'Samata Ratna' Arundhati Roy

AR Yavatmal

The Samata Parva Pratishtan conferred the tenth annual Mahatma Jotiba Phule­–Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Samata Ratna award on Arundhati Roy on 10 May 2014, in Yavatmal, Maharashtra. Prof Madhav Sarkunde, spokesperson for Samata Parva Pratishtan, said, “Arundhati Roy’s introduction to the recently published annotated edition of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste has touched us. Babasaheb was disallowed by caste Hindus from delivering this address in 1936. Arundhati Roy’s comprehensive and incisive introduction corrects the historic injustice done to Dr Ambedkar by non-Dalits. This introduction, we hope, will help Babasaheb’s revolutionary text to reach a wide national and international readership. This is a landmark effort and the Samata Parva feels honoured that Ms Roy has accepted this honour.”

In her keynote address (which you may view here) to an audience of over five thousand people, Ms Roy said, “This award to me is as important, if not more important, than the Booker prize. I am moved and truly honoured.”

Prior recipients of the award include the late poet Narayan Surve, well-known writer Baburao Bagul, political thinker Kancha Ilaiah (author of Turning the Pot, Tilling the Land), social historian Gail Omvedt (author of Seeking Begumpura), economist Bhalchandra Mungekar (currently Rajya Sabha MP), president of the National Federation of Dalit Women, Ruth Manorama, social historian Braj Rajan Mani (author of Debrahminisng History), and social activist and writer from Gujarat Martin Macwan.

Harshdeep Kamble, Aurangabad Municipal Commissioner, Dr Manisha Bangar, BAMCEF leader and president of Mulnivasi Mahila Wing, S. Anand of Navayana (whose speech on the occasion you may view here), Sunil Sardar, founder-director of Truthseekers International and Prof Kancha Ilaiah spoke on the occasion (view here). Mr Kamble, among the initiators of the Samata Parva, said that research that had gone into the annotations made this edition of Annihilation of Caste most valuable and useful. “It is a task that must have been done decades ago, and every Ambedkarite will cherish this.”