Gail Omvedt – Another westerner who made India her home passes away in Sangli

Gail Omvedt passes away: India, with its peculiarities, always attracted the West, and many were so enamoured by the tribulations that masses undergo. They decided to stay and serve the people here. In fact, they found a reason for their existence and for a cause. Mother Teresa, Smt Annie Besant, Mother, the names are many.

Gail Omvedt: From a student to anti-caste activist

One name that stands out is Gail Omvedt (August 2, 1941 – August 25, 2021), an American-born Indian sociologist and human rights activist. She came to India to fulfil her doctoral research work to study the social movements against caste-based untouchability. Her thesis was named Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The Non-Brahman Movement in Western India, 1873-1930. She also studied in depth the life and works of Mahatma Phule.

The FreePressJournal reported, Academician Dr Gail Omvedt passed away on Wednesday at the age of 81 in Sangli’s Kasegaon. She was a prolific writer and had written many books on Dalit Politics, women emancipation, women empowerment, but her main focus was the anti-caste movement.

After completing her dissertation, she decided to settle in India and met her soul mate in the form of Bharat Patankar. She came in close contact with veteran social worker Indutai Patankar led to her studying and participating in women’s struggles in the country.

A born rebel

The couple co-founded Shramik Mukti Dal and were involved in numerous anti-caste movements. Omvedt had a rebellious gene in her blood, and it first found utterance when she became a part of the anti-war movement there.

She also authored numerous books, including Non-Brahmin Movement in Western India, Seeking Begampura, Buddhism in India, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule, Dalit and the Democratic Revolution, and Understanding Caste, We Will Smash the Prison and New Social Movement in India.

She was also into academics and held numerous posts in her illustrious career. She was the head of the Phule-Ambedkar Chair in Pune University, department of sociology. She also served as a professor at the Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen, and the head of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library at New Delhi.

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