Dalits and the Making of Modern India
The story of anti-colonial nationalism in India as told in mainstream literary and historical writings presents privileged caste Hindus as heroes and founders. Dalits have mostly been viewed as passive subjects. This book inverts the dominant nationalist narrative and brings to the fore the unacknowledged contributions of Dalits towards the collective imagination of nation in India. By using colonial archives, Telugu Dalit writings, and their political activities, this book presents a Dalit perspective on nationalism. As politicized subjects, Dalits embraced their history as part of their emancipation project. Arguing for the abolition of untouchability, caste inequality, and the accompanying humiliations as a precondition for independence, they imagined a nation on the basis of the egalitarian principles of justice, liberty, equality, and human dignity. These eventually became the foundational principles of the Indian Constitution drafted under the guidance of B.R. Ambedkar. The arguments that emerged during the colonial period resonate even today in contemporary debates as Dalits continue to challenge their marginalization and mistreatment as violations of the Constitution.