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Caste Matters

Foreword by Cornel West

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Book on oppression, love, reflection & reality

In this explosive book, Suraj Yengde, a first-generation Dalit scholar educated across continents, challenges deep-seated beliefs about caste and unpacks its many layers. He describes his gut-wrenching experiences of growing up in a Dalit basti, the multiple humiliations suffered by Dalits on a daily basis, and their incredible resilience enabled by love and humour.

As he brings to light the immovable glass ceiling that exists for Dalits even in politics, bureaucracy and judiciary, Yengde provides an unflinchingly honest account of divisions within the Dalit community itself-from their internal caste divisions to the conduct of elite Dalits and their tokenized forms of modern-day untouchability-all operating under the inescapable influences of Brahminical doctrines.

This path-breaking book reveals how caste crushes human creativity and is disturbingly similar to other forms of oppression, such as race, class and gender.

At once a reflection on inequality and a call to arms, Caste Matters argues that until Dalits lay claim to power and Brahmins join hands against Brahminism to effect real transformation, caste will continue to matter.

Caste Matters launge in Boston


“Rigorously researched and closely argued, Caste Matters is a significant intervention in discrimination studies. Among savarna readers, the conservatives will find it infuriating, and the progressives, illuminating… a powerful polemic that marshals elements of traditional philosophical inquiry, memoir, history, social anthropology, and cultural studies… An inspiring read.”

The Hindu

“A sharp critique, not only of the persistent realities of caste but also of the prevailing state of Dalit politics.”

Indian Express

Dr. Yengde reading from his book to his Grandmother

“Yengde unapologetically calls out the caste elephant in every room in modern India… He [offers] as detailed breakdown of caste ecology, elaborating how it works on the levels of sociality, cultural discourse and politics. His perspectives are gleaned from both academics and historical sources and personal episodes.”


“[the book] reflects the coming of age of the Dalit movement”

Mail Today

“Caste Matters [is] a treatise that situates the Dalit experience and centers it in our socio-political discourse as a singularly important phenomenon, through careful study and backed by agile research and factual data points and a personal life journey’s worth of insights”

“A new voice has emerged among the younger generation of Dalits in India. It is impatient with earlier styles of Dalit politics and rejects both ceremonial recognition and opportunist electoral alliances. The new voice is angrier, yet wiser. Tt promises to learn from the experiences of racially oppressed people elsewhere in the world and offers a more principled strategy of seeking allies. Suraj Yengde has written a book that bubbles with energy and passion. It demands to be read”
Partha Chatterjee
Columbia University, New York

“Suraj Yengde’s book is a theoretically sophisticated, anthropologically interesting, historically wide-ranging and morally compelling reflection on caste in india. It is exactly the kind of mirror Iindia needs to look into. It is angry, but takes its anger in a reflective, analytical and productive direction. This book will cement Yengde’s reputation as one of the more novel voices confronting the realities of caste in his generation”

PRATAP BHANU MEHTA, former vice-chancellor
Ashoka University

“A new voice has emerged… Suraj Yengde has written a book that bubbles with energy and passion. It demands to be read.”

Partha Chatterjee

“Yengde writes that the Dalit community is having a Harlem moment… he [reveals] the deep-rooted and intricate nature of casteism prevalent in society through a mixture of personal recollections and erudite academic work”
Business Standard

“Suraj Yengde delivers lessons on caste and race with a rare liveliness”


“Caste Matters places a square challenge before every thinking Indian [to] make a principled choice to stand on the side of justice, human dignity and freedom”
The POLIS Project

“Caste Matters is not just on matters of caste in the past, but is also an (auto) biography and ethnography of the working of caste in the 21st century. [the book] stands for local and global attention to eradicate caste in order to generate humanitarian consciousness”

Dr. Suraj Yengde with his family on the book lounge

Dr. Suraj Yengde with his family on the book lounge

“A remarkable book providing a millennial perspective”

The Asian Age

“This book about the menacing prowess of caste is an important addition to the anti-caste armoury. It is a must-read for those who display various degree of caste-blindness, saying caste is a thing of the past. It is useful even for those who acknowledge the existence of caste, but believe it would simply melt away under the pressure of urbanization and modernity. For the Dalits, its worst victims, either nothing has changed or things have only become worse. The continuing practice of untouchability, growing number of atrocities and falling markers of development parameters are the hard evidence. But Dalits are not counted within human pathos, their numbers are embedded and hidden.”

“Caste Matters is an experiential exposition of the hidden side of caste by a promising young scholar who has risen from the dark alleys of his childhood to the academic dazzle of iconic Harvard. It is replete with reflections over the raw experiences of a poor Dalit child as also with the mature commentary about the changes that befell his universe.’”

ANAND TELTUMBDE, Senior Professor and Chair
Big Data Analytics, Goa Institute of Management