Dalit Liberation and the Shadow Cast(e) by Class

Shreya Ghimire

India’s caste system is often incorrectly viewed as a relic of the past. When confronted with evidence of discrimination, harassment, inequality, and violence caused by casteism, both outside observers and upper-caste Indian citizens brush it off as a “backward” practice, subscribed to only by India’s traditional and superstitious rural people. Indian intellectuals and those in positions of political power are either ignorant or indifferent to the reality of the caste system because of their privileged position within it. This refusal and indifference is difficult for those seeking to both understand and challenge the caste system. However, university campuses and on-the-ground activists are mobilizing in India’s largest cities to challenge and dismantle the system. While social justice movements and student groups bring the issue to the forefront, they are met with resistance from larger right-wing forces, including the Hindutva movement, conservative student groups, university administrations, and Indian law enforcement.

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