In late-nineteenth-century Kerala, a man flamboyantly rode a villuvandi (bullock cart) along a road. What might sound like a mundane act was, at that time, a defiant form of protest. Riding animal-pulled vehicles was a privilege enjoyed only by the upper castes. This man, hailing from the untouchable Pulaya community, was attacking caste-based discrimination through his act. He was none other than Ayyankali, a social reformer and activist.
Featuring several such inspiring accounts of individuals who tirelessly battled divisive forces all their lives, this book seeks to enhance present-day India's imagination and shape its perception of
the Dalit community. Based on original research on historical and contemporary figures such as
B.R. Ambedkar, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Gurram Jashuva, K.R. Narayanan, Soyarabai and Rani Jhalkaribai, among many others, Makers of Modern Dalit History will be a significant addition to the Dalit discourse. This definitive volume on some of the foremost Dalit thinkers, both past and present, promises to initiate a much-needed conversation around Dalit identity, history and politics.
The book is a ringside view to the early years, breakout period and illustrious
contribution of various Dalit personalities in impacting imagination in
their chosen fields that has eventually led to the making of Dalit history.
It is an attempt to bring back to the mainstream the personalities who
tirelessly fought divisive forces and consistently strove to build a socially
cohesive society. The book is an important addition to the ever evolving
and dynamic Indian literature.
As much as neglect, Dalits have been the objects of condescension and
reduced to becoming objects of history. Sudarshan Ramabadran and Guru
Prakash Paswan have attempted to rectify this lapse with inspirational
stories of Dalits who, apart from overcoming social discrimination, were
successful in different fields, from wielding political power to reshaping
popular culture. This is a book that will be obligatory reading for all those
who seek to understand the totality of the Indian experience.
Guru Prakash Paswan and Sudarshan Ramabadran are making an
important contribution to the emerging canon of Dalit history. The book
has a wide sweep. It showcases Dalit poets ranging from Vyasa and Valmiki
to Sant Janabhai to Sant Kabir; revolutionaries like Gurram Jashuva and
Udham Singh; and leaders from Dakshayani Velayudhan to Ambekdar to
Kanshiram. The authors say outright that this is not an endeavour to blame
past historians for omission. They want to depart from the prevalent and
divisive mood of pessimism that dominates all conversations about social
justice by focusing instead on both inspiration and aspiration. The goal
is to bring the focus back on the nation as one entity.
The book is a reminder of the extraordinary Dalit contributions to the
history of Indian civilization, from the ancient sages Valmiki and Vyasa
to twentieth-century icons Udham Singh and B.R Ambedkar. Young
writers Guru and Sudarshan lucidly bring alive half-forgotten characters
such as Rani Jhalkaribai, the churn of ideas and the constant pushback
against discrimination. Strongly recommended . . .
|Makers of Modern Dalit History
|Sudarshan RamabadranGuru Prakash Paswan