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

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Questioning ‘The Dalit Question’

This is in response to the editorial, “The Dalit Question,” published in EPW on 24 December 2016. Concluding the debate that began with the publication of the article “How Egalitarian Is Indian Sociology?” (EPW, 18 June 2016), the editorial argues that “the most acute contradictions are no longer between the upper castes (the foremost beneficiaries of the system) and the Dalits (the foremost victims), but between the latter and the jatis in the middle or even those more adjacent to them.” By posing methodological and epistemological questions, I argue that EPW’s conclusions stand on erroneous grounds and need to be seriously questioned.

My contention is that “the Dalit question” and “the caste question” are not identical. While the former deals with the aspiration, assertion, mobility and emancipation of the Dalit community, the latter deals with the domination, discrimination, exclusion, humiliation and violence that are embedded in the caste system as perpetuated by the Hindu social order. As a result of this, any attempt to understand the Dalit question exclusively based on atrocities limits the capacity for obtaining a comprehensive picture of the subject matter. I would submit that “the Dalit question has much to do beyond the issue of atrocities (not at all belittling the question of caste atrocities in the Hindu social order).

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Updated On : 1st Feb, 2017

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