Between Exclusion and Exclusivity: Dalits in Contemporary India
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Guru Nanak Dev University
Publication date: 2012-07-09
Polish Sociological Review 2012;178(2):265–280
The article explores the alternative strategies adopted by the lowest caste groups known by the generic term dalits to improve their social status in India. The mapping of various strategies has been done by taking into consideration the four historical stages, namely, medieval period, renaissance, postcolonial modernity and postmodernity. It has been argued that in these stages different strategies were employed by the dalits. It is in the postmodern state that the dalit discourse of equality has shifted its emphasis from inclusion and equality to exclusivity and difference. There are two predominant dalit discourses, each complimenting the other, in contemporary India. The first is the use of democratic means to claim power at the formal level by creating a distinct voter-constituency through the articulation of dalit identity. The second is a strong articulation of the exclusiveness of the dalit experience. The argument is that the dalit experience cannot be comprehended by non-dalits as a result of which only dalit can theorise his experience.