On a par with the Booker.
[Gathered from agency reports; photo by Unknown]
The Maharashtra-based Samata Parva Pratishtan conferred the tenth annual Mahatma Jotiba Phule-Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Samata Ratna award on Delhi-based author Arundhati Roy on 10 May 2014, in Yavatmal, a town 450 miles from Bombay.
Professor Madhav Sarkunde, spokesperson for the trust, said, “Arundhati Roy’s introduction to the recently published annotated edition of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste has touched us. Babasaheb was disallowed by caste Hindus from delivering this address in 1936. Arundhati Roy’s comprehensive and incisive introduction corrects the historic injustice done to Dr Ambedkar by non-Dalits. This introduction, we hope, will help Babasaheb’s revolutionary text to reach a wide national and international readership. This is a landmark effort and the Samata Parva feels honoured that Ms Roy has accepted this honour.”
Speaking to an audience of over five thousand people, Ms Roy said, “This award to me is as important, if not more important, than the Booker prize. I am moved and truly honoured.”
Prior recipients of the award include a series of eminent people whose works center on Dalit life in India. They include the late poet Narayan Surve, writer Baburao Bagul, intellectuals Kancha Ilaiah and Dr Yahswant Manohar, social historians Gail Omvedt and Braj Rajan Mani, economist Bhalchandra Mungekar and social activist Martin Macwan.
Ms Roy’s English speech was translated into Marathi by Madhav Sarkunde. Dr Harsh Kamble made the presidential speech. Dr Sunanda Walde, President of Organising Committee, made the introductory speech. Dr Surekha Meshra and Jayeshri Bhagat conducted the proceedings of the programme.