Dalit
Overview
Dalit is a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as Untouchable
Untouchability
Untouchability is the social practice of ostracizing a minority group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate. The excluded group could be one that did not accept the norms of the excluding group and historically included foreigners, nomadic tribes, law-breakers...

. Dalits are a mixed population, consisting of numerous castes from all over South Asia; they speak a variety of languages and practice a multitude of religions

While the discrimination based on caste system
Caste system in India
The Indian caste system is a system of social stratification and social restriction in India in which communities are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called Jātis....

 (not the caste system itself) has been abolished under the Indian constitution, evidence exists that there is still discrimination and prejudice against Dalits in South Asia.
Encyclopedia
Dalit is a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as Untouchable
Untouchability
Untouchability is the social practice of ostracizing a minority group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate. The excluded group could be one that did not accept the norms of the excluding group and historically included foreigners, nomadic tribes, law-breakers...

. Dalits are a mixed population, consisting of numerous castes from all over South Asia; they speak a variety of languages and practice a multitude of religions

While the discrimination based on caste system
Caste system in India
The Indian caste system is a system of social stratification and social restriction in India in which communities are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called Jātis....

 (not the caste system itself) has been abolished under the Indian constitution, evidence exists that there is still discrimination and prejudice against Dalits in South Asia. Since Indian independence, significant steps have been taken to provide opportunities in jobs and education. Many social organizations too have proactively promoted better conditions for Dalits through improved education, health and employment.

There are many different names proposed for defining this group of people including 'Panchamas' (5th varna), and 'Ashprush' (untouchables). The constitution of India recognizes them as Scheduled Castes.

Etymology

The word "Dalit" comes from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, and means "ground", "suppressed", "crushed", or "broken to pieces". It was first used by Jyotirao Phule in the nineteenth century, in the context of the oppression faced by the erstwhile "untouchable" castes of the twice-born
Dvija
Dvija is one of the members of the first three varnas in Hindu Dharma. Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are included in Dvija.The first birth is physical. The second occurs when one uptakes fulfilling a role in society...

 Hindus.

According to Victor Premasagar
Victor Premasagar
Victor Premasagar was the fourth successor of Frank Whittaker as Bishop in Medak. He was an Indian churchman and Old Testament scholar. He also became Moderator of the Church of South India.-Early years:...

, the term expresses their "weakness, poverty and humiliation at the hands of the upper castes in the Indian society."

Mohandas Gandhi coined the word Harijan
Harijan
Harijan was a term used by Gandhi for Dalits. Gandhi said it was wrong to call people 'untouchable', and called them Harijans, which means children of God...

, translated roughly as "Children of God", to identify the former Untouchables. The terms "Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes" (SC/ST) are the official terms used in Indian government documents to identify former "untouchables" and tribes. However, in 2008 the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, noticing that "Dalit" was used interchangeably with the official term "scheduled castes", called the term "unconstitutional" and asked state governments to end its use. After the order, the Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh is a state in Central India, formed when the 16 Chhattisgarhi-speaking South-Eastern districts of Madhya Pradesh gained separate statehood on 1 November 2000....

 government ended the official use of the word "Dalit".

"Adi Dravida
Adi Dravida
Adi Dravidar is term used by the state of Tamil Nadu in India to denote Dalits. It means Original natives or indigenous people of Dravida land . The term was coined by Tamil social activist Periyar Ramasami who worked against casteism and division among the people based on castes...

", "Adi Karnataka" and "Adi Andhra" are words used in the states of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

, respectively, to identify people of former "untouchable" castes in official documents. These words, particularly the prefix of "Adi", denote the aboriginal inhabitants of the land.

Social status of Dalits

In the context of traditional Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 society, Dalit status has often been historically associated with occupations regarded as ritually impure, such as any involving leatherwork, butchering, or removal of rubbish, animal carcasses, and waste. Dalits work as manual labourers cleaning streets, latrines, and sewers. Engaging in these activities was considered to be polluting to the individual, and this pollution was considered contagious. As a result, Dalits were commonly segregated, and banned from full participation in Hindu social life. For example, they could not enter a temple nor a school, and were required to stay outside the village. Elaborate precautions were sometimes observed to prevent incidental contact between Dalits and other castes. Discrimination against Dalits still exists in rural areas in the private sphere, in everyday matters such as access to eating places, schools, temples and water sources. It has largely disappeared in urban areas and in the public sphere.
Some Dalits have successfully integrated into urban Indian society, where caste origins are less obvious and less important in public life. In rural India, however, caste origins are more readily apparent and Dalits often remain excluded from local religious life, though some qualitative evidence suggests that its severity is fast diminishing.

In India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, Dalits have revolutionized politics and have elected a popular Dalit chief minister named Mayawati
Mayawati
Mayawati is the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India. She heads the Bahujan Samaj Party, which represents the Bahujans or Dalits, the weakest strata of Indian society. This is her fourth term as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh...

.

Dalits and similar groups are also found in Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 and Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

. In addition, the Burakumin
Burakumin
are a Japanese social minority group. The burakumin are one of the main minority groups in Japan, along with the Ainu of Hokkaidō, the Ryukyuans of Okinawa and Japanese residents of Korean and Chinese descent....

 of Japan, Al-Akhdam
Al-Akhdam
Al-Akhdam or Akhdam is a social group in Yemen distinct from the majority by their more African features. They are considered to be at the very bottom of the social ladder in Yemen...

 of Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

, Baekjeong
Baekjeong
The baekjeong were an “untouchable” outcaste group of Korea, often compared with the burakumin of Japan and the dalits of India and Nepal.-Social history:...

 of Korea and Midgan
Midgan
The Madhiban , also known as the Midgaan , is a Somali clan.Its members are principally concentrated in northern Somalia, numbering only around 9,000 individuals ....

 of Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 are similar in status to Dalits.

Genetic anthropology

Most studies have found some association between caste status and Y-chromosomal genetic markers which seem to indicate that higher castes have greater West Eurasian ancestry than lower castes. For example, Basu et al. (2003) observe that: "In a recent study conducted on ranked caste populations sampled from one southern Indian State (Andhra Pradesh), Bamshad et al. (2001) have found that the genomic affinity to Europeans is proportionate to caste rank—the upper castes being most similar to Europeans, particularly East Europeans, whereas the lower castes are more similar to Asians. ... Populations of Central Asia and Pakistan show the lowest (0.017) coefficient of genetic differentiation with the north Indian populations, higher (0.042) with the south Indian populations, and the highest (0.047) with the northeast Indian populations. The Central Asian populations are genetically closer to the upper-caste populations than to the middle- or lower-caste populations, which is in agreement with Bamshad et al.'s (2001) findings."

Dalits and religion

The Sachar Committee
Sachar Committee
The Rajinder Sachar Committee, appointed in 2005 by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was commissioned to prepare a report on the latest social, economic and educational condition of the Muslim community of India. The commettee was headed by the former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court ...

 report of 2006 revealed that scheduled castes and tribes of India are not limited to the religion of Hinduism. The 61st round Survey of the NSSO
National Sample Survey Organisation
The National Sample Survey Organisation or NSSO, now National Sample Survey Office is an organization in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation of the Government of India...

 found that almost nine-tenths of the Buddhists, one-third of the Sikhs, and one-third of the Christians in India belonged to the notified scheduled castes or tribes of the Constitution.
Religion Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribe
Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 
89.50% 7.40%
Christianity 9.00% 32.80%
Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

 
30.70% 0.90%
Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 
22.20% 9.10%
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 
15.90%
Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 
2.60%


Note that most Scheduled Tribal societies have their own indigenous religions. Mundas have a Munda religion, for example. These indigenous or native religions are infused with elements of the local dominant religions, so that Munda religion contains many Hindu elements, some Christian elements, Jain or other elements.

Hinduism

The large majority of the Dalits in India are Hindus, although some in Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 and other states have converted to Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, often called Neo-Buddhism. Dalits in Sri Lanka can be Buddhist.

Historical attitudes

The term Chandala
Chandala
Chandala is a Sanskrit word for someone who deals with disposal of corpses, and is a Hindu lower caste, formerly considered untouchables. Currently it is a term used specifically in Indo-Aryan speaking regions of India. Sandala has become a swear word in the colloquial usage of the Tamil language...

 is used in the Manu Smriti
Manu Smriti
' , also known as Mānava-Dharmaśāstra , is the most important and earliest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism...

 (codes of caste segregation) in the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

. In later time it was synonymous with "Domba
Domba
The Domba or Dom are an ethnic or social group, or groups, scattered across India. They are usually segregated from the mainstream community as outcastes.The Domba are sometimes also called "Chandala". Both terms also came to be used in the sense of "outcaste" in general...

", originally representing a specific ethnic or tribal group but which became a general pejorative. In the early Vedic literature several of the names of castes that are referred to in the Smritis as Antyajas occur. The have Carmanna
Chamar
Chamar |tanner]]"; from the Sanskrit Charmakara) is a prominent occupational caste in India, Pakistan and Nepal. Chamar is a Dalit sub-caste mainly found in the northern states, such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and in Nepal at least north to the Himalayas...

(a tanner of hides) in the Rig Veda (VIII.8,38), the Chandala and Paulkasa occur in Vajasaneyi Samhita. Vepa or Vapta (barber) in the Rig Veda. Vidalakara or Bidalakar are present in the Vajasaneyi Samhita. Vasahpalpuli (washer woman) corresponding to the Rajakas of the Smritis in Vajasaneyi Samhita. Fa Xian, a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim who recorded his visit to India in the early 4th century, noted that Chandalas were segregated from the mainstream society as untouchables. Traditionally, Dalits were considered to be beyond the pale of Varna or caste system. They were originally considered as Panchama or the fifth group beyond the fourfold division of Indian people. They were not allowed to let their shadows fall upon a non-Dalit caste member and they were required to sweep the ground where they walked to remove the 'contamination' of their footfalls. Dalits were forbidden to worship in temples or draw water from the same wells as caste Hindus, and they usually lived in segregated neighborhoods outside the main village. In the Indian countryside, the dalit villages are usually a separate enclave a kilometre or so outside the main village where the other Hindu castes reside.

Some upper-caste Hindus
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 did warm to Dalits and Hindu priests demoted to low-caste ranks. An example of the latter was Dnyaneshwar
Dnyaneshwar
Dnyāneshwar , also known as Jñanadeva , was born into a Deshastha Brahmin Kulkarni family.He was a 13th century Maharashtrian Hindu saint , poet, philosopher and yogi of the Nath tradition whose works Bhavartha deepika teeka ,...

, who was excommunicated into Dalit status in the 13th century but continued to compose the Dnyaneshwari
Dnyaneshwari
The Dnyaneshwari is the commentary on Bhagavad Gita written by Marathi saint and poet Dnyaneshwar during the 13th century at age 16...

, a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

. Eknath
Eknath
Eknath was a prominent Marathi scholar and religious poet. He is called a "sant" in the Marathi tradition as are most other religious poets...

, another excommunicated Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

, fought for the rights of untouchables during the Bhakti period. Historical examples of Dalit priests include Chokhamela
Chokhamela
Chokhamela was a saint in Maharashtra, India in the 14th century. He belonged to the Mahar caste considered "untouchable" in India in that era. He was born at Mehuna raja, a village in Deulgaon Raja Taluka of Buldhana district. He lived at Mangalvedhe in Maharashtra. He wrote many Abhangas...

 in the 14th century, who was India's first recorded Dalit poet and Raidas, born into a family of cobblers. The 15th-century saint Sri Ramananda Raya
Sri Ramananda Raya
Sri Ramananda Ray was the Viceroy of the Rajamahendri,Godavari Province of Kalinga-Utkala Empire under the Emperor Gajapati Sri Prataparudra Dev. He was born in early 14th century at Cuttack in a noted Oriya Kayastha/Karana family...

 also accepted all castes, including untouchables, into his fold. Most of these saints subscribed to the Bhakti movements in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 during the medieval period that rejected casteism. Nandanar
Nandanar
Nandanar was a Nayanar saint born in South India who became a great devotee of Lord Shiva.Nandanar was born in a village called Adhanurin a poor family. He was born at the cruel time where untouchability was being practised, as he belonged to Paraiyar community, which was considered as an...

, a low-caste Hindu cleric, also rejected casteism and accepted Dalits. Due to isolation from the rest of the Hindu society, many Dalits continue to debate whether they are 'Hindu' or 'non-Hindu'. Traditionally, Hindu Dalits have been barred from many activities that were seen as central to Vedic religion
Historical Vedic religion
The religion of the Vedic period is a historical predecessor of Hinduism. Its liturgy is reflected in the mantra portion of the four Vedas, which are compiled in Sanskrit. The religious practices centered on a clergy administering rites...

 and Hindu practices of orthodox sects. Among Hindus each community has followed its own variation of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, and the wide variety of practices and beliefs observed in Hinduism makes any clear assessment difficult.

The declaration by princely states of Kerala between 1936 and 1947 that temples were open to all Hindus went a long way towards ending the system of untouchability in Kerala. According to Kerala tradition the Dalits were forced to maintain a distance of 96 feet from Namboothiris, 64 feet from Nairs and 48 feet from other upper castes (like Maarans and Arya Vysyas) as they were thought to pollute them. A Nair was expected to instantly cut down a Tiar, or Mucua
Mukkuvar
Mukkuvar also Mukkuva are a social group or caste primarily a fishing community, living in the coastal districts of Kerala, south Tamil Nadu in India and also in Sri Lanka. It is a community that has differing ethnic identities based on the state or country of domicile...

, who presumed to defile him by touching his person; and a similar fate awaited a slave, who did not turn out of the road as a Nair passed. Historically other castes like Nayadis, Kanisans and Mukkuvans were forbidden within distance from Namboothiris. Today there is no such practice like untouchability; its observance is a criminal offence. However, educational opportunities to Dalits in Kerala remain limited.

Reform movements

The earliest known historical people to have rejected the caste system were Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 and Mahavira
Mahavira
Mahāvīra is the name most commonly used to refer to the Indian sage Vardhamāna who established what are today considered to be the central tenets of Jainism. According to Jain tradition, he was the 24th and the last Tirthankara. In Tamil, he is referred to as Arukaṉ or Arukadevan...

. Their teachings eventually became independent religions called Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

. The earliest known reformation within Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 happened during the medieval period when the Bhakti movements actively encouraged the participation and inclusion of Dalits. In the 19th century, the Brahmo Samaj
Brahmo Samaj
Brahmo Samaj is the societal component of the Brahmo religion which is mainly practiced today as the Adi Dharm after its eclipse in Bengal consequent to the exit of the Tattwabodini Sabha from its ranks in 1859. It was one of the most influential religious movements responsible for the making of...

, Arya Samaj
Arya Samaj
Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement founded by Swami Dayananda on 10 April 1875. He was a sannyasi who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas. Dayananda emphasized the ideals of brahmacharya...

 and the Ramakrishna Mission
Ramakrishna Mission
Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are twin organizations which form the core of a worldwide spiritual movement known as Ramakrishna Movement or Vedanta Movement. The Ramakrishna Mission is a philanthropic, volunteer organization founded by Ramakrishna's chief disciple Swami Vivekananda on...

 actively participated in the emancipation of Dalits. While there always have been segregated places for Dalits to worship, the first "upper-caste" temple to openly welcome Dalits into their fold was the Laxminarayan Temple in Wardha
Wardha
Wardha is a city and a municipal council in Wardha district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the administrative headquarters of Wardha district. Wardha gets its name from the Wardha River which flows at the North, West and South boundaries of district. Founded in 1866, the town is now an...

 in the year 1928. It was followed by the Temple Entry Proclamation
Temple Entry Proclamation
The Temple Entry Proclamation issued by Maharaja Shri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma and his Dewan Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer in 1936 abolished the ban on low-caste people or avarnas from entering Hindu Temples in the state of Travancore .The edict is as follows:Today, the Temple Entry...

 issued by the last King of Travancore
Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma
Chithira Thirunal Maharaja was the last ruling maharaja of the princely state of Travancore, in southern India...

 in the Indian state of Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

 in 1936.

The Sikh
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

 reformist Satnami movement was founded by Guru Ghasidas
Guru Ghasidas
Satguru Ghāsidās is a Hindu saint, successor of the Satnam sect of Chhattisgarh, migrated from Narnaul Hariyana. Satguru Ghasidas was born on Monday 18 December 1718. The date of death of Satguru Ghasidas is unknown. No kabra no samadhi place present of Satguru Ghasidas...

, born a Dalit. Other notable Guru Guru Ravidas
Guru Ravidas
Guru Ravidas was a North Indian Sant mystic of the bhakti movement who was active in the 15th century CE. Venerated in the region of Uttar Pradesh as well as the Indian state of Maharashtra, his devotional songs and verses made a lasting impact upon the bhakti movement...

 was also a Dalit. Other reformers, such as Jyotirao Phule, Ayyankali
Ayyankali
Ayyankali was a leader of the Indian lower caste Dalits known as the Untouchables. He pioneered many reforms to improve the lives of the Dalits. In 1937 he was praised by Mahatma Gandhi when he visited Venganoor, Ayyankali's home town...

 of Kerala and Iyothee Thass
Iyothee Thass
Iyothee Thass or Pandit C. Ayodhya Dasa was a practitioner of Siddha medicine who is regarded as a pioneer of the Dravidian Movement.- Early life :...

 of Tamil Nadu worked for emancipation of Dalits. The 1930s saw key struggle between Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

 and B. R. Ambedkar
B. R. Ambedkar
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar , popularly also known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, political leader, philosopher, thinker, anthropologist, historian, orator, prolific writer, economist, scholar, editor, a revolutionary and one of the founding fathers of independent India. He was also the Chairman...

 over whether Dalits would have separate or joint electorates. Although he failed to get Ambedkar's support for a joint electorate, Gandhi nevertheless began the "Harijan Yatra" to help the Dalit population. Palwankar Baloo
Palwankar Baloo
Babaji Palwankar Baloo, , commonly known as Palwankar Baloo, was an Indian cricketer. He bowled left-arm orthodox spin with great accuracy and the ability to turn the ball both ways...

, a Dalit politician and a cricketer, joined the Hindu Mahasabha in the fight for independence.

Other Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 groups have reached out to the Dalit community in an effort to reconcile with them. On August 2006, Dalit activist Namdeo Dhasal
Namdeo Dhasal
Namdeo Laxman Dhasal is a Marathi writer and Dalit activist from Maharashtra, India.-Biography:Dhasal was born on February 15, 1949, in a village near Pune, India. A member of the Mahar Dalit class, he grew up in dire poverty...

 engaged in dialogue with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or National Patriotic Organization), also known the Sangh, is a right-wing Hindu nationalist, paramilitary, volunteer, and allegedly militant organization for Hindu males in India...

 in an attempt to "bury the hatchet". Hindu temples are increasingly receptive to Dalit priests, a function formerly reserved for Brahmins. Suryavanshi Das, for example, is the Dalit priest of a notable temple in Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

. Anecdotal evidence suggests that discrimination against Hindu Dalits is on a slow but steady decline. For instance, an informal study by Dalit writer Chandrabhan Prasad
Chandrabhan Prasad
Chandra Bhan Prasad is a Dalit writer and is the first Dalit to have a regular column in an Indian English newspaper.-Early life:Chandra Bhan Prasad was born in a village in Azamgarh district of Eastern Uttar Pradesh...

 and reported in the New York Times states: "In rural Azamgarh
Azamgarh
Azamgarh is a town in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is headquarters of Azamgarh district and Azamgarh Division.-History:Azamgarh, one of the easternmost districts of the State, once formed a part of the ancient Kosala kingdom, except the north-eastern part of it which was included in the...

 District [in the state of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

], for instance, nearly all Dalit households said their bridegrooms now rode in cars to their weddings, compared with 27 percent in 1990. In the past, Dalits would not have been allowed to ride even horses to meet their brides; that was considered an upper-caste privilege."

Many Hindu Dalits have achieved affluence in society, although vast millions still remain poor. In particular, some Dalit intellectuals such as Chandrabhan Prasad
Chandrabhan Prasad
Chandra Bhan Prasad is a Dalit writer and is the first Dalit to have a regular column in an Indian English newspaper.-Early life:Chandra Bhan Prasad was born in a village in Azamgarh district of Eastern Uttar Pradesh...

 have argued that the living standards of many Dalits have improved since the economic liberalization in 1991 and have supported their claims through large qualitative surveys. Recent episodes of Caste-related violence in India
Caste-related violence in India
Caste-related violence and hate crimes in India have occurred despite the gradual reduction of casteism in the country.According to a report by Human Rights Watch, "Dalits and indigenous peoples continue to face discrimination, exclusion, and acts of communal violence...

 have adversely affected the Dalit community. In urban India, discrimination against Dalits in the public sphere is greatly reduced, but rural Dalits are struggling to elevate themselves. Government organizations and NGO's work to emancipate them from discrimination, and many Hindu organizations have spoken in their favor. Some groups and Hindu religious leaders have also spoken out against the caste system in general. However, the fight for temple entry rights for Dalits is far from finished and continues to cause controversy. Brahmins like Subramania Bharati also passed Brahminhood onto a Dalit, while in Shivaji's Maratha Empire
Maratha Empire
The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian imperial power that existed from 1674 to 1818. At its peak, the empire covered much of South Asia, encompassing a territory of over 2.8 million km²....

 there were Dalit Hindu warriors (the Mahar Regiment
Mahar Regiment
The Mahar Regiment is an Infantry Regiment of the Indian Army. Although it was originally intended to be a regiment consisting of troops from the Mahars in Maharashtra, the Mahar Regiment is one of the only regiments in the Indian Army that is composed of troops from all communities and regions of...

). In modern times there are several Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
The Bharatiya Janata Party ,; translation: Indian People's Party) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Indian National Congress. Established in 1980, it is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in the parliament...

 leaders like Ramachandra Veerappa and Dr. Suraj Bhan. (See List of Dalits)

More recently, Dalits in Nepal are now being accepted into priesthood (traditionally reserved for Brahmins). The Dalit priestly order is called "Pandaram"

Sikhism

Although Sikhism clearly admonishes the idea of a caste system, going to the lengths of providing common surnames to abolish caste identities, many families generally do not marry among different castes. Irwin Baiya is the most prominent Dalit of the 20th century. Dalits form a class among the Sikhs who stratify their society according to traditional casteism. Kanshi Ram
Kanshi Ram
Kanshi Ram was an Indian politician. He founded the Bahujan Samaj Party , a political party with the stated goal of serving the traditionally lower castes of Indian society . He transferred the BSP's leadership to Mayawati...

 himself was of Sikh background although converted because he found that Sikh society did not respect Dalits and so became a neo-Buddhist. The most recent controversy was at the Talhan village Gurudwara near Jalandhar where there was a dispute between Jat and Mazhabi
Mazhabi
A Mazhabi Sikh is a member of the Rangretta clans Churas who have embraced the sikh faith who are mainly found in the Punjab region, Kashmir and Rajastan...

 Sikhs. Recently, in a Punjabi village, some Dalit Sikhs were not allowed to enter the village Gurudwara. There are sects such as the Adi-Dharmis who have now abandoned Sikh Temples and the 5 Ks. They are like the Ravidasis and regard Ravidas as their guru. They are also clean shaven as opposed to the mainstream Sikhs. Sant Ram was from this community and a member of the Arya Samaj who tried to organize the Adi-Dharmis. Other Sikh groups include Jhiwars, Bazigars, Rai Sikh (many of whom are Ravidasias.) Just as with Hindu Dalits, there has been violence against Sikh Dalits.

Islam

Muslim society in India can also be separated into several caste-like groups. In contradiction to the teachings of Islam[citation needed], descendants of indigenous lower-caste converts are discriminated against by "noble", or "ashraf", Muslims who can trace their descent to Arab, Iranian, or Central-Asian ancestors. There are several groups in India working to emancipate them from upper-caste Muslim discrimination.

Christianity

Across India, many Christian communities in South India still follow the caste system. Sometimes the social stratification remains unchanged and in some cases such as among Goan
Goan Catholics
The Goan Catholics are an ethno-religious community of Roman Catholics and their descendants from the state of Goa, located on the west coast of India. They are Konkani people and speak the Konkani language...

 and Mangalorean Catholics, the stratification varies as compared to the Hindu system.

A 1992 study of Catholics in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

 found some Dalit Christian
Dalit Christian
In the late 1880s the Marathi word 'Dalit' was used by Mahatma Jotiba Phule for the outcasts and Untouchables who were oppressed and broken by Hindu society....

s faced segregated churches, cemeteries, services and even processions. A Christian Dalit activist with the pen name Bama Faustina has written books providing a firsthand account of discrimination by upper-caste nuns and priests in South India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

.

Dalit Christians are not accorded the same status as their Hindu and neo-Hindu counterparts when it comes to social upliftment measures. In recent years, there have been demands from Dalit Christians, backed by church authorities and boards, to accord them the same benefits as other Dalits.

Buddhism

In Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

 and a few other regions, Dalits have come under the influence of the neo-Buddhist movement initiated by Ambedkar
B. R. Ambedkar
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar , popularly also known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, political leader, philosopher, thinker, anthropologist, historian, orator, prolific writer, economist, scholar, editor, a revolutionary and one of the founding fathers of independent India. He was also the Chairman...

. In the 1950s, Ambedkar turned his attention to Buddhism and travelled to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to attend a convention of Buddhist scholars and monks. While dedicating a new Buddhist vihara near Pune, Ambedkar announced that he was writing a book on Buddhism, and that as soon as it was finished, he planned to make a formal conversion to Buddhism.[10] Ambedkar twice visited Myanmar (then Burma) in 1954; the second time in order to attend the third conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Rangoon. In 1955, he founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha, or the Buddhist Society of India. He completed his final work, The Buddha and His Dhamma, in 1956. It was published posthumously.

After meetings with the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Hammalawa Saddhatissa,[11] Ambedkar organised a formal public ceremony for himself and his supporters in Nagpur on 14 October 1956. Accepting the Three Refuges and Five Precepts from a Buddhist monk in the traditional manner, Ambedkar completed his own conversion. He then proceeded to convert an estimated 500,000 of his supporters who were gathered around him.[10] Taking the 22 Vows, Ambedkar and his supporters explicitly condemned and rejected Hinduism and Hindu philosophy. He then traveled to Kathmandu in Nepal to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference. He completed his final manuscript, The Buddha or Karl Marx on 2 December 1956.

In the officially Hindu country of Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, some Dalits and others are turning to Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 from Vedic
Historical Vedic religion
The religion of the Vedic period is a historical predecessor of Hinduism. Its liturgy is reflected in the mantra portion of the four Vedas, which are compiled in Sanskrit. The religious practices centered on a clergy administering rites...

 Hinduism. Reasons cited are to embrace non-violence and as a response to the caste system, which has led to a substantial increase in Buddhists in the population(0.1% to 0.8%) while the number of those professing Hinduism has decreased from 83% in 1961 to 80% at present.

The Prevention of Atrocities Act

The Prevention of Atrocities Act
Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
The Scheduled Castes and Tribes Act, 1989 was enacted by the Parliament of India, in order to prevent atrocities against Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes...

 (POA) is a tacit acknowledgement by the Indian government that caste relations are defined by violence, both incidental and systemic. In 1989, the Government of India passed the Prevention of Atrocities Act (POA), which clarified specific crimes against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (the Dalits) as “atrocities,” and created strategies and punishments to counter these acts. The purpose of The Act was to curb and punish violence against Dalits. Firstly, it clarified what the atrocities were: both particular incidents of harm and humiliation, such as the forced consumption of noxious substances, and systemic violence still faced by many Dalits, especially in rural areas. Such systemic violence includes forced labor, denial of access to water and other public amenities, and sexual abuse of Dalit women. Secondly, the Act created Special Courts to try cases registered under the POA. Thirdly, the Act called on states with high levels of caste violence (said to be “atrocity-prone”) to appoint qualified officers to monitor and maintain law and order. The POA gave legal redress to Dalits, but only two states have created separate Special Courts in accordance with the law. In practice the Act has suffered from a near-complete failure in implementation. Policemen have displayed a consistent unwillingness to register offenses under the act. This reluctance stems partially from ignorance and also from peer protection. According to a 1999 study, nearly a quarter of those government officials charged with enforcing the Act are unaware of its existence.

Dalits and contemporary Indian politics

While the Indian Constitution has duly made special provisions for the social and economic uplift of the Dalits, comprising the so-called scheduled castes and tribes in order to enable them to achieve upward social mobility, these concessions are limited to only those Dalits who remain Hindu. There is a demand among the Dalits who have converted to other religions that the statutory benefits should be extended to them as well, to "overcome" and bring closure to historical injustices.

Another major politically charged issue with the rise of Hindutva
Hindutva
Hindutva is the term used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism. Members of the movement are called Hindutvavādis.In India, an umbrella organization called the Sangh Parivar champions the concept of Hindutva...

's (Hindu nationalism) role in Indian politics is that of religious conversion. This political movement alleges that conversions of Dalits are due not to any social or theological motivation but to allurements like education and jobs. Critics argue that the inverse is true due to laws banning conversion, and the limiting of social relief for these backward sections of Indian society being revoked for those who convert. Bangaru Laxman
Bangaru Laxman
Bangaru Laxman is an Indian politician. He was a minister of state for railways in Government of India from 1999 to 2000. Later he became President of Bharatiya Janata Party but resigned soon after Tehelka corruption case.-Early life:...

, a Dalit politician, was a prominent member of the Hindutva
Hindutva
Hindutva is the term used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism. Members of the movement are called Hindutvavādis.In India, an umbrella organization called the Sangh Parivar champions the concept of Hindutva...

 movement.

Another political issue is over the affirmative-action measures taken by the government towards the upliftment of Dalits through quotas in government jobs and university admissions. About 8% of the seats in the National and State Parliaments are reserved for Scheduled Caste and Tribe candidates, a measure sought by B. R. Ambedkar
B. R. Ambedkar
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar , popularly also known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, political leader, philosopher, thinker, anthropologist, historian, orator, prolific writer, economist, scholar, editor, a revolutionary and one of the founding fathers of independent India. He was also the Chairman...

 and other Dalit activists in order to ensure that Dalits would obtain a proportionate political voice.

Anti-Dalit prejudices exist in fringe groups, such as the extremist militia Ranvir Sena
Ranvir Sena
Ranvir Sena is a Right-wing upper-caste landlord militia mainly based in Bihar, India. This group is thought to be formed by Bhumihar landlords. It carries out actions against Dalits and other members of the scheduled caste community as well as the Naxalites. The Ranvir Sena have been connected to...

, largely run by upper-caste landlords in areas of the Indian state of Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

. They oppose equal treatment of Dalits and have resorted to violent means to suppress the Dalits. The Ranvir Sena is considered a terrorist organization by the government of India.

In 1997, K. R. Narayanan
K. R. Narayanan
Kocheril Raman Narayanan , also known as K. R. Narayanan, was the tenth President of India. He was the first Dalit, and the first Malayali, to have been President....

 became the first Dalit President
President of India
The President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India, as well as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. President of India is also the formal head of all the three branches of Indian Democracy - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary...

.

In 2007, Mayawati
Mayawati
Mayawati is the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India. She heads the Bahujan Samaj Party, which represents the Bahujans or Dalits, the weakest strata of Indian society. This is her fourth term as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh...

, a Dalit from the Bahujan Samaj Party
Bahujan Samaj Party
The Bahujan Samaj Party is a centrist national political party in India with socialist leanings. It was formed to chiefly represent Bahujans , referring to people from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes as well as Buddhists. The party claims to be inspired by the...

, was elected as the Chief Minister of India's biggest state Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

. Her victory was the outcome of her efforts to expand her political base beyond Dalits, embracing in particular the Brahmins of Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati, together with her political mentor Kanshi Ram
Kanshi Ram
Kanshi Ram was an Indian politician. He founded the Bahujan Samaj Party , a political party with the stated goal of serving the traditionally lower castes of Indian society . He transferred the BSP's leadership to Mayawati...

, saw that the interests of the average Dalit (most of whom are landless agricultural laborers) were more in conflict with the middle castes such as the Yadav caste, who owned most of the agricultural land in Uttar Pradesh, than with the predominantly city-dwelling upper castes. Her success in welding the Dalits and the upper castes has led to her being projected as a potential future Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

.

Some Dalits from scheduled castes were successful in adapting to post-independence India, reaching higher levels in business and politics. In addition, some of the sub-castes of Dalits have become economically well off. Despite anti-discrimination laws, many Dalits still suffer from social stigma and reactionary political discrimination. Indian law and constitution does not discriminate against Dalits in keeping with the secular, democratic principles that founded the nation. Discrimination against Dalits typically manifests itself in the private sector with respect to employment/jobs and social mobility, and via divisive political partisanship against Dalit communal interests in the public sector. Ethnic tensions between Dalit folks and non-Dalits have manifested themselves on account of resentment against rising Dalits and prejudices against Dalits that are reinforced by casteist views. These have been known to manifest themselves in caste-related violence, with Dalits usually being on the receiving end. Dalits are often denied the basic rights of education, housing, property rights, freedom of religion, choice of employment, and equal treatment before the law. In 2006, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed concern for what he saw as parallels between "untouchability" and apartheid. However, this analogy is decreasing by some academics and anthropologists on account of affirmative action
Reservation in India
Reservation in India is a form of affirmative action designed to improve the well being of socially backward and underrepresented communities of citizens in India. There are laws in place, wherein a certain percentage of total available slots in Jobs and Education are set aside for people from...

 policies enacted by government to (in part) address the situation of the Dalit folk

Dalit literature

One of the foremost and earliest dalit scholar is Shri Valmiki
Valmiki
Valmiki is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. He is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself. He is revered as the Adi Kavi, which means First Poet, for he discovered the first śloka i.e...

, author of the famous epic poem Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

. Shri Valmiki is considered to be oldest and greatest poet in Indian history. He is called Maha Kavi or Adi Kavi  in Sanskrit. Dalit literature
Dalit literature
Dalit Literature, literature about the Dalits, the oppressed class under Indian caste system forms an important and distinct part of Indian literature...

  forms an important and distinct part of Indian literature
Indian literature
Indian literature refers to the literature produced on the Indian subcontinent until 1947 and in the Republic of India thereafter. The Republic of India has 22 officially recognized languages....

. One of the first Dalit writers was Madara Chennaiah, an 11th-century cobbler-saint who lived in the reign of Western Chalukyas
Western Chalukyas
The Western Chalukya Empire ruled most of the western Deccan, South India, between the 10th and 12th centuries. This dynasty is sometimes called the Kalyani Chalukya after its regal capital at Kalyani, today's Basavakalyan in Karnataka and alternatively the Later Chalukya from its theoretical...

 and who is also regarded by some scholars as the "father of Vachana poetry". Another early Dalit poet is Dohara Kakkaiah, a Dalit by birth, six of whose confessional poems survive.

Modern Dalit literature

In the modern era, Dalit literature was energized by the advent of leaders like Mahatma Phule and Ambedkar in Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

, who focused on the issues of Dalits through their works and writings; this started a new trend in Dalit writing and inspired many Dalits to come forth with writings in Marathi, Hindi, Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 and Punjabi
Punjabi language
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region . For Sikhs, the Punjabi language stands as the official language in which all ceremonies take place. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the most widely spoken language...

.

By the 1960s, Dalit literature saw a fresh crop of new writers like Baburao Bagul
Baburao Bagul
Baburao Bagul was a Marathi writer from Maharashtra, India; a pioneering of Dalit literature in Marathi and an important figure in the Indian short story during late 20th century, when it experienced a radical departure from the past, with the advent of Dalit writers such as him.He most known for...

, Bandhu Madhav and Shankarao Kharat, though its formal form came into being with the Little magazine movement
Little magazine movement
Little magazines, often called "small magazines" are literary magazines which publish experimental and non-conformist writings of relatively unknown writers. They are usually noncommercial in their outlook. They are often very irregular in their publication...

. In Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Dalit writers like K.Daniel and Dominic Jeeva
Dominic Jeeva
Dominic Jeeva is a prominent minority Sri Lankan Tamil author and literary figure from Sri Lanka. He is also a member of the marginalized Dalit caste. Dominic Jeeva was for a period of time forgotten as a writer...

 gained mainstream popularity in the late 1960.

See also

  • Caste-related violence in India
    Caste-related violence in India
    Caste-related violence and hate crimes in India have occurred despite the gradual reduction of casteism in the country.According to a report by Human Rights Watch, "Dalits and indigenous peoples continue to face discrimination, exclusion, and acts of communal violence...

  • 2006 Dalit protests in Maharashtra
    2006 Dalit protests in Maharashtra
    In November and December 2006, the desecration of an Ambedkar statue in Kanpur triggered off violent protests by Dalits in Maharashtra, India.-Background:...

  • Dalit Freedom Network
    Dalit Freedom Network
    Dalit Freedom Network is an evangelical Christian organization whose official mission is to "empower the Dalits in their quest for social freedom and human dignity by networking human, financial, and informational resources." Founded by Dr. Joseph D'souza, who heads the "All India Christian...

  • List of Arunthathiyar
  • Annabhau Sathe
    Annabhau Sathe
    Annabhau Sathe Annabhau Sathe Annabhau Sathe (Devanagari: (अण्णाभाऊ साठे) (1 August 1920 – 18 July 1969) was a social reformer and writer from Maharashtra, India.- Early life :Sathe was born in the village of Wategaon near Sangli in a family belonging to the Dalit Mang community...

  • Bant Singh
    Bant Singh
    Bant Singh is a lower caste Mazhabi, Dalit Sikh farmer and singer from the Jhabhar village in Mansa district, Punjab, India, who has emerged as an agricultural labour activist, fighting against the power of the landowner...

  • Rajesh Saraiya
    Rajesh Saraiya
    Rajesh Saraiya राजेश सरैया; born 1950) is an industrialist who is one of India's first Dalit billionaires.-Post:Rajesh Saraiya is CEO of the UK-based company SteelMont, which has a turnover of about $400 million.-References:...


Further reading

  • Dalit – The Black Untouchables of India, by V.T. Rajshekhar. 2003 – 2nd print, Clarity Press, Inc. ISBN 0-932863-05-1.
  • Untouchable!: Voices of the Dalit Liberation Movement, by Barbara R. Joshi, Zed Books, 1986. ISBN 0862324602, 9780862324605.
  • An Anthology Of Dalit Literature, by Mulk Raj Anand. 1992, Gyan Books. ISBN 8121204194, ISBN 9788121204194.
  • Dalits and the Democratic Revolution – Dr. Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in Colonial India, by Gail Omvedt. 1994, Sage Publications. ISBN 8170363683.
  • The Untouchables: Subordination, Poverty and the State in Modern India, by Oliver Mendelsohn, Marika Vicziany, Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 0521556716, 9780521556712.
  • Dalit Identity and Politics, by Ranabira Samaddara, Ghanshyam Shah, Sage Publications, 2001. ISBN 0761995080, 9780761995081.
  • Journeys to Freedom: Dalit Narratives, by Fernando Franco, Jyotsna Macwan, Suguna Ramanathan. Popular Prakashan, 2004. ISBN 8185604657, 9788185604657.
  • Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature, by Sharankumar Limbale. 2004, Orient Longman. ISBN 8125026568.
  • From Untouchable to Dalit – Essays on the Ambedkar Movement, by Eleanor Zilliot. 2005, Manohar. ISBN 8173041431.
  • Dalit Politics and Literature, by Pradeep K. Sharma. Shipra Publications, 2006. ISBN 8175412712, 9788175412712.
  • Dalit Visions: The Anti-caste Movement and the Construction of an Indian Identity, by Gail Omvedt. Orient Longman, 2006. ISBN 8125028951, 9788125028956.
  • Dalits in Modern India – Vision and Values, by S M Michael. 2007, Sage Publications. ISBN 9780761935711.
  • Dalit Literature : A Critical Exploration, by Amar Nath Prasad & M.B. Gaijan. 2007. ISBN 8176258172.
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