First autobiography from a Shepherd Boy in India

By Robancy A Helen

New Delhi, Feb 22, 2019: The most debated author of “Why I Am Not a Hindu and Post – Hindu India,” Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd becomes the first person to pen down his autobiography from a shepherd community.

The book titled “From a Shepherd Boy to an Intellectual My Memoirs” was released on Feb 18 h February at India International Centre, New Delhi.

Shepherd is a retired director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy. It was his third book by the Sage Publication.

The book was released by Shepherd, Ms. Mandira Sen, CEO of Sage Publication, Ms. Uma Chakravarti, Roman Gautam, Prof. Anjaiah Sundu and a professor from Ambedkar University were in the panel.

Shepherd said that many people from the Brahmin – Baniya Castes have written about their own greatness in their autobiographies in English and in the regional languages, but he has not even seen a single autobiography of a person born and brought up in the shepherd community. It is important to write the autobiography of people who are from the Dalit (the group formerly known as untouchables), and Other Backward Class (OBC) communities.

He added that writing is the only medium that can change the conditions of the oppressed classes.

The reason to write the autobiography is that it is crucial to write because many of the autobiographies are from Brahmins and Baniyas. It is sad that even the great leaders like Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and E.V. R Periyar did not write their struggles and challenges of social reformation.

The Brahmins do not want the Dalits and the OBC communities to learn English because it connects people to the outer world. The so called dominant castes people are in the decision making level because they are fluent in English. Shepherd insisted on the English education to all the Dalits and the oppressed communities.

In the discussion there was a question about the title that why did he named From the Shepherd Boy to an Intellectual as one cannot call himself an intellectual? Shepherd said, “What we have to have is the arrogance to reach high.”

Ms. Sen highlighted that the author has given importance to women who played crucial role in his life. The book speaks about the culture and tradition of the shepherd community where the author belongs.

It is important to note that the author and his brother are the first ones to go to school from his community. The surnames become an identity to oneself in India. The dominant castes people are proud to use their surnames but it is a curse to a person from the oppressed caste Prof. Anjaiah said.

In India, the oppressed community are denied education especially English education, they are denied of opportunities from Panchayat to Parliamentary level.

“Our children need to have English education so that they will have access to see the world beyond,” he said.

There were many intellectuals and leaders from different organizations. Ms. Arundato Roy, the well-known Indian writer and the Pulitzer Prize award winner was also present among the audience.

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