Born in a Valmiki (Dalit) family in Ajmer, Rajasthan, Yashica Dutt is a contemporary Indian writer, Journalist, and anti-Caste expert. She has written on a wide range of topics such as Caste, culture, gender, fashion, and identity. In the past, she has worked with the Hindustan Times in New Delhi. She is the author of the best-selling book about Caste Coming Out As Dalit: A Memoir (2019) and won a literary award and 2020 Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar.
“Young minds are bred with hate, ready to assert their caste hierarchy over the next generation. Students are not taught why reservation is essential for those from the lower castes, who have been excluded from education, art, culture, and even owning property, to reach a somewhat level playing field. Without reservation, Dalits will remain on the fringes, unable to access even the most basic opportunities.’’
-Coming Out As Dalit: A Memoir, Yashica Dutt
In a place where the Marginalized do not hold any center of discussion, Yashica Dutt attempts to bring a change and takes the reign of representation into her hands. Dutt’s text Coming Out As Dalit: A Memoir, battles with the normalized ideas of the Hindu Caste system. Dutt comes from the city of Ajmer, completed her education in Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, New York and currently living there.
Rohith Vemula’s suicide in 2016 sent shock waves to the whole country. Where some section of the populace deliberately ignored the role of Caste in this, people like Yashica Dutt could no longer stay silent. Dutt has opened up about how every day since her childhood she was “passing off” as an upper caste person, be it in her school, hostel, or workplace. Dutt was perfecting the ‘Upper- Casteness’ by adapting to certain habits such as domesticating a cow, getting admitted to English medium schools, and many more which were considered as a sanctioning of the Upper Caste status.
Dutt even highlights the politics of caste-based networks which are “Upper Castes’” reservations. Dutt narrates her lived experiences of poverty. Coming Out As Dalit is an example of that 21st Century India where the Dalits are still living under the fear that whether they should open up about their identities or not. The enforced religious identities which have subjugated the Dalits did not leave any space for improvement but Dutt has challenged this power structure and various Dalit stereotypes which have normalized the false image of Dalits through cinema and literature. The text details today’s generation’s ignorance of reservation which leads to half knowledge and vague ideas. The school books which are highly favoring the upper caste mindset end up isolating Dalits even more. But Dutt is no doubt brave and discusses deeply the Dalit women’s contribution and their exploitation under the euphemism of Caste. She challenges Patriarchy which exists not only in the Brahmanic households but in Dalit spaces as well. He text is a challenge to the Casteist mindset which Indians have normalized to a very larger extent.
This book is a good source of knowledge as it also elaborates Ambedkar’s radical ideas regarding caste.
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