly in ‘bias’ or ‘prejudice’ against dalits and tribals, as it is alleged, they also lie in certain ‘fears’ about affirmative action including supplier diversity policies that it believes will work against them. Many leaders of industry feel that they have only recently emerged from the shackles of the License Raj state of the Nehruvian socialist period. As overregulation was overbearing, costly and counterproductive, it is fear of the return of added layers of regulation rather than opposition to affirmative action per se, that is driving the response of industry (Mehta 2005). Moreover, some feel that affirmative action will not be there for a stipulated period to enable the disadvantaged sections to improve their economic position, but once imposed will remain in perpetuity, as in the state sector. Equally important is the feeling that with higher levels of competition both within the Indian and particularly the international economy, job reservations or equal opportunity in employment and schemes in the industrial sector such as supplier and dealership diversity will impinge on their capacity to compete and gain profits. Reservations and quotas, some point out, would be a grave mistake, the ramifications of which will distort and cripple the private sector in the midst of rising global competition (Mitra 2005: 241). Rather than any form of affirmative action the corporate sector favours policies for educational, skill and entrepreneurial development, which could increase access to capital to set up business and industry by socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Pointing out that reservations and

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quotas would be a grave mistake, Ashok Mitra feels that other methods such as price preference in government contracts to SC/ST businesses as the US does in minority businesses, are better. These schemes offer substantive incentives such as tax breaks and preferences in government procurement to any enterprise that has a certain prescribed degree of representation of the disadvantaged community in its workforce (ibid.). In short, the private sector is open to schemes based on incentivizing employment and wealth creation among SCs/STs in the organized private sector. Afraid that the Congress government would bring in legislation introducing reservations for dalits/tribals in the private sector, business organizations have put forward initiatives that they feel will help the weaker sections. The FICCI, one of the oldest business organizations, which represents about 443 chambers associations and member bodies, was the first to suggest definite medium- and long-term plans for educational and skill development through government and private partnership for SCs/STs, development of entrepreneurship with well-defined affirmative action policies, for financial institutions to supply capital to vulnerable groups for setting up businesses and awarding government licenses, contracts to SCs/STs and also giving preference in government procurement. The suggestions made by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry that has about 1,500 members, are similar, based mainly on incentives (ibid.). A recent CII-Assocham Action Plan (henceforth Action Plan 2007) stressing on a cohesive and integrated society in which all individuals have equal access to opportunities for personal growth, commits the industry sector to take ‘concrete steps’ for greater inclusiveness of SCs/STs in the ‘workplace, in business partnerships and in capacity building’ (ibid.). While positing a definite time frame of one decade to rectify the lacunae in inclusiveness relating to the SCs/STs, it holds that all such initiatives will be ‘voluntary and self-regulated by companies and industry and full transparency would be maintained through the Annual reports of companies’. This, it argues is necessary as high economic growth (instead of reservations), preferably at double-digits with the creation of more employment opportunities, is critical for the success of

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the concrete steps envisaged by industry for the betterment of SCs/STs. Hoping for the support of the government it points out that industry would be greatly encouraged by recognition to exemplar companies which carried out the programme. At the same time it points out that small companies may not have the capacity to carry out the programme fully but would do so to the level of their ability. The document makes it clear that the proposed programme would not be for the ‘creamy layer’ of SCs/STs (ibid.: 2). To ensure that all members carry out the Action Plan, the organization decided on some measures to monitor compliance. These were a Code of Conduct to be progressively adopted by members of CII-Assocham from October 2006; individual councils to promote and coordinate and an Ombudsman to oversee industry action; compiling information on industrywise progress and cases of non-compliance which would be referred to the councils for appropriate action. The Action Plan puts forward measures to improve inclusiveness of SCs/STs in industry through four major avenues: 1) greater representation in the workplace, 2) entrepreneur development, 3) increasing employability through training and 4) better education. Regarding entrepreneurship development, the Action Plan gives it much importance as 93 per cent of the workforce is engaged in agriculture, small and tiny businesses and the self-employed sectors. Laying out a time-bound plan spread over a number of years, major steps envisaged are that larger companies could mentor and create at least one entrepreneur from the SCs/STs a year and in this way at least 100 entrepreneurs would be created annually and scaled up later; build partnerships with such entrepreneurs if quality and cost standards are met in the supply and distribution chain; quality and cost being equal give preferences to enterprises that have proprietors, partners or promoters from the SCs/STs; maintain a data base of such entrepreneurs to promote and facilitate such partnerships; join hands with SIDBI and NABARD to help create entrepreneurs among the SCs/STs; organize training programmes for candidates from the SCs/STs and use CIIs developmental programmes such as Rural Business Hubs, Young Indians, programmes for Backward Areas, etc. to promote entrepreneurs

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from among the SCs/STs. The progress on these steps would be disclosed in annual reports (Action Plan 2007: 7). The commitment to create 100 entrepreneurs in one year appears to be a difficult task. Not much movement appears to have been made on this. In Raipur, CII has tied up with the Entrepreneurship Development Institute to conduct, from January 2008, a three-month entrepreneur development programme for 25 SC/ST youth, whose fees would be paid for by the chamber. A more concrete measure would be to encourage companies to involve larger numbers of SCs/STs in their supply chain, through which they are already helping develop entrepreneurs. ‘Wherever this has been done, the results have been most gratifying’, says Irani. But feelers have only just gone out to one dalit entrepreneur organization—the Pune-based Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Prasad laments that his efforts to identify activities that companies could outsource to dalit entrepreneurs have been cold-shouldered. The creation of 100 entrepreneurs seems to be a mere cosmetic target-meeting exercise. ‘We certainly hope this will not be the end result’, says Irani. The figure of 100, he says, was put as a measure of the private sector’s seriousness in attempting to develop entrepreneurship. Despite these efforts, industrialists have argued that rather than reservations/affirmative action, the real solution lies in improving the educational system that at present is in very poor shape leading to dropouts and students who are unable to compete for jobs in the private sector. They point to the low number of dalits who are able to enter into vocational training institutes where as much as 40 per cent of reserved seats for SCs and 60 per cent of seats reserved for STs remain vacant. A similar picture is seen in the case of graduate trainees where, of the reserved seats, 80 per cent for SCs and 94 per cent for STs remain vacant (Mitra 2005: 241). In fact, some industrialists hold that it is the job of the government to improve the educational system thereby making dalits and other disadvantaged groups capable of competing in the private sector. The private sector, it is argued, is ‘fulfilling its social obligations by creating jobs, by creating wealth for the country and by making the Indian economy stronger . . . it is fulfilling

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its social obligations by contributing to the government exchequer’ (Jhunjhunwala 2005: 245). Scholars have been critical of the efforts made by the corporate sector. Some feel that most chambers do not recognize that discrimination exists in employment, supply of capital, credit in the market, etc. Therefore, all they wish to provide is some preference on the ground of ‘sympathy and charity for historical denial’ and not on the basis of providing equal opportunity to discriminated groups (Thorat et al. 2005: 41). In short, the corporate sector does not see any role for itself and presents itself as the ‘employer of the employable’ without discrimination. It recommends that public sector banks should provide capital to SCs/STs but does not suggest that private banks should do so. Likewise it recommends that the government should favour SCs/STs in government contracts relating to purchase of goods and materials, but such measures are not to be extended to the private sector. Thus Thorat argues that the measures suggested by the corporate sector suffer from ‘major limitations’ (ibid.). Chandrabhan Prasad too has pointed out, ‘Barring a few exceptions, the industry is still very vocal against any kind of affirmative action’ (interview of Chandrabhan Prasad on DNAINDIA.com visited on July 15, 2007). On the other hand, some scholars feel that both dalit activists and the corporate sector are making untenable claims. The debate, Pratap Mehta points out, has opened up a historic opportunity to bring about far-reaching changes in the norms of recruitment of Indian industry in a way that is beneficial to both. He describes the current debate as one which pits ‘an untenable and self-defeating populism against an equally unthinking reaction’ (Mehta 2005: 207). He argues that the new policies will have to be worked out carefully. The private sector can itself benefit a great deal more by constructively addressing the concerns of its detractors; the proponents of affirmative action will make their case stronger if the target groups are more carefully selected and the instruments more imaginatively chosen. Thus, scholars such as Mehta argue for a more nuanced debate over the question of involving the corporate sector in affirmative action policies.

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Conclusion It is now possible to draw together the varied threads of the contemporary debate on moving from policies based on PD to affirmative action for dalits and tribals. This debate is of importance for the various efforts being made in the country to devise new policies for upliftment of these disadvantaged sections. The Constitution provided PD or reservations in employment and education to the SCs/STs based on their historical social disability and backwardness in these fields. These provisions threw up a class of educated dalits and tribals who are now at the forefront of the current controversial and at times impassioned debate. While there was considerable dissatisfaction with the working of the traditional reservation policies in the post-independence period, the ongoing debate is an outgrowth of the globalization of the Indian economy in the 1990s that has led to the shrinking of the state leading to fewer jobs in the public sector. Consequent to this shift, the continued relevance of the policies of reservation enshrined in the Indian Constitution is now being questioned. As the statesupported model is viewed as no longer feasible, the attention of scholars/activists is increasingly being directed to affirmative action policies involving the private sector. The growth of the private sector over the last decade has also attracted the attention of the growing class of educated dalits and tribals who are keen to share in the benefits this has provided. The Bhopal Conference provided a salient platform for discussion of the future direction of public policy to help the disadvantaged sectors. Based on this discussion the MP government attempted to put into practice the policy of SD to bring dalits and tribals into the sphere of business/industry. The debate has reopened fundamental issues such as the boundary between the public and the private sphere and the role each is expected to play in the emerging market-oriented economy. With globalization providing more space for the private sector, the role of the state in policies for dalits/tribals is being redefined though no new consensus is as yet in sight. This explains the considerable difference of opinion among scholars and activists on the kind of policies suited to the specific Indian context. Some scholars pointing to the existence of caste

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bias in the private sector—as more important in determining employment than differences in education and skills—argue that the American model is not suitable and advocate the extension of the existing reservation policy into the private sector with legal guarantees. They point to the reluctance of the private sector to fulfill their corporate social responsibility by providing employment to the underprivileged. This section also favours more state-supported policies to help dalits/ tribals, such as land distribution, educational assistance and welfare programmes to facilitate their entry into the private sector. Others hold that while maintaining and improving the existing system of reservations, bringing in the private sector through affirmative action policies based upon a voluntary system would be more suitable to a globalizing and increasingly competitive economy linked to the world market. More specifically, the authors of the BD, pointing to the problems encountered in traditional reservation policy such as poor implementation and slow progress, feel that rather than reserving jobs in the private sector, enabling dalits and tribals to enter into the sphere of business and industry—an area traditionally denied to them—would be much better. Not only are the number of jobs few in the private sector and would therefore not yield much benefit, they argue that creating a dalit/tribal entrepreneurial class is urgently required to end the marginalization and exclusion that these groups have suffered in the economic sphere. It would provide greater legitimacy to the Indian polity and provide all sections a stake in the economy. Such a move would displace fewer people, be less contentious, create greater social harmony and would also take the pressure off higher education. As a middle class emerges among these communities, reservations would no longer be required in the long run. The supporters of this position draw upon the American experience in creating an entrepreneurial class among the Blacks and minorities, though there is recognition of the need to fashion specific policies that will work effectively for dalits and tribals. Based on these arguments the advocates of the policy of SD strongly argue that the state—which has helped in the rise of the industrial capitalist class in India—must now play

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a positive role in the ‘creation’ of a class of dalit and tribal entrepreneurs. They provide a blueprint of the process by which this can be undertaken. The government can provide contracts through supplierships and dealerships for goods required from entrepreneurs belonging to these communities, giving them an opportunity to engage in business. Beginning from supply of simple items bought in bulk, in the long run they can enter into manufacturing. While the authors of the BD were keen that the SD policy must be adopted by both the public and the private sector, the response of the latter has been disappointing. However, there are indications that some sections of the private sector are open to providing employment, training and supplierships/dealerships to disadvantaged sections, provided it is part of a voluntary system and based on merit. While this gives room for some cautious optimism, movement on these offers made by chambers of commerce of private firms has been very slow. This has led scholars to point out that these promises are mere pronouncements to avoid legal sanctions to reservations in the private sector. Others have held that a historic opportunity is being missed out by the business/industrial class which would in fact help the growth of the Indian economy and benefit them as well. The scholars involved in the debate have not adequately discussed the issue of whether the American model of affirmative action suits Indian conditions and the type of changes required. The authors of the BD, keen to point out the voluntary basis of affirmative action programmes and the positive attitude of American business/industry towards these policies, also did not pay adequate attention to some of the serious problems encountered in their implementation or to the groundswell of opposition in recent years to some of these policies in the US. Moreover, in the literature on the impact of affirmative action in the US, the policies of supplierships/ dealerships, which are advocated by the BD, have not been well-researched; much of the effort has been directed to the field of education and employment. Clearly, greater familiarity with the problems encountered in the US, and formulation of innovative policies of affirmative action tailored to the

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peculiarities of the Indian situation are required. It is in this context that the MP experiment provides a starting point that is worth investigating. All this suggests that the debate on the needs of dalits and tribals in the new globalizing polity and economy has barely started, though a growing number of scholars have begun to express their opinions. A section still believes that traditional policies of PD remain useful while others advocate change. For our purposes the value of the debate lies in drawing attention to the need for new policies to help dalits and tribals to enter into the areas of business and industry from which they have been traditionally kept out. It is against this background that the MP experiment with SD started in 2002 by the Digvijay Singh government is examined over the next two chapters. The next chapter provides a detailed description of the policy and the government rules formulated for its implementation and the spread of the policy in the state. Chapter 9, based on interviews with dalit/tribal entrepreneurs, analyzes the potential of the policy to create an entrepreneurial middle class within these communities.

Notes 1. See Marc Galanter (1984) for a comprehensive description of policies of PD. 2. See articles in Thorat et al. (2005) and the Bhopal Document (2002). 3. ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Geneva, June 1998. Available at www.ilo.org, accessed on July 23, 2007. 4. See Chapter 3 for details. 5. In the Bhopal Document the South African experience is also debated but is not discussed here as most scholars in India tend to discuss the American model (BD 2002). 6. For details regarding minority businesses and federal contract compliance rules, see Vundru (2005: 382–83). 7. For details, see Bhopal Document (2002: 70–83). 8. The two cases were Grutter vs Bollinger and Gratz vs Bollinger. Although the judgements differed, in both cases they upheld the principles underlying affirmative action policies in the US, and specifically at the University of Michigan. For details, see Puri (2005: 348–49). 9. It is not possible here to review the substantial and controversial literature on the US experience with affirmative action. It is worth noting that much of this literature is largely on the impact of policies

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10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

16.

in the field of education and employment. See Sowell (2004), Gibson and Ogbu (1991), Killian (1990), Herman (1988), Aklimat (1988), and Holzer and Neumark (2000), Weisskopf (2004). The US experience with supplierships and dealerships by the federal government or through private contracts has been much less researched. Interview of Chandrabhan Prasad available at DNAINDIA.com visited on July 15, 2007. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Discussion with Chandrabhan Prasad on the subject, July 26, 2007. Industrialists such as Anand Mahindra and Sunil Kant Munjal, former presidents of CII, Rahul Bajaj, Prakash Chandra Chhabria and Chandrakant Salunke, among others, criticized the Maharashtra Act when it was passed and held it could lead to many industries moving out of the state. Others kept quiet but are disturbed by the Act. See Jogdand (2005: 162). The JJ Irani Committee set by the CII and ASSOCHAM has said in its reports submitted to the prime minister that initiatives to increase ‘employability’ of dalits should be ‘voluntary’ and ‘self-regulated’. A number of essays in Thorat et al. (2005) suggest this position.

8 New Initiatives in Affirmative Action: The Madhya Pradesh Experiment Against the backdrop of the contemporary debate on the need

in an era of globalization, to adopt policies based on affirmative action for dalits/tribals, we now examine the innovative experiment attempted by the Digvijay Singh government with the adoption of the policy of supplier diversity. On January 13, 2002 on the final day of the Bhopal Conference, Singh announced that his government would introduce this policy for dalits and tribals in the state. Closely monitored by the office of the chief minister, it was one of the most salient policies implemented during the last two years of the Digvijay Singh government. Following the Bhopal Conference, the Task Force set up by Digvijay Singh to make recommendations also stressed upon the need to initiate this policy in a few departments, and over time expand it into all sectors of the government as well as the private sector (Task Force 2003: 13). Madhya Pradesh is the first state to adopt the policy of SD to help dalits and tribals enter into the field of business and industry. A bold, new initiative or experiment for the upliftment of dalits/tribals, its adoption marked a shift in the approach used in addressing dalit and tribal concerns from rights and entitlements, to a stake in the economy of the country. More specifically, under the policy of SD two interrelated schemes were put forward: the 30 per cent scheme under which 30 per cent of all government supply orders were reserved for enterprises in which dalits/tribals have a minimum share of 50 per cent; and the Rani Durgawati Scheme (RDS) or margin money scheme to provide credit to dalit/tribal entrepreneurs to encourage them to set up their own enterprises. In this chapter an attempt is made to analyze these rules and the organizational machinery put into place for the implementation of these programmes. Though implemented by the

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SC/ST welfare department and coordinated by the commerce and industry department, it was designed as a decentralized policy to be implemented by the District Trade and Industry Centres (DTICs) already functioning in each district of the state. They were given powers for special registration of dalit/ tribal entrepreneurs who wished to adopt the policy. Targets were set for each district, funds allotted and an attempt made to promote the policy through widespread publicity in an attempt to reach out to educated unemployed youth in all parts of the state. Based on the extensive rules and orders formulated the policies began to function in August 2002. As senior bureaucrats formulated these rules, their views need to be considered as the policy was the product of a convergence of ideas between the political leadership and senior bureaucracy based on the Bhopal Document. Both were agreed that since the private sector was not willing to adopt this policy it was necessary for the government to step in. The chapter further examines official data on the number of dalits/tribals who have adopted the SD and the RDS in different districts in the state, the number registered in each DTIC, the type of goods supplied, levels of investment and the departments to which they have been supplied. In short, it examines official data on the rate of adoption and spread of this policy since its inception in 2002. Although the policy was modelled on the US federal government’s provision of supplierships and dealerships to members of minority communities, the actual policies framed and implemented were in keeping with local requirements and attention was paid to the special requirements of dalits and tribals. The first part of this chapter discusses the ideas underlying the adoption of the policy while the second describes the government orders and rules that put the policy into action. The third provides the official data on the number of dalits and tribals who have taken advantage of the policy since 2002 in every district. This analysis provides the backdrop against which the implementation of the policy and its impact will be examined in the next chapter through interviews of a sample of selected SC/ST persons who have taken advantage of the policy.

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Supplier Diversity: Rationale and Ideas Underlying the Policy In the mid-1990s, soon after becoming the chief minister, Digvijay Singh had discussed the idea of adopting policies based on diversity for dalits/tribals with like-minded senior bureaucrats.1 But it was only after the appointment of Singh as chief minister for a second time in 1998 following the victory of the Congress party, and the organization of the Bhopal Conference, that it was possible to put these ideas into action. As the policy was a partnership between the political leadership and senior bureaucrats, an analysis of the rationale and ideas put forward by both, particularly senior bureaucrats, is discussed in the following sections. By the mid-1990s it was clear that with the liberalization of the economy, even the available government jobs including those in the public sector were shrinking in number. This was apparent in the case of MP where the drive by the Digvijay Singh government to fill all vacant government posts had created much frustration as the number who could be absorbed was not many. With the advent of a market economy, state governments, including MP, lacked the finances and were no longer able or keen to provide public education, health, employment, etc. to the SCs/STs and other weaker sections as in the past. It is in this situation that affirmative action, and particularly the policy of SD, was viewed as a viable alternative by the political leadership and senior bureaucrats in MP. It was also felt that such policies would have to be initiated by the state government. Asking the private sector to voluntarily provide contracts, dealerships and other business/ industrial opportunities to the dalits/tribals on the American pattern would not yield results. Nor did the government want to impose such policies through rules or legislation, which it was felt may be counterproductive and lead to social differences. Rather, the government could adopt the policy by making use of already existing provisions without any fresh legislation; there would be no obligation on the part of the private sector as in the case of job reservations, and it would not become an emotive issue leading to social polarization or conflict.

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The state, it was argued, in doing so would not be departing from past policy. Much academic literature demonstrates that historically there has been a close relationship between the state and private industry. The state everywhere—including in England during the Industrial Revolution—created the conditions under which private capital has invested in industrial development. In India, most big business houses, it was pointed out, have emerged due to state support and patronage in the form of tax benefits, provision of land, credit policies, dealerships of all kinds, etc. Until the 1990s they were also provided protection against competition from the world economy. Even in the contemporary period of liberalization the state has provided big business houses, such as Reliance Industries, ‘incentives’ of many kinds. Being disadvantaged sections of society, many argued that SCs/STs require greater amount of help to enter into the field of business and industry. The caste system has provided the upper castes privileges in entering the industrial/business sector such as better education, family background and support from the ruling political class. Entrepreneurship among the SCs/STs in most parts of the country is minimal. Years of protective discrimination have only prepared them to exploit opportunities in government service. Keeping in mind the special requirements of the dalits/ tribals, the policy of SD, although borrowed from the American model, was modified to suit local conditions. The policy has features that borrow from both the PD policies of the past and the sphere of affirmative action. On the one hand it is a policy supported by the government that provides supplierships, helps the entrepreneur through the DTIC to file applications, provides training in starting a supply/manufacturing business, advice on its proper running, etc. The RDS has been devised specially to meet the credit requirements of dalits/ tribal entrepreneurs. Like many other government schemes for dalits and tribals, both are dependent upon the bureaucracy implementing it in a fair and honest manner. Yet at the same time, it is a market-based policy that offers a business opportunity to individuals whose success depends upon their entrepreneurial skills and ability to supply goods and services in a time-bound manner and in keeping with laid down

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standards. Those taking up the business opportunity have to face bias, competition and even monopoly in the market from the traditional suppliers to the government belonging largely to the upper/middle castes. The rationale underlying the policy is that it will provide a livelihood to educated unemployed dalit and tribal youth—those who have passed high school or who have a graduate degree—and create an economically independent, entrepreneurial class, among them. As the government buys a large number of simple items such as stationery, uniforms, paper, food items, water bottles, plants, medicines, etc. for its daily functioning from small-scale industries, preference can be given to dalit/tribal entrepreneurs. Supply of goods and small contracts does not require any specialized knowledge or skill and educated dalit/tribal youth have the required capability. The government would also provide training and advice, even after the establishment of the enterprise through the DTICs that would equip them to take up these tasks. Moreover, the RDS, by providing the ‘margin money’ required for getting loans from banks removes a formidable barrier for the entry of dalit/tribal entrepreneurs—many of whom do not have the required funds—into the industrial sector. Most important, many bureaucrats have pointed out, the policy addresses a major obstacle that disadvantaged and marginalized sections such as dalits/tribals face in setting up a business or industry. This is not so much obtaining the initial capital or even knowledge. Loans, as discussed in the previous chapter, can be obtained—no doubt with some difficulty—from the SC/ST Finance Corporation and other institutions set up by the state/central government. The greatest difficulty lies in getting a steady and assured stream of orders for the goods to be marketed without which achieving financial stability and independence is impossible. Dalits and tribals find it difficult to market the goods they produce, as they have not been part of the industrial/trade sector. Finding a buyer takes time and is fraught with uncertainties, which is critical for a new industry to survive. In this situation, if the government were to provide a share in government contracts/supplies and orders to dalit/tribal persons it would enable them to repay loans and establish themselves. It would be a case of ‘protection’

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to struggling infant businesses in their initial critical years. Once established with initial support from the government as a supplier, over time a dalit or tribal might gravitate to supplying more complex items, eventually becoming an industrial entrepreneur selling in the open market as well. Most bureaucrats associated with the policy agree that there would be ‘teething problems’ such as corruption in government departments, lack of credit, opposition, discrimination and monopoly in the market, etc. Use of middlemen or ‘proxy’, they pointed out, was seen in other policies for disadvantaged sections such as petrol pumps initially. For this, correctives on the part of the state government would be required. But they believed that the policy, with government support, would give the SCs/STs a ‘toehold’ into the market and once a sizeable number got in, the rest would follow.2 During a discussion on the policy it was pointed out that the rate of success was 50 per cent and failure was high mainly among small investors.3 However, bureaucrats associated with its implementation have held that this rate of success is high compared to most government programmes. The policy of SD, it was felt, would take time to be established and it would take at least one generation for dalits and tribals to achieve economic empowerment. The upper castes have been occupying positions of monopoly over a long period of time and it would be difficult to compete with them. But if well-implemented the possibilities of creating a dalit entrepreneurial class were good, and it would also in the long run reduce the pressure on reservations both in higher education and employment. It would also prepare dalits to operate within the new market economy in which the presence of the government is much less and where private capital would play a bigger role.4 At the same time, administrators involved in the implementation of the policy agree that in the short term certain conditions were necessary without which the scheme cannot be successful. While training, information, credit, incentives and tax benefits are needed for SCs/STs to make a smooth entry into the field of entrepreneurship, most vital was the existence of a ‘sympathetic government’ which would provide a ‘friendly environment’ for the policy to provide benefits to SCs/ STs. If political leaders take keen interest then the policies

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are better implemented by the bureaucracy, particularly the lower sections. Protection against market discrimination and monopoly of the erstwhile suppliers was needed for new businesses run by SCs/STs to survive. As we shall see, the fact that the SD policy was implemented in 2002 towards the end of Digvijay Singh’s tenure and elections were due in 2003, makes such observations significant.

Framing Rules for Supplier Diversity: the MP Experiment Soon after assuming office, the first Congress government under Digvijay Singh in 1994 made an attempt to help dalits/ tribals establish their own business. It decided to give 25 per cent of the petrol and diesel pumps and kerosene depots given by the government to SC/ST businessmen.5 The oil companies were expected to provide the land and the working capital required for establishing the enterprise. The government found that the oil companies approached the government for land on which these enterprises could be set up, which created enormous delay as a result of which often the date provided in the letter of intent was over causing loss to the SC/ST persons concerned. The government hence empowered district collectors to select and hand over the land to the oil companies as soon as they made the required payment for the land. Orders in 1995 and 1997 added further concessions so that the SC/ST persons awarded the contract were able to establish the enterprise in time and operate it properly. However, no attempt was made to carry the policy into other areas of business/industry until after the Bhopal Conference.

Supplier Diversity for SC/ST The 20-member Task Force set up after the Bhopal Declaration under the chairmanship of the chief minister to make recommendations to the government on the implementation of the 21-point Agenda examined the idea of adopting policies based on the principle of diversity.6 One of the sub-committees established by the TF put forward guidelines for the implementation of the policy of supplier diversity under which dalits/

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tribals could obtain contracts in supplies/dealerships from the government. It recommended the practice of this principle by the government in four areas: 1) while awarding contracts, dealerships and distributorship in buying goods and services for the government so that SC/ST entrepreneurs are encouraged; 2) in the workforce so that SCs/STs obtain a share by building an environment for wider acceptance of affirmative action in partnership with industry and the corporate sector through a wide variety of means such as policy guidelines, affirmative action committees in every enterprise and voluntary framing of guidelines for practice of diversity in recruitment, incentives and rewards such as tax-relief, land at concessional rates, etc. and a diversity act that would declare all forms of discrimination in recruitment unlawful; 3) democratization of credit for SCs/STs through a special law which would make it necessary for all nationalized and private banks, cooperative banks and financial institutions to ensure that a minimum credit is provided to the SC/ST population to ensure greater equality of access. For SC/ST borrowers the provision of furnishing guarantees should be dispensed with, etc. In short, the government should take it upon itself to protect and encourage small investors from the SC/ST community in a period of liberalization of the economy; 4) MNCs and international organizations based in India should also be encouraged to follow these policies which should not be difficult as many of them already follow them in their home countries. However, the TF cautioned that rather than using the legislative mechanism to pass laws and enforce them, it would be better to open channels of dialogue with the private sector and hold consultations with industry, banks and MNCs. This would ensure a smoother introduction of the diversity principle in the private sector (Task Force 2003: 53–58). Pointing out that India’s market economy is now virtually controlled by a few privileged castes and needs to be democratized, the TF held that there would be opposition (ibid.: 25). Hence, the report recommended that the government should set aside funds for ensuring capital and credit opportunities to the dalits. It should make provision of funds in every budget for the development of entrepreneurial skills and capacities for market enterprises in the SC/ST population in the state.

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Based on the Bhopal Declaration and the guidelines put forward by the TF, the MP government decided to implement the policy of diversity at the earliest. However, it decided to first implement the policy of supplier diversity and provide dalits and tribals an opportunity to emerge as suppliers, and if possible, manufacturers of goods for the government. Other policies would follow later. Beginning in May 2002 within three months of the Conference, a series of government orders and rules were promulgated to put this policy into practice.

Rules and Government Orders From May 30, 2002 the government amended the existing rules of purchase by the Commerce and Industry Ministry for all government departments, so as to initiate the adoption of the policy of supplier diversity by the Department of SC and ST.7 Following this, on July 7, 2002 the Department of SC and ST issued orders that 30 per cent of government supplies in future would be obtained from SC and ST producers, suppliers, distributors or institutions in which they had at least 50 per cent ownership.8 A perusal of the rules suggests that they were framed in such a manner that individuals from the dalit/tribal category who wished to adopt the policy could do so easily. Constant attempts were made to provide an increasing number of concessions and preferential treatment to the SCs/STs in the rules providing entry into the scheme, price and amount of material that was bought—even where the existing rules were not modified. Initially the rules provided that these firms could supply only to the welfare department and associated institutions and departments. Moreover, these firms could supply only those items that were listed in the Small Scale Industries Corporation, which included items supplied by the Handloom Weavers Cooperatives and Associations, Textile Corporation, Leather Corporation, the Khadi Board and all organizations under the SC/ST welfare department. Most of the items listed were simple goods such as file covers, leather bags, briefcases, and uniforms for government servants, soap, trays, drinking water glasses, etc. However, these items are bought in bulk by government departments and can provide a livelihood to the

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suppliers. The Department of Welfare was given the task of identifying the persons or agencies belonging to SCs/STs and purchasing the required items from them. The burden of supplying proof of the person belonging to the SC or ST category was placed on the local officials of the welfare department who were known to them. A number of concessions were offered to SCs/STs: if due to any valid reason the supply of any item by SCs/STs fell below the laid down amount of Rs 25,000 the rules could be relaxed to accept it; the officials of the welfare department would themselves be able to issue orders for the same; if SC/ST suppliers are unable to supply the full amount required or at the price required by the government they should be allowed to supply less and at prices they can meet, but in all cases the reasons would have to be given in writing. However, in order to maintain prescribed standards, government rules in buying goods through tenders or open competition would apply, the price and quality/standard of the items as defined by the government, and the financial powers of the officials of the welfare department would remain the same as defined in the government rules. In February 2003 the government amended Rule 16 of the Commerce and Industry Ministry’s financial rules and introduced a number of Preferential Policy Rules through insertion of a new Clause 17 and sub-clauses.9 The concessions mentioned earlier and some others were put into these rules. Government orders also directed the officials of the welfare department to actively encourage SC/ST persons/agencies to adopt the policy. In case they are unable to supply items above Rs 25,000 the MP Small Scale Industries Corporation can supply these items by buying from SC/ST persons and encourage them over time to make these supplies themselves directly. The power to relax any of these rules was given only to the officials of the Department of Welfare of SC and ST.10 Having laid down the rules on February 28, 2003, the Commerce and Industry ministry announced the establishment of ‘special registration’ in the DTIC in each district/town/city with ‘special registration rules’ to encourage SC/ST entrepreneurs to set up business/industrial establishments.11 All departments were expected to maintain separate annual accounts of all transactions with SC/ST entrepreneurs or their

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organizations for scrutiny by the government. Any government department that wanted to buy supplies could therefore immediately obtain a list of such entrepreneurs. Government supplies could be bought from those firms which were owned entirely by SCs/STs; where at least 50 per cent of the ownership was in the hands of SC/ST persons; where at least 50 per cent of the workforce consisted of SCs/STs or, in the case of a private limited company, where at least 50 per cent of the ownership was in the hands of SC/ST persons. However, the SCs/ STs to whom these preferences are offered at the DTIC must belong to MP and be permanent residents of the state and hold SC/ST certificates from district/state officials belonging to the government of MP. To avail of these benefits all SC/ST persons who wish to be considered must apply and register in special registration forms available with their local District Trade and Industry Centre. Special provisions for registering such persons were also made in registration centres set up in all the towns of the state. To register and gain benefits it was not necessary that they must belong to and be permanent residents of the district or block concerned or hold caste certificates from the local authorities. But proper caste certificates from the concerned authorities must replace temporary caste certificates within a specified period, without which the registration would be cancelled. No investigation would be undertaken while issuing the registration certificate; the veracity of the information supplied by the applicant would rest on the applicant and if subsequently found to be wrong the registration would be cancelled. Three kinds of entrepreneurs could be registered: SCs/STs who already own a business enterprise in the district and wish to be registered under the policy, those who are supplying the required industrial items to the government, or those who wish to start a new enterprise. The person would have to register as an industrialist or a businessperson, that is, as a supplier/ distributor of a particular item. Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe persons already running a business would be issued a letter of registration on the same day or within two working days by the local authorities. For incomplete application forms

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an extra 60 days were given, together with all possible help in completing the application. Each application is considered by the DTIC and in case a person cannot be registered he/she is informed in writing. The power of sanctioning registration is given to the head of the district commerce and industry department or, in his absence, to his deputy. If a person registers for more than one item, he has to furnish all details. The registration will remain valid for as long as the person wishes to keep it so; in case the government finds something wrong in the application it will be removed from the list of registered entrepreneurs. Once registered a person can supply items in any part of the state. After registration, in the case of complaints of a person not supplying on time or supplying goods of doubtful quality, the head of the district commerce and industry department will institute an enquiry by an official committee of senior officers and if found correct, registration will be cancelled. If not satisfied with the decision of the official enquiry committee all persons have a right of appeal to the district collector, who will look into the matter and his decision will be final. The keenness on the part of the Digvijay Singh government to pursue the policy of SD is seen in the targets established for each district and the pressure put on local authorities to encourage the scheme in their own area.12 In June 2003 an order by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry pointed out that publicizing and spreading awareness (‘protsahit karne ka purna prayas’) about the policy of SD through pamphlets available and encouraging SC/ST youth to take it up was the direct responsibility of the concerned departments.13 Finding that some DTIC offices had sent no lists of SC/ST entrepreneurs, it held that they should be able to immediately supply such lists so that the policy could work smoothly. All departments that could not fulfill this policy must communicate names of the items that could not be sourced from SC/ST persons to the Small-Scale Industries Corporation, Department of Welfare, Handloom Board, Khadigram Udyog, women and child development department, etc. These departments could then encourage, through their own channels, SC/ST suppliers/ entrepreneurs from these communities to take up this task.

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Thus, the government expected that coordination and communication between departments should be maintained so that this policy could be implemented. In July 2003 an order attempted to take the policy further through more concessions.14 It held that in case the price quoted by an SC/ST supplier/entrepreneur was the lowest among the bids received, the department concerned was authorized to buy the entire amount required from this person, not merely 30 per cent.15 In this way preference was given to those suppliers belonging to the reserved category who had the capacity to supply bulk goods of high quality at low prices. At the local level, apart from the goods that suppliers were registered for, the authorities could buy other items from them. In case the price quoted by a non-SC/ST supplier is less than that quoted by an SC/ST supplier then the concerned department should give the latter 15 days’ time to consider whether he can supply at the lower price in which case 30 per cent of the item can be sourced from him. The order also provided that if no SC/ST person is able to supply at the price fixed by the government, a fresh reasonable lower price could be fixed at which they can supply 30 per cent of the concerned item. If, despite all these efforts no such person were found, only then orders could be placed with non-SC/ST suppliers. These orders were sent to the governor’s secretariat, the Ministry of SC/ST Welfare, all ministries, corporations, district panchayats and DTICs. On November 1, 2002 the government issued orders giving the MP Housing Development Corporation, Special Area Development Boards, etc. powers to provide government land for housing and industrial purposes and reservation of shops for small businesses for persons belonging to SCs/STs: of the facilities available 15 per cent were to be provided to SCs and 10 per cent to STs.16 This order laid the groundwork for the government orders in 2003 that attempted to encourage SC/ST persons to set up their own shops/manufacturing industries. In all urban housing schemes of the government, these groups would also be given 6 per cent reservation. Land provided by any government agency for housing or industrial activity to SCs/STs would be free of cost with only development tax charged, together with credit at very low rates of interest, if they wished to start a business. If provision is made for SC

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persons and no such eligible persons are found this can be given to persons belonging to the ST category and vice-versa.17 The head of the Ministry of SC/ST Welfare had initially been designated as the nodal agency to look after the programme of providing 30 per cent preference to SCs/STs in government supplies. However, in an order in August 2003 the government designated the head of the Small-Scale Industry Corporation as the nodal agency for coordinating the programme. All information on a monthly basis by the 10th of each month regarding this scheme was to be sent to him and his office would maintain all records.18

Creating Dalit Entrepreneurs the RDS Simultaneously, while encouraging supplies to government departments by SCs/STs, in February 2003 the state government tried to encourage, through various incentives, entrepreneurs from these categories to take up manufacturing. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry on February 19, 2003, decided to amend its departmental rules.19 In the opening para of the rules which read that the ‘state should provide encouragement to industry’ an amendment added the words ‘and to persons belonging to SC and ST to take up industry’.20 In all items registered with and regularly supplied by smallscale industry in the state to the government, preference would henceforth be given to industries owned by SCs/STs provided the quality and standard of the item was maintained. In the case of all items produced by medium and large industry for the government, provided their quality and price is competitive with those produced by industries in other states, preference would be given to those produced by industries owned by SC/ST entrepreneurs. Based on this step the government introduced a new programme that attempted to help educated unemployed youth belonging to the SC/ST category to start industrial units through a self-employment programme. Named the Rani Durgavati Programme and started on April 1, 2003, it was open to all SC/ST educated unemployed persons between the ages of 18 to 50 belonging to and permanent residents of MP.21 It was necessary for them to have valid caste certificate from a

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designated official of the MP government. Preference was given to youth who were drawing unemployment allowance from the government or were technically trained or held a technical training certificate from a government polytechnic/institution. Women who qualified for this scheme were also given priority. Through the scheme the government had the ambitious aim of producing at least 5,000 entrepreneurs belonging to the SC/ST category every year and 25,000 entrepreneurs in five years. The key feature of the RDS that sets it apart from the 30 per cent scheme is the provision of ‘margin money’. Any entrepreneur who approaches a bank for credit to establish an industry has to put in a certain percentage of the money before he can obtain the loan. Dalits and tribals find it difficult to put in this money, which creates a barrier to their entry into the industrial sector.22 Under the RDS a selected entrepreneur is given up to Rs 50,000 as margin money to obtain credit. The amount could, in case of large industries, be more than 50,000 but in no circumstances more than 33 per cent of the total establishment cost. Entrepreneurs could also be given land for setting up the unit and 33 per cent of the cost of the land. If the firm shows profits for the first three years then the margin money given under the RDS is free. The RDS is the responsibility of the District Trade and Industry Centres. The GO provided all the details of the programme as well as application forms to be forwarded by SCs/STs to the district authorities that would register all applications and select those who were able to take advantage of the scheme. A ten-member committee tests the capabilities and required skills of the selected candidates. All applications of the eligible candidates would be considered on ‘first come first served basis’ by the committee headed by the secretary of the concerned District Trade and Industry department. It would consist of officials belonging to the district, namely the head of the district trade and industry department, officer in-charge of employment, the finance department, the district SC/ST welfare department, the MP SC/ST Cooperative Finance and Development organization, the commerce department, the District Gram Udyog department, District Urban development Agency, and members of the local government

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bank associated with the scheme. Other experts, such as members of the Small Industries Corporation, Laghu Udyog Nigam, would also be invited to be members of the committee which would meet on the 5th and 20th of every month; there would be no requirement of quorum and the committee would give its decision on the same day. The meetings would be held at the District Trade and Industry Centres but could also be held at the tehsil office, block office or local bank offices. The District Committee would examine the following aspects of the applicants: their basic literary skills; whether the applicants require technical/other kinds training and to arrange for the same; to see what kind of help the applicant needs to set up an industry; if the applicants, after undergoing training, wish to set up their own industry, to provide the requisite assistance whether technical, financial or otherwise. The names of those selected would be given to the District Yojana Samiti and the applicant would be informed within 15 days. The District Trade and Industry Centre would provide an official who would function as the advisor to every person selected. In the case of applicants who do not require training, the advisor would immediately start the project and provide help in filing applications for loans, approaching banks, putting them in touch with the necessary officials and getting the loan sanctioned, etc. For a period of two years after the establishment of the industry, the appointed advisor would remain in touch with the entrepreneur and, if necessary, from time to time provide assistance and keep the District Committee informed of the progress of the industry. In case of applicants who need technical or other kinds of training, the advisor would oversee the training which would be for about four weeks and provide advice and help in setting up the industry. Each batch consisting of about 20–40 applicants would be trained in book keeping, accounting, preparing project reports, market survey, availability of raw materials, preparing the application for the desired industry and fulfilling all formalities, the approvals required from various departments, registering with the industries department and other necessary formalities, how to obtain financial help

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from finance companies, etc. The trainees would also be taken for a tour of the district to familiarize them with existing industry and related features. The government would bear the full burden of the stay and all expenses related to the training; they would be charged only a minimum fee. Under the programme, by the time an individual’s training is over, the loan should be sanctioned on priority, and all other formalities completed so that within 30 days the industry could be established. But in no instance according to the rules should this time exceed 90 days. In case the entrepreneur does not receive the loan money within two months of it being sanctioned district officials, particularly the district collector and the district industries officials, are expected to personally look into the matter and after meeting the concerned bank officials see that the money is disbursed. The programme was given wide publicity on radio, television, through newspapers and through awareness camps organized by the district authorities. The rules also pointed out that any person who, through supplying false information or any other fraudulent means takes advantage of the scheme, would be punished and made to return all the financial assistance provided. However, under the rules of the RDS the applicant can use the margin money for buying land, vehicle or any other input needed to start an industry or even a 30 per cent supply business. Government data provided in the next section suggests that the large majority of those who applied for the RDS used it for setting up a supply business rather than a fullscale manufacturing unit. Most have used it to buy transport vehicles, land or shops for their business, though, in some of the bigger cities such as Bhopal, as the sample study of nine entrepreneurs in the next chapter shows, some did set up manufacturing units, or were trying to move from supply of an item to manufacturing it.23

Dilution of Policy under the BJP Government The BJP government, which came to power following the 2003 assembly elections, continued the SD policy introduced by the Digvijay Singh government. Given the importance of obtaining

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the support of the dalits and tribals, no political party in MP would reverse a policy meant to uplift these disadvantaged groups. As the interviews with dalit/tribal entrepreneurs and businessmen in the next chapter reveal, a number of them began supply of required items to the government during the period when the BJP was in power. However, in 2005 the BJP, in one stroke, diluted the existing policy of SD. While earlier any SC/ST could become a supplier to the government provided certain conditions were met, under new orders issued by Chief Minister Shivraj Chauhan only SC/ST manufacturers of the items to be supplied could take up the job of supplying the concerned item. As a result it became very difficult for SCs/STs to adopt the policy, as there are hardly any manufacturers belonging to these categories in MP, or for that matter in most states of India. Historically kept aside from education and business and reduced to menial jobs it would be very difficult even today to find any SC/ST manufacturers who could compete for government orders. As discussed in the next chapter the move was due to pressure from long-established suppliers belonging to the upper/trading castes, traditionally supporters of the BJP, who found that gradually an increasing number of dalits/tribals were beginning to make inroads into a sphere over which they had enjoyed a virtual monopoly for a long period of time. Yet at the same time, the BJP government has continued to support the policy with changes aimed at appropriating it to ensure support from disadvantaged groups. The RDS, renamed as the Rani Durgawati Yojana, is mentioned in the new industrial policy announced by the BJP government in 2004 as an important self-employment scheme in the state under the supervision of the MP Rozgar Nirman Board. Loans would be provided by adopting a hand-holding system to impart special training and guidance under the Rani Durgavati Yojana to set up self-employment ventures by SC/ST entrepreneurs/ businessmen. The 33 per cent margin money of the scheme would be provided as subsidy to such beneficiaries. By this scheme employment to a minimum of 5,000 persons would be provided in the state every year. Worker guilds would be set up for augmenting employment opportunities. These guilds, under the director of training, would design a syllabus for

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providing training at the district level to unemployed youth in line with the requirements of industries/commerce and provide proficiency certification so that they are able to harness employment opportunities in the open market.24 The policy further provided interest subsidy to SCs/STs and women entrepreneurs at the rate of 5 per cent for a period of five years without any maximum limit and irrespective of whether the unit was set up in a backward/forward district. Small-scale industries set up by SCs/STs and women entrepreneurs in advanced districts would be given investment subsidy at the rate of 15 per cent of fixed capital investment to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh. Maximum limit of investment subsidy on fixed capital investment for small-scale industries set up by SCs/STs and women entrepreneurs would be Rs 6 lakh, Rs 12 lakh and Rs 17.50 lakh in backward ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ category districts respectively. The scheme is also mentioned in the Integrated Livelihood Programme consisting of a number of livelihood programmes announced on October 5, 2007 at Bhopal by the state cabinet at its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.25 The BJP government has also made attempts to improve the implementation of the policy. In November 2006 the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in a notice to all departments, pointed out that the information about the annual amount of government supplies provided by persons belonging to the SC/ST category as required under the GO 1902.03 was not being regularly provided.26 It pointed out that under the orders promulgated on August 18, 2003, such information was to be supplied on a monthly basis by the 10th of each month to the Laghu Udyog Bhawan, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Bhopal as the nodal agency handling this scheme. Directing that this should be done regularly in the future, the order pointed out that since information on the policy was not supplied on a regular basis, evaluation of its implementation was not possible. The order directed that within seven days the information must reach the nodal agency and in future information about the same must be regularly supplied. It was also held that the responsibility of supplying the information lay with the head of each department who should appoint one of the officers of the department as the nodal officer responsible for supplying the information.

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National/State Level Initiatives: Little Progress Following the Bhopal Declaration and the example set by the MP government in adopting the policy of SD, pronouncements have been made by the central and a few state governments promising extension of job reservations to the private sector and diversity in business/industry. Strident demands over the last few years for extension of reservations to the private sector for dalits or for OBCs in institutions of higher education have led to politicization of the issue making it imperative for political parties and governments to support moves towards affirmative action. However, very little actual progress has been made in this direction. The former prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, made public pronouncements in favour of reservations in the private sector when he addressed the SC and ST members of Parliament on December 19, 2003. The election manifestoes of both the Congress and the BJP prior to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections promised to initiate the process of providing affirmative action in the private sphere. Once in power, the Congressled UPA government’s Common Minimum Programme (CMP) not only mentioned reservations, but put it more broadly: The UPA government is very sensitive to the issue of affirmative action, including reservation in the private sector. It will immediately initiate a dialogue with all political parties, industry and other organizations to see how best the private sector can fulfill the aspirations of the SC and ST youth.27

In October 2006 a top cabinet panel of the central government set up to encourage entrepreneurship among SCs/STs recommended that 30 per cent of purchases by the central government should be through entrepreneurs belonging to these groups. It directed the ministry for small-scale industries to draft a statutory procurement policy to make ‘preferential purchases from SC/ST traders and suppliers mandatory by the government’. The committee, comprising ministers Ram Vilas Paswan, Mahabir Prasad, and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, and the sub-group of the committee on dalit affairs under minister Pranab Mukherjee, made the recommendation based on the preferential procurement policy of MP, the first such

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measure adopted in the country (Ghildiyal 2006). Union Social Justice Minister Meira Kumar has argued that preferential treatment is the initial push to ‘expose them (SC/ST) into the new world of trade and commerce’ (‘Give SC/STs preference in govt. purchases’, Times News Network, The Times of India, December 8, 2006). The UPA government does not seem keen to go ahead considering the already strong opposition it is facing from the corporate sector to job reservations in the private sector. Before introducing any new policies it has called for a national dialogue to first develop a common consensus on the issue. Regarding reservations in the private sector, only the Maharashtra government passed an Act in 2001 in pursuance of Clause 3 of Article 348 of the Constitution under which a local or statutory authority constituted under any Act of the state legislature, a cooperative society in which share capital is held by the government, government-aided institutions, including institutions or industries which have given aid prior to the coming into force of this Act or, thereafter in the form of government land at concessional rates or other monetary concessions, and institutions that are recognized, licensed, supervised or controlled by the government, come under its purview.28 The principle of creamy layer will apply to all categories mentioned above except for SCs and STs; it is intertransferable, effective at all stages of promotion and vacancies can be carried forward for up to five years in case of direct employment and up to three years in case of promotion. Noncompliance carries a punishment of imprisonment for 90 days or a fine of Rs 5,000 or both.29 Given the pressure for introducing reservations in the private sector, the UPA government, based on the CMP, has set up a group of ministers to arrive at some workable policy. Inside Parliament, R. S. Gavai submitted a non-official resolution in the Rajya Sabha in 2004.30 Some chief ministers have taken cognizance of the demand for this policy. S. M. Krishna, while in office, agreed that some form of private sector reservation was ‘inevitable’ (Omvedt 2005). Mayawati, during her fourth term in office, was reportedly working towards a reservation policy she hoped would be acceptable to industrialists. Having won the UP state assembly elections held in March–April

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2007 with an absolute majority on the promise of creating a broad-based and inclusive government that would take into consideration the interests of all sections of society including the upper castes/classes, in August 2007 she put forward a proposal of ‘social engineering’ that she claimed would not create conflict between the upper and lower castes and would be acceptable to industry (Kalhans 2007).31 The BSP government offered ‘incentives’ to private entrepreneurs for setting up units in UP if they provided 30 per cent reservation of jobs in them for members of the SCs, OBCs, minorities and the ‘economically backward upper castes’. The 30 per cent quota being sought would be equally divided, with the SCs, OBCs and minorities together, and the economically backward upper castes getting 10 per cent each. While the details were not clear, the incentives included concessions in stamp duty, relaxation in trade tax, excise rebate and ‘many other facilities’. Industrialists interested in buying sick public sector units belonging to the state government would also get a loan waiver. Already existing industrial units, service sector projects and educational institutions could also avail of the incentives if they implemented the policy. The policy is purely voluntary and industrial units not interested in incentives offered can go ahead without implementing reservations (ibid.). However, industrialists in UP have refused to consider the proposals.

Impact of Supplier Diversity: Adoption and Spread On August 27, 2002, based upon the new rules of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Chief Minister Digvijay Singh distributed the first supply order worth Rs 9 lakh to 43 dalit entrepreneurs, manufacturers and shopkeepers of Bhopal and Hoshangabad divisions. To give more strength to the programme the government approved a package of constructing 10,000 shops for dalit entrepreneurs in the next five years. The package was accompanied by a decision to help 1,000 SC/ST small entrepreneurs start their own businesses. It claimed subsequently that many of these experiments proved to be successful in changing the lives of those who had taken up

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the challenge. From 2003 the government extended the principle of diversity to all departments that would set aside 30 per cent of supplies to SC/ST entrepreneurs (Prasad 2004: 227). Writing about this scheme in his ‘Dalit Diary’, Chandrabhan Prasad calculated that if these orders were repeated for a period of four or five years, these 1,600 suppliers could turn into formidable businesspersons. If, he argues, 500 dalits get PWD contracts in the next financial year, and get repeat contracts for another five years, many of them would turn into big-time builders, with their own construction companies (ibid.: 228). For understanding whether this is possible, an analysis of the government data on the rate of adoption and spread of the policy in the state since its inception is provided in this section. Table 8.1 and 8.2 provide data on the number of dalits/tribals who have adopted the SD and the RDS policies respectively in MP. Detailed district-wise figures for both the schemes are provided in Table 1 and 2 in the appendix to this chapter. Table 8.1 shows the number of entrepreneurs who have adopted the 30 per cent SD policy in all the 50 districts since August 2002 when the policy was initiated.32 Separate lists are maintained by each DTIC and then sent to the Ministry of Industry and Trade where they are compiled.33 Government reports do not maintain separate lists for dalits and tribals for the 30 per cent scheme, although, as Table 8.2 shows, it is maintained for the RDS. However, DTIC officials maintain that the large majority of the entrepreneurs are dalits in both schemes except in districts where tribals form a majority of the population. The RDS list shows a similar trend. According to Table 8.1, in the state of MP a total of 932 entrepreneurs had made use of the SD policy over a period of about five years. Out of 932 entrepreneurs, 875 were suppliers to government departments and only 57 had taken to manufacturing. Out of 50 districts, only in seven districts was it seen that no person had adopted the 30 per cent supply scheme. This shows that the policy was well-publicized and promoted by the district authorities. However, in 34 districts the number of those who adopted the scheme was only between 1 and 30; and in five districts between 30 and 50 persons

340 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh Table 8.1 Number of Dalit/Tribal Suppliers and Manufacturers Who Have Adopted the 30% SD Policy in 50 Districts of MP (2003–07) Entrepreneurs No. of Suppliers 875 None 1 to 30 30–50 Above 50 Total Districts

No. of Districts 7 34 5 4 50

No. of Manufacturers 57 None 1 to 30 30–50 Above 50 Total Districts

No. of Districts

Total Entrepreneurs 932

31 19 – – 50

Source: Compiled from Table 1 in the appendix to this chapter.

had been able to do so. Only in four districts the total number of entrepreneurs who were able to supply to the government was above 50. The situation is worse in the case of dalit/ tribal manufacturers. In as many as 31 districts dalits/tribals have not been able to take up manufacturing which is not surprising as this requires a high level of investment. A more detailed analysis is possible from the district-wise data presented in Table 1 in the appendix to this chapter. It shows that most of the entrepreneurs—both suppliers and manufacturers—are located in a few better-off districts with developed infrastructure, many government offices leading to high demand for supplies, and most important, an educated dalit/tribal class. The largest number is located in Bhopal followed by other big cities/towns such as Indore, Ujjain, Jhabua, Balaghat, Katni, Dindori, Sehore, Sagar and Damoh. Elsewhere the number is small. The increase in entrepreneurs over the last five years has been in these districts and has not spread to other districts. Even within these districts, a perusal of the business addresses of the suppliers/manufacturers shows that almost all of them are located in the district headquarters or the bigger towns/cities in the district. The rural areas remain untouched. However, it is important to note that certain districts with a big tribal population have a large number of entrepreneurs.

797 915 1183 2895 239

Target Achieved (Number)

ST Target (Number)

2000 1000 2000 5000 1000∗

1688 1349 2137 5174 515

Target Achieved (Number)

3000 1000 3000 7000 2000∗

SC Target (Number)

39.8 91.5 59.15 57.90 23.90

Target Achieved (Percentage)

56.27 134.9 71.23 73.91 25.75

Target Achieved (Percentage)

31621500 44252000 59844250 135717750 34451600

Margin Money Earmarked (Amount)

24796000 42927000 90199012 157922012 53101900

Margin Money Earmarked (Amount)

Source: Compiled from Table 2 in the appendix to this chapter. ∗ Target set for the whole year,This row is taken from the larger report. Note: # Figures for 2003–4 were not available.

2004–5# 2005–6 2006–7 Total Up to July 2007

Category Year

2004–5# 2005–6 2006–7 Total Up to July 2007

Category Year

Table 8.2 Targets Set and Achievements in the RDS for the State of MP Between 2004 and July 2007

25203855 42396325 56948660 124548840 14629999

Margin Money used (Amount)

23001958 42874921 88617573 154494452 28297699

Margin Money Used (Amount)

79.70 95.81 95.16 91.77 42.46

Margin Money used (Percentage)

92.76 99.88 98.25 97.82 53.28

Margin Money Used (Percentage)

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Jhabua, with a tribal population of 85 per cent, Dindori 66.7 per cent, Rewa 66 per cent, Chhindwara 34 per cent, Katni with 23.4 per cent, Ratlam with 23 per cent and Balaghat with 21.6 per cent, are good examples. In these districts the literacy rate among tribals, particularly among males, is above 50 per cent. They are also placed fairly high in the HDI of MP. Most of these districts are populated by Gond and Bhil tribals who are better placed than other tribal groups in the state. Table 1 in the appendix to this chapter shows that the districts of Jhabua and Dindori have 11 and 10 manufacturers respectively. A perusal of the names of the business/manufacturing firms in the government list reveals the type of enterprises in which dalit/tribal youth have invested. About 70 per cent of the suppliers deal in four items: stationery, kirana or general provision stores, furniture and electrical goods; 50 per cent being kirana shops and 20 per cent supply agents of office goods such as coolers, computers, food, etc. Most district and tehsil offices buy their stationery requirements including computers from dalit/tribal entrepreneurs. Digvijay Singh began this system by ensuring that in 2002 supplies to ashram schools and district government offices were provided under the 30 per cent scheme. In many places this has continued. Setting up a stationery, provision or electrical goods store even in one of the smaller towns is of immense benefit as apart from supplying the government, the owner can also sell to the general public. If a small shop owner is able to obtain a contract for supplying goods even for three–four years he is able to pay off his initial loan and can then continue his business in the general market. Apart from these four items dalit/tribal entrepreneurs also supply fertilizer and plants, steel items such as almirahs, doors, pumpsets, carpets, etc. A small number of entrepreneurs supply expensive items such as cement, stone chips, building materials, electronic items and heavy machinery. The items being manufactured are mostly simple items such as coolers, furniture, bamboo items, leather goods, durries and clothes, etc. Table 1 in the appendix to this chapter also provides the value of goods supplied/manufactured in rupees annually by each entrepreneur. In most cases the amount is small being be-tween 1 to 15 lakh, except in the case of manufacturers.

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Only in the case of Jabbalpur does the annual production go up to 55 lakh, and in Bhopal, 2 crore. There is no big industrial enterprise as yet among those supplying to the government. However, the items are supplied in bulk and therefore provide a reasonably good livelihood and an opening into the business and industrial sector. The next chapter shows that a few of the selected entrepreneurs who have successfully supplied to government for a few years are now thinking of moving onto manufacturing. However, the number of those who are in a position to do so is at present, very less. While there are no systematic studies as yet on the impact of the policy, a survey in the districts of Balaghat, Dindori, Chhindawara and Seoni mentions the success achieved by some dalit/tribal small shop owners/suppliers.34 In Balaghat district, during 2002–3, 56 entrepreneurs belonging to the SC/ST communities had supplied goods to the government worth a total of Rs 14.94 lakh (Nagele 2003: 14). In village Boodi, tehsil Kumhari, Balaghat district, two dalit youths— Uday Kumar Dhok, son of Hemraj Dhok, aged 29 and Sudhir Bagde, son of Panjilal, both of whom have post-graduate degrees obtained in 2000 and in 1997 respectively—joined hands to set up a shop named U.S. Group of General Store and Home Services in September 2001. The shop delivers provisions to the homes of their customers. The shop was set up with financial assistance from friends and family members as both failed to obtain a loan from any source. However, since mid-2002 the hostel set up by the ST welfare department in the tehsil has started buying all its requirements of Rs 10,000– 15,000 per month from the shop providing them an additional income which has allowed the business to take off. Another example from the same district is Gulab Gajbiye, son of Amar Das Gajbiye of village Bagdara, an educated youth who had completed class 12 in 1992 and had received training as a motor mechanic from the Government Industrial Training Institute and was an instructor in the same but lost his job when the centre was closed down in 1998. He opened a general store in Kosme in Balaghat district in July 2001 called Vansh Stationery and General Store with a loan of Rs 35,000 from the ST Finance and Development Corporation

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and Rs 20,000 from his family members. The ST welfare department bought about Rs 38,000 worth stationery and books per month from his shop that has helped him to pay back his loan and carry on his business. The same survey revealed that in Chhindwara Dindori and Seoni districts during 2002–3, three entrepreneurs have supplied goods worth Rs 3.90 lakh, Rs 1.33 lakh and Rs 8.85 lakh respectively to the government (ibid.).35 Table 8.2 provides figures for the RDS for self-employment started in 2003 by the Digvijay Singh government, which, as discussed earlier, has been continued by the BJP government as part of an Integrated Livelihood Development programme. It shows that the state government set annual targets for the number of SCs and STs who, it was felt, could apply for the RDS and earmarked margin money for the same. For SCs the targeted number up to 2007 was 7,000; 3,000 each year except for 2005–6 when the figure fell to 1,000. Considering that MP is a big state with 50 districts all having fairly dense population, the target set is not very high. However, the response to the target has been good. A total of 5,174 SCs have applied for the scheme over a period of three years, which is 73.91 per cent of the target set by the government. The margin money provided has risen steadily, was doubled in 2006, and over 92 per cent has been used each year. In the case of tribals the targets and funds earmarked are lower and the targets achieved are almost half that of dalits. This is because education levels are lower and the number of tribals capable of applying is lower. The number who applied for the scheme rose from 39.85 per cent in 2004–5 to 91.50 per cent in 2005–6, but dropped to 59.15 per cent the next year though the margin money used has been over 91 per cent except in 2004–5. The large amount of margin money used suggests that the large majority of dalits and tribals who have made use of the RDS as shown in Table 2 in the appendix to this chapter to obtain loans have taken up suppliership rather than set up manufacturing units. As mentioned earlier, they have used it to buy essentials for their business such as land, shops or other raw materials rather than setting up a full-scale industrial units.

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Table 2 in the appendix to this chapter gives information on the districts in which SCs and STs have used the RDS scheme. It shows a good spread across the state in both target setting and utilization of the margin money. This is because with the margin money provided loans can be more easily obtained for small businesses such as shops. In the case of SCs, higher targets per district have been set than for STs, particularly in six districts where the target is above 100; in another six districts the target is above 90 annually while it drops in all the others. Scheduled Castes have adopted the scheme in all districts but the number reached has not been high. In Indore while the target set is 133, in 2004–5 the number achieved was barely 17; in Ujjain the target was 133, the number achieved was only seven. Nor has the number of SCs adopting the scheme increased between 2004 and 2007; in many cases it has dropped. In fact, following the experience gained in 2004 the target was lowered in all districts in 2005 but raised again in 2006. In the case of STs, in seven districts the scheme was not adopted leading to lowering of targets in these cases. Targets set for STs are much lower than for SCs but the money earmarked has been fully used in most districts. Seven districts have been targeted as they have a large concentration of STs in the population: Jhabua, Jabbalpur, Shahdol, Chindwara, Khargone, Betul and Balaghat. In these districts targets have been met and even been exceeded in some cases showing that STs have made good use of the scheme. The fact that both schemes are meant only for a small educated class in the better-off districts of MP is clear when we look at the number of registrations per DTIC. Table 3 in the appendix to this chapter provides the amount and percentage of supplies provided by SC/ST entrepreneurs out of the total supplies to each DTIC in the state. It shows that the number of DTICs to which SC/ST entrepreneurs have supplied under the scheme are very few: 13 in 2003–4, 14 in 2004–5 and 17 in 2005–6 and 2007 out of the total of 51 DTICs in the state. Second, it is in the better-off districts such as Bhopal, Ujjain, Hoshangabad, Raisen, Sagar and Satna that SC/ST entrepreneurs have registered in order to supply to government

346 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

departments. These districts have an educated class of SC/ ST individuals willing and capable of taking the risk of becoming entrepreneurs. However, the percentage supplied in these districts is in many cases above 30 per cent. In Raisen it is above 33, Betul 40, Hoshangabad 93 and later 100, and in Mandsaur 100 per cent in 2006–7. The scheme has spread since 2003 but at a very slow rate adding at the most four districts between 2003 and 2007. Finally, government reports show that SC/ST suppliers have supplied to a wide variety of departments in 49 districts ranging from the police department, tehsil offices to the veterinary and women and child welfare department. The state government had initially experimented with the programme in a few departments but by 2003 had extended it to all departments.

Conclusion It is now possible to assess the design and formulation of the twin policies under the SD programme—30 per cent suppliership to government institutions and the RDS—and their viability as programmes for the upliftment of dalits and tribals. Although the policy is borrowed from the US, it is mainly based upon the ideas put forward at the Bhopal Conference and subsequent Task Force. The actual policies have been adapted by the state government to suit existing conditions in MP. The specific requirements of dalits/tribals in MP have been kept in mind as the design of the RDS and the district registration schemes demonstrate. The SD policy is the product of a partnership between a committed political leadership and a supportive senior bureaucracy in the state who formulated the required rules. While the former was keen to gain the support of the dalits/tribals who form a substantial section of the population, the latter felt that the older reservation policies of the past needed to be replaced with new ones more suited to the emerging postliberalization economy and polity. Realizing that the private sector was not willing to integrate dalit and tribal entrepreneurs into the industrial chain through supplierships and dealerships, they decided to initiate these policies by giving

New Initiatives in Affirmative Action

347

government supply orders to entrepreneurs belonging to these disadvantaged communities. The state, they argued, should play a key role in helping dalits/tribals. Only in the second stage would it be possible to involve the private sector. The analysis suggests that the two policies were on the whole well-conceived and formulated at the state and district level. The rules are progressive in character and designed to help dalits/tribals adopt supplierships or set up manufacturing units. Government orders constantly reiterate that every effort must be made by all departments to publicize the programme and actively encourage SCs/STs to adopt the policy. Digvijay Singh took personal interest in these policies and his office monitored them closely. A number of amendments were introduced in the existing industrial rules to provide preference to dalits and tribals in key areas such as entry into the programme, pricing, amount of material supplied, time frame, credit policies, etc. Based on actual experience, many concessions and changes in the rules were made and new policies, such as the RDS that provide margin money for setting up business/industrial establishments, were added. The policy was extended to providing free land, housing and shops for setting up enterprises. The DTICs were given special powers to register and assist dalit/tribal entrepreneurs in availing credit, setting up business/industrial units, providing supplies and advice to potential entrepreneurs. The single most advantageous feature of the policy for dalits and tribals is that it provides a steady and assured market during the crucial early years. While credit and other requirements can be obtained from government sources or from banks, selling goods procured/manufactured in the open market is difficult for any new business. This is particularly difficult for groups such as dalits and tribals who suffer the double disadvantage of experiencing caste bias and little knowledge or experience of running a business or industry. A few existing studies of the impact of SD clearly demonstrate that it enables dalits/tribals even in remote towns to set up small shops that manage to survive due to an initial supply contract to the government. While these shops provide a substantial income to educated dalit/tribal youth, they could

348 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

also provide a stepping stone to bigger ventures in the future. The BJP government continued the policy after the 2003 elections and SD has become an accepted part of state policy in MP. The figures point to a drop in the number of individuals adopting the programme in 2004–5 due to the dilution of the programme by the BJP. Nevertheless, it has continued, though at a slower pace, despite the changes introduced by the new government. The UPA government at the centre has shown interest in adopting similar policies but with pressure to introduce reservations in the private sector, not much progress has taken place. Official data reveals that dalits and tribals in the state have welcomed the policy. Except for seven districts, in all other districts both groups have attempted to make use of these policies. In the case of tribals the official data shows that in districts where they are concentrated in large numbers such as Jhabua and Dindori, a considerable number have adopted the policy and a few have taken to manufacturing of simple items. However, the spread in the case of both dalits and tribals of the adoption of the policy is largely limited to a small, educated class based in the bigger cities/towns. The bulk of them are located in 34 out of the 51 districts in the state. The number of manufacturers is even fewer, being limited to 18 districts. Even within these districts the bulk of businesses are located in a few better-off districts such as Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior and Jhabua. An analysis of the investment levels also indicates that most are small suppliers of simple items such as stationery, furniture and electrical goods to government departments, with no large manufacturers. The number of those adopting the policy has grown since 2002 but slowly, and even these are found in the better-off districts. In sum, the study suggests that a small, successful beginning was made by the Digvijay Singh government and it remains to be seen if the policy is taken forward by governments in the future either at the centre or in the states. Clearly, nurturing such a policy is required for it to reach its objectives. In the next chapter, through interviews and close interaction with selected dalit/tribal entrepreneurs in Bhopal and against the background of the official data provided, we move to an examination of how the policy has actually worked since 2002.

New Initiatives in Affirmative Action

349

Notes 1. This section is based on interviews with many bureaucrats involved in the formulation or implementation of the SD policy. Most of it is based on the interview with Dr Amar Singh, former secretary to Digvijay Singh and one of the persons responsible for the introduction of the Rani Durgawati Scheme, at his residence in New Delhi on October 14, 2007. The interview with J. N. Kansotiya, former district collector of Rajgarh who introduced me to other officials responsible for implementation of the scheme, at his residence at Bhopal on August 26, 2008 was also helpful. 2. Discussion on the policy with Chain Singh Dhurve, general manager, District Trade and Industry Centre, Mandideep, District Raisen at Bhopal August 26, 2007. 3. This estimate was mentioned by R. L. Tiwari, general manager, DTIC Bhopal, during a discussion in November 2007. 4. Discussion with Dr Amar Singh on March 10, 2008 at his residence in Delhi. 5. Government order F 6-6/7/94 of February 17, 1994. Department of Revenue, Government of MP, Bhopal. 6. See Chapter 3. 7. Government order 6-7/2002/11 A of May 30, 2002 and June 11, 2002, Government of MP, Bhopal. 8. Government order 23-33/2002/25-4, Department of SC and ST Welfare, Government of MP, Bhopal. 9. Details of the rules promulgated are available in the compendium of rules (in Hindi) ‘Anusuchit Jati/Jan Jati Varg ke Udhmiyo/Vikreta/ Sansthano/Uthpadako Ko Shaskiya Kraya Me Prathmikta Sambandhi Pravdhan’, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of MP, Bhopal (henceforth Compendium of Rules for the policy of SD). 10. Government order 23-33/2002/25-4, Department of SC and ST Welfare, Government of MP, Bhopal, pp. 35–37. 11. Compendium of Rules for the policy of SD. 12. See Table 2 in the appendix to this chapter. 13. Government order F 6-43/03/11-A dated June 16, 2003, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of MP, Bhopal. 14. Government order F-6-43/03/11-A, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, dated July 26, 2003, Government of MP, Bhopal. 15. This was done in some of the better-off districts in which dalit/tribal entrepreneurs were able to do this. See the next section. 16. Government order F-3-43/2001/32, Ministry of Housing and Environment, Government of MP, Bhopal. 17. Ibid., pp. 28–29. 18. Government order F-6-59/03/A/11, dated August 18, 2003, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of MP, Bhopal.

350 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh 19. Government order F-8/03/11-A dated February 19, 2003, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of MP, Bhopal. 20. Translation of the Hindi government order is my own. 21. Government order 6-8/2003/11-A, dated February 28, 2003, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of MP, Bhopal. This was the brainchild of Dr Amar Singh, then secretary to the chief minister, who was instrumental in helping a number of dalit/tribal entrepreneurs make use of the new policy. In the interviews with selected entrepreneurs in Bhopal many mention him as the person who helped them in making use of this policy. See Chapter 9. 22. Interview with Dr Amar Singh at his residence in New Delhi, October 14, 2007. 23. This was mentioned by R. L. Tiwari, general manager, DTIC Bhopal in a discussion on October 25, 2007. 24. See http://commerce.nic.in/index.asp, the website of the MP government, Department of Commerce and Industry, visited on August 2007. 25. Ibid. 26. Government order 6-59/03/A-11, dated November 25, 2006, Department of Commerce, Industry and Empolyment, Government of MP, Bhopal. 27. From the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the Congress-led UPA government that came to power in 2004. As it was a coalition government the Congress worked out a Common Minimum Programme with its partners consisting of certain commonly agreed policies that they decided must be legislated and implemented. 28. The ‘Maharashtra State Public Services (Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, De-notified Tribes, Nomadic Tribes, Special Backward Category and other Backward Classes Act, 2001’. Maharashtra Act no. VIII of 2004. 29. Ibid. 30. Non-Official Resolution tabled in the Rajya Sabha by R. S. Gavai, April 16, 2004. 31. For details about the dalit-Brahmin-Muslim alliance attempted by Mayawati during the electoral campaign, see Pai (2007). 32. It is a continuously updated list maintained by the state government based on reports filed by the DTICs in the state. The list given here is till October 2007. 33. The total list for the state is very difficult to obtain, as the data remains scattered over the different DTICs. I am grateful to Mr R. L. Tiwari, general manager, DTIC Bhopal for specially getting it compiled at my request in October 2007. The names of the entrepreneurs and of their business/industry have not been given. 34. By a journalist in Bhopal, Sarman Nagele. The findings are given in MP Post, an online newspaper available on mppost.org. I am grateful to Nagele for giving me a copy of the findings and for a general discussion on the impact of the SD policy in Bhopal, December 15, 2005.

New Initiatives in Affirmative Action

351

35. A film by the MP publicity department on the working of the SD policy shows that dalit/tribal youth in smaller towns have set up small shops that have provided them a livelihood. Many of them want to move onto bigger businesses gradually. I am grateful to Chandrabhan Prasad for a copy of the film.

Appendix Table 1 List of SC/ST Entrepreneurs Registered Under the 30% Supplier Diversity Policy in all Districts of Madhya Pradesh (2003–7)

District Bhopal Sehore Raisen Rajgarh Vidisha Betul Hoshangabad Mandidip Harda Indore Dhar Khargone Khandwa Dewas Jhabua Pitampur Ujjain Mandsaur Shajapur Neemuch Badwani Ratlam Gwalior Shivpuri Guna Datiya Bhind Morena Sheopur Jabbalpur Narsinghpur

No of Entrepreneurs

Amount Supplied Annually in Rs

89 20 13 25 8 4 28 0 11 56 3 0 19 4 76 0 20 15 2 5 3 22 24 22 1 3 2 1 1 19 16

1 lakh–2 crore NA 1.25–5 lakh 1–5.30 lakh NA NA 1–24 lakh – NA 2–3390 lakh over 500 lakh – 1–100 lakh 2–4 lakh 1–200,000 lakh – 1–5 lakh 3–925 lakh NA NA 2–6 lakh NA NA 1–5 lakh NA 1–25 lakh NA NA NA 30–55 lakh 1.25–11 lakh

Supplier Manufacturer 89 20 13 22 7 4 20 0 11 54 2 0 17 4 65 0 19 14 1 [email protected] 3 22 18 22 1 3 2 1 1 [email protected] 16

0 0 0 3 1 0 8 0 0 2 1 0 2 0 11 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0

(Appendix Table 1 continued)

352 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh (Appendix Table 1 continued) District Chindwara Seoni Mandla Balaghat Katni Dindori Rewa Satna Siddhi Shahdol Anuppur Umaria Sagar Damoh Chhattarpur Tikamgarh Panna Burhanpur Ashoknagar Total

No of Entrepreneurs 38 28 19 51 36 47 18 17 18 7 0 16 60 35 18 12 0 0 0 932

Amount Supplied Annually in Rs 1.31–5 lakh 1–4.50 lakh 0.50–5.50 lakh 0.20–7 lakh 0.70–22 lakh 0.14–48 lakh NA 1.15–3.25 lakh NA NA – 3–15 lakh 1–25 lakh 1–24 lakh 1.5–10 lakh NA 0 0 0 –

Supplier Manufacturer 38 27 19 50 35 37 18 16 18 7 0 16 58 35 18 12 – – – 875

0 1 0 1 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 57

Source: Report compiled from the reports of all the DTIC in MP, Government of MP, Bhopal. The list is up to October 2007. Note: @ 1 is both a supplier and manufacturer. The list of SC and ST entrepreneurs is not maintained separately as in the case of the RDS scheme. The names of the entrepreneurs and their business/industries have not been given.

2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05

Indore

Rewa

Morena

Satna

Gwalior

Chhattarpur

Sagar

Ujjain

Period

District

133/28 43/13 129/26 133/9 48/5 144/10 133/30 45/16 135/32 112/14 37/4 111/8 106/11 35/5 105/10 106/45 34/23 102/46 99/18 35/2 105/4 94/11

Target (Number) (SC/ST) 17/4 15/2 3/12 71/7 104/4 50/1 82/16 30/7 62/16 4/6 87/2 49/1 39/0 37/2 52/2 27/4 19/5 32/15 67/2 12/2 94/3 40/8

Achieved (Number) (SC/ST) 925000 1917000 1600000 1631000 42545000 3800000 1154750 645000 5447900 635000 3330000 237000 742000 741000 3100000 742000 487000 1550000 1093000 802000 5197500 658000

300000 193000 700000 2534000 74000 100000 300000 238000 500000 1500000 213500 125000 110000 224000 150000 350000 480500 700000 180000 30000 25000 410000

Earmarked Earmarked (Amount) Lakhs (Amount) Lakhs (SC) (ST) 300000 193000 700000 2534000 73833 100000 300000 238000 419630 924944 156900 1500 0 213400 150000 350000 170958 700000 12400 25000 25000 394581

(Appendix Table 2 continued)

924335 1917000 1600000 1629320 4244925 3800000 1154750 645000 5447850 63500 3319439 2360448 742000 741000 3100000 350000 485860 1548583 1093000 801930 5197500 658000

Money Used Money Used (Amount) Lakhs (Amount) Lakhs (SC) (ST)

Table 2 District-wise List of Dalit and Tribal Entrepreneurs Who Have Used the RDS 2004–7

Bhopal

Tikamgarh

Shahdol

Jabbalpur

Shivpuri

Shahjapur

Guna

District

Target (Number) (SC/ST)

34/21 102/42 91/33 20/10 60/20 91/7 33/3 99/6 91/28 30/14 90/28 90/66 30/28 90/56 88/117 8/24 24/48 88/10 33/4 99/8 80/12 28/5 84/10

Period

2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07

(Appendix Table 2 continued)

40/7 67/10 104/0 25/13 48/8 62/8 48/1 49/3 84/8 14/8 73/12 47/19 90/13 108/15 28/41 11/37 13/50 72/4 44/3 67/5 47/4 22/2 34/6

Achieved (Number) (SC/ST) 487000 1550000 1137000 296000 2259000 635000 473000 761000 632000 430000 2450000 630000 3000000 2150000 280000 115000 35000 417000 473000 1465377 500000 1062000 3036500

312000 650000 330000 194500 300000 85000 125000 119500 28000 50000 110000 680000 416000 2450000 1170000 1091000 3320000 100000 59000 46500 345000 74000 798000

Earmarked Earmarked (Amount) Lakhs (Amount) Lakhs (SC) (ST) 487000 670305 1137000 296000 2259000 376350 473000 760700 623000 430000 2450000 628732 3000000 2149000 124300 115000 350000 407400 472962 1465377 558978 1062000 3036500

61750 396530 0 194500 300000 71759 125000 119500 25000 50000 110000 223500 416000 2381000 436100 1091000 3317087 8000 27500 46500 27500 19000 581751

Money Used Money Used (Amount) Lakhs (Amount) Lakhs (SC) (ST)

Hoshangabad

Bhind

Khandwa

Damoh

Rajgarh

Sehore

Chindwara

Dewas

Vidisha

2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07

80/10 27/5 81/10 80/32 28/18 84/36 76/102 24/54 72/108 72/12 25/10 75/20 72/9 25/5 75/10 68/24 24/12 72/24 65/75 12,26 36/52 61/3 20/1 60/3 60/33 20/28 60/28

62/1 27/3 61/3 34/10 76/25 80/27 28/26 42/36 45/65 71/4 24/13 46/12 37/8 48/4 19/3 32/5 9/4 51/6 36/36 7/24 38/23 19/1 17/0 38/0 41/7 15/13 39/13

557250 387000 620000 560000 210500 3300000 532000 844000 1100000 504000 898000 3566500 963000 1724000 3137000 476000 344000 1075000 450000 672000 1670000 427000 296000 1977000 420000 287000 1547000

100000 232000 300000 2534000 2645000 1050000 1294000 1373000 2700000 190000 578000 187500 408000 274000 456000 240000 238000 375000 750000 1381300 800000 30000 15000 150000 330000 1450000 1450000

2500 199200 300000 2534000 2644974 1050000 1294000 1373000 2700000 121000 578000 185693 340375 219500 456000 44500 208500 350000 456655 1314690 800000 10000 0 0 42500 1450000 1450000 (Appendix Table 2 continued)

545000 386399 620000 560000 2105000 3300000 531400 844000 1100000 503030 898000 3558430 963000 1702100 3137000 475000 342224 1072044 450000 672000 1670000 127000 291500 1939600 420000 287000 1547000

2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05

Mandsaur

Katni

Datiya

Betul

Khargone

Narsinghpur

Ratlam

Panna

Period

District

(Appendix Table 2 continued)

58/12 23/3 69/6 56/23 18/11 54/22 55/49 18/26 54/52 52/22 17/12 51/24 50/114 10/15 30/30 49/67 18/14 54/90 48/3 7/2 21/4 44/32

Target (Number) (SC/ST) 56/2 9,5 76/4 14/3 20/2 34/3 5,37 32/45 48/31 56/10 37/5 40/7 6/24 34/36 51/31 21/50 14/6 64/38 45/3 4/2 38/2 30/15

Achieved (Number) (SC/ST) 405000 553000 1540000 392000 416000 200000 915000 1276000 2134235 364000 244000 775000 350000 1899000 1300000 343000 258000 4267000 336000 100000 775000 308000

120000 45000 1100000 230000 163000 25000 2518000 2683000 1150000 220000 209000 375000 1140000 1355000 800000 770000 448000 1000000 30000 30000 50000 320000

Earmarked Earmarked (Amount) Lakhs (Amount) Lakhs (SC) (ST) 150000 553000 1540000 49250 414250 156100 884750 1276000 2134235 364000 243900 775000 350000 1899000 1300000 342386 257383 4267000 336000 99750 770900 308000

15000 29500 1100000 6500 5000 6750 2518000 2683000 1150000 30000 61000 52900 942192 1385000 800000 770000 448000 1000000 6500 30000 37500 274350

Money Used Money Used (Amount) Lakhs (Amount) Lakhs (SC) (ST)

Mandidip

Raisen

Sheopur

Badwani

Neemuch

Malanpur

Seoni

Siddhi

Balaghat

2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05

14/20 42/40 41/53 14/28 42/56 40/40 24/46 72/92 40/70 13/36 42/72 38/2 12/1 36/3 35/8 40/6 30/12 35/80 8/60 24/120 34/0 10/10 30/20 33/14 11/8 33/16 27/14

16/16 46/12 27/26 11/41 95/23 38/33 65/38 37/48 28/10 13/21 26/31 15/0 8/0 26/0 30/8 10/5 18/5 10/34 9/50 26/60 35/13 26/7 57/15 13/9 23/17 41/16 14/2

695000 625000 267000 700000 1410000 476000 544000 1100000 28000 386000 1314000 266000 172000 310000 245000 143000 600000 245000 1205000 845000 238000 371000 2450000 231000 784000 2568766 189000

314000 625000 1073000 1416000 850000 900000 745000 1825000 700000 1334000 2132000 20000 15000 25000 95000 353000 200000 2611000 4428000 3927000 60000 259000 512500 765000 1393000 850000 140000

69350 42000 1072600 1416000 850000 293702 650566 1809284 335000 1334000 2132000 0 0 0 30000 352000 200000 2611000 4428000 3927000 60000 259000 512500 766950 1393000 850000 139900 (Appendix Table 2 continued)

694799 624600 266000 700000 1410000 475890 544000 1099994 28000 386000 1314000 158000 172000 310000 245000 143000 600000 245000 1205000 845000 237800 371000 2450000 231000 784000 2568766 189000

Dindori

Umaria

Pitampur

Jhabua

Mandla

Dhar

Harda

District

Target (Number) (SC/ST)

9/8 27/16 26/16 11/9 27/22 25/37 9/40 27/92 16/88 5/44 15/88 14/195 4/98 12/196 12/63 4/33 12/66 12/39 4/18 1/,36 11/57 4/31

Period

2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06

(Appendix Table 2 continued)

14/19 28/9 25/13 17/12 10/5 13/35 32/54 20/80 7/6 2/15 10/34 10/122 16/115 17/195 8/25 5/33 17/30 7/21 24/37 17/66 4/2 4/31

Achieved (Number) (SC/ST) 2384000 4131234 182000 330000 400000 1350000 2790000 3151000 112000 157000 597000 95000 457000 355000 75000 57000 1100000 75000 502000 300000 77000 57000

2111600 1050000 180000 213000 550000 3159000 670400 8133000 680000 653000 730750 1950000 4032500 8744000 1030000 18112000 2127500 390000 667000 1359000 570000 572500

Earmarked Earmarked (Amount) Lakhs (Amount) Lakhs (SC) (ST) 2384000 4131234 181000 330000 400000 1350000 2790000 3151000 101500 157000 597000 95000 457000 354422 40000 56500 1100000 75000 502000 300000 73000 57000

2111600 1050000 80000 213000 550000 3159000 6704600 8133000 69700 453623 730750 1950000 3995125 8744000 1000000 1809500 2127500 390000 666999 936835 567950 572500

Money Used Money Used (Amount) Lakhs (Amount) Lakhs (SC) (ST)

2006–07 2005–06 2006–07 2005–06 2006–07 2005–06 2006–07 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07

12/62 13/7 39/14 9/17 27/34 5/35 12/70 3000/2000 1000/1000 3000/2000

13/57 35/6 1/0 1/14 23/10 5/25 31/69 1688/797 1349/915 2137/1183

450000 186000 600000 129000 900000 72000 921000 24796000 42827000 90199012

1250000 104000 200000 252000 500000 570000 2191000 31621500 44252000 59844250

450000 178000 12500 129000 895485 72000 921000 23001958 42874921 88617573

1250000 104000 0 230600 500000 569657 1816450 25203855 42396325 56948660

Source: Compiled from RDS SC/ST Self-Employment Programme: Progress Reports: 2004–7. Compiled from the reports filed by each DTIC to the state government, Government of MP, Bhopal. ∗ New Districts created in 2005. Note: Entrepreneurs who have used RDS are in many cases suppliers. So the figures of entrepreneurs who are suppliers and who have used the RDS overlap in Tables 1 and 2.

Total

Anuppur∗

Burhanpur∗

Ashok Nagar∗

0.21

None

0.75

0.14

0.15

None

None

None

None

None

None

Vidisha

Betul

Hoshangabad

Mandidip

Harda

Indore

Dhar

Khargone

Khandwa

Dewas

None

Sehore

None

24.7

Bhopal

Rajgarh

Ent. (Lakhs)

DTIC

Raisen

Total Supplies from

Period

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.04

0.13

0.3

None

None

0.07

None

7.42

Ent. (Lakhs)

None

None

None

None

None

None

29

93

40

None

None

33

None

30

Entrepreneurs

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.27

0.14

0.9

None

None

0.22

None

27.46

Ent. (Lakhs)

Total Supplies from

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.04

0.14

0.43

None

None

0.11

None

9.5

Ent. (Lakhs)

Total Supplies from SC/ST

Percent from SC/ST

2004–5

2003–4 Total Supplies from SC/ST

Table 3 Amount and Percentage of Supplies Provided in Each DTIC by SC/ST Entrepreneurs Under the 30% Supplier Diversity Policy (2003–7)

None

None

None

None

None

None

15

100

42

None

None

50

None

34

Entrepreneurs

Percent from SC/ST

None

None

None

None

None

0.44

None

47.98

None

Sheopur

Jabbalpur

Narsinghpur

Chindwara

Seoni

Mandla

Balaghat

None

Shivpuri

Morena

None

Gwalior

Bhind

None

Ratlam

None

0.24

Badwani

None

None

Neemuch

Datiya

None

Shahpur

Guna

0.1

None

6.42

None

0.17

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.14

None

None

0.03

21.65

72.42

Mandsaur

Ujjain

Pitampur

0.05 None

0.1

None

Jhabua

47

None

13

None

39

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

59

None

None

30

29.89

None

0.35

None

0.66

None

0.54

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.13

None

None

0.13

63.34

None

0.03

8

None

50

None

66

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

68

None

None

85

39.44

None

(Appendix Table 3 continued)

None

0.4

None

0.36

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.09

None

None

0.11

24.98

None

None 9.57

None

None

None

36.44

None

None

None

None

None

None

Anuppur

Umaria

Sagar

Damoh

Chhattarpur

Tikamgarh

Panna

Burhanpur

Ashoknagar

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

Shahdol

None

Rewa

None

None

0.07

None

Dindori

None

None

Katni

Ent. (Lakhs)

Siddhi

Ent. (Lakhs)

DTIC

Total Supplies from

None

None

None

None

None

None

26.28

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

Entrepreneurs

None

None

None

None

None

None

13.94

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

Ent. (Lakhs)

None

None

None

None

None

None

5.02

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

Ent. (Lakhs)

Total Supplies from SC/ST

Percent from SC/ST

2004–5

2003–4 Total Supplies from SC/ST

Satna

Total Supplies from

Period

(Appendix Table 3 continued)

None

None

None

None

None

None

36.01

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

Entrepreneurs

Percent from SC/ST

1.22

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.26

None

Indore

Dhar

Khargone

Khandwa

Dewas

Jhabua

Pitampur

None

Hoshangabad

Mandidip

1.37

Betul

Harda

None

Vidisha

0.07

0.17

None

Raisen

None

Sehore

Rajgarh

None

30.05

Bhopal

None

0.09

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.15

None

0.53

None

None

9.31

Ent. (Lakhs)

Ent. (Lakhs)

DTIC

None

36.04

None

None

None

None

None

None

12

None

39

None

None

42

None

30

Entrepreneurs

Percent from SC/ST

None

0.12

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.39

None

1.16

None

None

0.04

None

19.2

Ent. (Lakhs)

Total Supplies from

None

65.55

None

None

None

None

None

None

22

None

35

None

None

None

None

37

Entrepreneurs

Percent from SC/ST

(Appendix Table 3 continued)

None

0,08

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.08

None

0.41

None

None

None

None

7.19

Ent. (Lakhs)

Total Supplies from SC/ST

Total Supplies from

Period

2006–7

2005–6 Total Supplies from SC/ST

None None

None

0.24

None

None

0.2

0.06

None

None

None

None

None

None

Neemuch

Badwani

Ratlam

Gwalior

Shivpuri

Guna

Datiya

Bhind

Morena

Sheopur

Jabbalpur

Narsinghpur

0.06

None

None

None

None

0.02

0.3

None

None

0,09

None

None

0.08

1.09

None

27.26

Ujjain

Ent. (Lakhs)

Mandsaur

Ent. (Lakhs)

DTIC

Total Supplies from

None

None

None

None

None

None

35

15

None

None

37

None

None

75

4

Entrepreneurs

None

None

None

0.3

None

None

0.07

0.05

None

None

0.06

None

None

0.01

3.37

Ent. (Lakhs)

None

None

None

0.1

None

None

0.03

0.22

None

None

None

None

None

0.01

1.07

Ent. (Lakhs)

Total Supplies from SC/ST

Percent from SC/ST

2006–7

2005–6 Total Supplies from SC/ST

Shahpur

Total Supplies from

Period

(Appendix Table 3 continued)

None

None

None

32

None

None

40

44

None

None

None

None

None

100

31.75

Entrepreneurs

Percent from SC/ST

None

None

Burhanpur

Ashoknagar

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.96

59

None

None

None

None

None

None

26.43

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

22

None

0.31

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.28

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.19

None

Source: Compiled from reports of the various DTIC in Madhya Pradesh, Government of MP, Bhopal.

None

None

Umaria

Panna

None

Anuppur

None

None

Shahdol

None

None

Siddhi

Chhattarpur

None

Satna

Tikamgarh

1.66

None

Rewa

6.35

None

Dindori

None

None

Katni

Sagar

None

Balaghat

Damoh

None

4.3

Mandla

0.19 None

0.35

None

Chindwara

Seoni

0.18

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.14

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

0.03

None

56

None

None

None

None

None

None

50

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

None

19

None

9 Creating a Dalit Entrepreneurial Class: Selected Studies on Supplier Diversity Against the background of the debate on the need for

affirmative action and the discussion on the rules formulated for the implementation of the policy of supplier diversity (SD) in MP, it is now possible to examine the working of the two SD programmes, namely the ‘30 per cent’ supply and RDS policies in the state. By August 2002, the rules governing the SD policy and various schemes under it had been formulated and the first set of dalit/tribal entrepreneurs were awarded supply contracts. The BJP that came to power in 2003 has continued these policies with some changes. The policies have attracted a sufficiently large number of dalits/tribals, making an exploratory study of its working and its potential as an affirmative action programme, possible. This chapter analyzes the working of the policy of SD based on interviews, using a structured questionnaire, of nine dalit/ tribal entrepreneurs registered with the Bhopal DTIC, and interaction with officials involved in the implementation of the policy both in the Bhopal DTIC and at the state level. Although the entrepreneurs selected in our study are from a single city, namely, Bhopal, it is possible to draw some tentative lessons from the working of the policy that maybe useful in its application in other states. Detailed interviews, in some cases involving family members and partners of the entrepreneurs, were conducted. In our interviews with the selected entrepreneurs, broadly four aspects were covered. First, the social background characteristics of the entrepreneurs: family background, educational attainments, business contacts, membership of caste/ community associations and political organizations. Second, financial details of the enterprise such as the initial investment, annual income, expenditure and value of goods supplied, which provide an understanding of its financial viability and

Creating a Dalit Entrepreneurial Class

367

success/failure in meeting supply orders. Third, the ability of dalit/tribal entrepreneurs to face competition, and in some instances, caste discrimination in the market from trading castes that have traditionally enjoyed a monopoly in the supply chain, wholesalers and retailers. Fourth, relationship with bureaucrats: a sympathetic and pro-active bureaucracy at the state and district level can help entrepreneurs, or they may face caste bias on the part of bureaucrats as well as corruption necessitating the need to give bribes. Attempts were made to interview the family members of the entrepreneurs as they are closely involved and help in the running of the business enterprise. Discussions were held with some officials of the Bhopal DTIC and senior bureaucrats involved in the formulation of the policy at the state level. Further, based on empirical data gained from the interviews an attempt was made to understand the key factors that enable dalit/tribal entrepreneurs to adopt these policies and second, the conditions that make their effective implementation possible. The relative importance of educational attainments, family support, availability of credit, earlier work experience and entrepreneurship was analyzed, as also whether these factors have helped attract the rapidly increasing number of educated, unemployed, upwardly mobile, middle- and lower middle-class dalits and tribals migrating into cities such as Bhopal in search of employment. Are dalit/tribal individuals belonging to the middle and lower middle class prepared to take the risk of entering into business to improve their financial position and remove the hardships faced by their families. Those belonging to the lower middle class face the most difficulties as they are migrants into cities, their educational attainments are lower and they can obtain little financial support from their families. On the other hand individuals from well-educated upper-middle-class dalit and tribal families perhaps find it much easier to adopt the policy, a development that could lead to the formation of a formidable business class that these communities require. Second, is the role played by an honest and supportive bureaucracy both at the state and district level bureaucracy, political support and contacts within the market and with community organizations.

368 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

It is also essential to analyze the reasons for failure by entrepreneurs to fulfil supply contracts for which perhaps, correctives could be sought in an ongoing programme. In the interviews, issues such as the impact of corruption and caste bias within the bureaucracy, difficulties in obtaining credit and the monopoly enjoyed by the traditional trading castes in the market were discussed. The importance of the kind of rules formulated, the manner in which they were implemented as well the lack of business experience and knowledge of the market among those belonging to first-generation educated families and the need for training was explored. At the same time, it was considered whether partnerships with nondalits could help in the successful establishment of business enterprises as it might provide a cushion against the problems mentioned above. In sum, the study explores whether in a globalizing economy the policy of SD holds out the promise of throwing a dalit/tribal business class and can be used both by the government and in partnership with the private sector as affirmative policies for these sections. This chapter is divided into two parts. The first part describes the selected sample of nine entrepreneurs from the Bhopal DTIC and the framework used to analyze these studies. The second part examines, through structured and detailed interviews, the socio-economic background of the selected entrepreneurs, the manner in which they have made use of the policy of SD and the obstacles they have faced. This will help us identify the factors that contribute to their success/ failure. Based on this information, the concluding section evaluates the usefulness of the policy of SD for dalits/tribals in MP and elsewhere in the country.

The Bhopal Sample: A Description Supplier diversity is a decentralized policy implemented by the District Trade and Industrial Centres located in each district headquarter. Dalits and tribals in various parts of the state need to register applications with their respective district headquarters. Our nine studies are drawn from entrepreneurs in the district of Bhopal. Bhopal was selected because it has 105 entrepreneurs, which is the highest number of suppliers

Creating a Dalit Entrepreneurial Class

369

among all the districts in the entire state, followed by Jhabua with 76 and Indore with 56.1 The reasons are the availability of a class of urban, educated dalit and tribal youth capable of taking up the challenge of supplying goods to the government, and in a few cases, taking advantage of the incentives provided to attempt manufacture of these items. Bhopal also has a large number of government offices that require simple bulk items of supply such as stationery, plants and furniture, etc. that are easy for new entrepreneurs to supply. Moreover, it was possible to locate and interview these entrepreneurs in Bhopal as the government list of suppliers was much better maintained and available compared to other districts.2 A first round of detailed interviews of the nine selected dalit/tribal entrepreneurs in Bhopal district was done in January/February 2007 and a second round in August 2007.3 A description of all the entrepreneurs registered with the Bhopal DTIC is provided in Table 9.1.

The Bhopal DTIC Table 9.1 provides the information regarding the number of entrepreneurs who have registered with the Bhopal District Trade Industrial Centre. It shows that by 2007 a total of 105 entrepreneurs had registered with the Bhopal DTIC. Of these, 11 dalit/tribal entrepreneurs already had enterprises/shops of their own before 2002 and registered as suppliers with the DTIC in order to obtain contracts. Information about one entrepreneur was not available in the government records. The government record does not list those whose business has failed and who have stopped supply. The supply contract of four has been cancelled. This is done by the DTIC usually due to poor quality or lack of timely supply by the entrepreneur. The table shows that the largest number registered in 2003, by which time the scheme was well-known due to the government’s efforts to disseminate information about it throughout the state. The number drops in 2004 to 19 and further to 9 in 2005 and 2006 following the formation of the BJP government. The drop in 2005 is perhaps due to the new rule introduced by the BJP that the dalit/tribal supplier of the product must also be a manufacturer, which has effectively kept a large number of potential entrepreneurs out of the scheme. The drop is also due to

1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007(Sept)

105#

4 1 6 5 44 19 9 9 4 Total 101 &

Total No. of Businesses 6

6

98∗/104

98

104

55/49

99

99^

Number of Number of Proprietorships/ Orders continuing Suppliers Manufacturers Partnerships since Registration

4

4

52

52/104

Permanent Orders Residents in Cancelled Bhopal

Source: Bhopal District Trade Centre, Government of MP, Bhopal. Notes: ∗ One supplier is also a manufacturer # The details of one entrepreneur were not available. ^ One order was only up to 2005. & Year of establishment was not available for three entrepreneurs. Number of entrepreneurs between 2003–7 is 89 which is the same as in Table 1 in the appendix to Chapter 8.

Year of Est.

Total Ents.

Table 9.1 Dalit/Tribal Entrepreneurs Registered as Suppliers to the State Government Under the 30% Scheme in Bhopal DTIC up to September 15, 2006

Creating a Dalit Entrepreneurial Class

371

the failure of some businesses, which are not mentioned in the government list, and perhaps the lack of information about the year of establishment of three businesses as the table shows. In 2007, up to September, only four new entrepreneurs had registered with the DTIC. Out of the 105 registered entrepreneurs, only six are manufacturers, the remaining are suppliers and one is both a manufacturer and supplier. Beginning a manufacturing industry requires considerable capital, knowledge about the product and the market, which most dalits and tribals do not possess. Only 52 entrepreneurs are permanent residents settled in Bhopal, others are from different cities in the state. They have for various reasons decided to establish their business in Bhopal. The government records show that 55 entrepreneurs are proprietors while 49 are part owners in keeping with the rule that a dalit or tribal can join hands with a non-dalit/tribal provided 49 per cent of the profits are given to the former. This shows that it is possible for dalits and tribals to team up with non-dalits to carry on business.4 Table 9.2 provides the initial capital invested and the annual production of the 105 dalit/tribal entrepreneurs registered with the DTIC Bhopal. It shows that out of the total 104 entrepreneurs for whom information was available, as many as 36 and 31 are small businessmen who had invested less than 2 lakh or between 2 to 5 lakh respectively. Most of them Table 9.2 Capital Invested and Annual Production by Dalit/Tribal Entrepreneurs under the Supplier Diversity Policy with DTIC Bhopal (up to September 15, 2007) Initial Capital Invested (in Lakhs) Less than 2 lakh 2–5 Lakh 5–10 Lakh 10–20 Lakh Above 20 Lakh

Number of Entrepreneurs 36 31 17 13 7 104∗

Annual Production (in Lakhs) Less than 2 lakh 2–5 Lakh 5–10 Lakh 10–20 Lakh Above 20 Lakh

Number of Entrepreneurs 10 21 22 12 39 104∗

Source: District Trade and Industries, Centre, Bhopal, Government of Madhya Pradesh. ∗ Information about one entrepreneur was not available. Note:

372 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

have opened shops selling stationery or goods such as steel furniture, surgical equipment, electrical goods, pumps, flower pots, brooms, cement jallis, water tanks, coolers, etc. which they supply to the state government. As the selected studies in the next section will show, due to bulk government supply orders, such entrepreneurs are able to repay the loans they have taken from the banks for establishing their shops. Those who have invested between 5 to 10 lakh supply somewhat more specialized goods requiring higher investment such as electronic goods, small machines, expensive furniture, plants, etc. which require godowns for storing and cannot be sold through small shops in the city. Only 13 out of the 104 entrepreneurs have invested between 10 to 20 lakh and sell goods such as furniture to schools, bulk uniforms, medical equipment and special stationery items. Entrepreneurs who have invested above 20 lakh supply specialized goods, which require higher quality control and knowledge such as medicines, hospital supplies, civil construction material, cement, computers and computer parts, mobiles, etc. Among the seven entrepreneurs who fall into this category four invested 50 lakh, 35 lakh, 25 lakh and 15.5 lakh in their businesses. The first and third investors are sole proprietors while the other two have entered into partnerships. The investor with a 50 lakh investment is a supplier of civil construction materials who had started his business as early as 1994 and in 2002 took advantage of the new policy to supply to government departments. The 35 lakh partnership firm supplies a range of items to the government such as mattresses, boards, maps, chalk, stationery, etc. while the firm with an investment of 25 lakh supplies computers and computer parts. The 15.50-lakh part-nership firm both manufactures and supplies a range of items such as notice boards, traffic safety equipment, testing instru-ments, etc. Thus, the government supply contracts cover a wide range of items and enable dalits and tribals to set up both small and big businesses depending upon their capacity, knowledge and creditworthiness. When we turn to the annual production Table 9.2 shows that the performance of the various entrepreneurs is different. Although 36 entrepreneurs had invested less than 2 lakh, only 10 have shown an annual turnover of less than 2 lakh, others

Creating a Dalit Entrepreneurial Class

373

are therefore performing much better. These two entrepreneurs are small stationery shops that are not doing well, one of whom is included in our sample and has stopped supplying to the government due to various problems described in the next section. Similarly, of the 31 entrepreneurs who invested 2–5 lakh only 21 have shown this figure in their annual production. A number of entrepreneurs have performed well in the bracket of Rs 5 to 20 lakh. Similarly, although only seven entrepreneurs invested over 20 lakh, as many as 39 have shown a turnover of that amount annually. However, these figures do not tell us the story of how this success was gained and the reasons underlying them. Against this background we turn to the analysis of the selected entrepreneurs in order to understand the reasons for success/failure, which are more complex than size or amount invested.

The Selected Studies: Analyzing the Supplier Diversity Programme Of the nine entrepreneurs selected from the list of dalit entrepreneurs registered with the Bhopal DTIC, five are supplying goods under the 30 per cent supplier scheme to government departments. The remaining four have made use of the Rani Durgawati Scheme introduced by the state government in 2003 to help dalit/tribal entrepreneurs who find it difficult to raise the margin money needed to obtain a loan. Out of the nine selected, six are suppliers, that is, they have contracts to supply various items to government departments. Only three can be described as ‘producers’ of the material they supply: one supplies midday meals and snacks to government canteens, the second printed articles on his own press and the third grows plants in his own nursery and supplies them to the government. There are no large-scale manufacturers in Bhopal, that is, those who both manufacture and supply the product. There are two reasons for this. First, dalits and tribals do not have the expertise to start manufacturing units, and the initial cost is too high. The RDS was introduced in 2003 to help dalits obtain loans to set up manufacturing units but soon afterwards the term of the Congress government, which had encouraged dalits/tribals to adopt the programme, was over and new rules introduced by

374 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

the BJP in 2005 made it more difficult. There are few tribals among the entrepreneurs in Bhopal district; however, one of the selected entrepreneurs in the sample is a tribal woman.5 One entrepreneur was included in the sample who failed to supply goods after an initial period despite obtaining a contract from the government in order to understand the problems he faced. All the enterprises are based in the city or on the outskirts of Bhopal as electricity and raw materials required are not available in the countryside. In the questionnaire-based interviews broadly three types of data was collected from the entrepreneurs in order to understand the conditions that can determine the ability of dalit/ tribal entrepreneurs to successfully make use of the policy. The socio-economic background of the entrepreneur, including his/her family history, enabled an understanding of the type of persons from within the dalit/tribal community who were keen to take up the opportunity offered by the policy of SD. Our study shows that factors such as educational level and family background play an important role in ensuring success/ failure of the entrepreneur. Second, the financial details, including the initial investment and its source, turn-over, annual income and personal expenditure difficulties encountered and time taken to obtain registration are also important. This provides a picture of the financial viability and success of the venture undertaken. Third, the role played by the bureaucracy, political leaders, other businessmen, family and friends in helping the dalit/tribal entrepreneur establish and sustain a successful business also have an impact. Here factors such as corruption, market competition, membership of caste/community organizations, political parties or other professional/social bodies and the contacts this provides in achieving success in the selected business are important. While the first two kinds of data are presented in tabular form in Tables 9.3 and 9.4, the third is qualitative data used to provide a picture of the conditions faced by dalit/tribal entrepreneurs in their attempt to establish themselves as businessmen. Table 9.3 provides the socio-economic background of the nine selected dalit/tribal entrepreneurs registered with the Bhopal DTIC.6 It shows that eight entrepreneurs belong to sub-castes of dalits such as Chamar, Ahirwar, Bairawa and Balahi that

Post-Grad L.L.B. Post-Grad

Class 12

29

Indore, 2000

Khandwa, 1993

Graduate

Class 10

Illiterate

High school

Illiterate

Father’s Education

Class IV Employee Not alive

Agricultural Labourer Military service Farmer

Father’s Occupation

Post-Graduate

Unmarried

Class 10

Class 10

Class 3

Spouse Education

Salesman

Class 6

Labourer

B.Com

Assistant Manager in Graduate IAS officer L.L.B. Public Sector (Serving) Lawyer Intermediate Retired Police Unmarried officer Tutor Graduate Teacher Graduate

Housewife

Typesetter, Salesman Duplicating Machines Flexo Printing press Operator Computer Operator, Salesman Shopkeeper

Earlier Occupation

Source: Interview of entrepreneurs in January/February 2006 and in August 2007 in Bhopal. ∗ Only the dalit partner of the firm could be interviewed in the case of no. 8 and 9. Note:

29

Tonk, Rajasthan 1974 Raisen, 1995

31

33

B.E. Mech.

Raisen, 1992

31

Post-Grad LLB Class 10

36

Vidisha, 1991

Hoshangabad a generation ago Post-Graduate Shivani, 1974

Class 10 Fail

31

Harda, 1992

Migrant to Bhopal

27

Class 10

37

1. Chamar (Male) 2. Ahirwar (Male) 3. Ahirwar (male) 4. Mahar (Male) 5. Gond tribal (Female) 6. Bairawa (Male) 7. Ahirwar (Male) 8. Balahi∗ (both male) 9. Chamar∗ (both male)

Education

Age

Caste/Tribe

Table 9.3 Socio-economic Background of Selected Dalit/Tribal Entrepreneurs in Bhopal

6. Bairawa Proprietary firm 2006

2 months

60,000 (Family)

10,000,00

6,96,000

NA

Stationery, Furniture Electricals etc. Flexo printed articles on self-owned press Sprinklers, agricultural implements, seeds Stationery

20,00,000 5,00,00,000 3,686,000 5,00,00,000 Computers, (Bank) supply of Software & hardware 2 months 50,00,000 35,00,000 18,75,000 5,50,000 Horticulture (Bank), Nursery RDS Supply of plants

2 months & 3 weeks 3 weeks

1 month

1 month

10,50,000

4. Mahar Proprietary firm 2003 5. Gond 2003^ 2004#

9,11,500

2 months 35,000 (Bank)

4 months

3. Ahirwar Proprietary firm 2005

65,50,000

11,06,000 48,85,000

3 months 21,00,000 48,85,000 (Banks) RDS

3 months

2. Ahirwar Partnership firm 2006

17,10,000 90,45,000

1 and 1/2 2,00,000 months (Bank)

Initial Annual Investment Turnover

Average Yearly Income of Value of Articles Firm∗ Total Sales∗ Supplied

75,00,000

15 days

1. Chamar Proprietary firm 2005

Firm/Year of Registration

Time in Getting Obtaining Supply Registration Order

7

4

3,35,000

NA

1

3

6

3

NA

2,15,000

NA

1,50,000

70,000

2,195,60

92,600

63,880

75,000

1,09,000

Successful business well –established producer

Failure, stopped supply to govt. Success but Fluctuations in business

Still facing financial hurdles as firm is new. Successful wants to manufacture

Successful wants to manufacture.

Annual Number of Personal Progress in Taxes Paid Employees Expenditure Supply to Govt

Table 9.4 Investment and Income Gained from Business by Entrepreneurs Registered with the Bhopal DTIC

3 months

9. Chamar Partnership 2005

Source: Interview of entrepreneurs in January/February 2006 and in August 2007 in Bhopal. ∗ For the year 2005–6 brought up to January 2007, all figures are in lakhs. Note: + For the first firm. ^ Partnership. # Proprietorship; working of only this firm has been analyzed.

2 months

8. Balahi Partnership firm 2004

Lunch supply 1,42,799 + Furniture, Uniforms, electrical goods etc. 1 month 2,60,000 2,58,00,000 57,59,500 2,58,00,000 Furniture, 1,50,000 (Banks) fans, steel RDS sheets, sanitary and surgical items etc. 3 months 20,00,000 3,50,48,750 93,81,783 3,50,48,750 Manufacture 12,45,000 (Banks) of bread, RDS snacks, midday meals

2 and 1/2 1 month + 1,50,000+ 59,95,600 14,07,575 59,95,600 months + 2 1 month 8,00,000 From both from both from both months (Bank) firms firms firms

7. Ahirwar Partnership firms 2003,2006 87000

1,34,300

21

3,50,080

7

6 + 12

Successful producer

Initial success now facing problems due to new BJP order

Successful started second firm.

378 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

are the educated and economically better-off sub-castes among dalits in MP. Some of the families of these entrepreneurs have small pieces of land or the father was in government service or in the army, which helped the former in gaining an education. One woman entrepreneur belongs to the Gond tribe which is the most socially aware, educated and politically active among the tribal communities in the state. There are no members from the Koli or Shakya sub-castes among the dalits or from the more backward tribal groups in the state. Table 9.3 shows that all the entrepreneurs are fairly young, the oldest being 37 and represent a new educated generation among these social groups. Five are either graduates/postgraduates or above; two entrepreneurs are unmarried and among the others, four of the spouses hold graduate or postgraduate degrees. Four entrepreneurs are only class 10/12 pass, and with one exception their wives have also studied to the same level. Most of the entrepreneurs, after high school/ college, had taken up whatever jobs they could obtain in order to make a living. With two exceptions they were working at lowerpaid jobs often as salesmen, computer operators or tutors and had changed jobs a number of times in an attempt to improve their financial condition and hence had experience of the market. Only one person held a job as an engineer in a Public Sector Undertaking in MP and decided to set up a business to improve his financial position, while the other was a practicing lawyer. Only three out of the nine are manufacturers-cumsuppliers (numbers 2, 6 and 9 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4), all the others are suppliers. All the entrepreneurs can be described as representing a new class of dalits found in many of the bigger cities of the country, who have moved in recent years— or earlier with their parents—from smaller towns/villages to Bhopal city to obtain employment. Thus, the SD programme has attracted young, educated unemployed dalit/tribal youth prepared to take the risk of starting a business. Table 9.4 provides the financial details of the entrepreneurs: the initial amount of capital invested, products supplied, turnover, annual production, persons employed and success or failure in supplying goods to the government. It also gives the year of registration though the actual work of establishing the firm began earlier, amount of time taken for obtaining registration and for obtaining the first supplies order from

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the government. Three entrepreneurs (number 7, 8 and 9 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4) have formed partnerships with non-dalits: one is a Saini (OBC) while the caste of the other two could not be ascertained.7 The figures provided in Table 9.4 regarding turnover, average yearly income and value of total sales of the various firms are for the year 2005–6 brought up to January 2007 when the interviews were conducted. The nine selected entrepreneurs have been divided into three groups based on their socio-economic background and educational attainments for purpose of analysis: lower-middle-class entrepreneurs, upper-middle-class entrepreneurs and partnership firms with non-dalits. The study shows that both family background and education in combination with other factors play a significant role in the success/failure of the entrepreneurial venture undertaken. Based on the data provided in Tables 9.3 and 9.4 and other background details of the entrepreneurs discussed later, it is now possible to analyze the working of the SD policy among the selected entrepreneurs.

The Lower Middle Class Entrepreneur Four of the selected entrepreneurs can be described as belonging to the lower middle class both in terms of their family background and education. Migrants from smaller towns/ villages in the state, they came alone or with their families to Bhopal to make a living. In all cases the mother is illiterate and the father has little education and worked as a class four employee, an agricultural labourer or in military service. All the entrepreneurs have studied up to class 10 with considerable difficulty, one of them having failed to clear it. Despite increase in their income, as the interviews show, their personal expenditure remains modest with an emphasis on savings, which points to their middle-class values. The only item on which they have increased their expenditure is children’s education, as they believe that this will provide them advantages they themselves did not possess. While three of them (the first three entrepreneurs listed in Tables 9.3 and 9.4) have managed to establish a fairly successful business and are supplying goods to government offices, the fourth (number 4 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4) has not been able to sustain supply of goods to government departments and can be described as a failure.

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AP (entrepreneur number 1 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4), the owner of a firm that supplies stationery, electrical items, furniture, computers, pesticides and plastic goods to various government departments, migrated in 1992 from a village 150 kms from Bhopal in Harda district.8 Belonging to the sub-caste of Chamar, his father was an agricultural labourer who died early and his two brothers are sharecroppers in his native village. After passing his class 10 in 1983, AP worked as a labourer on land and construction sites. During a visit to his sister in Bhopal in 1992 he decided to stay on and try his fortune in the city. Encouraged by his sister and brotherin-law over the next 12 years, through hard work he worked his way through various jobs that provided him considerable business experience. Beginning as a typesetter on a salary of Rs 500 and later a salesman on a salary of Rs 1,200 he moved onto jobs that involved repair of duplicating machines by 2003. In 1994, he managed to become a salesman in the bigger firm of Khode Ribbon, Carbon and Allied industries and continued to do well in other companies in similar jobs until he left in March 2005 to try his luck as an entrepreneur. At that time as sales executive he was earning a salary of Rs 6,000. Thus, he had gained experience in both production and marketing of items in the field of carbon supply and duplicating machines. In 2005 AP learnt about the SD scheme from an MLA belonging to his own caste and decided to start a company supplying stationery and other items to government offices all over the state. In this he was encouraged by his sister and brother-in-law who, he points out, has always inspired him to move ahead. He set up a firm in April 2005 registered under the Shop Act and a written supply contract with the DTIC at his own home in Bhopal. A manager of the DTIC Bhopal known to him, also a dalit, helped him in getting registration as a supplier. Through him he was able to gain registration within 15 days of his application. He was able to gain his first supply order in 1.5 months through a Brahmin officer handling his case. However, in contrast to his earlier experience he had to pay a bribe of 5 per cent of the supply order. AP has hired three persons—one man and two women—but despite little education his wife and mother help in the day to day running of the shop. His personal expenditure does not seem to be very high; the maximum he

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spends is on the education of his children, communication and electricity. AP has high expectations from his children, and hopes his son will become a ‘high profile businessman’. AP has achieved considerable success in his venture. His initial investment, as Table 9.4 shows, was Rs 2,00,000. By January 2007 at the time of the interview he said that his fixed capital was Rs 30,000 and working capital was Rs 1,50,000. During the year 2006 the total cost of running his enterprise including transport, taxes (and bribes) was Rs 73,35,000: about Rs 58,80,000 on obtaining the supplies to be delivered and Rs 4,50,000 on transport. He pointed out that he had to spend Rs 5,00,000 as bribe for obtaining the supply order, which is higher than the taxes paid which was Rs 1,50,000 as seen in Table 9.4. Despite this, the total cost of all the items sold during this period, as Table 9.4 shows, was Rs 90,45,000, some of which is from private marketing besides the government supply order. As Table 9.4 shows, the average yearly income of the firm is 17,10,000 and the annual turnover 75,00,000. AP could do this by making use of his earlier contacts with private companies. The only problem he faces is lack of electricity but the situation is improving. AP is happy and feels that although he still has to repay loans, there is a positive trajectory of improvement in his business and its turnover also. A number of reasons underlie AP’s success. A significant part of it can be attributed to the extensive experience he gained in business and the contacts that he built up with influential and well-placed dalits and non-dalits during his period of employment in a number of private companies in Bhopal. Second, AP believes that keeping in touch and developing ‘contacts’ with officials has helped him. His relationship with the DTIC is good and he has had no problem in getting orders regularly. Contacts provide him with information about the different type of orders being placed by different offices and their requirements. Paying bribes is part of the business without which, he feels, no business can survive. The third factor is his membership since 2006 of an important community organization, the Chamar Mahasabha, which has about 2,000 members all over MP. As secretary of the organization he is able to keep in touch with his community. It is not difficult as it only means spending three– four hours per month and a few days in a year in meetings,

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etc. which provides him important contacts. He feels that such contacts are required as Chamars are busy quarrelling with each other whereas if they joined hands they could help each other tremendously. AP is not a member of any political party. AP holds that two factors have played a positive role in his life: education, and more important, the policy of SD put forward at the Bhopal Conference. The former enabled him to move from his village and take up opportunities in Bhopal. The latter has provided him the means to emerge as a successful businessman without which he would have remained a smalltime marketing executive. Without the initial support of an assured market, he could not have started a business and repaid loans. Dalits require help to overcome market discrimination. Even today the traditional Baniya traders have ‘monopolized the total market’ and dalits are gaining entry only through government contracts. He feels that continuing the policy of SD is required because it is ‘a ray of hope for the development of dalit people in a caste-ridden society like Bhopal and MP as a whole’. AP is keen to take up the offer of help by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to start manufacture of items that he supplies to the government and hoped to set up a unit of Rs 100–200 lakh. BA, the second entrepreneur aged 31 years and belonging to the Ahirwar sub-caste (entrepreneur 2 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4), shares many characteristics with AP. However, one major difference is that he is a producer-cum-supplier to the government that makes his earnings much higher. A migrant from Khari Phatak in Vidisha district to Bhopal in 1991, he started a manufacturing-cum-supply organization on April 20, 2006 that does Flexo printing, pouch making and trading of these products, though this is not his first venture under the SD policy. BA’s father was in military service. When BA failed to clear his class 10 examination in October 1991, he migrated to Bhopal and started working at the Flexo Printing Press in Govindpura where he remained till 2002. Beginning on a starting salary of Rs 700 per month, when he left the firm in 2002 he was earning Rs 4,000. It is interesting to note that all his business ventures have been with non-dalits, mainly baniyas or persons from the trading community who, it is alleged, monopolize the market and do not allow dalits to

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enter into it. In 2003 he set up a Flexo printing press under the SD policy with two friends from the Baniya caste. While BA invested rupees 1,50,000, the partners invested rupees 5,50,000. The partners being moneylenders by profession had the finance to help him in his venture, while he had extensive knowledge of Flexo printing as he had worked in this field. He ran the unit for two years following which his partners took over the unit after giving him rupees 2,00,000 as his share. Determined to become a manufacturer, BA decided to start a fresh venture making use of the policy of RDS. He had accumulated some profits during these years and with additional Rs 50,000 from his father-in-law he set up a flexo unit in partnership with a friend belonging to the Jain community although he runs it himself. It was not an easy task; he had to pay a bribe of Rs 1,00,000 at different levels for allotment of land to set up the printing press. Although registration was possible, in three months it was after a year of ‘tireless struggle and campaign’ that the unit began functioning on April 20, 2006. It is registered with the DTIC under the Small Scale Industries (SSI) Act and BA has a written contract with the government for supply of flexo printed articles. His wife, Urmila, who has also studied up to class 10, assists him in the daily running of the enterprise. It is this second firm whose performance is analyzed in the following text. As it is a manufacturing unit, as Table 9.4 shows, the initial investment was high, being Rs 21,00,00, which BA raised from many sources. He obtained an initial loan as ‘seed money’ of Rs 5,00,000 in June 2005 from DTIC Bhopal as 44 per cent of the total cost of setting up the unit under the RDS programme for dalit/tribal entrepreneurs. In October 2005 BA took a second long-term concessional loan at 12.75 per cent interest from the State Bank of India under the RDS for which he mortgaged his house. At the time of the interview in January 2007 he had Rs 10,80,000 outstanding and has to repay it through 72 installments of Rs 18,000 per month. He also received Rs 4,97,000 as subsidy. He also took loans from relatives and friends: Rs 1,50,000 from his father-in-law in September 2006; Rs 50,000 from his Jain friend in April 2006 and a personal loan of Rs 3,50,000 between July 2005–April 2006 from other

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sources. Thus BA had to arrange a large amount of finances from many different sources, which he has to repay. The firm now has a fixed capital of Rs 16,00,000 and working capital of Rs 5,00,000. BA faced many difficulties and it took a long time to set up the unit. Land acquisition from DTIC took two years and sanction of the seed money 20 months. Sanction of the loan from State Bank of India, Bhopal, took two years while acquisition of machines, tools and raw materials from wholesalers took seven months, two months and five days respectively. Arrangement of labour took one week. However, his registration and obtaining a supply order did not take much time, being three months, as Table 9.4 shows, following which there is now regular production and marketing of the goods produced. During the year 2006 BA and his partner spent a total of Rs 37,79,000 for raw materials such as chemicals, dye blocks, transport and trading and other miscellaneous items while the final sales of the flexo printed articles to government offices, wholesalers and individuals came to Rs 48,85,000 as Table 9.4 shows. Of the total sales, the amount to government offices was Rs 23,50,000 which is almost half the total sales. April–June is the slack season when demand falls by 50 per cent and is normal the rest of the year. Despite the initial hurdles the firm’s annual income now is Rs 11,06,000. Regular supply orders from the government have enabled BA’s firm to establish itself. The firm employs six regular workers who have studied up to class 10, except one who has completed high school and can operate the office computer. One of the workers is a Brahmin, one is an OBC, and the rest are SCs belonging to various subcastes. Their wages range from Rs 4,500 in the case of skilled machine operators, to Rs 3,500 in the case of the rest. They are also given bonus and sweets during festivals. The firm now has fixed assets consisting of land worth 12,00,000, machines worth Rs 2,50,000 and infrastructure worth Rs 1,50,000, and working assets consisting of stocks worth Rs 2,00,000 and speculative accounts worth Rs 3,00,000. BA’s major problem is load shedding of electricity as a result of which he has to shift his working hours. Despite BA’s success the expenditure of his family remains modest. The major expenditure annually is on education, housing, electricity, medical, transport and recreation.

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BA’s success is not due to membership of any association or political party. He did not use reservation policies for education or for employment; the only time he made use of it was to set up his industry and agrees that SD has helped his business to establish itself. BA feels reservation is not needed except for ‘needy persons and households’, otherwise he thinks it should be stopped. He could not name a single person who, having made use of reservation policies, has also helped him. According to BA, his success lies in his good relations with government officers as well as wholesalers and retailers in the market. He has also managed to sell his product in the open market, that is, he has developed linkages in the market beyond his supply to the government. Thus, his strength is contacts beyond his community and he has done business with persons belonging to other castes. BA holds there is good demand for the product he is producing in the market. But there is competition driven by caste, price, credit and quality in the market. He managed to keep his production cost low through high daily production, average labour payment and hard work due to which the firm has saved Rs 3,70,000 during 2006. BA has good contacts with the officers in charge of the DTIC and other senior officers that helps him in getting regular orders. But he admits he has had to give bribes worth Rs 50,000–55,000 and still it took ‘two long years’ to establish his enterprise. Similarly, since it is a manufacturing enterprise he keeps in touch with wholesalers, as he needs a regular supply of raw materials so that he can deliver his orders on time. Thus, he has to keep both sides happy. BA admits that he still feels inexperienced and at a loss about the complexities involved in running the manufacturingcum-trading business venture. He is also worried about the large amounts of loan money from various sources. But he is not prepared to give up; his Jain friend and partner was his inspiration in setting up the unit. CA, the next entrepreneur (number 3 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4), reveals a similar story of struggle leading to success. He belongs to the Ahirwar sub-caste and migrated from Raisen to Bhopal in 1992. However, he has two advantages over the others examined in this category: post-graduate degrees in Hindi and in law, and the fact that his parents own 16 acres of agricultural land whose annual income of Rs 50,000 is invested

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in the firm. As CA’s father is a farmer he has a background that helps him in his selected business. On completing his education, CA took up many jobs and even tried to set up a business before taking up the opportunity offered by the SD policy. He worked as a computer operator in Singer company in 1996–97; as a salesman for pesticides in 1999 at Rs 4,000 per month in Goenka Industries, and in a company at Indore at Rs 6,000 a month, and later worked as a salesman for agricultural implements and pesticides at Rs 8,000 per month in various places for three years. With his savings he ran a restaurant in 2003–4 but it ended in a loss of Rs 50,000. In April 2004, advised by a Brahmin friend, CA applied for special registration under the SD scheme, which was approved. On March 5, 2005 he was able to start a registered firm in his own house, with a written contract to supply sprinklers, agricultural implements, hybrid seeds and pesticides to government agencies. The initial establishment of the firm was not easy. CA began with a low initial investment of Rs 35,000 as Table 9.4 shows, though he took loans after starting his business. In January 2005 he took a simple medium-term loan of Rs 28,000 from the ICICI Bank to buy a motorcycle that he will have to repay through 36 installments, each being Rs 1,200 per month. In March 2005 he took a second loan of 60,000 from a relative at 2 per cent interest that he will repay at the rate of 1,200 per month and has already repaid Rs 72,000. Registration of the supply unit took four months and the shop was set up in one and a half months with help of from his community, but particularly his Brahmin friend. The finance was arranged within one month; agricultural implements and pesticides for supply were obtained in 15 days and three weeks respectively. CA received his first order worth Rs 5 lakh within two months of setting up his shop which helped establish the business. The business improved with continuous orders: worth 15 lakh in 2005 for supply of agricultural implements, and worth 55 lakh and 10.5 lakh for agricultural implements and pesticides respectively in 2006. During the year 2006 (January to December) CA spent a total of Rs 56,38,500 lakh on raw materials or supply, labour, transport taxes, etc., that is, inputs in his business, while his turnover was 65,50,00 lakh over the same period and he could sell products worth Rs 10,50,000 as

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Table 9.4 shows. During 2006 he paid taxes of Rs 2,15,000. But by reducing transport charges and earning a good reputation he was able to save approximately Rs 35,000. By January 2007 the fixed capital of his firm was worth 3.5 lakh and working capital was 15 lakh. CA’s annual income by January 2007 had risen to a little over 9 lakh as Table 9.4 reveals. The firm now has fixed assets in the form of a godown worth 2,55,000, infrastructure worth Rs 95,000, and working assets consisting of stocks worth 5,00,000 and speculative assets worth 10,00,000. The busy season for the enterprise is March to May, with sale of pesticides the rest of the year. CA runs the firm with the help of his wife who has passed class 10. CA has employed two persons—an OBC and a dalit—who are responsible for obtaining supplies, collecting bills and drafts, etc.; they are both high school pass and are paid between 3,000–5,000 per month and are given gifts on festivals each year. Most of the expenditure of his family is on education, followed by essentials such as housing, electricity, transport, communication, medicines, and a modest amount on recreation. When interviewed in January 2007, CA was thinking of starting a pesticide-manufacturing unit within the next two years. The reasons for success are similar to those of our earlier entrepreneur BA. These are: past experience and contacts as a salesman for agricultural implements and pesticides with big companies; his contacts with officials and linkages in the market which have helped him. He keeps in contact with IAS and DTIC and officers in Bhopal and tries to fulfill their demands, that is, bribes, keeping to what he describes as an ‘unofficial code of conduct’. However, unlike BA, he is a member of the Congress party since May 2003, which he claimed has 15,000 members in Bhopal, which helps facilitate political support and provides contacts and networks that help him in getting orders and a good rate of profit. CA has a positive attitude to reservations, which he feels should continue as it helped him both in his education and in establishing his business without which he would have remained a salesman. Many government officials, some of whom have benefited from reservation, have helped him. Despite his success CA would like his children to enter into service rather than business, which he admits, is difficult for dalits. There is

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competition with other firms in the market in terms of price, quality and reputation. He points out that the major problem is that the Baniya community that traditionally supplied goods to the government has monopolized the supply market. It is also very close to the BJP, and as a result, the present government is working against the dalit community. In this situation, few dalits have the means to set up a supply or manufacturing unit. DM, the fourth entrepreneur, aged 27 (entrepreneur 4 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4), with a similar background to the entrepreneurs considered so far, has in contrast, failed to make use of the SD policy and improve his financial position. A Mahar by caste, he has passed class 10. His father migrated to Bhopal from Hoshangabad in his childhood and was a class four employee who suffered from asthma and decided to take advantage of the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in 2003. Keen to set up some business as their father was ill, DM and his brother decided to set up a small stationery shop in Shivaji market in July 2001 with an initial modest investment that sold primary level textbooks and stationery. DM continued to be a newspaper vendor in the mornings to earn a little extra for the family. In June 2002 the two brothers collected Rs 20,000 and purchased a place, and by collecting a further Rs 30,000– 40,000, set up a bigger shop in February 2003. DM was able to repay his entire loan in 10 months. In July 2003 he came to know about the special registration facility started by the Digvijay Singh government for dalits. The brothers decided that trading and supply of stationeries to government offices would be fruitful. DM managed to get registration for orders of supply of stationery and books from the government under the 30 per cent quota. As Table 9.4 shows, the annual turnover of the shop in 2006 (January to December) was 10 lakh. The fixed capital of the enterprise is 55,000 while the working capital is 1.5 lakh. DM’s father, mother, brother and brother’s wife assist DM in running his enterprise. While the mother is illiterate and the father has passed class 12, both the brother and brother’s wife are welleducated having completed post-graduation in Library Science and Hindi respectively. DM received orders and supplied three–four times to various government departments and his income during 2006 was

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Rs 6,96,000. But he failed to gain orders from the government subsequently. Our interview and analysis indicates that neither DM nor his brother have entrepreneurial abilities to face the competition that the supply business requires. DM feels that it was because he did not have experience in trading. He found that every clerk and officer asked for a ‘remuneration’ or bribe, which he could not afford. His father was also against giving bribes, a feeling that the brothers shared. Another problem was getting the required goods on credit which was often denied as almost all traders belonged to the Baniya or Brahmin caste and they insisted on cash transactions and were not prepared to give goods on credit. As he pointed out, due to the monopoly of the ‘banias’ they could not dare to supply stationery even to the local schools. Unlike many other dalit suppliers, he did not make interlinkages in the market or contacts that could have helped him. His major problem he says was ‘credit and bribebased competition prevailing in the supply market’. At present, DM’s fixed capital, which consists of his shop, is about 55,000 and his working capital is 1.25 lakh and speculative account is 25,000. His personal expenditure is modest; the only item on which there is high expenditure is the education of his children. DM is not member of any organization or political party; nor does he try to make contacts with government officials. Unlike the earlier entrepreneurs, he believes such activities cannot help his business. He agrees that reservation policies for dalits must continue, as he was able to gain education entirely due to such policies. But he is disillusioned about the policy of SD, which is being implemented by corrupt bureaucrats. He feels that if it is applied honestly and properly for 10 years it could be stopped, as this period would be enough for dalits to come up as entrepreneurs. Thus, he has faith in the ability of dalits to work hard and prosper but feels that dishonesty has caused him losses. He is busy running his stationery shop and is no longer supplying to the government.9 He would like his children to gain a good education and employment rather than continue his business. DM cannot think of a single person dalit or non-dalit who he feels has helped him in this venture. His only inspiration was his elder brother who tried to help him as much as he could.

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Upper Middle Class, Well-Educated Entrepreneur The second group consists of two entrepreneurs, a tribal and a dalit (entrepreneurs 5 and 6 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4) who belong to the upper middle class, are well-educated and economically well-off. In contrast with the first category, they belong to ‘second-generation’ educated families in which the father is well-educated and employed, though the mother is illiterate. Coming from a professional background, neither had any experience in business and both entered it to improve their financial position and become big business persons. They provide an example of a possible dalit/tribal business middle class that can provide leadership to the poorer yet educated sections of their community. However, in our examples the decision to take advantage of the SD scheme was due to the close personal relationship that both the entrepreneurs had with the bureaucracy and the political leadership which both decided to use to improve their financial position. However, such linkages can be affected by change in the political regime, as seen from the impact it had on the second entrepreneur. ES is a woman aged 33 who belongs to the Gond tribe (entrepreneur 5 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4). A post-graduate who migrated with her parents to Bhopal in 1974 from their tribal village of Shivani, she married into an educated and politically influential family, which has had little trouble in obtaining government contracts. Her husband and another close relative assist ES in her business. While the former is a post-graduate in Political Science, the latter is a graduate. The close relative is a politician and has been a minister in the MP government. It was through this relative that ES was able to get two firms registered one after the other, both of which supply electronics and software items. The first firm was registered in September 2003 (soon after the policy became operative in August 2003) for supply of electronics and software supplies in partnership with a Jain trader in which ES has appointed two employees. As agreed between them the partner receives 60 per cent of the profit and ES, 40 per cent. ES and her husband look after the second firm established in September 2004. Both the firms are registered under the Bhopal Declaration’s special registration for supply of government orders to different government offices.

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ES pointed out that it was her younger brother who encouraged her to start the business. In our study we focused on the second enterprise, which is not a partnership but run directly by ES and her husband started in September 2004. ES, in contrast to BA discussed earlier, was able to start both her firms within a month of getting the registration due to the influence of her relative, the finance in a few days and the infrastructure required within a week. The registration of both the firms through the DTIC took two months (Number 1) and three weeks (Number 2). As Table 9.4 shows, due to her political connections, ES received her first order for the second firm within three weeks from government offices through DTIC. The initial amount invested was high being as much as Rs 20,00,000 as Table 9.4 shows, and the fixed capital by January 2007 was 22 lakh and the working capital 50 lakh. ES points out that there is a progressive trend if we look at the total transactions of her firm. The total turnover was Rs 3,50,00,000 in 2004; Rs 4,50,00,000 in 2005; and Rs 5,00,00,000 in 2006 as seen in Table 9.4. Total expenses of the business which covers transport, different types of taxes, trading costs, etc. during 2006 was 4,63,14,000, the total sales of both stationery and computer parts 5,00,00,000 and the different types of taxes total up to 3,35,000 (Table 9.4). Despite her contacts ES had to pay a bribe of Rs 28,75,000 during the year in order to obtain orders. But she pointed out when interviewed in January 2007 that in terms of percentage changes, the business has experienced fluctuation. With the formation of the BJP government ES has faced some problems and the business is no longer doing as well. The family could not be contacted in Bhopal in August 2007 as they had left for their native place. ES has employed two Gonds and a Parmar and Ahirwar in executive positions to purchase the required software and stationery and run the office. They are paid 3,500–5,000, except an office boy whose salary is less. They are also given bonus in the form of sweets and gifts during festivals, which is an extra cost to ES. The family also owns 40 acres of agricultural land which is leased out and from which it receives 2,50,000 annually. In 2006 a building was also constructed for the enterprise at the cost of 20,00,000. ES’s productive assets at present are fixed capital consisting of the building worth 20 lakh, infrastructure

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worth 2 lakh, working capital consisting of stocks worth 10 lakh and speculative accounts worth 40 lakh. Despite belonging to an influential family, ES faced considerable struggle to establish herself as an entrepreneur. As she is related to a politician, initially officers hesitated to talk to her. But she learnt the business and has managed to make personal contacts, gained respect and the business has come to be recognized as run by her. ES’s relationship with all concerned officials is hence good, which helps her easily deal with business problems. All officers pass files belonging to her promptly and she faces little problem from the bureaucracy. More difficult, she points out, is the tough competition and hostility to dalits/ tribals in the market from traditional Baniya suppliers based on ‘price and reputation’. The latter do not like the entry of the former into the supply business. Moreover, getting loans is not easy as banks, she alleges, are ‘very antagonistic to our people’. While sanctioning loans they charge commission of Rs 500 per 1,00,000 and interest of 15 per cent per year as well. To cut costs and face this competition, ES has bought all her materials from wholesalers: 2 per cent of the total stationery and 2–3 per cent of computer software and hardware purchased. In this way she has managed to save Rs 8,94,000 in a year. ES is also member of a number of organizations/associations that have brought her into contact with many people and widened her contacts. She has joined a number of organizations formed by tribals to protect their rights, generate awareness and promote socio-cultural affinity or those that attempt to help women: the Adivasi Mahila Sanghthan, Bhopal in 1999; Adivasi Seva Mandal in 2002, the Rani Kamalapati Memorial in 2005, the Yoga Training Centre, Bhopal in 2003, the Jharneshwar Mahila Vikas Education Institute in 2007. As she pointed out, ‘I realized that these organizations are working for the upliftment of our society’. Thus there is a strong feeling of belonging to the tribal society. However, she agrees that while these organizations help her meet people, it is due to the position occupied by her relative as a minister that she was able to obtain help from officers and establish her business. In keeping with the success of her business, ES and her family are able to spend 65,000 annually on the education of her children, 85,000 on housing, over 50,000 on transport and

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communication and 85,000 on electricity. This has definitely changed their lives for the better. Her major problem is irregular electricity supply with a cut of 10 out of 24 hours outside the main city area. However, she is not keen on her children continuing her enterprise and would prefer they obtain a good education that would open other opportunities to them. Regarding reservation she has a positive attitude as she benefited from freeship and free books during her school education and has been able to set up a business with regular supplies to the government. However, while agreeing that reservation policies must continue, she feels that if one generation receives benefits and prospers, the next should not be eligible. The main obstacle she feels is the disunity among dalits and tribals. The two groups can join hands to ‘break the Baniya’s monopoly’. There are many people who want to extend help, but due to disunity dalits and tribals have not been able to reap the benefits. FB a mechanical engineer aged 31 and belongs to the Bairwa caste. His family migrated from Tonk district of Rajasthan in 1974. His father is an IAS officer whose position and contacts have helped FB a great deal in his entrepreneurial venture. It has provided him links with other dalit officers dealing with the SD policy. While his mother is illiterate, his wife has a law degree. Though his father was able to obtain a government job through reservation, FB initially joined the public sector and then moved to entrepreneurship. FB was working in a public sector enterprise on a salary of Rs 19,000 as an assistant manager for four years when he left and started a business in April 2006 registered under the Shop Act that supplies plantation materials and plants/flowers and other items. His inspiration, he claims, was his father’s hard working ethics that led him to take up the challenge. In 2005 the BJP government had passed an order that only manufacturers of goods could supply to the government. Hence, FB decided to become a producer-cum-supplier. He set up a horticulture nursery on his family’s eight-acre agricultural land using the RDS, and as a manufacturer was able to gain a written contract for supply of goods to government offices in many parts of the state.

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FB’s father was one of the bureaucrats associated with the Bhopal Declaration. The advantages this gave him can be seen from the ease and speed with which he was able to arrange his enterprise.10 He was able to gain registration with the DTIC office within two months, the required electrical machinery in two days, the grants in loan in 15 days and the required plants from different nurseries in two months. Thus, in about two months his business was ready to start. FB’s initial investment was very high being Rs 50,00,000 as Table 9.4 shows. The investment was high as he hoped to supply to many offices across the state. His father also gave him a loan of Rs 10 lakh in January 2006 for his business. The fixed capital of his enterprise is 50,000 while the working capital is 15 lakh. FB also obtained a long-term loan of 15 lakh at 15 per cent interest to start his business in March 2006 from the Central Bank of India against a security of eight acres of agricultural land. Till January 2007 he had received a subsidy of Rs 3 lakh and will have to repay Rs 80,000 per year. During the year 2006 FB spent Rs 16, 25,000 on various inputs into his business such as instruments, fertilizers, plants, repairs, salary of employees, electricity, transport, etc. The sales from the firm to government offices and nurseries during 2006 totaled Rs 5,50,000 (Table 9.4). FB has invested in fixed assets of high value: electric set worth 60,000; instruments worth 25,000 and a tractor worth 7,15,000. The value of his land is worth 42 lakh. His working assets are also high consisting of stocks worth 10 lakh and speculative accounts worth 5 lakh. He was able to save approximately 1,50,000 during 2006 by taking good care of plants and their nutrition and irrigation facilities as well as because of the low level of wages to the labour employed. The busy time of the year for his business is July–September/and January/February. Seven persons—two regular and five casual—are employed on his farm, of whom three are from the Chamar and Ahirwar caste; of the rest one is a Brahmin, one is a Kacchi (mali caste), one is from the Yadav and Chouhan caste. They are employed to water, weed, plant and generally run the farm while one helps in marketing. They are paid between 2,000 and 5,000 per month, which costs him approximately 30,000 a month in wages. His major expenditure is on electricity, transport and communication.

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By January 2007 his firm was earning an annual income of Rs 18,75,000 (Table 9.4). Thus his business is well-established. Unlike most of the other entrepreneurs interviewed, he spends 10,000 annually on ‘recreation’ but has little other personal expenditure. Much of FB’s success is also due to close and good contacts with IAS officers and officials of DTIC Bhopal to whom he provides ‘good remuneration from my entrepreneurial activities’. He uses a ‘price- and approach-based’ method to meet the competition, that is, he is able to supply at low prices and has the approach with officials to see that his contract continues. However, it must be admitted that some of his success is also due to developing linkages with other markets for the goods he supplies. Unlike most other entrepreneurs interviewed, he is not a member of any organization/association or member of any political party. He does not feel the need for such activity. He has not faced any losses or any disputes in his business nor does he complain about competition from the market. There is regular supply of electricity to his farm. FB argues that reservation policies must continue; he was able to avail of reservation facilities from fee waivers to scholarship and in getting admission to the engineering college as well. The SD policies of Digvijay Singh government have provided him an opportunity to become a manufacturer-cumsupplier without which he could not have succeeded. Equally important, he points out, 99 per cent of the market is under the control of the traditional Baniya traders and dalits have hardly 1 per cent presence. In his own case it is the help advanced by dalit officers that has enabled him to meet the competition and establish himself successfully.

Entrepreneurial Partnerships with Non-dalits The third group consists of three entrepreneurs who have chosen a different route to enter into the field of business: by joining hands with non-dalits to start supply/manufacturing enterprises. Compared to the first category they are better educated and belong to families where the father had received the benefits of reservation in education and employment. Their wives are also better educated. Moreover, these are not family enterprises as in the first category but professionally run

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‘partnership firms’. As two partners are involved the scale of investment is higher, the firms are larger, and employ more people. In contrast to the second category, the entrepreneurs do not enjoy the advantages of political or bureaucratic support and therefore have worked hard to make a success of their enterprise. What differentiates them from the other categories is that they are prepared to risk big investments. Among our three categories the possibility of the emergence of an entrepreneurial middle class is high in this category. GS (entrepreneur number 7 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4), aged 31, migrated with his parents from Raisen to Bhopal in 1995. Belonging to the Ahirwar sub-caste, he is well-educated having completed his post-graduation and law. While his father has passed intermediate, his mother is only class 6 pass, but his four sisters have completed post-graduation. GS established two enterprises—the first on December 20, 2003 and the second in 2006. The two enterprises are registered under the Shop Act; the first supplies lunch to government offices, the second supplies fans, furniture, electrical goods and stationery, and uniforms to the CRPF. While the first is a family partnership with his father, the second, involving a much higher investment, is a partnership firm with a non-dalit friend. As both are working side-by-side, information on both is given in Table 9.4 and in the following analysis. GS’s grandfather was a farmer with 8 acres of land, which helped his father gain an education and a job in the police. The family owns 11 acres of agricultural land from which it has an annual income of 1.5 lakh, but this is not invested in their business. GS’s father began his career as a sub-inspector in the police force and was promoted to officer rank before he retired. On his retirement the father decided to set up some business as he found it difficult to manage his large family—including four as yet unmarried daughters—on his pension. He has many bitter memories of experiences of discriminatory practices by upper-caste officers and executives in the government during his career. He points out that upper-caste police officers are very corrupt compared to dalit officers and are open about receiving gifts and bribes; an upper-caste DSP on retirement would have been able to save about 2 to 3 crore and have a posh bungalow in the best part of the city. On the other hand, dalit

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officers are afraid as they are usually caught and punished. On his retirement he found all his life savings exhausted when he purchased a house in January 2003 and had not been able to marry off a single daughter. Keen to see his son become a judge as he had passed law, the father found that at age 26 he was still unemployed, and they decided to take up the opportunity of SD offered by Digvijay Singh. GS had obtained the information about the SD policy from a relative; his application was accepted and in six months, in November 2003, he was able to register his first firm, which supplies lunch to government offices in Bhopal. While the initial investment in the food supplies was 1.5 lakh, by January 2007 as Table 9.4 shows, the fixed capital was 5.5 lakh while the working capital was 20 lakh. In the running of this enterprise GS is assisted by his father who is designated as manager, mother and four unmarried sisters between the ages of 24 and 36. It took GS two-and-a-half months and a bribe of Rs 5,000, despite being the son of a police officer, to obtain registration with the DTIC Bhopal. He obtained the tender for food supplies from the Food and Supply office, Bhopal in one month, a godown from a kayastha friend and the required pots, pans and supply tins from a retailer within 16 days. They rented a three-room kitchen and six workers and two managerial staff. To establish the food business on a sound footing, in June 2004, under his father’s encouragement, GS took a long-term loan of 5 lakh at 14.5 per cent against their residential house and by January 2007 he had repaid a little over 3 lakh and was expected to pay another 90 monthly installments of about 9,500. By 2007 his annual personal income rose to over 11.5 lakh and that from both his firms was over 14 lakh. In 2006, after earning about 15 lakh from the first business in two years, father and son decided to take a calculated greater risk to set up a bigger business. GS approached a businessman friend from a Kayastha family and discussed the possibility of a partnership firm to supply furniture, uniforms and electronic goods to government offices/institutions. Based on the understanding that the friend would be a 30 per cent shareholder in the business, they took Rs 1,50,000 from the bank and the latter invested 3 lakh and GS 5 lakh and the

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second supply company based on an investment of 8 lakhs (Table 9.4) was formed. To devote time to the new firm GS employed a manager, a trusted relative to supervise the lunch supply business. The electrical goods business being more complex and requiring an office, took a bit longer to establish: two weeks to obtain a caste certificate from the court, two months for the registration and one month to procure orders through CED MAP offices in Bhopal. GS hired a shop from a Brahmin friend in six weeks, employed carpenters and technical personnel, started the shop in 15 days and obtained the required materials in a week’s time. It took him only three days to open a bank account and begin his business. He was able to find a godown for his electrical and furniture, etc. supplies through his partner within a month, mobilize funds from the ICICI Bank in three months and an office for himself in six weeks. GS points out that he faced very little problem in getting credit because when he showed the transaction and turnover of his first enterprise to the bank they were easily convinced and sanctioned the required amount. The second firm has employed a total of 12 employees ranging from Brahmin, Muslim, Chouhan, Yadav and Arhirwar. Except for one who is a commerce graduate, the others all have a few years of schooling and are employed for cooking, cleaning, or as auto drivers, tiffin delivery boys, helpers, etc. Of these, five are regular the rest are casual workers. Their salaries depend on the job performed and range from 1,500 to 5,000 per month. GS’s father is now a satisfied man and admitted that 2006 had been a very encouraging year for him after retirement as both firms are progressing well. There were uncertainties faced by the second enterprise but they have been able to overcome them. The turnover in the two businesses together in 2003 was 50,000; it increased to 15 lakh in 2004, over 26 lakh in 2005 and Rs 59,95,600 in 2006 and the annual income of the firm in 2006 was 14, 07,575 as Table 9.4 shows. GS hopes to reach a target of 90 lakh in 2007. For his food supply business, during 2006 he spent a total of almost 10 lakh on raw materials bought from wholesalers and the vegetable market, transport, expenditure on employees, rent, commission to the manager, etc. while the total goods supplied were worth 16 lakh. In the

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case of the electronics and furniture firm the total expenditure in 2006 was a little over 45 lakh. The two firms together own fixed productive assets worth 1,50,000 in the form of kitchen pots and pans, tiffins and instruments, office furniture, an auto rickshaw, etc. and working assets of about 20 lakh. During the year 2006 the two firms together paid 35,000 as VAT, 8,500 as income tax and over 27,000 as sales tax, that is, a total of Rs 1, 42,799 (Table 9.4). GS has attempted to minimize his costs by purchasing kitchen materials at wholesale prices and using as few labourers as possible. By this he was able to save Rs 35,300 annually. In the case of electronic and furniture items he buys items good in quality but not too expensive for government offices and managed to save about 31,000. GS and his father are members of the SC/ST Association in Bhopal and the Congress party, which has widened their contacts and helped them deal with ‘price and quality competition’ in a monopolistic market. While the former is a social organization, the latter, as the father pointed out, ‘Has conveyed a unique message through the Bhopal Declaration amongst dalits in MP, and it has broken the steel wall of Baniya’s monopoly in the market, and provides avenues for conquering upon the Baniya in the near future’.

The Congress party, he argues, helped him in getting registration and supply orders and he supports it by giving some of his time. He says all political parties try to gain support of dalits but the Dalit Agenda of Digvijay Singh is one of the first instances of direct assistance. Father and son are also members of the Buddha Nav Nirman society, a religio-cultural organization, and the BSP. The BSP, according to them, has a membership of about a thousand citizens while the Congress has 25,000 in Bhopal. Father and son have made contacts with officers and developed linkages with wider markets in their business. This has helped in providing a market for their goods and in getting supply orders from government offices. The former points out that he has gradually shifted from a police officer to a confident businessman and learnt to deal with officers respectfully and politely. As they pay their loan installments and their taxes on time and behave well with all they believe they have not had

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any problems. Having done well in business the family has given land for starting an intermediate college in December 2006. The family spends maximum earnings on education, transport and communication, electricity, and lower amounts on housing and recreation. Their daily necessities are not very high. GS’s father would like his grandchildren to become judicial magistrates or government officers, which he holds is the family tradition. Father and son feel that reservation should continue as it has helped their family in education, employment opportunities and in entrepreneurial opportunities. Based on his long experience, GS’s father argues that dalits have been kept out of the mainstream for very long and even today 95.5 per cent of them live in rural areas far from any opportunities and face discrimination. They reside in urban areas with few facilities and their children do not get good schooling. In contrast, the upper castes, despite living in affluent socio-economic and cultural environments, feel they have achieved everything on ‘merit’ and look down upon and humiliate dalits as incapable and not talented enough to get jobs or promotion. Dalits therefore should be compensated for all this. Reservation, he argues, ‘should continue for thousand years because we will have to take a full account of the discrimination which has been imposed on us for centuries’. Baniya, Sindhi and Punjabi traders monopolize the market and without reservations dalits cannot enter into business. However, he agrees that there are a few who, having gained from reservations, are helping others and mentions Mr D. K. Vikroul as one of them. HK, the next entrepreneur (number 8 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4), aged 29, who belongs to the Balahi sub-caste has formed a partnership with two non-dalit friends aged 30 and 34.11 The son of a teacher, HK is well-educated having completed postgraduation. He migrated from Khandwa where his family was residing in 1993. The firm was established on December 21, 2004. It is a registered company supplying machines, medical and surgical items, automobiles, steels and furniture, clinical chemicals, etc. to government offices and institutions. Much of HK’s success is due to the combined efforts of the three partners. HK’s family has risen through hard work in two generations from farm labour to entrepreneurship. HK draws inspiration

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from his grandfather who worked hard and provided education to his father. A hardworking agricultural labourer, his grandfather had to leave his village as he opposed the oppressive actions of his landlord. He migrated to Khandwa where he worked as a construction labourer and became a labour supplier to contractors. He was able to educate HK’s father who also worked as a construction labourer up to class 10 and helped build a house in Khandwa for the family. Often during August–September the family had a hard time, as construction work was not available during the rains. After finishing class 10 HK’s father worked as a Munim (cashier/accountant) on a salary of Rs 50 per month and managed to complete class 12. He began to teach as a primary schoolteacher and completed his graduation and teacher’s degree within six years. When HK was in class 8 his father managed to get a job as a teacher in an intermediate college in Khandwa. HK’s family owns 12 acres of agricultural land, which has been hired out to a farmer, and the earning from it is about Rs 1 lakh. On finishing his post-graduation HK tried to gain a job in the service sector but failed and took up a job as a tutor. Unhappy with his lot, during a discussion with a non-dalit friend at the High Court at Bhopal, they both decided to take up the opportunity provided by the Bhopal Declaration. Another nondalit friend also agreed and a partnership was formed. They met with the general manager of DTIC Bhopal who put them in touch with Mr Vikroul, the finance manager of the corporation, who briefed them about the policy. Encouraged by his father, HK and one of the partners were able to collect 2 lakh in a month. HK also used 30,000 he had saved for obtaining registration of the supply contract, as ‘government machinery’, in his words, ‘doesn’t move without lubricant (remuneration charges)’. By this time Dr Amar Singh had introduced the RDS, which helped them a great deal. The initial investment in the firm, as Table 9.4 shows, from the bank was Rs 2,60,000. But as the enterprise was expected to supply a wide range of items, the partners required large loans to start the business. They took a medium concessional 13.5 per cent loan in February 2005 of 10 lakh from the HDFC Bank against the mortgage of the residences of all the partners. By January 2007 about 11.5 lakh, that is, the total, had been repaid in 24 installments of Rs 48,095 per month. In June 2005

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and September 2006, the partners again took short-term loans worth Rs 8 lakh and Rs 25 lakh from the SBI and HDFC Banks respectively on cash credit (CC) accounts. By January 2007 they had repaid almost 2 lakh and a little over 3.5 lakh of each of these loans respectively. In March 2004 HK’s father also put in 65,000 into the business. By January 2007, the company had a fixed capital of 15.5 lakh and a working capital of 50 lakh. HK and his partners were able to set up the firm in a fairly short period of time. They obtained the shop space from a Brahmin friend in six weeks; carpenters were able to make required office rooms in 15 days, the registration from DTIC Bhopal was obtained in two months, orders from CED MAP officers in one month, a bank account in three days, and the required materials in one week. HK was able to obtain the required SC caste certificate from the District Court in two weeks. However, they did face problems in accessing credit at the bank and ‘red tapism’ in government departments. At the HDFC Bank, HK complains, there were many formalities and much paper work by the bank manager, which took six long weeks. Moreover, at the DTIC, the officers took three–four weeks to complete the required formalities. No one was willing to help and as a dalit he felt like ‘a social orphan’. Officers, whether dalit or non-dalit, were keen to ‘snatch our hard earned money’ and they seem to ‘have the eternal right of harassing us’. Despite these problems the partners received orders which have put their business on an upward trend: the first order was of Rs 2.5 lakh for tuberculosis-related diseases to three Public Health Centres; in 2004 they got orders worth Rs 3 lakh; in 2005 they received a large order of 55 lakh for supply of two wheelers, autos, drugs and pharmaceuticals, furniture and steel sheets; and in 2006 they supplied goods worth Rs 2,58,00,00 (Table 9.4). From the enterprise, as they are three partners, HK’s income per month was Rs 2,49,578 in 2006 and 29,94,940 annually by January 2007. For the firm the corresponding figures were Rs 4,79,958 and 57,59,500 respectively as seen in Table 9.4. Their target for 2007 was over 3 crore, but as explained later, the BJP government’s new order came in the way. During the year 2006, for the raw materials and items they supplied and other overhead costs they spent a total of Rs 2,00,40,500 and the final products sold

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were worth 2,58,00,000. Due to uncertainties the firm incurred a cost of 2,25,000 in 2006 arising out of trading costs, transport, information and remuneration costs. The firm has paid 1.5 lakh as income tax during 2006 (Table 9.4). With cost minimization techniques such as searching out quality material at low prices in the market and maintaining the government-approved rate, a saving of 4.5 lakh was possible. HK and his partners face a number of problems in the market. The first is price-based competition in the supply market in fulfilling government orders. But he holds that his firm tries to give the best quality goods and services and deliver on time. The second, more difficult to overcome, lies in their dealings with the manufacturers from whom they purchase the goods they supply. HK pointed out that almost 100 per cent of them are from the same trading caste and very often the same family. They cooperate with each other, do not help the dalit entrepreneurs and harass them in various ways including demanding bribes. As they do not supply as per requirement, specially when an item is urgently required, the partners suffer doubly by losing the supply order and market credit of being a prompt supplier. HK explains that there is a price difference between a trader and manufacturer-cum-supplier of four to six times. For example, if a supplier gets a profit of Rs 5 per unit of drugs, the manufacturer-cum-supplier gets a profit of Rs 20–30 per unit of drugs. But HK and his partners are hopeful that they will emerge as manufacturers within 10 years and be in a similar position as the Baniyas and not be dependent on them. Here he believes the Congress party has been the premier agency which has helped in breaking the monopoly hurdles which exist in the market. His father, mother who is class 4 pass, and his wife who is a graduate, help HK in the daily running of the firm. The period between July and September is the busiest part of the year when government sources such items; rest of the year the trade is about 40 per cent. The firm employs seven employees— two females and five males—for official work, maintaining accounts, marketing, transport of goods, as caretaker and as office attendant. While three of them are executives with a degree in commerce to maintain accounts and for marketing, the rest are class 10 and 12 pass. The executives are paid about

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4,500, the rest are paid between 2,000–4,000 per month. In caste terms three employees are from the upper/middle castes: a Brahmin, Yadav and Chouhan. The rest belong to various sub-castes of SCs: two are Vishwakarma, one is an Ahirwar, and one is a Balahi. The firm has built a godown to store goods worth 2 lakh and an office in 2006 worth 12 lakh. It also owns infrastructure in the office worth 1.5 lakh. Apart from these fixed assets there are working assets consisting of stocks worth 5 lakh and the speculative account worth 45 lakh. The main expenditure in HK’s family is on the education of the children, followed by electricity, transport, communication, housing, and medical association costs. Not much is spent on recreation despite the change in their economic condition. HK is keen that his children become premier businesspersons in their field. HK is an enterprising person who has developed contacts with officers responsible for giving orders in around 23 out of 48 districts of MP, income tax officers and interlinkages with other markets for supply of goods. He admits giving many gifts/bribes worth 15 lakh to officers at different levels during 2006. As an entrepreneur HK finds it worthwhile being a member of various organizations/associations. He is a member of the Congress party in Bhopal, which has a membership, he claims, of about 10,000, since December 2000. To facilitate the Dalit Agenda of the party during the 2003 elections he spent two–three hours daily mobilizing for the party. Interestingly, he became a member of the BJP’s Bhopal unit in August 2005 and spends about two–three hours per month with party members. He holds that this is needed for getting support of the ‘BJP minded officers and bureaucrats’. He is also member of a professional body, the Medical Association of Bhopal since January 2004, an organization that looks after the interests of chemists and druggists in the state to obtain a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) for medical supplies to different medical institutions and agencies. HK claims that due to these efforts his firm has received continuous supply orders. However, he holds that during the Congress regime bureaucratic support was more forthcoming: ‘there was no need of spooning the party leaders and associated bureaucrats. But there are lots of difficulties we are facing in the

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BJP regime. Suppliers, who are not openly supporters and members of BJP, might not get orders for supply of the materials and would be on the road’.

HK argues that in 2005 the BJP chief minister introduced a government order that a pure trading unit cannot be given the contract to make supplies to the government. This, he argues, is a ‘big obstacle before the dalit entrepreneurs because setting up a manufacturing unit requires quite a large amount of money and most dalit entrepreneurs are petty traders’. However, the partners are trying to find ways and means of ‘meeting the challenges which have been tossed by the chief minister’. They are thinking of setting up a manufacturing unit of pharmaceutical products costing around 1–1.5 crore in the near future. HK agrees that reservation has played an important role in his life by providing him scholarship for his studies and a postgraduate seat in a good institution. Equally important the policy of SD enabled him to establish himself as an entrepreneur at a time when he was facing unemployment; without it he could not have received orders to supply to the government, face the monopoly of the bania and survive in the business. If Amar Singh, whom he considers his ‘saviour’, had not started the RDS he would ‘still be a tutor today’. Hence reservation policies are needed as long as a single dalit remains helpless. HK in fact is thinking of fighting elections, which he feels might help him do something for his community. DP, the next entrepreneur (entrepreneur number 9 in Tables 9.3 and 9.4), aged 29, who belongs to the Chamar subcaste, has started a partnership firm with his OBC friend belonging to the Saini caste, aged 34 years. DP migrated from Indore in 2000, while his partner is a native of Bhopal. The partners are not as well-educated as the previous entrepreneur, DP having completed class 12 and his friend class 9. However, unlike the entrepreneurs in category one, they have taken the risk of starting a business partnership requiring high investments. Started on July 5, 2005 DP owns 54 per cent of the enterprise while his friend owns 46 per cent. The firm manufactures and supplies murmure, sliced bread, cooked dalia to Anganwadis, midday meal schemes, and biscuits, cakes,

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luddu, candy, nutrition food, soya, cornflakes and dates.12 It is a registered proprietary partnership firm with DP as the manager-cum-partner of the firm. While it does not manufacture products that require much technical knowledge, the scale on which the partners are supplying to the government makes it a challenging job. DP’s grandfather was an agricultural and building construction worker and the family has worked its way up in two generations. DP’s father could not study beyond class 6 and worked as a labourer in a flourmill in Kanpur and later Indore where he rose to become the storekeeper-cum-transport manager. As an active member of the worker’s union and a member of the Congress party, he worked hard for upliftment of workers, specially dalits, and continues to be active even after retirement. DP thus had early exposure to both politics and to business. As a student he often visited the mill, questioned his father about it and the idea of starting one remained in his mind. Unable to continue his education on completing high school, DP took up a number of jobs: sales-purchase office boy in a company in Indore in 1997; sales representative in 1999 in the same firm for the Bhopal range, and finally as sales executive for Bhopal in August 2000 with residential facilities by 2003. The turning point in his life was attending a session of the Bhopal Conference where he became aware of the Dalit Agenda. Due to the nature of his work DP had developed contacts with DTIC officers in Bhopal. In April 2004 when he visited the DTIC office in Indore on behalf of his company, he found out the details about the SD scheme for dalits. He decided to become an entrepreneur and obtained registration in the Bhopal DTIC to supply dalia to government primary schools under the midday meal scheme. DP then decided to apply with his non-dalit friend for land allotment to set up a large-scale food-manufacturing unit in September 2004, with the help of Mr D. K. Vikroul and other officers. With the establishment of the enterprise in 2005 he has emerged as a manufacturer-cumsupplier to Anganwadis and to the midday meal scheme. He feels extremely grateful to Digvijay Singh and Dr Amar Singh, who was the person behind the RDS that has enabled dalits to emerge as entrepreneurs. As DP explains:

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I could not have dared to set up a flour mill of Rs 60,00,000 in the Govindpura industrial area. We have been provided loan of Rs 16,00,000 for purchasing the land, and working capital of Rs 4,00,000 by DTIC Bhopal. DTIC Bhopal also helped in getting allotment of the land and its officials approached the bank to grant the remaining amount of Rs 40,00,000 to us for setting up and running the unit. It is noteworthy that there is Rs 20,00,000 subsidy, if we successfully run the unit. We are very hopeful that we shall reap the target of RDS, and become successful business representatives of the dalit community.

The partners have invested considerable capital in the firm in the form of loans from banks. They required three kinds of credit: for buying land, for working capital and for getting supply orders from officials. The initial investment, as Table 9.4 shows, was a loan of Rs 20,00,000 taken in March 2005 from the SBI under the RDS for purchasing the land to set up the unit. The fixed capital of the firm in January 2007 was Rs 95,00,000 while the working capital was 1,00,000. In April 2005 a concessional loan at 11 per cent was taken from SBI of Rs 40,00,000 granted under the RDS to the proprietor. It was taken against a mortgage of the residential properties and land owned by the two partners. A total of 102 installments of Rs 56,374 have to be made to the bank. In October, the partners decide to avail a loan of Rs 10,00,000 from the SBI on the CC account at 13 per cent interest of which Rs 1,40,835 has already been returned to the bank. Finally, in June 2006, a longterm concessional loan at 11 per cent interest was taken from HDFC for purchase of machines required for manufacturing of goods against a mortgage of the firms and two guarantors who hold government jobs. A total of 128 installments of Rs 48,794 have to be made monthly to the bank. Finally, in November 2006 a CC account concessional loan at 10.5 per cent from SBI of Rs 25,00,000 was taken to run the enterprise and Rs 87,500 has been paid back to the bank. Family and friends have also contributed from their savings: his father, father-in-law and OBC friends have put in between Rs 10,000 to 50,000. As DP and his partner were establishing a manufacturingcum-supply unit it took quite long to set up the business: three months for registration with the DTDC, six months for approval for acquiring land for the industry, seven months for

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sanction of loan from the SBI bank by the DTIC personnel, and three months for the construction of the required building. Once these logistics were in place the purchase of wheat and maize from wholesalers and machines and tools took two days and four months respectively. DP and his partner faced many difficulties in obtaining credit as they were setting up a manufacturing and not merely a supply firm. He points out that his experience has been that ‘there is only one thing which can motivate the officials—it is money. It has two faces: bribe and remuneration’. Banks also do not lend money to entrepreneurs without remuneration. DP argues that the Congress party tried to help dalits become entrepreneurs and many rushed to government offices to make use of such opportunities. But 99 per cent of these people return home without getting any help even though some of them offer bribes; only a few lucky persons succeed in getting credit and setting up a business. The sense of frustration and humiliation experienced by DP in obtaining credit is clear from his words: My partner and I spent more than 1.5 lakh for getting the order sanctioning the account. Simultaneously, we had to go round and round the offices, DTIC, and bank as well. It took six–seven months; and we had to give remuneration charge of around 5 lakh. Then only we could set up the unit. I cannot suggest to our poor brothers to try and obtain credit from those fellows; they behave just like monsters with our people. They are bloodsuckers. Getting loans/credit from those fellows and setting up a manufacturing unit is just like knocking the gates of Yamraj [God of death]. If the government really wants to create entrepreneurs . . . it would be beneficial to dalits, only when the administrative structure of sanctioning credit is overhauled as soon as possible’.

However, once in place, the firm received orders immediately. In 2005 (January to December) the total turnover was Rs 50,00,000 of which the profit was 23–30 per cent; the turnover in 2006 reached Rs 3,50,48,750 as Table 9.4 shows, and the partners feel it will reach Rs 5,00,00,000 by end of 2007. During the year 2006 DP spent Rs 2,44,21,967 on raw materials, office expenditure, transport, electricity charges, packing and transport costs, interests and installments and remuneration costs (bribes), etc. While his total sale of dalia, slice bread, cooked dalia and murmure reached Rs 3,50,48,750 (Table 9.4), the firm has paid company tax worth Rs 1,50,000, VAT worth Rs 5,60,000 and

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sales tax worth 5,35,00 making a total of 12,45,000 during the year 2006. He tries to keep the price of items low and save money by purchasing good quality wheat and maize from wholesalers who provide them at lower price; they have been able to keep labour wages low and also save money by selfmanagement. In this way the firm had a saving of Rs 17,68,750 during 2006. The total productive fixed assets of the firm by January 2007 were almost 4 lakh while the working capital consisted of stocks worth Rs 15,00,000, raw materials worth 10,00,000, speculative account worth 50,00,000 and credit worth 25,00,000. By January 2007 DP had a personal annual income of Rs 50,66,163, while that of his firm is Rs 93,81,783 annually (Table 9.4) which has completely changed his life and economic circumstances. DP’s wife who is a commerce graduate and his two sisters help in the day-to-day running of the firm. The firm employs 21 persons, all of them male, of whom 10 are casual and the rest are regular workers. Except for two who are graduates and work as computer operator and marketing assistant the rest are class9 to 12 pass and are employed for making bread, slicing, packing and delivering it, as watchmen, etc. The salaries range from Rs 1,800 to over 7,000 depending on the nature of the job performed. Ability and availability rather than caste has played a role in employing persons in the enterprise. Only about five are SCs the rest are OBCs, one is a Christian, three are Muslims and one is a Brahmin. Most of the SCs are lowpaid casual workers with little education. The busy period for the enterprise is between July to March. The firm spent a total of Rs 15,75,000 due to uncertainties in the market in acquiring wheat, maize, sugar, chemicals and nutrients during the year 2006. To protect the business the partners tried various means to overcome these losses: to procure raw materials at a lower price; deliver goods of good quality and on time, never hesitate to pay bribes when necessary to keep business flowing, etc. The main expenditure of DP’s family is on the education of his children and necessities such as electricity, transport, communication and housing and only a modest amount on recreation. There is an attempt to maintain a simple life style. DP hopes that his son some day will be a ‘respect deserving’ businessman.

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DP is clear that reservation policies should continue as long as dalits remain poor and marginalized. Scholarships enabled him to complete his schooling and the SD policy has given him the opportunity of becoming an entrepreneur. He castigates the BJP government as controlled by Baniyas who have a monopoly of the market. DP argues that much of his success is due to his membership of many organizations, which also reflect his background as the son of a social worker and Congress member. He is a member of the SC and ST Association of MP, the All India Dalit Association, Dr B. R. Ambedkar Mission for Dalits’ Development since July 20, 1998, the Ambedkar Kranti Dal since July 15, 1995, the SC/ST Association of India since April 14, 1997, the Congress party since May 20, 2000, and more recently the BSP since April 14, 2005. According to him, these organizations have a fairly large membership in Bhopal ranging from 2,000 in the case of associations linked with Ambedkar, about 1,200 in the case of the BSP and about 15,000 in the case of the Congress due to its Dalit Agenda. DP feels that many senior officials, also members of these organizations, have helped him by supporting his application for land, registration and supply to government agencies. These organizations help dalit entrepreneurs by promoting the ‘dalit cause in the administrative services’. Yet at the same time he agrees that developing contacts and giving gifts and remuneration is needed to run an enterprise. DP hopes that if he becomes a manufacturer then it will provide an example to his own community. He also hopes that ‘our people’s development environment would widen and our people on the whole will become prosperous and civilized as well’.

Conclusion It is now possible to draw some conclusions from the interviews with nine dalit/tribal entrepreneurs and government officials in Bhopal on the working of the policy of SD. The Bhopal DTIC provided a useful sample as it has the largest number of dalits/tribals—93—who have registered as suppliers/ manufacturers in the state. The analysis suggests that the SD policy is moving in a positive direction. Discussions with the selected entrepreneurs indicate that despite various problems

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and some disappointments and even failures, most of them were able to establish their businesses in a reasonably short period and obtain supply orders from government departments. The RDS policy has proved to be particularly attractive to entrepreneurs keen to set up a manufacturing unit. As many of the selected entrepreneurs pointed out, they would have remained small-time, low-paid executives, tutors, clerks or salesmen if they had not received a chance under the SD policy to establish a business. The analysis suggests that the socio-economic background of the entrepreneur, educational attainments, partnerships with non-dalits, contacts with bureaucrats, membership of organizations and market forces can play a seminal role in determining success/failure. Family support and education, together with hard work, resolve to overcome hurdles and entrepreneurial abilities; these have played an important role in the case of entrepreneurs belonging to the lower middle class. The interviews suggest that it is this class consisting of a rapidly increasing number of high school educated, unemployed dalits and tribals migrating into cities in constant search of employment, for whom the SD policy could prove to be most beneficial. Certain characteristics of this class support this proposition. Belonging to ‘first generation’ educated families, recent migrants from rural areas, they are an upwardly mobile group keen to provide financial security to their families. Used to struggle in their early years in order to obtain a high school education, with middle-class values of thrift and determination, they are prepared to work hard and make a success of the opportunity provided. Dalit and tribal entrepreneurs from well-educated, employed, upper middle-class families have a number of advantages that enable them to successfully use the SD policy. Their good educational attainments and contacts with political leaders and senior bureaucrats makes overcoming difficulties in obtaining credit, receiving supply orders, overcoming price competition and monopoly in the market and caste bias relatively easier than those belonging to the other categories. They can form the vanguard in the business field that others in the community would want to emulate.

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A third route by which dalit and tribal entrepreneurs have made use of the policy of SD is partnerships with non-dalits belonging to either the trading caste or OBCs. Compared to the first category they belong to middle-class, second-generation educated families that have received the benefits of reservation in both education and employment. Compared to their lower middle-caste brethren, having received a better education, they are ambitious and have established large partnership firms with high investments that are professionally managed and depend on employees rather than family labour. Among our categories they constitute an upwardly mobile, entrepreneurial, industrial middle class in the making. All the entrepreneurs faced serious obstacles they had to contend with in establishing their enterprises that need to be dealt with if the policy of SD is to play the role of a major affirmative action policy for dalits and tribals. These are: corruption and caste bias within the bureaucracy and to a lesser extent banks, competition and monopoly from traditional suppliers to the government, wholesalers and retailers, and the nature of the political regime. Many entrepreneurs acknowledge the positive role of senior bureaucrats in framing policies such as the RDS which enabled them to set up large business enterprises and provided the hope of emerging as manufacturers. Some also mention bureaucrats, not always from the dalit community, in the DTIC who have helped them in registration of their business, obtaining loans and supply orders. However, there are an equal number of stories of demands for bribes and ‘remuneration’ and harassment by bureaucrats as well as bank officials, which have delayed setting up of the business or led to failure. This suggests that the success of a state-led diversity policy for disadvantaged groups is crucially dependent on a sympathetic, honest and pro-active bureaucracy. Competition from established traditional suppliers, traders and wholesalers, largely from the Baniya trading caste, proved to be a serious problem for almost all the entrepreneurs. They hold that it is more difficult to overcome than corruption within the bureaucracy, which can be dealt with by giving bribes. While price and quality competition can be faced through competence and hard work, most entrepreneurs point

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to the monopolistic position enjoyed by a few Baniya traders/ suppliers and their caste bias and hostility to dalit and tribal entrepreneurs. Even the better-off entrepreneurs from a middle-class background with political or bureaucratic contacts and support find it difficult to deal with the biased and monopolistic practices of the trading community. Most pointed out that this is an important reason why reservation in the business/trading sector is needed, as disadvantaged sectors require ‘protection’ for their fledgling business from monopolistic practices in the market. Finally, the policy of SD requires an enabling political environment. This was available during the period when the Digvijay Singh government implemented the policy but it was too brief a period for the policy to realize its full potential. Recognized as part of the Dalit Agenda of the Congress government, the policy was implemented with greater enthusiasm and transparency than during the subsequent BJP regime that has not shown as much interest in the effective implementation of the programme. Most of the selected entrepreneurs point out that the BJP, which is politically close to the trading community, has to favour them; it introduced the rule that only manufacturers can supply to the government. This has effectively closed the policy to small businessmen unable to set up manufacturing units. Despite these problems, based on analysis of the selected entrepreneurs, it can be argued that in a globalizing economy, the policy of SD has greater potential than the traditional policy of PD to help dalits and tribals. While jobs in the government sector are dwindling, policies such as SD in comparison hold unlimited latent possibilities for economic advancement and uplift of these communities in comparison to job reservations in the private sector. A state-supported policy, it is voluntary, market-based, depends on individual ability and is, therefore, less contentious or socially disruptive than land distribution or even reservations in the private sector given the opposition of the latter, particularly to legal sanctions. As it is a voluntary policy, it might be easier to persuade the private sector to adopt it. In recent years dalits, and to a lesser extent, tribals, have entered the political arena in large numbers, formed political parties and governments, but

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remain conspicuously absent in the business/industrial sector. It can be seen as a second stage in PD, a policy suited to the shift from a socialist welfare state to a neo-liberal state that, in a democratic society, is still expected to look after the welfare of the disadvantaged sections. It has the potential to introduce substantial change in their socio-economic position, even though so far the results have not been up to the expectations voiced by dalit intellectuals and activists when the programme was inaugurated.

Notes 1. See Table 1 in the appendix to Chapter 5. The higher figure of 105 compared to 89 in Table 1 is because it includes those entrepreneurs who have made use of RDS to set up a manufacturing unit in Bhopal. 2. Obtaining a complete list of dalit and tribal entrepreneurs for the entire state was extremely difficult, as lists are compiled only at each district headquarter and are difficult to access. State-level departments do not maintain systematic and updated lists. I am grateful to Mr R. L. Tiwari, general manager, DTIC Bhopal, who compiled a list for the entire state by putting together lists from each district—a laborious process that took much time. The list for Bhopal was much better maintained as it is the state capital. I am grateful to Mr Chain Singh Dhurve and Mr Kansotiya for giving me the list of entrepreneurs with details about their activities for Bhopal and for information about the SD policy. 3. These interviews were conducted by a team of researchers under Aseem Prakash. I again interviewed the same entrepreneurs in August 2007 though all of them could not be covered. 4. There are instances of dalits whose names are used by non-dalits to start a business and supply to the government. But most officials held that such instances were few and this was difficult as at every stage the presence of the former was needed—to obtain loans from banks, supply orders, etc.—moreover, as mentioned in the previous chapter, the rules provide that in such cases dalits should be given 50 per cent of the profits. In the examples of partnerships in our selected nine entrepreneurs discussed in the next section, dalit partners were actively involved and were obtaining 50 per cent of the profits. 5. The government list does not provide information separately on dalit and tribal entrepreneurs. Hence, obtaining information on tribal entrepreneurs was difficult and was done by discussions with the Bhopal DTIC officers. 6. No names have been used in Tables 9.3 and 9.4 to conceal the identity of the entrepreneurs and of their firms.

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7. They probably belong to one of the better-off OBC communities in MP. 8. The names of the entrepreneurs and of their firms have not been given at their request to protect their identity. 9. Personal discussion with him in his shop in August 2007. 10. FB was able to succeed to a large extent due to his father’s position, but not because of his own education and experience in the public sector. This can be witnessed from the problems faced by SK, a young entrepreneur, whom I met by chance in late August 2007 in a government office while researching information about the SD policy. SK, a well-educated dalit, faced so much caste bias and discouragement from the senior official whom he had to deal with. This made him think of giving up his business and look for a job. He argued that the policy was not workable as long as the bureaucracy did not remove its unhelpful and biased attitude towards dalits. 11. The caste of the two partners could not be ascertained as the interview was held with HK. However, they are not SC and probably belong to the OBCs. 12. Murmure are Indian salted snacks. Dalia is cooked wheat cereal and luddu is an Indian sweetmeat.

Part IV: Political Fallout: The Dalit Agenda and the 2003 Assembly Elections

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10 The Dalit Agenda, Land Distribution Policy and the 2003 Assembly Elections Following the analysis of the Dalit Agenda adopted by the

Digvijay Singh government and the implementation of two significant policies of land distribution and supplier diversity, we move now to understand its impact on electoral politics, more particularly the state assembly elections of December 2003. This is necessary because, with the dalit vote assuming political importance due to the ongoing process of identity assertion and contestation in the Hindi heartland, the Dalit Agenda came to occupy centrality in state politics in MP, particularly electoral politics. While the impact of the policy of supplier diversity was felt on only a very small section of mainly the urban electorate, the land distribution programme affected the livelihood expectations of the vast number of landless dalits and tribals as well as the fortunes of the powerful landowning ‘encroacher class’ in the countryside. Understanding the impact of the land distribution policy therefore assumes significance, particularly in view of the defeat of the Congress party in the election. In one of the highest turnouts in the state’s history, the BJP won 173 seats while the Congress that had gained a stable majority in 1998 was reduced to just 38 seats. The vote share of the BJP rose from 38.98 per cent to 42.50 per cent while that of the Congress fell sharply from 40.57 per cent to 31.63 per cent. The Congress lost votes to a number of smaller parties, which between them won the remaining votes (Table 1 in the appendix to this chapter). Some observers, pointing to the numerous programmes implemented by the Congress government for the poor and disadvantaged, found the defeat in stark contrast to the historically constructed ‘heritage of a radical social image and social linkages with the lower strata’ (Gupta 2005: 188). But analyses of the 2003 state assembly elections in the media

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pointed to high levels of discontent in the electorate against the government due to failure to provide ‘B.S.P.’, that is, ‘Bijli, Sadak and Pani’ (power, roads and water) despite being in office for a decade.1 The CSDS post-election survey showed ‘nonperformance’, or at least ‘perceived non-performance’, of the government, and failure on the basic issues of governance and quality of life as the underlying cause of the defeat. The survey results indicate that 49 per cent of the voters were dissatisfied with the performance of the state government. Even among the Congress voters, 22 per cent expressed the same opinion. An indication of the unhappiness among dalit voters is the fall in votes for the Congress party from 37.6 per cent in the 1998 elections to 31.48 per cent in 2003. In contrast, the BJP gained votes across all classes, increased its lead among the well-to-do and secured a lead even among the very poor.2 However, as James Manor has pointed out, the explanation of ‘B.S.P.’ ‘oversimplifies grossly’ (Manor 2004: 18). While roads and power were extremely important, their main role, he points out, was in crystallizing the ‘rather unfocused discontent with the Congress government’ (ibid.).3 He points to the need to investigate the ‘origins’ of this discontent, which he argues was initially not very high but built up slowly over a period of time as a number of surveys show in the second half of 2003 and finally led to the defeat of the Congress party. A private BJP poll in August/September found that 55 per cent of the respondents thought the government was ‘poor’ but 45 per cent regarded it as ‘good’ or ‘okay’.4 A November poll in The Week reported that 39 per cent saw the government as good, 37 per cent as poor and 19 per cent as average. Views regarding the chief minister were almost identical.5 Discontent intensified by polling day but only somewhat; 49.2 per cent were not satisfied with the work of the government and 35.6 per cent were satisfied.6 Voters saw the BJP as better able than the Congress to deal with only one problem—infrastructure—whereas Congress was seen as better at tackling their other four main concerns—unemployment, communal harmony, religious interests and price rise. Unfortunately for the Congress, 45 per cent rated infrastructure as most crucial—while the other topics combined drew comment from only 35 per cent. The CSDS exit

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poll found that 65 per cent saw power/roads as the main problem, which dwarfed all others.7 A similar view was voiced by a commentator six months prior to the election. Kela, writing about the BJP preparing for the electoral campaign, points out, ‘The BJP’s cheerleader has begun touring the state; but the party itself seems hesitant, unsure, a little pessimistic about its chances’. Considering that the power situation, drought and rising tide of rural migrants should have made the BJP confident, he points to an ‘air of defeatism about the party wracked with factional infighting. The Congress on the other hand looks wary, but confident in its ability to pull off another coup’ (Kela 2003: 2814–815). The major argument presented here is that one of the important sources of this gradually building up discontent was the Dalit Agenda, and most particularly, the socially divisive policy of distribution of charnoi land, which played an important role in the elections in parts of the state, particularly some districts of Mahakoshal and Malwaanchal. The initial euphoria with the Dalit Agenda following the Bhopal Conference waned from the second half of 2002 onwards and there was rising unhappiness with the land distribution programme in the countryside among the dalits/tribal beneficiaries and hostility from the land-owning encroachers, many of whom were from among the OBCs, that contributed to the defeat of the Congress party in the elections. Examining the impact of the land distribution policy on electoral politics during the 2003 election in the Mahakoshal and Malwaanchal regions, this chapter, based on fieldwork, provides a study of Rajgarh district. It shows that two factors were responsible for the defeat of the Congress party in the district. In many other parts of the state serious problems in the implementation of the land distribution programme led to discontent among the dalits/tribal beneficiaries and big landowners. However, here the BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal, taking full advantage of this rising discontent, through a wellplanned campaign, fanned it against the government leading to violence and killing of dalits that led to the defeat of the Congress. While in 1998 the Congress had won all the five assembly seats in Rajgarh district, in 2003 it won only one seat. A closely related development was the judgements of the MP

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High Court during 2002–3 critical of the land distribution policy of the government. The BJP used the judgements to encourage the OBCs to take back the land from dalits on which encroachments had been cleared, contributing to the violent conflicts in the Mahakoshal and Malwaanchal region. While in Rajgarh and surrounding districts discontent and violence leading to the defeat of the Congress in the district can be attributed to the politicization of the land distribution programme by the BJP, RSS and the Bajang Dal, fieldwork in the four selected districts including Rajgarh strongly suggests that discontent with the land distribution programme was a wider phenomenon.8 Elsewhere this discontent was present simmering beneath the surface but did not translate into largescale violence, nor did the BJP and its affiliates mobilize as strongly on the land distribution issue. However, as the land distribution policy was implemented throughout the state, the unhappiness on the part of both the dalit/tribal beneficiaries whose aspirations remained unfulfilled and the landowning OBCs opposed to the programme contributed in a considerable measure to the poor performance of the Congress in most parts of the state including its stronghold of Mahakoshal. The CSDS survey shows that the BJP made inroads into the rural areas, considered the traditional strongholds of the Congress. Among rural voters, 42 per cent voted for the BJP and only 30 per cent for the Congress.9 The chapter is divided into two parts. The first part discusses the problems of encroachments, distribution of uncultivable land and corruption in the land distribution programme in the state including Rajgarh, which made it an important issue during the elections. These problems made the beneficiaries unhappy and provided its political opponents reasons for criticizing and mobilizing against it. The second part describes the electoral campaign of the BJP in Rajgarh in which it mobilized the rural population against the land distribution programme including court judgements and made it into a political issue prior to the elections contributing to the defeat of the Congress party. The concluding part discusses the issues that played a role in the contestation between the Congress and the BJP in the elections.

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Problems in Land Distribution: Rising Discontent Although land distribution by the Digivijay Singh government began in 1998, it was after the Bhopal Conference that it gained momentum and attracted the attention of the media and opposition parties. As part of the Dalit Agenda, a large amount of land was distributed to dalits and tribals during 2002–3 just prior to the 2003 elections. The land distribution programme created political difficulties due to the manner in which it was formulated and implemented. As Chapter 6 has shown, three problems arose during its implementation: encroachments on charnoi lands allotted to dalits that were difficult to remove, allotment of uncultivable land and corruption in the implementation process by lower-level district officials which affected the programme. Consequently, many dalits and tribals did not gain actual possession, while many of those who did, obtained barren land. The district administration was reluctant in many districts to remove encroachments for fear of conflict, or where they were removed, dalits faced hostility and in some cases violence from the middle-caste landowners. Police reports discussed a little later also mention that such instances were quite widespread in some districts.10 Corruption was also a major issue. Our fieldwork points to institutionalized forms of corruption at the village level, such as payment to the patwari for providing application forms or measuring the land allotted to beneficiaries. The CSDS survey shows that as many as 61 per cent of the voters thought the Digvijay Singh government to be fully or somewhat corrupt. Hence, the policy raised hopes and aspirations among the potential beneficiaries, which when not met, led ‘unintentionally’ to disappointment, which proved politically dangerous for the Congress party.11 The method of implementation employed by the Digvijay Singh government also created problems. As the Congress party in MP has a high degree of internal factionalism, many of the programmes of the government were criticized and in fact opposed by MLAs and members of the party.12 The existing dalit/tribal organizations in MP are small and politically not active, nor is there assertion at the grassroots as in UP which

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could have provided support to the programme. Most of the dalit and tribal intellectuals and activists who came for the Bhopal Conference were from outside the state and left soon afterwards. This led Digvijay Singh to choose ‘routes’ and ‘structures’ outside the government, as seen in the reliance on civil society organizations such as the Ekta Parishad and the formation of the Task Force. However, as stated earlier, the district-level Task Force did not function well in most districts and for implementation of the land distribution programme, the chief minister relied on the district bureaucracy whom he supported against criticism from opposition parties as well as members of his own party. Pressurized to distribute large amounts of land within a short period of time on the one hand, and on the other unable to deal with the complexities on the ground such as encroachments, lack of cultivable land and poor land records, the district-level bureaucracy was not keen to report its failings. For example, on paper a large amount of land was shown as distributed in districts such as Morena, but in actual fact much of it was barren land of no use to the person to whom it was allotted, causing much unhappiness. Applications by such persons to the district administration to change the land, as our field data shows, proved unsuccessful. Thus, until early 2003, the chief minister did not realize that the programme was facing serious problems and dalits and tribals were not getting actual possession of land. Digvijay Singh remained badly informed about the poor performance of the bureaucracy. Many MLAs also complained that they were not informed about policies as the chief minister preferred to work closely with IAS and IPS officers. They alleged that during the elections he did not trust the Congress workers.13 One of the reasons why the chief minister did not gain information about problems in the land distribution policy could be, as Manor has pointed out, the system of district government instituted in April 2001.14 Under the earlier panchyati raj system Singh had a useful source of information in the members and chairpersons of zilla panchayats who had powers to tackle bureaucrats not performing correctly. However, the new system disempowered zilla panchayats and made district ministers and collectors dominant at that level. Meant to

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create greater democratization, it worked in the opposite direction as it made the zilla panchayat members unhappy and Singh lost their support in the elections. Manor argues that as officials sent him rosy pictures ‘he was flying blind’ for his last 22 months in power and remained badly under-informed about implementation of programmes (Manor 2004: 219–20). Our fieldwork suggests that this was true of the land distribution policy also. Thus, poor implementation and little protection against violence by big OBC encroachers, described a little later in districts such as Rajgarh, made the beneficiaries of the programme dissatisfied with the government.15 The growing unhappiness among the dalit and tribal beneficiaries of the programme in many parts of the state is visible in the large number of petitions submitted by them to the state government in early 2003. As the number of petitions daily submitted personally to the chief minister’s office was large in number, the media focused on them and they came to be well-known. One example makes this clear. A large number of dalits belonging to village Nipaniya Kala in Sehore district, not far from the state capital, camped for a number of days in front of the chief minister’s office in mid-2003. In this village 77 hectares of charnoi cultivable land was identified and distributed to 43 landless dalit households in May 2002. The government order (235/A-O 2001-02) giving them the land was issued by the additional collector, Sehore on May 6. According to the order the land was awarded to them from May 14, 2002. Although they received pattas to the land from the tehsildar, even in August 2003 after the matter was reported in the press they were not able to gain possession. They also claimed that they had paid about 1 lakh each for the land allotted to them. They presented a written petition to the chief minister’s office demanding that they should be given possession of their land and the bribe money be restored to them (Dainik Jagran, August 19, 2003). There were many other similar cases. A long list of dalits/tribals with the number of their pattas, who had not been able to gain possession or were allotted uncultivable land, was published by leading newspapers in the state (Dainik Deshbandhu, January 19, 2003, Dainik Bhaskar, January 20, 2003; Dainik Jagran, August 19, 2003).16

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Police reports following the violence in Mahakoshal and Malwaanchal point to five major anomalies in the implementation of the land distribution programme: mistakes in the implementation of the programme, corruption, opposition to the programme by opposition parties, uncertainty created due to the judgement of the High Court, and opposition from the Gowshala Committees set up by the BJP described a little later.17 The reports show that in some districts no proper survey of the land meant for distribution was carried out and encroachments by big and powerful landowners were not cleared prior to the allotment. Patwaris did not take the villagers into confidence and explain about the programme, or indulged in corrupt practices. In some places many members of a single family were granted land in contravention of rules while needy dalits and tribals were kept aside. In many villages land meant for village roads, cremation grounds, school buildings, religious places, etc. were also distributed as common land without any thought to the repercussion on the village concerned. Many such instances were found to be from Rajgarh district. For example, in Bhikhedi, the land that was meant for a common road was distributed to villagers for grazing their cattle. The road that led to cremation ground in Latahedi and land meant for a road in Pipliya Rasoda were also distributed resulting in feud and conflict. The ground meant for celebration of Dussehra in Bheelkhedi and the land belonging to the local temple in Bakheda were also allocated leading to strife. In Harela, under thana Khilchipur, land which was meant for a school building was distributed resulting in discord.18 Police reports suggested that the district administration should first find out if there were encroachments and remove them; not make the mistake of allotting land meant for schools, roads, etc.; ensure that lower officials/workers do not take bribes or indulge in any other corrupt behaviour; make allotments correctly to avoid political problems by opposition parties and provide information to all citizens to prevent political parties from spreading false rumours and ideas. When the state government in early 2003 found that dalits and tribals who were allotted land had not been able to actually gain possession of the land, it made strenuous attempts to give the beneficiaries actual possession of the land allotted to them. In January 2003 ‘Operation Vishwas’

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was conducted in which, at camps organized by the local administration, the police was expected to investigate 2 lakh pattas and give over 30,000 persons actual possession of their designated land (Dainik Deshbandhu, January 19, 2003). Again between August 15 and 31, 2003 district officials were directed to organize camps to ensure that beneficiaries secured actual physical possession of charnoi land allotted to them (The Hindustan Times, August 10, 2003; Nav Bharat, August 10, 2003). In April 2003, following reports that dalits and tribals were given land that was not cultivable, the government issued orders to all district collectors that only charnoi land that is cultivable should be identified and distributed to beneficiaries (Dainik Jagran, April 10, 2003). The government also gave the beneficiaries of the charnoi land free agricultural implements to improve their land and to carry on cultivation. The scheme was started in Harda district where a camp was organized at which 550 dalit and tribals who had recently received land were given implements such as seed drills, hand wheels, carts, etc. (Nav Bharat, August 31, 2003). Other problems such as not obtaining Green Cards, fertilizers and seeds were to be resolved in these camps. Officials were also expected to find out if the beneficiaries had become members of the cooperative bank and been provided the required training and information about kharif crops, etc. The government issued orders to divisional commissioners, district collectors, SPs and other officials to widely publicize these camps, if necessary by beating of drums in the village. They were also expected to ensure the presence of the staff of revenue, agriculture, cooperatives, panchayats, SC/ST welfare departments and police departments at these camps. The officials were directed to make arrangements to look after and be responsive and sensitive to the people coming to these camps; strict action would be taken against officials who failed to do so (ibid.). While some of these difficulties could be removed by hard work and strict action, the problem of encroachments was too widespread and too long standing and could not be resolved in a short period of time, especially as land records were not well-maintained. It underlay the social conflict between the OBCs and dalits that led to the BJP making full use of the issue to criticize the programme as politically motivated to gain the support of these groups.

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Rajgarh District The underlying reasons for the violence between the dalits and middle-caste landowners in Rajgarh district is the same as elsewhere in the state: encroachments, allotment of uncultivable land to the dalits and corruption by lower-level district officials. However, certain characteristics distinguish it that have been dealt with in detail in Chapter 6 and are only briefly mentioned here. The large number of incidents in Rajgarh was because, in contrast to the other sample districts, particularly Morena, it has a large amount of fertile and watered charnoi land that has long been a bone of contention. The land is encroached upon and whenever the government has made attempts to re-distribute it there has been trouble. There is little common land left without encroachments even for roads in the villages and cattle have to be grazed in stalls. Second, here the largest amount of charnoi land was distributed between 2000 and 2002 by a proactive district collector even before the Bhopal Conference and the process continued afterwards (Deshbandhu, August 19, 2002). Consequently, considerable hostility on the part of the landed middle caste had built up by the time of the elections in the district. The five sample villages in Rajgarh district of Khedi, Lasudia Maharaj, Selapani, Latahedi and Punarkhedi described in Chapter 6 experienced high levels of violence prior to the 2003 elections. During the land distribution programme the district administration, under a sympathetic and efficient collector, removed encroachments and attempted to provide cultivable land to the dalits and tribals in the district. However, due to the presence of a powerful and influential landowning OBC section of Dangis and Yadavs in these villages, many of the plots allotted remain ‘partly encroached’ by the big landowners or only ‘partly cultivable’ as the poorer plots of land had been allotted to the dalits. This was possible in connivance with the patwaris of these villages. Dalit respondents in the sample villages complained that the patwaris took bribes from the landowners to allow them to continue their encroachment on the fertile portions of their plots. In some cases dalits had to pay money to the patwari to obtain land allotted to them. As described earlier, the district collector suspended as many as

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25 patwaris in the district and a few were dismissed and even jailed for bribery and not allotting the land properly. Many of the patwaris dismissed were from our selected villages and point to the high levels of corruption prevailing at the lower levels of the district bureaucracy. The corrupt practices of the patwaris and their favouring the landed class were an important reason for the unhappiness of the dalits with the programme and their aggressive reaction to the violence by the middle-caste landowners.19 Rajgarh district became an important site of contestation in the political battle between the two principal parties. It falls in the Mahakoshal region that has been the traditional battleground with a long history of political rivalry between these two major contenders within a two-party system. The BJP, and particularly the RSS, have a strong base in the Mahakoshal and Malwa region built up over a long period of time that enabled them to mobilize the big OBC landowners of the region. During our fieldwork villagers mentioned that the Bajrang Dal has a strong presence and RSS shakhas (morning drill meetings) are held regularly in many places in Rajgarh district. In the 1993 state assembly elections, both the Congress and the BJP performed well in the Mahakoshal region, the former gaining 43.94 per cent of the votes, the latter 40.28 per cent. In 1998 the Congress retained its seat and vote share in the region but that of the BJP declined sharply as Table 1 in the appendix to this chapter shows. In sharp contrast, in 2003 the BJP performed well in this area defeating the Congress which gained hardly eight seats and its vote share dropped to 29.90 per cent, while the BJP gained 43 seats and a little over 40 per cent of the votes. The BJP also snatched back its traditional stronghold of Malwa and defeated the Congress in its established base in the tribal belt of Malwa. In these two regions, the swing against the Congress was more than average, at 13.3 per cent and 11.2 per cent respectively. These are the regions, as our study shows, where most of the conflicts around land distribution took place, leading to politicization of the issue. As Rajgarh was the parliamentary constituency of Digvijay Singh from the mid-1980s to 1993 when he moved to state politics, the BJP hoped, through their mobilization against the

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land issue, to embarrass him and defeat the Congress party. The constituency had witnessed strong contests between Digvijay Singh and BJP leaders: in 1984 Singh, gaining 63.4 per cent of the votes, had defeated Jamnalal of the BJP; in 1989 Pyare Lal Khandelwal of the BJP won with 53.59 per cent of the votes, but in 1991 despite the Hindutva wave Singh won but with a reduced margin of 48.60 per cent. From 1996 onwards, the seat has been held by his brother Laxman Singh who has won four times: in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2002 gaining between 43 and 53 per cent of the votes cast. In 2004 he won with 47.25 per cent despite the defeat of the Congress party in MP and in Rajgarh in the 2003 state assembly elections.20 Rajgarh district, which has five assembly constituencies, has also witnessed a straight fight between the Congress and the BJP in state assembly elections in the 1990s with no other party gaining seats with the exception of the Janata Dal gaining one seat in 1990 after which it disappeared. In 1990 the BJP won four seats gaining 45.5 per cent while the Congress gained no seats with 24.9 per cent. The Hindutva issue in north India provided the former an advantage against the Congress. In 1993 the seats were divided between the two parties—the BJP gaining three and the Congress two with the former gaining 40.3 per cent and the latter 45.6 per cent. However, in 1998 the Congress managed to gain all the five seats with a percentage of 44.2 while the BJP gained no seats and a lower percentage of 34.2. In the 2003 elections the BJP managed, following a keen contest, to wrest four seats—Biora, Narsinghgarh, Sarangpur and Rajgarh constituencies. In these seats local leaders Badrilal Yadav and Mohan Sharma whose central role in the campaign against the land distribution programme is described a little later, won in the first and second constituency respectively. The margin of victory was high in the case of Narsinghgarh and Sarangpur, being 24.1 per cent and 20.3 per cent, and lower in Biora being 4.86 per cent. The Congress party managed to win only in Khilichipur where conflict between dalits and OBCs and violence was much less and the difference was 7.4 per cent.21 The caste- and community-wise results of the post-election sample survey of the CSDS given in Table 10.1 support our arguments. The Congress had hoped that by introducing programmes for dalits and tribals it would increase its percentage

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Table 10.1 Caste-based Voting in the 2003 State Assembly Elections in MP, Post-poll Survey (Figures and Percentages) Congress Brahmin Rajput Oth Upper caste OBC Dalit Gond Other STs Muslims Others Total

BJP

BSP

38/29.9% 81/63.8% 2/1.6% 29/30.2% 57/59.4% 2/2.1% 49/34.5% 84/59.2% 3/2.1% 196/29.1% 401/59.6% 34/5.1% 86/38.9% 84/38.0% 32/14.5% 27/34.2 38/48.1% 0/0% 75/54.0% 56/40.3% 3/2.2% 81/77.1% 14/13.3 1/1.0% 16/38.1% 20/47.6% 4/9.4% 597/36.8% 835/51.4% 81/5.1%

Others

Total

6/4.7% 8/8.3% 6/4.2% 42/6.2% 19/8.6% 14/17.7% 5/3.6% 9/8.6% 2/4.8% 111/6.8%

127/100% 96/100% 142/100% 673/100% 221/100% 79/100% 139/100% 105/100% 42/100% 1624/100%

Source: CSDS Data Bank, CSDS, New Delhi.

of votes from these groups at the expense of the BJP, and most particularly the BSP, as the latter had not performed well in MP in the Lok Sabha elections of 1999. But this did not happen. As Table 10.1 shows, the difference between the percentage of votes gained from dalits by the Congress and BJP was less than 1 per cent.22 The state leadership of the Congress party did seem inclined to form an alliance with the BSP but the central leadership ruled it out. The BSP obtained 14.5 per cent while the ‘others’ consisting mainly of the breakaway Samata Samaj Party of Phool Singh Baraiya obtained 8.6 per cent. Thus, the dalit vote was divided badly affecting the Congress party. The only group that stayed solidly behind the Congress were the Muslims (see Table 10.1). The BJP improved its standing among tribal voters, particularly the Gonds among whom it obtained as much as 48.1 per cent while the Congress gained only 34.2 per cent. Among the other tribes the Congress performed better, getting over 50 per cent. However, the CSDS study shows that there was a 14 per cent swing in the tribal belt against Congress—greater than the state average (Manor 2004: 22). The Gondwana party also took away a sizeable portion of the tribal vote. The division of tribal votes benefited the BJP as it picked up 36 of the 41 Assembly seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes with some help from its assured nontribal voters in these constituencies (ibid.).

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At the same time the BJP won 59.6 per cent of the votes of the OBCs who constitute the powerful landowning class in the countryside, against 29.1 per cent for Congress. 22 per cent of those who supported Congress in 1998 swung to the BJP, while the latter lost only 8 per cent of its 1998 votes to the Congress.23 The BJP’s opposition to the land distribution programme helped it consolidate OBC support prior to the election. Its strategy of projecting Uma Bharti, who belongs to the other backward class category, as the chief ministerial candidate also helped to consolidate the OBC support base that it has carefully cultivated over the years. Nor has the BSP in MP been able to gain any part of the OBC vote as in UP, leaving it almost entirely to the BJP (Murlidharan 2003). In the CSDS survey an equal proportion of the voters identified themselves as traditional supporters of the two big parties. But while 81 per cent of the traditional BJP voters voted for the same party, only 65 per cent of the traditional Congress voters voted for it. Among the traditional Congress voters, 19 per cent voted for the BJP. A large number of non-committed voters also voted for the BJP, which gave a clear lead to the party. The survey indicates that the BJP retained and improved upon its traditional upper-caste vote, including even the Rajputs, Digvijay Singh’s own caste. It is against this backdrop that we move to an analysis of the electoral campaign in Rajgarh.

Politicization of the Land Programme and Conflict: The BJP Electoral Campaign The Dalit Agenda, particularly the policy of land distribution, assumed political significance quite early in the BJP’s electoral campaign for the 2003 elections. With the dalit vote assuming considerable political significance, the Bhopal Conference held in 2002 and policies for dalits and tribals adopted by the Digvijay Singh government were closely watched by the BJP. Following the Bhopal Conference, the BJP organized a Dalit Conference at Mau where Uma Bharati, the prospective chief minister of the party, unveiled a ‘Dalit Sankalp Patra’. Meant to be an answer to the Bhopal Dalit Agenda it outlined a programme for dalits. At this Conference copies of the BD were

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circulated and some burnt by the cadres of the party (Kadri 2003: 46). Digvijay Singh, who criticized the action, pointed out that it was an agenda not only of the Congress party but also of the government. By mid-2002 a feature of MP politics was the growing antagonism and competition between the OBCs and dalits. Both were upwardly mobile groups encouraged by political parties: the dalits by the Congress and the BSP and the OBCs by the BJP. The OBCs were unhappy that the Congress government during its two terms in office had done a lot for the dalits but not for them. The drive to distribute grazing land had been resisted by the upper and middle castes, but mainly the OBCs. Of the 48 cases of serious clashes that reportedly took place, the OBCs were involved in 46 of them and the Rajputs in only two (Chowdhury 2003). In fact, during the Bhopal Conference the authors of the Bhopal Document were keen to introduce the policy of supplier diversity, which they argued, was less socially divisive and would affect fewer persons in contrast to land distribution. They warned that land distribution to dalits and tribals could lead to both conflict and perhaps loss of political support. Pointing to rising aspirations and frustration at policies for dalits and tribals among the OBCs they argued that the government should do something for this group also in order to keep their support. In August 2003 some of them had warned Digvijay Singh that the BJP had undertaken a survey that showed that they would gain a majority.24 Just prior to the elections the Congress government announced a number of sops for various sections. For the OBCs job quotas were raised from 14 to 27 per cent taking total reservations in the state to 63 per cent in violation of the Supreme Court’s order limiting them to 50 per cent; scholarships for students and some other concessions were given. Despite this the OBCs felt that the bulk of government funds and machinery was used to help dalits and tribals for whom, apart from existing programmes, a number of schemes were announced prior to the elections: free grain, education, textbooks, more jobs, hostel facilities and state sponsorship in public schools, etc. (The Times of India, September 14, 2003). At the same time, rising levels of dalit assertion in north India following the emergence of the BSP and its assuming

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power in UP under Mayawati during the 1990s and in 2002, had impacted upon dalits in MP making them keen to acquire control over the land allotted to them. They were also emboldened by the steps taken by the Congress government and promises of land distribution made at the Bhopal Conference. The tribal population, unhappy with large-scale alienation of land by big landowners, many of them OBCs, looked forward to obtaining land under the programme. This set the stage for antagonism and hostility, and violence in some places where there was provocation. Much of the violence was not in the poorer districts of the state where dalits and tribals are in large number, but in the better-off districts where these deprived groups succeeded in gaining possession and cultivating land leading to jealousy and caste atrocities. The problems encountered by the government in the implementation of the land distribution programme drew the attention of opposition parties and the media. The BJP effectively used the land question against the government prior to the elections by employing the ‘caste card’ rather than the ‘Hindutva card’ in MP.25 Based on a pre-election survey, the party decided to use both caste and development issues against the Digvijay Singh government rather than Hindutva issues, which were not as important in MP as in some other states. The BJP and the RSS, which was active in many parts of the state, according to many accounts, ran a ‘meticulously managed’ election campaign, that is, strategies were planned around regions and issues carefully and the land issue was targeted.26 Aware of the unhappiness among the OBCs who felt ignored by the Digvijay Singh government, the BJP fanned the discontent prior to the elections leading to violence against dalits, and the consolidation of OBC votes behind their party. It also sympathized with the unhappiness among the dalits and tribals, a section of whom decided to support the opposition party when their aspirations remained unfulfilled. The BJP was also able to influence the Most Backward Castes, like Malis, Mallahs, Dhobis, nais also, and it was hoped that this goodwill towards both these groups would translate into votes for Uma Bharati, the prospective chief minister, as these communities were now keen to obtain political power and leadership.27 Their activities were reported in the media, which

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pointed out quite early that with the approaching elections the land policy threatened to engulf some parts of the state in caste atrocities and violence (Nav Bharat, March, 31, 2003). Thus, a major issue in the elections was dalit/OBC competition in districts such as Rajgarh, Vidisha and Sehor, which underlay the violence during the election campaign in these districts.

The Campaign in Rajgarh With state assembly elections due in 2003 the BJP used three issues from mid-2002 onwards to mobilize the rural population in Rajgarh against the land distribution programme. First, it drew attention through rallies and demonstrations to the mistakes in the land distribution programme, which were used to discredit the government. Second, it organized the Gowshala movement, which appealed to the religious sentiments of the people and also encouraged the encroachers, largely OBCs, to take back the land distributed to the dalits. Third, High Court judgements during 2002–3 were used to spread uncertainty leading to greater amount of conflict and violence just prior to the 2003 elections. The sequence of the political build up to the violence in Rajgarh district through these issues by the BJP is clearly visible in both police reports as well as in the media. Throughout July and August senior BJP leaders held rallies in villages and tehsil towns and there were attempts by the local BJP leaders to politicize the land distribution programme through movements against it. On July 12, 2002 BJP workers led by the zilla head, Rodmal Nagar, his deputy, Mohan Sharma, former MLA Badrilal Yadav, Raghunandan Sharma and others demonstrated before the district magistrate’s office at Rajgarh against the distribution of charnoi land to dalits and presented an application to the magistrate. On this occasion they criticized the implementation of the policy by the local administration that they held was creating trouble between castes, was wrongly implemented in many places and also accused them of numerous corrupt practices. They demanded that the administration should make provision of cattle feed as the charnoi land was disappearing. Newspapers reported that in July, in a number of towns and particularly villages in all

436 Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh

the tehsils of Rajgarh, meetings were held between 6.00 and 8.00 p.m. where the issue of land distribution was discussed.28 On July 17, 2002 and again at a meeting on July 22 at Biora tehsil, headed by Nagar and other BJP leaders mentioned earlier, it was decided that on July 29 the local BJP cadres would bring in cattle and block the National Highway in protest against distribution of charnoi land. On July 29, 2002 the National Highway 3 and 12 near Biora town were blocked throughout the day and numerous processions, meetings and demonstrations held in the town and on the road against the distribution of pattas to dalits in surrounding villages. Important leaders such as Kailash Joshi, Krishna Murari Moghe, attended these meetings. The Congress was criticized for using land for political gain in the coming elections and creating caste conflict between dalits and middle castes. The land of the middle castes, it was alleged, was being taken away as they did not support the Congress party.29 Similar meetings were held throughout July and August in many villages of Rajgarh such as Boda, Talhen, Padana, etc. Meetings were also held in the districts of Vidisha, Sehor, Ujjain, Indore and Shivpuri. Some allegations made by local BJP leaders of corruption and mistakes in the implementation of the land distribution programme by the district administration proved true, due to which it was able to gain considerable political support from the rural electorate in Rajgarh. The BJP leader, Nagar, alleged that bribes ranging from about Rs 3,000 to 10 lakh were taken by patwaris from each beneficiary; despite this a large number of dalits and Bheel tribals were not able to get the land allotted to them. Many demonstrations were held in which it was held that all pattas given in the district should be declared void and the bribe money returned immediately. When the allegations proved true in the enquiry ordered by District Collector Kansotiya, Nagar and other local leaders held that such a big scam was not possible without the knowledge of senior officers and demanded their immediate suspension.30 The Congress lost the support of many dalits and tribals in the district due to such malpractices by the lower bureaucracy. Equally important was the Gowshala movement led by a godman, Kamal Guru, supported by the BJP.31 The movement,

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which was strong in Rajgarh, set up Gowshala Sangharsh Samitis (cow protection committees) at which the issue of the use of charnoi land was criticized as harmful for villages. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders held many meetings of these committees in the district during July and August 2002. Kamal Guru pointed out in his speeches that if all grazing land were distributed, the cow, a holy animal, would be badly affected. There were attacks on dalits and attempts were made to take over land and use it to build gowshalas for the cows in the state. In this the Bajrang Dal also played a role. On July 8, at a meeting called by local BJP leaders at Biora under the leadership of zilla leader Mohan Sharma, a Cow Protection Committee which included heads of existing gowshalas was formed and it was decided that at least 1 lakh ‘Gau Sadasyas’ or members should be enrolled. The Committee demanded that at least 4 ha of land should be given to gowshalas by the government, all sick cows treated free of charge by the administration, they should be provided fodder by the forest department and some money (Rs 10 per cow) should be earmarked for them out of the zilla fund. It was decided that the first meeting of this Committee would be held at Kamal Gowshala in village Bheelkhedi on July 15, 2002.32 The Gowshala Committee distributed pamphlets asking people to become members and vote for the party which would look after the cow and provide it land. Senior BJP leaders also made full use of the issue of cow protection. In a letter to the chief minister dated July 29, 2002, BJP leader and former chief minister Kailash Joshi outlined the numerous problems arising out of the decision of the government to distribute charnoi land in MP. He argued that charnoi land formed the cornerstone of the village as it was required for grazing cattle and was also common land for many other purposes and its shrinking would affect the village economy and cause social conflict between the upper and lower castes. He pointed out that already conflict had begun in many villages and would spread further due to the government’s policy. He held that land is an emotive issue in rural India and provided social status and should be dealt with carefully and called for restoration of village harmony.33 Joshi also held a large rally at the junction of National Highways 8 and 12 in Biora tehsil a few weeks before the violence. At the meeting, a trolley of ‘bhusa’ (hay) and cows were

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present to underline that with the distribution of charnoi land to dalits there was no land left for grazing cattle in villages in the district. The Digvijay Singh policy of land distribution was criticized as promoting caste conflict for political gains in the coming elections. It was argued that the explosive issue of land would make MP, so far a peaceful state, similar to Bihar and UP (Dainik Jagran, August 19, 2002). These activities incited the landowning castes to take over, or prevent charnoi land from being cultivated. The Congress party did little to counter these movements. No Congress leader apart from Digvijay Singh had shown interest in the land distribution programme. As mentioned earlier, Rajgarh had five Congress MLAs, none of whom tried to stop or interfere in the violent incidents that took place in the district in 2002 and 2003. Rather, they held the district collector responsible for the incident as he had distributed land to the dalits and tribals. They felt that the upper and middle castes had held the charnoi land for a long period and spent considerably on improving it and they should be allowed to continue. They had little sympathy for the landless beneficiaries of the programme. However, it is important to note that despite opposition and criticism from both the BJP and sections of his own party following the violent incidents, Digvijay Singh did not transfer District Collector Kansotiya from Rajgarh and he continued to hold the post until the 2003 elections. Due to lack of support to his policies Digvijay Singh did not have the support of Congress MLAs during the campaign for the 2003 elections. He campaigned alone and had to face the opposition parties.34

Violence in Rajgarh In this situation, large-scale conflict began in mid-2002 and spread rapidly across a number of districts (as shown in Chapter 6), and in the sample village of Selapani in Rajgarh district where on July 30, 2002, unhappy at the failure to gain possession of land allotted to him despite bribing the patwari, a dalit youth committed suicide. The incident created widespread unhappiness in the district despite two patwaris being jailed by the district administration for taking a bribe from the youth. In many districts patwaris were accused of

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being partial to either the upper or lower castes and the issue was discussed in panchayats and opposition to distribution of land to dalits began to be voiced (Dainik Jagran, August 19, 2002). Munshi Lal, a BJP MLA, in fact made a report and statement about such happenings in Rajgarh that was widely publicized (Deshbandhu, September 14, 2002). Confidential police reports mention nine major incidents in villages in Rajgarh district between July and August 2002 in which arrests were made and punishments given.35 The Malwaanchal area was the worse affected where the two sides were sharply opposed to each other and not prepared to compromise. Police reports clearly show that Rajgarh district was the centre of the violence that took place around issues of land distribution. Table 10.2 provides the police report on the number of registered cases of violence and arrests in all the 10 Police Ranges/Divisions of MP. Table 2 in the appendix to this chapter provides the detailed district-wise picture in these 10 Ranges. The highest number of cases and arrests, as Table 10.2 shows, were in two Police Ranges/Divisions—Bhopal and Ujjain. In Bhopal Division alone the number of cases and arrests were 164 and 459 of which Rajgarh accounts for 52 registered cases and 275 arrests. In Ujjain also the numbers were high, being 135 and 226 respectively. The numbers were much less in Gwalior range that witnessed 19 registered cases and 11 arrests, but in Table 10.2 Cases Registered and Arrests by Police in Land Disputes in All Police Ranges In MP Police Range Bhopal Ujjain Gwalior Hoshangabad Sagar Indore Jabalpur Chambal Balaghat Rewa Total

Registered Cases

Total Arrests

164 135 19 12 10 5 4 5 0 0 354

Source: Confidential Police Reports, Government of MP, Bhopal.

459 226 11 8 23 12 9 0 0 0 748

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Chambal there were only five registered cases and no arrests. Elsewhere the numbers are not significant. However, the data provided in the tables consists of cases registered in the local police thanas. Many of the dalit respondents pointed out that their requests to file a case was not heeded by the police, unless considerable violence or a major caste atrocity took place, which means that the number of cases in Rajgarh district are higher than the data shows. The police reports mention beatings, spoiling or burning of crops of dalits/tribals and other forms of intimidation and violence leading in a few cases to killings. The reason for these incidents that took place throughout 2002 in most cases was that land meant for schools, cremation grounds, roads and other common purposes was being distributed to dalits/tribals leading to conflict. However, an equally large number of the incidents were due to violence by big landowners against dalits who had received land.36 Police reports also record that in places where major incidents took place politics played an important role. Opposition parties, particularly the BJP, are cited in police reports as unhappy at the growing popularity of the ruling Congress party and fanning the existing hostility and anger of the upper- and middle-caste landowners at the policy of giving land to the dalits and tribals. The land policy provided the BJP a convenient issue to attack the government and to side with those who stood to lose land. The BJP alleged that by distributing charnoi land, which was already encroached upon by the powerful sections of the village to the dalits and tribals, the government itself was responsible for creating unhappiness, anger and hostility in villages, leading to caste atrocities. Other political parties such as the BSP, CPI (M) also made similar allegations.

Court Judgements and Worsening Conflict over Land Distribution An important development that emboldened those opposing the programme in the countryside was the judgement of the MP High Court by a single judge on August 5, 2002 that ruled against the Dalit Agenda of the government. A number of PILs had been filed before the Court in June 2002, particularly in Tikamgarh, against the distribution of charnoi land by upper/ middle-caste landowners who would lose their land and who

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resented land being allotted to SCs/STs. The court set aside the GO dated March 2, 2002 and any other earlier ones of the government on which the land distribution programme was based, and ruled that it was illegal and void. It restrained the government from converting ‘public land’ under Section 237 of the MP Land Revenue Code into agricultural land and distributing it to anyone. The land, it held, was to be preserved for the specific purposes for which it was reserved. But the judgement also directed that all encroachments on such lands should be cleared expeditiously.37 The judgement created uncertainty and heightened the already existing tension in villages in Rajgarh. According to police and media reports, BJP cadres and the Bajrang Dal circulated copies of the judgement in villages and rumours spread that if land was not taken over immediately by the OBCs it would be given to the SCs/STs. The BJP published an advertisement and articles such as ‘Charnoi Bhoomi-Abuntan Ka Adesh Nirasth’ on August 9 in the Nav Bharat newspaper saying that the Court had ruled against the policy of the government, which encouraged the upper and middle castes to not only take back their lands but to also perpetuate violence upon the dalits and tribals. At the meeting of the Gowshala Committee on August 8 a resolution was passed thanking the High Court. Copies of the judgement were later sent to national cow protection organizations. A meeting of the Committee was also held in Bhopal on August 20. Some OBC landlords held meetings on the night of August 8 in many villages in which it was decided to teach the dalits a lesson the next day. Thus, according to officials the violence was planned.38 On August 9, in Lasudia and some other villages in Biora tehsil, cattle were let into the fields of dalits and crops were burnt. On August 12, 2002 in as many as 50 villages in Rajgarh district there were conflicts between dalits and the middle castes. The latter led their cattle into the standing crop in the fields of the dalits causing them to retaliate.39 The police arrested 450 people from various parts of the district (Deshbandhu, August 19, 2002). When the district collector and SP went to the village of Selapani on August 10, 2002 to attempt reconciliation between the two groups, they were stoned by villagers who remained divided over the land programme. The violence then spread

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to Punarkhedi on August 10, and to Latahedi and Khedi on August 12, 2002.40 About 60 villages in Rajgarh were affected and the crop of over 1,000 dalits was destroyed leading to the killing of a dalit youth. The police arrested 450 people from various parts of the district (Deshbandhu, August 19, 2002). In some villages such as Umaria village of Rajgarh district, dalits who were threatened by the upper castes took shelter in Picchore police station afraid for their lives, leaving their families in the village (ibid.). On August 13, 2002 the district magistrate of Rajgarh sentenced two persons to life imprisonment for killing two dalits in the district. This increased the tension in the district.41 BJP leaders visited all the affected villages and spoke out openly against the land distribution policy and its impact. Speaking in village Selapani on August 13, 2002, BJP leader Lakshminarayan Sharma together with other leaders held that the Congress had created caste conflict by dividing land on the basis of caste. Land could have been given to landless but not on caste grounds, this was causing problems. He held that the BJP was prepared to meet the political challenge put by the Congress in the coming elections. The Congress party, he argued, had done a disservice to the dalits, as all other castes are now opposed to them and they are in great trouble.42 Congress leaders such as Lalit Srivastava, on the other hand, held that the BJP was responsible for the spreading violence in the Malwaanchal region. Here, charnoi land was available and the administration had made efforts to clear it of encroachments and was successful in distributing it to dalits. This led the BJP to use this issue to create caste conflict for political gains due to the approaching elections in this region.43 In all the sample villages the pattern of violence was similar. Most of the dalits had received land in 2001 and by August 2002 they had managed to grow their first crop. Due to good rainfall the crop in the villages was good which aroused the jealousy of the Yadavs and Dangis already unhappy at the dalits gaining land.44 In Lasudia they destroyed the standing crop by either sending their cattle into the fields or burning it in some places. As soon as the cattle were led into the fields, fighting and violence spread rapidly through the village.45 The news spread and in Selapani there was fighting between the Yadavs and the

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dalits but the police and the district collector intervened in time to prevent a major incident. In Punarkhedi, where there had been resistance and hostility during the distribution of pattas to dalits in the village, on hearing about the violence in Selapani, the Yadavs decided to teach the dalits a lesson. Here also the district collector had to intervene to stop the violence and was stoned by the OBCs. In all the villages the dalits fled immediately and remained outside for months causing them great inconvenience. In Khedi too there was violence. The Yadavs filed a case against 12 dalit beneficiaries of the village, but the latter won the case in the Narsinghgarh civil court. In village Latiheda, which was the worst affected, open fighting took place between the dalits and the Yadavs. The latter attempted to take over the land of the entire village to which the former strongly retaliated. The police and district collector intervened, but by this time the Yadavs had murdered Ghisalal, a dalit panch of the village. He was targeted because he often spoke out against wrongdoing and had dared to openly question the dubious role of the sarpanch in the land distribution.46 He had also been active in getting encroachments removed and mobilizing the dalits against the Yadavs who were trying to stop them from getting land. His son and other family members who tried to save him were also injured grievously. Trouble had been brewing in the village for some time and the dalits had complained to the police a full week prior to the incidence as violence against them had already begun and they were not allowed to draw water from public wells. It is quite clear that if the police had been alert it would not have happened. The DC was injured in the incident as the Yadavs threw stones at the police and attacked them.47 The police used the Harijan Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dealing with murder to arr