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The Origin of Dalit Feminist Literature: Mukta Salve, the First Voice of Dalit Feminism

 

Shivani Waldekar

165 years ago, one young Dalit girl strongly criticised brahminical hegemony and the hierarchal oppressive social structure. She questioned and critically examined caste, class, gender and religion and that empirical data continues to remain very relevant today, as they were in 1855. She strongly believed that education is the only path which liberates the people who are enslaved by the structure. It is an important tool which gives confidence to ask the questions against injustice and exploitation in our society and gives a voice to the unheard and unobserved since two thousand years. They constitute a part of society but never came out and spoke. Education is the only asset through which they will change their status and break systematic oppression and social stratification. Education is the tool through which they gather knowledge and cultivate their minds and enlighten their souls and go towards an egalitarian path and liberate themselves.

mukta salve

On 1 March 1855, the periodical named "Dnyanodaya" published one essay named "About the Grief of Mahars and Mangs"(Mang Maharanchya Dukhavisayi) written by the very first Dalit writer Mukta Salve. It is the first evidence in history which pointed out the historical exploitation and the problem of Indian caste and patriarchy where Dalits had always faced intolerance because of the oppressive Brahmin structure. Dalit history was always invisibilized by upper caste and class to portray that Dalit have no history of their own and especially when it comes to Dalit women then it's always in the dark and unpublished because women's liberation is closely linked with castes. That's why Muktabai's essay is to be treated as the first voice of Dalit feminism and history of modern Indian Dalit feminist literature which initiated Dalit women's liberation.

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Beauty, Femininity and the Politics of ‘Desire’


Noel Mariam George

noel mariamThe recent crowning of a biracial black woman as Miss World made news as it made full circle with four other wins by biracial black and black women in the biggest beauty pageant. Not many understand beauty pageants as political; however what can be more political than a contest in which nations compete with each other by localising their nationhood onto the bodies of their women to claim the title of ‘most beautiful/desirable’[1]? Beauty pageants have become a new site of the ‘political’ understood in terms of aesthetics and black women are now claiming their space in these contests as sites of representation and even empowerment. Arguments made in favour of these pageant wins, claim that feminine representation of black women as desirable are subversive and hence political, as black women have historically been denied the freedom to express their femininity and have been deemed ‘undesirable’ in contrast to white women[2] (this is not to shy away from the monopoly of control, both monetarily and items of discourse of the beauty, pop and other culture industries).

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Dalit Women to be Heard

 

Hemangi Kadlak

(Transcript of her speech at the National Convention on the Rights of Dalit Women Human Rights Defenders: 'Dalit Women Speak' on 17-18 January 2020, at HDRC, St. Xavier's Campus, Ahmedabad)

hemangi kadlakFirst of all, I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me to this conference on 'Dalit Women Speak.' Before coming to the topic which is given to me for today's talk, I want to give focus on the main conference heading that is 'Dalit Women Speak'. After reading this line, it immediately came to my mind, do we really see that Dalit women don't speak?

The reality is that they speak a lot, and they have been speaking for generations in their houses, even outside within their community and in general society. But the fact is that people have unheard them, neglected their voices by thinking these women are illiterate, lower caste, uncivilized, poor, don't have any culture. These comments from dominant castes reflect their mentality on caste and gender.

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Cities, Nation and Rape

 

Nabanita Roy

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After an easy search, I entered the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) website, the Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analyzing crime data, and landed up finding a downloadable pdf, reading 'Crime in India-2017 Statistics'. And the date at once seemed very contemporary and relevant for understanding the pattern of crime, particularly against women.

To the backdrop of my search was the need to find some statistical record of crimes against women in India. With Priyanka Reddy's rape and murder in Hyderabad and the nationwide protests against the heinous crime, I had to understand why some 'rape victims' only spur discourses on Indian rape culture or the toxic masculinity of Indian men, whereas the rape and murder of 19-year-old Jaba Roy from Dinajpur on September this year, head dismembered, discarded in public space or the rape and murder of 10-year Khushboo Parveen from Falakata in the following month, were never accommodated as subjects of the mainstream discourses to define the rape culture.

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Social Exclusion of Migrant Dalit Girls in Higher Education: The Case of Fergusson College, Pune

 

Dnyanda Lad and Ajay Rahulwad

Dnyanada and AjayIntroduction

Discrimination and exclusion on the basis of caste and gender have a natural effect on mental health of students. Many suicides have been committed in colleges in the last few years. Payal Tadvi, Rohith Vemula and many more individual Dalit students have been victims of these exclusionary institutional set-ups. This paper tries to stress upon the issue of exclusion to build a discourse that can be recognised and issues can be solved. The article is based on a research project that is submitted to the Department of Sociology, Fergusson College, Pune. The research is titled as "Social Exclusion of Dalit Girl Students Migrated from Rural Areas to Higher Education Institutions."

Research, Approach and Methodology

The study takes a theoretical approach of Dalit Feminism as a political theory which formulates the problems of Dalit women as being different from those of any other woman. A Dalit woman goes through multiple layers of oppression, especially when she comes out in public spaces like higher education institutions in the urban areas.

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Dear society, I have questions for you!

 

Shivani Waldekar

Shivani WaldekarMy dear society, do you know that I heard the word 'society' for the first time when I was in 11th standard when one of the teachers who loved me a lot taught us one day the valuable words of Maclver and Page, "Society is the web of Relationships.' Back then, I didn't have the lens to think on it critically, but today, when I go through the same definition I realise that if society is the web of relations, then the relations are with whom? I arrived at the answer that society is a web of relationships, and the interconnected relations with all living beings—animals as well as human beings. But today I see people don't live with each other in a healthy manner, let alone with animals. It may be that they are showing care about animals but they don't care about people. We people are not honest and truthful in our relationships. In the relationships with our mother, father, sister, brother, teacher, friend or stranger, we are either honest or we are diplomatic.

Before I heard about the word 'society', I used to confuse it with 'people'. My father used to talk about it—they said, what people say, what people think etc. Actually, what he was trying to tell me indirectly was about people who are in society or the society where people lived. If society is the web of humans' interrelations with each other then, their relations with each other should be ideal, loving and caring. At that time, I felt how beautiful and kind society is, but today, I have developed a dilemma about it. At this very young age and the very beginning of life, I feel like the society is so ridiculous. It maybe because at only 22 years of age, I have undergone much and tried to overcome it.

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