It has been two years since Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Jayanti has been celebrated in the public. Dr. Ambedkar’s work, writings, strategies, stands, processes are a source of constant guidance for Anubhuti. This year, since the lockdown has entirely opened up, we planned multiple creative campaigns so that maximum number of people could connect and engage with Dr. Ambedkar in simple, accessible ways.
The first campaign was “Selfie with Babasaheb” – selfie points were set up at various public places in Badlapur and Dombivali in Thane District, Cotton Green in Mumbai, and Panchgani in Satara. These spots anyway have public Jayanti celebrations, where our selfie points were set up. Handouts with salient points of the Indian Constitution, and Preamble Stickers were also disseminated. Everyone from old to young, children, youth, women, men – students, workers, police, teachers, activists, businesspersons absolutely loved the idea of taking selfies with Dr. Ambedkar. The campaign reached more than 3000 people, run by 25 volunteers across 3 districts over 3 days and nights. Many have given oral and written feedback about how they loved this unique idea fusing the creative and the interesting, with the intellectual, and they were completely in support of engaging thus with Babasaheb, his work and the Indian Constitution.
The second campaign was carried out by youth leaders of Badlache Parv Kala Manch (BPKM) in Kolegaon and Rahtoli villages – “Ghar Ghar Babasaheb Ambedkar” which took the campaign into people’s homes. Youth spoke to their parents, neighbours, friends and even employers, and taking their help they set up small functions where they presented significant points from Dr. Ambedkar’s life and work, along with songs and performances. The audience who were residents of that pocket area were encouraged to take part in the discussion – and many did. Many men, women and youth shared that this is the first time they had heard of a certain achievement or work done by Dr. Ambedkar. There were many small successes but which were historical in their significance.
First of all, this was the first time ever that Jayanti programs were held outside of ‘Bauddh Padas’ (pocket areas where mostly families of SC communities live). This was the first time that Jayanti was celebrated in different public places all over the village, involving people from all communities and castes. This is even more significant considering that both Kolegaon and Rahtoli villages are dominated by the Aagri community (a landed community with political and economic power). For eg. the Primary Health Centre in one village was oriented about the campaign by a BPKM youth working there, and arranged for it to be held in their premises. The entire staff participated whole-heartedly. In another place, two young women who had recently moved there organized the event, and were afraid that since no one knew them there, would people respond. However, they organized it so beautifully that people from nearby chawls also came, and others hung out of their windows and doors from far away chawls to catch a glimpse. In total, there were 10 community events led by the youth cultural group – taking care of all risks, logistics, and community questioning.