Growing Up Untouchable in India: A Dalit Autobiography

Growing Up Untouchable in India: A Dalit Autobiography There is much in Vasant Moon s story of his vasti, his childhood neighborhood in India, that would probably be true of any ghetto anywhere in the world There is hunger and deprivation, to be sure, but also a sense of community, an easy acceptance of petty crime and violence, the saving grace of sports and organized activities led by caring adults, the off again on again aid from relatives, the inexplicable cruelty and unexpected generosity, and escape through education But there is much here that is peculiarly and vividly Indian as well Primary among these is the factor of caste, a hierarchical system unrelated to race but based on ancient principles of hereditary pollution and purity, with Brahmans the purest and Untouchables the most polluted Second is the presence of a hero so important he is described as a wave, and surely no despised group has ever had a leader as meaningful as Dr B R Babasaheb Ambedkar was and remains for India s awakened and ambitious Dalits Third is nature, with Moon s compelling descriptions of Nagpur s heat and the vivid joy brought by the monsoon Indeed, every tree, every fruit, every nook and cranny of the world in and around the vasti plays an important part in his story Dalit literature, poetry, plays, and autobiographies have been one of the most important developments in the culture of India in the past thirty years, yet little has been translated for a Western audience Vasant Moon s Growing Up Untouchable, the first Dalit autobiography to be published in English, is a moving and eloquent testament to a uniquely Indian life as well as to the universal human spirit


About the Author: Vasant Moon

Vasant Moon is a retired civil servant and Dalit activist He is the editor of 17 volumes of Dr Ambedkar s writings and speeches in English.



10 thoughts on “Growing Up Untouchable in India: A Dalit Autobiography

  1. Conrad Barwa Conrad Barwa says:

    Not as powerful as Valmiki s Joothan or as caustic as Murli s Untouchable Moon s Mahar background is relativelypriveleged and less deprived than that of paraiyars or bhangis but it offers nonetheless an insight into the Ambedkarite tradition of Dalit thought and experience common in Western India, along with


  2. Ajeng Puspitasari Ajeng Puspitasari says:

    wanna learnabout caste system in india it s a good one to read


  3. Ke Ke says:

    Though the pacing of this book is a bit uneven, it is about a topic which I knew very little about I tried to read this and not to be too upset at the caste system.


  4. Bethany Bethany says:

    pretty good, alittle confusing at times, but overall really interesting


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