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Prem Kumar Chumber (Editor-In-Chief) chumbermedia@yahoo.com
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Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram was born on March 15, 1934, in Khawas Pur village of Ropar District of Punjab. He was the eldest of eight siblings. He belonged to the Ramdassia (Ad Dharmi) community of the Scheduled Caste group, which is the largest group in Punjab. He was named Kanshi because after his birth the midwife placed him in a tray made of kansa metal. His father owned some land and his uncles were in the armed forces. In Sahib Kanshi Ram's own words, "I was born and brought up amongst those who sacrificed themselves but never betrayed the country...” Despite his low caste background, he earned a bachelor’s degree in science from the Government College at Ropar (Punjab).

His upbringing was modest. During his education years there was nothing special about him to suggest that he would mature into great social revolutionary. It was only after he took up a government job in the western Indian state of Maharashtra that he began to be influenced by the writings and life of Baba Sahib Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who voiced the concerns of India's low caste community and worked hard throughout his life for their empowerment. Soon after his graduation, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji joined the research staff of Kirki’s Explosive Research and Development Laboratory (ERDL) in Pune 1957. While working in Pune, he quit his job after becoming involved in the famous Deena Bhan case. Deena Bhan, a Rajasthani Scheduled Caste employee and senior colleague of Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji was suspended. His fault was that he protested against the decision of ERDL management for the cancellation of holidays for Ambedkar and Buddha Jayantis and their replacement by the Tilak Jayanti and one additional holiday for Diwali. Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram decided to fight against such a caste ridden and dictatorial behavior of the management. The fighter in Kanshi Ram got the suspension orders of Deena Bhan revoked and Ambedkar and Buddha Jayantis holidays were restored.

This was the beginning of the long battle for the emancipation of the Dalits in the country that Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram had to lead till his last breath. He resigned from his job and totally dedicated his entire life for the cause of the community. He never married nor visited his home since then. His struggle was not for the home and family. He devised a new strategy to regain the lost glory of the original (Adi) inhabitants of Bharat. He gave utmost importance to the culture of work and democratic method of struggle. He also expanded the circle of the Dalits by incorporating other Backward Classes and Minorities into it.

He criticized the post-Ambedkar leadership of Dalits in India. For that he declared Poona Pact as the main reason. He said that “Poona Pact made Dalits helpless. By rejecting separate electorate, Dalits were deprived of their genuine representation in legislatures. Several and various kind of Chamchas were born in the last fifty years. As and when India's so called high caste Hindu rulers felt the need of Chamchas and when the authority of the upper castes got endangered by real and genuine Dalit leaders, Chamchas were brought to the fore in all other fields”.

In his "The Chamcha Age", a well-argued and polemical tirade against the pseudo Dalit leaders, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji sharpens the contradiction for the legitimate acquisition of political power by the downtrodden in electoral democracy in India. In, the Chamcha Age, "he focused very much on the Poona Pact which was a point of a rather decisive Gandhian victory over Dr. Ambedkar after a long duel between the two at the Round Table Conference". In the mid-1960s, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji began to organize Dalit government employees to fight against what he saw as the deeply entrenched prejudice of higher caste peoples. It was around this time that he decided that he would not marry and dedicate his life to the cause of Dalit improvement. By the mid-1980s, he decided play a crucial role in the politics of the country.

The result was the formation of the BSP (the Common Man's Party) in 1984. As a politician, he became very popular among his people, who found a new hope and vision in his style of functioning and sincerity. Suddenly he became a national figure. He was a master strategist and a meticulous organizer. He used his strengths to carve out a niche for Dalits. This was done by deploying an often combative and aggressive strategy, with virulent attacks on other political parties which he claimed only represented the interests of higher caste Hindus. He was sharply different from other politicians of the mainstream. He used to communicate before he spoke.

He was one of the few great leaders of Independent India who actually expanded the limits of Dalit politics. His political vision was never confined to Scheduled Castes only, as is often thought about him. All of the political organizations he founded were meant for the downtrodden of all sorts – SC, ST, OBC and Minorities. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he was the one who took a lead in making Indian democracy more competitive and practically open to the Dalit-Bahujan Samaj. Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com March 15, 2014

(An Era of the Stooges)'s 30th Publishing Anniversary
1st Edition: Published on September 24th, 1982 on the occasion of 50th Anniversary of The Poona Pact
2nd Edition: Published on September 24th, 1982 on the occasion of 75th Anniversary of The Poona Pact
Prem Kumar Chumber (Editor-In-Chief) September 24th, 2012

Poona Pact
and Beyond

Arun Kumar (Bedford, UK)

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OF 1932


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(An Era of the Stooges)'s 30th Publishing Anniversary

1st Edition:Published on September 24th, 1982 on the occasion of 50th Anniversary of The Poona Pact
2nd Edition:Published on September 24th, 1982 on the occasion of 75th Anniversary of The Poona Pac

Please click here # Ambedkar Times's special issue on "The Chamcha Age" book
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Prem Kumar Chumber (Editor-In-Chief)
Posted on September 24, 2012

THE CHAMCHA AGE (An Era of the Stooges)

As victims of the Brahminical culture, for centuries, the Shudras and Ati-Shudras, now known as the Backward Castes (S.C., S.T. and O. B. C.) were passing through the Dark Age Around 1848 Jyotirao Phule initiated revolt against the Brahminical culture. From the beginning of the 20th century, the Depressed Classes all over India started revolting against the Brahminical culture. Around 1920, they were lucky to have the leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

Up to 1930, the struggle of the Depressed Classes was largely ignored by Gandhiji and the Congress. During the Round Table Conferences of 1930, 31, & 32 when the communal Award was announced, Gandhiji was shocked to see that the able leadership of Dr. Ambedkar could secure for them, both Recognition and Rights.

This was too much for Gandhiji and his Congress. To deny the Depressed Classes their due Gandhiji, went on fast till death on 20th September 1932. Such coercive methods forced Poona-Pact on the Depressed Classes. But even the Poona-Pact could not take away Recognition. Thus, we see that when Caste Hindus were forced to concede a little bit of power, they took to second line of defense. They saw to it that they must not lose control over it. This was secured by the Poona-Pact, by way of denying the right to Separate Electorates and forcing the Joint Electorates on the Depressed Classes. Through the Joint Electorates, the representatives of the Depressed Classes became only nominal representatives and not real representatives, for no untouchable who did not agree to be a nominee of the Caste Hindus and be a Chamcha in their hands, could be elected in a Joint Electorates in which the untouchable voter was outnumbered in ratio of 1:5.

With this started the Chamcha Age on September 24, 1932, the date when Poona-Pact was signed taking away the Separate Electorates and forcing the Joint Electorates on the Depressed Classes of India. Now when the Chamcha Age is 50 years old, it has been decided to write the book, besides denouncing the Poona-Pact in a big way all over India.

The purpose of writing this book is to enlighten, awaken and caution the Dalit-Shoshit Samaj (Oppressed and Exploited Society) and its workers and leaders about the large scale existence of the element of stooges (Chamchas) in our oppressed and exploited society. The book is also designed to make the masses, especially the workers, distinguish between the genuine and the counterfeit leadership. Those who struggle to change the times, the Age, must know and understand the Age in which they are living and operating. The book is designed to serve that purpose as well.

To make the book more purposeful, it has been divided into 4 parts and 17 chapters. Part I and II give a glimpse of the past struggles, Part III speaks of the present times and Part IV suggests ways and means for the future struggles. Thus all the 4 parts and 17 chapters put together secure continuity of the past, present and future happenings and struggles relevant to the purpose before the Book.

Initially a booklet of about 50 pages was designed to enlighten and caution our own missionary workers about the existence and nature of the element of stooges amongst the oppressed and exploited Indians. Later on, it was thought necessary to give background, the past events that eventually pushed us into the Chamcha Age. To fulfill this need, the quoting of past events extensively became inevitable. All this brought the book to its present size.

The book contains 3 memorandums and one long statement by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Even otherwise Dr. Ambedkar has been largely referred and extensively quoted. Keeping in mind the controversial nature of the topic and the wrong stand on celebrating the golden jubilee of the Poona-Pact by the lieutenants of Baba Saheb Ambedkar, we are forced to take shelter under the heavy cover of his writings and works. Thus, the risk of repetition and over-emphasis has been purposefully and willfully taken to secure continuity, clarity and credibility.

The following 4 words: - (i) Tool (ii) Agent (iii) Stooge (iv) Chamcha carry almost the same meaning, but slightly different spirit. All over the book, these 4 words have been used depending upon their effectiveness in carrying the meaning and the spirit. In the common man’s terminology, a tool, an agent, or a stooge is termed as Chamcha. And in this book, I have decided to use common man’s terminology. To my mind, it will be fruitful to use common man’s terminology when we fight for his cause.

If you call some one as Chamcha, he will not like it and is likely to go against you. But when you are calling the Age as the Chamcha Age, you are biting so many and they may hit back. But as Chamcha cannot operate on its own, the operator may hit you back with Chamcha. We should, therefore, be prepared for the ‘Chamcha Attack’. To keep the attack mild, we have refrained from illustrating the events by giving the names, even at the risk of becoming vague and leaving a lot of guess work for our readers.

At any rate, the Chamcha attack should not frighten us, because a Chamcha is not a powerful or deadly weapon. Besides, we must aim at the hand that uses Chamcha. If hit hard the Chamcha will fall. A fallen Chamcha is absolutely harmless. Thus, this way, we hope to end the Chamcha Age within a short Span of about 10 years.

THE CHAMCHA AGE (An Era of the Stooges)

On 15th March 1947, on behalf of the Scheduled Caste Federation, Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar submitted a lengthy Memorandum to the constituent Assembly which was to draft the future constitution of India. The memorandum demanding the safeguards for the Scheduled Castes was quite long and exhaustive. One of the chapters of the Memorandum dealt with the Poona Pact, especially the disadvantages of the Poona Pact. It being most relevant to this book, (THE CHAMCHA AGE (An Era of the Stooges) expressing Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s views 15 years after Poona Pact, it therefore reproduced below:

1- The Poona Pact was intended to devise a method where by the Scheduled Castes would be able to return to the Legislature representatives of their choice. This intention has been completely nullified as will be seen from the following series of statistics. The series have been constructed from the results of the last elections, which took place in February, 1946.

2- The statistical data is arranged in four series of tables:

First series show the votes secured by the successful Caste Hindu candidate and the successful Scheduled Caste candidate in the Final election.

Second series show in how many cases did reliance on reservation clause become necessary for the success of the Scheduled Caste candidate in the Final election and in how many he succeeded without the benefit of reservation.

Third series show the relative voting strength of the Caste Hindus and the Scheduled Castes in constituencies in which seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes.

Fourth series show the position in the Primary election of the Scheduled Caste Candidates who became successful in the Final elections.

3. The conclusions that follow from these figures will not escape those who care to examine them. The figures prove the following propositions:

(i) That every of the Scheduled Caste candidate, who became successful in the Final election, owed his success to the votes of the caste Hindus and not of the Scheduled Castes. A great many of them came to the top of the poll and secured votes equal to and in some cases larger than those obtained by Caste Hindu candidates (See Tables in the First Series). Secondly, in very few constituencies was the successful Scheduled Caste candidate required to rely on reservation (See Tables in the Second Series). This is a most unexpected phenomenon. Anyone who compares the voting strength of the Scheduled Castes with the voting strength of the Caste Hindus in the different constituencies (See Tables in the Third Series) would realize that the voting strength of the Scheduled Castes is so small that such a phenomenon could never have occurred if only the Scheduled Castes voters had voted for the Scheduled Castes candidates. That they have occurred is proof positive that the success of the Scheduled Caste candidate in the Final election is conditioned by the Caste Hindu votes.

(ii) That comparing the results of the Primary election with those of the Final election the Scheduled Caste candidate who was elected in the Final election was who had failed in the Primary election (if the Primary election be treated as a Final election and the constituency be treated as a single-member constituency).

(iii) Owing to the extreme disparity between the voting strength of the Hindus and the Scheduled Castes- Disparity, which will not disappear even under adult suffrage system of joint electorates will not succeed in giving the scheduled castes the chance of returning their true representatives.

(iv) The Poona Pact has completely disfranchised the Scheduled Castes in as much as candidates whom they rejected in the Primary elections-which is a true index of their will have been retuned in the Final election by the votes of the Caste Hindus.

The Poona Pact is, thus, fraught with mischief. It was accepted because of the coercive fast of Mr. Gandhi and because of the assurance given at the time that the Hindus will not interfere in the election of the Scheduled Castes.

THE CHAMCHA AGE (An Era of the Stooges)

The Untouchables were forced to sign the Poona Pact under the impact of the coercive fast of Gandhiji. Dr. Ambedkar denounced it the very next day expressing his views, “the Untouchables were sad. They had every reason to be.” He kept denouncing it till the end of his life in 1956. He denounced it in private discussions, public meetings, relevant writings, in fact on all the occasions that demand denunciation.

As an illustration of the denunciation by Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar, some quotations from his two books (1) What congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables, published in 1945 & (2) States and Minorities, published in 1947, are given below:-

1- “There was nothing noble in the fast. It was a foul and filthy act. The fast was not for the benefit of the Untouchables. It was against them and was the worst form of coercion against helpless people to give up the constitutional safeguards of which they had become possessed under the Prime Minister’s Award and agree to love on the mercy of the Hindus. It was a vile and witched act. How can the Untouchables regard such a man as honest and sincere?”

2- The Communal Award gave the Untouchables two benefits:-

(i) A fixed quota of seats to be elected by separate electorate of Untouchables and to be filled by persons belonging to the Untouchables. (ii) Double vote, one to be used through separate electorates and the other to be used in the general electorates.

Now if the Poona Pact increased the quota of seats for the Untouchables it took away the right to the double vote given to them by the Communal Award. This increase in seats can never be deemed to be a compensation for the loss of the double vote. The second vote given by the Communal Award was priceless privilege. Its value as a political weapon was beyond reckoning.

3- Today the Untouchables have a few more seats than were given to them by the communal Award. But this is all that they have. Every other member is indifferent, if not hostile. If the Communal Award with its system of double voting had remained, the Untouchables would have had a few seats less but every other member would have been a member for the Untouchables. The increase in the number of seats for the Untouchables is no increase at all and no recompense for the loss of separate electorate and the double vote.
4- Clause (5) of the Poona Pact has limited the system of primary election to ten years which means that any election taking place after 1947 will be by a system of joint electorates and reserved seats pure and simple.
Things will be much worse under the system of joint electorates and reserved seats, which will hereafter become operative under the terms of the Poona Pact. This is no mere speculation the last election has conclusively proved that the scheduled Castes can be completely disfranchised in a joint electorate.
5- “The Poona Pact had produced different reactions. The Untouchable were sad. They had every reason to be -”
6- In the light of these considerations, it cannot but appears that the Poona Pact was only the first blow inflicted upon the Untouchables and that the Hindus, who disliked it were bent on inflicting on it other blows as and when circumstances gave them an occasion to do so.”
7- After having accepted the Poona Pact, why did not Mr. Gandhi keep faith with the Untouchables by telling the Congress not to despoil the politics of the Untouchables by contesting the seats reserved for the Untouchables by getting such Untouchables elected as were prepared to become the tools of the Hindus?
8- After having accepted the Poona Pact why did not Mr. Gandhi keep up the gentleman’s agreement and instruct the Congress High Command to include representatives of the Untouchables in the Congress Cabinets?
9- This shows that Mr. Gandhi not with standing his being a party to the Poona Pact is determined not to allow the Scheduled Castes being given the status of a separate element and that he is prepared to adopt any argument however desperate to justify his attitude of opposition.”
10- In short Mr. Gandhi is still on the war path so far as the Untouchables are concerned. He may start the trouble over again. The time to trust him has not arrived. The Untouchables must still hold that the best way to safeguard them is to say ‘Beware of Mr. Gandhi.’
11- The second misdeed of the Congress was to subject the Untouchable Congressmen to the rigours of party discipline. They were completely under the control of the Congress Party Executive. They could not ask a question which it did not like. They could not move a resolution which it did not permit. They vote as they wished and could not speak what they felt. They were there as dumb driven cattle. One of the objects of obtaining representation in the Legislature for the Untouchables is to enable them to ventilate their grievances and to obtain redress for their wrongs. The Congress successfully and effectively prevented this from happening.
12- To end this long and sad story the congress sucked the juice out of the Poona Pact and threw the rind in the face of the Untouchables.
13- The Poona Pact has completely defranchised the Scheduled Castes in as much as candidates whom they rejected in the Primary election-which is a true index of their will-have been returned in the Final election by the votes of the Castes Hindus.
14- The Poona Pact is thus fraught with mischief. It was accepted because of the coercive fast of Mr. Gandhi and because of assurance given at the time that the Hindus will not interfere in the election of Scheduled Caste.


Ronki Ram (Dr.),
ICCR Chair Professor of Contemporary India Studies,
Leiden University Institute for Area Studies & IIAS, Leiden University, The Netherlands
For more articles of Dr. Ronki Ram, please click here:
THE GREATEST INDIAN AFTER INDEPENDENCE: Bharat Rattan Baba Sahib Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar Please click here:http://www.youtube.com
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