"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Congratulations Comrade Anand Teltumbde Featured

Prominent columnist and author Anand Teltumbde, who was arrested and thrown behind bars by the Indian government under trumped up charges for questioning the power, recently received an award in the name of Basavaanna, a great reformist and philosopher of Karnataka. Currently on bail, he had to obtain permission from the court in his native state of Maharashtra to travel to Bengaluru to receive the honour from  the Karnataka government. Teltumbde had been to Canada before being framed at the behest of right wing Hindu nationalist forces, and was declared "Person of the Year 2020" by Radical Desi while being incarcerated. The Karnataka government award was in recognition of his work for an egalitarian and just society, and for standing up for the poor and marginalized. He happens to be the grandson-in-law of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a towering Indian scholar and the architect of the Indian constitution. Below are the speech made by Teltumbde on this occasion, and a congratulatory letter sent to him by his co accused from inside the jail:


Dr Anand Teltumbde on the Conferment of Basava Rashtriya Purashkar by the Government of Karnataka

[Speech prepared to be delivered in the Award Function on 31 January 2013. Its fraction was however spoken out due to paucity of time]

I am extremely happy to be honoured by the conferment of this prestigious award of the Government of Karnataka. I am especially happy to be in your midst to receive the award in person. It’s my first travel out of the jurisdiction of the Bombay High Court after my coming out on bail, with the permission from the court. In the context of my condition, the honour being done to me here is not really my personal honour but it is the honour of those countless and faceless activists who have been making huge sacrifices to make this world a little better place to live. Unfortunately, they are being targeted by the present regime at the centre as the enemies of nation.

I am thankful to the Government of Karnataka and particularly its honourable chief minister Shri Siddharamiah and his honourable cabinet colleague Shri Shivaraj Tangadagi, Minister of Kannada and Culture for doing this honour. Within the constraints of real politik, they deserve our complements for keeping alive the legacy of Basavanna. 

I may also express my appreciation to the Selection Committee that found in my jumbled bio data something that deserved it. But most of all I thank the people of Karnataka, who have been bestowing their love and affection and treating me as one of their own. It is Karnataka that honoured me with my first honorary doctorate and it is Karnataka’s Ambedkar Habbba that not only stood in solidarity with me but conferred its highest Bodhisattva Award while I was made an accused in an UAPA-case.  These are significant honours Karnataka did me besides many minor ones. Yesterday, one of my Kannadiga friends proudly said, “People of Karnataka love you so much that they wanted to honour you before your own state did it”. Unbeknownst to him, my state had already done me the greatest honour by putting me in jail.    

I highly value the spirit behind this award that Basavanna’s legacy is not bound by the artificially drawn boundaries of states and nations.  I greatly appreciate the acknowledgment that I do not belong only to Maharashtra but to the entire India, nay the world. I consider myself belonging to the multitude of the downtrodden people of the world who are engaged with incessant struggle just for their survival. This sense of belonging gives me the motive force to carry on my struggle in face of all odds. 

It is an honour to receive the award in the name of Basavanna, whom I hold in highest esteem as one of the greatest humanist philosophers.  When I read his Vachanas in English some two decades ago, I was stunned to note refreshing progressive tone and modernist flavour in his words. It was incredible that they flowed from twelfth century, some half a millennium before even the dawn of European renaissance. He was not a saint who renounced the samsara and acquired enlightenment in forest through penance. He was a human quite like us and rather beyond us, in being the chief minister of the Kalyani Chalukya/ Kalachuri kingdoms. He rejected every kind of social discrimination, temple worship, Brahminic rituals, and concepts of papa and punya (sin and merit). Instead, he propagated love and compassion. I read secondary literature on him by some western scholars who saw him in the lineage of Lokayata, Buddha down to Marx of our times, who considered human emancipation here and now and not in the speculative heaven or of the next birth or in the next birth. He valorized labour and condemned exploitation. As a civil rights activist for more than four decades, I may say that Basava’s Vachanas contained the essence of all 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by UNO in 1948, which inspired all post-colonial states to incorporate fundamental rights into their respective constitutions.  It is amazing that in the thick of feudalism, he could promulgate such a humanist vision.    

He would stand as beacon to our politicians who hold the reins of the state that flaunts as democracy. The kings then despite being the sovereign seem to be carrying the sense of responsibility towards their praja, the people. But today our rulers, who hold power as representative of people, live in a style that would embarrass even the most extravagant of the kings, without any concern to the people. They have transformed the framework of liberal democracy into an illiberal monstrosity. In relation to Basaveshwara’s Vachanas, we have fast traversed in opposite direction. Our Constitution, carrying an imprint of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s vision of liberty, equality and fraternity is trampled upon with impunity day in and day out at the altar of Hindutva politics. People have been turned into zombies to follow the leader. This republic is reduced to be a zombie nation singing requiem to the rationality, scientific temper and all that goes with the spirit of India’s constitution.

In such depressing times this award brings me blessings of Basaveswara to carry on my struggle to fight for civil rights of people.     

I thank you all for your patience. 

I am glad that the present chief minister of Karnataka , who within the contsraints of real politics that engulfs him, is trying to carry the legacy of Basaveshwara in his state. 


A Congratulatory Letter from the Accused in Bhima-Koregaon Case to Dr Anand Teltumbde on his being given the Karnataka Government’s Highest Award, Basava National Award

Dear Anand,

We all felt overjoyed hearing about the conferment of Basava National Award of the Government of Karnataka on you on 31 January 2024. You have exposed the sanatan disease of caste system inflicting this country in the context of fast changing reality before the people; showed them the practical roadmap of annihilation of the caste system. While the emancipation-icon of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was getting deified and brahminised, you have re-presented the comprehensive thought, practice and life struggle of Dr Ambedkar and pushed forward the wheel of democratic revolution of annihilating the caste system. 

With this scarce and unique contribution of yours the movement of ending the caste-class-and gender slavery became profound in ideological terms and at the same time, it became more accurate, more precise and deeper at the plane of understanding and practice.  Your analyses resolved not only the entanglements in individual contemplation but also the ideological contradictions in collectives. Those who honestly want to bring about fundamental change in the extant system have taken a serious note of your analyses. And those who wanted to run their businesses played games of besmirching your image with various stamps and labels. The Fascist regime has persistently tried to defame you calling some time Maoist and some other times ‘Mayawi Ambedkarwadi’ (Mayawi translates as ‘illusive’ but it is used in the sense ‘monsterous demon’ that deserves to be destroyed as in the Hindu epics) and also incarcerated you with its oxymoron, Urban Naxal. However, your words and deeds never paid heed to such repressive assaults in your life. Your words could never be suppressed. On the contrary, they became increasingly sharper, resolute and fearless. These razor-sharp formulations, ironclad logic, profound analyses, accompanied by practical life-struggle have transformed you into a real public intellectual. 

While the fascist regime in your own state has incarcerated you by labelling anti-national and terrorist, soon after your release on bail the Government of Karnataka unanimously selected you for its highest national award, the ‘Basava Rashtriya Puraskar’, being conferred at the hand of its Chief Minister. This incident can be seen as a small streak of light in the present era fraught with darkness.  The award in the name of Basaveshawara, the humanist philosopher who had rejected the Brahminic system of caste-and gender slavery and propounded the value of compassion and fraternity in the twelfth century, being given to you, the one who has been imprisoned for over two and half years under the charges of terrorism, in itself is an unprecedented incident. The award is given to you as an ideal legatee of Basava, the prophet of daya (compassion), ahimsa (nonviolence) and samata (equality). It indicates that a small section of the ruling class is slowly emerging that wants to stand steadfastly against the Brahminic Hindutva fascism. The award function that took place in Bangalore leads us to such an optimistic inference. This function has awakened an expectation that the forces fighting against caste-class-gender slavery and fascism may turn into a deluge in not so distant future. Therefore, we feel great importance of your getting this award.

You have been honoured with several national and international awards so far in your life.  We have seen people getting excessively over-joyed and strayed away from their ideological stand with awards or willingly adjusting their stance for seeking awards. However, you have never let your own existence whose roots have been well entrenched in the soil of struggle for the annihilation of the caste-class-gender slavery get shaken with awards or the latter going to your head. You have never adjusted your ideological stand or the radical and revolutionary profundity of your analyses. Therefore, we the prisoners accused in the Elgar Parishad case wish to send our revolutionary congratulations and good wishes to our own co-accused Dr Anand Teltumbde who has been unstintingly and persistently working inside as well as outside the prison on his getting the Basava National Award.   





Rate this item
(0 votes)
Super User

Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi


Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.