Baba Adhav in conversation with Teesta Setalvad
Baba Adhav, at 84 remains a doyen of the working class movement having organised the unorganised section of India's working class, the ragpicker, the domestic worker into what Pune and many parts of Maharashtra proudly know as the Hamal Panchayats. Hamals, mainly from backward castes, came from all over rural Maharashtra to Pune's markets, unloading heavy sacks of grain or cement on their backs all day, with barely enough time off to find food, and no house, which meant they would sleep in the same market. Today, Hamals are organised in over 35 locations of Maharashtra.
Affordable and clean food run by the cooperative efforts of the Panchayat, housing colonies owned and built by them, Adhav remains committed to the ideals of equality and non-discrimination --socialism--the ideals of the Indian freedom movement. In this special interview with Teesta Setalvad, co-editor, Communalism Combat, Adhav, analyses how caste stratification and exclusion remains the basis of India's polity and says that until a social, educational and political programme to tackle the inequities of caste is undertaken, Indian democracy will simply adjust to this system of stratification, exclusion and discrimination, not confront it.
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