ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dalits and Indian Environmental Politics

Indian environmental paradigms and politics, frequently conceptualised and expressed in terms of India’s glorious past, often render questions of caste and dalits invisible. However, it needs to be recognised that caste is one of the central categories that frames environmental politics. Dalit thinkers, organisations and movements have had a wider perspective and critique of environmental articulations that require deeper investigation. On the one hand, we see a caste-blindness in current environmental politics. On the other, we see dalit views on Indian environmentalism, reflected in their works, words and movements in different parts of the country. This brings forth not only new dimensions on both environment and dalits, but also helps us in redefining certain key categories such as development, modernity, community, livelihood and social movements.

An earlier version of this essay was presented at a workshop on “Environment, Inequality, and Confl ict”, organised by the Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi in collaboration with the Centre for Equality and Social Opportunity, University of Oslo, 28-29 March 2012. I am grateful to the participants for their comments. I am also thankful to Anand Swamy, Aseem Srivastava, Rohan D’Souza, Pradip Kumar Datta and Charu Gupta for their remarks, which helped in the development of ideas presented here.

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