"I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of love"
Dalit musician and anti-caste activist Sumeet Samos has successfully raised enough money to pay for his education at Oxford University.
He raised more than Rs. 27 Lakh (£26,000) on a crowdfunding platform.
Sumeet applied for a Masters in Modern South Asian Studies at Oxford University and was accepted in March 2021.
He sought several central and state-funded scholarships, however, he was unsuccessful.
On June 1, 2021, he started a fundraiser, taking to social media to explain that he had several failed attempts at seeking scholarships and grants.
He took to crowdfunding platform Milaap to post his fundraiser.
The Dalit musician received an overwhelming response, getting more than Rs. 27 Lakh (£26,000) in just three hours.
In a statement, Sumeet said: “I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of love people have given me.
“Some have been words of encouragement and some others have been able to send some money.
“Now that my course fees are covered in less than three hours, I am relieved that my seat will not be taken back.”
Various anti-caste activists came together to raise funds, using the hashtag #SumeetToOxford.
A further Rs. 10 Lakh (£9,600) was raised on top of the tuition fee before Sumeet ended the fundraiser.
“This means a lot and I will definitely make this opportunity count.”
Over 1,500 supporters raised the total funds in less than a day.
Sumeet is now looking forward to studying at Oxford University.
Sumeet was born into a Dalit family in the Koraput district of Odisha. He has a Masters degree in Latin American Literature (Spanish) from Jawaharlal Nehru University.
He has been part of the music scene since 2018, where his focus is Hip-Hop.
His debut single, ‘Ladai Seekh Le’, is about Sumeet’s own experience of caste discrimination.
The lyrics read: “Aadhi Raat Azaadi Foonkati Chhappar Teri Bastiyon Mein (At midnight, the freedom burns down the huts in our neighbourhood).”
The lyrics figuratively explained what happened in Laxmanpur Bathe, Bihar, in 1997. Ranvir Sena killed 58 Dalits at midnight.
Since his debut, Sumeet has released several hard-hitting tracks.
They speak of localised histories and incidents, and cases that make national headlines, as well as everyday violence that lower-caste people face in India.
In one particular incident, Sumeet said:
“There is a mall behind our university and the watchman there did not allow me to enter the place.
“It wasn’t the first time this happened. I didn’t know if it was my looks or clothes. It was alarming and I had enough.
“The presence of Dalits in public and private spheres is regulated by caste.”
He also recalled several spaces where he and other members of the Dalit community were discriminated against.
Sumeet added: “It was not just the students, the teachers would look at us with disgust, and would call us by names in the corridors.
“They will pass comments that the students from my community didn’t deserve to get educated.”