ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Being Dalit

Casteism and Radical Dalit Calling

Caste Matters by Suraj Yengde, Gurugram: Penguin Random House India, 2019; pp 325, ₹ 599.


While you may dismiss Caste Matters by Suraj Yengde as another rant on caste, it sizzles and draws the line with a renewed focus on Brahminism as the ideology that governs India’s public life, the core weaknesses of the Dalit movement, and the kind of radical action caste-embedded marginality calls for.

The work builds on the experiences of the author as a Dalit—from an urban fringe in Nanded, Maharashtra to a young academic at Harvard Kennedy School—his encounters with people drawn from diverse backgrounds in several countries, and the kind of reactions that caste invoked in them. Calling attention to the “human degradation” that caste subscribes to, its “violent and toxic ethos,” “deep hatred of the other,” the kind of terror it unleashes on “lesser” and “defamed bodies,” its “brutal chronicles from the past” and the “continuing experiences of humiliation and stigma in the present,” the study intends to set up a public conversation on caste. Critical of the “Dalit hope of a constitutional state,” it seeks to catalyse “a new idiom for transformation.” It challenges the beguiling slogans of development and welfarism and argues that the priority should be “to end and annihilate the echo chamber of oppression” (p 33). He thinks that Dalits have their “Harlem moment” today, in the wake of new technologies of communication and expressions of freedom. A specific methodology informs the text throughout: The author sets aside complex processes of adducing evidence, while backing his observations and judgments through illustrations. It does enable him to reach out to a wider public.

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Updated On : 20th Jan, 2020
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