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Redefining the History of the Subcontinent through a Dalit lens. Participatory Community History Project

This post was first written in Tamil by the author N. Sarawanan. It was then edited and translated to English by Saivi and Maari Zwick-Maitreyi. It has now been translated to Malayalam from its English version by Milanth Gautham.

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ശ്രീലങ്കയിൽ നിന്നുള്ള ദളിത് ആക്ടിവിസ്റ്റ് എൻ. ശരവണൻ തയ്യാറാക്കിയ ഈ കുറിപ്പ് അദ്ദേഹത്തിൻ്റെ തന്നെ ഗവേഷണത്തെയും എഴുത്തിനേയും ആസ്പദമാക്കിയിട്ടുള്ളതാണ്. ഇതിന് ആധാരമായിട്ടുള്ള തമിഴ് കുറിപ്പ് Namathu Malayagam-ൽ വായിക്കാവുന്നതാണ്. അദ്ദേഹത്തിൻ്റെ പരിശ്രമങ്ങളും സന്നദ്ധതയും ഇല്ലാതെ ഈ കുറിപ്പ് സാദ്ധ്യമാവുകയില്ലായിരുന്നു. തമിഴ് ദളിത് എഴുത്തുകാരിയും, സാമ്പത്തിക വിദഗ്ദയും, ഒരു അമ്മയുമായ സൈവിയാണ് ഇത് ഇംഗ്ലീഷിലേക്ക് പരിവർത്തനം ചെയ്തിരിക്കുന്നത്. ചിട്ടപ്പെടുത്തിയത് മാരി സി. മൈത്രേയിയാണ്.

ലോവിന എന്ന ദലിത് സ്ത്രീ, ശ്രീലങ്കയിലെ കോളനിവൽക്കരണവുമായുള്ള നിരന്തരമായ ഇടപെടലുകളിലൂടെ തൻ്റെ സമുദായത്തിൻ്റെ അഭിവൃദ്ധി ഉറപ്പു വരുത്തിയതെങ്ങിനെയന്നാണ് ഇന്ന് Dalit History Month-ൽ…


Translation from English and Hindi to Malayalam for #DalitHistoryMonth by Milanth Gautham. You can find DHM’s English piece here.

Streekal-നു വേണ്ടി അനിത ഭാരതി തയ്യാറാക്കിയ ഗവേഷണ പ്രബന്ധത്തെ ആധാരമാക്കി അവര്‍ തന്നെ അനുരൂപപ്പെടുത്തിയ കുറിപ്പിന്‍റെ വിവര്‍ത്തനാമാണ് ഈ പോസ്റ്റ്. ഹിന്ദി സാഹിത്യത്തില്‍ അത്യുന്നത പദവി അലങ്കരിക്കുന്ന ഒരു എഴുത്തുകാരിയാണ് അനിത ഭാരതി. അറിയപ്പെടുന്ന ഒരു കവിയും എഴുത്തുകാരിയും, അതിനോടൊപ്പം തന്നെ ദശാബ്ദങ്ങളായി ജാതിവിരുദ്ധ പ്രസ്ഥാനത്തിന്‍റെ മുന്‍നിര പ്രവര്‍ത്തകയും കൂടിയാണ് ഇവര്‍. സമകാലീന്‍ നാരീവാദ് ഔര്‍ ദലിദ് സ്ത്രീ കാ പ്രതിരോധ് (സമകാലീന സ്ത്രീസമത്വവാദവും ദലിത് സ്ത്രീകളുടെ പ്രതിരോധവും), ഗബ്ദു രാം വാല്‍മീകിയുടെ ജീവചരിത്രം, രുക്സാന കാ ഘര്‍ (രുക്സാനയുടെ വീട്), യതാസ്തിതി സെ ടകരാതേ ഹുവെ (യാഥാസ്തിതികതയോടുള്ള കലാപം): ഒരു ദലിത് സ്ത്രീയുടെ കഥകളുടേയും കവിതകളുടേയും വിമര്‍ശനങ്ങളുടേയും സമാഹാരം തുടങ്ങിയ പുസ്തകങ്ങളിലൂടെ നിരവധി പുരസ്കാരങ്ങള്‍ കരസ്ഥമാക്കിയിട്ടുണ്ട്. …


This article is based on an interview of Suresh Kumar and research by Nikhil Latagajanan who is a journalist, documentary filmmaker.

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On a Sunday afternoon, Suresh Kumar sits in his house in a narrow lane near T-junction Dharavi recalling memories of his childhood. At 43 years old, Kumar is from the second generation of Tamil migrant Dalits staying in Mumbai.

Suresh’s memories tell his story, which like that of many others in migrants and residents, weaves itself through the history of Dharavi itself.

Dharavi is a locality situated in the central part of Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra and…


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Karagam (Karagattam, a form of Tamil folk dance) is my life!” she exclaims, “when I had nothing and no one, it was the only thing that was there with me. I will always be a dancer first.” Swetha, the first Dalit trans woman pharmacist in Tamil Nadu, finds healing, fun and catharsis in dance.

Her journey to study for and establish herself as a professional pharmacist of repute has not been an easy one. She comes from one of the most casteist regions of Tamil Nadu. …


The story of Paikabai is re-told largely through the memories of her family members, especially from the memories of the author, Dipankar Kamble’s, grandmother, Mrunalini Khobragade. The author is presently working on a biography of his great-grandfather, Dewajibapu Khobragade’s, life and times. This includes a long chapter on Paikabai of which this piece is a short preview.

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Today in #Dalithistory month, we highlight a really unique figure amongst Dalit women — Paikabai Khobragade, a Mahar woman whose determined focus on economic independence among oppressed castes’ women and paved the way for two generations of successful and important leaders of the…


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Today in #Dalithistory, in honour of Mahatma Phule Jayanthi, we dedicate our post to Jyotirao Phule — an activist, a thinker, and a social revolutionary of the nineteenth century. While he was of Shudra background, his ideas, work and actions have had an invaluable liberatory impact on Dalits.

Born in 1827 before the widespread Adi-movements, Phule was the first to propound caste as subjugation and oppression on indigenous peoples by invaders. He stressed that caste was equivalent to slavery, as vicious and brutal as the enslavement of Africans in the Americas and unique in its deception and religious sanction.

In…


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The legendary Jhalkaribai was a Dalit woman warrior who played a crucial role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British Colonial Army.

As a rural Dalit girl, her tasks mostly included chores around the household. However, at a very early age, she exhibited exceptional strength of will. As a teenager, she was already a village legend. People were amazed when they learnt that when a tiger from the jungle tried to attack young Jhalkari, she stood her ground and killed the tiger with only an axe.

Her acts of bravery landed her career as a low-ranking soldier in…


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Today in #DalitHistory, we honour the contribution of Fatima Sheikh, a Muslim woman who stood steadfast in solidarity with the cause of educating Dalits, Adivasis, Bahujans, and women. It is important to note that this was at a time when many upper-Caste Hindus remained wary. Fatima Sheikh is now widely regarded as the first Muslim woman teacher of the 19th century.

On seeing Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule’s efforts to teach women and individuals from oppressed Castes, the locals actively threatened their families who, fearing violent retaliation, asked them to either stop their activities or leave home.

Even when their family…


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Today in #DalitHistory, we celebrate the incredible story of Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia (PK), a Dalit street artist, who bicycled from India to Sweden to reunite with the love of his life!

Growing up in Orissa, he faced the deep trauma of untouchability. “I was below the dogs and cows,” he says, “I had to sit outside the classroom. The moment I went near the temple, people started throwing stones. Those things, I never forget.”

He grew up to become an artist and drew street portraits in Delhi. In 1975, he first met the young Swedish tourist, Lotta von Schedvin, when…


This post was written for Dalit History Month by Ashwini KP and is part of a larger series of articles that are being collated for an arts, history and culture research project called Bahujanpedia.

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“I am not inferior to you in anything for that matter. My caste is not lower than your caste. My caste has fought with Brahma. Jambavamthudu has fought with Brahma — that is my caste. We don’t have any intention to compromise with you.”

“I can bear any sort of humiliation and pain for my community. …

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