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Nidhin Shobhana: A scholar spreading Ambedkarite discourse through his drawings
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Nidhin Shobhana: A scholar spreading Ambedkarite discourse through his drawings

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Dr. Dhammasangini Ramagorakh

Today, 5th September,  is the birthday of Nidhin Shobhana. On this occasion, I want to introduce him to you. This guy is not on Facebook! He lives in Calcutta.

In the defense of Ambedkarism, in ideological fights and battles, people like us have to write lengthy articles to argue but this man does the same through a single illustration. Be it against the imaginary idea of ‘Dominant Dalit’ by Prof. Badri Narayan who produces research and arguments to help BJP, or be it against the 10 percent reservation for the Savarnas who were already enjoying unreserved space.

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Nidhin’s illustrations are staunchly critical. Look at the illustration in which the Janaudhari rests his foot on Parliament. It seems the Parliament, an official symbol of democracy, is being crushed by the Janaudhari. And you don’t need to speak differently on today’s Brahmanical fascism. The picture itself speaks so powerfully.

A drawing of a woman engaging constantly with cow dung: Nidhin has drawn two illustrations of how women lag behind in education and other fields because of the work burden of tending to cows. Asha, Nidhin’s wife, has written an extensive article on how the life of cow herding OBC women in Bihar is ruined in caring for the cow. Asha being from a cow herding community has exposed BJPs unholy love for the cow and how it is based upon women’s labor. Nidhin Shobhana has drawn cover pages of some of the recent books on Dalit discourse published by The Shared Mirror Publishing House.

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Where can one find stability in today’s unstable environment? Where can one get good shelter in this extreme hindutva environment? These are the major topics in his illustrations. His drawings are highly emotional, but at the same time display an optimistic path ahead. Really, these drawings have gone deep inside my heart.

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Phule, Ambedkar, Savitri, Fatima–all make an appearance, and all of them try helping the exploited, oppressed, giving courage to those who are fighting for rights, giving guidance, protection and love to them. Truly, these drawings indicate the last abode of those striving for equality. His illustrations are all the time hinting at an Ambedkarite utopia.

You will not find devotion, helplessness, surrender, despair in these pictures. What you find is the spring of knowledge, compassion, and love.

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Today’s generation is trying to have a ‘friendly bond’ with Jotiba, Savitri, Babasaheb by loving them deeply, sometimes posing questions to them, fighting with them, etc. Nidhin Shobna is an illustrator who depicts the emotional and ideological world of our generation. His drawings are very unique in this respect.

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An artist with a critical vision and scholar of our generation, Nidhin Shobhna is a Dalit Christian from Kerala. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD from JNU.

Apart from and beyond the poems, autobiographies, stories, and novels if anyone wants to see how Ambedkarism and Dalit literature is evolving and expanding please see his illustrations.

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 Dr. Dhammasangini Ramagorakh is an activist, academician and spokesperson of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi.

This note was translated from Marathi by Mahipal Mahamatta.

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