Book Review — Makers of Modern Dalit History: Profiles by Sudarshan Ramabadran & Guru Prakash Paswan

by Jeremy

A file photo of a man selling pictures of Dalit leaders in New Delhi (Express photo)

Caste is a harsh reality of Indian society spanning regions and religions and widely practiced despite efforts by reformers over centuries to eradicate it. Several renowned scholars in contemporary times have produced copious literature on caste and Indian society and politics, but something as simple as chronicling life.

Times and struggles of notable Dalits that can instill a sense of pride in their fellow brethren, and help them contextualize their history has been missing. I say this because historian and writer Ramachandra Guha has edited two volumes, Makers of Modern India and Makers of Modern Asia, but somehow missed producing a book on Makers of Modern Dalit History. Sudarshan Ramabadran and Guru Prakash Paswan, therefore, need to be commended for filling this gap.

Book Review — Makers of Modern Dalit History: Profiles by Sudarshan Ramabadran & Guru Prakash Paswan

It’s a known fact that Dalits fall in the bottom rung of Hindu society and have faced and continue to face hostilities and ostracism of the worst kind. What’s lesser-known or perhaps less analyzed by scholars is that caste is present in all religions present in India, even in those which, unlike Hinduism, are not categorized by varnas and are based on egalitarianism. This perhaps explains why Dalits could not escape their lower status by just leaving the fold of Hinduism and moving to say Islam, Christianity, or Buddhism. As eminent sociologist

In his masterly works on caste in India, “Islam proclaims the idea of equality of all those who profess the faith, but in India, it has been characterized by caste. Muslim caste differs in some respects from the Hindu caste system; no ethical-religious ideas justify the hierarchy or regulate inter-caste relations through ideas of purity and pollution; there are no varna categories. What we have is a hierarchy formed by several jatis.”

Related Posts

Leave a Comment