Dalit Resource Centre a documentary “Ladte Bhirte Shabd” of one hour, directed by Sunil Umrao, Dept. of Mass Communication, University of Allahabad, Allahabad, on the mode of Dalit Popular Writings and life history of those Dalit writers on whom it has organized village conferences. The documentary starts with narrating the potential of the Dalit popular booklets, which are published in small towns and qasbas and sold in large numbers in footpaths, fairs, by street vendors, at political rallies and in Chetna Mandaps (small bookstalls run by dalits), have great emancipatory potentials. Mostly written by semiliterate dalits who live in small qasbas and villages of Uttar Pradesh, they reflect the grass root aspirations, reactions and their objective of Democratic Participation.This documentary portrays the emanicipatory potential of Dalit writers who themselves victims of or witness to social inequities and exposes the signs of hope and optimism in Dalit literature, affirming that identity and assertion are worthy social and cultural projects.
It focuses on the writers selected for village conferences. First village conference on the theme ‘Freedom” was centered on Guru Prasad Madan, a social activist and author of many Dalit popular writings of village Ajuwha Bazar, district Kaushambi. His writings, including biographies, poems, couplets, etc. have touched upon multiple Dalit issues, with a mission of empowering Dalit communities and have contributed immensely in the area of Dalit assertion and uplift.
Raj Kumar Pasi, a renowned Dalit writer and social activist was the author of second village conference on ‘identity creation in Dalit communities’ which was held at his place ‘Gari Kanaura’ Lucknow. His popular writings and selfless social services has won him accolades in Dalit communities as well as earned him a respectable position among non-Dalit communities. He has contributed immensely in deconstructing the pejorative Dalit identity plastered on Dalit communities since time immemorial and has replaced it by constructing new Dalit identities, embellished with the grandeur and splendor of the past history.
The writer identified for the third village conference was K. Nath on the theme ‘Voice against Humiliation’. In his writings, he has brilliantly exposed various dimensions of Dalit humiliation and also their apathy towards various ameliorative structures, helpless as they feel. Duari, his birthplace, where he saw the humiliation of Dalits from close, impelled him in forming and articulating the ideas of emancipation of downtrodden.
Chhavani Naurangabad was selection for the fourth conference, based on theme Expression of Social Equality in Popular Traditions on Dalit writer A.R. Akela a renowned Dalit writer and folk-singer. Akela’s songs depicted various form of discrimination of Dalits of the area and their helplessness to resist caste-divided society. Writings enabled him to construct a new consciousness for his community to pave a way for them to assert their demand for social respect from which they had remained deprived since centuries.
Overall, the Documentary portrays the objective of network of Dalit popular writers. This will be helpful in circulating the ideas about Dalit emancipation that were prevailing in the different states of north India, both among the educated sections and the illiterate ones who are unable to read the booklets themselves. This kind of dissemination would definitely go a long way in broadening the Dalit public sphere, which would also help to enhance the participation of Dalits in the democratic processes of the country.