Building the Ambedkar Revolution
Nov 13, 2011
THIS BOOK PROVIDES ADEEP INSIGHT INTO AHISTORIC STRUGGLE AND TELLS US
ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO WORKED AS PILLARS OF THE STRUGGLE. UNSUNG AND
UNKNOWN, THEY WERE THE ONES THAT PREPARED THE GROUND AND LAID THE
FOUNDATION OF THE AMBEDKAR REVOLUTION.
Dr. Gail Omvedt is an American- born Indian scholar, sociologist and
human rights activist noted for her work and writings on the dalit
movement. Her latest book, " Building the Ambedkar Movement" recounts
the life and struggle of Sambhaji Tukaram Gaikwad, a stalwart who
worked behind the scenes and has been described along with his
compatriots as one of the real organisers of the Mahad Satyagraha of
1927, one of the first major protest actions by the dalits in the
That provides a deep insight into a historic struggle and tells us
about the people who worked as pillars of the struggle, those often
unnamed, unsung and unknown workers who prepared the ground and laid
the foundation of the Ambedkar revolution.
The Mahad satyagraha began with untouchables drinking water from a
lake in the small town of Mahad in Maharashtras coastal Konkan region.
The local municipal council had declared that everyone was free to
drink the water of Mahads Chavdar Lake. The protestors and dalit
leaders were later severely beaten by upper caste Hindus who reacted
to a rumour that the local temple was also going to be " polluted".
The attack led to the death of Sambhaji Gaikwads only son Bhikaji. His
funeral was attended by thousands, numbers that included dalit leaders
and representatives of reformist caste Hindus. Here, Dr. Ambedkar rose
to speak and he consoled Gaikwad with the following words: "
Dadasaheb, don't believe that Bhikaji has gone. Believe that Bhimrao
has gone and Bhikaji in my form stands before you." Dr.
Ambedkars words gave Gaikwad the strength to continue the struggle.
The book recounts an instance when Dr. Ambedkar was working to collect
information for a survey for the Starte Committee, which was formed to
take up dalit issues in 1928. As part of his tours, Dr. Ambedkar went
to Chalisgaon in Maharashtra. Once they realised he was a dalit, the
upper caste Hindu tongawallas refused to take Dr.
Ambedkar. An inexperienced dalit who was called in to run a tonga
temporarily, ended up overturning it. Dr.
Ambedkar was thrown off the tonga and had to be hospitalised for a month.
Insights and gems such as these add to the knowledge and understanding
of the early days of Dr. Ambedkars leadership and fight for justice.
More importantly, the book helps throw light on people and forces
which helped build the movement at the base but are not so well known
these days, let alone well understood.
Today, the dalit movement may be fractured by differences, but it is
the early years of struggle, pain and the achievements under Dr.
Ambedkar that continue to inspire generation after generation. This
books carries the stories that many would probably never know, and
since they come with the scholarly insight and deep research that Dr.
Omvedt is noted for, they are precious. This work adds to Dr.
Omvedts numerous books and articles on class, caste and gender issues.
Most notable is her writing on the dalit struggle, as indeed is this
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