The Dalit Studies Centre of the English Department was instituted under the aegis of the U.G.C. – D.S.A. — III programme. The establishment of the centre was an acknowledgement of the growing constituency of faculty and students within the department who have been evincing an interest in the study of Dalit writings and cultural production. In recent years several students have for M. Phil. and Ph.D. work in the department on and around the area of Dalit Studies. There have been also many major faculty publications in this area. In 2011, the department held its Annual Conference on the topic, “Dalit Experience and the Question of Marginality.”
Given this background, it was imperative that the interest of a large number of senior and junior scholars in the department in Dalit Studies should be channelized and consolidated in the shape of starting a research centre which would help to further their academic needs.
Thus, apart from organizing talks, workshops and symposia on various aspects of Dalit culture and literature, the centre aims at using research students with bi-lingual and multi-lingual facility to produce translations of Dalit life-writings from various Indian languages into English, and ultimately produce a multi-volume collection of Dalit life-writings. As of now, willing translators have been found for translation from the following languages — Bangla, Hindi, Malayalam, Odia, Tamil and Telegu. In the fulfillment of this project, the centre has been promised full assistance by its fraternal body in the department, the Centre for Translation and Archival Activities (CATA). The CATA has also pledged to extend support to the Dalit Centre on the matter of putting together an archive of rare manuscripts, manuscripts and periodicals related to Dalit Studies. Yet another activity, planned in collaboration with CATA, is the taping of audio-visual interviews with noted Dalit authors, intellectuals and activists. In this regard, the Dalit intellectual, author of the celebrated autobiography, Mera Bachpan Mere Kandhon Par, has already given a recorded interview to Dr. Tapan Basu, the current convener of the Dalit Studies Centre.
At the beginning of the ongoing semester, the centre a very well-attended, half-day workshop on “Atrocities on Dalits: In Life and Literature.” The event, chaired by Dr. Basu, featured presentations by Professor Sumanyu Satpathy and Professor Raj Kumar. The presentations evoked energetic discussion on the the subject at hand. This event was soon followed by a whole-day seminar on “Dalit Life-Writings: Across Languages and Cultures,” which after a very informed introductory talk by Professor Raj Kumar, saw presentations by S.Anand, Publisher of Navayana Books, New Delhi, the Dalit writers, Sheoraj Singh Bechain (Hindi) and Balbir Madhopuri (Punjabi) , and seasoned scholars on Dalit literature, Brati Biswas (Bangla), B. Manglam (Tamil) and Dhananjay Kapse (Marathi). Once again the discussion on the papers presented was extremely lively and indeed stretched on till evening.
– A three-day conference on “ Publishing and Disseminating Dalit Literature “ which is to be hosted by it, in collaboration with select academics from the Nottingham Trent University, U.K. and the Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, France, and with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, U.K., from December 17 to 19
– Proposed talk by Mr. Dilip Mandal, Jawaharlal Nehru University, on the current agitation in Gujarat for extending caste-based reservations to the members of the Patel community
– A screening of and discussion on Anand Patwardhan’s film Jai Bhim Comrade