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DRC to hold second village meet in Lucknow

DALIT RESOURCE Centre (DRC) of GB Pant Social Science Institute is going to organise the second village/basti conference with the aim of creating a network of Dalit popular writers, intellectuals and Dalit journalists at the local level at Gari Kanaoura village near Charbagh in Lucknow from July 15.
None | By K Sandeep Kumar, Allahabad
PUBLISHED ON JUN 25, 2006 12:07 AM IST

DALIT RESOURCE Centre (DRC) of GB Pant Social Science Institute is going to organise the second village/basti conference with the aim of creating a network of Dalit popular writers, intellectuals and Dalit journalists at the local level at Gari Kanaoura village near Charbagh in Lucknow from July 15.

The two-day event will be inaugurated by the noted historian Prof A Satyanarayan of Hyderabad University.

Set up under the aegis of Ford Foundation-sponsored project on Dalits, DRC's target is to bridge the gap between the so-called mainstream writers and the Dalit writers, thereby, paving the way for the emergence of a new literary world.

"The central idea behind organising the village conference is that it will help to instantaneously disseminate liberative and emancipatory ideas among Dalits of the regions where the conferences will be held, including the non-reading sections that are unable to read the booklets themselves," informed DRC Project director Dr Badri Narayan.

He said that the conference will go a long way in extending the Dalit public sphere, which will also help to increase the participation of Dalits in the democratic processes of the country. "Additionally, it will help to democratise both the Dalit public sphere in the making and the overall Hindi literary domain of the country. Simultaneously it will also help to sensitise the non-Dalit residents of the village about the humiliation and injustice experienced by Dalits in their everyday lives at the hands of dominant sections," he added.

The theme of the second village/basti conference is 'Identity construction in Dalit communities'. "Identity is concerned with the self-esteem and self-image of a community—real or imaginary—dealing with the existence and role. It is in part determined, and reciprocally influences, the strategy of liberation that the individual or his larger community may adopt," Dr Narayan explained.

He said that it also calls for sharing of a common culture, on the one hand, and harping on the separateness from others, on the other.

"Thus, identity is dynamic, fluid, and changing rather fixed. In case of Dalits, it refers to genuine attempts to construct shared meanings and proliferate it to different degrees across huge and disparate pan- Indian Dalit communities. The assertion of identity for them means retrieving the history of a social class and projecting its distinct personality onto the political and social terrain. Social activists now feel that oppression and identity are more important for Dalits than the problems of poverty," Dr Narayan added.

In the conference an attempt will be made to probe few vital issues related to construction of identity in Dalit communities, such as, how do Dalit writers define Dalit identity through their poems, short stories, etc? How do they evaluate the present or immediate past of the Dalit communities? What, according to them, constitutes a congenial and progressive environment for identity promotion or protection? What, in their views, are obstacles in the path of Dalit identity assertion? Whom do they consider as their ideal bench-makers or pathfinders? and other such vital questions.

A renowned Dalit writer and social activist Raj Kumar Pasi, who shifted to Gari Kanaoura in Lucknow in the early 1980s and is popular in this region and in the whole of Uttar Pradesh will be the special guest at the conference. "He will be felicitated for his contributions and will also address the gathering that will include Dalit writers, intellectuals and social activists from all over the Awadh region besides local residents," Dr Narayan informed.

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