Om Prakash Valmiki
30 June 1950|
Barla village of Muzaffar Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh, India
|Died||17 November 2013
|Occupation||writer and poet|
Omprakash Valmiki (30 June 1950 – 17 November 2013) 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. After retirement from Government Ordnance Factory he lived in Dehradun where he died of complications arising out of stomach cancer on 17 November 2013.
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 enlightened human being. Valmiki married Chanda; despite the protestations his father accepted her as his daughter-in-law. He was not allotted a house in the government colony. They had to struggle a lot during the initial days of marriage. But he soon settled and both Valmiki and Chanda started a happy married life.
In his novel Joothan he talked about the discrimination they had to face in the school at different points. He says: “During the examinations we could not drink water from the glass when thirsty. To drink water, we had to cup our hands. The peon would pour water from way high up, lest our hands touch the glass”. Omprakash Valmiki describes his life as an untouchable, or Dalit, in the newly independent India of the 1950s. Joothan refers to scraps of food left on a plate, destined for the garbage or animals. Dalits have been forced to accept and eat joothan for centuries, and the word encapsulates the pain, humiliation, and poverty of a community forced to live at the bottom of India's social pyramid. Although untouchability was outlawed in 1949, Dalits continued to face discrimination, economic deprivation, violence, and ridicule. Valmiki shares his struggle to survive a preordained life of perpetual physical and mental persecution and his transformation into a speaking subject under the influence of the Dalit political leader, B. R. Ambedkar.
Besides Joothan (1997) Valmiki published three collections of poetry: Sadiyon Ka Santaap (1989), Bas! Bahut Ho Chuka (1997), and Ab Aur Nahin (2009). He also wrote two collections of short stories, Salaam (2000), and Ghuspethiye (2004). In addition, he wrote Dalit Saahity Ka Saundaryshaastr (2001) and a history of the Valmiki community, Safai Devata (2009), Do Chera' (a play).
- Indian Literature : An Introduction. University of Delhi. Pearson Education India. p. 322. ISBN 978-81-317-0520-9. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
- Nelavala, Surekha; University, Drew (2008). Liberation beyond borders: Dalit feminist hermeneutics and four gospel women. ProQuest. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-549-68988-1. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
- "ओमप्रकाश वाल्मीकि नहीं रहे - BBC Hindi - भारत". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
- "Dalit writer Omprakash Valmiki no more - Times Of India". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2013-11-20.