Extract from The Past of the Outcaste: Readings in Dalit History

Edited by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya and Yagati Chinna Rao


Past of the Outcaste_CV_02112016.cdrImage courtesy Orient Blackswan


Are you fit for political power even though you do not allow a large class of your own countrymen like the untouchables to use public schools? …public wells? …public streets? …to eat any food they like?

—B.R. Ambedkar, The Annihilation of Caste
We present below an extract from the editors' introduction to The Past of the Outcaste: Readings in Dalit History (Orient Blackswan, 2017).  The book contains statements by leaders of the freedom movement, and essays on the precolonial history of outcastes, on the relationship between Indian nationalist movements and organised resistance to caste oppression, and on Dalits in the polity and society of independent India:
Table of Contents
Introduction by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya and Yagati Chinna Rao  (excerpted below)


Part 1 | Approaches To The Issue

  1. ‘Turn the Search-light Inwards’ by G. K. Gokhale
  2. ‘Humanity, Justice and Self-interest’ by Lala Lajpat Rai
  3. ‘Nation-building and Social Equality’ by G. A. Natesan
  4. ‘Address to Depressed Classes’ Conference’ by R. G. Bhandarkar
  5. ‘Right and Might’ by B. R. Ambedkar
  6. Statement on Untouchability by M. K. Gandhi
  7. The Sociology of the Poor and the Pariah: The Pariah’s Contributions to Brahmari Flesh and Blood by Benoy K. Sarkar
  8. Six Crore Untouchables: Their Place in Freedom’s Battle by B. T. Ranadive


Part 2 | Historiography Of The Pre-Colonial Period

  1. Studies in Early Indian Social History: Trends and Possibilities by Suvira Jaiswal
  2. Stages in the History of Untouchables by Vivekanand Jha
  3. Evolution of Untouchability in Tamil Nadu upto 1600 ad by K. R. Hanumanthan


Part 3 | Continuity And Change In Colonial Society

  1. Labour Castes under the English Company in Madras in the 17th and 18th Centuries by Vikram Harijan
  2. Outcaste Pasts: Rethinking the Boundaries by Priyadarshini Vijaisri
  3. The History of Dalits in Pune by Eleanor Zelliot
  4. Making Claims for Power: A New Agenda in Dalit Politics of Uttar Pradesh, 1946–48 by Ramnarayan S. Rawat


Part 4 | Dalit Caste Movements

  1. The Dalit Liberation Movement in Colonial Period by Bharat Patankar and Gail Omvedt
  2. Protest and Accommodation: Two Caste Movements in Eastern and Northern Bengal, c. 1872–1937 by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
  3. Rise and Growth of Dalit Consciousness in South India: A Case of Andhra and Hyderabad by Yagati Chinna Rao
  4. Dalit Identity and Consciousness in Colonial Andhra, 1917–47 by Adapa Satyanarayana
  5. Dalits and Cultural Identity: Ambedkar’s Prevarications on the Question of Culture by Valerian Rodrigues


Part 5 | Dalits And The National Movement

  1. Depressed Classes’ Uplift in the Gandhian Era: A Critique of Three Approaches by Atul Chandra Pradhan
  2. Untouchability, Scheduled Castes and Nation Building by Bhagwan Das
  3. Autonomy and Organisation: Harijan and Adivasi Protest Movements by Stephen Henningham
  4. Congress, Gandhi and the Politics of Untouchability in Tamil Nadu in the 1930s by Raj Sekhar Basu
  5. Understanding Ambedkar’s Construction of the National Movement by Gopal Guru


Part 6 | Locating Dalits In Post-Independence Indian Polity

  1. Caste Violence in South Tamil Nadu: A Study of the 1995 Conflict by K. A. Manikumar
  2. Social Exclusion of Dalit Women by Shura Darapuri
  3. What if the Untouchables Don’t Believe in Untouchability? by Mark Juergensmeyer


Notes on Contributors



Sabyasachi Bhattacharya is former Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and Chairman, Indian Council for Historical Research.  Yagati Chinna Rao is Professor and Chairperson, Centre for the Study of Discrimination and Exclusion, School of Social Sciences, JNU.