Renowned sociologist professor Gail Omvedt passed away at her residence in Maharashtra on August 25, 2021. She came to India in the 1970s. India became her home and Caste System, her cause. She wrote more than a dozen books on Dalit politics, women struggles and the anti-caste movement, including Understanding Caste: From Buddha to Ambedkar and Beyond.
“To tell the truth, I am a kind of ‘mother figure’ to many Dalits,” said professor Omvedt. She, along with her husband Bharat Patankar, was an active member of Sharmik Mukti Dal, an organisation that worked for the upliftment of farmers and labourers. Somnath Waghmare, a documentary filmmaker, who has made a documentary on Omvedt’s life, recently mentioned that her works did not get recognition from the government.
In this podcast with The Federal’s Madhu Balaji, professor G Nagaraju, a sociologist of the University of Hyderabad, talks about Madame Gail Omvedt. He stated, “She gave equal importance to academic and activism.” She was the first to write on the socio-economic conditions of women agricultural laborers in rural Maharashtra.