Caste Matters, with Dr. Suraj Yengde



The Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism welcomes Dr. Suraj Yengde to discuss the effects of the caste system in India, notably the impact on the Dalit people, who are considered untouchable according to Brahmin doctrine. Professor Vrinda Narain will moderate the presentation.

About Caste Matters

A first-generation Dalit scholar educated across continents, Suraj Yengde is the author of Caste Matters, a book that 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 brings to light the immovable glass ceiling that exists for Dalits even in politics, bureaucracy and judiciary, Yengde provides an unflinchingly honest account of divisions within the Dalit community itself-from their internal caste divisions to the conduct of elite Dalits and their tokenized forms of modern-day untouchability-all operating under the inescapable influences of Brahminical doctrines. He will discuss how caste crushes human creativity and is disturbingly similar to other forms of oppression, such as race, class and gender. He will argue that until Dalits lay claim to power and Brahmins join hands against Brahminism to effect real transformation, caste will continue to matter.

About the speaker

Dr Yengde is currently a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He holds a research associate position with the department of African and African American Studies, a non-resident fellowship at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, and is part of the founding team of Initiative for Institutional Anti-Racism and Accountability (IARA) at Harvard University.

He has delivered over 300 lectures, keynotes at international academic conferences and seminars across the world on the issues of casteism, racism, institutionalized discrimination, diversity and inclusion. He is a convenor of convenor of the Dalit Film Festival and India for Diversity movement.

Dr Suraj Yengde has studied in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America, and is India’s first Dalit Ph.D. holder from an African university (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg). He is an International Human Rights attorney by qualification from India and the UK.

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