Source : Times of India
DHARWAD: Noted Marathi writer Laxman Gayakwad regretted that Dalit literature did not get due recognition as part of mainstream literature from critics.
Speaking on ‘Tale of Dalits’ at the Sahitya Sambhrama here, he said literature was not meant only for entertaining people and it should aim at inclusive welfare of entire humanity. Gayakwad kept the audience thinking and laughing by his witty remarks while dealing with a serious topic.
Replying to questions from moderator Sarjoo Katkar, Gayakwad explained the background of him writing the novel ‘Uchalya’ and said his experiences as a member of most humiliated and neglected community – ‘Ghantichor’- had prompted him to write the novel. Uchalya won the Central Sahitya Akademi award and has been translated
into 18 languages.
Gayakwad said the British against whom the illiterate but intelligent members of his community were fighting had classified the community as a criminal tribe.
“The community members were treated as habitual offenders as they used to steal from the houses of the rich and feed the poor. However, the community members were shrewd in the art of stealing. They used to ring the bell in front of a house of a rich person who would be their target. They used to warn that they were going to steal from a particular house and anyone obstructing would be dealt with severely. That is how the name of the community came to be known as Ghantichor,” Gayakwad said.
He regretted that community members were not allowed by society to be educated for ages. He added that Dalit literature need not be confined to the literature about and by a people belonging to certain scheduled castes. “It is about all those who are downtrodden cutting across region and religion,” he said.
In a scathing attack on those creating trouble in the name of Hindutva, Gayakwad said these people did not know the correct meaning of ‘Hindu’. The name came because of the River Sindhu, he said and added that taking weapons to create a revolution was a futile exercise. Revolution is possible by convincing people about an ideology affectionately, he said.
He added that there has been a change in the tone and tenor of Dalit literature and the anguish that was its main character in the early 70s and 80s has not been replaced by mature logical arguments.
Nehru amid Ghantichors
Gayakwad said Ghantichors were shrewd in the art of stealing and narrated an episode involving the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.
“Nehru was addressing a convention of Ghantichors at Sholapur in Maharashtra and was explaining the measures taken by the government to uplift the community. Meantime, a person in the audience stood up flaunting a purse and asked whom did it belong to. He said that it was Nehru’s purse and the then Prime Minister put his hand in his pocket only to find that it was cut and the purse had been picked,” Gayakwad said. The writer jokingly said his community members were very good at running, jumping and acrobatics and hence by including them in the Indian cricket team and other sports, India could win heap of medals and trophies.