Class act: the great Dalit fightback that started in the schoolroom

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A network of free after-school coaching classes for Dalits is just one way that India’s lowest caste is raising its sights

When he was 14, Govind Gyan Chand started attending the large school near his village. In the first week, some upper-caste boys took him aside and asked him about his caste. He told them he was Dalit, considered the lowest caste in Indian society. When he left school for the day, the boys were waiting outside, and flogged him. “I don’t know why they did it,” he says. “All I know is the upper caste likes to torture us. I wanted to give up school – somehow I didn’t.”

Now 22, Chand divides his time between classes in college, working, and teaching English and maths to the Dalit children of his village. He is a volunteer for Bhim Pathshala, a network of free after-school coaching classes for Dalit children run by Bhim Army, an organisation that works for the education and rights of Dalits.

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