Makers of Modern Dalit History by Sudarshan Ramabadran & Guru Prakash Paswan


The book is a ringside view to the early years, breakout period and illustrious contribution of various Dalit personalities in impacting imagination in their chosen fields that has eventually led to the making of Dalit history. It is an attempt to bring back to the mainstream the personalities who tirelessly fought divisive forces and consistently strove to build a socially cohesive society. The book is an important addition to the ever evolving and dynamic Indian literature.

— Milind Kamble, founder chairman, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

 As much as neglect, Dalits have been the objects of condescension and reduced to becoming objects of history. Sudarshan Ramabadran and Guru Prakash Paswan have attempted to rectify this lapse with inspirational stories of Dalits who, apart from overcoming social discrimination, were successful in different fields, from wielding political power to reshaping popular culture. This is a book that will be obligatory reading for all those who seek to understand the totality of the Indian experience

— Swapan Dasgupta, member of Parliament

Guru Prakash Paswan and Sudarshan Ramabadran are making an important contribution to the emerging canon of Dalit history. The book has a wide sweep. It showcases Dalit poets ranging from Vyasa and Valmiki to Sant Janabhai to Sant Kabir; revolutionaries like Gurram Jashuva and Udham Singh; and leaders from Dakshayani Velayudhan to Ambekdar to Kanshiram. The authors say outright that this is not an endeavour to blame past historians for omission. They want to depart from the prevalent and divisive mood of pessimism that dominates all conversations about social justice by focusing instead on both inspiration and aspiration. The goal is to bring the focus back on the nation as one entity.

— Shekhar Gupta, founder and editor-in-chief, ThePrint

The book is a reminder of the extraordinary Dalit contributions to the  history of Indian civilization, from the ancient sages Valmiki and Vyasa to twentieth-century icons Udham Singh and B.R Ambedkar. Young writers Guru and Sudarshan lucidly bring alive half-forgotten characters such as Rani Jhalkaribai, the churn of ideas and the constant pushback against discrimination. Strongly recommended . . .

— Sanjeev Sanyal, writer and economist


In late-nineteenth-century Kerala, a man flamboyantly rode a villuvandi (bullock cart) along a road. What might sound like a mundane act was, at that time, a defiant form of protest. Riding animal-pulled vehicles was a privilege enjoyed only by the upper castes. This man, hailing from the untouchable Pulaya community, was attacking caste-based discrimination through his act. He was none other than Ayyankali, a social reformer and activist.

Featuring several such inspiring accounts of individuals who tirelessly battled divisive forces all their lives, this book seeks to enhance present-day India’s imagination and shape its perception of the Dalit community. Based on original research on historical and contemporary figures such as B.R. Ambedkar, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Gurram Jashuva, K.R. Narayanan, Soyarabai and Rani Jhalkaribai, among many others, Makers of Modern Dalit History will be a significant addition to the Dalit discourse.  


 SUDARSHAN RAMABADRAN is a writer and columnist. He is an alumnus of Vivekananda College, University of Madras, and the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. He has worked in various capacities, such as deputy director and senior research fellow, at the India Foundation and headed its Center for Public Diplomacy and Soft Power in Chennai, besides founding the Tamil Nadu Young Thinkers Forum. He has previously worked with the New Indian Express in Chennai and the Department of Information, Government of Gujarat. He has completed the Legislative Fellows Program in Washington DC, a professional exchange programme organized and run by the U.S. Department of State.

GURU PRAKASH PASWAN is one of the national spokespersons of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He is an alumnus of the National Law Institute University, Bhopal, and the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi. He is an assistant professor of law at Patna University and has submitted his doctoral thesis. He is an adviser of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He was previously a part of the steering committee of the Australia India Youth Dialogue, which is a pre-eminent track-two young leaders’ dialogue between the two nations. He has completed the International Visitor Leadership Program organized and run by the U.S. Department of State.

Title:  Makers of Modern Dalit History
Author: Sudarshan Ramabadran & Guru Prakash Paswan
Publisher: Penguin
Available: Amazon

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