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Paper 79

Education as an antidote to casteism with reference to Y. B. Satyanarayan’s My Father Baliah

Ms Sonam Gyelmo

Postgraduate Student, Yonphula Cenetenary College, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan


Deeply entrenched in Indian society is the complex social classification of individuals

known as caste system. Caste has played an essential role in everyday life of many individuals in India. Given the social hierarchy of India, it has resulted in some of the most rigorous class driven society in the world. The Indian Census of 1901 formally established the specific castes of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. The lowest and final caste “the untouchables” or Dalits were considered so beneath Indian society that they were ostracized and snubbed off from being recognized in the census. This organization of caste system and its entrenchment within Indian history has resulted in centuries of hostile interaction between classes. Dalits were excluded from temples, village wells and tea shops. This social segregation has plagued the most populous country on Earth for generations and has wreaked havoc in the lives of these section of population in particular. In addition to the cruel and humiliating circumstances the Dalits have often been squashed with assault from the upper castes on the efforts that they have put in to improve their situation. Because of unchanging social norms and behavior, incentives to pursue education were minimal for the Dalits who were still physically and emotionally harassed. These unfortunate circumstances have repressed millions of Dalit population and have experienced consistent denial to access to education since the 1850s. However, this decade coincided with Britain’s establishment control over India, which meant many of the improvements to Dalit

situations were coming from outside influences, rather than from the national government.

Nonetheless, the cruel and unjust treatment imposed upon the Dalits has decreased in frequency as history has progressed, although it still continues in today’s society. Impeccable instances of Dalits woe of social segregation in India are unveiled in Y. B. Satyanarayan’s My Father Baliah. It is an autobiographical account with the narrative centering around the painful experiences of a Dalit. The narration unveils the inhumanity of untouchability and the compliance of this condition by the Dalits themselves. Hence, Satyanarayan chronicles the relentless struggle of three generations of his family and concludes it by stressing, the vital role played by education in bringing respite. Basing its argument on this text, this paper probes to explore on the immense adversities yet a trivial ascent of Dalits from two perspectives. With regard to the first perspective, the argument will depict the adversities endured by Dalits owing to the dearth of education. In the second perspective, the subject will center on Dalits trivial ascent, owing to their exposure to the education, for education can be an antidote to casteism if one gets to follow the scent of it.

Key words: Caste system, Dalits, Education, Antidote, Repressed, Generations

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