The Essential Ambedkar Reader

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In a country that still venerates its holy scriptures and cows over marginalized people, it becomes imperative to redefine the legacy of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the father of the Indian constitution. For Ambedkar’s 126th birth anniversary, here’s a collection of some of the most relevant books on the caste system for the generation of today:

Annihilation of Caste

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One of the most nuanced take downs of the oppressive caste system is Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. A scathing text, the book attacks Hinduism for creating further rifts within the social order. Originally a 1936 lecture that was undelivered because of its ‘unbearable content’, Ambedkar printed 1,500 copies of this scholarly critique of the Shastras and the Vedas himself.

#Caste is not a Rumour

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Rohith Vemula’s suicide, following the tiff with Hyderabad University, was an eye-opening reminder on why caste still matters in modern India. This online diary by the young Ambedkarite revealed caste atrocities meted out towards Dalit students apart from revealing a gamut of opinions on academia, politics, beef and cow vigilantism.

The Persistence of Caste

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The Persistence of Caste is a radical text that argues caste structures have persisted because of globalization’s unequal structures. Using the case of the Khairlanji Massacre, the book provides a deep insight into the violence that is committed against the 170 million strong Dalit community. It’s an attempt to break the bubble that imagines caste as a myth within an urbanized India.

Unclaimed Terrain

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Dalit writer Ajay Navaria’s stories are a peek into the reality of what it is to be a Dalit in modern India. With prose that is visceral as well as revealing, this story collection highlights the travails of Dalits in urban India. With stories about a Brahmin peon to a male Dalit prostitute, Unclaimed Terrain is an attempt to chart the incongruous nature of democracy and casteism.

Father May be An Elephant and Mother Only a Small Basket but…

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Translated from Telugu, Gogu Shyamala’s stories make a clean break from the stories of oppression in an Indian village, instead focusing on the beauty and intricacies of everyday life. Based on the Madiga women of Telangana, one of the most exploited castes even within the Dalit community, the book is an ode to Dalit feminism, highlighting an interesting paradigm shift in Dalit writing.

 

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