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Book Review

Writing caste/writing gender

NAME: - JYOTI THAKUR MASW-I Year ROLL NO. : - 14 COURSE: - Understanding Gender and society


Writing caste/Writing gender is a collective of dalit feminist writings which are edited by Dr. Sharmila rege . Dr. Rege is an eminent Indian sociologist , feminist scholar and leader of krantijyoti savitribai phule womens studies centre at university of pune. This book ,as Dr. Rege descrided in the introduction, had written as a part of two projects. First one is with an aim to translate into English the lived experiences of caste as articulated in Dalit womens autobiographies and the second with a mandate to rewrite history from the perspective of dalits by documenting booklets and music related to Satyashodhak samaj. Through the medium of this book author trying to highlight the link between caste and gender and the reqirement to locate feminism in the inequalities of caste. She says that while examining curricular of universities they found that their is a coplate lack of nonbrahmanical interpretations of caste which is also spell over to women studies.

Journey of their life as it is......

Shantabai Dhanaji Dani, the only mahar girl who reach upto college . in her narrative she is explaining how the circumstances chaged when her father start taking alcohol and how how her mother despite of all the facing many problems in life always nurture her desire to make shanta an eduated woman. Her father use to take away all the money which was earn by her mother and grandmother after toiling all day long. She was sent to a missionary school because of the teaching the provides. Their economic condition was deteriorating continuously because her father stop working and her mother tried to make ends meet by selling heystacks which some time caught fire render them without money . Her mother, who despite being so poor that she was not able to arrange two meals in a day, was a lady with a high self respect. She was describing how one day when she was asking their neighbour for some food her mother get so deturbed that she beats her but later regretted for that. Her mother when robbed by somenone during rainy days dont purchase food because it was against her principles to buy on credit. Shantabai recalling incidences of humiliations on various occasions . once when she want to for holi celebrations to her fathers friends house they were sereved food in the cattle shed because the friend belongs to the Marathe caste. Again when she entered training college she faced discrimination. She was not allowed to eat with others and use common bathroom. The food served to her from a distance because of which most of the time her chapatti get soaked in curry etc. she joined her first job as teacher in vinchur villege and here also she was not able to protect herself from the wrath of caste system . she got humiliated for entering a temple there and after this she was thinking of quitting that job. She was describing how many people contribute in her desire to get good education. Dani master, who arranged for her admission in women college. Dr. Londhe who arrenge for her high school education . Dr. Cherian at the missionary hospital who

provide her place to stay durinf her college days. Dadasahed Gaikwad who trained her to take uo the position of activist for dalit rights an Dr. Ambedkar who provide new meanings of life. Later she become an active member of ambedkars movements . on many occasions she got arrested and inside the jail also she educate illiterate women about their political rights. In 1952 she contested election with Dr. Ambedkat but not able to win . she also conert to Buddhism with ambedkar. She went toparticipate in peace conference in1970 at Malaysia and srilanka where she came across Japanese womens organisation who were engegd in mobilising against high price and food adultartion. It was only in 1975 when she noticed the absence of concern about dalit women . she establish a girls hostel so as to provide them eduation and inculcate leadership qualities in them. MUKTA SARVAGOD Mukta Sarvagod while writing her memoir stated that the purpose of this is to describe through her life experience the experience of the dalit community. Her situation was not the same as that of other dalit children because her father was in Indian railways. But still she faced discrimination because of her caste status in school despite of performing good in academics. She was facing dual condemn because of her education pursuance. On one hand upper caste people who treat her as polluting agent and on the other people of her own caste who were abusing her because she was studying. Her father use to tell her about the atrocities his family and other people of their community went through in the past. He told her how his mother worked really hard to rear them. He described that people of mahar and mang communities use to work day-in and day-out for a meagre amount of food. This meagre amount was use to be the leftover food. She also heard the caste-based system of labour for maharb, Yeskarki. The patils use Yeskar in the way they want to as if they are not human and in return to their backbreaking labour they got abuse and scrapes of leftover food. Dr. Ambedkar gave a call to rid off this caste based labour in order to improve the condition of untouchables. Mukta was able to able to locate inequalities between women of different caste. She was narrating her interface with the caste reality while going and coming back from the school. Once she came across Shirmi, a devdasi and became shocked by seeing people throwing money on her. She recalled Lilus mother, a kunbi, use to toil really hard to support her family. But the position kunbi woman with that of mahar womans in the same situation was not same. While kunbi woman can protect her dignity the mahar woman dont have the right of dignified life. She also touch upon the tussle between the followers of ambedkar an Gandhi. SHANTA BAI KRISHNAJI KAMBLE

Shantabai kamble , first dalit teacher in Solapur district,was appointed in 1942. She wrote this memoir after her retirement during 1980s because autobiography of many dalit man was coming up. During her childhood her family was depended on the leftovers given by and some other small work done here and there. She was describing that during those time community was strong and they use to solve all disputes. Her parents were very supportive for her studies. In their family daughters have support even if the come back to their parental place. She recall that her father said that he will not force her to go back to her husband because they are not brahamans. She also faces discrimination at school like other untouchables. There were many where she and her family receive humiliations done by upper caste. She also gave an account of prevailing hunger in their community. There were many incidence when many women dont have food to eat even after pregnancy for many days. Later even when she start earning she was not able to have her meals because nobody was ready to work in her home and she need to manage her school and children. She was explaining that even after the struggle against untouchability launch by Dr. Ambedkar the practice was still there in the society. The difference now was that it was relegated to private sphere. BABY KONDIBA KAMBLE She is among those persons who does not feel ashamed of the label mahar. She explain that mahar was the original inhabitant of nthe land . she support the reiteration of atrocities faced by their community because that is how their future generation will know about their struggle. She descdibed how women attached their lifes with the husband and kumkum war treated as a sigh of pride among women. There was prevalent superstition in the community . elder son from each family was given in the service of god and he hit himself with whip to clooect the leftovers. The only dream a father in mahar community can see for his son was the job of a yashker. The impoverishment was so intense that the took the cloth use to cover the dead body. The tradition of bride money was also there. Most of the time bride face domestic violence in their husbands house. There were several women with broken nose. Back. Head etc. and if any women try to escape this violence the she tied with a special wooden block with she need to drag with her. Thus in the pre-ambedkar era the community was entangle in rituals. After ambedkar start working for the untouchables the situations began to change. Now there was agitation to ban eating dead animals. Now paraents start making pyjamas for their kids and they began to cut their hair neatly. With the slogan given by ambedkar ------ educate , organise , agitate , there was a strong impetus towards education.

KUMUD PAWADE Kunud observe that communities and individuals in society cant exclude caste so also the study of womens lifes cant ignore exploitation based on gender. She describes how women folk are enslaved through customs and practices. she recalls that even she was got influenced by the stories of savitri during her young age but later when she come across women who are the victims of atrocities done by their husbands she criticised the desire of all women to die Soubhagyavati. She was explaining how even the people from lower caste metamorphosed into upper caste persons when they rise in their economic status. They also treat their caste people who belongs to lower class in the same manner as of that Savarna. She support the argument which was put forth by savarna feminist that all women are dalits. But she emphasised that dalit women are the most dalit among them because they are the victims of double jeopardy , gender as well as caste. She mentioned the situation in 1946 attacks on mahar community in Nagpur by upper caste. Everybody was living under the threats of life. But women of both the communities became the site of revenge. she chose Sanskrit to be her subject for further studies and when she got success in that everybody was amazed because Sanskrit was considered as the language for Brahmans. But even after performing well in her academics she was not able to remove stigma attached with her caste. Although people were not declining her application for post straight away but they were looking for the reasons not to employ her. After 2 years of her struggle she finally able to got the job but by that time her status had been change from a mahar women to a kunbi women(she got married to a kundi man). So in effect it is the kunbi women who got the job not the mahar women.

JANABAI KACHRU GIRHE(1958) She was the first teacher of gopal community , a normadic community and also first women to write her memoir.she said that to be born in this community is like a boon to suffer eternal pain. She always want to write about her life but always wondered if any one would be interested in it, she decided to write only after the publication ofher husbands book on gopal community. She recall that the prople of their community were notaloowed to stay at one place for more than 3 days .where there in a villege or water there is a pala(group of nomadic families ) . as she was the only child of her parent people call them childless because girl child is not counted. They even called the panchayat who fined him with 9 rs because he was adamant to educate his daughter . They also criticising her father for sending her to school and everybody stop helping them. Later her gradfether and father built a permanent house and other members of the pala also start setting down near them . when her father fall ill no body

in the community was ready to help them and later a farmer send his son to help them due to which she had to discontinue her studies. Later many marriage proposal start coming for her but her parents want to marry her with an educated person .then the proposal of sukhde girhe came who was am eduacetd person . he insisted that she should complete her studies and then the will marry . the people of her community tried very hard to break this proposal by poising his mind. They were also saying that she will not be able to bear child because her mother also does not have any son. But janabai has the support of her husband and mother in law . just the fact that she comb her hair brought a lot criticism. She explaining the plight of their community that for food they have to hunt like dog . she was mentioning a incidence where they went to a marriage to get some food and when in the evening the foodis thrown in the dustbin dogs were also competing with them for that leftover. Here father found dead when he follow a person with food basket going towards jungle. usually they got food which was stale , fermented and even frothing but they eat that coz they dont have any option . After completing her tenth class when she went to enrol her name in employment exchange the officer ask her for her identity proof aand said that he doint know about gopal community.and after a lot problem she was able to register herself . she got a job but in the hilly where she need to go on foot .many more prolems because she need to take care of her child.