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Caste Matters

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  30 reviews
In this explosive book, Suraj Yengde, a first-generation Dalit scholar educated across continents, challenges deep-seated beliefs about caste and unpacks its many layers.

He describes his gut-wrenching experiences of growing up in a Dalit basti, the multiple humiliations suffered by Dalits on a daily basis, and their incredible resilience enabled by love and humour. As he
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 22nd 2019 by India Viking
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Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointed with the book. Does nothing to advance the Dalit intellectual tradition. A long litany of complaints against Brahmins, essentially based on writings of Dr. Ambedkar. Essentially aimed at a western audience. Intended to shock them into acknowledging the plights of Indian Dalits. Has practically nothing for the informed reader.
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a non dalit reading this book, one can get an idea of the atrocities committed on the dalits in the present day. It presents the picture based on facts and figures on how the caste discrimination continues. Where it lacks is in giving a solution to the age old problem. As the writer is young I expect many more works on the subject will come out with time. Overall a good read.
Kevin McAvoy
Dec 27, 2020 rated it did not like it
I got halfway thru this book and decided to give up. Written very college professor like and sentences left me baffled. The author seem to blame everyone on the planet for Dalit conditions. I'm not sure some of the comments were just meant to insult those who tried to improve the conditions. ...more
Nallasivan V.
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I expected this book to be a memoir like Ants among elephants. But it was much more. It is a memoir sometimes. Sometimes it is an academic study of effects of caste discrimination but at others, it is a manifesto for a radical Dalit politics. Yengde's arguments and call for a radical Dalit politics are compelling. In today's political climate, radical is often connected to extremism. But Yengde makes it clear that this "radicalness" is more about love and inclusiveness.

Yengde also effectively p
Aakriti Mehrotra
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Essential learning and unlearning.

An excellent (and uncomfortable) book that demands to be read.

However, it’s academic and not an ideal primer (which I was seeking though it worked out well for me). Take your time (I read it over 3 months alongside other books) and consume this slowly but consciously.
Anurag Singh
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Caste will matter until it is done away with", writes Suraj Yengde in the new book which he has authored (earlier he had edited a book along with Anand Teltumbade). His call for the inclusion of the issue of casteism in the popular global social movements is an attempt to take the Dalit movement at the global level (the writer uses the term “Dalit" for the Scheduled Castes of India which are considered “untouchable”). Unsurprisingly this is natural for a young scholar who has studied in four d ...more
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is a must-read for the whole South Asian community. Both a searing analysis of the facts and a moving narrative of the author's experience, it lays out the many horrors of the "wheel of dominance" and how millions of people are suffering under the doctrines of caste. Those who dismiss this as a "rural" issue ignore the enormous disparities present in every aspect of Indian society. Moreover, Dalits are often the focus of modern understandings of caste, but how many of us have looked in ...more
Thushanth Bengre
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book after learning about the author from one of my friends. His strong opinion about Dalit reforms is what attracted me to this book.

Caste-based discrimination and oppression are not gaining global attention because unlike gender and race, it is not physically distinguishable. To add to this, a lot of people belonging to oppressed caste/class choose to hide their caste when they are in positions of power.

The books opening chapter is Being a Dailt where the author gives some of
Apr 06, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Some sections made me feel ashamed that I'm from a Brahmin family - they were so hard-hitting! I also loved the bits of memoir in the book. The last chapter is a call to action to Brahmins and I read it TWICE!

However, some parts were a bit lengthy and dare I say, boring. I'm not interested in stats and numbers so the author lost me there. But that may light someone else's fire! He could have given more examples of Dalit culture - food, festivals, deities etc.

Overall, I have mixed feel
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A sweeping panorama of the situation of India’s Dalits, the history of anti-caste movements, typologies, or ‘castegories’, of both Dalits and Brahmins based on their stances vis-à-vis caste, critiques of Dalit politics, Dalit academics and ‘Dalit capitalism’ interspersed with personal experiences and perspectives. And a glimpse into the question of how, in the face of relentless oppression, discrimination, exploitation, othering and violence Dalits persist with their everyday lives and the strug ...more
Amoga Krishnan
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is an important book. Four stars because I thought the language, in parts, was excessively academic. I distinctly remember reading the phrase "nihilistic conduit" and thinking wow.... could the author not have said it differently? Maybe I'm being pedantic about writing style without appreciating each person communicates uniquely... (I would be remiss if I didn't say the language is not majorly abstruse.) ...more
Satya Narayana
Apr 11, 2021 rated it liked it
While most of the arguments are well researched and compelling, I am not really convinced with his views on non-radical/middle-class Dalits. A lot of undue resentment is directed towards the Dalits who can't afford to be political. ...more
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars, audiobook

Caste Matters by Dr. Suraj Yengde

If you try searching for the genre of this book on Google or Goodreads, the answer that is thrown up is "Autobiography". But when I picked up this book, I found that it isn't as much of an autobiography as it is a call for action, a manifesto if you will.

I had seen an interview of Dr. Yengde where he says, "I challenge every Indian to take their own shit in their hands and hold it for a few seconds. You won't be able to do it. And you expect others t
Ajeet Singh
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Suraj's words are true, fierce and filled with rebellion. This book is a must read as it depicts the untold reality of our society in a factual manner . ...more
Moitreyee Mitra
Mar 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a first book and I hope there's much more to come.
Foreword by Cornel West is worth every word where there is an evident link established with the struggles happening around the world, and why they can sustain each other.
My reading experience was a slightly tedious with the tone being above all academic, but the heavy referencing means that my next read will be Anand Teltumbde.
The book could have foregrounded a lot more younger culture figures that Yengde seems to follow on social media
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is an extremely comprehensive account of the caste system. Suraj Yende covers several different aspects of being a Dalit and how the caste system has completely taken control of their lives and livelihoods. He also talks about the different types of Dalits and the sub castes within Dalits. He also speaks about the primary social and political Dalit movements in India. He also warns the Dalits regarding the lure of the neo liberal capitalist order that can make the oppressed as the oppressor ...more
Amarjeet Mehto
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An honest, detailed and exhaustively researched account of the current situation of the 'Dalit Project' which is a (has taken shape of) movement for the annihilation of the longest-thriving pathogen known to mankind that is casteism.

To give you an idea:
"Until the progressives can take a courageous stand by denouncing and renouncing self-privilege;
until radicals make caste their primary project;
until rationalists do not stop commuting to agraharas to educate;
until Dalixploitation becomes a con
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Every community according to ambedkar practices inequality in its own forms" 💙⭐

Caste matters is a extraordinary record of dalit politics in and around India. Each chapter is very engaging and detailed. Statistical analysis about brahmin dominance in the society show the work we all have to do. Interesting part in the book is "Brahmins against brahminism" which explains brahmin and other upper caste people who helped phule and ambedkar during their anti- caste movements.
And my favorite part in
Ubah Khasimuddin
May 16, 2021 rated it it was ok
NFM (not for me), I picked this up thinking it was going to be a personal narrative of the author's experiences as a lower caste member in Indian society, unfortunately this was more scholarly philosophy/sociology book, like something one would read in a college class - talking more about concepts and theories than meat and potatoes.

I did find it irritating that the author continuously slams middle class Dalits or educated Dalits for not helping their fellow Dalits and for constantly blaming D
Prabhakar Ranjan
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book on the subject matter... Well researched with flawless narrative ,appalling historical background , pertinent argument , valid explanation .. in sort with all aspect and sphere book has been delivered with flying colors...

I would like to thank you Mr. Suraj to place the matter discussion in mainstream with this flawless book.... Every chapter seems so real with perspective of oppressed class or oppressor class , this is an eye opener for both , how in the current scenario when we sh
Sreenidhi Sreekumar
Jun 05, 2021 rated it liked it
Yengde clearly writes from his lived experience as a dalit in Maharashtra. His words clearly alludes to the personal pain and suffering he has gone through and one that also made him stronger. His narrative is a call for liberation for his fellow beings who stand for a caste free Indian society.
However, his thoughts are scattered and did not seem to have a clear line of sight. He touches upon a lot of things and yet the narrative is devoid of a structural coherence. But it could be safely said
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: india, non-fiction
Yengde's book is a look at the reality of Caste in India in the second decade of the Millenium.

The book is divided into a set on themes in which Yengde places his arguments on the nature of caste, and how it impacts a large part of the Indian population even today.
Interspersed with the stories of him growing up - as well as extremely pointed data from the government - the story of caste in 21st century India, is a story of an atrocity considered over, rather than persisting even today.

If you
Ayush Anand
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued by this book after listening to Suraj on one of the podcasts. The book carefully constructs the caste situation in India and the history behind it. It also explains how the hierarchies get built up over time. It is very well researched & also presents enough data points to highlight the lack of representation at key positions of bureaucracy, legislative and also in media. Overall a good read though it feels abruptly ended & repetitive at times especially if you have read similar ...more
Unbeatable Devendra
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ohh, definitely a book to read but without prejudices. Before reading you must be human first. The position of dalits are not pleasing yet only for the reason that if oppressure and society want to change it, the priveliged cast will loose more than a comparison. But old time was having some bottleneckless which can now be removed by using internet, communication etc.
Writer has done a vast study , remarkable
Hemanth Prajwal
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
An absolute must read for every Indian...
Mar 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A must read for everyone. Jai Bhim 💙
Jun 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Good read, but it could have used a detailed methodological section and a theoretical chapter.
Sudarshana Mukhopadhyay
If you're new to the subject of Caste, or have little knowledge of some of the darker sides of Indian society, or have grown up to be a Caste-blind, this book is for you. It helps you understand your privileges and the microaggressions in and around your community. The book touches upon a wide range of issues very meticulously and nudges you to explore more. The ample references are a good start for educating oneself on the subject. The book also helps to understand the nuances and heterogeneity ...more
Iqra Tasmiae
Dec 30, 2019 marked it as to-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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“As much as the constitutionality of the state emphasizes the spreading of social and economic equality and scientific temper, it does not, however, explicitly talk about the unequal stakes inherited by the traditional power brokers. The reconciliation of the horrid past that manifests into the present remains unacknowledged. As a result, the question of reparation and inherited privilege does not feature in the discussions of dominant-caste people. This lack of historical accountability creates a group of self-declared nationalists, religionists, supremacists and merit holders that parade around as pundits proffering distorted versions of Indian society.” 3 likes
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