Dr.Gail Omvedt, (81) one of the greatest scholars on caste studies passed away on 24 August 2021 evening in her village Kesegaon Maharashtra. She has pioneered caste studies having come as a student from America and settled down in India in the 1970s. She later married Bharat Patankar a Marxists scholar, activist; both of them lived in his village all along. She came to study caste and Mahatma Phule’s movement in Maharashtra as Ph.D student from America and got moved with kind of caste and untouchability system in India and settled down in this country to work for the liberation of the oppressed castes.
As an American-born Indian scholar, sociologist and human rights activist she is well known all over the world for her writing on Dalit/OBC/Adivasis .
She is a prolific writer and has published numerous books. Her Ph.D thesis introduced Mahatma Phule’s Satyashodhak Movement to the world and her major book Dalits and Democratic Revolution became a hand book in every young student’s hands in the colleges and universities across India and also in the South Asian study centres of the world. Scholars study her books to understand the question of caste and untouchability and also change the caste system. She was a great Phule-Ambedkarite who lead many movements from the front. The Shudra/OBC/Dalit/Adivasi movements all over India will be indebted to her life time work and inspiration.
All of us who worked with her in a long journey of Dalit/OBC/Adivasi/women’s liberation movements for the last forty years along with her husband Bharat Patankar and the only daughter Prachi Patanakar will celebrate her life and work as proud Indians.
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is the author of Why I am Not a Hindu, Post-Hindu India and The Shudras–Vision for a New Path, co-edited with Karthik Raja Karuppusamy.