India will remember Gail Omvedt forever

As an American-born Indian scholar, sociologist and human rights activist she was well known all over the world for her writings on Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis


Dr. Gail Omvedt, one of the greatest scholars on caste studies, passed away in her village Kasegaon Maharashtra at the age of 81. She had 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 was moved with the 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 was well known all over the world for her writings on Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis.  

She was 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 led 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 their only daughter Prachi Patanakar will celebrate her life and work as proud Indians.

*The writer is a political theorist and social activist, and also the Former Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy

Other articles by Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd:

A team that never was a hope provider for the poor

Disease distancing, not social distancing during Covid-19

Babu and Bhasha: The Game may end with this

Remembering Usaa: The greatest revolutionary barber after Upali




Related Articles