Jai Bhim: Coined by Hardas, Ambedkar's Confidante, Surpasses 'Inquilab Zindabad' and 'Lal Salaam'

Babu Hardas, a close confidant of Ambedkar, coined the slogan which is believed to have been used for the first time on December 13, coincidentally the day when Parliament intruders raised the same words.
The phrase translates to "Victory to Bhim" in English, where "Bhim" refers to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
The phrase translates to "Victory to Bhim" in English, where "Bhim" refers to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

Lucknow- On December 13, 2023, Neelam Azad, one of the intruders in Parliament, raised the slogan "Jai Bhim" while being whisked away by a lady cop to the police station. The phrase translates to "Victory to Bhim" in English, where "Bhim" refers to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

The slogan has replaced many other slogans and is not confined to the struggles of Dalits alone. Azad and other protestors did not make references to the struggles of Dalits but focused on general issues like unemployment. This indicates that "Jai Bhim" is not limited to Dalit movements and is gaining credence in various movements.

Babu Hardas, The Man Behind the Slogan

According to a research paper by P.T. Ramteke, the slogan "Jai Bhim" was coined by Babu Hardas, a close confidant of Ambedkar. He writes, "Hardas was not comfortable with 'Jai Rama-pati' — (ostensibly a reference to Ambedkar, I presume) — with which he was greeted after being elected as a legislator. A Moulavi explained the meaning of 'Salam Alekum,' a greeting among Muslims. From this, he got the idea of 'Jai Bhim.' He decided that 'Jai Bhim' should be used and responded with 'Bal Bhim.' He propagated this method of greeting with the help of workers of 'Bhim Vijay Sangh.' Later, he decided that 'Bal Bhim' is not suitable and decided that both parties should greet each other with 'Jai Bhim.'"

At a young age, Hardas became the Chief Secretary of the Independent Labour Party and In-Charge of C.P and Berar. He was elected as a legislator on the ILP Ticket in 1937 from Kamptee near Nagpur. He was one of the signatories to the "Poona Pact" and had participated in discussions with Gandhi during the Poona Pact agreement. He was the founder of the "Beedi Kamgar Sangh" in Berar. A writer, thinker, dramatist, and poet, Hardas was also the editor of a Marathi weekly "Maharattha" and "Chokhamela Visheshanka." He died at the young age of 35 in 1939. Even after dying at such a young age, Hardas has been outlived through the maxim believed to have been given by him.

Coincidentally, the slogan is believed to have been used first on December 13th, the day when the Parliament intruders filled the air with the same words.

Neelam Azad, one of the intruders in the Parliament shouted Jai Bhim slogan while being taken away by police.
Neelam Azad, one of the intruders in the Parliament shouted Jai Bhim slogan while being taken away by police.

JAI BHIM - A Symbol of Resistance Against Attacks on Constitutional Rights

The Mooknayak spoke to Rajiv Yadav, a social activist and former student leader at Allahabad University. He observes that "Jai Bhim" gained traction in recent years, especially after the Dalit protests against repression under the Modi government since 2014. It became a symbol of resistance in movements such as the institutional murder of Rohit Vemula, the Una Movement, and protests against the nullification of the SC/ST act by the Supreme Court. The slogan represents a fight for constitutional rights, with Ambedkar symbolizing the constitution itself.

Yadav notes that Ambedkar has become a symbol of resistance against attacks on constitutional rights. Even during the CAA-NRC protest, people raised "Jai Bhim" slogans, emphasizing the violation of the constitution. Ambedkar is now a symbol of resistance.

Jai Bhim: A Symbol of Alternative Cultural Expression

The Mooknayak spoke to Prabodhan Pol, Assistant Professor, Manipal Centre for Humanities, Manipal (Karnataka) emphasizing what happened after Hardas coined the term he says "In the mid-1930s, "Jai Bhim" became a catchword of the Dalit movement and a distinct form of Ambedkarite culture. It gained currency even before Ambedkar's death, with a newspaper named after the phrase. "Jai Bhim" became a symbol of alternative cultural expression in Maharashtra, moving beyond a mere greeting slogan."

Pol states that "Jai Bhim" is not just the deification of Ambedkar; it's a cultural assertion, about dignity and assertion, foregrounding an alternate cultural narrative. He points out that leftists are hijacking the slogan, but "Jai Bhim" has deeper ideological moorings against template slogans like Lal Salaam and Inquilab Zindabad.

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