Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee | 23.2.20

Mooknayak at 100

Mooknayak (The Leader of the Voiceless) was a Marathi fortnightly newspaper Babasaheb Ambedkar started in 1920. He was 29 then. It was his first journalistic venture. Its first issue was published on 31 January 2020. Ambedkar’s aim in launching this journal was to put forward his own point of view on matters such as the evils of untouchability, the socio-economic status of ‘untouchables’, their status in the Hindu society, would swaraj bring about any change in their status, etc. These issues and questions had hitherto not found due representation in mainstream Hindi journals. Ambedkar tried to bring forth these issues to the limelight.

The tone was set from the very first editorial that he wrote in the opening issue:

“The Hindu society is like a tower of many stories. It has neither a ladder nor a door to go out. And therefore there is no way to interchange stories. Those who are born on a particular storey die in that storey. Even if the lowest storey person is worthy deserving to be promoted to the upper storey he cannot move to that level. And if the person in the upper storey is most unworthy and undeserving still he cannot be pushed down” …….

Though he was officially not associated with it (as he was in government service then), it was Babasaheb’s paper. In fact he wrote many of the editorials that were published in this paper. However, Shri Nandra Bhatkar was the first editor of the paper. Later Shri Dyander Gholap was the editor.

Mooknayak went through many ups and downs. It remained in circulation just for three years. Despite its short life, Mooknayak laid the foundations of an assertive and organised Dalit politics. It announced the arrival of a newer generation of anti-caste politics that broke the confines of region, language and political boundaries and coincided with the larger developments on the nationalist scene.

Good news from Population front

A large and growing population has long being considered as one of the reason of India’s poverty. Leaders in India tried to engage with this issue quite early on. In fact India is the first country in Asia to adopt a family planning programme. It is the first developing country to do so in 1951. Since then, the country’s population has quadrupled with 1.37 billion people in 2019.

However, for the first time after independence- we have some real good news in population front. Darrell Bricker, Author of Empty Planet says,  India’s total fertility rate (TFR) has reached replacement level. Srinivas Goli, Asstt. Professor of Population Studies at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, JNU says that the TFR in India will dip below the replacement level by 2021.

What is TFR? Population scientists have postulated a threshold to the number of births to keep the population under control. This is expressed as Total Fertility Rate (TFR), which is the average number of children a woman of childbearing age must have. Population above TFR means growth, while that below2 TFR means decline. At TFR, population is maintained. For Homo Sapiens a 2.1 TFR would keep the country’s population stable. The UN Population Division terms this as the replacement-level fertility.

India has either just reached that or is very close to that point now. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4) conducted in 2015-16, found India’s TFR has reached 2.2. Most Indian States had already achieved or were below 2.1 TFR. However, the major exceptions were Bihar (3.4), UP (2.7) Jharkhand (2.6), Rajasthan (2.4) and Madhya Pradesh (2.3). Except Jharkhand all other states are large and with large population. Once the TFR dips in these states- the national TFR will dip below 2.1 and that will be good for the country- for at least three four decades or so.

But if the TFR dips very low (as Darrell Bricker predicts would happen)- then, we’ll have to rethink and re-strategize.

Capitalizing Corona Virus

Bhojpuri music industry is amazing. It can churn out songs on any issue for any occasion. Looking at the media space Corona Virus is occupying, there are at least two music CDs releasing on the occasion of Holi- on this.

Consider the titles: Lehenga me virus corona ghusal ba. Meaning: Corona Virus has entered in the Lehenga. This song is sung by ‘Diamond Star’ Guddu Rangila. The other CD has a simpler title: Corona Virus Kaisal ba? How is the Corona Virus. Singer: Jallu Raja.

Creativity- thy name is Bhojpuri Music.

Tailpiece: Corona Scare

Two friends met in a jam-packed local train, no place even to stand properly.

One of them said to the other, a bit loudly:

“Are Bhai, glad to see you, but when did u return from China!?”

That did the trick!

In a few minutes the two were the only ones left in the compartment!!

(Courtesy: Social Media)


A journalist turned media academician the columnist lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. Compilation of his weekly column Window Seat, published in 2019 has been put together as an e-book. To get a free copy send an email to: [email protected]

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