There are two ways of looking at democracy. One is the view of the state, policymakers, and so on, which shows the dissemination and spread of democracy in statistical terms. The other view is the one from the bottom. This view helps us understand and grapple with the reality of the spread of democracy, and enables us to observe the groups and communities excluded from the process of democratic empowerment. Fractured Tales documents narratives of the voiceless and invisible dalit castes that have been left out in the 60 years of state-led Indian democracy. Exploring the deepening of democracy among the dalits of Uttar Pradesh, it argues that the process of democratization of these communities over-represents some groups such as the Chamars and Pasis while neglecting others like the Musahar, Bansphor, and Sapera communities. These 'invisible' communities are unable to assert their presence in the ever-evolving political contestation between multiple marginal groups. Delving into the politics of visibility, empowerment, and exclusion, the author captures the growing sense of disillusionment among marginalized dalit communities.
Badri Narayan is Professor, Centre for the study of Discrimination and Exclusion, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.