Untouchable: An Indian Life History

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The Untouchable Case for Indian Capitalism

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The Untouchable. Surendranath Dasgupta; Indian Idealism. Surendranath Dasgupta; Outlines of Indian Philosophy. Hiriyanna; History of Indian Philosophy. Indian Mysticism. Belvalkar, R. Brett - - Ethics 45 1 Elements of Indian Aesthetics. Ghoshal - - Chaukhambha Orientalia. The Crisis of Secularism in India.

Javed Majeed - - Modern Intellectual History 7 3 Place of Logic in Indian Philosophy. Roy W.

The Dalits | Still untouchable

Perrett - - Asian Philosophy 8 1 — The landlord was suspicious, but their status as teachers clinched the deal. He brought her home with him from the village and she was admitted to hospital and recovered. But Maryamma caught the infection and died on 5 October He had them sit on the steps of the school where their mother used to teach. Hours passed, night fell. Their father did not come back. Prasanna Rao could not imagine life without Maryamma or deal on his own with the debts he owed for her medical care. He fled. The flight was, in its way, a tribute to the role she had played in the household and a subconscious self-indictment.

Years later he returned, but it was too late.


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The boys had been taken in by an aunt and the girl had gone to live with her grandmother. Of the boys, Satyam was cleverer, a dreamer whose discovery of modern Telugu verse inspired him to write. Carey was tough, a natural street fighter. The intersection of their lives with British withdrawal from India and the eruption immediately after Independence of a huge peasant uprising in the state of Telangana, which borders Andhra Pradesh, helped shape all their lives.

They would bring him to the dora [landlord] to work in his household as a slave until death. The peasants, aided by the Communist Party, rose up and fought this servitude. By now the brahmins were in power in Delhi. No untouchable or low-caste Hindu harboured many illusions. Some even feared that after the British withdrawal things would get worse for them.

They did.


  1. Untouchable | An Indian Life History | Taylor & Francis Group.
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  3. India's Dalits still fighting untouchability.
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  5. The Indian army invaded the city of Hyderabad in Telangana, deposing its rulers, but then turned its guns on the peasants, detaining, torturing and raping thousands and evicting them from the land. The more progressive elements in the Congress Party may have believed that with industrialisation and modernisation the problem of caste would solve itself. It never did. Capitalism itself may be caste, colour and gender-blind but the dominant classes utilise these divisions to preserve their own rule.

    Christianity could not provide social upward mobility, but it ensured that Satyam and his siblings received a proper education, despite taunts from caste Hindus. But a brown-skinned Christian was still treated very differently from a white-skinned one, and brahmin converts to the imperial religion refused to marry untouchable Christians. As a teenager, Satyam was hostile to Nehru and Gandhi — he saw them as products of British rule and tied to it in too many ways — but sympathetic to the militant, secular nationalism of Subhas Chandra Bose.

    Until a few years before his death in , Satyam was engaged in the peasant resistance in Andhra Pradesh. After the Communist Party split in he became involved in the Naxalite, Maoist wing of the party, backing an armed revolt. Instead, they were handed a broom and told to sweep the floors. It never had. This was life in a revolutionary group committed to an armed struggle to liberate the poor. He had suffered many insults from upper-caste members of the party, some of whom would leave money in the lavatory in order to see if he pocketed it.

    Feeling that the question of caste had now reached a new stage there had been massacres of untouchables and angry responses , he confronted his comrades on the Central Committee.

    Gidla, born in appalling conditions in an untouchable ghetto in the city of Kazipet in Telangana, now works as a conductor on the New York subway she lost her job as a software programmer in a bank after the financial crash. Her experiences in the United States pushed her to write this book, an attempt to explain to her new friends and colleagues the difference between caste and race. Race is visible. Caste is a hierarchy established more than years ago. The approximately four thousand endogamous castes and sub-castes jatis in Hindu society, each with its own specified hereditary occupation, are divided into four varnas — Brahmins priests , Kshatriyas soldiers , Vaishyas traders and Shudras servants.

    Outside of these varnas are the avarna castes, the Ati-Shudras, subhumans, arranged in hierarchies of their own — the Untouchables, the Unseeables, the Unapproachables — whose presence, whose touch, whose very shadow is considered to be polluting by privileged-caste Hindus … Each region of India has lovingly perfected its own unique version of caste-based cruelty, based on an unwritten code that is much worse than the Jim Crow laws. Unlike his many apologists, Gandhi never concealed his views on the caste system. In my opinion, the idea that inter-dining or intermarrying is necessary for national growth is a superstition borrowed from the West.

    Self-rule was achieved at a high price and it meant something, but it incorporated many colonial practices. The new masters benefited, but for the untouchables, tribals and others conditions remained the same or got worse. The figures are horrific: every month 52 Dalits are killed and six kidnapped; every week almost thirty Dalit women are raped by caste Hindus. This will be a serious underestimate.

    In the Indian and Western media extensively covered the gang rape and murder of a single woman in Delhi, largely because students and feminist groups had protested on the streets and made it an issue; that same year Dalit women were raped and Dalits murdered.

    Add to this the regular mob punishment of Dalit and low-caste women: they are forcibly stripped then paraded through villages to humiliate them further.

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    Politically a democracy, constitutionally secular, India has, since , been a caste Hindu dictatorship. During the run-up to independence, B. Ambedkar considered demanding a separate status for untouchables, slicing them away from Hinduism. This would have given them separate electoral representation as was the case with Muslims and other minorities.

    Untouchable: An Indian Life History - CRC Press Book

    Gandhi talked him out of this by flattery, and by arguing that since Ambedkar would be drafting the new Indian constitution he could write in all the safeguards he wanted. This did happen, but had little impact. In the post-independence period, the political choice was essentially limited to Congress or the main opposition force, the Communist Party of India. Gidla recounts what life was like for those below the lowest rung of the caste ladder and for local communists during Congress rule.

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