India remembers Kanshi Ram on his birthday
Posted On: 15-Mar-2010 07:16:18
Born in Punjab in 1934, Kanshi Ram was the eldest of eight siblings.
His upbringing was modest: he studied up to graduation, and there was
nothing in his early years to suggest that there was a silent
political and social revolutionary lurking within.
It was only after he took up a government job in the western Indian
state of Maharashtra that he began to be influenced by the writings
and political philosophy of BR Ambedkar, a social reformer and
architect of free India's constitution.
Mr Ambedkar voiced the concerns of India's low caste community -
particularly Dalits - in the run up to the country's independence. In
the mid-1960s, Kanshi Ram began to organise Dalit government employees
to fight against what he saw as the deeply entrenched prejudice of
higher caste people.
It was around this time that he decided that he would not marry but
dedicate his life to the cause of Dalit improvement. By the mid-1980s,
he decided to take the plunge into active politics.
The result was the formation of the BSP (the Common Man's Party) in
1984. As a politician, he soon began to attract national attention
even though he was not renowned for his oratorical skills or for his
He excelled however as a master strategist and organiser, and used
these strengths to carve out a niche for Dalits. This was done using
an often combative and aggressive strategy, with virulent attacks on
other political parties which he claimed only represented the
interests of higher caste Hindus.
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