It is the woman who is the real doer: Baby Kamble

 

[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 ]

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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

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'A Rebel and a Revolutionary'

 

(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)

president_krnI 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.

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Jotiba Phule: The Universal Religion of Truth

 

Gail Omvedt

(An excerpt from her book 'Buddhism in India: Challenging Bramanism and Caste')

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Jotirao Phule (1827–1890) is considered a founder not only of the anti-caste movement in India as a whole, but also of the farmers' movement and even the women's movement in Maharashtra. He was born in a Mali (gardener caste) community of Maharashtra, and educated first in his village, then at Pune, at that time the centre of cultural and political stirrings. While he was for a time inclined to nationalism, he quickly became disillusioned with its Brahman leadership, and instead embarked on a career as social reformer intending to awaken the 'Shudras and Ati-Shudras' to the reality of their slavery and their destiny. His initial efforts involved starting schools for untouchables and girls in 1849 and 1851. Then in 1875 he founded the Satyashodhak Samaj or 'Truth-Seekers' society, which was his answer to the various organised groups, such as the Prarthana Samaj and the Brahmo Samaj of the elite. Its purpose was to fight priestly domination, especially by organising social-religious ceremonies without them; it also encouraged the education of both boys and girls and promoted gender equality with a quite radical version of the marriage ceremony. This movement gained some influence in Bombay and in Pune district, and he collected around him a group of young radicals, led mostly by Malis in the city and Maratha-Kunbis from the rural areas, but including a wide range of Shudra castes, while maintaining links with emerging Dalit leaders.

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The Revolt Of The Untouchables

 

(On 20th March, 1927, Babasaheb Ambedkar launched a Satyagraha at Mahad for the right to draw water from the Chawdar Tank. This excerpt from his 'Essays on Untouchables and Untouchability' describes the agitation)

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The movement of the Untouchables against the injustice of the Hindu Social Order has a long history behind it, especially in Maharashtra. This history falls into two stages. The first stage was marked by petitions and protests. The second stage is marked by open revolt in the form of direct action against the Hindu Established Order. This change of attitude was due to two circumstances. In the first place it was due to the realisation that the petitions and protests had failed to move the Hindus. In the second place Governments had declared that all public utilities and public institutions are open to all citizens including the Untouchables. The right to wear any kind of clothes or ornaments are some of the rights which the British Indian Law gives to the Untouchables along with the rest. To these were added the rights to the use of public utilities and institutions, such as wells, schools, buses, trams. Railways, Public offices, etc., were now put beyond the pale of doubt. But owing to the opposition of the Hindus the Untouchables cannot make any use of them. It is to meet the situation, the Untouchables decided to change the methods and to direct action to redress their wrongs. This change took place about 1920.

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A paradigm shift called Kanshi Ram

 

Kancha Ilaiah

[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]

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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.

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The Chamcha Age (An Era of the Stooges)- 2

by Kanshi Ram

Continued from here.

Part—I

Prelude to Poona Pact

~~~~

The Initial Efforts

kanshi_ram_061009From 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.

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The Chamcha Age (An Era of the Stooges) - Preface

 

by Kanshi Ram

 

(Released on 24th September, 1982, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Poona Pact)

 

~~~~~

 

Dedicated to Mahatma Jotirao Phule

 

Whose initiation of cultural revolt in colonial India, later taken up by Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy and many other rebellious spirits brought us to this level, where we are thinking, planning and struggling to put an end to the Chamcha Age and usher in a Bright Age for the Shudras and Ati-Shudras.

 

~~~~~

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