Hindi Dalit Literature

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Hindi Dalit literature’s moment has arrived. After years of obscurity and unflattering comparisons to the maturity and expressiveness of Dalit literature in languages such as Marathi and Tamil, creative Dalit writing in Hindi is finally reaching a more visible level of popular recognition. Hindi Dalit novels, autobiographies, short-story and poetry anthologies, as well as volumes of literary criticism, are today being regularly published by Delhi’s top Hindi-language publishing houses, Rajkamal and Radhakrishna Prakashan. Dalit writers infuse the pages of Delhi’s top Hindi literary magazines, such as Hans and Katha Desh, with their poetry, prose and political perspectives. And in January, for the first time, a Dalit writer working in…show more content…
Yet the truth is that magazines such as Hans have been increasingly publishing Dalit literature as a matter of course. The publication of the 2004 special issue proved to be one of several rallying moments around the same time for this large and diverse community of writers, activists and intellectuals; as well as a popular legitimisation of sorts of the hard work this community had been doing for years to carve out a space in the world of Indian literature to articulate the experiential and political perspectives of Dalits. The ‘mainstreaming’ impact of this kind of publication could be seen when, five years later, in August 2009, Navaria again edited the annual special issue ofHans – this one not specifically focused on Dalit writing but rather on new voices in Hindi literature, of which Dalits are a part. But 2004 also provided a very public moment of dissent within the Dalit writing community, which highlighted the fissures and crystallised many of the debates over notions of political and literary authenticity. On 31 July of that year, members of the Delhi-based Bharatiya Dalit Sahitya Akademi (Indian Dalit Literary Academy, or BDSA) burned copies of iconic nationalist-era Hindi author ‘Munshi’ Premchand’s celebrated novel Rangbhumi in a park in the heart of New Delhi. The raucous gathering

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