​The enigmatic marginality of Dalit politics in Punjab, despite having the highest proportion of Scheduled Castes, partly exposes the limitation of numbers as indicators of social dynamics in a democracy. The key may lie in the critical role that multiple religious traditions play within the Dalit community across regions in Punjab, inhibiting a larger Dalit consolidation. Ethnographic profiles of three distinct, organic Dalit intellectuals in Punjab show their convergence in accepting B R Ambedkar as a political icon but divergence on the latter’s prescription of conversion to Buddhism.

Santosh K Singh (santosh@aud.ac.in) teaches sociology in the School of Liberal Studies at the Ambedkar University Delhi.

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