Monday, March 7, 2016


Tiffany Wayne has described her as ‘one of the first-generation modern Indian feminists, and an important contributor to world feminism in general, as she was both addressing and challenging not simply the question of gender in isolation but also issues related to caste and casteist patriarchy.’

Savitribai Phule was modern India’s first woman teacher, a promoter of education, a champion of dignity for women and a progressive poet. There are many of us, who are oblivious about the inspirational life and struggle of Savitribai. But if we knew we would surely salute her work, saying ‘Salaam’ (salutations).

Interestingly, Savitribai’s death anniversary falls on 10 March which coincides with the birth anniversary of the popular Marathi poet-lyricist Mangesh Padgaokar who passed away on 30 December last year. He wrote a long poem ‘Salaam’ that mocks the attitude of saluting the powers-that-be or saluting mediocrity and conformity.

It is said so well that ‘if you do not stand up for something… you will fall for anything!’. The quote can be tweaked to say, ‘If you do not salute the worthy, you will be worshipping the unworthy.’ It is important to identify, understand and align with the right inspiration and emulate the right example. Otherwise we will be saluting the wrong ones and getting the wrong influence!

Say Salaam to the progressive…
Lest we salute the regressive!

- Pravin K. Sabnis

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