Bengaluru: In the passing away of senior politician Ram Vilas Paswan, India has lost a true leader who championed the causes of the less privileged. 

It was in the year 1969 that he rose to prominence as he dared to take on a caste-ridden society in which Dalits were ill-treated. 

As a matter of fact, the deceased leader always wanted himself to be addressed as Harijan, a euphemism for Dalits. Harijan means ‘children of God’. 


This attitude of insistence on this word only corroborates his will to assert that Dalits are no lesser or inferior to anyone else. 

While the word Dalits relegates one, the word Harijan only elevates. 
Paswan also identified Dalits as those who worked assiduously. To this effect, in the year 1969, when he took up the cudgels for Dalits, he even sang a song replete with meaning. The song goes like this: 


“Unchi Jati ki Kya Pehchan, Gitpit Bole Kare Na Kaam, Chhoti Jati ki Kya Pehchan, Kaam Kare aur Sahe Apman.” (How does one identify an upper caste? One who is inarticulate and lazy; how does one identify a lower caste? One who toils but is humiliated).

However, in spite of his efforts to extricate the Dalits, he did face some stinging criticisms. One of them was how he resorted to the usage of sophisticated brands like Mont Blanc pens Cartier glasses and Rado watch.

In fact, he even earned the epithet ‘five-star Dalit’. 

Notwithstanding such criticisms, the leader never lost his charm and continued to be a source of inspiration for his people in Bihar. That also prompts us to tell you that people chanted “Dharti Gunje Aasman, Ram Vilas Paswan,” which roughly means as Paswan hovered in his helicopter, there would be strong echoes on the ground. 

It is this connect with the masses that kept him abreast of the injustices meted out to them. A case in point is how the Supreme Court gave out a verdict which seemingly diluted the SC/ST Act, it was he who alerted the Prime Minister and triggered him to bring an ordinance to negate it. 

This tribute by PM Modi sums up his contribution to the nation: “Working together, shoulder to shoulder with Paswan Ji has been an incredible experience. His interventions during Cabinet Meetings were insightful. From political wisdom, statesmanship to governance issues, he was brilliant. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti.”