April is Dalit History Month so this week, we have an article on relatively lesser known Dalit intellectual, Iyothee Thass.
When we talk about it, the colonial period is often seen as simply “bad” - a time of oppression of Indians by the British. But Dalit intellectuals like Iyothee Thass argued that for dalits, the colonial period actually brought some freedom from the tyranny of upper castes.
Iyothee Thass is one of the earliest anti-caste leaders that we know. He was also one of the first Dalit leaders to ever convert to Buddhism. In this way, he predated Ambedkar - and his politics influenced Periyar’s Non-Brahmin Movement as well. Hopefully this article based on V Geetha and SV Rajadurai’s work shines some light on him.
(We’re still figuring out our posting schedule for the articles and this newsletter so please bear with us!)
India Ink Team