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Book by Dalit on RSS hitting records in sales in India

New Delhi, July 20 (KMS): A book on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has gained popularity with its rooted criticism of the right-wing organisation and narration in a simple language.

Written in Kannada, the book RSS: Aala Mattu Agala (RSS – The Depth and Breadth) by Dalit writer and activist Devanur Mahadeva is an explorative criticism of RSS by looking through its history and present activities. Nineteen days after the book’s launch, over 70,000 copies have been sold and the demand is growing.

The popular reception has also stirred controversy with attacks from right-wing organizations.

Mahadeva’s book comes at a crucial time. Karnataka has a long history of communal tensions, which the RSS has allegedly exploited to gain mileage in South India. South Karnataka saw one of the first coming together of Saraswat Brahmins as a “Hindu group” in order to resist the missionary activities of the Basel Mission back in the 1800s. The ever-growing saffronization of the coastal belt in past years has also caused anti-Muslim sentiments to seep into local consciousness. Recent controversies about the Hijab ban and textbook revision are seen in this light.

Born in 1948 in Devanur village of Mysore district to Dalit parents, Mahadeva has now become a household name in Karnataka with his unique style of writing. Unlike the wordy and Sanskritised writings by a majority of upper-caste literary figures, Mahadeva’s prose celebrated colloquial language without a Brahminical gaze.

Actively involved in Karnataka’s socialist movements for the last four decades, he is an important figure in the Bandaya literary movement. He has earlier rejected or returned many awards and positions by the government and Sahitya Academy in his protest of discriminatory policies toward the Kannada language and other social issues.

Many of his literary contributions are highly valued for his unparalleled grasp of the complexities of Dalit life as a total insider and his path-finding search for indigenous narrative modes and styles.

The 72-page book on RSS is hitting records in sales in the state, thanks to Mahadeva’s cool strategy of open publishing. He granted rights to six publishers in different parts of the state to print as many as 5000 copies each, thus ensuring the supply all over Karnataka.

“Initially, there were six publishers, and now some more may have come forward; I have to check. Three publishers printed 5,000 copies each that were sold in just two days. Some youth from Mysuru came up with a publishing house and printed 2,000 books,” Mahadeva told The Indian Express. Only the Kannada version is now available on the market, and the Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, and English translations are underway.

Responding to the controversies in an interview with The Indian Express, Mahadeva said that instead of questioning the government in power, most media houses are today busy praising the government and supporting the system. “If someone opposes the system, they are termed anti-national,” said Mahadeva.

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