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On 149th Satyashodak Diwas, unveiling a reinvigorated ForwardPress.in

Today, on the 149th anniversary of the founding of the Satyashodak Samaj, Forward Press, which counts itself as a legacy of Phule and the Satyashodak Samaj, and strives to adhere to their idea of truth-seeking, takes on a new look online

Journalism, by nature of the vocation, is fixated on the present. Journalists track developments by the minute, hour and day in politics, society, culture, science and the arts. 

But can we really claim to speak the truth about the present in a society with an undocumented and unresolved past as ours? Truth-seeking in the present will never be complete unless we question, given the dearth of historical records, the notions about our past, upon which our present is built. This is the truth-seeking that Jotirao Phule and his band of brothers and sisters at the Satyashodak Samaj began undertaking on 24 September 1873. Inspired by Phule’s life and mission, this is what Forward Press strives to do – to bring out the whole truth for our readers, in the interest of the larger public, the democracy and the nation.  

When Phule and friends founded the Satyashodak Samaj 149 years ago, he, along with wife Savitribai, had been a veteran educator and had written extensively for the masses. In fact, the founding of the Satyashodak Samaj came close on the heels of the publication of his most well-known and powerful text, Gulamgiri (whose annotated Hindi translation from the original Marathi Forward Press released on the last Satyashodak Diwas). 

Decades spent as a teacher and an activist urging the illiterate masses to get an education had borne fruit. The Shudras and the Atishudras now had a sizeable educated section to inculcate the truth-seekers’ spirit in their unreached brothers and sisters. One of the rules of the Satyashodak Samaj was that members would treat everyone as born equal, contrary to what the brahmanical texts had to say and to how the texts had shaped society over centuries of indoctrination. It was the desire to free the fellow Shudra and Atishudra from mental slavery of Brahmanism that brought the Samaj into being. 

Texts of Phule, including Gulamgiri, in the language of the masses, came in handy. The Satyashodaks wrote to the British government’s education department and to a British-run engineering college requesting reservations and scholarships for the children of the historically deprived. Their requests didn’t go unheeded. A few seats were set aside for these children. Members were encouraged to support youth who desired to study in the University of Bombay. The first Shudra-owned-and-run newspaper Din Bandhu, launched by Krishnarao Bhalekar in Pune, was a legacy of the Satyashodak Samaj; so was the first labour union established by Narayan Meghaji Lokhande in Bombay. Shahuji Maharaj the ruler of Kolhapur, who would go on to announce reservations in public employment in 1902 for the backward castes and Untouchables, and Sayajirao Gaekwad, who would go on to fund Ambedkar’s studies in Columbia University, had come in contact with the Satyashodhaks. In fact, Phule himself had met Gaekwad and urged him to take up the cause of the historically oppressed majority community that both of them hailed from.  

Today, on the 149th anniversary of the founding of the Satyashodak Samaj, Forward Press, which, too, counts itself as a legacy of Phule and the Satyashodak Samaj, and strives to adhere to their idea of truth-seeking, takes on a new look online. Since ForwardPress.in was born seven years ago in 2015, the internet has taken huge technological strides, and of late we have been struggling to keep up with it. So, this new website is not just about the new look but also about the technology that is in sync with the ecosystem. We expect it to be more searchable, visible and accessible. ForwardPress.in is now made up of two separate Hindi and English halves, each publishing its own original articles as well as translations of the other’s articles. While it will be our endeavour to have the English mirror the Hindi and vice versa, that may not always be possible due to the lack of resources. But if you come across a particular article but can’t find the translation that you’d prefer to read, do let us know. We’ll try and make that available to you. 

A major component of this upgrade has been making the Forward Press books more visible and accessible. We have achieved that to some degree but you can expect more innovations and improvements on that front in the future. Happy reading, truth-seeking and truth-spreading, because only the truth will set us truly free!

Forward Press also publishes books on Bahujan issues. Forward Press Books sheds light on the widespread problems as well as the finer aspects of Bahujan (Dalit, OBC, Adivasi, Nomadic, Pasmanda) society, culture, literature and politics. Contact us for a list of FP Books’ titles and to order. Mobile: +917827427311, Email: info@forwardmagazine.in)

The titles from Forward Press Books are also available on Kindle and these e-books cost less than their print versions. Browse and buy:

The Case for Bahujan Literature

Mahishasur: A people’s hero

Dalit Panthers: An Authoritative History

Mahishasur: Mithak wa Paramparayen

The Common Man Speaks Out

Jati ke Prashn Par Kabir

Forward Thinking: Editorials, Essays, Etc (2009-16)

About The Author

Anil Varghese

Anil Varghese is Editor-in-Chief, Forward Press

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