Accepted paper:

'Caste, community and cultural identities of Dalits in Karnataka'

Authors:

Nagesha Venkatappa (Bangalore University )
Najundappa Mamatha (University of Mysore)

Paper short abstract:

The present paper tries to capture the modern angst of Dalits as a community who took upon themselves to steer a different path towards modernity in India. It tries to draw the Karnataka experience of Dalit communities to show that the massive movement of Dalits advocated a cultural revolution.

Paper long abstract:

The multifarious effects of the cultural process of 'modernisation' in India could be seen in its diverse communities. The effects of this process need not be assumed as symmetrical. For, the Dalits in India had been at the receiving end of the cultural process of modernisation in India and specifically in Karnataka. Therefore the present paper tries to capture this modern angst of Dalits as a community who took upon themselves to steer a different path towards modernity in India. Caste system in India shapes the social, economic and political life of all communities in India. The classical 'Indian village' was the social universe in which the value frame and social structure of caste was reproduced. The Indian translation of this classical model of evolutionary change, it was expected that the processes of industrial development and urbanization were expected to weaken the traditional frames and give way to secular, class-like, associational groupings based on individual interests and identity. In other words, caste was to disappear and disintegrate on its own, without any direct political or developmental intervention. It is in this context the paper tries to draw the Karnataka experience of Dalit communities to show that their struggle against the practice of untouchability mobilized itself into a massive movement of Dalits that advocated a cultural revolution. It was to the credit of Dalit and progressive writers like Dr. Siddalingaiah, the Padmasree Awardee Devanur Mahadeva and hosts of others who definitely carved out a different path of liberation. This unraveled the dynamics of caste in the modern civil society that claimed secularist democracy in India. Therefore, the Dalit movement contested and resisted the caste ideology that gave way towards reimagining their community identities in a different way.

panel MMM21
Caste, community and class identities of Dalits in a global context