Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar edited four magazines like Mooknayak, Bahishkrit Bharat, Janata and Prabuddha Bharat in his lifetime, and blew the trumpet of change in social life. Babasaheb said that “any movement needs a newspaper to be successful. A movement without a newspaper is like a bird with broken wings”. We can see that picture emerge in Maharashtrian society after Babasaheb’s Mahaparinirvana when we saw the split in the Republican Party, the Bhumihin Satyagraha, the birth of the Dalit Panthers, their struggle and rise, the Namantar movement, the burning of Marathwada, establishment of DS4, the Long March, the birth of BSP in Maharashtra, the successful experiment of Bharip, Partnership in Power, the Riddles movement, Ramabai Ambedkarnagar firing, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University renaming movement (which was turned into a name expansion exercise), hunger strike of workers in Ramabai Ambedkarnagar for Republican party unification, Republican unification, election of four MPs, Republican party retreating from power and the feeling of depression that came from all these.
The worker was taking notes on all these events, and endeavouring to get out of this depression. But he could not find the right way. What should be done: should join a party? After much exercise of thought, he found answers under the Bodhi tree, beside the statue of Babasaheb and the Panchsheel flag, in a Buddha Vihar, when a sheet of paper came flying towards him. Babasaheb’s thoughts were highlighted on the whole page. Babasaheb’s birth anniversary was near. The year was 2003. At that moment, a million lights flashed in the head of that journalist-cum-activist. Why am I wandering like a madman? Just as Tathagata Buddha two and a half thousand years ago uttered the pitiyukta udan from his mouth:
“अनेक जातिसंसारं सन्धाविस्स अनिब्बिसं …गहकारक गवेसन्तो दुक्खा जाति पुनप्पुनं …गहकारक दिट्ठोसि पुनं गेह न काहसि …सब्बा ते फासुका भग्गा … विसन्खारगतं चित्तं तणहानं खयं अज्झगा”
“I ran through this world for many births. But I did not find the house maker. Now I have found you who made this house. I have now broken all the dice (paash) of this house. The desire has been overcome and it has completely decayed..”
Inspired by this message, a journalist and activist named Baban Kamble, determined to amplify the voices of the common people, brought out the first paper in the post-Ambedkar Ambedkari movement, Dainik Vritratna Samrat. That day was 05 April 2003…
Today it is twenty years since that event. Twenty years is a penance. It is not an easy thing to run a newspaper on the strength of one’s self-confidence. The hard work required to publish it for even one day is beyond the imagination of common people. To publish a daily newspaper: the raw news sent by the journalists the day before should be proofed, copy-edited, collating and prioritizing of different news items, conceptualizing and highlighting of headlines, preparation and processing of the content for printing. All these different processes of collection and collation of news content consummated by the preparation of the editorial, are accompanied by endeavors to organize human power and technology to give shape to the next day’s newspaper.
Baban Kamble led this heroic campaign for producing Samrat every day for twenty years. Samrat turned twenty years old a few days ago. But Baban Kamble is not with us to celebrate it. He raised this empire like structure with great effort and left us before celebrating the twentieth anniversary. As long as Baban Kamble Sahib was a Bap Manus (Great Man), there was great support for his efforts, as he provided great support for the community. But time does not stop for anyone. Madam Neelimatai, and her children Kunal and Kripal, are taking care of the newspaper with great courage. This Kamble family is making a tremendous attempt to carry forward Baban Kamble’s legacy.
Why are they doing this? Only for the society at large. Therefore, we also have to give back to society. Giving our time and labor to society is the most important task. The Samrat is the weapon of the society, it is the shield. ..On its twentieth anniversary we should strengthen Samrat economically and realize the resolution of “Samrat” Kar Baban Kamble Saheb. On the twentieth anniversary of Samrat, best wishes to all the readers, well-wishers, advertisers, subscribers, correspondents, journalists … We should continue to stand firmly with the Samrat and promote the Ambedkari journalism movement… .
Vinay Damodar is an Ambedkarite research scholar currently pursuing PhD in Inclusive Development and Social Justice, from Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. His interests lie in the intersections of Caste, Anti-caste movement, the Politics of Ambedkarite groups, Dr. Ambedkar’s thoughts and vision, etc. He hails from Bhim Nagar, Akola, Maharashtra.