Shraddha Kumbhojkar


Shraddha Kumbhojkar


The paper argues that Dalits in Maharashtra have learnt to make use of the internet in support of their emancipatory politics to voice their concerns about inequality, document instances of unfair treatment, rally together for a common cause, and share their successes and failures in their fight for equality. They have been able to exercise their agency in their use of the internet and have effectively used it to assert their ideas and voices. A large chunk of the Dalit population is definitely on the wrong side of the digital divide. However, a review of the various creative ways in which the Dalits have used the internet helps us paint a picture of resistance, a picture of hope and also of melancholy. The internet has been used by the Dalits in Maharashtra as an emancipatory space. With the help of the internet, they are getting access to authentic sources of information and an audience with a genuine interest in their stories. The internet helps them document their own history through their own gaze by bringing people together, protected by the comparative anonymity of cyberspace. There is a slow but steady transition from a universe of Grand Narratives of Dalit history to a multiverse of competing memories and histories taking shape.

El documento argumenta que los dalits en Maharashtra han aprendido a usar Internet para apoyar sus políticas emancipadoras, para expresar sus preocupaciones sobre la desigualdad, documentar instancias de trato injusto, reunirse para una causa común y compartir sus éxitos y fracasos en su lucha por igualdad. Ellos han podido ejercer su capacidad para usar Internet y la han utilizado efectivamente para hacer valer sus ideas y voces. Una gran parte de la población dalit está definitivamente en el lado equivocado de la brecha digital, sin embargo, una revisión de las diversas formas creativas en que los dalit han usado internet nos ayuda a pintar un cuadro de resistencia, una imagen de esperanza y también de melancolía. Internet ha sido utilizado por los dalits en Maharashtra como un espacio emancipatorio. Con la ayuda de Internet, obtienen acceso a fuentes de información auténticas y a una audiencia con un interés genuino en sus historias. Internet les ayuda a documentar su propia historia a través de su propia mirada reuniendo a las personas, protegidas por el anonimato comparativo del ciberespacio. Hay una transición lenta pero constante desde un universo de Grandes Narrativas de la historia Dalit a un multiverso de historias e historias en competencia tomando forma.

Palabras clave

Caste; Dalit; Internet; Social Media; Emancipation; Western India; Contemporary History; Casta; Medios de comunicación social; Emancipación; India occidental; Historia contemporánea

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Sobre el autor:

Shraddha Kumbhojkar
Savitribai Phule Pune University, History, Faculty Member

Shraddha Kumbhojkar is Assistant Professor at the Savitribai Phule Pune University in Pune, India. She has been teaching history since 1996. She is interested in Historiography, Exclusion Studies, Memory and Ancient and Modern History of India. She has two books related to Nationalism in Modern India and Modern Maharashtra to her credit. She is presently working on topics such as popular theatre in the nineteenth Century India, textbooks of history and the challenge of fundamentalism among Indian youth and Dalit studies.


Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet), Jeannotet Colin, Cramer, Geneva P. 101. Accessed on 10-01-2018.

The word Dalit in Sanskrit literally means crushed or trampled upon. This is a word used for the people of the formerly untouchable castes in South Asia. Many other words have been used to describe the same group of people, eg. Untouchables, Shudras, Pariahs, Depressed Classes, Harijans, etc. These nomenclatures are rejected for various reasons by the Dalits themselves. Even the word Dalit is not unchallenged as some prefer the name Ambedkarite.. I have stuck to Dalit here, primarily because of its widespread usage and acceptance.

‘The Creators of the three Vedas are the Cunning, the Clever and the Night-wanderers.’ Charvaka, quoted in Sayana Madhava’s Savadarshanasamgraha, P. 14. Accessed on 10-01-2018. (translation mine.) Charvaka was one of the ancient Indian philosophers who negated the authority of the Vedas as repositories of knowledge.

Tukaram, ,Gatha, 2256. Accessed on 12-01-2018. (Translation mine. ) Tukaram was a seventeenth century poet renowned for his humanistic ideas and progressive views.

For a detailed discussion about the SatyaShodhakSamaj’s efforts at creation of an alternative history and culture, see- ShraddhaKumbhojkar, Denial of Centrality to Vedic Texts, in Willy Pfändtner& David Thurfjell (eds), Postcolonial Challenges to the Study of Religion, Interreligiösarelationer. Uppsala: Swedish Science Press, 2008.

YochaiBenkler, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Interview at the e-G8 Summit, Paris, 30-05-2011. Accessed from on 10-12-2017.

In 2014, India had shown a 240% growth in the number of internet users in the previous five years. In 2015, the number of internet users in India was 259.88 million. In 2017, it grew to 331.77 million people. Source: accessed from and on 28-01-2018.

Delta MilayoNdou, Being online will not guarantee emancipation, in The Herald, 27-10,2016. Accessed from on 11-12-201 accessed 24-01-2018. accessed on 24-01-2018.,%202007-2.pdf accessed 10-11-2017.

The original Marathi saying goes – Baamnagharee livne, Mharagharee gaane. accessed 28-01-2018. accessed on 20-01-2018. accessed 14-01-2018. accessed 01-02-2018. Marathi news article describing the journey of the movement. accessed 13th April 2018. accessed 01-02-2018

Interview with Umesh Hattikat, December 2016.

Discussion with Prof. Aravind Deshpande, Historian of Literature. March 2001.

Kumbhojkar, Shraddha, Baby Kamble Yanche Vaicharik Yogdaan, in Paramarsh, January, 2018. Pune.

( accessed 21-04-2018. accessed 01-02-2018.

Personal email communication with on 27-04-2018.

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