Banner Advertise

Thursday, November 6, 2008

[] Will an “untouchable” become India’s Obama?

Posted by: Alistair Scrutton
Tags: India: A billion aspirations, , , , , ,

Will a Dalit, or "untouchable" become India's Obama? That is the question being posed by some commentators in the India press after the United States elected their first black president.

One Dalit woman, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh known as Mayawati, is the first person to come to mind. Her astonishing rise from Dalit teacher to head of India's most populous state has led to speculation she could be a prime ministerial candidate in 2009.

For an interesting article on the subject, read "Waiting for India's Obama" by T.K Arun.

Unlike the United States, which directly elects a president, Mayawati could win power in parliamentary system through negotiations between India's political parties after the general elections, due by May.

There is evidence
her Dalit-based party
could become the third biggest party in the election, becoming a

possible kingmaker.

In one sense Mayawati could represent an even greater
revolution than Obama in a country where Dalits have been oppressed for centuries and who still suffer the kind of discrimination that reminds oneself of the United States' Deep South in the 1950s.

On the other hand, as some commentators point out, Mayawati
parades her caste to win over Dalits. Obama reached out across the race spectrum and did not use his colour. He campaigned mostly on policy. Maywati has made headlines as much for allegations of corruption and excess — such as erecting statues in her honour — as original policy ideas.

I went to Mayawati's birthday party in Lucknow this year. There, she
had the various top public figures, from police chiefs and civil servants and politicians, finger feed her with cake. Most of them were upper caste.

Will she be asking the same of Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi after the general elections?

18 comments so far

From my observation in thelast few months it look like this guy Alistair Scrutton, is expert in writing utter useless articles. This article is again shows his useless/wasteful mentality. In India nobody has objected Mayawati becoming a PM, infact KR narayannan a dalit has already served as Rashtrapati (Highest post).

What it matters is the person becoming Prime minister has got brains and be able to run a efficient, corruption free goverment. Infact our present PM Dr. Manmohan singh is testimony to our secular credintials, although he is running a corrupt and highly inefficient goverment. So Mr. Alistair Scrutton stop writing this utter useless blogs, instead you can write a blog about introduction of some black and asian faces as minister/PM of your native UK.

- Posted by Sanjay

India has had several "Obamas" in its 60 year history: people from minority or maginalized communities who have made it to important political posts through sheer hard work and on merit. Our PM now is also from a minority community. Our record has been better in that regard than America's.

But India, or any European democracy, will never see the kind of personality and aura building that the US presidential campaign has seen around Obama, because parliamentary democracies work differently. Personalities and auras, however charismatic, tend to get diluted in the long-drawn out process of coalition building and constant negotiations. So we will never see anything like Obamamania because interest groups are formed around too many different political ideologies. Yet I think in the longer run a parliamentary democracy is a healthier system.

- Posted by Sudha Rajagopalan

I start with a big YES, very contradictory to Indian Society, the one and One Mayawathi madam can become country's ever first Prme Minister.

- Posted by raasan


- Posted by raasan

i am proud that mayawati has attained such great heights being a dalit. on the contrary she should focus on the welfare of people whether they are dalits or other castes than being famous herself.

politicians should involve their conscience wherever possible. Money makes them crazy. But what if they are not paid for their post. will they still continue the upliftment of the country.

to all politicians:- love our very own country INDIA. and all good things will happen to our INDIA. i am a very tiny citizen of INDIA, but i love my country. and if possible i can sacrifice, not my life atleast my few years for our country.

- Posted by theresa patel

FYI Reuters, KR Narayanan was from scheduled caste who was president of India. We had muslim presidents christian presidents. Is this your todays article to put india down ? Get a life .

- Posted by vivek

Mr. Scrutton, your most important and relevant point is that Obama did not use/abuse his color - the only way for Mayavati to get anywhere near the Prime Ministerial seat would be to strongly use her lower caste credentials. But then there's nithing wrong with that, given that anyone who comes to power will be using some similar platform.

- Posted by Vishnu Shastri

India's Obama should be person of substance who can unify the country beyond the distinctions of color, caste and race. I don't think Mayawati comes any close to that. I think the nation would heartily welcome a leader from dalit, if the person has some substance.

- Posted by abhishek bhor

do not tarnish obama, by calling him black he is a true american. First let mayawati learn adminstration and stop always crying about her being dalit. let her take her own decision rather than depending upon 2 or 3 babus.

- Posted by jass

she will ensure that the fabric that is india is destroyed. she is a low caste and deservedly so. you idiots who has commented here - do you know what you are talking about? we don't need a donkey or a buffalo herd to rule the country. we need a statesman who will earn the respect and command respect. this dark stone ass will only cultivate hatred and divide the country on communal lines. i hope she will die of a incurable disease soon.

- Posted by vishwanath

Unfortunately this could become a reality. Obama has a very good credentials. His income did not suddenly jump by crores of rupees over a short period. Also Obama doesn't seem to be a man who will go around erecting his own statues all around. Obama never in his campaign talked about how black he is and how how downtroden his people are and that is why every one should vote for him.our Dalit leadres only qualification is her caste and she seems to take advantage of that.
So there si no comparison betwwen Obama and Mayawati

- Posted by Dinesh

Mayavati is no Barrack Obama. Whats wrong with you all.

- Posted by Indian

I could care less about her caste than her personal integrity and ethics. Everything we know about her is she is a self-serving and conniving aggrandizer — corrupt and vindictive. Obama didn't play the race card and no one has accused him of pecuniary malfeasance. The same can't be said of Mayavati and it'd be a shame if she can manipulate her way into the office of the PM.

Yes, I know this is possible in India and it has happened before with many politicians. The embarrassment before the world for India, if she makes it, would be the commentary like this:"The first Dalit PM of India, Mayavati has also been widely criticized and reviled for corruption, caste favortism and vindictiveness towards her opponents." I don't think that, unlike the Obama election, it'd be a good reason to celebrate or take pride in ourselves as Indians before the eyes of the world.

Dev Dasgupta
New York, USA

- Posted by Dave Dasgupta

Jaggivan Ram was a dalit /Bc who was a PM

- Posted by ambrish

Obama did not win the election based on his race. He won it based on his policies and vision for India. Mayawati has only one vision, exploit the Dalit vote bank and fill her personal coffers. Please be reminded that K.R Narayanan (Late Former President of India) was a Dalit. So, the answer is Yes, India is, was and will be ready for an Untochable to lead her, but God forbid it will be Mayawati.

- Posted by Ganesh

Mayawati as PM of India, yes it can happen in India. She could be compared to Sarah Palin in many ways, lavish spending, uneducated in world politics, history and economics. Yeah, as long as there are more number of uneducated and irrational people living on this planet, there can be leaders like Mayawati and Palin can rule the democracies like India and US.

You can't fix stupid, people have to fix themselves. I guess we have no choice but see this one day. No offense to Dalits, as the other blogger mentioned, India had and has many Dalit leaders, one of our president K.R Naraynan is a Dalit, he is highly educated and elegant diplomat. It will be very unfortunate to see Mayawati as PM.

- Posted by Satish

in the advanced countries like uk or us, the people look at the merit of their leader. their leader is elected after it is ascertained that he has the ability to lead. that is the reason we do not see horsetrading and instability, but rather a stable government that completes the term. people like mayavati do no have any quality for the world leaders to respect. for a country like india which prides itself with high numbers of doctors,scientists etc, we have better qualified people to run the nation. in between why should anyone bring the caste factor? if a person is qualified enough how does it matter what his color or caste is?

- Posted by vishwanath

Sorry to say this Mr. Alistar Scrutton , but before putting up a blog like this you must know the history well .. many have written about the past minority religion or lower caste politicians , so i wont reapeat the names. I would just like to say that i can\'t agree more with @devdas gupta .@vivek , @Sanjay !!!!
Its not about any persons caste , its about his/her personality that makes him/her eligible for a post ! And as far as this women is concerned , i will be ashamed if she becomes the PM/President of the country ! And Mr.Scrutton , wake up , if we have to compare the india\'s caste\'ism and america\'s rasicm … india is far far better as most of the states in india have the so called lower caste Chief Minister .. i guess you are more concerned about the caste than the general public of india , who has stopped seeing such differences !


[* Moderator's Note - CHOTTALA is a non-profit, non-religious, non-political and non-discriminatory organization.

* Disclaimer: Any posting to the CHOTTALA are the opinion of the author. Authors of the messages to the CHOTTALA are responsible for the accuracy of their information and the conformance of their material with applicable copyright and other laws. Many people will read your post, and it will be archived for a very long time. The act of posting to the CHOTTALA indicates the subscriber's agreement to accept the adjudications of the moderator]

Your email settings: Individual Email|Traditional
Change settings via the Web (Yahoo! ID required)
Change settings via email: Switch delivery to Daily Digest | Switch to Fully Featured
Visit Your Group | Yahoo! Groups Terms of Use | Unsubscribe