Before Ambedkar

Bhashya Prakashan, a small publishing house based in Mumbai, have brought out Gail Omvedt's recent book, Building The Ambedkar Revolution: Sambhaji Tukaram Gaikwad And The Kokan Dalits.

Ambedkar had his predecessors. The "great" among them he recognized and named as his "teacher": Buddha, Kabir and Phule. The lesser known he also honoured, attending their programmes. Among these lesser known, uneducated but wise in the needs of his people, was a man who he named as "Dadasaheb," was to be known as his older compatriot, the "elderly" (vayovruddh) Sambhaji Tukaram Gaidwad. Sambhaji was one of the main organizers of what what Ambedkar himself was to describe and try to memorialize as the "liberation movement" of the Dalits, the Mahad satyagraha of of 1927. For those who were later to call themselves Dalits and Buddhists, the event was a landmark in their struggle, December 25, the burning of the Manusmriti, is today celebrated in Maharashtra as "Indian Women's Liberation Day" and has become, for many throughout India, "Manavmukti Din."

Omvedt is an unusual Indian. Born in Minneapolis in the US, she came to India and stayed on, taking citizenship in 1983. She has worked actively with social movements in India, including the Dalit, anti-caste, environment and farmer's movements, especially among the rural women. She has been active in the Stri Mukti Sangrash Chalval, which works on issues of abandoned women in Sangli and Satara districts of southern Maharashtra, and the Shetkari Mahila Aghadi which works on issues of women's land and political rights. Among her numerous books focusing on social and economic issues are Seeking Begumpura: The Social Vision of Anti-Caste Intellectuals (2009); Ambedkar: Towards an Enlightened India (2005): We Shall Smash this Prison: Indian Women in Struggle (1980); and The cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The Non-Brahmin Movement in Maharashtra (1996) and some of them are available on the Scholars site

In hardcover, 156 pages, Rs 300. ISBN: 9788192110707