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Developmental Perspective for the Dalit Literature in the Era of Globalization

By Dr. Anand Teltumbde

(Transcription of a speech delivered at the South India Dalit Literary Workshop at Thiruvananthpuram, Kerala, 27-29 May, 2002)

Mr. Chairman and Friends,
At the outset let me make it clear that I am not a dalit writer in the sense that I have not written any fiction so far except perhaps for juvenile stories in school or college magazines which I suppose everybody does. Nor am I a student of or a commentator on dalit literature. I am a lay reader who enjoys good literature as a normal human being. It is a different matter that even these small pleasures are being denied to me by the circumstances of my being in the corporate sector and that to with the drab disciplines like Information Technology for my living and simultaneously involved in number of peoples' movements, which leaves very little time for reading any work of fiction. It is with great difficulty that I have managed to keep abreast with the dalit writings in Marathi. It is true that I have done some non-fiction writing as an editor of a workers' magazine in Marathi, as a pamphleteer for their movement, as a contributor to various left-of-the-center magazines and periodicals, as a researcher and editor in my technical fields, and lately a book-writer on the subjects like macro-economics, sociology and dalit issues etc.

The practical problem however is that these writing are not considered as 'literary' in common parlance. I was at loss therefore to understand what I would do in a literary workshop like this. I was somewhat comforted by the explanation that I was meant to present the developmental perspective for the dalits in coming times. Although, in this way I have a permission to take you straight to the intricacies of neo-liberal economics - a vile discipline that times have thrusted upon me, in deference to the context you sit here I would endeavor not to be an entirely odd man out and try to take you through the Marathi dalit literature, as a proxy for dalit literature in general and then provide a glimpse of the future that is in store for it when globalization matures in this country. Developmental imperatives for the dalit literature will automatically come clearer at the end.

The genesis of the dalit literature is variously traced by scholars depending on what they mean by it. In the conception of a layman which I have said I am, the genesis of dalit literature must lie in the spread of education among dalits. It is only when they write and read, their literature could be born. But to the extent that the dalit literature is premised as different from the mainstream literature, this simplistic explanation betrays sociological ignorance that as dalit start writing; their literature will be automatically different. Dalits could well accept the hegemony of the Brahmanic literature and cast their expression in latter's mould. This is more natural to happen than otherwise. Indeed it has happened as the history of dalit literature will show.

Right from the impressionable age in school, the language, mode of expression, socialization, role models are all given by the hegemonic system of Brahmins; there is not a trace of our language, customs, culture or our history in it. We are only taught to be ashamed of our being, to be alienated form ourselves and therefore to emulate what the upper caste people do. The concept of sanskritisation precisely points to this process. In order for the literature of dalits to be really different from that of mainstream, there is a prerequisite of the caged dalit consciousness being freed from the hegemonic hold of Brahminic literature and culture. This may take place in many ways; the best and easiest however being the live counterforce of a movement against this Brahminic hegemony but in no case it should be taken for granted. The writer's being a dalit, certainly authenticates his or her experience but can neither be a necessary nor sufficient condition for the dalit literature. Because it is possible at least theoretically that some one who is not a dalit, could develop dalit consciousness and create dalit literature. I could cite examples for both the cases albeit with my conception of the dalit literature. My conception of the dalit literature has to do with the sustained rebellious expression against the Brahminic hegemony and iniquitous order of every kind with a vision to create a world sans exploitation. Merely mirroring the dalit life authentically will not necessarily therefore be dalit literature because it could still confirm to the mainstream mould and reflect contentment.

I am aware that this definition would stir up a lot of controversy among the majority of our literary intellectuals but precisely for this very reason I have raised it here. Dalit literature is our property and we could set its boundaries the way we like; there is nothing intrinsically wrong or right about that. But we should be aware that these boundaries have socio-political implications. After all, dalit is a desired identity; it is not yet a material reality. If the argument of exclusivity of identity that makes writing by dalits as a necessary condition for the dalit literature is extended further, we may soon have an undesirable crop of literature named after the sub-castes. After all, there could be valid argument that a consciousness of a Mahar is not the same as that of Mang in Maharashtra or Pala in Tamilnadu. This is not a conjecture any more; I learnt recently that in Nagpur- a indisputable den of Ambedkarian movement, a particular sub-caste of Mahars - indisputably the most advanced section of dalits in terms of dalit consciousness, have publicly organized themselves claiming that their culture is different from the other Mahars. Mala-Madiga dispute in Andhra Pradesh has been too well known to be reminded about.

Because of the legacy of the Phuley-Ambedkarian movement, it was natural that this kind of rebellious expression first manifested in Maharashtra. It is neither easy nor necessary to locate exact origin of the dalit literature after Phuley and Ambedkar. But before the name came in to being in the sixties, such people as Baburao Bagul, Bandhu Madhav, Shankarao Kharat were already creating dalit literature. In its formal form it sprouted out of another progressive movement called Little magazine which was a kind of rebellious manifestation of the youth of those days against the establishment. First lot of the dalit degree holders had started coming out of universities in significant numbers in later half of the sixties just to find a dark future in wait for them. The dalit politics represented by the RPI that was formed after the death of Dr. Ambedkar had already become a hanger on or an addendum to the ruling class parties. In Bombay, there was a resurgence of the rightist forces like Shiv Sena duly helped by the Congress Party to counter the sway of the leftist forces over the trade unions. The global situation represented far bigger turbulence than here. The crisis after a long spell of capitalist development during the post World War II- reconstruction gave rise to various dissent movements of people every where. The times were just ripe for the protest movement of dalits to germinate. The newly educated dalit youth found inspiration in the movement of blacks in the distant lands of North America; their black literature and Black Panther became the role models of sorts for them. It was therefore natural that this protest gained its first expression in the form of a new literature called Dalit literature. As in the black literature, its manifestation had to happen in the form of poetry- Dalit poetry.

The most notable example of this protest came in light in the form of Golpitha- a collection of poems by Namdeo Dhasal. Golpitha - name of a red-light district in Mumbai, depicted the tough life of a dalit there and is considered as Dhasal's most stellar work. People were shocked by the raw energy exuded by each of its word entirely unfamiliar to the established literary circles. They had never seen quite like it before. Its proletarian lingo, iconoclastic imagery, defiant idiom and terrible anger shook the establishment to its very foundation. A spate of poetry followed - Surung by Traimbak Sapkale, Horpal by Bhimsen Dethe, Nakebandi by J. V. Pawar and numerous others, each creating a benchmark in creative expression that entire traditional Marathi poetry would fail to meet. Later came the other forms, short stories and series of autobiographical narratives which transcended boundaries of India and shook the sensibilities of the world.

What was the tone of the dalit literature? It basically sought to assert dalit identity by discarding the Brahmanic language and symbolism and instead using their own language, idiom, metaphor and imagery. In content, it mainly expressed the pathos of their living and gratitude to Dr. Ambedkar for ameliorating them. They sang praises to him and glorified whatever he did. They reflected rebellion and tendency to relate with all the revolutionary ideologies and movements in the world including Marxism. In relation to Marxism most people however extended the skepticism of Ambedkar albeit in a poetic style. For instance, JV Pawar in his Nakebandi (Blocade) writes:

"You treat Marx as a medicine I deem it as a drug
dismantle this stony caste mansion, this fence
and let there be a free play of water, for,
stagnant waters do not bring revolutions
what can your drug do?"
(translation: Prof. V. D. Chandanshive)
The underscoring radicalism cannot be missed in the motley voices in which dalit poets penned their poems. Even Buddhism was radically interpreted and brought to bear the contemporary relevance. The late Daya Pawar, wrote of the Buddha wandering among the poor rather than meditating in the forests. Hira Bansode, in almost feminist terms, has written of the sacrifice of Yashodhara, left behind by Siddhartha:
''He was moving towards a great splendour
far from the place where you lay...
he went, he conquered, he shone
while you listened to the songs of his triumph
Your womanliness must have wept,
you who lost husband and son
must have felt uprooted
like the tender banana plant
But history does not talk about/the story of your sacrifice
...But wait, don't suffer so
I have seen your beautiful face
You are behind the closed eyelids of Siddhartha
Yashu, just you"
(translated by Jayant Karve and Philip Engbloom).
The early voices always talked about revolt and revolutions. J. V. Pawar in his Dawn excels in articulating the anger of the then dalit youth when he passionately talks of revolution:

"The revolution is not going to wait
the clenched fists are not to be loosened now
I have endured much, no more enduring now
I can't be unfaithful to the blood
Ordering me to hold arms"

The concept of revolution in Dalit literature however remains amorphous inasmuch as it is reluctant, nay opposed to the concept of Marxian revolution, the only concept that gives a definitive meaning to the word 'revolution'. It certainly reflected dalit anger against the status quo and yearning for the change, although the nature of which they were not sure of.

The next upsurge in Marathi dalit literature was the autobiographical narratives. With their nerve raking accounts of what the writers lived through, these autobiographies stirred the conscience of all kinds of readers. Whereas the dalit poetry made a mark of creativity of expression, the autobiographical narratives, in their rawness and disregard for literary norms and without making claims to creativity lent dalit experience much needed authenticity. The most genuine autobiographical masterpiece of N.S. Suryavanshi's Things I Never Imagined (1975), Sharan Kumar Limbale's Akkarmashi, P. E. Sonkamble's Athavaniche pakshi, Kumud Pawde's Antahspot, Shankarrao Kharat's Taral Antaral, Shantabai kamble's Majya Jalmachi Chittarkatha and the sensation caused in the literary circles of Maharashtra by Daya Pawar's Balute (1978) may be considered as marking the rising of the 'dalit autobiography' at the horizon of the Marathi literary establishment.

The inner quest of identity, the cultural denunciations of the iniquitous Hindu dispensation and the social struggles to assert one's human dignity took various forms according to the will, vision and capacity of each writer. The first essential characteristic feature of the Marathi dalit literature is that it is not originally and essentially a literary exercise. The practice of writing does not aim at achieving an aesthetic performance in literature as an art. It serves purposes of social intervention and accordingly carries strong militant connotations. This holds good in Maharashtra as in other areas of India. The nature of these connotations varies and takes different shades depending upon the writers' personalities, changing socio-cultural contexts, motives and inspiration to write. These autobiographical testimonies are more of a social phenomenon, a form of social protest practice, a socio-cultural action in the form of a literary performance than a literary event.

The mainstream critique of Dalit literature in general accused it as being one dimensional, namely negatively focusing on revolt only. I would say, it failed to understand its essence. It could not be dalit literature if it did not pour forth revolt and discharge a burden of hatred and contempt accumulated since centuries, or even sometimes hurl abuses at and spit out back on high castes the venom that they had to swallow for ages. The alleged 'negativity' is actually a form of bold, genuine and strongly positive assertion. It was a volcanic rupture in which repressed and ruined human beings broke their status of animal servility by a shout of protest that signaled the birth of a human being. It was beyond their sanitary aesthetics to comprehend its meaning.

It was all right to start with. It is pity however that the dalit literature, could not extricate itself from indulgence in self-pity, obsession with identity, hymn-singing to Ambedkar that lent him almost a godhood, and rhetorical talk of revolt without any action. A trend surfaced in Maharashtra that objected some of these features of the dalit literature and insisted that it be called Phuley-Ambedkarite literature. It pleaded that after the religious conversion, the dalits are no more dalits. Beyond the quibbling around the nomenclature however they could not provide any alternate perspective or vision for it. It was not mere naivety but the reaction of this trend that had killed the Dalit Panther in its womb. It is well known that the Dalit Panther had split on the issue of the Manifesto, one section disputing the radical manifesto that was drawn up under the plea that it was not confirming to Buddhist tenets. It is the same section that hankers on the change in name. Its entire thrust is to rob of whatever militant content that the dalit literature had and make it more and more surrealist.

The main malady of the dalit literature is that it could not relate with the contemporary lives of majority of dalits. It had serious handicap in terms of its reach because of the extremely low literacy levels of dalit population and thereafter the access issue on account of poverty. Dalit literature faced a potential dilemma right since its inception. While it aspired to play up dalit identity with the premise of distinct dalit consciousness but it remained essentially a middle class phenomenon like any other literature. It did not strive consciously to preserve its umbilical chord with the dalit masses, 75 % of whom slogged on farms in villages. It is therefore, that it could not relate with any of the contemporary happenings, some certainly catastrophical proportion such as the mill strike in Bombay, the lay offs that followed thereafter, the deaths of students on account of non-payment of scholarships, the municipal strikes, and many communal conflagrations, to say the least. The dilemma accentuated after the demise of the Dalit Panthers, the one that had the still birth, with which most of the dalit litterateurs were linked. The role of literature is not merely to hold a mirror to the society but also to help it construct a vision for future. The Dalit literature did perform this role in its early phase but shorn of its connection with dalit movement, soon it failed to do either. That is why it even lacked in creative expression which was its forte and earned accusation of tiring sameness.

Inspired by the black literature, it expectedly led to the formation of the Dalit Panthers which seemed to set a new paradigm of revolutionary politics in the country. But, unfortunately it was not to be. The ideological weakness manifested itself in the fact that the dalit panthers split even before they could conjure up their manifesto. It followed thereafter the path of the RPI in Maharashtra, mutating into countless factions and eventually losing its own identity. It is interesting that Namdeo Dhasal, the most creative and fiercest of all; the quintessential of a dalit and a stormy petrel of Dalit Panthers is seen today on the laps of Bal Thakre- the sworn enemy of Ambedkarite dalits. He represents ideological fluidity of dalitsm when he justifies his moves and still appeals to some dalits. One of the Dalit Panther factions came to be known as Bharatiya Dalit Panther, which in name itself implies not only empting it of defiance that characterized the Panthers but also marking an end of creativity of its precursor- the dalit literature.

Even with all the minuses, the contribution of dalit literature in resetting the developmental paradigm for dalits has been immense. First and foremost, it effectively threatened the Brahmanic hegemony from literature which was one of its cultural holy cow. Second, it conscentized dalit masses for dissent and rebellion. Third, it stirred up thinking in dalit intellectuals and catalysed creation of organic intellectuals of dalits. Fourth, it rejuvenated the sagging spirit of Ambedkarism giving rise to youth organizations all over the country. Fifth, it broadened the world view of dalits inasmuch as they learnt to relate with the struggles of other oppressed people in the world. Sixth, it highlighted the cultural resources of dalits an demonstrated how they could be effectively used in their battle for emancipation. Seventh, it broke away from the stereotypes that crept in dalit movements and demonstrated a new paradigm of people oriented politics. One could add a few more points to this list!

These contributions unfortunately could not be sustained and withered away in a short time. Dalit literature still survives but is completely divorced from its socio-political content. The dalit literature movement in general has lost its former edge. It appears to be a self serving activity of some dalit academics that keep producing it, reviewing it, doing research on it and earning their Ph Ds. Some are motivated by still other material considerations and target their effort to the State as though it is their target readership. These selfish motives also could be seen behind their zeal in fiercely protecting their space. Already, many variants of dalit literature, such as Adivasi literature, Bhatke Vimukta literature (in addition to numerous versions of Ambedkarite- Buddhist literatures) have appeared in Maharashtra which do not necessarily relate with the 'mainstream' dalit literature. In 1999, in the wake of the State sponsored Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, one more movement came into being by the name Vidrohi Sahitya Sammelan and within a short time it split vertically, both the factions holding their respective conferences this year. Dalit literature essentially is reflecting the maladies of the dalit and in general left politics; as a movement it is hardly visible. Caught in a vicious circle of dwindling readership and declining quality, its future does not appear any promising in the present mode.

Today, with much of these contributions squandered away in process, dalits find themselves at the cliff where their very existence is in jeopardy. This situation is created by what is called globalization.

The current phase of Globalization is an imperialist strategy of capitalism in crisis to have a tightening grip over the economies, resources, markets as well as cultural and communication systems of the vast majority of underdeveloped countries by the transnational corporations, based mainly in the US and Western Europe. It is being executed through the mediation of the imperialist institutions like IMF and the World Bank since 1980s with the help of their Macro-Economic Stabilization and Structural Adjustment Programmes. The first experimentation of this strategy was in Chile after the displacement of popular Allende government through CIA-sponsored coup, under the direction of Milton Friedman of Chicago University. Soon thereafter, with a few exceptions, entire Latin America became a laboratory for this strategy. The devastation it unleashed there is a testimony to what could follow anywhere. But still the ruling comprador class in most developing countries has adopted them under the guise of their own Economic Reforms.

In our country, it actually started with the introduction of economic liberalization occasioned by the first IMF loan of SDR 5 billion in 1980. This liberalization agenda was pursued during 80s till the country reached a brink of bankruptcy on the FE reserve accounts in June 1991. The then Narsimharao government officially adopted the above said programmes and inaugurated the full scale globalization in India. The subsequent governments under the Sangh Pariwar, with their characteristic doublespeak has been pursuing the naked imperialist anti-people agenda and heaping untold sufferings on the masses. The underlying economic philosophy of these programmes stems from the theories of neo-liberalism that propounds the rule of market, reduction in the role of State, cutting public expenditure on social services and eliminating the concept of public good; deregulation, and general replacement of public with private.

As for the dalits who have not only poverty but cruelest social discrimination to endure, the impact of the globalization is uni-directionally adverse. The adverse impact of globalization on poor people is so well documented as to be incontrovertible. But its impact on the socially disadvantaged group like dalits is far more devastating. Generally, dalits tend to equate the impact of globalization with the loss of reservation because of the public sector getting decimated. No doubt, reservation constitutes a significant factor in dalit lives. But, to reduce globalization to mean mere loss of reservations will be utterly myopic. The impact of globalization is all pervading. Even it extends to aggravate casteism in operation as the recent data on atrocities on dalits establish. If we take atrocities against dalits as the index of casteism, then the average number of atrocities against dalits per year during the post-Reform years shows significant increase over that during the pre-Reform years. It also has adverse implication to the long term project of Dalit Emancipation. I have showed it elsewhere how on all the components of this project, viz., Land reform, Education, Democracy and Modernity, it is going to be ruinous to dalits.

Let us just consider globalization in relation to our subject matter of dalit literature.

The basic foundation of any literature is the spread of literacy and education, so that people produce and consume literature. Both of them are going to be grievously affected by globalization. As you all know that globalization brings privatization, privatization of not only public sector companies but all public institutions including that of education. The immediate impact of this on dalits is going to be in terms of making the Constitutional provisions of reservations in jobs irrelevant. We have seen the bitter reality over the last five decades that a dalit person howsoever qualified cannot be accepted on a merit-seat. This has been the state of our implementation of reservation policy and our state of politics that there is no known SC person in the entire PSUs who is not against the reserved seat. Does it mean that entire dalit community has not produced a single person who could be equal to the lowliest from the so called high castes in all these years? The answer does not lie in objective facts; it lies in caste prejudices. Otherwise the very first IAS from the SC and ST communities in 1950 and 1954 are said to have scored maximum marks in theory but were given so low marks in the personal interviews that they were placed last and made to appear as needing helping hand of reservation.(Please read the details of A. K. Biswas's write up at www.ambedkar.org) This being the state of public sector, the situation in private sector can well be imagined. Unless, you hide your caste which of course is not easy, you cannot get an entry in private sector. Thus, with disappearance of public sector the job situation for educated dalits is going to be calamitous. The technological advancement has been exerting pressure on the job growth which in recent years has been negative. In such circumstances there is just no hope for a dalit, howsoever he is educated to get a job in this country.

The jobs provide the basic motivation for dalit to get education. If there are no jobs and if the education is becoming increasingly expensive in the private institutions, how many dalits would go in for education? Already, the statistics amply indicate the increase in drop out rates of dalit students at various levels during the last decade of globalization. Whatever progress dalits have made during the five post independence decades is getting fast negated by the globalization. We were denied access to education for centuries by the vile Brahmanism, now the Globalization is doing the same thing under the new Manu Dharma of Neo-liberalism!

And this is the talk about the educated dalits whose proportion to the total dalit population is still abysmally low. When we speak of dalit literature, we should not forget that it related only to less than 10 % of total dalits. In it's hey day, the literacy percentage among dalits hovered between 10.27 to 14.67 percent. Even today, the vast majority of dalits is out of bounds of this talk. Most of them are too poor to afford education. It should be noted that globalization has reversed the trend of reduction of poverty during the 80s and has pushed many people below poverty line. Even the World Bank admits that due to current global recession some 10 million people shall be pushed below its definition of extreme poverty line (which is $ 1 per day). Globalization is going to virtually eliminate these people in coming years. The rural agricultural economy is scheduled to be devastated completely. The imperialist game plan to make us dependent for food grains is already in offing. The impetus to agri-trade in cash crops is increasingly marginalizing the food production. The other globalization policies emanating to what could be called as their 'fiscal deficit fundamentalism' is aggravating the access situation of poor to food. The paradox of over 60 million tones of food rotting in the Food Corporation godowns while there are 500 million Indian going hungry is but an example of the globalization-driven policies! Taking pride in being the seventh biggest wheat exporting country in the world by selling our wheat cheaper to Cargill than to our hungry countrymen is globalization!

Another important aspect of the globalization is the cultural onslaught. Since the dalit literature falls in this domain, the cultural implication assumes particular importance for our discussion. Culture ensures the long term cost effective subjugation of people to certain mode of living. It always constitutes an important instrument in the armory of the imperialists. During the last decades the intrusion of alien culture or the onslaught of western culture cannot be hidden to anyone. All the media are visually fashioned on the American lines. Apart from the foreign TV channels directly beaming their programmes, the indigenous channels also show similar useless stuff that creates a world of make-believe in place of the real world. There is another dose of cultural jingoism of Hindutva which might appear to be indigenous but in fact it is complementary to imperialism as we shall see if time permits. The same is visible in cinema, radio, the magazines and even the news papers. All the media channels just provide the shallowest possible stuff, devoid of real concerns of life and promote the value congenial to none other than imperialism. The consumerist life style is already teasing the toiling people. While there is no potable water for 60 % of the population, this country permits shameless advertisement of Evian brand of mineral water at over Rs. 80 a liter. This alien culture is taking toll of dalit consciousness also. It is destroying community on which the entire dalit emancipation project rests.

Based on the above discussion, if the dalit literature is to have any future the following prerequisites shall have to be ensured:

" Due job prospects for dalits in all the sectors of the economy.
" Empowering dalit population for improving their access to education.
" Special public drive for promoting literacy and dalit education.

In terms of the programmes, it would amount to having reservations of jobs for dalits at least in proportion to their population in all the sectors of the economy, special infrastructural provision including reservations for improving access of dalits to education, and extra investments in dalit literacy. In January this year, the Government of MP had sponsored a meet of dalit intellectuals and activists who are supposed to have discussed and come out with a 21 point declaration called 'Bhopal Declaration'. This 'wish list' however does not have any supporting political rationale in the entire Bhopal document. This rationale needs to be spelt out unequivocally. It can be stated as "dalits as the producing castes have inalienable right over all the resources of this country at least in proportion to their population. The State needs to accept this premise as the recompense dues to dalits for letting others live." In order to make the State accept this rationale, dalits will have to wage a massive struggle immediately. It cannot be achieved through political parleys.

Alongside globalization, there is another phantom of Hindutva that is debilitating people with its venomous attack. It has shown its fangs against the religious minorities. It's naked dance in Gujarat is to be seen to believe. It is folly however to see it only against Christians or Muslims. Hindutva is against equality, it is against democracy, it is against liberty, it is against justice, in short, it is against humanity. It is naïve therefore for dalits to assume that they would be safe under the Hindutva rule. Like the Paster Niemoeller's poem- Victims of the Nazis, it may now be their turn!

Some people asked me yesterday whether it was true that dalits and tribals (SCs and STs) did the killing, raping and looting in Gujarat. Painful though, but the answer could be in affirmative. Dalits and tribals are said to have been used by the Hindutva brigade in large numbers wherever logistics suited them. Is it not a failure of the dalit literature, our cultural work that Gujarat carnage can be carried on the backs of dalits and tribals? Is it not a failure of our politics in general that our chaps have to be the foot soldiers of our own enemy against our potential alleys?

Hindutva and globalization are not two separate entities; they are the manifestations of the same basic phenomenon- imperialism. The base philosophies of both are the same. The base philosophy of globalization- Neo-liberalism is extremely individualistic, it regards individual as a basic unit as its premise. In Hindu social order also, the caste appears to be the basic unit, but, since caste is stuck to the individual in terms of his merits and demerits, it is essentially individualistic; it also is premised on individualism. Neo-liberalism does not regard community; there is no community in the Hindu social order either. Neo-liberalism is premised on inequality of individuals. There is eloquent discussion as to how equality is 'unscietific' in Human Action for instance of Ludwig Von Misces-the high priest of Neo-liberalsim. Inequality is the soul of Hindu social order. Neo-liberalism grants liberty to an individual to act in the market place and does not extend it to outside sphere; Hindu social order does not respect liberty at all. It only grants liberty to individual to follow their Jati Dharma. There is no fraternity in both; the later being the corollary of community.
There is no democracy in both- neo-liberalism locates democracy in the market place linked with the Rupee in your pocket. It is anti-thesis of the modern democratic principle, even ordained in our Constitution that has 'one person-one vote- one value' as its value premise; Neo-liberalism grants market democracy which gives as much power to you as you have Rupees in pocket.

I may be pardoned, but I wish to warn that the impending task of fighting this two-headed enemy is beyond the dalit literature alone. As I commented earlier, the dalit literature has acute limitation in terms of its reach and class appeal. Unless it is conceived in an integral form with other mass cultural media, its meaningful survival shall ever be a question mark. Dalit literature, in order to find its moorings, shall have to essentially find its umbilical chord with the people's movement on a broader platform. The sectarian, caste based approach in each and everything unconsciously creeping in our scheme of things has done us an enormous harm. This aberration is but the manifestation of our confusion with regard to our friends and foes. The enemy is the imperialism; it is the destiny of dalits to fight its native ally in Hindutva alongside. The enemy camp has vast cultural resources at its disposal. The target population of the dalit cultural work is already under the sway of its audio-visual media in the form of TV and cinema. The task of dalit literature shall be to creatively counter their appeal. It will have to adopt the role of repertoire of material for the people's cultural movement. Only the latter can effectively counter the media onslaught of imperialism. The dalit literature will have to bother about not only producing quality material but also about distributing it to maximum numbers of people. It will have to catalyse production of songs, skits, dramas, etc. with creative form and content. It will have to bother about creation of cultural vehicles to reach it to people.

The role of dalit literature as a cultural vehicle cannot be overemphasized in the big fight that lies ahead of people. But it in its present form is utterly incapable to perform this role. It will have to radically transform itself along the above suggested lines. Then and then only it will have its historical justification!
Thank you!

the writer can be contacted - tanand@vsnl.com