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Dissent and Discourse

Edited by Vimal Thorat  and Suraj Badtya
Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi, Rawat Publications , Jaipur, Rs. 200.00


The book under review brings together the works of 82 poets, of 12 languages (Bhojpuri, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi,Telegu, Assamese, Oriya, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil) in Hindi. This book encompasses the multiple layers and different aspects of dalit literature, showcasing the tensions between discourse and dissent. It documents the poetic sensibilities of ageold shackles, the heartrending cry and agony of marginalized people, and yearning for emancipation, which contains within the seeds of revolt, no matter how small. Hira Doms opening Bhojpuri poem Achchhut ki Shikayat (An Untouchables Complaint) spans the entire gamut covering the accusation and grouse of an outcast transcending to the present agony of dalit literaturein historical perspective. The social matrix of this suffering is universal but its tone and tenor changes with time and space. Education sharpens consciousness. Depicting the sorry plight of dalits, particularly women, young Bhojpuri poet Jaiprakash Sagar questions the very existence of god. His defiance stems from deep suffering. In Kaun kaam ke AllahYeshu (Of what use are AllahJesus). Children of lesser gods, he questions the utility of AllahJesus and Ram in this poem. Forsaken and forlorn he moves from denial to defiance. In Sushila Taunkbhaureys poems, the discourses of dalit women emerge powerfully. Her three Hindi poems Gaali (Abuse), Stree (Woman) and Vidrohini (Rebel) depict the torment of Dalit women brilliantly. She questions, and thereby demolishes, the brutal hegemony of the patriarchal society. If Gaali questions the dichotomy of kutta (dog) and kutiya (bitch), in Stree, talks of the social conditioning of woman, cautioning of possible revolt born out of years of subjugation. Vidrohini showcases how a girl is brought up as handicapmute and onelegged by her parents and how she yearns for the limitless sky, finding a voice and casting away her crutches. Two other Hindi poetesses, Kaveri and Naresh Kumari, depict the ache, affliction, agony, anguish, misery, unease, distress, tribulation and torturethe entire paroxysm and gamut of womens woes. Works of 19 other Hindi poets add to various hues and shades of the agonizing sensibilities of the marginalized people. The poems of Malkhan Singh depict the seething rage of the dalits, who after shattering years of silence have found their dissenting voice. His poetic sensibilities bloom in Suno Brahman (Beware Brahmin). Omprakash Valmiki, Surajpal Chauhan, Jai Prakash Kadam and Suraj Badtiyas poems have given a place of prominence to dalit poets in Hindi literature. The rebellious sensibilities of Marathi poets reflecting ...

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