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Caste, Casteism and Anticasteism: A Critical Study of Gujarati Dalit Short Stories

Dr Manish Pandya, Principal, KSKV Kachchh Univeristy, Bhuj-Kachchh, Gujarat, India

Mr Hitesh H. Siju, PhD Scholar, Department of English, KSKV Kachchh Univeristy, Bhuj-Kachchh, Gujarat, India


Casteism is an upshot of the obscure caste system, which persistently sanctions discrimination against Dalits. The select Gujarati Dalit short stories place a herculean challenge before society to bring about social change through assertion on anti-caste ideology. The anti-caste activists stand on the side of human equality, integrity and dignity for all. The Dalits are recurrently treated as outsiders and thus remain undermined unable to proceed for upward mobility. The fear of social ostracization usually raps their mind’s consciousness. The casteist knock discussed in the stories brings forth the strategies of keeping caste alive. The deemed pure ‘higher’ castes generally use in interactions prevailing casteist slurs to degrade and devastate dignity of Dalits. Caste system is a framework to divide people into distinct castes, whereas casteism becomes a prejudiced basis of discrimination since caste is an indicator of identity, power and privilege, which adheres to caste system. The current study aims at examination of caste as a prominent aspect in degradation, unjust practices and social exclusion of Dalits through the close reading and analysis of Gujarati Dalit short stories. Despite abolition of such practices, Dalits are still subjected to caste-based discrimination. B. N. Vankar’s short story The Sacred Thread presents a critique of out dated social-religious customs and traditions, which find room in modern times and the untouchable identity keeps Meghnath, a young aspiring Dalit, tormenting. The story primarily focuses on the reflection of caste as stigma, which keeps haunting Dalits creating numerous discriminations. Despite being a Dalit, Meghnath is in the pursuit of higher educational degrees and that particularly becomes the point of issue. Savarnas in order to retain their domination entertain such age-old customs and traditions. Betrayal is yet another fine example of casteist society in which Dalits become victim of political mistreatment. In order to critically present, the issue of relationship between Savarna politics and Dalits Raghavji Madhad uses political background of village politics. Yes Sir! is another short story that proclaims caste as deep rooted social ill which causes Dalits discrimination in political and education systems. Pravin Gadhavi sarcastically presents a critical commentary on the casteist mindsets in educational and political sectors. The current study thereby aims at close reading of Gujarati Dalit short stories as enormous contribution in the anti-caste movements and in the eradication of caste.

Key Words: Anticasteism, social discrimination, Dalit, equality

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