B. Venkat Rao


This paper is a study and analysis of Y.B. Satyanarayana’s autobiographical text, My Father Baliah. It examines how the author’s family were able to negotiate the spaces of colonial modernity and its institutions, such as the railways and educational institutions, for the upliftment of their family. Historically, education and respectful employment were categorically denied to Dalits. They were denied to Dalits due to the prevailing Brahminical caste system which prohibited Dalits from either acquiring book knowledge or owning any form of wealth or assets. However, the Dalit community was able to access some resources of modernity during British colonialism. Interestingly, the author documents the positive role Muslim rulers of the times as well as the British who enabled this mobility of a downtrodden caste. The paper looks at these historical shifts which opened a liminal liberal space for the author’s forefathers during colonialism and sowed the seeds of education and empowerment for his family and an entire community.

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My Father Baliah, caste, colonialism, Dalits, education, empowerment, Telangana

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