28 July, 2021

Our Dalit, Every Inch A Hero

Almost always cast in aspects of pathos and abjectness, the Dalit also struggles against a representational trap. Here’s why we decided to depart from the norm and choose celebration.

Our Dalit, Every Inch A Hero

For a nation given to hero worshipping, it is understandable that Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary is being celebrated with ritualistic fanfare and fervour this week. A public holiday will be observed, and fulsome tributes paid to the Father of the Constitution, who as the country’s best-known Dalit icon sought to erase India’s long-entrenched caste system that denied, deprived, and disadvantaged a large section of our citizens.

About 130 years after his birth and 65 years of his death, it cannot be said that we as a free and proud nation have delivered on Ambedkar’s goals. While this year’s anniversary—like in all the preceding years—will not be short in symbolism, we undoubtedly have lost sight of, and short-shrifted, the substantive causes that Ambedkar stood for and strived to achieve. India is yet to be freed from the curse of casteism. Deep-rooted faultlines that perpetuated prejudices against many continue to fester and flourish. For that matter, these may have worsened. Dalits—no less than a quarter of our 1.3...

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