Winners, all.

In a rare  move, a few years ago the Sahitya Akademi presented its Golden Jubilee Life Time Achievement Award to Namdeo Dhasal.

Dhasal, a Dalit Marathi poet- founder of the Dalit Panthers and a flamboyant and controversial political figure- symbolises the essence of Dalit protest poetry. His first works, made famous in translation by Dilip Chitre, were published in Golpitha which Chitre feels "occupies a position equal to that of T.S.Eliot's The Waste Land not only in Marathi but in pan-Indian poetry and it could have been written only by a Dalit. " .....


Rain driving down in sheets, a dying cigarette,
A dehydrated dancing girl,
Contrasting colour harmony
I too have poverty as my own piece of land...

"Namdeo's Golpitha has no literary foregrounding because it springs from an 'untouchable' source in every sense of the term. It reveals whatever others would strive to shove under the carpet of poetry. This is my considered opinion more than twenty-five years after its publication and I had no hesitation in writing that Namdeo's poetry, from that outstanding start, is Nobel Laureate material. He has published six more collections of poetry since, and each has the stamp of his unique genius." (Chitre)

One collection of his, the recently published Namdeo Dhasal: Poet of the Underworld has both made Dhasal's work more accessible, and has also brought international recognition to Navayana, the small, independent publishers who "exclusively focus on the issue of caste. Navayana literally means new vehicle, a term given to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s socially and morally concerned, rationalistic, anti-metaphysical interpretation of Buddhism." Navayana was
given British Council's prestigious International Publisher of the Year Award earlier this year, and this was one of the books for which the BC chose Navayana out of a field that included small-to-medium-sized publishers from Argentina, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa and Syria.

One of the other books that Navayana showed in London was Kancha Ilaiah's Turning the Pot, Tilling the Land, a wonderful book with illustrations by Durgabai Vyam, subtitled  "Dignity of labour in our times". This should be made compulsory reading not just for children for whom it was ostensibly written, but for all Indians. A third Navayana title is Dilip Menon's The Blindness of Insight, a most readable account of caste, secularism and communalism by one of our leading modern historians.

Books to make you think and wonder, about our society and our selves.
All these Navayana books (and more) can be obtained from the Scholars site.

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