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

Ramdas Sonkar

Ramdas Sonkar, was born on 9th December 1931 in village Saunhdaak Mahraha in district, Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh. His father Chedalal was a marginal farmer with no educational background. He passed away at an early age when Sonkar was five years old. His mother named Kaushalya had to shoulder the whole responsibility of the family. Having led a sheltered life so far, she had now to go through an intense struggle to bring up her four sons. Surviving with immense will power, she was able to manage the education of all her sons. Her labour bore fruit when her son, Ramdas Sonkar, was selected for the Indian Administrative Services.

His village did not have any school. He went to a nearby village, Mahraha, one mile away from his village for his primary education. Here he studied upto class 4th. In those days there used to be hardly two to three children of the Dalit communities in each class. There were around five students from the Dalit communities studying with him in his class. In 1945, he passed the middle school from Kalyanpur. In this his achievement was excellent. He got a place in the merit list in the middle school examination and thus qualified for a scholarship. From this scholarship he managed admission in the Junior High School, Fatehpur. Being a bright student from the very beginning he was always made the monitor of his class. After completing his High School, he passed his Intermediate examination from D.A.V. Inter College, Kanpur. He graduated from the Allahabad University and his subjects included English, Sanskrit and Philosophy. He completed his M.A in Philosophy and appeared for the Indian Administrative Services, in May 1957, for which he was selected. He got his first posting as SDO/SDM, at Etawah from 1958-60. He was posted at Kasie (Devaria) from 1960-62. Since then he has worked on different posts both in and outside Uttar Pradesh. He retired from service in December 1989.

He remembers the kind of treatment meted out to the Dalit students in schools and colleges. As an individual he was never victimized for his low caste identity; that was because of his intelligence and the fact that he always excelled in his class. But there were certain common practices to be followed by all the people of the Dalit communities. They were not allowed to take water from the well. The savarna students and the teachers called the Dalit students by their caste names, such as chamar, bhangi etc. In those days in the school, the authorities distribute grams (Chana) among the children. During its distribution the Dalit children were lined up separately.

From an early age, he cherished the dream of recognition in society and so he aspired to qualify for the Indian Administrative Services and other such competitive examinations. He was also selected for the P.C.S in January 1957. Faizabad was his first posting, but he resigned from there in April 1957 to join the I.A.S. in U.P, a state to which he belonged. Since he concentrated on his education, he did not become part of any Dalit revolutionary movements taking place those days, but intellectually he always analyzed each incident affecting the Dalit communities. He was a keen observer of each and every minute development taking place in society, and especially those concerning the downtrodden class. Thus he was not a participant but a sympathetic observer of events. His profession also provided him with ample opportunities to come closer to the lives and problems of the people of the Dalit communities. Being a Dalit, he helped them to understand their feelings and emotions deeply. With this background, he made up his mind to work for awakening the consciousness of people of the deprived classes, i.e. sensitizing them to their rights. He decided write about the experiences of the Dalit communities, an act he thought would go a long way in realizing his dream of serving the cause of such victimized communities. Nevertheless, he always ensured throughout his service that justice was done to all, especially to the have-nots of the society. He used to exercise utmost authority at his command to protect the rights and interests of the downtroddens and the weaker sections. He remembers that in his school days his teachers used to ask every student practice essay writing. His own essays were widely appreciated. Today, his old writing skill has helped him in writing booklets. His first booklet ‘Dharma Vyadh aur Vyadh Gita’ was published in 1993. His ‘Bharat ki Vyadh Jatiyaan’, is presently in the press and ‘Prashashan Mein 39 Varsh’, is being written by him at present.

Ramdas Sonkar continues with writing booklets through which he aims at bringing about some change in the consciousness of the Dalit communities. He is conscious that he will have limited appeal in the beginning. He dreams of a society where everyone gets equal treatment and where the society is a single entity regardless of any class or caste. His mind, filled with such dreams, keeps him active in undertaking writing tasks. Besides, he happens to be one of the main founders of the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar Foundation, the organization known to fight for the right causes of the Scheduled castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. He is also the founder president of the ‘Samta Samaj, an N.G.O. entrusted with the task of physical, mental, social and educational development of the poor residents of the urban slum areas and villages, particularly children below the age of six years in Lucknow district.


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