- An interview with Du Saraswathi
(First published in the Dalit students' magazine 'Insight Young Voices' in 2005 as "Coalition is the philosophy and need of the hour")
Du Saraswathi is a Bangalore-based writer, poet, artist and an activist. Since her student days, she has been involved with women's groups, the DSS, peace movements and the struggle of the farmers and the labourers. Here she interacts with Vijay on various issues.
Could you tell us about your experiences as a Dalit student, in your college life?
I studied in a predominantly brahmin college, there were only brahmins around. You could only see Dalits who had come through the reservation category, other wise we could not even step inside the college. Caste exists very subtly in urban areas, and is quite discreet in the cities. For instance, the brahmin girls avoid eating the food which we offer, I never understood that previously. They would say 'no, we don't taste other homes salt'.
How did they come to know you are a Dalit?
By my caste certificate, they all knew about that. I never talked about it. I first opened up about my caste when I was in my 2nd year of pre-university college. Jenny and Dr Siddalingiah (from Karnataka Dalit Sangarsha Samiti) came to our college for a talk. Jenny sang and later Siddalingiah joined in. That opened me up and I started to feel proud about my caste.