Kanshi Ram

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Kanshi Ram
National president of the Bahujan Samaj Party
In office
14 April 1984 18 September 2003
Succeeded by Mayawati
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Hoshiarpur
In office
1996–1998
Preceded by Kamal Chaudhry
Succeeded by Kamal Chaudhry
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Etawah
In office
1991–1996
Preceded byRam Singh Shakya
Succeeded byRam Singh Shakya
Personal details
Born15 March 1934
Rupnagar district, Punjab Province, British India
Died9 October 2006(2006-10-09) (aged 72)
New Delhi, India
Political party Bahujan Samaj Party
Website www.bamcef.info/manyawar-shri-kanshiram-ji.php

Kanshi Ram (15 March 1934 – 9 October 2006), also known as Bahujan Nayak [1] or Saheb, [2] was an Indian politician and social reformer who worked for the upliftment and political mobilisation of the Bahujans, the backward or lower caste people including untouchable groups at the bottom of the caste system in India.(sc,St,OBC as well as minorities ) [3] Towards this end, Kanshi Ram founded Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti (DS-4), the All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees' Federation (BAMCEF) in 1971 and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 1984. He ceded leadership of the BSP to his protégé Mayawati who has served four terms as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Untouchability, in its literal sense, is the practice of ostracising a minority group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate.

Caste system in India class in Hindu society

The caste system in India is the paradigmatic ethnographic example of caste. It has origins in ancient India, and was transformed by various ruling elites in medieval, early-modern, and modern India, especially the Mughal Empire and the British Raj. It is today the basis of educational and job reservations in India. The caste system consists of two different concepts, varna and jati, which may be regarded as different levels of analysis of this system.

The Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti, abbreviated as DS-4 or DSSSS was founded on 6 December 1981 by Kanshi Ram to organise dalits and other oppressed groups of India. It was related to BAMCEF.

Contents

Early life

Kanshi Ram was born on 15 March 1934 in Ropar district, Punjab, British India. Some sources say his birthplace was the village of Pirthipur Bunga [4] and others that it was Khawaspur village. Although his family were Ramdasia Sikhs, an untouchable sect, in Punjab at that time there was relatively little stigma attached to being an untouchable. [5] [6]

Punjab Province (British India) former province of British India

Punjab, also spelled Panjab, was a province of British India. Most of the Punjab region was annexed by the East India Company in 1849, and was one of the last areas of the Indian subcontinent to fall under British control. In 1858, the Punjab, along with the rest of British India, came under the direct rule of the British crown. The province comprised five administrative divisions, Delhi, Jullundur, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi and a number of princely states. In 1947, the partition of India led to the province being divided into East Punjab and West Punjab, in the newly created dominions of India and Pakistan respectively.

The Ramdasia were historically a Sikh sub-group that originated from the Hindu caste of weavers known as Julaha but the term has expanded to become one referring to Sikhs who form a part of the backwards classes in general. According to Paul Ghuman, Ramdasias are also Chamars who have converted to Sikhism.

After studies at various local schools, [7] Ram graduated in 1956 with a BSc degree from Government College Ropar. [8]

A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years, or a person holding such a degree.

Career

Kanshi Ram joined the offices of the Explosive Research and Development Laboratory in Pune [5] under the government's scheme of affirmative action. It was at this time that he first experienced caste discrimination [8] and in 1964 he became an activist. Those who admire him claim that he was spurred to this after reading B. R. Ambedkar's book Annihilation of Caste and witnessing what he perceived to be discrimination against a Dalit employee who wished to observe a holiday celebrating Ambedkar's birth. [9]

The system of reservation in India such as reserving access to seats in the various legislatures, to government jobs, and to enrollment in higher educational institutions. The reservation nourishes the historically disadvantaged castes and tribes, listed as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by the Government of India, also those designated as Other Backwards Classes (OBCs) and also the economically backward general. The reservation is undertaken to address the historic oppression, inequality, and discrimination faced by those communities and to give these communities a place. It is intended to realise the promise of equality enshrined in the Constitution.

B. R. Ambedkar Indian polymath and the architect of the Indian Constitution

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination towards the untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women and labour. He was independent India's first law and justice minister, the architect of the Constitution of India, and a founding father of the Republic of India. In India and elsewhere, he was often called Babasaheb, meaning "respected father" in Marathi and Hindi.

Annihilation of Caste is an undelivered speech written in 1936 by B. R. Ambedkar who fought against the country's practice of untouchability. It was later self-published by the author.

Ram initially supported the Republican Party of India (RPI) but became disillusioned with its co-operation with the Indian National Congress. In 1971, he founded the All India SC, ST, OBC and Minority Employees Association and in 1978 this became BAMCEF, an organisation that aimed to persuade educated members of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backwards Classes and Minorities to support Ambedkarite principles. BAMCEF was neither a political nor a religious body and it also had no aims to agitate for its purpose. Suryakant Waghmore says it appealed to "the class among the Dalits that was comparatively well-off, mostly based in urban areas and small towns working as government servants and partially alienated from their untouchable identities". [10]

The Republican Party of India is a political party in India. It has its roots in the Scheduled Castes Federation led by B. R. Ambedkar. The 'Training School for Entrance to Politics' was established by Ambedkar in 1956 which was to serve as an entry point to the Republican Party of India (RPI). The first batch of the school consisted of 15 students. Its first batch turned out to be last batch as the school was closed after Ambedkar's death in 1956.

Indian National Congress Major political party in India

The Indian National Congress(pronunciation ) is a political party in India with widespread roots. Founded in 1885, it was the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire in Asia and Africa. From the late 19th century, and especially after 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement. Congress led India to independence from Great Britain, and powerfully influenced other anti-colonial nationalist movements in the British Empire.

Later, in 1981, Ram formed another social organisation known as Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti (DSSSS, or DS4). He started his attempt of consolidating the Dalit vote and in 1984 he founded the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). He fought his first election in 1984 from Janjgir-Champa seat in Chhattisgarh. [11] The BSP found success in Uttar Pradesh, initially struggled to bridge the divide between Dalits and Other Backward Classes [12] but later under leadership of Mayawati bridged this gap. [13]

Bahujan Samaj Party Indian political party

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is a national level political party in India that was formed to represent Bahujans, referring to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Castes (OBC), along with religious minorities. According to Kanshi Ram, when he founded the party in 1984, the Bahujans comprised 85 percent of India's population, but were divided into 6,000 different castes. The party claims to be inspired by the philosophy of Gautama Buddha, B. R. Ambedkar, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Narayana Guru, Periyar E. V. Ramasamy and Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj. Kanshi Ram named his protégée, Mayawati, as his successor in 2001. The BSP has its main base in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. In the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, BSP was the second-largest party, with over 22% of votes despite winning only 19 seats. Its election symbol is an elephant. The BSP has no separate youth wing; however, youth representation is over 50%. BSP has no social media accounts or website. Sudhindra Bhadoria, a senior party leader, is the only official spokesperson of the BSP.

Janjgir-Champa Vidhan Sabha constituency is one of the 90 Vidhan Sabha constituencies of Chhattisgarh state in central India.

Chhattisgarh Central-east state in India

Chhattisgarh is one of the 28 states of India, located in the centre-east of the country. It is the ninth-largest state in India, with an area of 135,192 km2 (52,198 sq mi). With a 2011 population of 25.5 million, Chhattisgarh is the 16th-most populated state in the country. A resource-rich state, it is a source of electricity and steel for the country, accounting for 15% of the total steel produced. Chhattisgarh is one of the fastest-developing states in India.

In 1982 he wrote his book The Chamcha Age, in which he used the term chamcha (stooge) to describe Dalit leaders such as Jagjivan Ram and Ram Vilas Paswan. [5] He argued that Dalits should work politically for their own ends rather than compromise by working with other parties. [14]

After forming BSP Ram said the party would fight first election to lose, next to get noticed and the third election to win. [15] In 1988 he contested Allahabad seat up against a future Prime Minister V. P. Singh and performed impressively but lost polling close to 70,000 votes. [16]

He unsuccessfully contested from East Delhi (Lok Sabha constituency) in 1989 and came at fourth position. Then he represented the 11th Lok Sabha from Hoshiarpur, [17] Kanshiram was also elected as member of Lok Sabha from Etawah in Uttar Pradesh. In 2001 he publicly announced Mayawati as his successor.

In the late 1990s, Ram described the BJP as the most corrupt (mahabrasht) party in India and the INC, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal as equally corrupt. [18] [19]

Proposed conversion to Buddhism

In 2002, Ram announced his intention to convert to Buddhism on 14 October 2006, the 50th anniversary of Ambedkar's conversion. He intended for 20,000,000 of his supporters to convert at the same time. Part of the significance of this plan was that Ram's followers include not only untouchables, but persons from a variety of castes, who could significantly broaden Buddhism's support. However, he died on 9 October 2006. [20]

Mayawati his successor said "Saheb Kanshi Ram and I had decided that we will convert and adopt Buddhism when we will get "absolute majority" at the Centre. We wanted to do this because we can make a difference to the religion by taking along with us millions of people. If we convert without power then only we two will be converting. But when you have power you can really create a stir". [21]

Death

Ram was a diabetic. He suffered a heart attack in 1994, an arterial clot in his brain in 1995, and a paralytic stroke in 2003. [22] He died in New Delhi on 9 October 2006 of a severe heart attack at the age of 72. [23] He had been virtually bed-ridden for more than two years. [24] According to his wishes, [25] his funeral rites were performed according to Buddhist tradition, with Mayawati lighting the pyre. [22] His ashes were placed in an urn and kept at Prerna Sthal, where many people paid their respects. [26]

In his condolence message, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Ram as "one of the greatest social reformers of our time .. his political ideas and movements had a significant impact on our political evolution ... He had a larger understanding of social change and was able to unite various underprivileged sections of our society and provide a political platform where their voices would be heard." Under Ram's leadership, the BSP won 14 parliamentary seats in the 1999 federal elections. [27]

Books

In 1982, Ram wrote The Chamcha Age (The Era of the Stooges), a book in which he used the term chamcha (stooge) for Dalit leaders whom he alleged had selfish reasons to work for parties such as the Indian National Congress (INC) [5] and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). [14] His book Birth of BAMCEF was also published. [28] His biography, Kanshiram: Leader Of The Dalits was written by Badri Narayan Tiwari. [29] [30] His speeches are combiled in a books like Bahujan Nayak Kanshiram Ke Avismarniya Bhashan by Anuj Kumar, Writings & Speeches of Kanshiram compiled by S. S. Gautam and The Editorials of Kanshi Ram by Bahujan Samaj Publications in 1997.

Legacy

Statues of Mayawati (L) and Kanshi Ram (R) at Ambedkar Memorial Park Image of India.jpg
Statues of Mayawati (L) and Kanshi Ram (R) at Ambedkar Memorial Park

There are many govenment programmes and schemes [31] [32] and public institutions named after Kanshi Ram in Uttar Pradesh. [33] [34] [35] [36] His birthplace Pirthipur Bunga Sahib has a memorial with his statue. [37] Manyawar Shri Kanshiram Ji Green Eco Garden in Lucknow has been named in his memory. [38]

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References

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