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Caste, Ecology and Nature: Environmentalism in Indian Dalit Literature

Nishanta Ghatak

All About Ambedkar: A Journal on Theory and Praxis, Volume 2, Number 2 | Full Text PDF



Eco-criticism in India has so far been interested in positing resistance against the capitalist hierarchy of anthropocentric development but has failed to address the underpinned concern in a multi-layered Indian ethnicity. So far, it has been biased in its focus on the representative savarna texts and thus, failed to capture the heterogeneity of the issue or the need for a positive reservation to enable the left-out ethnography amidst the hierarchically inherited eco-system. Several Dalit narratives have undoubtedly addressed the social, historical, political, and cultural evils poignantly but have not satisfactorily justified their positionality to shift this alignment. To counter eco-casteism, elimination of human rights, subordination of the Dalits within the mainstream, upper-class environmental movements and to make the subalterns speak on their own, it is important to understand the political hegemony prevalent around the rights over land. This paper focuses on West Bengal and Kerala, both having a multifarious demography and exhibiting a spurious and varied dependency on land to sustain their livelihood. But the age-old political hegemony prevailing there has robbed the primitive inhabitants of their sole life force and basic needs. This paper demonstrates this through a re-reading of Adwaita Mallabarman’s “Titash Ekti Nadir Naam” (1956) and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997) in conjunction with the relevant socio-historical and political scenario.

KEYWORDS: Dalit, Eco-Casteism, Environment, Indian Writings



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