Monday, February 25, 2008

Introduction to Out-Caste

Out-Caste is an informal, public wall-journal started by the Dalit Studies class under the guidance of our course instructor, Dr. K. Satyanarayana. This is an open forum that engages with the caste question in a specifically Indian context. We wish to look at caste as a category that structures both exclusion and privilege. Our main aim is to represent the Dalit visions of a new India.

We do not subscribe to any political agenda. Our motive is merely to engage the community with questions concerning the complex workings of caste and the struggles against this form of inequality and oppression and its relation with other forms of inequality and oppression such as social class, poverty, gender etc. Through this journal, we wish to acquaint our readers with certain key historical personalities and crucial events in the field of socio-political reform. Evidence of such neglect is obvious in the ongoing suppression and violence inflicted on Dalits on an everyday basis in different parts of the country. In this context, we wish to acquaint our readers with key narratives and debates in this area. We also wish to provide a space for the representation of alternative histories and literatures of Dalits.

While some consider the word ‘Dalit’ to be politically charged, we wish to bring out its emancipatory and inclusive potential. Dalit is a Marathi word whose literal meaning is ‘ground’ (verb) or ‘broken or reduced to pieces’. Dalits then are those people who have been deliberately broken and ground down in a very active way by those above them. As opposed to other terms like untouchable, scheduled caste, harijan etc, the word Dalit itself is a radical rejection of the religious legitimization of untouchability, social immobility and unequal access to opportunities. The clearest definition of Dalit in its contemporary usage is seen in a letter written to Eleanor Zelliot by Gangadhar Pantawane, founder editor of Asmitadarsh (mirror of identity), the chief organ of Dalit literature:

“To me, Dalit is not a caste. He is a man exploited by the social and economic traditions of this country. He does not believe in God, Rebirth, Soul, Holy Books teaching separatism, Fate and Heaven because they have made him a slave. He does believe in humanism. Dalit is a symbol of change and revolution.”

Keeping this in mind, we wish to inaugurate the first issue of this wall journal.

We would like to thank the administration for their continued support in bringing out this Wall Journal. We would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to all the people on campus who gave us their valuable time, support and inputs in bringing out this journal. We would especially like to thank our course instructor Dr. K Satyanarayana, Pro-VC Dr. Maya Pandit, Registrar Mr. T A V Murthy, Deputy Registrar Mr Murlidhar Tadi, DBMSA President Mr. Raju Nayak, T Jyoti, Mr Murti of Stores Department, Dr. Geetha Durairajan and Vidya Kesavan. We would also like to thank Dr Kancha Illiah and Mrs. Deepa of Anveshi for their invaluable support at all junctures of bringing out this journal.


Srivatsan said...

Dear Friends,

The blog looks really substantial. I looked at all the articles and interviews and found them good. My suggestion is that since EFLU is an institute of higher education, at least one article that discusses the Dalit predicament in an institute of higher education, and that too in English, would be very valuable.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

I agree with Srivats, and as a pointer i would like to draw your attention to a report in the times of india, about the a dalit ph d scholar 's suicide and the light it throws upon existing discriminations in the most democratic of all spaces: the university.
the link to the report is


out-caste said...


Thank you for your responses. As you might have already seen, we covered the Senthil suicide incident in the second issue of our journal.

Please let us know if there are any other issues you think we can highlight and explore in the coming issues.

Thank you and keep writing!

Out-caste Team