I N T R O D U C T I O N
Dalit Studies: New Perspectives on
Indian History and Society
ramnarayan s. rawat and k. satyanarayana
These privileged young Indians [studying in England] during En glish rule
[gulami, or slavery] in India had to sufer humiliation [apaman] at every
step of their stay in England, unable, for example, to travel by ﬁrst class even
though they had a ﬁrst- class railway ticket. They could not enter some hotels.
They had to listen to the humiliating [apaman-janak] En glish term “Indian
dog.” Such humiliation [apaman] enraged them. These elite Indians didn’t
know that Dalits in India had to sufer the worst kind of humiliation. . . .
Among the foreign returned [Indians] were Gandhi-ji, Jawaharlal Nehru,
Subhas Chandra Bose, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Lala Lajpat Rai and others. When
these people experienced humiliation and loss of dignity [in England] they
then became conscious of the need for in de pendence.
— mata prasad, Jhompri se Rajbhavan
The Contemporary Context
Mata Prasad’s 2002 autobiography attributes the emergence of Indian na-
tionalism to the everyday humiliation experienced by the English- educated
Indian elite under colonial rule. Like earlier Dalit authors, Prasad argues that
the origins of Indian nationalism must be located in the nationalist leaders’
personal experiences of colonial humiliation, during which they were treated