" Democracy was
also a great narrative and not merely a monolithic kind of democratic participation."
 
 
 
 

Ram Prakash saroj

Ram Prakash Saroj, was born on 30th June 1936 in a village named Sarai Rajai, Pratapgarh. He was brought up in the village by his parents, Mangru Ram and Subodhana. Like any other family in the village, his family too was hardly literate, his uncle being an exception. He was the only educated member of his family. He was Ram Kinkar who had the rare privilege of being a minister, both in the State (Uttar Pradesh) as well as at the Centre. It was under his guidance that Ram Prakash started his life’s journey.

Ram Prakash started his primary education in a school 3 Kms away from his village and studied there upto standard 4th. At that time only a few boys from the Dalit community studied with him. The school, like the village, had a congenial atmosphere untouched by the incidents of caste discrimination and humiliation. But the common practice of not allowing the Dalit children to touch water container themselves was prevalent here too. If a Dalit child wanted to quench his thirst, he had to wait for a person who was from the upper caste. He poured water into their hands from a distance so that no utensil was polluted. This school did not offer education after 4th standard and so he sought admission in a Middle School that was at a distance of ten kilometers from his village. It was too long a distance to be covered by a child of his age, and that too without any means of transportation, so he was forced to stay away from his parents. Here, there were two Dalit students, he and the one who came from a village that was two kilometers away. Since his village was near by he used to go back to his village. It was an alienating experience for young Ram Prakash, who had to do all things himself from cooking to washing clothes. His intelligence was acknowledged by his teachers and his brilliance prevailed upon them to reward his efforts. This saved him from being humiliated by his teachers, unlike the other Dalits who were often made the victims of harsh treatment of the Brahmin teachers, who thought education to be their exclusive domain. The downtrodden were taken to be intruders in a prohibited territory. When he was in 5th class, certain educational reforms were introduced, which gave him a chance of studying Sanskrit, a language, which he always dreamt of studying one day as it was prohibited for the Dalits. Being an intelligent student, he excelled in Sanskrit as well. In one of his examinations he acquired 98%marks in this subject which infuriated his Brahmin teachers. Exasperated, they scolded their savarna students and asked them to learn a lesson from this. Despite all this, he was free to join and conduct prayers in the morning school assembly which was an empty ritualism. The attitudes of the Brahmin teachers and students forced Saroj to analyze the complexities of caste hierarchy prevalent in the Indian society. It made him think that had he been a non-dalit student he would have definitely got more encouragement both from the teachers and the fellow students. But this was not conclusive, as there were some non-Dalit students and teachers who showed respect for his brilliance and acknowledged it. After completing his Middle School, he sought admission in Junior High School, Pratapgarh. This place was 20 kilometers away from his village and in those days all students whether Dalit or Non-Dalit used to go to schools bare footed and therefore distance did matter a lot. He stayed for one year at this place, and then his uncle called him to Lucknow. Here he attented an Intermediate College with Science subjects. His uncle’s foresight brought him to Allahabad, which was then considered to be the hub of education and from where the maximum number of Civil Servants were selected. Here he got himself enrolled in the University of Allahabad, for his graduation, which he completed in 1955. He also passed his M.A in Geography in 1957. It was here that he encountered ruthless caste humiliation as he had to stay in a separate hostel built for the students of the Dalit communities only, known as “Depressed Class Hostel”. There was no way to evade their humiliations as no other place was available to him where he could stay. He went ahead to complete his Law in 1959. During this time Ram Prakash Saroj’s health deteriorated due to various ailments, but brushing aside his ailments, he appeared in an examination and was appointed a Sub-Registrar in 1962. He was posted at Soraon Tehsil, Allahabad. Still charged with high ambitions, he qualified for the prestigious Indian Police Service (I.P.S) in 1964. After completing his training, he was appointed to the post of Assistant Superintendent of Police (A.S.P) at Muradabad. He worked on different positions in Lucknow, Deoria, Pilibhit, Bahraich and Sitapur, before being called at the Centre as Area Organiser (S.S.B). Here he served for three years, and in 1980 he was made A.I.G Training and posted at Lucknow. In due course of time, he was promoted to DIG and IGP as well. Finally in 1994, he retired from his service as Additional Director General of Police.

He was a passionate reader right from his school days. His association with some academicians and the pain of caste stratification, which he faced on various occasions, prompted him to writing. He wrote ‘Krantiveer Madari Pasi evam Ekaandolan’, while still in service. His several essays have been published in various journals and magazines. After his retirement he wrote ‘Pasi Samaj Darpan’. His other published booklets include, ‘Azzadi ke Diwane Pasi’, ‘Aarakshan ka Sach evom Lok Sevayein’ and ‘Lok Tantrik Satta evom Pasi Samaj’. He has compiled his experiences as student in a book named ‘Sudhiyon ke Jharokhe se’. He believes that these kinds of booklets will definitely help in arousing the consciousness of the Dalit communities by infusing in them the ability to differentiate between good and bad. He views his contribution to Dalit literature, irrespective of its volume, as part of a mission for the transformation of society for a better tomorrow.

 

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