CHENNAI : “There have been 479 crimes against Dalits reported in the past 10 years in the country, but why have we always called it an ‘’honour killing’’, and not associated it with the ‘idea of terrorism or genocide?’,” asked Suraj Yengde, India’s first Dalit PhD scholar from an African University. Speaking about caste and discrimination at a panel discussion during the launch of his book ‘Caste Matters’ published by Penguin Publications and MIDS, Yengde here on Sunday said: ‘’Dalit is not a category, but a lived reality and the Constitution needs to take enough efforts so that we (Dalits) walk proudly on the road.’’
‘’In the same way as the patriarchal society has made women vulnerable, the Dalits have been made vulnerable in the casteist society,’’ said the author, adding that the non-Brahmins discriminated the Dalits under the Brahmanical impression.
Chairman of Asian College of Journalism Shashi Kumar said there was a cosmological severity affecting Dalithood today. ‘’Citing the Constitution at the drop of a hat will not help the Dalit cause,’’ he said. Research Scholar Srinivasan Ramanujam said, “There should be a new language to discuss the discrimination of Dalits and talk about the Dalit literature,’’ he said, adding that honour killing involving two Dalit communities went unreported as there was no language to highlight the distinctness.
Pointing out when a Brahmin revolted against another Brahmin, the revolter ceased to be a Brahmin, Ramanujam said the boundaries of Brahminism were safeguarded by untouchability itself. Loyola College professor Semmalar Jebaraj questioned why caste was not spoken about in a global area where race and religion were spoken about. ‘’ The book initiates a public conversation which most of us shy away from,’’ she said.
Other panellists present included Dean of Asian College of Journalism Nalini Rajan and Madras Institute of Development Studies Research scholar C Lakshmanan. The book ‘Caste Matters’ can be purchased at Penguin Publications online at `599.
Launch of ‘Caste Matters’
A panel discussion on caste and bias was conducted on the sidelines of the launch of ‘Caste Matters,’ a book written by Suraj Yengde, India’s first Dalit PhD scholar from an African University