" Democracy was
also a great narrative and not merely a monolithic kind of democratic participation."
 
 
 
 

Report On Third Village conference Duari Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh January 27 to 28, 2006

The third village conference in the series of six was organized by Dalit Resource Centre (hereafter referred to as DRC), GB Pant Social Science Institute at village Duari in Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh for a period of two days i.e. 27th-28th January, 2007. This conference forms part of the Project ‘Dalit Popular Booklets, Democratic Participation and Dalit Public Sphere: A Project for Research, Documentation and Advocacy’ funded by the Ford Foundation, New Delhi.

Voice against Humiliation- The Theme of the Conference

The theme of third village conference was Voice against Humiliation. The word ‘Dalit’ which literally means ‘most downtrodden’ or ‘broken people’ itself expresses humiliation. Dalits have existed socially and economically ostracized for centuries, never allowed to cross culturally defined boundaries, by Brahminical forces. They were declared socio-culturally wretched. Consequently, they continue to remain insulted and humiliated with no self-respect or dignity. If someone ever dared to step over the caste-line was punished with scurrility. Besides being subjected to rampant libidinal satisfaction of upper castes, they were subjected to other multiple injurious treatments, both physically and mentally. Spaceless in society and deprived of even religious solace, their humiliation continued to suffocate them perpetually. Thus humiliation for them was a constant category of existence. The substantial segment of Dalit population developed feeling of timidity and subservience. Dalits inability to contest discrimination forced them to remain tied to an inescapable destiny and silence; hence, nauseous existence for ever.

A large number of young Dalit, today are dropouts of schools. They left schools and escape such repeated humiliation. Battling on several fronts the conscientious writers are now trying to speak against such stinging humiliation. They are trying to help people in emerging out of this situation and acquire self-respect. They are constructing their own history distinct from meta-narratives of mainstream of Hinduism. Through poems, novels and other forms of literature, they are trying to communicate their fellow brothers about their pain and humiliation. Though Dalit emancipation remains unfinished project but theoretical underpinnings for carving out path of liberations are being discovered and invented. This conference focused on such questions as: How to equalize the status of unequal subjects while maintaining their cultural and historical distinctiveness? What are the circumstances that provoked physical torture, social injustice and psychological dishonour of Dalits? What are the reactions of Dalit population to such humiliation caused to them? Which type of role the booklets and their writers will play in sensitizing both the Dalits and non-Dalits? How will these shape the Dalit vision? How do these Dalit writers define dignity of person and community through their poems, short-stories, etc? How can they create a conductive social environment for establishing self-respect and dignity of the downtrodden? What are the obstacles in the ways to overcome humiliations and structuring of Dalit identity?

Objectives of the Conference
The objective of organizing the third village conference was to provide a platform for creation of an active network among Dalit popular writers, intellectuals and Dalit journalists at the local level and to facilitate the arousal of a sense of dignity among the deprived. This conference aimed at disseminating and liberating emanicipatory ideas among Dalits of the regions including the illiterates who are unable to read the booklets on Dalits. This process would not only help in extending the Dalit public sphere but also bring about concomitant increase in the participation of marginalized community in the democratic processes of the country. Further, it would provide a singular platform for plurality of Hindi literary domain of the country to participate in the process of uplifting Dalits, irrespective of their perspectives and approaches. Simultaneously, it would also help in sensitizing the non-Dalit residents- the predators, and the predated.

For this, Dalit community of the region would acknowledge the popular Dalit writer of that region who had experienced the humiliation faced by Dalits and whose booklets were addressed to their pain and anguish. This was the purpose of the conference –Apna Lekhak Apna Gaon. Participants included Dalit writers of the region, intellectuals, both Dalits and non-Dalits belonging to adjoining areas, publishers of Dalit booklets non-Dalit writers and representatives of democratic institutions of the region. All participants including non-Dalit members expressed their views and participated actively in the conference.

Identification of Village
The village identified for the third village conference has produced a renowned Dalit writer and community leader, named K. Nath. In his writings, he has brilliantly exposed various dimensions of Dalit humiliation and also their apathy towards various ameliorative structures, helpless as they feel. Duari, his birthplace, where he saw the humiliation of Dalits from close, impelled him in forming and articulating the ideas of emancipation of downtrodden. As the theme of third village conference is ‘Voice against Humiliation’ and K. Nath hails from this village, where people be read/ heard narrations of humiliation and sufferings in his writings, this place was found to be suitable for selection. His writings depict various forms of humiliation of Dalits of this village and their helplessness in a caste divided society.

Village Profile
The village Duari, the native place of the author lies at a distance of 30 Kms. from Kanpur, situated at Jhansi-Bombay highway in the south-west direction. Its district headquarter is Kanpur Dehat. The village is largely underdeveloped and densely populated. Majority of population here are Brahmins and Kshatriyas who dominate the village. There are few families of backward castes also. But Dalits, although divided in various occupational groups, also constitute a sizeable section of the population .Level of literacy among them is deplorable. There is one primary school and one junior high school in this village. Caste discrimination is a common practice in the village. In absence of any participatory sense within the members of this community, insult and humiliation is faced by its members in lonely manners. No solace from even the members of the community. Consequently, sociological humiliation is further abetted with loneliness.

Brief Introduction of the Writer
K. Nath was born on 5th October 1945, in village Duari [Kanpur Dehat]. His father Sri Kallu originally belonged to village Sapai, Kanpur and was a steward of a landlord. For looking after landlord’s works, he came to Duari and settled here with his family. K. Nath completed his primary education from this village and passed his junior high school from Sarvankhera and intermediate from Kanpur. While studying he got a job in Collectorate office Kanpur but he continued his studies completing his graduation while in job. Financial and social constraints failed to deter him from the mission of awakening humiliated masses. The deprivation and dejection in his life drew him to undertake literary profession, and his first novel ‘Pipasa’ focussed on exploitation of Dalits. This book is rooted in his own observations. His other major literary contributions include ‘Aanchal aur Maati ke Dher’, ‘Amrai’, ‘Aamrapaali’, Aarya-anaarya Vansh Katha, ‘Dalit Jation Par Devi ka Prakop’ , Sutradhaar’ , and ‘Jaati-apraadh’. ‘Uddharika’ a monthly journal, was published under his supervision. He also edited and published ‘Maajhi Janata’ a weekly of Maharashtra, in Hindi. He founded an organization ‘Dalit Mukti Sangharsh’ and through this he tried to mobilize various sections of his community for forming a unified community. Despite his growing age he continues to crusade for emancipation of Dalit from bondage of various kinds.

The First Day of the Conference, 27th January 2007.
Aapbiti / Jagbiti Chaupal (One’s suffering is whole world’s suffering)
The first day of the two-day conference began with the recitation of prayer (Bouddha vandana) by Dalit writer, Shri Guru Prasad Madan of Allahabad, attende by all participants.

Session- I
Dr. Devendra Choubey from JNU, New Delhi presided over the first session of the day and Padmashree Giriraj Kishore was the chief guest on this occasion. The sub theme for discussion in this session was “Expression of the Pain of Humiliation”.Other renowned intellectuals present on the occasion were Dr. Ramchandra, JNU, Delhi; Ms. Anita Bharti, New Delhi; Mohandas Nemishray, Dalit Popular writer, Delhi; M.L Azad Social Worker; Dev Kumar, Ashok Dhanwik, Laxman Prasad Mishra, Harikrisha Santoshi (Deputy Labour Commissioner), Sudama Prasad Ahirwar, Ashok Kumar (Deputy Transport Commissioner), Ex-Parliamentarian Rajaram Pal, M.P. Gautam, Rani Nath and Rajendra Singh Bhadouria from Kanpur.

The introductory speech delivered by Dr. Badri Narayan informed the audience of the purpose behind organizing such a conference. Village conferences, he said, would facilitate face to face interaction between the mainstream writers and the grass root Dalit writers. He further said that village Duari in Kanpur Dehat was chosen for organizing DRC’s third village conference because this was the place where Shri K. Nath had spent his childhood and it was this place where Dalit community’s humiliating past that had inspired him for his exemplary work on Dalits. His booklets focusing on the despair and humiliation of Dalits at the hands of the upper castes highlights the role and significance of their struggle for obtaining self respect and dignity. His couple of booklets is based largely on his village Duari where he writes about his humiliating childhood and the injustices meted out to people of his community; thus taking them into their painful past. Therefore, it was necessary to bring him closer to people, to whom his booklets are addressed for arousing in them a sense of dignity and self respect. Voice against humiliation, was thus the central theme of this conference.

Shri K. Nath narrated briefly his humiliating life journey for being born in a low caste Dalit community. He questioned as how the pots made by a potter remained touchable so far it was with him but become polluted the very moment it was sold to a Dalit. He shared the stories of his childhood in the village Duari and the sad murder of his brother. Post Independence era was equally full of difficulties for him and his family members as ugly incidents continued in the village. Holi, the festival of colours, always witnessed bloodbath and the upper caste played Holi with blood of the lower castes in the village. Savarna (Upper Caste) community committed various crimes on his family, which led to the killing of his younger brother. Fear of such acts in future forced them to migrate. He therefore, felt elated for being with his old friends and relatives after a gap of almost 40 years. It was an emotional moment for him and his family. He thanked the institute for bringing him not only to the place which was a part of his childhood memory and also providing a platform of union with his old friends and relatives. He revealed several instances of life where he had been humiliated on account of his low caste identity. He got his first job on 11th February 1966 as a Clerk in Kanpur’s District Collector’s Office. After a month he was transferred to a village named Derapur. At this place he faced humiliation at a tea shop when the shopkeeper after inquiring him of his caste washed the place where he sat and declined to offer him tea thereafter. This processes of neglect/boycott continued and so the mental agony at the hands of various landlords, who refused any space to him. He spent almost a month, outside a Muslim’s shop thereafter he could get some space to stay and that too in a dilapidated structure. Here he wrote his first novel ‘Pipasa’. However, he could not serve for long in this job as his savarna colleagues conspired against him and got him terminated from the job. He however, regained his job back due to reservation for vacant seats. Panwari incident of Agra, Uttar Pradesh in 1990 filled in him immense pain. He embraced to Buddhism along with 50,000 people in a function organized by him after selling his 2.5 acres of land. But in his job his low caste again led to his suspension after being falsely implicated in a false case on 12th August 2004. Against this, he started various protest processions. He succeeded in retaining his job on 2nd May 2005. The malignancy intentions of some denied him any posting for a long time. But finally he got posted at Bellaur. But here too he encountered similar destiny. He was convicted of embezzlement of Rs.2.5 Lakh, a crime in fact committed by the Office Tehsildaar and the Treasurer. This happened when barely a few months were left for his retirement. To protect his self-respect and retirement benefits he had to pay this large amount by mortgaging his house. This incident shattered him. But as the job was his only source of subsistence for him and his family members, he could not dare to leave it. Having faced humiliation at all stages of his life, he was inspired to pen down these insults of life. In 1976 he wrote a play under the rubric ‘Aanchal’ which was performed on 6th December 1976 in Merchant Chamber hall and inaugurated by the then District Collector S.N.Ansari. ‘Amrai’ was his second play. He wrote a novel ‘Maati ka Dher’. He published a monthly journal by the name ’Udhaarika’ and other popular booklets e.g. Tirashkar (Autobiography), Arya Anarya Vansh Katha, Mere Gaon Ka Kuan, Dalit Jaatiyon Par Deviyon Ka Prakop, Aamrapali and Jati Apradh. Writings awaiting publication include Karwaan, Jago, Bharat Leela, Azzadi Zindabad, Sindoor, Kranti ki Lakerein, Dharma Mimansa, and Playan, etc. He published articles in various Dalit journals and newletters like Majhi Janta and also in ‘Hansa’ and ‘Apeksha’, both of which are reputed Hindi journals. Two Hindi newspapers e.g ‘Dainik Jagran’ and ‘Aaj’ published reviews of his Autobiography ‘Tiraskar’ which has also been translated in Urdu. American Biographical Institute, USA honoured him as the “Man of the Year 2003-04”. His name appears in the world famous book ‘Who’s Who of Dalit Writers in India’. He has received many other rewards and certificates from different social and intellectual organizations in India.

Literature, he believes is the most potent weapon for educating future generation. It would be a guideline for the children of future. It is literature that brings about the social transformation. Such a noble hope keeps him active and enthuses him to publish his books even if he has to take loans against the wishes of his family members. An optimist, he foresees Dalits possessed of their rights and lands in future. Their mothers and sisters would not be sexually assaulted and they would not be subjected to various modes of torture. They, he believes, shall be given respect and honour like everyone else in the society. This dream of future inspires him to concentrate on literary productions.

Shri K. Nath invited Padmashree Giriraj Kishore to express his opinions with the audience on the theme, ‘voice against humiliation’.

Padamshree Giriraj Kishore in his speech dwelt on literature and said that in it everybody talks about their individual experiences but its status rises only when one learns to experience and expresses the pain of other fellow beings. Village people, he said, were innocent and so they openly shared their experiences- experience of their hardships, pain and humiliation. This forms soul of literature in the writings of litterateurs who capture and narrate their hardships. He said that we needed to formulate a new definition of life; let literature be literature and let us not divide it. Writings of K. Nath is a reflection of his hardships and its about the painful experience of a section of a society deprived of its basic needs in a Brahmin dominated society. We should now work towards creating a more humane environment and inaugurate a sense of brotherhood among all sections of society irrespective of caste and class. A section of Dalits which accuse Premchand for writing anti-Dalit stories must be critically evaluated. What Premchand wrote cannot be overlooked; he wrote the truth of his time. But the time has come to analyze our writing at present He also mentioned that it was a matter of great concern that commonality was lacking among Dalits. So their writings lack cohesion. It’s their togetherness that gives them an identity. If divided they will fragment into unidentified atoms. Even today if Brahmanvaadi system continues to dominate the society irrespective of explaining our past sufferings nothing substantial will come out. Instead of engaging ourselves in defining pain and humiliation we should concentrate on seeing that our pain should not become others pain. The need of the hour is to work towards the overall development of the society and also to feel the pain of hunger, and develop a feeling and a sense of belonging towards each other so that the words like humiliation get abandoned forever.

Dr. Devendra Choubey, advised Dalit to possess, create and procure such literature that brings respect and dignity to them. Such literature is to arm them with much required strength and courage to raise voice against injustices and atrocities committed on them. He further added that the needs and requirements of the Dalit community have been neglected at every place be it social, political or economic. Since centuries their rights continue to remain snatched away from them and nobody was sensitive to understand their basic needs. Dr. Choubey mentioned that they still found themselves outside the doorsteps of economic well being and education. He shared a small story of how illiterate dalits were being befooled by Zamindars and moneylenders. The story goes that once a dalit person took some money from the zamindar and when the Dalit went to return the money he was duped by manipulative calculation i.e. 25 X 4 = 150. When his son got back from school he explained his father that it was not 150 but 100 but his father scolded him for his negligence in his educational learning. He went to school the other day and when his teacher asked him the same question he answered what his father had told him. The teacher became furious at the wrong answer. The child grew and went to a town for a job and when he returned back to his village he clarified the calculation to his father. It was now that his father believed that his son was grown up and educated and therefore must be right, understanding how people like him were being exploited by big zamindars and moneylenders. This story is symbolic and carries a deeper message that in spite of facing multifaceted humiliation, the Dalit communities have been successful in launching a movement for their awareness and emancipation from ignorance. He said that Dr. Ambedkar attempted arduously to bring social transformation but Dalit masses leading a distressed life were helpless in reciprocating to his endeavour to fight for self respect and dignity. It’s an irony that even today they continue to be humiliated in educational institutions due to their low caste identity. He bemoaned that the varna system had always been silent on the question of education and rights of women and Dalit Communities who have continuously been treated as servants. However, the Dalit communities have become conscious of their writings and are aspirants of identity and self respect in the literary world and in human society.

Mohandas Nemisharay, popular Dalit writer from New Delhi sharing his thoughts said that there was absolutely no question of conflict over the issue of Dalit or non-Dalit writings. There’s an equal respect for all the writers. But the fact cannot be denied that the Dalit communities are still underdeveloped and so there’s an urgent need to uplift them. They must be provided with sufficient opportunities to express their anxieties. Mainstream literary world refused them this space, which inspired them to search for new avenues giving rise to numerous Dalit writers, who felt that writing their own experiences was the best medium of letting people know about their sufferings, which would help them in creating a space for themselves. However, it’s a matter of appreciation that even non-Dalits are writing about Dalits. He expressed his desire that the Pant Institute should act in the direction of distributing small booklets among poor Dalit Children centered on the life stories of great men, who have worked in the direction of Dalit emancipation from which they can draw inspiration for themselves.

Session- II
The second session of the day was presided over by social activist, Anita Bharti and Ashok Kumar, a social worker from Kanpur was the main speaker. Others included Rani Nath, Dr. D. N. Prasad and Dr. Subhash Ram. The subject under discussion was “Our Respect, Our literature, Our expressions”.

Ms.Anita Bharti in her presidential address said that caste system was still very much a part of our society and had definitely not been eruded as is being made to believe by some sections of society dominated by upper caste people. Time and again we Dalits are forced to remember and accept that we come from a lower caste background. Our caste reaches first, before we reach at any place. She categorically showed her concerns for deteriorating conditions of women’s safety at places where they are illiterate and ignorant and also at places where they are educated and conscious of their rights. Male dominated society has left no stone unturned in keeping women in subjugated position as they can never tolerate her standing shoulder to shoulder with them. The motive behind this conference in this village is also that people should know about one another’s conditions and be different to from piercing words and humiliating environment. She also conveyed some of her humiliating instances of life that she had to face, for being born in a Dalit family. She recalled her appointment as school teacher in Delhi where she was scrutinized several times by the school authorities simply because she belonged to low caste background. The upper castes got a chance to humiliate her with no legal rights to do so.

Anita Bharti persuaded some village women to express their experiences of life. Initially reluctant but felt inspired and presented their songs. These purdah clad women who had never had an opportunity to perform such things in their life before such a large gathering felt elated to present their songs. Also Sanghamitra, a young girl aged twenty participated enthusiastically and presented songs in praise of Dr. Ambedkar. She also shared her thoughts with the audience. She applauded Anita Bharti’s concern for women and requested the women present to give importance to education and to ensure that not only male children but also female children take education as it is the only way to better life.

Ashok Kumar a Dalit public servant from Kanpur defined the term ‘Humiliation’. Humiliation to him was a process of depriving others and establishing ones own supremacy over others. He said that caste humiliation was the worst. He further said that he encountered this humiliation for the first time when he was a class eight and had gone to his friend’s house where he was enquired of his caste. He replied that he was a harijan. But his friend’s mother could not understand this word but second time when he visited his place and when his friend’s father asked him his caste, he again replied, and on it was denied any food or water which was not the case during his previous visit. When he was in class 10th, a scholarship was given for the most meritorious student of 8th class. But despite his higher marks he was denied this by his upper caste principal who gave this scholarship to his own son. But Ashok Kumar challenged it and as a result a committee was formed which gave the scholarship to him. Another humiliating experience of his life that he shared with the audience was about his youth, when he used to give tuitions to the children of an RSS official. He said that, one day he was offered water in a steel tumbler, But, the moment he I took the tumbler to take water, it was immediately snatched from his hand by the RSS official and he was again offered the same water in a glass. He mentioned further that such reactions towards a caste must end in present society. This, he said, was possible only through education. Sharing painful experiences only will take us nowhere but we need to put an end to it by thinking about alternatives. Time has come that we must now get down to searching ways to put an end to such humiliations. This can be possible only when we educate our children, and inculcate in them a feeling of togetherness instead of making them simply aware of the evil practices of caste system.

This Chaupal or meet was found to be a profound medium in disseminating ideas aimed at establishing their dignity and also means and ways to achieve these ideals. The conference provided a venue where Dalit public was sensitized to express its yearning for a dignified space in different spheres of life and also its assertion in their writings. Once quest for self-respect becomes the primary mover in the struggle for social equality and justice, one can optimistically march for justice. Therefore, a dialogue between Dalit writers, non-Dalit writers, journalists, and community and social leaders was facilitated in this Chaupal so as to awaken them for raising their voice against humiliation in an effective mode.

On first day of the conference, a Poster Pradarshini (exhibition) was also organized, which was inaugurated by Dr. Devendra Choubey at the instance of K. Nath. The posters depicted the life struggle of K. Nath. The idea behind organizing the Poster Pradarshini was to popularize the message of self-respect and identity creation among the illiterate/semi-literate section of the Dalit communities. A large village population gathered to witness these posters, which made them aware of K. Nath’s life struggle stage. These posters inspired the people and injected home in them that they can move forward towards a descent life and social space. The pictographic presentation proved to be an effective medium of transmitting the message of struggle for ones self-respect and dignity in society.

Second Day of the Conference, 28th January 2007
Itihaas Charcha (Historical Discussion):
Dalits feel that fundamental cause of their humiliating condition is their passive acceptance of the subjugation imposed by Brahmanical tradition. They feel that they have been deprived of their due place in history and society due to this. They are described as ‘neech’, ‘adham’ and as the people who are devoid of any dignity. That is why they realize the historic need to explore their own parameters for defining a revised dignified identity of their own. They challenge the old historical narratives and are trying to reconstruct their own, by deconstructing the age-old Brahmanical history. They use metaphors rooted in their own experiences and perceptions to inculcate the sense of self-respect among Dalits.

Session- I (Sahitya Panchayat)
On the second day of the conference the topic under discussion was “Search for Self-Respect: Protest against Humiliation”. The first session of the day was presided over by Shri Guru Prasad Madan, a popular dalit writer from Allahabad, and Dr. Ramchandra from JNU, New Delhi was the main speaker. Others who contributed to the discussion included Harikrishna Santoshi, Rajendra Singh Bhadoria, Chandra Pal, Keshav Ram and chandrashekhar from Kanpur. On the second day the proceedings of the conference were carried out in an informal way based on the feedback from participating intellectuals. It ought to bring closer to the villagers so that each one felt free to participate and share their viewpoints. This was received well by the villagers who participated in large numbers and the crowd included not only male participants but also females and children. A young village youth named Anil Dubey opined that the change had certainly come about but even today when he takes a round with a Dalit male on his bicycle it is not taken in good spirit by elderly persons of his community. Therefore, this change was limited to the younger generation only. The older generation still finds it hard to comply with these changes. Another person named Jai Narayan also agreed that the change was visible now. Earlier it was compulsory for us to stand whenever an upper caste person visited us be it of any age. But today this was not so. When an upper caste youth passes by we do not stand up from our cot but we do so stand up when an elderly upper caste passes before us but this is out of respect but not any compulsion or fear. Aditya Pandey, a savarna youth studying in Kanpur from village Duari mentioned that he had read K. Nath’s writings earlier but was unaware of the fact that he too hailed from the same village. Women too were seen participating enthusiastically with their faces half-veiled. Everyone sat on the ground in a circular form thereby breaking the old system of a stage.

Dr. Ramchandra, an Assistant Professor and renowned Dalit thinker, said Dalit community was deprived of only basic needs even today. Voices against this had begun to be raised but were not echoed yet. However, the dream of Baba Saheb Ambedkar was definitely being fulfilled and this was evident in K. Nath’s actions who returned to his village after 40 years and this was precisely what Baba Saheb preached. The word Dalit came in use for the first time in 1958 and then its boundaries were determined. Today, it has taken a form of big community/society that yearns for emancipation. Dr. Ramchandra put forth several aspects of his life in which words like untouchability, distress and humiliation got reflected.

Shri Guru Prasad Madan in his presidential address said that consciousness towards one’s self respect is not just a human phenomenon but found in every living being. Equality, freedom and brotherhood are the very bases of humanity. A society should be one where there is no varna order governing the conduct of individuals. Caste-class divided and varna divided society is the product of contemporary time. He praised the innocence of rural people and said whenever the society had revolted for a change it had been due to efforts of these innocent illiterate villagers, though many a time’s credit goes in favour of educated intellectuals. He accepted the fact the Dalit communities have always lived in pain and humiliation. These people have spent their entire life in this misery. Dr. Ambedkar, contributed his best to give people of the Dalit communities their lost pride and self respect. But after Ambedkar’s death this revolution did not proceed further. He further praised the contributions made by Swami Achutanand in arousing the consciousness of Dalit community towards their humiliating living condition. He was the pioneer in making Dalit literature an instrument of arousing Dalit consciousness. He believed Dalit literature or Dalit revolution was only a means to reach the end i.e. equal status for everyone irrespective of caste. It can be achieved only when the upper castes too contribute wholeheartedly towards this end.

Laxman Prasad Mishra, a Savarna from village Duari sharing his views said that in the present scenario the village had not witnessed any social unrest among people of upper and lower castes. However, the society still pressurized people to reveal their castes. Untouchability, though still practiced in villages, was however reduced but out of fear and egalitarianism. Upper caste people had abandoned their age old prejudices against dalits and had started intermingling with the lower caste people although hesitatingly. But the time was not far when this too would wither away. The change was definitely undergoing and this was visible when people were seen sharing food with each other. He said that youths of the village give same kind of respect to the elderly people irrespective of castes, which was not visible earlier. Educated people of village are shown similar kind of respect irrespective of caste they belong to. But one concern still existed and it was abuse of labour that was being still prevalent. Most part of the manual labour was undertaken by members of the Dalit communities but they did not receive their due payment and continued to be exploited. Today however, we have to think about our future and forget our painful fast. He narrated how he although born in an upper caste family was sent to school with K.Nath, a harijan. But due to the fear of the society, they took different routes to school. He further informed that it was humanity that brought him closer to K. Nath. Whether untouchability was practiced today in villages it was out of fear. So such fear needed to be eliminated out from Dalit communities’ psychology to achieve harmonius equilibrium in society.

Session- II
Kavita Goshti (Poetry Recitation):
The writers were invited to recite poems on Dalit dignity from their popular booklets to the audience. Since the writing of these writers exhibited the pangs of humiliation, and identity-loss, reading such pieces of literature encourages people mentally and moved them psychologically. Issues such as Dalit experiences of humiliation, suffering, dominance, exploitation, etc impelled them towards unity and participation in the process of their own mobilization. This goshti helped in invigorating the potentialities of dignity construction in Dalit consciousness. Writers of that region who are struggling to publish their manuscripts were also invited to read out passages from their writings so that they were motivated for publication of the manuscripts they possessed. This led to broadening of the public sphere and political participation of these communities.

Mela (Fair):
This conference also organized a small fair of popular booklets to provide a well-knit space to the publishers attending the conference to display other booklets of interest to the Dalit readers. These booklets help in rebuilding the vision of the deprived. The writers displayed books and unpublished manuscripts forming part of their personal collection. K. Nath donated his rare collection of booklets, unpublished manuscripts and newspaper pieces to the Dalit Resource Centre. Thus, the village conferences proved to be a good source for collecting Dalit popular booklets and unpublished manuscripts of lesser known hibernated Dalit writers at the grassroot level.

Cultural Programme:
As in two earlier two village conferences, the third village conference also witnessed the similar cultural programme. On the first day of the conference a popular Dalit ‘Nat Naach’ was performed by three children and a male. One child displayed the art of walking on long bamboo tied to his feet whereas the other two children entertained the audience with their humorous acts. This was enjoyed especially by village children. On the second day of the conference a play was staged by Shri Dev Kumar from Kanpur and twelve with members of his group. The play portrayed the life story of Ambedkar, and his encounter with Gandhi in context of the Poona Pact for safeguarding the rights of Dalit communities. A large crowd gathered to witness the play.

The conference had an emotional conclusion when K.Nath, the Dalit writer announced donation of his residual land to DRC.

 

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