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Edited by Abhay Kumar Dubey
Vani Prakashan, Delhi, 2002, pp. 221; pp. 422, Rs. 125.00; Rs. 1650.00


In their final round of “head-and-tail”—very matter-of-factly—children sing a strange limerick— Shahron mein ik shahar mila Ik shahar mila Kulkutta Kulkutte mein mila aulia Khoob mila albatta   I too must have been a part of the chorus at some point of time but today this ‘albatta’ reminds me of the “albatta” (accidentally achieved ultra-unique) flavour (a) of Indian democracy in the congress of emergent nations and (b) of the dalit question in Indian democracy. On my table lie two well-researched, well-documented, neat collections of articles on the intertwined problems and the twin concerns revolving round the praxis of identity politics in the multicornered, multipronged, multifaceted, multitudinous Indian democracy.   Abhay Kumar Dubey of Naxalwad: Kranti ka Atmasangharsha repute is the insightful editor of both the volumes. For the first time in the history of Indian democracy have the Indian scholars of world-wide acclaim decided to put their heads together to problematize ‘democracy’, ‘dalit ontology’ and other auxiliary concepts. And more important than this is their decision to put across their thoughts in Hindi, the actual language of the multitude.   The decision is historic indeed for it makes the twin volumes readable stuff of the people, for the people, by the people—the people who had long lost their tongue in some Vanity Fair. Shut, they chose to remain in a strange Tower of Babel for a century and a half—a Tower of Babel where, God only knows, who was saying what to whom. Better late than never. At long last, have they emerged out of it to walk tall and utter something clear and sensible in a language that tolls to the “lok” of the destitutes, the “lok” where even those who converse in local dialects derive some sense out of a “vimarsha” in Hindi, and the pleasure that they derive out of the ‘elevation’ of their own Hindi into a discursive language is similar to the pleasure of a distant cousin’s placement as Collector Saheb in the home district.   Like the black sheep in the popular nursery rhyme “ba-ba-black sheep”—the twin texts have three levels of import, three bags full of fluffy wool, one for the master, one for the dame, one for the little boy who lives down the lane. And it is good news indeed that the little boy (the dalit) who lives down the lane is also a part of the target ...

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