Famous Dalit Personalities in India: There is a misconception that Dalit is the name of a community. But in reality, Dalit is neither a caste nor a community, it is a Sanskrit word that means “oppressed” or “scattered”. To understand who a Dalit is, it is better to start with knowing the Hindu beliefs. Hindus believe in reincarnation and are strong that the social groupings or a caste that one is born into are purely a result of their past lives. According to that, the Dalits are outcasts and are not pure. As a result, these people were suppressed and marginalized. They were not given their basic rights, they were given the worst jobs that no one would be ready to do.
From a point, Dalits have been striving to come up and do other jobs that other people do. They have been struggling to get their basic rights and education. There are some people who have become successful in their fields.
List of 10 Famous Dalit Personalities in India
1. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is one of the reasons behind the rise of Dalit fighters. He was an Indian jurist, economist, and social reformer. He campaigned a lot about inequality and influenced people on how important their rights were to them. He was against caste-based discrimination and supported the rights of women and children. He has read about 60 countries’ constitutions. He is identified as the Father of the Constitution of India. He was the Chairman of the Indian Drafting Committee. His works reach out to people on the formation of untouchables and the intensity of casteism.
2. K.R. Narayanan
Kocheri Raman Narayanan was born and brought up in Uzhavoor village, Kottayam, Kerala. Being born in a poor family, he believed that education is a must for any person. As an inspiration to all the people from the Dalit community, he completed his master’s degree after a lot of struggles. His hunger for knowledge fetched him a scholarship to attend the London School of Economics. Then, he became a diplomat and served people. Later, his activeness and interests in politics made him the Cabinet Minister, then Vice President, and finally, President of India in the year 1997. His hard work and determination have always been inspiring people to move forward.
3. Narendra Jadhav
Narendra Jadhav is an Indian writer, economist, and public policy, expert. He knows Dr. B.R.Ambedkar upside down and has written a lot about him. He has also written autobiographies that intensely tell out how the people from the Dalit community have been struggling. Right now, he is a member of the Planning Commission and Rajya Sabha. Other than the union territories Diu and Daman, Jadhav is responsible for the education and employment of the states Bihar, Goa, and Tamil Nadu. He has served a lot for this country and has been working for changes in the areas of responsibility.
4. Satyendra Murli
Satyendra Murli is an Indian Journalist and researcher. Holding more than four degrees and being a registered PhD research scholar, this man also has a huge tone of bravery and confidence without any complexity. He has raised his voice against double standards in the media field. This brought to the spotlight how Dalit journalists were treated. Not just that, he has also been voicing out for women and children’s rights so often. Also, he has been accused, tortured, and raided for investigating PM Narendra Modi’s demonetization live. Going through all this, Satya has never stopped reporting the truth. He is a great role model for being truthful and brave.
5. Immanuvel Sekaran
Wherever there is suppression, there is a fighter who is born. One such person is Immanuvel Sekaran. He was born and brought up in Sellur, Ramanathapuram. He grew up seeing how the Britishers ruled Indians and how the upper castes suppressed the lower castes. This made him speak of the inequality in the country through a lot of campaigns. Moreover, he educated the Pallars (Lower Caste) on how important it is to know their rights and made them fight for equality. Also, he helped them to study and come up in society. His resistance towards the suppression from the Thevar community was huge.
6. Pa. Ranjith
Pa. Ranjith is an Indian movie maker and director. He has launched a lot of sociocultural initiatives through his cultural center called “Neelam Panpaatu Maiyam”. His initiatives include the art festival, “Vaanam” that happened in 2018, also, he documented the lives of Dalit activists with respect to the years of Dalit struggles. Furthermore, he has set up a library called “Koogai” where people can come and read books for free. This is his first initiative to bring cinema and literature together. Through Neelam Panpaatu Maiyam, he teaches music, dance, and more to people from the Dalit community. His movies speak of the same subject, Dalit suppression.
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7. Kalpana Saroj
Kalpana Saroj is a well-known entrepreneur. After being into a bad marriage, Kalpana came to Mumbai with her uncle. Initially working in a garment factory, she saved money and availed of the loan provided by the government for the Scheduled Castes. With that amount, she started a small tailoring business, then a furniture company. Later she took over Kamani Tubes, a company that was under loss, restructured it, and made it a success. She has also been depressed and suicidal but she managed to come out of it and succeed in life. She is now known as the real “Slumdog Millionaire” because of her background.
8. Ashok Khade
Ashok Khade is an Indian entrepreneur. Despite having a low possibility, he managed to finish high school and went to college. He was a cobbler’s son. Now, he has become the MD of Das Offshore. His company builds platforms and rigs. With all the knowledge that he gained as a managing director, he started his own company. Now, he has grown enough to provide jobs to more than 4000 people in his company that has an annual turnover of Rs 500 crore. He is also featured in the book Defying the Odds: The Rise of Dalit Entrepreneurs. His poor background has never been a barricade, instead, it helped him come up in life.
9. Bama – “Karukku”
Bama is an Indian Novelist. She is well known for the autobiography “Karukku”. Bama Faustina Soosairaj is also a compassionate teacher and a feminist. Her other works themes on gender and caste discrimination that has created a great impact on readers. She is keen on taking the experiences of people from the Dalit community to other people through her books. Also, she faced a lot of criticism for her book. She held out against everything that her villagers did to her. Her book “Karukku” won the Crossword Book Awards in 2000 since which has been a part of the syllabus in various courses. She has bravely made choices that have brought in new challenges in her life.
10. Divya Bharathi – “Kakkoos”, “Orutharum Varela”
Divya Bharathi is the director of the documentaries “Kakkoos” and “Orutharum Varela”. She has been hated by people for her depiction of the lower caste people in her documentaries. The visuals of her documentaries are so real and intense. She was compelled to leave Tamil Nadu after all the criticisms and rape threats that she faced. She was also arrested for protesting against the Government Rajaji Hospital who caused the death of a Dalit student due to carelessness.
It is true that it is not easy to achieve something in our passionate fields. It is even tougher when you are someone from the lower caste. In that way, these people have worked hard to bounce back in life. Not just stopping there, they have inspired and encouraged people to achieve through the possible means. 10 is just a number, there are a lot of people just like them who are not in the news or famous.