Wednesday, March 16, 2016

154. Dalit Literature in Rajasthan: A Voice Lost in the Wilderness

Rajasthan, as the name itself suggests, has been „a land of the Kings‟. Before the formation of a
United Rajasthan in 1948 A.D. it was divided into nineteen princely states like Mewar (Udaipur),Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar, Bharatpur etc. The dynasty of Mewar, with arecorded history of one thousand five hundred years is said to be the oldest one in Rajasthan. Theglorification of the past assumes new dimensions with a reference to Maharana Pratap and the battle of Haldighati which is compared to the battle of Thermopolis in Europe. Pratap is presented as an icon of freedom much celebrated in the literature across the country.Apart from this political history , if one decides to look at the social stratification and thedynamics of caste , he would be appalled to learn that even today it is at the top of the list ofstates where atrocities against the weaker sections, particularly, the Dalits are on the rise.According to a report in The Hindu
Rajasthan has emerged as the state with the highestincidence of registered atrocities against Dalits across the country. In 2010, the state recorded51.4 cases of atrocities against Dalits per lakh population under the Scheduled Castes andScheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act. It had registered a similar figure in 2009 too. Thelatest data from the Union Ministry of Social Justice show that five states namely Uttar Pradesh,Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh account for around seventy percent ofregistered atrocities against Dalits. The feudal traditions continue to exist even sixty five yearsafter the independence , though it is also said that the democratic institutions have grown mature.The Dalits constitute about eight percent of the population of Rajasthan. Sub-castes of the dalitsin Rajasthan like Bairava, Meghwal , Bhangi, Dhanuk, Jatav etc. suffered social exclusion because of their traditional occupation . Some castes as Guar, Kantar, Bavaria etc. were labeledas criminals and had to suffer the stigma for centuries. If the population of scheduled Tribes isadded it comes to around seventeen percent of the total population of the state. Due to the feudaldominance the Dalit movement did not emerge as a strong voice in Rajasthan. Those Dalitleaders who got elected to the Parliament, Legislative Assemblies and other bodies of local selfgovernment remained confined to their political association but did not care much to organize theDalits as a movement. As a consequence unlike Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu andKerala Dalit literature did not gain much ground in the state of Rajasthan.