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Paper 35

Theorizing Anticasteism with thorough reading of Binayak Bandopadhyay's


Mr Ankush Pal

Independent Researcher, West Bengal, India


The Education Act of 1870 in England produced a new generation of people who could read and write. It benefited them when they were dragged to war. They enunciated a different kind of literature - letter, that brought out the brutality and fatalities of World War One. In a similar way, educating the marginalized communities who were separated from the mainstream through the derogatory word caste, produced a language of resistance with stepping their feet into the world of literature. Dalit, a political word, became a genre of literature, producing works that truly portrayed the livelihood, misery, and pain felt by them through castesim. Apart from the victims of casteist torture and people belonging to the social construct - backward group, there were many other authors who empathized the pain and voiced for them. This paper intends to study how Binayak Bandopadhyay's novel Songrokhhito (Reserved) brings out the tension between casteism and anticasteism, and establishes the theory of Anticasteism. The paper also intends to search why casteism is so prevalent in this digital century through a close reading of the novel. Since the rejection of M.K. Gandhi's calling harijan and accepting only Dalit and nothing else as the community name, the battle against caste grew momentum in the early twentieth century. The fondness let by Babasaheb Ambedkar to identify oneself not as a Hindu, gave a strong blow to the promoters of Chaturvarna stature, including M.K. Gandhi. In the novel Songrokhhito, the author, unfolds the word reserved in two ways. Besides voicing the trauma that a Dalit faces by availing the benefits of the reservation system, the novel brightly brings up the psychic reservation that also takes place. It is indicated here through the transformation of the protagonist Dalit girl Archana Mandal. As she gets married to a Brahman house, the novel brings in how brahmanism creeps into a person and make a dalit casteist. The psychological reservation turns so blatant that the protagonist wants to cut off her roots as she ascends the ladder of caste. This paper wants to focus on how Archana retransforms into her previous self by debrahmanising and the need for it in today's world. The paper also intends to draw attention of readers, how debrahminization paves the way for theorizing Anticasteism with Archana wanting to install a photograph of Babasaheb Ambedkar along with the Hindu idols in the new home, they were moving to at the end of the novel.

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