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Emergence of Dalit Consciousness

Dalits occupy the lowest position in the local hierarchy of castes. They are from the former outcaste group of untouchables who adopted the nomenclature of dalits following the original usage of the term by Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.During British period a number of movements came into existence that showed concern for dalits at various levels. Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Dr Ambedkar, Mahtama Gandhi,Sri Narayan Dharam Paripalan of Kerala and reform movements fought for the Dalit cause.

In the post independence period the legal sanctions against discrimination made the lower castes accessible for political and constitutional rights. The reservation of electoral candidates for parliament and assembly also created awareness among the Dalits for the assertion of their rights. The legal and democratic rights with numerical strength made the Dalit groups make use of the existing situations. The access to power through political emancipation has strengthened the egalitarian and competitive ideologies and identity consciousness has been consolidated.