Friday, July 18, 2008

India's Obama

Here's a data point I suspect you may want to begin to follow, if you haven't done so already.
Kumari Mayawati, a daughter of so-called untouchables and India’s most maverick politician, stunned the nation last year when she won majority control of India’s largest state with an inventive political coalition that fused votes from up and down the ancient Hindu caste pyramid.

Now, with national elections only months away, Ms. Mayawati has emerged as the most important low-caste politician in India’s history, and she is asserting herself as a rainbow coalition leader, a woman whom all Indians can trust to be their prime minister one day. How far she will rise remains to be seen. But there is no disputing her importance.

While the advance of so-called low-caste, or Dalit, politicians like Ms. Mayawati has reshaped Indian politics for 20 years, no one from her social rank has so shaken up the country’s traditional political order. Dalits represent roughly 16 percent of the population and have traditionally been shunted to the lowest rungs of Indian society.
Also in today's NYTimes.