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Writing the resistance: Issues before Dalit Discourse

Dalit literature is not structured for entertaining. These writings did not border on romanticizing the issues, but resisted them strongly. They are not be imaginative, but are able to make the world sit and think. Dalit is a protest literature against all forms of exploitation based on class, race, caste or occupation
Dalit literature looks for an identity or voice. It is a subaltern, or structurally alternative to the

models prescribed by the traditional Hindu aesthetics, precisely because it is a literature of sociological oppression and economical exploitation. It is essentially a shock to the so-called Indian traditional sense. The word Dalit itself is powerful and disturbing. A nuanced, theorized reading of Dalit discourse is imperative in a context of impressionistic responses and biased readings governed by caste identity of writers. As a result, theorization of Dalit writing or a systematic critical corpus has not been yet put in place. Such a critical exercise requires to be evolved at the earliest to keep pace with a vibrant, multi-faceted, articulate and radically innovative Dalit creative output The Dalit identity is subsumed, by these writers within a class identity. The Dalit is represented as a worker and his oppression in an unequal social structure is defined strictly within the paradigm of capitalist oppression of the working class. A fundamental aspect of social organization that is established by fighting or display behavior and results in a ranking of the animals in a group. . But, Dalits in their works have invested with a radical, Ambedkarite consciousness or organized solidarity. Their protests are largely individuated or marked by, interestingly, black humour It is only when the Dalits take to recording their experiential reality in autobiographical or fictional mode that Dalit literature managed to carve its own space in the literary space. Its an authentic voice and affirmative presence The ideological position of Dalit writers merits attention in such a context. If a Dalit writer adopts a regressive ideological position, could he hope to work for liberation of Dalits? Can Dalit liberation gain from non-liberal, rightist rightism also Rightism What are the appropriate or pragmatic ideological affinities that would aid in Dalit empowerment? These are some of the critical concerns of Dalit critics and Dalit activists.

Literary criticism on Dalit literature has largely been confined to issues pertaining to Dalit identity, self-articulation, Dalit aesthetic paradigms and re-readings of literary classics. The debate regarding who is a Dalit writer refuses to die down although it continues to remain a fruitless one. A Dalit by birth does not necessarily write progressive, liberationist literature. Critics like Raj Gautaman who has brought out collection of critical essays on cultural, social and political concerns of Dalit community, re-readings of literary classics, critical evaluation of contemporary Dalit writing has taken the position that Dalits and women as oppressed groups have to forge affinities and work together against forces of oppression. Writers like Sivakami and Bama also opine that feminism has to reinvent itself in order to integrate the woman question with the Dalit woman question. Feminists need to interrogate the middle class, upper caste biases in their stand point, comments Sharmila Rege. An assimilation of Dalit history and the struggle of the marginalized would help feminist theory. Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical, or philosophical, ground. It encompasses work done in a broad variety of disciplines, prominently including the approaches to women's roles and lives and femin ist politics in anthropology and sociology, economics, to address the question of Dalit empowerment more meaningfully. Similarly, Marxist thinkers in India need to come to terms with the ground reality of caste and work towards a casteless/classless society. The influence of Ambedkarite thought is substantial and significant in Dalit discourse. Writers posit Ambedkar's call to Dalits to "Educate unite and organize" as a central statement in their works. A dalit writer has to prefer representation to intelligibility. Cultural representation cannot be sacrificed for readability. The difficulties that the readers might face might be overcome by efforts. But if representation is sacrificed for intelligibility, it amounts to erasing ones own culture and identity. This is something that the Brahmin writers have been doing. How could the dalit writes afford to erase their own culture? We will keep writing like this so as to give our culture its due space since culture is best transmitted by its own lingo. Can the culture of childhood, for instance, be represented in mature and well-formed sentences so as to be understood by the adults? Message determines medium. Any liberation movement that finds its voice in literature, especially in its nascent stage, speaks of a language of violence. When it finds its moorings, its much needed dignity, the voice of stability permeates through its literature. African literature during the colonial period and African-American literature during the period of segregation bear close resemblances to the Dalit voices of protest in India. Another similarity we find in the above three categories is double marginalization or double alienation, on account of class and race/community. Apart from social backwardness which is a fall-out of caste system in India, the Dalits constitute, economically, the most disadvantaged sections. It is in this context of double marginalization that the literature of Dalits must be viewed. But with the inspiration provided by activists-writers in recent times,

people who lived on the periphery for centuries are gradually moving into the centre, and their literature is forming an important segment of the mainstream literature "Dalit literature represents a powerful, emerging trend in the Indian literary scene. Given its overarching preoccupations with the location of Dalits in the caste-based Hindu society, and their struggles for dignity, justice and equality, this literature is by nature oppositional. With the growing translation of works by Dalit writers from various regional languages into English, Dalit literature is poised to acquire a national and an international presence as well as to pose a major challenge to the established notions of what constitutes literature and how we read it. Dalit discourse explores and critiques the sensibility which equates Indian tradition with Hinduism, and Hinduism with Brahmanism; which considers the Vedas as the foundational texts of Indian culture and discovers within the Aryan heritage the essence of Indian civilisation. It shows that even secular minds remain imprisoned within this Brahmanical vision, and the language of secular discourse is often steeped in a Hindu ethos. The tract looks at alternative traditions, nurtured within dalit movements, which have questioned this way of looking at Indian society and its history. While seeking to understand the varied dalit visions that have sought to alter the terms of the dominant order, this tract persuades us to reconsider our ideas, listen to those voices which we often refuse to hear and understand the visions which seek to change the world in which dalits live. The nineteenth century saw the beginning of a violent and controversial movement of protest amongst western Indias low and untouchable castes, aimed at the effects of their lowly position within the Hindu caste hierarchy. The leaders of this movement were convinced that religious hierarchies had combined with the effects of British colonial rule to produce inequality and injustice in many fields, from religion to politics and education. This process of identity formation is studied against the background of the earlier history of caste relations, and contributes important evidence about the relationship between ritual status and political power. The author draws extensively on vernacular language materials and evidence about popular culture from oral traditions.