‘Dalits are people, have lives, wives, children’

Their lives get lost in description: Tully

When some write about oppressed people, the human being gets lost in a lot of adjectival description, former journalist and author Mark Tully said, adding that he doesn’t want to underestimate anyone else’s suffering.

He was speaking at a discussion organised by the Madras Book Club on his new book, Upcountry Tales, with N. Ram, Director, THG Publishing Group Pvt Ltd.

“I don’t want to underestimate anyone’s suffering. I do want people to remember that Dalits are people, individuals, have lives, wives, children… We must have some description, but just as I see, sometimes Dalit lives get lost [in the writing],” he said, speaking about one of the stories in the book about a Dalit defying tradition to build a temple.

Mr. Ram said the people Mr. Tully speaks about in the book are not ordinary people but they are also not prominent.

“There are serious stories and some light-hearted ones as well. Tully has been engaging in key questions of modern Indian history…the [British] Raj, whether it had any impact, the impact of railways, Gandhi vs Nehru and so on…,” he said and asked whether Mr. Tully was raising these questions through his characters.

“The hangover of the Raj went on for too long. It is going away now but whether it is going away in the right way has to be seen. I don’t think India has still yet fully come face to face with the question of ‘Asli Hindustan’. If you talk of ‘Asli Hindustan’, you are immediately deemed a support of Hindutva. India doesn’t equal Hindutva,” Mr. Tully explained.

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