" Democracy was
also a great narrative and not merely a monolithic kind of democratic participation."
 
 
 
 

Dr. Ram Nath

Dr. Ram Nath was born in 1940 in village Purvalalai, which lies in district Auraiah, (earlier a part of district Etawah), Uttar Pradesh. His father late Shri Gulab was a farmer. He completed primary level education from a school, in a distant small town, named, ‘Sahaar’. He held excellent academic record in school. During his childhood years and the period of school education, he became a victim of caste-based atrocities at a number of times. His classmates often misbehaved and humiliated him. Once he requested a Brahmin priest to recite Satyanarayan Katha at his place, but the priest tuned down his request and mocked at him. This incident changed his entire social perception. Now, he condemned Hindu rituals and scriptures, and devoted himself to popularizing the poems and principles by Ravidas and Kabir.

After completing his middle level education, he took admission in Islamic Inter College, Etawah. This was vehemently opposed by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS); its members beseiged his house. He stubbornly refused to change his decision. He was admired and respected by everyone in his college for his academic acumen and competence. His traumatic experience of rejection by the priest continued to reverberate in his consciousness. Ispit of all this affection and love that he got in the college, he could not help hating a Brahmin teacher B. D. Sharma. After passing his Intermediate, he took admission in Agriculture College, Lakhawati in district Bulandsahar. Here he was refused hostel facility for being a Dalit. Subsequently, with three other boys, all from the low caste group, he shifted to a nearby village, Lakhvate, to live under a thatched-roof. But one of them was not comfortable with him. He abhorred him to the extent of setting afire his household items and literary materials. Such strong reaction forced him to seek a new place that was about two kilometers from this village, at a Dalit contractor’s house as a tenant.

As he was denied the provision of scholarship, he faced acute financial crisis, which impeded his studies. The financial crunch was so severe so as to deny him even two square meals a day. But he was not disheartened by adversities. After passing his B.Sc., he undertook M.Sc. in Plant Pathology from Chandrashekhar Azad Agriculture University, Kanpur. Unfortunately, here too he faced similar traumatic caste based discriminations. There was stiff opposition from the people of the higher castes and he was humiliated several times. He was forced to appear for a test on his own dissertation, which he perceived as an incident of grave humiliation. In his practical examination, despite his excellent performance, he was awarded the lowest marks in his batch. Such instances in his life further deepened his anger against Brahmanism. However, these failed to dissuade him from treading the path he had defined for himself.

On December 1, 1962, he was appointed Senior Plant Protection Officer. This was a honourable post, so people started respecting him. But this respect was to a high status chair and power and not to a person coming from amongst the untouchables. Because of the authority of his position, the degree of discrimination based on caste-class ideologies, as compared to his school and college life, was lesser during this time. He was transferred on various posts to a number of places in Uttar Pradesh, for example, to Lucknow, Mathura, Muzaffarnagar, Mainpuri, and Basti. During one of his postings as Nomotologist in Pathar College in Kanpur, he became a victim of caste-based prejudices and oppression. Although on a senior post, he was denied numerous privileges and perks due to officers on such senior posts. He was neither provided a separate office nor attendants to assist him in his office work, nor a well-equipped laboratory. It was only after prolonged pleading that his demands were met. In another incident, he was denied an opportunity to take up a course in Hindi, offered by the government of The Netherlands. It was through his own efforts that he succeeded in attending the course, which gave him an opportunity of travelling to The Netherlands. It was at Pathar College that he was given only one credit, despite his repeated requests for four credits. He had to face various kinds of obstacles before his demands were met.

He regards July 7, 1997, as the golden day of his life. It was on this date that he was elevated to the post of the Vice-Chancellor of Chandrashekhar Azad Agriculture and Technical University, Kanpur. As its Vice-Chancellor, he made significant contributions to the University and had an impeccable tenure before retiring in 2001. Currently, he is a local member on the Board of the Reserve Bank of India, Kanpur.

The appalling caste-based experiences encountered by him in his educational and professional life forced him to take up writing on Dalit issues. To counter anti-reservation movements, he wrote ‘Aarakshan Virohdiyoun Ka Muh Tor Javab’ (A Blunt Reply to Anti-Reservationists). In order to awaken the slumbering masses, he himself distributed this booklet amongst them. Till now, he has written virtually on every anti-Dalit incident which has taken place. Some of his published booklets are Aarakshan Kiska Aur Kyoun? (For Whom and Why Reservation?); Yogyata Meri Juti Mein (Competence in my Shoes); Manu Ki Mansikta ka Adalati Faisla (Legal Judgment of Manu’s Attitude)

In order to awaken the Dalit masses against persistent oppression and cumulative levels of exploitation, he plans to popularize the contributions of Dalit leaders like Ambedkar in rallies in every village. In 1991, he contested the Lok Sabha election on the Bahujan Samaj Party ticket from Kanpur and won by 23000 votes. This reflects his credibility in public as a leader and well wisher. He has declared his writings as public property to be utilized for the betterment and uplift of Dalit communities. However, people from the upper castes, who are envious of his growing popularity, have bought his writings in bulk and put to fire the printed lot, thus thwarting his attempt to carry his message to the Dalit masses.

He was honoured with the Dr. Ambedkar Distinguished Service Award, sponsored by Indian Dalit Sahitya Academy, Delhi, in 1998, for his selfless services. Besides this, he has also been honoured by the Amar Saheed Virangana Rani Awanti Bai Lodhi Sansthan, Lucknow.

 

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