Anand, the Humble Beginnings

Born in a small village Rajur in district Yavatmal in a family of landless labourers, and illiterate parents who supplemented their farm wages by working in lime factories to support a family of eight children. Anand was the eldest. He completed his schooling up to eighth standard in a village school, always standing first and enrolled in the Government High School, Wani wherefrom he passed his matriculation exam standing in merit list. He enrolled in the Institute of Science, Nagpur for Pre-University where he scored fifth rank in the University. He went to Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur where he completed Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering with First Class with Distinction.

Approximate location of Rajur in India

Right from his school days, he took active part in social activities, always being in forefront to struggle for student rights, taking cudgel for students particularly from disadvantaged sections. During his college days, he held elected post in Students Gymkhana and led many struggles.

At the age of 14, when I was a student at a school in Wani, a small town in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district, I conceived a small rebellion against what I later realised was the hegemony of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). As a son of Dalit farm labourers, I was acutely aware of the symbolism behind some "Brahmin" students wearing black caps, usually worn by RSS members, instead of the white Nehru caps that were part of the school uniform. I rallied some of my classmates and formulated a plan to counter these "RSS boys". With money I had earned painting cinema hoardings, I purchased 100 blue caps and distributed them among students. The sports teacher, who was himself a Dalit, created a fracaswhen he spotted many boys wearing blue caps. I was brought to the headmaster, a Muslim gentleman, and told him that the students had resolved to wear the blue caps till it was ensured that every student complied with the school uniform. He agreed, but pointed out that the boys wearing black caps were from rich and powerful families, and he would have to talk to their parents. I am not sure what he did but one thing is for sure, the practice of RSS boys wearing black caps stopped. The funny thing is, I had no idea then that blue was the colour of Dalits!

Anand narrates an incidence from his school days...

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