ABOUT THE BOOK:
In this provocative and scholarly book, Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd propounds a view of Gautama Buddha as India's first social revolutionary. Buddha did his best to give the principles of tribal democracy and egalitarianism a sanctuary in his own sangha. In so doing, he foreshadowed modern India's experiment with parliamentary democracy. Critical of the caste system, Buddha inducted low caste members into the sangha and made them his trusted advisers. He gave women an honoured place in the sangha. Dissent was indeed permitted, and even Buddha was not above the law.
Pre-dating Socrates and Plato by some years, Buddha also foreshadowed key elements of their philosophy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd recently retired as Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad. He is Chairman of Telangana Mass and Social Organizations (T-Mass) that works for English-medium education. He has helped to build up Dalit-Bahujan and civil liberties movements in India. He received the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Award, 2000.
His paper 'Experience as Framework of Debate', which appeared in the Economic and Political Weekly, set up new terms for the debate on the reservation policy during the anti-Mandal struggle in 1990. His contributions have appeared in Economic and Political Weekly, Frontier and Mainstream, and in major national English dailies like The Hindu, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, Deccan Herald and Deccan Chronicle. He is also a regular contributor to Telugu magazines and to dailies like Vaartha and Andhra Jyothi.
As his books raised a major debate in English and other regional media, he wrote a book in Telugu, Manatatwam (Our Philosophy), which put the Dalit-Bahujan productive philosophy in a new perspective. The book became an ideological weapon among Dalit-Bahujan and Left circles in Andhra Pradesh. Among his books are Turning the Pot, Tilling the Land: Dignity of Labour in Our Times and The Weapon of the Other: Dalit-Bahujan Writings and the Remaking of Indian Nationalist Thought.
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd was a post-doctoral fellow with Dalit Freedom Network, Denver, Colorado, 2004-2005, and as a member of the network, he has deposed before several international committees about the historical role of caste and untouchability in sustaining a modern form of slavery in India. He was a member of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) that took the caste and untouchability issue to the UN Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia at Durban in 2001.