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Dalits and the Democratic Revolution: Dr. Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in Colonial India

Gail Omvedt (Author)
Synopsis This important book traces the history of the Dalit movement from its beginnings in the nineteenth century to the death of its most famous leader, B.R. Ambedkar, in 1956. Focusing on three states -- Andhra, Maharashtra and Karnataka -- Dr. Omvedt analyses the ideology and organization of the movement and its interaction both with the freedom struggle (particularly with Gandhi and Gandhism) and the 'class' struggles of the workers and peasants (and their dominant ideology -- Marxism). She also provides a historical account of the origin and development of the caste system. The author analyses the Dalit movement as part of the broader anti-caste movement which remains a central democratic movement in Indian society. In this process, the Dalits sought to transform the basic structures of the Indian social system while challenging 'Hindu Nationalism'. Dr. Omvedt bases her analysis on a modified historical materialism which takes into account the realities of caste, class and gender, and also includes a critical analysis of Ambedkar's thought which is the dominating ideology of the Dalit movement. Besides its unique methodological framework, this study has many other significant features since it is based on original research material drawn from three linguistic areas. It also constitutes the only analytical account of the Dalit movement in the colonial period. This invaluable study will be of interest to political scientists, historians, sociologists, activists and all those studying the Indian social system and grassroots efforts to usher in a new social order.
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About the author

Gail Omvedt

Born in Minneapolis, USA, Gail Omvedt is an Indian citizen. She has an MA and PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She has been living in India since 1978, settled in Kasegaon Village in southern Maharashtra, with her husband, Bharat Patankar, and other members of an Indian joint family. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. Among her numerous books focusing on social and economic issues are Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste (2003), Dalits Visions (1995), Dalits and the Democratic Revolution (1994), Reinventing Revolution: New Social movements and the Socialist Tradition in India (1993) and Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The Non-Brahman Movement in Maharashtra (1966). Of late, she has been involved in translations from the Marathi into English in collaboration with Bharat Patankar. If Gandhi was Bapu, the father of a society in which he tried to inject equality while maintaining the Hindu framework, Ambedkar was Baba to his people and the great liberator from that framework.

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Bibliographic information

Title Dalits and the Democratic Revolution: Dr. Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in Colonial India
Author Gail Omvedt
Format Softcover
Date published: 01.01.2004
Edition Reprint
Language: English
isbn 8170363683
length 348p., Tables; 22cm.
Subjects History