Om Prakash Valmiki was an Indian Dalit writer and poet. well known for his autobiography, Joothan, considered a milestone in Dalit literature. He was born at the village of Barla in the Muzzafarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh.
Being a Dalit child, he was tortured and abused everywhere in society. He was fortunate enough to be born in a household where everyone loved and cared for him. The support and encouragement he gained from the family enabled him to face the dangers of being a Dalit. Right from the early stages of his life, Valmiki was conscious of the importance of studies and hence he was always a bright student. Reading and writing made him an intelligent person. He was not allotted a house in the government colony causing him to struggle a lot during the initial days of marriage.
In the book, Joothan – A Dalit’s Life, Omprakash Valmiki writes, “One can somehow get past poverty and deprivation but it is impossible to get past caste.”
With this statement, Valmiki highlights the rigidity of the caste system in India that has resulted in the socio-economic oppression of thousands across India over centuries merely because of the “lesser caste” to which they belong. The title of this autobiographical account, Joothan, encapsulates the pain, the humiliation and the poverty of the “untouchable” Chuhra community of Uttar Pradesh. The untouchables or Dalits who were social outcasts not only had to rely on the joothan of others but also had to relish it. The