A file photo of Ambedkar’s statue. (Photo altered by The Quint)
| 4 min read

Beyond the Mainstream: Powerful Dalit Voices on the Internet

Ideas are fatal to caste.
EM Forster

The death of Rohith Vemula seems to have given India something it has needed for a long time – a discussion on caste that goes beyond the issue of reservation, to structural issues of inequality and oppression.

The mainstream media may be drawn to the issue now, because of the controversy and political attention that Rohith Vemula’s death has received. But intelligent, articulate and innovative voices have been out on the internet for sometime now.

Websites, Facebook pages, YouTube channels and Twitter have all become mediums for Dalit-Bahujan activists, intellectuals, students and writers to express, discuss and analyse the nature of caste oppression and discrimination in the Indian sub-continent.

These stories and views, articulated online, provide a perspective and analysis that comes from the ground-up, often giving a genuine and honest insight to the kind of inequality so many Indians face.

Here are just some of these virtual spaces worth engaging with.

1. Dalit Camera: “Through Un-touchable Eyes”

Photo Courtesy: Facebook.com/DalitCamera
Photo Courtesy: Facebook.com/DalitCamera

In 2011, Bathran Ravichandran, a doctoral candidate at the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) in Hyderabad started Dalit Camera, a largely crowd-sourced platform that tells a variety of stories.

The YouTube channel has over 5000 subscribers and has a mix of stories, testimonials and interviews that speak about exclusion, atrocities and the experience of being ‘marginalised’ in India.

Since Rohith Vemula’s death, the channel has uploaded videos that document the protests, interviews with academics, students etc. From its inception, Dalit Camera has been an authentic, interesting voice and certainly one worth following.

2. Round Table India

Round Table India, which has been around since 2009, is one of the most popular portal for news, information and analysis from dalit and bahujan students, writers, scholars and activists. It aggregates news, provides a space for writers and artists and acts as resource for people looking to learn.

Roundtable shall aggregate news from the mainstream media, piecing together current information on society, politics and policy of interest to the Dalit-Bahujan world. Concurrently, Roundtable shall also seek to find and highlight the Dalit-Bahujan perspective on those and other issues: their own attempts to make sense of the world, to interpret it. In short, Roundtable shall function as a uniquely Dalit-Bahujan media actor that perceives through their eyes and ears, and speaks through their voice.
Round Table India’s Website

3. Savari: Women Together

A poster in support of Chithralekha, an auto driver in Kerala who went on a hunger strike against the government of Kerala. Savari, among others, has highlighted her cause. (Photo Courtesy: dalitweb.org)
A poster in support of Chithralekha, an auto driver in Kerala who went on a hunger strike against the government of Kerala. Savari, among others, has highlighted her cause. (Photo Courtesy: dalitweb.org)

Savari is a website run by and for Dalit and Adivasi women. It discusses everything from food, to violence, struggles for equal pay, discrimination and showcases Dalit and Bahujan art, articles and poetry.

Popular, insightful, incisive and sensitive, Savari is a must read for anyone interested in issues of gender and marginalisation.

Here’s how Savari describes itself.

We are adivasi, bahujan and dalit women. Here we share our thoughts about our lives and the society we live in, including conflicts with the self, family and community. These are perspectives from our history, and our dreams for the future. Here we are in conversations with each other, with the men from our communities, and others. Inspired by our foremothers, the free spirited, knowledge bearing, community healers of the Saura people, this space is named Savari.Members of Savari continue the traditions of the anti-caste struggles of our ancestors, elders, sisters and brothers from all parts of South Asia. The dream of an equal world underlies each and every conversation here.
Savari Website

4. Dr Ambedkar’s Caravan

Dr Ambedkar’s Caravan was started by Pradeep, an engineer from Punjab as a way to express his own thoughts and views. The blog aggregates articles, papers, commemorates historical events and the writings of Dalit icons like Ambedkar, Phule, Guru Ravidas and others.

It also has polls and of course, Pradeep’s own views and insights.

My name is Pardeep and I am 29 years old untouchable guy from Punjab (India). I dream about Begumpura of Sri Guru Ravidas Ji and Utopia of Dr BR Ambedkar, i.e. are these achievable? I want to see caste free society in my lifetime and start my own business!
Pradeep’s introduction on Dr Ambedkar’s Caravan