VT Rajshekar's Enduring Legacy Celebrated with Launch of Dalit Voice Online Archives

Attendees from diverse backgrounds, including prominent Dalit and Muslim leaders, paid tribute to Rajshekar's relentless commitment to amplifying the voices of marginalized communities in India.
Meena Kotwal, founder of The Mooknayak, honors the veteran writer at the Bangalore event.
Meena Kotwal, founder of The Mooknayak, honors the veteran writer at the Bangalore event.

Bengaluru- The Indian Social Institute in Bangalore witnessed a historic gathering on June 8 as leaders, activists, and intellectuals converged to commemorate the launch of the online archives of 'Dalit Voice,' a pioneering journal founded by V.T. Rajshekar.

The event, titled "Unveiling Dalit Voice: Heritage of V.T. Rajshekar," was a celebration of enduring legacy of Rajshekar's fearless advocacy for social justice and equality.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of the digital repository, which aims to preserve and promote the profound insights and fervent activism that characterized Dalit Voice.

The launch of the online archives marks a significant milestone in preserving Rajshekar's extensive body of work, which includes over 100 books and monographs addressing caste, history, politics, and religion.

The digital repository will provide scholars, activists, and the public with easy access to Dalit Voice's rich collection of writings, offering valuable insights into the ongoing struggle for social justice.

Attendees from diverse backgrounds, including prominent Dalit and Muslim leaders, paid tribute to Rajshekar's relentless commitment to amplifying the voices of marginalized communities in India.

Ruth Manorama, a notable activist, recounted Rajshekar's pivotal role in challenging mainstream narratives and advocating for the rights of Dalits and other oppressed groups. She emphasized how Dalit Voice stood as a beacon of hope and resistance against Brahminical hegemony and systemic discrimination.

The event also featured reflections from Salil Shetty, former Secretary General of Amnesty International shared his experiences of growing up with VTR and at a very young age being exposed to the issues of the most marginalised.

Shetty highlighted Rajshekar's courage in speaking truth to power and urged younger generations to draw inspiration from his unwavering determination.

Prominent Dalit activists such as Paul Divakar, Ashok Bharti, and Basavraj Kowtal were in attendance, sharing their perspectives on the enduring relevance of Dalit Voice in contemporary activism. Video messages from scholars and activists, including Sukhdev Thorat, Suraj Yengde, and Kancha Iliah, further emphasized the journal's profound impact on intellectual discourse and social movements in India.

Why this portal?

The legacy of Dalit Voice and V.T. Rajshekar continues to inspire the ongoing struggle for social justice and equality in India.

As the foremost radical Ambedkarite journal spanning several decades, tens of thousands of Bahujan intellectuals, students, activists and organisations were heavily influenced by the writings in Dalit Voice. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the ideas and actions of a very significant section of the Dalit movement and Muslim leadership in India from 1990-2010 were shaped by the writings in Dalit Voice and V.T. Rajshekar.

In today's context when freedom of expression and press is under severe attack in India, V.T. Rajshekar's fearless crusade to speak truth to power shines in sharp contrast to the shameful spinelessness of the elite in this country whether in the media, civil society or business.

Dalit Voice (both on and offline) stopped being published since 2011 following intimidation of the printing press in Mangalore by the RSS ecosystem.

This portal has been developed as a one-stop archive of all the publications of the magazine, arranged both sequentially and as per key themes addressed in the writings. Beyond its archival value, is hoped that it becomes a lively platform for contemporary debate particularly among Bahujan youth who may have missed the fiery Dalit Voice days.

This is in response to a growing view that the intellectual clarity and ferocity of Dalit Voice and V.T. Rajshekar was needed in today's India even much more than it was in the previous decades.

About Dalit Voice

Dalit Voice was a powerful journal known for its forthright advocacy on behalf of persecuted nationalities denied human rights. Founded in 1981 by V. T. Rajshekar, a former senior journalist with the Indian Express, Dalit Voice became the largest circulated Dalit journal in India. The magazine appeared fortnightly in both digital and print formats, translated into many languages including Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam.

Characterised by its strong anti-Brahminist, anti-caste, and anti-racist stance, Dalit Voice vigorously advocated for liberation from Brahminism and addressed the plight of Dalits, Backward Castes, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and women-all of whom it considered victims of Aryan Brahminical racism. Columbia University described the magazine as polemical, serving as "the sole spokesman for the entire deprived, dehumanized lot of India."

Dalit Voice was an integral wing of the broader movement for Dalit interests, promoting the strengthening of each caste. The magazine did not shy away from controversial topics, publishing articles that critiqued Hinduism, Zionism, Judaism, Communism, and American neoconservatism. In addition to its regular issues, Dalit Voice published books on a variety of subjects pertinent to oppressed groups, expressing the views of Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Castes in India.

About VT Rajshekar

Vontibettu Thimmappa (VT) Rajshekar, born in 1932, is a pioneering ideologue of Dalit- Bahujan empowerment with a distinguished history of advocating for the rights of Dalits and other vulnerable groups in India. He began his journalism career at the Deccan Herald in 1959, later joining the Indian Express, where he served for 25 years.

His profound understanding of social issues and commitment to fighting caste-based discrimination led him to found Dalit Voice, which Human Rights Watch describes as "India's most widely circulated Dalit journal."

Rajshekar's work has spanned over half a century, during which he has tirelessly represented the sentiments and issues of Dalits, using his platform to challenge upper-caste hegemony and the Indian apartheid system manifested in untouchability and casteism. Through Dalit Voice and numerous pamphlets and books, he has highlighted how caste serves as the foundational structure influencing politics, law, religion, and social institutions in India.

An accomplished author, Rajshekar has written over 100 books and monographs on various subjects, including caste, history, economics, politics, and religion. In 2005, his book "Caste-A Nation within the Nation" earned him the LISA International Award in London.

Other books authored by Rajshekar include "Dalit: The Black Untouchables of India," "Brahminism: Weapons To Fight Counter Revolution," and "How Marx Failed In Hindu India," among others.

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