Mr Shashikant Humane is a veteran Ambedkarite, humanist based in Nagpur. Born in February 1939, Shashikant ji belonged to the generation of Ambedkarites who had seen Baba Saheb Ambedkar. In Maharashtra Dalit families, Baba Saheb and his struggle and achievements are part of the folklore in every family. Shashikant hailed from a landless family yet with his determination and hard work, achieved things which can make anybody proud. He rose to become an officer in the government of Maharashtra and completed double MA and LLB while being in the job. To be candid, age never mattered for him as his curiosity and determination kept him busy searching for new things which he shares with Ambedkarite fraternity. He is a voracious reader even today and continues to engage in translation work. He has been heading Samata Sainik Dal, Lashkari Bagh, Nagpur for the last 18 years. For two years he was head of the Buddhist Pensioners Association. He also started Bahujan Hitay Sangathan.
He did not have the traditional land. Father did not have any land and hence was unable to earn. His mother used to make Beedis and was the sole breadwinner of the family. After some time, his father, started a small Pan-beedi thela but that was not enough to run the family. There were 9 people in the family and in the real sense, his mother was the only earner in the family. He got influenced by his mother who encouraged him to study and learn. Both the parents were Ambedkarites. They had seen Baba Saheb and heard stories about him. Many people would share what Baba Saheb wrote in Mooknayak or Samata. For an average Buddhist family in Maharashtra, Baba Saheb means everything. Their morning starts with his remembrance and nights end with his name. The cultural influence of Baba Saheb in the lives of Maharashtra people is extraordinary. It resulted in even the common illiterate person thinking of educating their children. That influenced the parents of Shashikant ji and they encouraged him to study further particularly his mother was a great influence. They used to go to see Baba Saheb whenever he came to Nagpur.
He faced a lot of difficulties but schooling was not hard and costly. He completed his matric from government school. Afterwards, he joined some office. After matriculation, he appeared joined a polytechnic. He could not study English. He could not grasp maths and science at that time, and he failed. He applied for a job. Most of his friends at that time were illiterate. He wrote a letter to the manager for a job after an advertisement. He got a call. It was around October 4th, 1957, when Sputnik was sent to the moon. This question was asked in the interview which he responded correctly in the interview.
After joining the job, he joined pre-university as he wanted to continue his studies and gain more knowledge. He used to go to college from 7.30 to 9. He passed BA and LLB from the same office. He also completed LLM . He applied to UPSC and MPSC. He got selected in the first attempt at Maharashtra Pradesh. He was selected as a Gazetted Officer. He did not stop there. He then passed MA in Economics. He was not satisfied and completed an MA in English literature from Pune University. He was also selected for Income Tax. But due to family and other responsibilities, he could not join as his family, parents were living together.He did not see Dr Ambedkar from a close. He heard him only through the parents and newspapers. He says, Dr Ambbedkar’s name is sufficient for him. For him the ideas of Dr Ambedkar were important and that is why he remained committed to Baba Saheb’s mission and ideology.
When I asked him as ‘what influenced him most of Dr Ambedkar’s life and mission. Mr Shashikant Humane says that what he liked about Dr Ambedkar was that, ‘ He did not compromise with his principles. He was a thoroughly ethical person. He once said, ‘why people are fearful of me because of my character.’ That thing impressed him so much.
For me, it was interesting to know the history of ‘Humne’. Most of the people call him Humne which is not really a word in English. Actually, I used to think that he was a humanist but when everyone was calling him Shashikant Humne ji, I asked him what exactly it was. I never thought it was a family surname. He responded to my question : ‘ I love this surname. It is humane only. It is not humne. It is from the very beginning. I searched the dictionary. There is a meaning to it. This is his parent’s surname. There are several people in Nagpur. Some write like Humne. It is my parents name. Some quarters in Bhandara district, all people write Humane. Some of the people informed him about this. He had called a meeting for all those with a Humne surname.
He was actively involved with Samata Sainik Dal, started by Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Samata Sainik Dal branch was being operated in front of him. He used to go for physical training. It was a coactivites for their games as well as SSD Branch. It was in the year 1957 to 1962, he was part of Samata Sainik Dal.
He translated many books from Hindi and English into Marathi and many Marathi books into English and Hindi. Some of them were History of Hindu Imperialism by Swami Dharmteerth, Cross Examination of Gita, Itihas ke panno par khoon ke dag by Bhagwati Sharan Upadhyay and the last one is Vivekvad.
His Son Abhiyan was born on October 7th, 1976 at Nagpur. They encouraged him to study what he wished. He was a man of scientific thinking and went to complete his Engineering in Electronics from VJTI. Afterwards, he went to Pune and agot a Postgraduate Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. After that, he went to the US and got a degree in Broadcasting and New Mass Media from Wisconsin University. He wanted to further engage in a PhD programme and enrolled for it but due to various pressures and issues could not complete it. In the USA, he participated in the Black Lives Matter movement as well as supported the issues of LGBT. The faculty members were not so happy with him. He tried twice but they refused hence after some time he decided to return to India. He joined Indian Express for some time. Then he joined Shristhi School of Art, Design and technology in the year 2012. After that, he thought that he should use his knowledge for the community. He left his job and came here in July and went to Wardha and settled there. He has been associated with Nalanda Academy since May 2016. He wanted to groom the young boys and girls in science and technology. Within six month, he created so many things, a technological lab or what we call here Abhiyan Lab. He wanted to launch his satellite and wanted to encourage young boys and girls into science education. He went to Africa too where he stayed for a month. He organised a camp programme for youths from various Indian states under the banner of Nagpur Collective.
Tragically, Abhiyan passed away very untimely on February 8th, 2019 due to cardiac failure. This was shocking and for a parent passing away of a young energetic son is extremely painful and unbearable. Shashikanth ji and his wife Kanta ji kept their composure and decided to dedicate the rest of their lives to fulfill the dreams and mission of Abhiyan. Today, Shashikant ji proudly associated himself with Nalanda Academy near Wardha started by Mr Anoop Kumar and where Abhiyan completely dedicated himself for the cause of the growth of the academy.
Shashikant Humane wrote ‘ The Song of Abhiyan’s Birthday’ on October 7, 1983
‘ Thou art from the star,
Glittering lustger nonstop,
Bring happiness to all—
Unusual though flower,
Of Shashi Kanta,
Enchanting pains of joy-
The feeling be known,
The deafs and dumbs,
Let clouds gather,
Sharing your sorrows,
May come times, upteen
This day of festivity,
Celebrating the life,
Puffing up this night.’
This conversation was recorded at the house of Shashikant Humane ji in Nagpur where I had gone to meet him and participate in his book release function on February 27th, 2022. He is a very warm and deeply knowledgeable personality.
A big salute to the spirited efforts of Mr Shashikant Humane for the cause of humanism and rationality. We wish success to his ‘Abhiyan’ to strengthen Nalanda Academy in Wardha. Rather than making loud claims and rhetorical speeches, Mr Shashikant Humane is a true embodiment of an Ambedkarite in action to help those who need our support and help.