Answer to Question #210926 in Philosophy for jai

Question #210926

         Sharmila Rege explores the gap between the social practice of caste and the academic     knowledge about it. What is this gap? Critically examine the specific dimensions of this gap. Through few instances, explain the ways in which this gap can be addressed.  

 (20 MARKS) (800- 1000 WORDS)

Expert's answer

Sharmila Rege


           Sharmila Rege, an Indian sociologist and feminist scholar famous for her books Writing Caste and Writing Gender, is one of the leading feminist scholars in India. She is acknowledged for her initiation of the 'Dalit Standpoint Perspective', which has been significant in fostering several feminist debates across India in respect to questions of class, religion, sexuality, and caste. The latter is a system of classifying each of the hereditary classes of the Hindu community characterized by their relative differences of ritual purity and social status. Besides, Rege's legacy within the academic field is significant in the fight for Dalit student rights (Rege, 2007). Dalit represents a group of individuals belonging to the lowest caste in India. Rege's most controversial impact on the subject of women studies must be the Dalit-Feminist Standpoint. She aimed to address the gap that masculinization of Dalithood and Savarnisation of femininity leads to the traditional obliteration and exclusion of Dalit womanhood.

           Rege’s concerns around woman’s studies in India have significantly impacted new alternative methods of exposing the hidden facets of a Hindu Nation against the Dalit desires and views that are mostly neglected in the political arena of India’s history. As she took to explore the social practice of caste and the academic understanding about it, she founded her perspective of caste on Ambedkar’s views of it as an endogamous class maintained through authority over woman’s sexual and reproductive responsibilities (Rege, 2019). Besides, she suggests that no reasonable sexual politics can be achieved without acknowledging the relationship between caste and sexuality.

           Furthermore, the dominance of caste status exhibits itself through the obliteration of women from the productive responsibilities in the public society. Conversely, the Dalit man’s impurity is overlooked due to his incapability to influence his woman’s sexual desires. This has majorly contributed to the Dalit women being sexually abused to diffuse and degrade Dalit manhood. Rege continues to add that Dalit women as a whole cannot be perceived as a homogenous group. She responded to Gopal Guru's article "Dalit Women Talk Differently", in which Guru argues that the autonomous marshaling of Dalit Women is a distinctive epistemological perspective (Rege, 2019). Besides, Guru asserted that Dalit women talk differently, permitting the development of a genuine representation of social reality. Responding to these suggestions, Rege interpreted them as problematic and such perspectives cause the narrow identity politics that has significantly limited the freedom and rights of Dalit Women groups.

The dimensions of this gap.

           The gap addressed by Rege has several dimensions that signify its relevance. For instance, the Dalit-feminist standpoint relays a fundamental re-evaluation of perspectives and views of how activism and academia should operate within India. Rege's standpoint argues on the reforms needed in transforming the political and academic field to recognize the views of Dalit womanhood. Conversely, Rege, who belongs to the upper caste, comes out as a dominant influence on the anti-caste personalities and activist moves (Rege, 2019). 

           Secondly, the Dalit Feminist standpoint seeks to promote liberation and freedom in the subject of women's studies. This dimension is exhibited from the founding thoughts on Dalit Women's lives which are existing and visible in the thought consequences. Through this dimension, Rege's standpoint aims in promoting an emancipatory result compared to the existing views and perspectives. Besides, the standpoint is strongly averse to the philosophies of pluralism and relativism, which base their assertion on every knowledge-based and political perspective as acceptable and norms (Rege, 2019).

            Lastly, it is notable that Dalit feminist standpoint originating from the existing practices and challenges may be addressed by Dalit feminist scholars. However, the gap is effectively addressed if it is distinguished from the ideas and perspectives of other intellectual groups, which are subject to education and awareness on the history, social preferences, and challenges faced by marginalized groups such as the Dalit (Rege, 2019). This dimension intends to convert those perspectives to focus on the cause and perspective of the marginalized groups. However, this does not suggest that non-Dalit feminists may address as or for Dalit women, but on the contrary, they can reimagine and revaluate themselves as Dalit feminists. This, therefore, results in a standpoint that avoids the complex perspective of personal experience-based authenticity and limiting the powers of identity politics.

How this Gap can Be Addressed?

            To significantly address this gap, Rege's prospective targets to employ the logic of appropriation as a means to address this issue in the public realm (Rege, 2007). The logic of appropriation involves transitory interventions in the public realm, disruption of the advertising facet, tactical circulation through mainstream media, among others. Rege’s work is highly recognized due to her endless efforts in addressing Phule-Ambedkarite ideas to the high caste group (Rege, 2019). Through this influence, it is possible to use the logic of appropriation to intervene in the public sphere especially targeting the high caste places. This methodology is a significant intervention to an atmosphere that is highly dominated by disinterests and apathy. Despite the author of the standpoint comes from high caste and appears to address issues from her guilt actions or of the class she belongs, this means will effectively address the issue from the roots of its foundation.

           Another instance Rege's sought to address the gap is through centralizing the position and standpoint of Ambedkar in the subject of Women's studies via her latest publication, "Against the Madness of Manu.” Through this, Rege seeks to address the defects of the caste system contributing to the existing and increasing violence against women (Rege, 2019). The caste system in India is a significant factor in the gap in discussion. Therefore, addressing critical facets of the caste system will work effectively to combat the violence against Dalit women. Rege's emphasis on alternative history writing has efficiently initiated new perspectives on knowledge and cultural traditions, giving them a voice in the public realm. In conclusion, the existing gap revolving around Dalit women is both a local and political aspect that requires a change and shift in perspective to allow for liberation and freedom of the marginalized groups.


Rege, S. (2007). Dalit studies as pedagogical practice: Claiming more than just a ‘Little place’ in the academia. Review of Development and Change, 12(1), 1-33.

Rege, S. (2019). Debating Dalit difference 1. Dalit Feminist Theory, 154-170.  

Rege, S. (2019). Ramabai and Ambedkar 1. Dalit Feminist Theory, 94-100.  


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