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Caste no bar

A churning is taking place in Delhi's Valmiki Sadan, a landmark of India's freedom struggle. The great-grand children of those who brushed shoulders with Gandhi are no longer taking up their parents’ professions. They will form around 15 pc of the estimated 100 mn new voters in the coming elections. Political parties will surely need to reinvent themselves to attract the new Dalit, young and restless. Mayank Austen Soofi delves further.

delhi Updated: Feb 08, 2009 00:03 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi

A transformation is underway in Delhi’s Valmiki Sadan, a landmark of India’s freedom struggle. This is the Dalit settlement where Mahatma Gandhi stayed from March 1946 to June 1947. His small room — that still has his writing table, inkpot and charkha — hosted crucial meetings of the Congress. Among the regular visitors to the room were Jawaharlal Nehru and Lady Mountbatten.

This was then a place of mud huts whose residents worked as sweepers. Today there are two-room flats, a paved road, a Mother Dairy booth and a park with seesaws and swings. The residents are still municipal sweepers.

But the great-grand children of those who brushed shoulders with Gandhi are no longer taking up their parents’ professions. Their aspirations and icons are different. And they will form around 15 per cent of the estimated 100 million new voters in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Political parties will surely need to reinvent themselves to attract the new Dalit, young and restless.

Click on the links to read the stories:

I will be a tycoon like Dhirubhai’

‘I’m against reservations’

‘I hate the word Dalit’

‘My room will look like SRK’s in Om Shanti Om’

‘Mayawati just doesn’t have it’