Monday, October 9, 2017

Babu Kanshi Ram – A Tribute

Babu Kanshi Ram – A Tribute

Today, October 9, is the death anniversary of dalit icon Babu Kanshi Ram (1934-2006). Babu Kanshi Ram, addressed as Manyavar by his admirers and followers, was a leader by his own right who caught the imagination of millions of down-trodden and under-privileged people of India commonly called SCs and OBCs. He entered public life quite late after resigning from a comfortable position as a scientist in one of the government establishments.
Babu Kanshi Ram
Kanshi Ram proved himself as an organizer and strategist par-excellence. He studied Babasaheb Ambedkar and became his ardent follower. He was fully convinced of Dr. Ambedkar’s approach to empower the socially and economically weaker sections of the society based on his slogan “Political power is the master key” and the dictum of “Educate, Agitate and Organise”. Kanshi Ram earnestly tried to achieve the first goal of grabbing political power on the basis of “bargaining and not begging” as a well crafted strategy. As regards the second, he made whirlwind tours to educate the marginalized masses of their political strength and gain political power. This education and motivation in turn agitated the minds of dalits and filled them with a sense of much needed confidence. With a view to address the third part i.e. organization, Babu Kanshi Ram slowly but steadily established the necessary structures of organization:

1) BAMCEF - All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees' Federation – December 6, 1978
2) DS-4 - Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti - December 6, 1981
3) BSP - Bahujan Samaj Party - April 14, 1984

Kanshi Ram adopted the “Middle-path” of Buddha avoiding the normal course of “Revolution or Collaboration”. Though Kanshi Ram was a votary of Babasaheb Ambedkar yet their approaches to achieve the desired goals appear to have differences. Ambedkar stood for constitutional and peaceful responses to address the issues. Kanshi Ram believed in meeting force with force – “Ek
A son of the soil - Kanshi Ram
Eent Ka Jawab – Do Pathar”. India Today, in its issue of September 25, 2017, has listed 70 visionaries who defined India as “Movers and Shakers”. Kanshi Ram is one among the worthy 70, besides Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Referring to Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, under the banner – Messiah of the Downtrodden, Ajay Bose, a senior journalist, has said, “One was an intellectual giant who set a broad agenda of emancipation for dalits while the other was a homespun, self-taught leader operating in the rough and tumble of multi-party Indian politics. Kanshi Ram himself described this difference when he said, “He used to collect books; I tried to collect people.”

Kanshi Ram was a leader with a difference. ‘Nationalism’ is a much talked about word these days. Long ago, while replying to a question, Kanshi Ram said that nationalism to him was the welfare of the masses of India. He further added that he believed in the two nation theory – One of Oppressed and the second of Oppressors. He lived to his convictions and self imposed constraints to serve the poor and under-privileged people and fully honoured his vow, “I will never get married, I will never acquire any property, I will never visit my home, I will devote and dedicate the rest of my life to achieve the goals of Phule -Ambedkar movement"

I pay my humble tributes to the memory of one of the great sons of India, Babu Kanshi Ram on his death anniversary, October 9.

Without Comment:-

“If the Dalit movement in India is to succeed, it is important to analyse both the similarities and differences between Kanshi Ram and Ambedkar so that a new strategy can be developed for the movement. The Bahujan-Sarvajan movement in Uttar Pradesh may want to borrow from Ambedkarite values in its U.P. experiment while the Dalit movement in other parts of India may learn from Kanshi Ram on how to mobilise new Dalit Politics.”

(An article written by Badri Narayan in the Hindu of May 11, 2012)

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