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Arigay Ramaswamy and His Struggle for Uniting Dalits

 

Dr. Chandraiah Gopani

chandraiah gopani 3The concept of emancipation has occupied a central place in Dalit movements and politics, both in colonial and post-colonial period. There were organic leaders among Dalits during the Nizam (Asaf Jahi) period, especially from 1906 to 1953. The period between 1906-1953 was crucial for vibrant Dalit activities and autonomous assertions in Hyderabad state. Although the Nizam was autocratic there was urban centric Dalit leadership which played a vital role in mobilizing and organizing Dalits. Leaders like Bhagya Reddy Varma, Arigay Ramaswamy, B. Shyam Sunder, B.S. Venkat Rao, P.R. Venkat Swamy and etc. have envisaged the emancipation of untouchables against caste/class inequalities.

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Chhatrapati Shahu's Crusade against Untouchability

 

B. D. Khane

 [Shahu was born in 1874 as Yeshwantrao ghatge, elder son to Appasaheb Ghatge. he was adopted by Anandibai, widow of Maharaja Shivaji IV of Kolhapur in 1884. In 1891 Shahu married Lakshmibai Khanvikar who gave birth to four children. Shahu took responsibility of the State in 1894 and died on May 6, 1922]

chhatrapati shahuji

The Depressed Classes of India in general and of Maharashtra in particular owe a deep debt of gratitude to the late Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj for the work he did for them. Not only did he fight fiercely on their behalf to free them from the yokes of slavery, ignorance and poverty to which they were subjected to for thousands of years by the higher Hindu castes, but he also laid the foundation on which their future leader Dr. Ambedkar could stand and carry on the unfinished task with undaunted courage. The pioneering reforms that he introduced and implemented for the upliftment of untouchables, fifty years before, have all now found a place in the constitution of free India. During his administration from 1894 to 1922, he introduced reforms for the welfare of his subjects, but one task, to which he especially devoted his energies was the removal of the social inequalities and disabilities imposed upon the untouchables who formed one-fifth of the country's total population. Right from the beginning his realisation, appears to be, that there was a necessity of setting on the right track the whole social machine, which, for ages, had strayed along lines harmful to national growth. To do this, he had to embark on a strenuous campaign against the evils, the traditional hierarchy of castes.

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The promise of Mook Nayak

 

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

From the pages of Bahishkrit Bharat (Untouchable India)

[The following is from an editorial (translated from Marathi) written by Babasaheb Ambedkar for one of the issues of the newspaper Bahishkrit Bharat published on April 3, 1927! Translated by Dr. B.R. Kamble.]

bahishkrit bharat 1

We Are On the Scene Again

This writer had started a fortnightly newspaper called "Mook-Nayak" (leader of the dumb) on 31st January, 1920. There he had stated in the first issue itself that there is no more effective means than the newspaper to voice against the injustice done to the untouchables by the Caste Hindus and also to suggest the ways and means for their progress and total liberation from their slavery imposed on them by the high Caste Hindus from ages past. But when we throw our glance to the newspapers that are brought out in Bombay Presidency we are constrained to say that they do no other work than safeguarding the interest of their respective caste men only. They do not bother for the interests of other castes; not only this but even at times they go against the interests of others in their view points.

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Need for Political Power for Depressed Classes: Babasaheb Ambedkar


(Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's speech at the Plenary Session, Fifth Sitting of the Round Table Conference on 20th November 1930)

ambedkar speaking

"Mr. Chairman, my purpose in rising to address this conference is principally to place before it the point of view of the depressed classes, whom I and my colleague, Rao Bahadur Srinivasan, have the honour to represent, regarding the question of constitutional reform. It is a point of view of 43,000,000 people, or one-fifth of the total population of British India. The depressed classes from a group by themselves, which is distinct and separate from the Mohammedans, and, although they are included among the Hindus, they in no sense form an integral part of that community. Not only have they a separate existence, but they have also assigned to them a status which is invidiously distinct from the status occupied by any other community in India. There are communities in India, which occupy a lower and subordinate position; but the position assigned to the Depressed classes is totally different. It is one which is midway between that of the serf and the slave, and which may, for convenience, be called servile with this difference, that the serf and the slave were permitted to have physical contact, from which the Depressed Classes are debarred. What is worse that this enforced servility and bar to human intercourse, duo to their untouchability, involves, not merely the denial of those most elementary of civic rights on which all human existence depends. I am sure that the point of view of such a community, as large as the population of England or of France, and so heavily handicapped in the struggle for existence, cannot but have some bearing on the right sort of solution of the political problem, and I am anxious that this Conference should be placed in possession of that point of view at the very start.

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Remembering Ambedkar

 

Dr. K. R. Narayanan

Dr. Ambedkar was one of the giants of our time, one of the great personalities of the Indian national movement and of the Indian renaissance. He was a many- splendored personality, a great scholar, an original thinker, writer, orator, debater, a great jurist and constitutionalist, and above all a restless agitator and revolutionary working for social changes in our country.

kr narayanan

I recall the brief meeting I had with Ambedkar in New Delhi in 1943 when he was a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council. After taking my first degree from Travancore, I had gone to the north in search of a job. I had a letter of introduction to Ambedkar from one who had known him in Travancore. I took a room in a cheap hotel in Delhi, put my luggage there and then went to Ambedkar's residence at Prithvi Road with the introduction letter. He read the letter and asked me "Where are your 'Samaans', your luggage?" Obviously, he was thinking of putting me up at his residence. That was the kind of a human being he was. Though I was a stranger coming from a remote corner of Kerala, he wanted to put me up in his house.

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Remembering Rajabhau Khobragade, a revolutionary leader

 

Dipankar Kamble

On the 34th Death Anniversary of Barrister Rajabhau Khobragade, an intellectual heir of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, here is a short writeup about him.

bhaurao khobragade

Bhaurao Khobragade, affectionately called Rajabhau, was born on 25.09.1925 in Chandrapur, Maharashtra to Shri Dewaji and Smt. Indira Bai. His father was a forest contractor and a social worker.

Rajabhau Khobragade had his early education at Jubilee High School, Chandrapur. He then went on to clear the Inter Science exam from Nagpur Science College in 1943 and B.A. exam from Morris College, Nagpur in 1945. On the advice of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, he went to London to study Law at the Lincoln College in 1950.

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Maulana Ali Hussain 'Aasim Bihari': Father of the first Pasmanda Movement and Freedom Fighter

 

Faiyaz Ahmad Fyzie

Maulana Ali Hussain "Aasim Bihari" was born on April 15, 1890, in Mohalla Khas Ganj, Bihar Sharif, Nalanda district, Bihar, in a devout but poor Pasmanda weaver family. In 1906, at the young age of 16, he started his career in the Usha organization in Kolkata. While working, he pursued interests in studies and reading. He was active in many types of movements. He quit his job as it was getting restrictive, and for his livelihood he started the work of making beedisHe prepared a team of his beedi worker colleagues who would discuss issues that concerned nation and society. There would also be sharing of writings.

asim bihari

In 1908-09, Maulana Haji Abdul Jabbar of Sheikhpur tried to create a Pasmanda organization which wasn't successful. He felt a deep sense of grief about this. In 1911, after reading "Tarikh-e-Minwal wa Alahu" (History of Weavers), he was prepared completely for the movement. At the age of 22, he started a five year shceme (1912-1917) for educating adults. During this time, whenever he went to his native Bihar Sharif, he would keep make people aware by organising small gatherings.

In 1914 , at the young age of 24 years old, he started a Society called "Bazm-E-Adab"(Chamber of Literature) that started a library under its aegis, in his native location of Khasganj, Bihar Sharif in Nalanda district. In 1918, a study centre called "Darul Muzakra"(House of Conversation) was established in Kolkata, where labourers and others used to gather in the evening to discuss writings and contemporary issues - these meetings would sometimes go on all through the night.

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