Make way, the first Dalit Literature Festival is here!

New Delhi, Feb 01 A two-day Dalit Literature Festival will be organised at Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College on February 3 and will address ‘longstanding and overdue questions’ of Indian society’s marginalised society. The festival, reportedly the first of its kind, has been planned by a group of public intellectuals, university professors and social activists.
 
Focussing on marginalised sections, the festival will “celebrate their victories and culture”.
 
“This platform would establish a dialogue so that the pains and problems of Dalit communities can be brought to light, furthermore the cultural traditions and vibrancy of Dalit literature and art can be demonstrated,” the organisers told reporters.
 
“In the modern-day socio-political and cultural situation, there has to be a sense of representation of people’s voices. Dalit’ have been fast emerging as an umbrella term, not only for people who have been discriminated against on the basis of their birth in a particular community but also tribal groups and the LGBT community,” IGNOU professor Parmod Kumar said.
 
“The idea of Dalit has to be institutionalised. We are trying to say Dalit is not a particular peripheral section, it is the people at the grassroots at large — those facing discrimination, deprivation and exploitation. We will look at our institutional frameworks, we are trying to celebrate identities and unlearn the wrong things that have been propagated in the name of knowledge and aesthetics,” he added.
 
The festival will also witness a book fair, in which various publishers will participate and books of social relevance will be released.
 
Speakers like Marathi author-poet Sharan Kumar Limbale, Marathi novelist Laxman Gaikwad, academic Shantha Naik, writer Mohandas Namishrai, environment activist Medha Patkar, and writer Jai Prakash Kadam, among others, will mark their presence.
 
The festival has been organised by Ambedkarvadi Lekhak Sangh, Hindi department of Kirori Mal College, Rashmi Prakashan Lucknow, Ridam Patrika, National Alliance Of People’s Movement (NAPM), Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), Alag Duniya, Mantvya Patrika, Akshar Publishers Delhi, and Forum For Democracy.
 
About the festival:
The organisers in their invitation said that this initiative is founded primarily on Ambedkarite thoughts and on other positive, change-oriented philosophies. “We have been observing that literature is being appropriated by various forces that are governed by caste and capitalist formations and a trend has been created of organising Literature-Culture Fests in regional languages at the State level in different parts of the country. These groups are deeply entrenched in Caste and Capital entitlement and oppression. Their tendency for appropriation is driven by the understanding that literature, culture, and art have continued to play a significant role in making people-community-society more creative, alert, sensitive and thought-oriented. Therefore, these groups want to establish control over the domain of literature, culture and art,” they said in their note.
 
They further observed that these groups have infiltrated their media, socio-cultural groups, political parties, and other change-oriented associations and begun to control and diminish their values of social justice and inclusivity.
 
“It is our responsibility to bring together various cultural and artistic minds who believe in social justice and change, to strengthen the people-oriented and change-centric positive stream of Dalits. Only this positive and change-oriented vision can bring about momentum towards the foundation of a better society and community in future,” they said.
 
“We strongly believe that the word ‘Dalit’ has taken the shape of struggle and resistance against injustice and inequality which acts as a flag for all the marginalised who face injustice, pain and deprivation on a regular basis. It has also constructed an umbrella under which various marginalised groups, classes assemble and will continue to do so in the future. We look at the word Dalit in its natural and larger comprehensive understanding and declare to include Dalits-tribals-women-eunuch groups, minorities (including Pasmanda and Dalit Christians) and all other deprived communities and marginalised identities. We also propose our understanding that we would use the term ‘Dalit’ prospectively to struggle for deprived communities, marginalised identities and the labour class. Needless to say, that the proletariat or labour class in India is Dalit, which has been defined above. This society is exploited by capitalism and equally by Brahminism. Dr Ambedkar also marked Brahminism and capitalism as India’s two enemies,” they observed.
 
They added that this Dalit literature festival will initiate a parallel change-oriented literary discourse and establish a solid platform in which Dalits, tribals, denotified tribes, women, minorities and Pasmanda communities will be included. Credit

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