Stall on Dalit literature at Delhi book fair attracting crowds (Lead)

September 6th, 2008 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) Books are a way to bridge the gap between Dalits and other sections of society. That’s the belief that has driven A.K. Gautam to open a stall exclusively devoted to Dalit literature at the 14th Delhi Book Fair.The stall by Gautam Book Centre has a large collection of books on Dalits, the problems faced by them in society, the Dalit revolution, Dalit political leaders and literature by various Dalit writers. It is attracting huge crowds.

“There are hundreds of stalls at the book fair but everyone shies away from keeping books on Dalits. My sole aim behind such a dedicated stall is to bridge the gap in society between upper castes and Dalits. I think politics cannot bridge the gap, but books can certainly,” Gautam told IANS.

“We also have books on various aspects of Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s life,” Gautam, himself a Dalit, said.

“So far the stall has received great response from visitors. Stall owners generally wait for the last two days for a good sale. But we have already met our target in the last five days,” Gautam added.

Books like “Dalit Panther Andolan” by Ajay Kumar, “Budh Kabir Ambedkar” by S.S. Gautam, “Atulya Lady Mayawati” by Ashok Gajbhiye, “Behenji” by Ajay Bose and “Untouchables’ Contribution to the independence Struggle” by B.C. Dinkar are at the book stall.

Gautam said he found the response from non-Dalits “most encouraging”. He is offering a special discount to those buying the books to keep them in school libraries.

“The problem is that even schools are not ready to keep such books in their library,” he said.

A schoolteacher of east Delhi who was buying a book on Ambedkar urged Gautam to give a special discount saying that the low price would help them keep more such books in the school library.

Asked about problems he had faced during the fair, Gautam said: “During the last few days I have come across a few people who intentionally come and debate about the reason behind having a special stall on Dalit books.”

“I have had several debates with them. Some come and ask the meaning of Dalit, even when they know the meaning. But I am ready for everything as my ultimate goal is to bridge the gap in society,” he added.

The book fair started Aug 31 and ends Sunday.

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