Dalit Liberation and the Shadow Cast(e) by Class

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.[1]

The Hindutva movement is a right-wing fascist movement also known as Hindu nationalism. The movement is centered around the idea that the Indian state and civil society must be reorganized along “natural” lines, which will be restored through “pure” Hindu rule. Muslims, Christians, and Dalits (lowest caste Hindus) are expected to understand they are inferior, marginal, and unwelcome subjects in this vision of a “Hindu nation” India.[2] The governing party in India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a Hindu nationalist party. What is especially concerning in the Canadian context is that the Hindutva movement has found a home among high and middle-caste South Asian immigrants. Financial support and advocacy from abroad through organizations such as the Overseas Friends of BJP, the overseas chapter of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), and multiple affiliated students’ councils are a concerning trend.

To begin understanding these contemporary caste tensions in India, one must acknowledge the history of India’s anti-caste movement and its complicated relationship to the class struggle. The objective of this article is not to provide a rigorous and detailed historical analysis of caste oppression in India.[3] Rather, it explores the ways in which the caste system is being challenged, and argues that leftists must be aware of how traditional class analysis fails to reconcile the relationship between caste and class struggles. In an era of neoliberal capitalism and its alliance with fascist forces, leftists should build their understanding of caste around the existing anti-caste and Dalit political struggles, which engage in solidarity-building and apply a more intersectional understanding of caste and class to their practices. The two dominant understandings of the caste system in India view caste either as fundamentally religious or cultural, or as essentially a byproduct of the class and economic system in India. Both understandings are limiting because they do not consider the intersecting nature of these dimensions. Leftist academics and activists concerned with Dalit emancipation have historically failed to recognize these dynamics between class relations and the caste system.[4] However, historical and emerging Dalit movements offer new ways of framing the struggle. Where leftist movements based on orthodox theories of the caste/class dynamic have failed, the Dalit anti-caste struggle offers real potential and inspiration for the liberation of all oppressed groups in India.

To clarify, my discussion of the caste system stems from its definition as “the regionally variant but still mutually recognizable structures of social, political, and productive dominance, with Hinduism, in equally variant local and regional forms, as its legitimizing ideology.”[5] The caste system is traditionally composed of four varnas: Brahmins, the priestly or professional caste; Kshatriyas, the warrior caste; Vaishyas, the merchant and money lending class; Shudras, the service working and manual labor caste; and “Untouchables,” who exist outside the system altogether and are usually designated whatever society deems the “polluting” occupations.[6] Lower caste Shudras and “ex-Untouchables” remain the most underprivileged and marginalized group in Indian society.[7] Even though the occupations and income levels of middle castes are more diverse, there is still a relationship between caste and occupation at the extreme ends of the scale. The divide between manual and non-manual labor largely persists along caste lines, with Dalits overwhelmingly occupying the former category.[8]

When using the term “Dalit” I am referring to the self-identifying term for what the Dalit Panthers defined as “members of scheduled castes and tribes, neo-Buddhists, the working people, the landless and poor peasants, women and all those who are being exploited politically, economically and in the name of religion.”[9] The term is often understood as a catch-all for those most oppressed by the caste system, or “the ex-Untouchables.”[10] It came into common use by the prominent Dalit politician B.R. Ambedkar and the Dalit Buddhist movement, where it was used to reconceptualize the administrative label of Scheduled or Untouchable castes.[11] The term “Scheduled Castes” defines Untouchable castes as the British understood them, and is thus a vestige of colonial India.[12] Dalit, on the other hand, is a term that reclaims the identity, asserting the agency of those who use it. While Dalits have made progress dismantling social discrimination, they continue to make up a disproportionate share of India’s poor.[13] Even as a larger number have gained access to formal education, they often do not hold white collar professions.[14] Dalits that benefited from the reservation (or quota) system are also rarely in positions of authority, and are often lower-level officials who still suffer caste discrimination regardless of their class position.[15] The collective action of Dalit communities against the caste system has been and continues to be a significant (if repressed) force in modern Indian politics.

Dalit Activism and Solidarity-Building

Dalit movements and political assertion have been rich and multifaceted. On the international stage, Dalit organizations participated at the 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism. They advocated for casteism to be acknowledged as a form of racism, despite strong opposition from the Indian government.[16] Civil society and NGOs internationalized the Dalit struggle through human rights discourse, allying with foreign NGOs, and making space for their issues at the United Nations.[17] Though Dalit liberation ideology has its roots in specific regional histories, the post-Independence rise of Ambedkar and the spread of his ideas fostered a pan-Dalit liberation movement[18] and a strongly preserved literary cultural tradition.[19] The Dalit Panthers movement of the 1970s was foundational in radicalizing the struggle, and the Dalit cultural tradition played a critical role in spreading their message.[20] Although the Dalit Panthers did not draw on Marxist dialectics, they did draw heavily on existing communist practices in India.[21] The Panthers radicalized and strengthened the collective consciousness of Dalits by linking their struggle to the Black Power and Black Panther movement in the United States. Both movements were composed of oppressed people of colour challenging Western imperialism, colonialism, and white supremacy.[22] These elements of solidarity demonstrate the possibilities of resistance through larger, global alliances.

Within India, the spread of neoliberal capitalism has set the stage for resistance and anti-oppressive alliances. The liberalization of the Indian economy during the 1990s has had harmful effects on many Dalit communities. They lost homes to “beautification” projects, job opportunities stagnated or were cut, and good quality education, healthcare, and other public services became even more difficult to access.[23] Capitalist projects and gentrification have also displaced and evicted Adivasis (Indigenous peoples) across India. Rural Dalit and Adivasi families are largely manual and landless labourers whose livelihood depends on land owning communities who harass, discriminate, and exploit them.[24] Dalits have formed alliances with Adivasi communities in land rights movements in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. In Gujarat, they have petitioned for five acres of land for the landless and the implementation of the Forest Rights Act.[25] This alliance has emerged in South Odisha as well, where a Dalit-Adivasi movement fights against land and forest dispossession.[26] These movements expose the state-corporate alliance and its theft of Dalit and Adivasi land, and reconceptualize empowerment by stressing the necessity of economic redistribution.[27] Dalit-Adivasi alliances are responsible for some of the largest environmental movements in India as well, such as the formative Chipko (“hug the trees”) movement in the 1970s, and the Save the Narmada anti-dam movement.[28] This model of solidarity does not hinge on the idea of “pure” identities to determine who has a right to claim land.[29] Instead, it is a strategy of resistance conceptualized by those who refuse to be further marginalized by the lure of neoliberal progress.

Recent history offers other relevant examples of how Dalit activism cuts across various struggles. Both capitalism and the caste system are patriarchal, and caste and gender-based violence are inextricable from one another. Dalit women are at the forefront of challenging this reality. Although they suffer at the intersection of caste, class, and gender, Dalit women’s struggles around poverty, inequality, and caste-based violence have not been addressed by mainstream upper-caste women’s movements in India, such as the Women’s Indian Association and the All-India Women’s Conference.[30] India’s transition from a “developmental” to a “liberalized” state in the 1990s also meant that the Indian state shifted its priorities towards a neoliberal agenda and away from concerns for the social welfare of its citizens.[31] In response, Dalit feminists expanded their scope. Instead of being relegated to the local and state level, Dalit feminists circumvented upper-caste women’s organizations and the state by approaching global institutions. At the turn of the millennium, they spread their voices to global justice movements, World Social Forums, and the UN.[32] Although this approach gave Dalit feminists an international voice, it came at the cost of depoliticizing the issues from their specific, local contexts, and instead became subsumed by the general human rights discourse.[33] During the 1990s, global justice movements such as the World Social Forum and worldwide protests against the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO were growing. Dalit feminists became critical of the UN for its close association with the World Bank and the growth of profit-motivated NGOs in India.[34] The 2004 World Social Forum saw workers, Dalits, Adivasis, women, sex workers, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups convene in Mumbai, uniting around the idea that “another world is possible”[35] Wider networks such as the Hague Convention on the Rights of Dalit Women and the International Dalit Solidarity Network were formed out of this critical moment.[36]

An important contemporary Dalit women’s movement that is bridging the local and the global is the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, or the All India Women’s Rights Forum.[37] This group challenges caste and gender-based violence through public meetings, marches, street theatre, and cultural programs across India.[38] Members of the organization spoke at the Women in the World Summit and the INCITE! Color of Violence conference in Chicago in 2015 to share their collective experiences and stories with other women of colour. This movement has solidarity networks with other global struggles, such as Black Lives Matter, to discuss the parallels of anti-caste and anti-racism struggles and shared strategies of resistance.[39]

The activism and organizations which Dalits have engaged in expose the reality that the Indian state and society have failed to commit to dismantling the caste system, and still refuse to acknowledge its continued existence. This can partly be attributed to the limited scope of mainstream understandings and theories explaining caste oppression, which has had devastating consequences for fostering revolutionary consciousness in India, including within the once-thriving Indian communist movement.

Essentialist Narratives of Caste and Why Caste Persists

Essentialist narratives of caste suggest that the root of the system can be fundamentally traced back to one particular social phenomenon or cause. For example, according to prominent Dalit writer and activist Kancha Ilaiah, the caste system is fundamentally entrenched in Brahmanical Hinduism, and it can only be dismantled when Hinduism is abolished.[40] Just as Marxists contend that fundamental class contradictions in capitalism will lead to its demise, Ilaiah contends that caste contradictions in Brahmanical Hinduism will do the same.[41] Ilaiah further contends that Hinduism and Dalit emancipation cannot co-exist because Brahmanism justifies the political and economic power of the “unproductive” castes (Brahmins, Baniyas, and Kshatiryas) at the expense of the “productive” Shudra castes.[42] This narrative emphasizes that the authority of Hinduism lies fundamentally in its enforcement of the caste system.[43] In this sense, karma, the Hindu tenet that a person is placed in the world based on the pre-determined destiny culminated in their past lives and will suffer or prosper accordingly, also justifies hierarchies and legitimizes the caste system as the manifestation of cosmic necessity.[44] Conversely, many leftist thinkers in India conceptualize the anti-caste struggle as essentially India’s class struggle.[45] These thinkers argue that the origins of the caste system do not lie in Brahmanical Hinduism, but in India’s feudal mode of production during which Dalits (as peasants) were the obvious proletarianized caste.[46] Caste thus functions as “a mechanism through which the continuous struggle between classes to reproduce their respective bundles of capital is organized.”[47] On this account, Hinduism in India is not inherently oppressive. Rather, the problem lies in the material conditions that allow the high-caste interpretation of Hinduism to become legitimized.[48]

Both caste-as-religious and caste-as-class understandings have trouble accounting for caste’s dynamic relationships with other structures of oppression, and the ways in which it adapts to the changing sociopolitical environment in India. A more effective way of understanding the persistence of caste is to avoid the appeal of these essentialist narratives, or “caste-as-something” explanations. As Harsh Mander aptly points out, contemporary Indians are socialized into three separate but interrelated systems which exist to justify inequality: the caste system, the British class system, and modern-day neoliberalism.[49] Dalits are, and have historically been, crushed under the weight of both capitalism and casteism, and as a result, strategies for emancipation must take into consideration how both dynamics are at play. A useful way to parse out the relationship between capitalism and the caste system is to consider the ways in which capitalism has actually strengthened the caste system instead of unleashing the social forces to destroy or displace it.

Caste tensions are not simply a byproduct of India’s feudal or traditional past. Caste permeates modern Indian society, and its presence is strongly felt in modern-day institutions such as universities, courts, and mass media.[50] Brahmanical Hinduism’s legitimizing ideology of caste and modern-day liberalism’s legitimizing ideology of individualism both promote the separation of society along material lines.[51] Consider an observation made by Pavan K. Varma, who writes that “the [Indian] poor have been around for so long that they have become a part of the accepted landscape … the less one noticed, the less one had to be concerned with social obligation; and the less one saw, the less one needed to be distracted by the heady pursuit of one’s own material salvation.”[52] Varma is referring to the effect of Hinduism’s emphasis on hierarchy and personal salvation, but it can also be applied to the individualistic nature of liberal societies. Caste, like other existing forms of hierarchies, was exploited by industrial capitalists to prevent working class solidarity in places where mills and factories employed both Dalits and Shudras.[53] The caste system functions because it is ideologically compatible with neoliberal capitalism. As they strengthen each other they make it even harder for those suffering under both structures to break free.

Caste also persists because it works to fundamentally entrench itself in all of India’s social ills.[54] Even Hindutva’s persecution of Muslims can be traced to Dalits’ strategy of converting to Islam to escape Hindu societal violence, a practice which continues to this day.[55] One prominent example is the mass religious conversion of approximately eight hundred Dalits in the village of Meenakshipuram in 1981.[56] Approximately 75 percent of Indian Muslims are now referred to as “Dalit Muslims” because they converted, or are descendants of converts.[57] Caste further entrenches barriers of inequality in Indian society by cutting through class divisions as well. This is evident with the treatment of Dalit students at universities such as Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru. Dalit student leader Rohith Vemula’s suicide (which sparked many of the Dalit social justice protests and counter-protests that have racked India’s campuses over the past year) is a reminder that it does not matter whether a Dalit student is socially and financially successful; they are still reduced to their place in the caste hierarchy. By assuming that caste affects only one aspect of the social hierarchy, those who rely on an essentialist analysis of this struggle are unable to provide meaningful strategies for ending caste-based oppressions. Regardless of whether caste’s origins are in Hindu orthopraxy or feudal productive relations, these examples show that it extends past both, intersecting with every dimension of social inequality, including along classed, religious, and regional lines.[58]

The Caste and Class Struggle

The thorny history between the anti-caste struggle and India’s communist movement is a product of simplistic and dismissive understandings of the caste system. The resurgence of Dalit resistance in the 1970s and 1980s occurred alongside the emergence of other social justice movements such as women’s, environmental, queer, and farmers’ movements.[59] However, these movements often asserted themselves in opposition to one another.[60] This is reflected in the Indian communist and leftist tradition, with many leftists perceiving caste dynamics as simply a social force that obstructs class consciousness.[61] Indian communists failed to incorporate caste struggle into their movement in the 1920s when it became a serious political force in India’s liberation from the British Empire.[62] Focused primarily on foreign imperialism, Marxists in India did not consider the ways in which caste functions as “internal imperialism”[63] and waved it off as the last vestige of feudalism. Orthodox Marxist analysis assumes that as capitalism spreads, all emancipatory struggles will eventually transform into a unified class struggle.[64] The Naxalite[65] response to the Karamchedu massacre of Dalits in 1985 is an example of this assumption at work. After the horrific massacre, various Marxist-Leninist groups described the events as a landlord attack against workers, without mentioning the underlying caste tensions that played a significant, if not primary, role.[66] This alienated Dalits from leftists and, for many, solidified their resolve to politically organize independently from the communist groups.[67] The Naxalites refused to recognize the Dalit movement as an independent struggle and emphasized a hierarchy of goals, with class struggle at the top.[68] Communists who propagated this idea failed to account for the role of caste within India’s specific capitalist history.

Indian capitalism and feudalism are historically distinct from their European counterparts. They cannot be fully understood within Eurocentric Marxist orthodoxy, especially because British imperialism forced a distinct path of capitalist development in India.[69] Colonial capitalism was based on the needs of the imperial metropolis rather than the needs of the Indian economy. For this reason, economic growth was limited to increased factory production while agriculture largely remained feudal and in the hands of the wealthy upper-caste landowners.[70] The selective rise of industrial capitalism was also a colonial strategy to de-industrialize India’s artisanal industry. Agriculture that could have been used to support the rise of this industry and the classes it would create (the classic bourgeoisie and proletariat) were exported to the imperial metropolis instead.[71] For this reason, the land-owning upper-caste classes remained powerful actors in India post-Independence, blocking any real agrarian transformation that could have altered those relations of production.[72] In contrast to European peasants, Indian peasants were subject not only to feudal relations of production, but also the caste system which worked as an extra layer of immobility even as the economic mode of production shifted. Even though the communist movement in India claimed to represent all downtrodden groups and promised change through revolution, for many Dalits in India, communism was just another upper-caste strategy to suppress their potential social and economic mobility.[73]

A major shortcoming of the Left in general has been the dismissal of multiple sources of violence and exploitation, especially in settler-colonial societies founded on genocide and racism, such as Canada and the United States. In the US, the historical disconnect between the socialist movement and Black liberationists (usually socialists themselves) reflects the caste-class tension in many ways. White American socialist thinking often attempts to dismiss race as a product of capitalism that will disappear when the economic equality inherent in their socialist vision materializes. However, the material gains made by the working class during the postwar “golden age” of American capitalism did not trickle down to Black Americans, and the resulting lower levels of economic inequality did not correspond to lower levels of racial inequality in America.[74] As Jennifer Roesch notes, racism and capitalism cannot be separated from each other in the US because racism is not only a product of economic inequality, it is the way in which that inequality was first produced and then maintained. For this reason, Black revolutionary activists such as James Boggs expressed deep distrust of the Marxist class-centered view. For Boggs, the class struggle included condemning the capitalist exploitation of all workers and the exploitation of Black workers by white workers.[75] The left’s lack of recognition of the anti-racist and anti-caste struggle points to serious weaknesses in dominant socialist thinking and practice in racialized and colonialized settings. In India, the Dalit anti-caste struggle fights both caste and class-based oppressions in its practices by engaging in sustained solidarity building and highlighting the connections between these oppressive structures. This strategy was present in struggles of the past (as discussed above), and it is also being employed to great effect in the contemporary Una protests.

The Una Moment

The Una protests were sparked by the horrific public flogging of a Dalit family by the Hindutva Gau Rakshaks (a fascist movement under the cloak of a “Cow Protection Organization”), which was met with public outcry and demonstrations in Gujarat and the spread of anti-racism rallies across the country during the summer of 2016.[76] The Una protests have centered their demands on land rights and economic redistribution. The movement has exposed the lie that “modernization” has led to the disappearance of casteism in Gujarat, a state which has been flaunted by politicians and business leaders as the exemplar of development and progress in India.[77] Una went beyond the immediate atrocity, exposing capitalist development in Gujarat for what it is: a “corporate loot at the expense of the masses,”[78] where casteist forces receive tacit support from the state to implement their Hindutva agenda. Fighting against landlessness, unemployment, and poverty, solidarity movements have emerged in other parts of the country such as Karnataka, where the “Chalo Udupi” rally was organized and led by Dalit women. “Chalo Udupi” brought together Dalit and leftist activists as they marched from Bengaluru to Udupi (a five-day march), held meetings and programs to challenge the onslaught of fascist Hindutva forces in their cities and villages, and demanded land for the landless.[79]

The Una movement is both revolutionary and significant because of its steadfast focus on material deprivation and its use of strike tactics against doing “dirty work” for caste Hindus. These protests challenge both economic inequality and social discrimination, and “Dalits are not fighting alone this time. The Kashmiris and the Adivasis are [also] fighting with them.”[80] The incidents of Hindutva violence (such as floggings and lynchings) enacted on Dalits and Muslims are connected, and both communities are fighting to expose this reality. Each atrocity is met with sustained outrage by both Dalits and Muslims.[81] This is seen in the strong number of Muslim organizations that came out to support Dalit demonstrations and the solidarity protests that followed Una.[82] The Una protests demonstrate the potential for a sustained anti-fascist and anti-capitalist movement that builds on the anti-caste struggle. It, in practice, rejects essentialist ideas of caste and its demands recognize the intractable relationship between India’s caste and capitalist system in a way that class analysis and orthodox Marxists in India have failed to. It is now imperative that theories of caste and class reflect the practices of those who are on the ground challenging these systems.


To understand contemporary caste tensions in India, one must acknowledge the history of India’s anti-caste movement and its complicated relationship to class struggle. The rising levels of caste consciousness and uprising among Dalits is inspiring. So is the remarkable dedication and bravery of Dalit student leaders and protesters for vocalizing their experiences and demanding social change to often hostile audiences. Dalit outcry is largely a response to the failure of leftists and government officials to commit to dismantling the caste system, but the limited scope of mainstream understandings of caste oppression has had devastating consequences for fostering revolutionary consciousness in India. Given the historical divergence between anti-caste and working-class movements, there is a clear necessity for a more intersectional understanding of caste in modern-day India. The history of Dalit resistance, its alliance with other struggles to engage in sustained solidarity-building, and the contemporary Una movement encompass this understanding. While Una and other grassroots movements have shown that material redistribution and economic equality play a central role in Dalit conceptions of social justice, the failure of India’s Left to rally around the shared goal of economic justice reflects the pervasiveness casteism holds in Indian society. In an era of neoliberal capitalism and its alliance with global and state fascism, the Dalit anti-caste struggle offers real potential for the liberation of all oppressed groups in India. The Left has a responsibility to organize around this reality and consider seriously the priority of dismantling entrenched systems of oppression, exploitation, and state-sanctioned violence. We must be ready to work and show solidarity with all dimensions of struggle for the workers of India to truly unite.


1 Burhan Wazir, “Why India’s student protests keep growing,” Aljazeera, February 19, 2016,
2 Chetan Bhatt and Parita Mukta, “Hindutva in the West: mapping the antinomies of diaspora nationalism, Ethnic and Racial Studies 23, no. 3 (2000): 408.
3 Other prominent scholars and writers such Susan Bayly, Gail Omvedt, Suvira Jaiswal, and Anand Teltumbde have provided such analyses in their works. Books by these authors provide a robust starting point for understanding the history of the caste system.
4 Here I am referring to academics and activists who have been inspired by or come out of communist movements and parties across India (which continue to be predominantly composed of upper-caste Indians). For example, one could follow specific communist movements and their lack of acknowledging caste oppression, such as in Andhra Pradesh. One could also look to the “caste-blindness” of student chapters and affiliates of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), recently called out by Dalit student leaders such as Rohith Vemula. The CPI (Marxist) itself has not had a single Dalit politburo member in over 50 years.
5 Radhika Desai, “The Cast(e) of Anti-Secularism,” in Will Secular India Survive?, ed. Mushirul Hasan (New Delhi: Imprint One, 2004), 182.
6 Divya Vaid, “The Caste-Class Association in India,” Asian Survey 52, no. 2 (2012): 400.
7 Desai, “The Cast(e) of Anti-Secularism,” 191.
8 Vaid, The Caste-Class Association, 398.
9 Gail Omvedt, Understanding Caste: From Buddha to Ambedkar and Beyond (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2011), 74.
10 Ibid, xi.
11 Kancha Ilaiah, Why I am Not a Hindu (Calcutta: Samya, 1996), viii.
12 Sambaiah Gundimeda, Dalit Politics in Contemporary India (New York: Routledge, 2016), 6.
13 Oliver Mendelsohn and Marika Vicziany, The Untouchables: Subordination, poverty, and the state in modern India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 265.
14 Ibid, 268.
15 Anand Teltumbde, Anti-Imperialism and Annihilation of Castes (Dombivali: Ramai Prakashan, 2005), 15.
16 S. M. Michael, “Dalit Vision of a Just Society in India,” in Dalits in Modern India: Vision and Values, ed. S.M. Michael (New Delhi: SAGE India, 2007), 126.
17 Bob Clifford, “Dalit Rights are Human Rights: Caste Discrimination, International Activism, and the Construction of a New Human Rights Issue,” Human Rights Quarterly 29, no. 1 (2007): 174.
18 Sudha Pai, Dalit Assertion (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013), 2.
19 Gopal Guru & Anuradha Chakravarty, “Who are the Country’s Poor? Social Movement Politics and Dalit Poverty,” in Social Movements in India: Poverty, Power, and Politics, eds. Raka Ray & Mary Fainsod Katzenstein (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005), 148.
20 Nico Slate, “The Dalit Panthers: Race, Caste, and Black Power in India,” in Black Power Beyond Borders: The Global Dimensions of the Black Power Movement, ed. Nico Slate (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 127.
21 Hugo Gorringe, “Becoming a Dalit Panther: Caste-based Activism in South India,” in Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia, ed. David N. Gellner (New Delhi: SAGE India, 2009), 148.
22 Slate, “The Dalit Panthers,” 128.
23 Mary C. Grey, A Cry for Dignity: Religion, Violence and the Struggle of Dalit Women in India (London: Equinox Publishing, 2010), 11.
24 SR Darapuri, “Dalits-Adivasis and the Land Rights,” Countercurrents, October 31, 2016,
25 Ibid.
26 Kumar Prasant and Dip Kapoor, “Learning and Knowledge Production in Dalit Social Movements in Rural India,” in Learning from the Ground Up: Global Perspectives on Social Movements and Knowledge Production, eds. Aziz Choudry & Dip Kapoor (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 195.
27 J. Devika, “Contemporary Dalit Assertions in Kerala: Governmental Categories vs Identity Politics?” History and Sociology of South Asia 7, no. 1 (2012): 4.
28 Vinod Raina, “Political Diversity, Common Purpose: Social Movements in India,” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 5, no. 2 (2004): 10.
29 Prasant and Kapoor, “Learning and Knowledge Production in Dalit Social Movements in Rural India,” 195.
30 Grey, A Cry for Dignity, 14.
31 Mary E. John, “Feminism, Poverty, and the Emergent Social Order,” in Social Movements in India: Poverty, Power, and Politics, eds. Raka Ray & Mary Fainsod Katzenstein (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005), 123.
32 Eva-Maria Hardtmann, “Transnational Dalit Feminists In Between the Indian State, The UN, and The Global Justice Movement,” in Social Movements and the State in India: Deepening Democracy?, eds. K.B. Nielsen & A.G. Nilsen (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 75.
33 Ibid, 82.
34 Ibid, 76.
35 Grey, A Cry for Dignity, 97.
36 Ibid., 97.
37 Rucha Chitnis, “Meet the Indian women trying to take down ‘caste apartheid,’” Yes! Magazine, October 26, 2015,
38 Ibid.
39 Ibid.
40 Iliah, Why I am Not a Hindu, viii.
41 Ibid., xxiv.
42 Ibid., xxiv.
43 Desai, “The Cast(e) of Anti-Secularism,” 182.
44 Pavan K. Varma, The Great Indian Middle Class (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1998), xxvii.
45 Gail Omvedt, Dalits and the Democratic Revolution: Dr. Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in Colonial India (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1994), 31.
46 Omvedt, Dalits and the Democratic Revolution, 28.
47 Leela Fernandes and Patrick Heller, “Hegemonic Aspirations: New Middle Class Politics and India’s Democracy in Comparative Perspective,” Critical Asian Studies 38, no. 4 (2006): 512.
48 Omvedt, Understanding Caste, 102.
49 Harsh Mander, Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice, and Indifference in New India (New Delhi: Speaking Tiger, 2015), xxvii.
50 Susan Bayly, Caste, Society and Politics in India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 355.
51 Ajay Gudavarthy, “Brahmanism, Liberalism and the Postcolonial Theory,” Economic and Political Weekly 51, no. 24 (2016): 17.
52 Varma, The Great Indian Middle Class, 137.
53 Gopal Guru, “Shifting Categories in the Discourse on Caste and Class,” Economic & Political Weekly 51, no. 47 (2016): 21.
54 Anand Teltumbde, The Persistence of Caste: the Khairlanji Murders & India’s Hidden Apartheid (London: Zed Books, 2010), 167.
55 Teltumbde, The Persistence of Caste, 167.
56 Ilangovan Rajasekaran, “MEENAKSHIPURAM CONVERSION: The shocker,” Frontline, January 9, 2015,
57 Soutik Biswas, “Why are so many Indian Muslims seen as untouchable?” BBC News, May 10, 2016,
58 Teltumbde, Anti-Imperialism and Annihilation of Castes, 31.
59 Gail Omvedt, “Farmer’s Movements and the Debate on Poverty and Economic Reforms in India,” in Social Movements in India: Poverty, Power, and Politics, eds. Raka Ray & Mary Fainsod Katzenstein (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005) 183.
60 Omvedt, Understanding Caste, 88.
61 Suvira Jaiswal, Caste: Origin, Function and Dimensions of Change (New Delhi: Manohar, 1998), 21.
62 Teltumbde, Anti-Imperialism and Annihilation of Castes, 23.
63 Ibid., 6.
64 Ibid., 23.
65 A ‘Naxalite’ or ‘Naxal’ is a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The name refers to the village of Naxalbari which is where the movement began.
66 Ajay Gudavarthy, “Dalit and Naxalite Movements in AP: Solidarity or Hegemony?” Economic and Political Weekly 40, no. 51 (2005): 5411.
67 Ibid.
68 Ibid., 5412.
69 Surajit Mazumdar, “Indian Capitalism: A Case that Doesn’t Fit?” Institute for Studies in Industrial Development, working paper 2010/10 (November 2010): 6.
70 Ibid., 12.
71 Ibid., 13.
72 Ibid., 12.
73 Ajay Gudavarthy, “A rightward shift in Dalit politics,” The Hindu, September 13, 2014,
74 Jennifer Roesch, “Taking Racism Seriously,” Jacobin, August 8, 2015,
75 Sidney M. Willhelm, “Can Marxism Explain America’s Racism?” Social Problems 28, no. 2 (1980): 100.
76 Anand Teltumbde, “Fire of Una Ignites Saffron Udupi,” Economic & Political Weekly 51, no. 44 & 45 (2016): 10.
77 Ibid., 10.
78 “The Una Dalit Struggle and What it Holds for the Future,” People’s Democracy 40, no. 52 (2016).
79 Teltumbde, Fire of Una Ignites Saffron Udupi, 11.
80 Payal, “The Revolution We Are Waiting For,” Countercurrents, August 4, 2016,
81 Seema Mustafa, “The Cow Brings Muslims and Dalits Together,” The Citizen, October 11, 2016,
82 “Gujarat: Dalits in Una to intensify stir if demands not met,” The Indian Express, August 15, 2016,