Economics/Class Relations

The Indian Farmers’ Movement 2020–21: Part III: Writing the Alphabet of Democratic Hope

By Telos

On January 31, 1920, Dr. Bhimrao “Babasaheb” Ambedkar—lawyer, thought leader, social thinker, and one of Columbia University’s most famous alumni, who later became the prime architect of the constitution of the postcolonial Republic of India—published the first issue of the Dalit newspaper Mooknayak (The Silent or Muted Hero). The aim was to create, in the Marathi language, an alternative narrative of self-representation of Dalits (then called “untouchables”) to counter the caste-biased local vernacular and colonial English-language newspapers in pre-independence India. Under Dr. Ambedkar’s leadership, and often led by his editorials, Mooknayak quickly turned into a megaphone for those who were consciously being silenced by those in power, a platform to champion the rights and dignity of the oppressed and impoverished lowest castes. The idea was effective: through Mooknayak, those who were marginalized and minoritized were able to leave a paper trail of their accounts, their struggles for dignity, hope, and rights for the next generations to come.

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