Riban Mangrati says, “I wanted to start serious writing for a cause because until then I hadn’t considered writing for social change.” But he was still struggling to get published as he was unable to produce the kind of writing that would interest the editors.
Riban explains that he didn’t have much experience growing up in a mainstream Dalit society. He went to school where he didn’t have Dalit friends. He started his career in a corporate office, and went on to start his own business, and all this time he had no connection with his own Dalit society. It was only when he joined an NGO project that he started working with the Dalit community, and he heard their stories of exclusion, human rights violations and many other forms of discrimination.
“Writing for the Social Justice Workshop gave me a good break. With the guidance of the mentors, I honed my skills in research, analysis and learnt how to do literature review related to our Dalit history, politics, multicultural society and many others – all which helped me to produce a proper analytical piece,” adds Riban, who was also successful in getting his opinion piece published in a national daily.
In a period of four months’ intensive training and two months’ mentorship, Riban and his fellow 12 participants have produced 30 opinion articles with exclusive focus on Dalit issues, and all have been published in the national dailies. The participants still continue to collaborate among themselves, and with their mentors to create more media space for Dalit issues.