[This is the second part of excerpts from an interview with Baby Kamble conducted by Maya Pandit, originally published as part of the English version of her autobiography ('The Prisons We Broke')]
Continued from here.
How did you think of writing your autobiography?
(Laughs.) It so happened that I used to sit in the shop at the counter. I used to have plenty of time on my hands. There were books that came along with the old newspapers we bought for packing. Some of them were story books and I began to read them. Many contained stories about gods and their great deeds. But gradually I started feeling very angry because the stories were all wrong. Consider for instance, the story of Vrinda, a Shudra princess.
[Babytai Kamble passed away on April 21, 2012. She will continue to inspire us, keeping us connected to the joys and pain of the community, urging us to step beyond individual concerns, anchoring us firmly to Ambedkarism as we move ahead with the struggle for equality and freedom. In our sorrow today we hold on to the strength of her words ~ Round Table India ]
Baby Kamble was a veteran of the Dalit movement in Maharashtra. Inspired by the radical leadership of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, she had been involved with the struggle from a very young age. She had established a government approved residential school for socially backward students in Nimbure, a small village near Phaltan. She had been honoured with awards for her literary and social work. Collections of her poetry have also been published.
We present here a few excerpts from an interview published as part of the English version of her autobiography 'The Prisons We Broke', translated by Maya Pandit.
(The following is the text of a speech on Babasaheb Ambedkar delivered by the former President K.R. Narayanan at the Babasaheb Ambedkar Institute of Research and Training, Bombay in 1979)
I am happy and honoured to be here on the auspicious occasion of the birthday of Dr B.R. Ambedkar. Babasaheb Ambedkar was one of the great Sons of India, a giant among the great men produced by the Indian nationalist movement if I may use the term in its broadest sense.
If Mahatma Gandhi gave to the nationalist movement a mass dimension and a moral purpose and Jawahar Lal Nehru an economic and socialist dimension, Dr B.R. Ambedkar gave it a profound social content and a challenging social-democratic goal. His whole life was a ceaseless struggle for the attainment of this social objective, the scope of which was not confined to the Scheduled Castes but encompassed the urges and aspirations of the vast millions of the underprivileged in our country. Future generations in India, which, I hope, will be free from the curse of the caste system and the refined as well as crude remnants of untouchability, will be grateful to Dr Ambedkar for having launched a movement of social revolution, the success of which is indispensable for cleansing Indian society, for unifying the Indian nation and for building a genuine and enduring democratic system in our country.
[This article was first published in two parts, 'A paradigm shift called Kanshi Ram' and 'Dalits and the horizontal ladder', in 2003; we have combined the two parts into one single piece of writing. We, along with our readers, celebrate the memory of Manyawar Kanshi Ram on his birth anniversary- Round Table India]
Kanshi Ram suffered a brain stroke on September 15 when he was travelling from Rajahmundry to Hyderabad. Since then he has remained immobile. For a few days he lost his speech but gradually regained his speech. Now both for the reasons of stroke and also for reasons of advanced age he may remain inactive in politics in his future life. In anticipation of that situation Mayavati took over as the president of the Bahuajan Samaj Party (BSP). That is an indication that he may not play an active role in Indian political sphere in the future.
by Kanshi Ram
Continued from here.
Prelude to Poona Pact
The Initial Efforts
From the very beginning of the 20th century, India witnessed great changes. In this changing India, the oppressed Indians were not to lag behind. The High Caste Hindus were fighting for Swarajya. The Oppressed Indians were struggling for self-respect. The slaves were shouting for freedom and self-rule, whereas the slaves of the slaves were creating counter-noise for relief from the age old bondage, serfdom and humiliations unknown to the rest of the world. The High Caste Hindus were building their organisation and developing techniques to coax the rulers, the British, for an early transfer of power into their hands. The depressed classes were getting frightened by the very thought of such a thing happening without relief for them and adequate safeguards for their honourable living in the future where their age old oppressors were to be the rulers of India.