Dalit People: Race and Resistance in the Select Novels of Harishankar Jaladas
Mr Mohammad Jashim Uddin
Assistant Professor and Head, Department of English, Northern University Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Harishanker Jaladas’s novels Jalaputra [A Man of water Who Fishes for Livelihood] and Dhankal [Time of Burning] talk about the everyday struggling of the Jaladas, a community of Hindu cast-based fisher community. Despite their work being a major source of earning foreign country in Bangladesh, the Jaladas live on the verge of political economy. On the other hand, his Ramgolam talks about day to day affairs of sweeper community of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Ramgolam, protagonist of the novel, has a unique name which his grandfather Gurucharan, the local Sardar of the Harijan (Scavengers), hopes will save his grandson off any potential religious backlash from the Hindu-Muslim community. The first syllable of Ramgolam comes from Ramchandra, one of the 10 apostles much revered in Hindu faith. Golam means servant. It is a Muslim name. Therefore, Ramgolam means “God Rama’s servant”. Ironically, throughout the novel, Ramgolam fights the meaning of his name: he doesn’t kowtow to powerful agencies; takes a dim view on his owners’ promises of a better life for scavengers and lives with grit and determination to find his Joie de vivre in antagonism. Thus, the first aim of this paper is to analyse the religious and social condition of the Jaladas (fisher community) and sweeper community, in the respective texts and compare them to reach documents, to trace the source of their social and economic discrimination. Second, this paper studies the representation of this subaltern group as not just passive victims of social and racial discrimination, rather as political agents of resistance and change that form in the spatial margins.
Keywords: Casts, subaltern, Dalit, race, resistance