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Mainstream, VOL LX No 18, New Delhi, April 23, 2022

The Silent Revolution of Subaltern leader | Kiran. M Gajanur, Nirmal Kumar & Vishal Tembhurne

Friday 22 April 2022


Among the builders of modem India, Babu Jagjivan Ram was an important personality. His thought, speech, and action helped shape our country’s future. Babuji made his first appearance in the people movement in 1928 as part of the mazdoor rally at wellington square, Kolkata; He made his first appearance on the national panorama during the freedom movement as a learned, meritorious leader and social reformer from a subaltern section of the Society in 1932. Once, he said, "India is a storehouse of unlimited possibilities, India is the youngest nation globally, and the youth have to come forward in the nation’s progress." He kept hopes on the younger population of the country for its transformation. 

Jagjivanam was the leader who dedicated his life to the welfare of the marginalized communities as a leader of the downtrodden classes; Babuji’s prime concern was to unite the oppressed communities and give a voice to the voiceless Population because he suffered from caste oppression. He believed that caste could not be a determinant factor to weigh human calibre, so he protested against caste discrimination and made efforts to remove caste consciousness from the Human mind.

Dr Om Prakash Mourya, an author of the book ’Babu Jagjivanram’ [1], noted that Babujis association with caste-based discrimination has two diverse experiences; he was studied up to 5th class at the Chandwa village school, The teacher namely, Kapil Muni Tiwari influenced child Babuji a lot Once, during the rainy season, the floods in Ganga rivers increased the water pressure in the drains of Chandwa village. The houses built in the low-lying areas of the village were flooded. Jagjivan Ram’s house was flooded too. In this hour of crisis, Tiwari, who had a pakka house in the upper region of the village, gave shelter to the family of Jagjivan Ram for almost six months. This incident influenced a lot of Babuji.
The second incident was when Babu Jagjivan Ram Joined Arrah Town School. He faced the direct experience of Untouchability, inequality, and inhuman treatment at drinking water arrangements for students. Once, Babu Jagjivan Ram drank water from the ’Hindu’ pitcher, a high-caste student complained to the school Principal; as a result, the principal arranged for another pitcher for untouchable students, but Babu Jagjivan Ram broke that separate pitcher and argued for allowing him to drink water from common pitcher after lots of debate finally school administration accepted Babujis Demand and informed all students use the same pitcher for drinking water. 

These two diverse experiences helped Babuji to understand caste relations beyond binary opposition (Upper caste VS Lower Caste) and its Classical Varnashrama form; these societal insights motivated him to organize the Dalit community people and form the All India Depressed Classes League, which left a significant impact on the national politics of that time. Because of his constant work, an alliance was made between the Depressed Classes League and Congress in 1936. Babu Jagjivan Ram was elected unanimously; his associates also won the electoral battle. As a result, Congress nominated him as the Secretary of the Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1937. Historically, because of Babu Jagjivan Ram’s initiative, the oppressed class people associated with the Congress strengthened its roots in ground-level. 

  As a country, we must remember that he was a true son of the soil who believed in nonviolence, secularism which our freedom movement propagated. During his tenure as a defence minister, his a vigour effort to lead the war of 1971 for the liberation of Bangladesh; He was brought India out of ae deep agricultural crisis. He served as an agriculture and irrigation minister two times, 1967-70 and 1974-77; when India faced a socio-economically transition phase when India depended on the US for wheat to feed its Population, by changing the direction of agriculture through the green revolution, during his tenure, he introduced the Revolutionary method of irrigation systematic farming for mass production.

In 1977 on AIR, he said, "we must be united for our nation-building; we must utilize our existing resources to rejuvenate the idea of eternity. The minority must feel safe in the hands of the majority; the poverty must wipe out from our nation, which can be possible with equal distribution of resources for all sections of society.
Today, when celebrating his 115 Birth anniversary, we must remember his inclusive thoughts, which are a driving force for national integrity; we must not forget him as a ’Silent Revolutionist of Subaltern Class’. I hope the new awakened generation brings out his actual achievement from the pages of history and uses his ideas to architect our present.

(Authors: Dr. Kiran. M Gajanur is Assistant Professor Central University of Karnataka (CUK) ; Nirmal Kumar & Vishal Tembhurne are Research Students, CUK)

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