Being a Dalit: In conversation with Suraj Yengde, author of Caste Matters
Suraj Yengde, an award-winning scholar, activist, and an author, had his latest book, Caste Matters, published in July 2018. The first Indian Dalit PhD holder from an African university, he is a postdoctoral fellow at initiative for institution anti-racist accountability at Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.
As an author, he writes in the field of caste, race and ethnic studies, inter-regional labour migration with the global south. He was recently nominated to Sahitya Academy India’s highest literacy award and is has won Rohit Vemula Memorial Scholar Award,2018.
Yengde grew up in a Dalit family in the slum area in Nanded, Maharashtra. "Its always on fringes, it doesn’t have power, repressed and neglected. In a way, this disciplined my thinking. Being a Dalit he talks about how it feels to be one," says Yengde.
He likens being a Dalit with walking in the rain without knowing one's directions: "You are unaware if you’ll slip and fall or break your back."
“I write on caste because caste is an existential question. If I don’t write on caste, we might perish like a substandard species. I write on caste to rescue the people who are on the verge of extinction. I write on caste because of my love for humankind across religion, gender, caste.”
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