An Insightful Anthology
Any survey of recent Indian literature does clearly reveal that the voice of the voiceless or protest, in some form or other, is the oft-repeated and even the most notable theme analysed, evaluated and projected by writers of all genres with an avowed social purpose so as to offer a sweeping revolt by all means against economic exploitation, subjugation of women, oppression of the unprivileged and suppression of the untouchables and the marginalised. Against this backdrop, the book highlights that marginalisation is nothing but a kind of social exclusion, a social boycott, disadvantage and downgrading to the fringe of a caste, community or group of a society. English language, with its global base, has served as a useful tool of Dalit empowerment. It is a window through which readers are able to acquaint themselves with the writings of Dalits or on the Dalits.
The book, a collection of thirty papers, is an important addendum in the existing literature of marginality. Its subject matter and contents succinctly encapsulate and convey the message to all the people who are living their lives at the fringe or on the threshold of the mainstream and are striving hard to create their niche in the world which they think is not theirs. The anthology attempts to address certain shades of marginality which are prevalent in the world. It further provides a fertile ground through the constructive insights and the meaningful explorations on the targeted topic.
One chapter in the book evaluates the notions of civililsation; progress and development modelled on the dictums of western thought within the framework of tribal ecological consciousness. Believing in the role of literature in propagating action and activism for the betterment of the society, the writer has extensively used the pen of her ink to evoke sensibilities towards the displacement of tribals on the pretext of gifting them ‘better life’. The text questions the pace of development and redefines the meaning of progress for the indigenous. It is a stamen against the hazardous effects of western model of development on the indigenous ecology along with sending a lucid meassage that for the survival of the tribal race the models of development and the equipment of ‘better life’ need to be positively structured. The chapter foregrounds the idea that by a mere addition of a ‘better life’ tag to the lives of tribal people, a better life cannot be assured for them.
This volume, which includes thirty insightful papers on the subject of marginality and subalternity by eminent teachers/scholar-critics and scholars, will, no doubt, serve the purpose of awakening the consciousness of the poor, downtrodden and the marginalised for forging their identities, thereby ensuring a society that values the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. The kernel of this book comprises a critique of the marginalisation thereby propagating the idea that Dalit writing or writing on marginality and subalternity is a social engagement. This volume is, no doubt, an endeavour to bring before its readers the vast areas that Dalit, subaltern and marginal literatures have travelled a lot in their journey since beginning.
By Ashok Kumar