Gail Omvedt, intellectual voice of Bahujan movement, dies at 80

American-born Indian scholar Gail Omvedt who has published numerous books on the anti-caste and Bahujan movement, passed away at her residence in Kasegaon village of Sangli district in Maharashtra.

She was 80. She will be cremated at Kasegaon at 10.00 am on Wednesday. Omvedt was ailing for last one-and-a-half years.

She was blunt in her views especially regarding the caste system in India and racism in US.

Omvedt who participated in various people’s movements across the country, co-founded the Shramik Mukti Dal along with her husband and activist Bharat Patankar.

Omvedt was born in Minneapolis, and studied at Carleton College and at UC Berkeley where she earned her PhD in sociology in 1973. She has been an Indian citizen since 1983.

Her dissertation was titled Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The Non-Brahman Movement in Western India, 1873-1930.

Omvedt’s academic writing included numerous books and articles on caste, class and gender issues. Besides having undertaken many research projects, Dr Omvedt was a consultant for FAO, UNDP and NOVIB and has served as a Dr Ambedkar Chair Professor at NISWASS in Orissa, a professor of sociology at the University of Pune and an Asian guest professor at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen.

She was a senior fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and research director of the Krantivir Trust.

She was a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Gail Omvedt was also a former Chair Professor for the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Chair of Social Change and Development at IGNOU.