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Paul Spicker in his famous book Social Policy writes ‘Inequality refers not to the fact that people are different, but…that people are advantaged or disadvantaged in social terms’. We can relate his definition to the caste discrimination or untouchability faced by The Dalits in India over the years. The Book covers life stories of major Dalit personalities who have faced misery and discrimination but overcame all those obstacles and became Social Icons. The dedicated chapters elaborate these personalities covering Valmiki & Veda Vyas from ancient to Honourable President Shri Ram Nath Kovind of contemporary India.
The young authors have successfully embedded facts which are very unknown to many Indians; for instance Guru Ravidas (Contemporary of Kabir & Gurunanak) was a pioneer of the alphabet of Gurumukhi. The Great son of the soil Udham Singh’s life’s determination to take revenge for the Jallianwala Massacre is vividly described in one of the chapters. The book covers the political journey of a little read & talked about leader of Pre-Independence era Jogendranath Mandal (Pakistan Law minister) and narrates an interesting story about his political support to Dr B.R. Ambedkar & helping him in framing of our constitution.
The making of political stalwarts Babu Jagjivan Ram and Kanshiram from grassroot to national political apex is discussed in full length. Both of them played a pivotal role in mainstreaming Dalits in the political system. The towering figure of Babu Jagjivan Ram, the great leader from Bihar played a very important role in Minimum Wage Act (1948) Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955), establishment of Krishi Vigyan Kendra are some of his key contributions as a lawmaker & central minister to the country. Kanshiram’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) gave the largest state of India i.e., Uttar Pradesh its first Dalit Chief Minister Mayawati.
The book portrays the great work of eminent dalit women such as Savitribai Phule, Rani Jhalkaribai, Sant Janabai and Soyarabai. Savitribai devoted all her life to educating girls, social work and fighting against casteism. Rani Jhalkaribai’s role in the first war of independence is not covered in many school curricula. She was a warrior, strategist and advisor of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi against the Britishers. Sant Janabai was one of the proponents of bhakti movement and a devotee of Lord Vitthal In Maharashtra. Other eminent personalities depicted by the author are Ayyankali of Kerala, Telugu poet Gurram Jashuva, Dakshayani Velayudhan, Kabir Das, Nandanar, K.R Narayanan and B.R Ambedkar.
The authors conclude with theme “Dalit Assertion to Seek Representation” by citing some current national processes tied to the Dalit community and hailing few personalities like Milind Kamble, a pioneer of the Dalit Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DICCI) and Others.