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Dalit Consciousness

The term Dalit means poor and oppressed people has now acquired a new cultural context relating to Dalit literature and Dalit movement. Used in 1930s in Hindi and Marathi to denote the depressed classes later labeled as scheduled caste the term became popular in the 1970s.Dalit panthers in their manifesto in 1973 enlarged its meaning to include scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, landless laborers, small farmers and nomadic tribes. In 1924 Dr B R Ambedkar founded the Bahishkrit Hitkarmi Sabha to promote the cause of Dalits.

Dalit consciousness has been revived by several protest movements to fight discrimination. Laws in India proclaim equality but practice is way behind. Now the term Dalit is used with pride and spirit of self assertion and its movement denotes a unified class movement towards equality.