A new book gives glimpses into life and times of India's foremost Dalit thinkers, from Ambedkar to Rani Jhalkaribai

The authors' objective in writing this book was to ensure that the stories of these Dalit icons don't get lost in the oral re-telling of history.

Press Trust of India April 12, 2021 16:06:33 IST
A new book gives glimpses into life and times of India's foremost Dalit thinkers, from Ambedkar to Rani Jhalkaribai

Featuring several inspiring accounts — from ancient sages to 20th-century Dalit icons — of individuals who endured ill treatment and social ostracisation, the book seeks to enhance present-day India's imagination and shape its perception of the Dalit community.

New Delhi: A new book gives readers a peek into the life and times of the foremost Dalit thinkers — from the past and present — who tirelessly battled divisive forces all their lives and today act as a source of inspiration, not only to the subaltern community, but the society at large.

Makers of Modern Dalit History, published by Penguin Random House India, is written by author Sudarshan Ramabadran and Guru Prakash Paswan. It will hit the stands on 12 April.

Based on original research on 18 historical and contemporary figures such as Guru Ravidas, Valmiki, BR Ambedkar, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Gurram Jashuva, KR Narayanan, Soyarabai and Rani Jhalkaribai among others, the book claims to be a "significant addition to the Dalit discourse".

"Writing Makers of Modern Dalit History has been a liberating experience. Dalit literature remains dynamic and evolutionary, the book is a humble addition to that. The India story is incomplete without understanding their contributions, hence it is an attempt to mainstream their life, legacy and draw some life lessons. They have remained steadfast to attain a socially cohesive society. As a student of the personalities, they have become constant companions. I hope the book will be a companion to the reader," Ramabadran told PTI.

Featuring several inspiring accounts — from ancient sages to 20th-century Dalit icons — of individuals who endured ill treatment and social ostracisation, the book seeks to enhance present-day India's imagination and shape its perception of the Dalit community.

Not to eulogise but to recognise and acknowledge contribution of these individuals towards the Indian society, the only objective, as per the authors, in writing this book is to make sure that their stories don't get lost in the oral re-telling of history and that every reader is inspired by the journey these men and women undertook.

"Dalit history is replete with examples of enabling social justice. It's been an exhilarating experience writing the book. Through Makers of Modern Dalit History, we aim to take the readers through a journey of some key personalities, both past and present, who have shaped Dalit thinking. This can help India and her citizens make sense of the present. Dalit-led empowerment can be envisioned and put into practice if we are well read about the contribution of these personalities," said Paswan, co-author of the book.

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