(SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)
Anuradha Bele: Dear Kaka, thank you for taking the time for the interview with RTI. We look to seniors like you to give us guidance about how young bahujans can channel their energies to minimize the hardship which are brought on bahujan masses due to the pandemic and the lockdown measures. So what would you like to talk to the young bahujan, in the present situation?
Shashikant Humane: The important thing is that one has to take the initiative and set an example and that one should be, you see, capable of sacrificing something from their own pocket so that others would follow. Correct? And the important thing is we individually, and with some associations – we have got so many associations in every district I believe – so the heads of the institutions should come forward, put their own efforts, their own money and work as examples for the people. And though this thing is for some short period, we have to keep in mind such things may come in the future also. For that, those associations or those progressive people from our community, should keep this thing in mind and start funding for such things.
They should create some funds themselves for such eventualities because though it is a temporary one, these things can occur many times in the future so this should be the way to help people in a constructive way. This is one of our weaknesses that our people, our people means those who can help, who have got some money, they have become security-minded. And they don’t want to help our people in a large way. By we, I mean, we thoughtful people, should come out of this security zone and try to sacrifice something, not just something, but sacrifice generously for the poor people at least in such a situation as the corona pandemic.
Anuradha Bele: The rural poor and the urban poor are both bahujan castes and they are both facing the impact of the lockdown. What are your thoughts about this situation where the lower castes, dalits, adivasis have to pay the biggest price for natural disasters or diseases?
Shashikant Humane: The bahujan people – there is no, you know, one caste, this is not a homogenous mass. Among themselves, they don’t share views freely and moreover, there is the distance among them. Among them some like-minded people, they are coming together and arranging some gatherings, speaking on some occasions of Mahatma Phule or Babasaheb Ambedkar or Periyar, and all such things, but this affinity does not percolate further regularly. It is limited only to these occasions. You see, to avoid such a situation or to create a hopeful situation for all bahujans, we Ambedkarites have to take the initiative first to assuage the sufferers, irrespective of the caste. See, it is our duty because we have to change the people, we have to change the circumstances. So it is the responsibility of the Ambedkarites to take initiative to help our people, our people means people of all our castes, suffering peoples.
This should be borne in mind that it is the duty of the Ambedkarites first, how we can help others, irrespective of their caste. Only after that, some sort of bonding can be forged, through our efforts and these efforts should be regularly carried out. At present, there is no communication between them and us, no regular communication. We are lacking that, so it is very difficult to help, even if we want to help them, there is hesitation in their minds whether we should go to them or not.
So regular communication, regular meetings, helping those who are in distress, irrespective of the corona disease, is needed. It should be a regular feature. But by virtue of corona we have got an opportunity to at least to take (initiative), to build some network. At least not just on this smartphone, but actually, in the office or in one’s mind or in one’s books – their names, their address, and their phone numbers, etc., So it should be a record, there should be a record of such things, such people, so that at a certain point of time, you can call them or you can go to them. Such type of record is to be created of people, which will be a permanent thing to be acted upon.
Anuradha Bele: You mentioned communication between the communities which is important. So can you tell us more about what forms this communication should be, what kind of communication?
Shashikant Humane: The first type of communication is to help the needy students of that area and without their demand, we should look into their demands. Instead of demanding of them, we should go to them and seek their demand and help them, at least students. So this could be a way of communication, starting communication, and building some sort of faith in others.
Anuradha Bele: Is there anything more you can highlight for us, Kaka? Maybe a historical perspective?
Shashikant Humane: We have to build such permanent offices in every district, give the responsibility to such people who are coming forward and who are known to be doing this thing selflessly. District level network is very necessary which is not there and we lack even the democratic ways of life. So this should be inculcated in our minds. These two things are important. District wise you can definitely have such organizations. Not organizations I would say, we should have the network. There is a network on smartphones but it is transitory. To act regularly, to act physically, to be seen among them, this should be important.
I believe I have spoken for both the questions.
Anuradha Bele: Thank you so much, Kaka. Thank you so much for your time and thank you very much for your views.
Mr. Shashikant Humane was born in Nagpur on 26th Feb 1939 and spends time between Nagpur and Mumbai. His parents were beedi workers. Being overwhelmed by the movement of Babasaheb Ambedkar, they encouraged their 6 children to study hard. Mr. Humane finished his matriculation in 1956 and witnessed the conversion ceremony. He held the mike in his hand and exhorted the entire population of his area to convert to Buddhism then. In December 1957, he joined a government office as a clerk. He was also responsible for the education and upkeep of his siblings and his sisters finished graduation and post-graduation. While on the job, he finished his BA, LLB, he was the first graduate of his locality. He cleared the Maharashtra Public Services Commission in the 1968 exam and became a gazetted officer. He started a student welfare association named SWAN with a library of 2000 books and a study room. He also initiated sports activities and the present Maharashtra Energy Minister is from SWAN. He also started a local branch of Samta Sainik Dal in Lashkari Bagh. He got married in 1973 and his son, Abhiyan Humane was born in October 1976. Mrs. Humane (M.A) also served as a gazetted officer. She brought up their two children with the help of her mother since Mr.Humane had a job that required frequent travel. She inculcated the love of books and reading in them. He has authored books in Marathi and English – Cross-Examination of Philosophy of Geeta, translation of the book of History of Hindu Imperialism, published by Sugawa Prakshan, Pune; and translation of the book of Rationalism, How far Bhagwat Geeta is Noble, Global and Ethical to be published by B.R.Publication Corporation, New Delhi. He was President of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Mission, Nagpur for 15 years (2001-15) and President of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Pensioners Association for two years (2010-12). He is also the founder And Vice President of of Bahujan Hitay Sangh, Nagpur (2015).
Dr. Anuradha Bele is a software engineer and a veterinary doctor, with a degree in management. She specialises in building software for medical use. She trains students for IELTS/TOEFL exam. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.