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Century ago, Mook-Nayak beckons a new Ambedkarite movement today

Foster young and new Ambedkarites to lead the new age of knowledge and information for an enlightened media

Vidya Bhushan Rawat 01 Feb 2020

Ambedkar

Today marks the centenary of the publication of 'Mook-Nayak', founded by Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Exactly on January 31, 1920, Baba Saheb Ambedkar launched this fortnightly to give voice to the voiceless as reflected in its name. I won’t go into many details of the newspaper as many scholarly articles have already appeared on it commemorating its century run. What is more important is to reflect on the influence Baba Saheb Ambedkar had on the media in India. What emerged out of Baba Saheb’s influence was what we can safely call was the Ambedkarite media. People may differ but I write based on my experiences and interactions with whole lot of Ambedkarites and those who were part of Baba Saheb's mission. I feel extremely proud that I could interact and learn a lot from intellectual giants Bhagwan Das ji, NG Uke Saheb, L R Balley, V T Rajshekar, J V Pawar, Raja Dhale, Vijay Surwade and many more who had been regularly writing and contributing in different forms to strengthen mission Ambedkarism and its intellectual ethos. There are hundreds other unknown soldiers of the movement who in different nooks and corners of the country started various journals and periodicals to spread it in their impact domains and areas.

Photographs and quotes of Baba Saheb Ambekar today are visible in every protest and dharna everywhere. His bitter opponents, both the Congress and BJP quote him. The Left forces which portrayed him 'constitutionalist' and too narrow 'caste' focused are quoting him now too, but things were not the same when Dr. Ambedkar started his journey. We were a country in awe of Gandhi as he represented the Savarna power of India even when he played patron saint for Muslims. No 'Manustream' media would focus on Ambedkar's work and thought. All his life, Baba Saheb fought not with Gandhi or Gandhians but the dishonest brahminical intellectual class too which felt threatened and had no keen interest that his thought and vision reach to the people of India. But his  mission of Ambedkarism was carried forward by his dedicated followers who started publishing periodicals and magazines everywhere and it is because of their work and dedication that Ambedkarites today are one of the most enlightened and intellectual class. It is these dedicated icons who took immense pain to make this literature available to us.

Today, we have a hugely powerful Ambedkarite opinion making class, a majority of who, would not like to get legitimised or justified by the brahminical intellectual of media yet many of those who are active and visible on social media and have made their way into the ‘Manustream’ media. The difference is that in the yesteryears, no brahminical intellectual had the capacity to publish the roar of an L R Balley or Bhagwan Das or V T Rajshekar or Raja Dhale. Today, they have started publishing the new young which is a good sign but for me, I would still appreciate and respect those more who don’t care for the brahminical mainstream media and continue to do their work of spreading Ambedkarite enlightenment through their own network. It is a fact that Ambedkarism is the most potent weapon against brahminism and it has survived despite India's power elite never wanting it to. Such was the power of the movement, which never got any good 'press' or review by the 'nationalists' and who always blamed Ambedkarites as Casteists.

Today, in the one hundred years of Mook Nayak, it is important to continue with autonomous publications. Let more flowers bloom and young Ambedkarites take charge of new media, use social media and engage in constructive debates. Dr Ambedkar was an intellectual giant who responded to various issues confronting the nation. We need to use his basic tools to respond to the current crises that we face today. Reach more and more groups diverse from your own and make alliances with common minimum programmes without undermining the basic identity of Ambedkarism. The real fight against the brahminical caste hegemonists or fascists in India can only come through an inclusive and diverse coalition of Ambedkarite Bahujans with Ambedkarism playing the lead role of coordinating these diverse groups, but in a collective leadership.

It is essential to understand that Baba Saheb Ambedkar paid great emphasis on interacting with his people and through his media. He could also have written in the Manuwadi media of his time but he preferred his own publications so that his view remained undiluted and unadulterated. Also important is that he changed his strategies from time to time - from Mook Nayak to Bahishkrit Bharat, and ultimately to 'Prabuddh Bharat' which was his vision for an enlightened India as he knew well that without providing an alternative to brahminism you cannot really liberate people; and hence it was essential to continue with the intellectual dialogue.

Today's leadership actually don’t want an intellectual debate. Most of them hate the idea and never felt that a professional media was required which could give its professional guidance by inviting community intellectuals, silent activists, grassroots workers to write and not merely report or produce all the garbage of party reporting or neta bhakti. Intellectuals need to come beyond the bhakti as Baba Saheb said categorically why 'bhakti' in politics was a way towards disaster. Through the media, leaders give their vision and people interact with them. More than that they listen to their own critique but today criticism is not liked and brahminical media will not critique Bahujan leadership for the point of the community interest but its own interest and therefore such media was needed which could warn leaders of their faults and not become their propaganda tool as it would never help in the long run. Media can also be used in creating new young leaders but for that one needs a long term strategy.

While we salute all those known and unknow Ambedkarites who carried forwarded the legacy of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar's journalism, it must continue its work unmindful of whether others appreciate it or not. The real power does not lie in brahminical acknowledgement but in awakening the masses and making their issues public. The ‘Manustream’ media today is distorting facts, hiding them and vilifying dissenters. It is important therefore, we support and participate with all such forces who have stood with people for their human rights, social justice and raised their issues and provided space for all kind of discussions.

In the 21st century, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar's philosophy will play the real 'liberation theology' for all the oppressed people and if we want that this philosophy is not distorted then it is essential we keep safe the legacy of all those who dedicated their life to spread Baba Saheb's 'Prabuddha Bharat' mission. Ambedkarite media is not reporting cut and paste from the manuwadi media but essentially a constructive ideological alternative of the hierarchical varna system, a complete annihilation of caste which is necessary for a stronger and democratic India. No Manuwadi media would be interested in annihilation of caste as it is only possible through Ambedkarite media but for that we all will have to learn to listen to even disagreements and try forge a coalition with all. Ambedkarite media can be an individual enterprise but will have to work in close association with the community and should not only raise their issues but work towards creating new young writers, photographers, cartoonists, reporters and editors. The task is tough but nothing is impossible and will ultimately benefit the nation enormously where media is the 'exclusive' domain of two or three jaatis.

In the 100 years of the celebration of Mook-Nayak, our main goal should be to break the hegemony of these exploiting castes and classes in our knowledge and information system so that brahminical exploitation is exposed, people get justice and rule of law is restored. We have seen the dirt and filth that ‘Manustream’ media has unleashed on us and to counter this we need an enlightened media and better analysis of the current situation. Ambedkarites can do that, and if they do so, it will be the best tribute to Baba Saheb Ambedkar.

 

Century ago, Mook-Nayak beckons a new Ambedkarite movement today

Foster young and new Ambedkarites to lead the new age of knowledge and information for an enlightened media

Ambedkar

Today marks the centenary of the publication of 'Mook-Nayak', founded by Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Exactly on January 31, 1920, Baba Saheb Ambedkar launched this fortnightly to give voice to the voiceless as reflected in its name. I won’t go into many details of the newspaper as many scholarly articles have already appeared on it commemorating its century run. What is more important is to reflect on the influence Baba Saheb Ambedkar had on the media in India. What emerged out of Baba Saheb’s influence was what we can safely call was the Ambedkarite media. People may differ but I write based on my experiences and interactions with whole lot of Ambedkarites and those who were part of Baba Saheb's mission. I feel extremely proud that I could interact and learn a lot from intellectual giants Bhagwan Das ji, NG Uke Saheb, L R Balley, V T Rajshekar, J V Pawar, Raja Dhale, Vijay Surwade and many more who had been regularly writing and contributing in different forms to strengthen mission Ambedkarism and its intellectual ethos. There are hundreds other unknown soldiers of the movement who in different nooks and corners of the country started various journals and periodicals to spread it in their impact domains and areas.

Photographs and quotes of Baba Saheb Ambekar today are visible in every protest and dharna everywhere. His bitter opponents, both the Congress and BJP quote him. The Left forces which portrayed him 'constitutionalist' and too narrow 'caste' focused are quoting him now too, but things were not the same when Dr. Ambedkar started his journey. We were a country in awe of Gandhi as he represented the Savarna power of India even when he played patron saint for Muslims. No 'Manustream' media would focus on Ambedkar's work and thought. All his life, Baba Saheb fought not with Gandhi or Gandhians but the dishonest brahminical intellectual class too which felt threatened and had no keen interest that his thought and vision reach to the people of India. But his  mission of Ambedkarism was carried forward by his dedicated followers who started publishing periodicals and magazines everywhere and it is because of their work and dedication that Ambedkarites today are one of the most enlightened and intellectual class. It is these dedicated icons who took immense pain to make this literature available to us.

Today, we have a hugely powerful Ambedkarite opinion making class, a majority of who, would not like to get legitimised or justified by the brahminical intellectual of media yet many of those who are active and visible on social media and have made their way into the ‘Manustream’ media. The difference is that in the yesteryears, no brahminical intellectual had the capacity to publish the roar of an L R Balley or Bhagwan Das or V T Rajshekar or Raja Dhale. Today, they have started publishing the new young which is a good sign but for me, I would still appreciate and respect those more who don’t care for the brahminical mainstream media and continue to do their work of spreading Ambedkarite enlightenment through their own network. It is a fact that Ambedkarism is the most potent weapon against brahminism and it has survived despite India's power elite never wanting it to. Such was the power of the movement, which never got any good 'press' or review by the 'nationalists' and who always blamed Ambedkarites as Casteists.

Today, in the one hundred years of Mook Nayak, it is important to continue with autonomous publications. Let more flowers bloom and young Ambedkarites take charge of new media, use social media and engage in constructive debates. Dr Ambedkar was an intellectual giant who responded to various issues confronting the nation. We need to use his basic tools to respond to the current crises that we face today. Reach more and more groups diverse from your own and make alliances with common minimum programmes without undermining the basic identity of Ambedkarism. The real fight against the brahminical caste hegemonists or fascists in India can only come through an inclusive and diverse coalition of Ambedkarite Bahujans with Ambedkarism playing the lead role of coordinating these diverse groups, but in a collective leadership.

It is essential to understand that Baba Saheb Ambedkar paid great emphasis on interacting with his people and through his media. He could also have written in the Manuwadi media of his time but he preferred his own publications so that his view remained undiluted and unadulterated. Also important is that he changed his strategies from time to time - from Mook Nayak to Bahishkrit Bharat, and ultimately to 'Prabuddh Bharat' which was his vision for an enlightened India as he knew well that without providing an alternative to brahminism you cannot really liberate people; and hence it was essential to continue with the intellectual dialogue.

Today's leadership actually don’t want an intellectual debate. Most of them hate the idea and never felt that a professional media was required which could give its professional guidance by inviting community intellectuals, silent activists, grassroots workers to write and not merely report or produce all the garbage of party reporting or neta bhakti. Intellectuals need to come beyond the bhakti as Baba Saheb said categorically why 'bhakti' in politics was a way towards disaster. Through the media, leaders give their vision and people interact with them. More than that they listen to their own critique but today criticism is not liked and brahminical media will not critique Bahujan leadership for the point of the community interest but its own interest and therefore such media was needed which could warn leaders of their faults and not become their propaganda tool as it would never help in the long run. Media can also be used in creating new young leaders but for that one needs a long term strategy.

While we salute all those known and unknow Ambedkarites who carried forwarded the legacy of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar's journalism, it must continue its work unmindful of whether others appreciate it or not. The real power does not lie in brahminical acknowledgement but in awakening the masses and making their issues public. The ‘Manustream’ media today is distorting facts, hiding them and vilifying dissenters. It is important therefore, we support and participate with all such forces who have stood with people for their human rights, social justice and raised their issues and provided space for all kind of discussions.

In the 21st century, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar's philosophy will play the real 'liberation theology' for all the oppressed people and if we want that this philosophy is not distorted then it is essential we keep safe the legacy of all those who dedicated their life to spread Baba Saheb's 'Prabuddha Bharat' mission. Ambedkarite media is not reporting cut and paste from the manuwadi media but essentially a constructive ideological alternative of the hierarchical varna system, a complete annihilation of caste which is necessary for a stronger and democratic India. No Manuwadi media would be interested in annihilation of caste as it is only possible through Ambedkarite media but for that we all will have to learn to listen to even disagreements and try forge a coalition with all. Ambedkarite media can be an individual enterprise but will have to work in close association with the community and should not only raise their issues but work towards creating new young writers, photographers, cartoonists, reporters and editors. The task is tough but nothing is impossible and will ultimately benefit the nation enormously where media is the 'exclusive' domain of two or three jaatis.

In the 100 years of the celebration of Mook-Nayak, our main goal should be to break the hegemony of these exploiting castes and classes in our knowledge and information system so that brahminical exploitation is exposed, people get justice and rule of law is restored. We have seen the dirt and filth that ‘Manustream’ media has unleashed on us and to counter this we need an enlightened media and better analysis of the current situation. Ambedkarites can do that, and if they do so, it will be the best tribute to Baba Saheb Ambedkar.

 

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