Tag Archives: Today In History
31 January 1920: Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar started ‘Mooknayak’ newspaper.
Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj had donated Rs 2500 as seed money to start Mooknayak (Leader of the Dumb). This Marathi weekly paper championed the causes of the depressed classes. Shri Nandra Bhatkar was the editor, later Shri Dyander Gholap was the editor. Dr. Ambedkar wrote in the first issue of this paper dated 31 January 1920 the following:
“The hindu society is like a tower of many stories. It has neither a ladder nor a door to go out. And therefore there is no way to interchange stories. Those who are born on a particular storey die in that storey. Even if the lowest storey person is worthy deserving to be promoted to upper storey he cannot move to that level. And if the person in the upper storey is most unworthy and undeserving still he cannot be pushed down…….. …. A Society which believes that God exists even in inanimate things, also says that people who are a part of that very society should not be touched!”
31 January: National bird day.
In Buddhism, Peacock, the National Bird symbolizes wisdom.
28th January in Dalit History – First ever infanticide prohibition home of India was started by Savitribai Phule
28 January 1853: First ever infanticide prohibition home of India was started by Savitribai Phule.
Due to the Brahminical Social Order, those were the days when women irrespective of their caste and class were very much oppressed in all fields of life. There were many patriarchal and brahmnical traditions, values and rituals which were against women. Savitri Bai Phule, in Pune, worked hard in this regard too (apart from the education field). To resolve the dowery problem, she started organizing simple group marriages. When a women at any age happened to be widow (even girl child widow), she was forced to have her hair cut so that she could easily be identified as a widow. In this regard, she met with the people of barber community and requested them not to cut hair of widows. After a long pursuance, they got convinced. They boycotted the hair cut ceremonies of widows. The upper caste communities got infuriated with Savitribai due to the step taken by the barbers.
There were a large number of widows in the Pune City and the nearby villages during days. Adolescents and young girls were happened to more among in the widows. These widows were boycotted publicly and with meger financial support they were clandestine subjects to sexual exploitation. They happened to be pregnant due to lack of contraceptives or other measures. So they had to be victimized for the reason for which they had not been responsible. Women had to lose their life due to unhealthy ways of abortion. Many newborns were been killed after delivery by widows to avoid social ostracism. Many a times they had to leave their home.
On 28 January 1853 Savitribai started a shelter for such women – infanticide prohibition home – the first of its kind in India. In this shelter widows could give birth to their children and leave them there. Sixty six women gave birth to their children in that shelter upto 1873.This was a great historical work that Savitribai did at that time – in the dark ages. Later on this shelter started working as a hospital. Savitribai did not remain as one who served to widows but she went further in this regard. She adopted a child from a Brahmin widow (Kashibai) and thereby gave a message to the progressive people of the society. This adopted child was named Yashwant Rao who later became a doctor.
27th January in Dalit History – Dr Ambedkar before Southborough Commission: Fight for separate electorate
27 January 1919: Dr. Ambedkar submitted a memorandum and gave evidence before the Southborough Commission. The memorandum was attached as a supplementary in the commissions report.
In the examination of Dr. Ambedkar‘s views the commission found that he had unmistakenly presented the division of Hindu society into touchables and untouchables. If a particular community had a majority of votes in a constituency, there was no need for that community to have separate communal representation. If the untouchables had a majority of votes in a particular constituency, he would not ask for communal representation. It was because they were in a minority and would always remain so on a uniform franchise that he asked for separate representation. He was opposed to any system under which the representatives of the depressed classes were drawn from other classes. His justification for asking for a low qualification for franchise was that as a result of being untouchable, the untouchables had no property; they could not trade because they could not find customers. He remembered a case in which a Mahar caste woman was taken to the police court for selling watermelons. In the mills in the Bombay Presidency the untouchables were not yet allowed to work in the weaving department: in one case an untouchable did work in the weaving department of a mill saying that he was a Mohammedan, and when found out, he was severely beaten. The definition of an “untouchable” as a person, who would cause pollution by his touch, was a satisfactory one for electoral purposes. It was not the case that some castes were considered to be untouchable in some districts and touchable in others.
In the whole Bombay Presidency there was one B.A. and 6 or 7 matriculates among the depressed classes. The proportion of those who were literate in English was very small, but not much smaller than in the case of the backward classes. The depressed classes especially the Mahars and the Chamars, were fit to exercise the vote. He would also give them the votes by way of education. He could find at least 25 or more men amongst them who had passed the 6th or the 7th Standards of a High School, and, although the number was not large, the 9 seats which he suggested for the depressed classes could be filled from amongst them. Such a candidate in practical matters would be as good as a graduate although the latter might be able to express himself better.
He suggested large constituencies for the depressed classes’; if such large constituencies had been accepted for the Mohammedans he did not see why they were not practicable in the case of the depressed classes.
In order to obtain the required number of seats for the depressed classes he would reduce the number of seats suggested by Government for the Mohammedans, from 38 to 10. This reduction was justifiable, as on the population basis the Mohammedans were only entitled to 20 per cent of the seats. He did not consider the Congress League Pact as binding on all.
In the evidence he piointed out that Untouchables were persons to whom certain rights of citizenship had been denied. For instance, it was the right of every citizen to walk down the street, and if a man were prevented from doing so, even temporarily, it was an infringement of his right. Whether a man was prevented from exercising his rights by law or social custom, made very little difference to him. Government had recognised custom and persons belonging to the untouchable classes were not employed in Government service.
His view was that British rule in India was meant to provide equal opportunities for all, and that in transferring a large share of the power to popular assemblies, arrangements should be made whereby the hardships and disabilities entailed by the social system should not be reproduced and perpetuated in political institutions. As regards the exact position at present, he admitted that, for instance, at the Parel school which was meant for the depressed classes, there were many higher-caste pupils, who came there because it was a good school. Similarly as a professor he, being a member of a depressed class, had pupils of all classes and found no difficulty in dealing with his higher caste pupils. If the untouchable classes were recognized by Government by the grant of seats, their status would be raised and their powers would be stimulated. He was not very particular about the number of their seats; all he wanted was something adequate.
24 January 1938: Dr. Ambedkar spoke on Small Holder’s Bill in Bombay Legislative Assembly.
Find more detail here
24 January 1942: Gandhi was shown black flags in Nagpur by the Ambedkarite movement.
In 1941, the Chokhamela hostel management in Nagpur, with the collaboration of some Harijan students decided to call M K Gandhi for the hostel annual gathering. Most of the students, who were strong Ambedkarites and activitsts of the Samata Sainik Dal, opposed this. However, no one was in the mood to listen to them. Sadanand Dongare, an Ambedarite activist lived in the hostel, but felt he could not vanquish the idea of bringing Gandhi while staying there. One or two kilometers away from the hostel towards the railiway lines, there stood a hostel for Mahars named Gaddi Godam. He took a room there and laid out all his plans. The youth of north and central Nagpur came together.
By the day of Gandhi’s planned arrival i.e. 24 January 1942, a huge pavilion had been erected in the central area of the hostel’s open ground. A strong line of police was placed outside. Nanasaheb Gavai, Kisan Fagu Bansode, and other Mahar opponents of Dr. Ambedkar were members of the managing board. The president was Chaturbhajabhai Jasani of Gondia district who was a loyal member of Congress and a big leader of Madhya Pradesh. He brought Gandhi from Delhi, but he took him off the train two stations early; and because of this the Ambedkarite community, which was spread throughout Nagpur, was led to believe that Gandi had not come. However, Gandhi had come to Nagpur in the company of Jasani.
On the east side of the Chokamela hostel lay a parallel railyway line running north – south. This line goes via Itwara, Katol and Kalmeshwar to Delhi and east of Calcutta, Stone rocks had fallen on the railway line. Women and men, young and old gathered on this line, and shoulted, “Long Live Ambedkar!” On the north, south and west of the hostel lay people’s houses and narrow roads.
Gandhi’s car came to the hostel from behind. There the members of the reception committee were waiting to welcome him. While they were trying to shout “Long LIve Gandhi,” a noise like one voice could be heard from the thousands of demonstrators outside of hostel: “Mahatma Gandhi go back!” And as this noise reached the neighbourhoods around, people began to run towards the hostel.
The hostel was a four-sided block two hundred by two hundred feet in size. The pavilion had been set up in the open ground in the middle. Here along with the students of the hostel, distinguished guests had been invited to sit. But there were many Ambedkaritie Dalits among the students. Until Gandhi went onto the stage, everything was quiet inside. But once he rose to speak, some of the Ambedkaritie students in the audience stood up and began to shout, “Gandhiji, we have many questions for you.” Gandhi was standing quietly. He said, “Yes, ask them.” But the turmoil only increased. No one could hear the questions in that confusion. The hundreds of people standing outside on the railway lines began a massive stone-throwing into the hostel. The stones fell inside the pavilion also. There was no sign of halting this attack. Once the stones hit the canvas, it began to collapse. No one would give Gandhi a chance to make his speech. In this confusion, the organizers brought Gandhi out of the pavilion to protect him. Just as he had come in by the back door, so he left.
With the shouting of “Long Live Ambedkar! Bhim Raj is coming soon!” Gandhi’s car departed with black flags shown to him. The incident showed the ferocity of the anti-Gandhi sentiments of our people after the signing of the Poona pact.
24 January 1950: Consituent assembly met and in all 284 members appended their signatures on the Constitution of India
H.V.R. lyengar, Secretary of the Assembly announced that only one nomination paper was received for the office of the President of India (election was on 21 January 1950). The name of that candidate was Dr Rajendra Prasad. His nomination was proposed by Jawaharlal Nehru and seconded by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Thus Rajendra Prasad was duly elected to the Office of President of India. The members then fell over one another to sing paeans to the President. Nehru led the brigade with a speech that ended: “It is a comfort for us all to know that in future tasks and struggles, we shall have you as the Head of this Republic of India, and may I, sir, pledge my loyalty and fealty to this Republic of which you will be the honoured President.” Not to be out-done, Patel too joined the chorus of congratulations. This was followed by many members. One by one, they showered praise on the President, paying no heed to his repeated requests to stop, till, finally, he stopped the discussion with “I am sure I have the House with me on this occasion as on all occasions, and so, I would request Members who are anxious to speak to desist.”
23 January 1933: A welcome was accorded to Dr. Ambedkar by Samata Sainik Dal in Mumbai.
Dr. Ambedkar returned from the third round table conference to Bombay (now Mumbai) by the Gange ship on 23 January 1933. Along with him was Sir Purshottamdas Thakurdas. On the landing, he was given an enthusiastic reception by the Samata Sainik Dal. Amongst the prominent leaders Dr. Ambedkar was the only one who had attended all the three round table conferences and pushed for the rights of depressed classes (now called dalits). Gandhi and Malviya did not participate in the first and third round table conferences while Jinnah did not participate in the sessions of second round table conference.
23 January 1938: Dr. Ambedkar addressed a Peasants’ Conference at Ahmednagar (Maharshtra state).
 Dhananjay Keer, Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission, book, pg 225
22nd January in Dalit History – Periyar was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the publication of his book ‘Ponmozhigal’ (Golden sayings)
22 January 1932: Birth of Vasant Moon.
Vasant Moon was born in Nagpur city of Maharashtra state. Since his childhood he lived in the proper upbringing. In Maharpura area of Nagpur, he completed his primary and secondary school education. As he grew, he became more careful about his studies. Vasant Moon had started collecting books on dalit movement since his school days. He used to buy old books from weekly Burdi market (an area in Nagpur), the market which was very close to Patwardhan High School where he did his schooling. There was hardly any resercher of dalit movement who could do his/her research without Vasant Moon. He was honoured withBhim Ratna award by The Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, United Kingdom in 1993.
For a few months he worked as a Deputy Accountant General in Post and Telegraph office before he had completed his Masters in Arts. He wrote a few small dramas and staged them in his town Maharpura. Later on, he got a job of County Commissioner. First he worked in Madhya Pradesh, and then worked in other cities of Maharashtra. He was so committed to his community that he could never forget it up to his death. Not only his own family but also his entire neighborhood was his family. He got everything in it. He was associated with Wamanrao Godbole (the man whom Dr. Ambedkar gave the full responsibility of organising the Buddhist conversion of 14 October 1956) during the historic Buddhist conversion ceremony at Deeksha Bhoomi led by Dr. Ambedkar. He converted from Hinduism to Buddhism on the 14 October, 1956 in the historic conversion at Nagpur. He was associated with the Samata Sainik Dal during his youth. Though he lived his entire life almost in cities he was staunch follower of Dr. Ambedkar and was a well known dalit activist. Such was his devotion to Dr. Ambedkar’s mission that he built a library in Nagpur as a monument. He assisted world famous writer, Eleanor Zelliot for her Ph.D thesis in his library.
Mr. Vasant Moon’s complete work of Dr. Ambedkar gives insight into the ideas, thoughts and philosophy of the great man, which is valuable and an outstanding service to the Nation. Moon is well known for his painstaking work on the editions of twenty collected volumes of Dr. Ambedkar`s Writing and Speeches in English and his autobiography. These were published by Education Department of Maharashtra Government. Till he was alive 17 volumes were released and he had proof read volume 18, 19 and 20 in the manuscript form. After his death, Mr. Hari Narke who was then working on literature of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule took over remaining task of Vasant Moon.
Moon has written historical and social books. Life of women in Buddha`s Period (1989) is one of his powerful pieces of writing. In this, he has shown the life style of women during that particular period of Buddhism. He asserts that the period of Buddhism was favourable, convenient, and the time of equality for women. In that period, there did not exist any oppressive, unequal and separate laws for men and women. In the beginning of that period, there may have been such separate laws and their practice to some extent. Before Buddhism, there was no equality between men and women. In the course of time, the equality came in to existence during the Buddhist period. After this period of Buddhism, again the unequal things crept into the society. Therefore, according to Moon, the Buddhist period was the first period in Indian which for the first time, women were given full freedom and were treated equally. In the same period the duties of a daughter, wife, mother, widow, woman laborer, and nun were considered ideal. So, he shows the egalitarian nature of Buddhism through this book