Today mark the centenary of the publication of ‘Mook-Nayak’, founded by Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Exactly on January 31st, 1920, Baba Saheb Ambedkar launched this fortnightly to give voice to the voiceless as reflected in its name. I wont go into much research of this as many scholarly articles of already appeared on it commemorating a century of it. It is important to reflect on the influence Baba Saheb Ambedkar on media in India. Whether it was there or what is that we can safely call an 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 Dharanas everywhere. His bitter opponents both the Congress and BJP quotes him. The left forces which portrayed him ‘constitutionalist’ and too narrow ‘caste’ focused are quoting him but the things were not the similar when Dr Ambedkar started his journey. We were a country in owe with Gandhi as he represented the Savarna power of India even when he played patron saint for Muslims too. No ‘manustream’ media would focus on Ambedkar’s work and thought. All his life, Baba Saheb fought not with Gandhi or Gandhians but dishonest brahmanical intellectual class too which felt threatened and had no keen interest that his thought and vision reach to people of India but then mission Ambedkarism was carried forward by his dedicated followers who started publishing periodicals and magazines everywhere and it is because of their work and dedication Ambedkarites today are one of the most enlightened and intellectual class. It is these dedicated icons who took immense pain to make the 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 brahmanical intellectual of media yet many of those who are active and visible on social media have gained their way to the manustream media. The difference is that in the yesteryears, no brahmanical intellectual had the capacity to publish the roar of a 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 dont care for the brahmanical mainstream media and continue to do their work of spreading Ambedkarite enlightenment through their own network. It is a fact that Ambedkarism has the most potent weapon against brahmanism and it has survived despite India’s power elite never wanted it but that was the power of the movement, which never got any good ‘press’ or review by the ‘nationalists’ who always blamed Ambedkarites as Casteists.

Today, in the one hundred years of Mook Nayak, important is to continue with autonomous publications. Let more flowers bloom and young Ambedkarites take charge of new media, use social media and engage in constructive debate. Dr Ambedkar was an intellectual giant who responded to various issues confronting the nation. We need to use his basic tools to respond to current crisis 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 brahmanical 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 these manuwadi media of his time but he preferred his own publications so that his view remain undiluted and unadulterated. Also important that he changed his strategies through time to time so Mook Nayak to Bahishkrit Bharat, ultimately reached to ‘Prabuddh Bharat’ which was his vision for an enlightened India as he knew well that without providing an alternative to brahmanism you can not really liberate people and for that it was essential to continue the intellectual dialogue with people.

Today’s leadership actually dont want intellectual debate. Most of them hate 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 is way towards disaster. Through media leaders give their vision and people interact with them. More than that they listen their own critique but today criticism is not liked and brahmanical 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 never help in the long run. Media can also be used in creating new young leaders but for that all need 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 other appreciate it or not. Your real power is not the brahmanical 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 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 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 ‘exclusive’ domain of two or three jaatis.

In the 100 years of celebration of Mook-Nayak, our main goal should be to break the hegemony of the these exploiting castes and classes in our knowledge and information system so that brahmanical 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.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist


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