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December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Dec' 2017


Story of a Dalit family

M. R. Dua

HIDDEN, covert or arcane, the u n d e r l i n e d motive of p u b l i s h i n g , p r o m o t i n g and approbating this book appears to be commending and applauding the religiousconversion missions sponsored and supported by multiple Christian institutions funded by rich western nations, particularly America, Canada, Australia, India and many other developing countries.
As we all know that ever since Christianity arrived in India 52 AD when St. Thomas landed in Kerala, the movement to convert poor and the downtrodden people to Christianity is prevalent unabated until today. The Christian religious leadersponsors have been inducing, luring and incentivizing the deprived poor and the disadvantaged people monetarily, and generously offering freebees to convert.This book narrates the story of a Dalit family that prospered and flourished after all its members embraced Christianity.
Author Sujatha Gilda, a 26- year-oldDalit woman, whose ancestors from a tiny Andhra village had converted to Christianity in the 1800s, acquired engineering and physics degrees from India's most prestigious and elitist institutions like IIT, availing herself of reservation concessions. Her parents also were employed as college teachers. She too initially secured a fairly respectable job of a researcher in applied physics in ISRO. However, she was lured by Canadian missionaries to migrate, and she moved to the United States where she landed in teenyweeny jobs in banks, etc., and currently works as conductor in New York city sub-way system.
Though now in America, she suffers discrimination and gets accursed due to the colour of her skin. However, the difference is that such attitudes aren't hurtful much. But she continues to remember the Dalit caste injustices and sex differences that were hurled upon her, and her siblings when they were growing up in India.
This book is her memoircum- autobiography. Gidla casually hints at the sad and hurtful plight of the Black in the US over the years… that's still rampant till today. She doesn't discuss the Blacks' horrendous predicament today, even in the 21st century US-- segregation in schools, society, jobs, education and above all of being shunned in political, social even religious circles.

Gidla Sujatha Even in the eyes of local laws, they're treated prejudicially and differently compared to the Whites in police stations, jails, Blacks have their separate cultures, churches, media outlets, partly even in universities, colleges and schools. Though numerous American laws apparently forbid such attitudes and even the atmosphere, things are no so rosy as Gidla had thought, and now she experiences day in and day out in new home in new country. But she is not so vocal in details these. Obviously !
The book's first 31-paged extended Introduction and Prelude, the author sums up the events and circumstances that impelled her family and many others like her, to consent conversion. While she repeats umpteen times, with profuse pain and immense resentmentthe Dalits' 'untouchable' status in the Hindu society: 'The caste you're born in determines the kind of (lowly) work you do.' The last chapter, titled "Afterword", makes hair-raising on-the-spot narration of the state of grinding poverty would be hard to envisionin today's India.
She vividly recollects innumerable humiliations that Dalits were made to undergo to earn their meagre wages after prolonged hard work in fields as landless labourers, underfed domestic helps, and were made to live only in areas segregated from locations where caste Hindus inhabited.
They were allowed to eat using only different utensils, and not come close to the so-called upper caste men and women. Gidla describes at length her mother Manjula's 'battles with caste and women's oppression' and, … page after page, she takes the reader into her family's early days fight with social ill-treatment they were meted with. Gidla's uncle K. Satyamurty, a brilliant propagandist for Communists, was a committed follower of Chinese leader Mao, and was a radical revolutionary and was a most wanted man by the police. Being an extreme hardliner, he was expelled from his subversive and resurgent outfit, People's War Group. Gidla who initially followed his ideology, but when she was jailed for three months, she quit. Gidla's account of Satyamurthy's seditious activities runs though the book. To the reader's disliking though.
Moreover, the complicated details of the story of the Gidla family's rescue-process won't interest a perceptive reader. But the passion and singlemindedness she researched these from piles of records and personal interviews spread over two visits, accompanied by her assistant, would have cost a tidy amount provided by Christian sponsors keen to reflect that savage, brutalendless torture the 'converts' were said to have been saved from.
For example, hardly anyone will be interested to know how and whyGidla's mother, Manjula, 'sent word to Paulus asking to see him and waited on a bench outside his office. Her family's financial situation was quite bad. Her brother had three small children. Without her salary, they could not eat. She desperately needed the job.' Trivial details of Gidla's distantrelations' problems fill the pages that have little, if any, relevance with the book's theme.
Moreover, there are numerous factual m i s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s , grammatical-editorial errors and unexplained details. Perhaps since the editors were unfamiliar with background, such discrepancies were bound to occur. The chapters have no headings, there's no index; poor translations of Telugu language words.
Finally, listless details spanning over some 150 pages may not have even been intelligible to the book critics who debated at length in reviews in print and electronic media -- BBC, NBC, London Economist , The Guardian, London Times, The New York Times, and numerous other media outlets in the West, but all have welcomed the book in roaring words and reeling out statistics on Dalits' place in Indian scoeity.
Prompted to publicize Gilda's critical conditions to escape from which poverty, and of many other poor people who were 'voluntarily' resorting to 'conversion' actuated by better future prospects after embracing Christianity.
However, scholars of sociology, anthropology and political science could find the book of limited interest. The book's title cover and blurb leave much to be desired.