The revolutionary and the shudratishudras

Selected Writings of Jotirao Phule

Edited with annotation and an introduction by GP DeshpandeLettWord Books, New Delhi, 2002

Price: INR 450

Pages: x+247

This elegantly produced book captures, through the writings of Jotirao Phule, the problems and dilemmas of the dalit movement in contemporary India. Phule, who is regarded as the founding father of the movement, was one of the foremost anti-caste activists of the 19th century and carried out his crusade against upper caste domination and exploitation at a time when several other social reform and nationalist organisations had also just begun to emerge. Some of these were the Sarvajanik Sabha, the Arya Samaj and the Indian National Congress, which tried to initiate social reform and instil nationalism at the same time. These organisations voiced the need for Western education, the social empowerment of women and the need for electoral reforms so that Indians could exercise their democratic rights. This socialintellectual ferment was the broad context in which Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj in 1871. The Samaj itself was a culmination of long years of work that focused on improving the conditions of shudratishudras, the most discriminated segment of society caste-wise.

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Himal Southasian