Vol. XL No. 39 September 25, 2016

SAHMAT Organises Programme on Article 14

Amol Saghar

THE constitution of India under Article 14 guarantees each and every individual irrespective of any caste, class or gender differentiation the right to equality. Unfortunately, under the aegis of the current ruling dispensation there have been repeated attempts to curtail this fundamental right in case of certain groups including dalits and other marginalised sections of the society. To bring to light the everyday violation of this right as perceived by the dalits an evening of protest songs and music was held on September 15, 2016 at Mavalankar Hall, New Delhi. The event was organised by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT).

The programme, it may be mentioned, was a part of the massive protest march to parliament by the Left parties including CPI(M), CPI and very many dalit organisations including that of Prakash Ambedkar – grandson of  B R Ambedkar. The march to highlight the nationwide atrocities on dalits under the current regime took place the very next day ‘Dalit Swabhiman Rally.’

The Mavalankar Hall was packed to its capacity by people from various walks of life including senior leaders like Sitaram Yechury, Nilotpal Basu and Prakash Ambedkar. The audience of the evening was witness to some scintillating protest folk songs and music by various popular dalit bands and artistes.

The proceedings of the evening began with a short but moving poem which brought out the pains felt by the dalits at each and every juncture of their everyday lives. The poem which was in Hindi was beautifully read by M K Raina who also conducted the evening’s programme. The poem had beautifully set the rhythm for the evening and acted as a nice precursor to the lavish musical treat that those present were to enjoy as the evening proceeded.

The first performer of the evening was Ginni Mahi, an 18 year old singer from Jalandhar (Punjab). The rising young talent along with her band left the audience mesmerised and spell-bound with an array of protest songs which focused primarily on the teachings of B R Ambedkar, Ravidas and Kabir. It was interesting to notice the way she sought blessings from the various musical instruments on her entrance on the stage and the manner in which she raised the now popular slogan of ‘Jai Bheem Jai Bharat’ after every song. Though she sang mostly in chaste Punjabi it hardly took the joy away from the performance.

Ginni Mahi’s performance was followed by that of Sanjay Rajoura, a stand-up comedian who achieved fame through much acclaimed Aisi Taisi Democracy act. Known for his witty and sharp satirical acts on the current political scenario, Rajoura had plenty of clever and hilarious jokes and satires to offer to his audience of the evening. His act was followed by Shital Sathe’s performance. In her turn she read some moving poetry of the popular dalit poet and activist Sambhaji Bhagat. Her rendition of the poems was extremely powerful and engaging.

At the beginning of the programme, Sujat Ambedkar, great grandson of B R Ambedkar read out Article 14 of the Indian constitution and connected to the present day conditions of the dalits and how this right is being violated repeatedly in the present scenario. He argued that the current conditions have made it almost impossible for the dalits to live and survive peacefully without any fear and discrimination.