For nearly two decades, Uttar Pradesh has had a movement to mobilise the dalits and the other backward castes of the state. However, UP's lower castes had, before the mobilisation began, and still have, the worst social indicators in the state and in the country. Earlier in the last century Tamil Nadu also experienced a mobilisation of the dalits and backwards, but managed to transform the social indicators in health, nutrition, fertility and education after independence. Thus, while UP's mobilisers of the dalits have focused exclusively on capturing power, the gains to the lowest castes have been entirely of a symbolic nature. This paper, after analysing the data from two National Family Health Surveys (1992 and 1999), addresses the reasons why UP's social indicators, including the health and education status of the lower castes, are much worse than in Tamil Nadu - despite the lower caste mobilisation over the last decade and a half.