Annabhau Sathe


    In Context

    • Recently, Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnav unveiled a statue of Lok Shahir (balladeer) Annabhau Sathe at the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature in Moscow. 

    Annabhau Sathe (1 August 1920 – 18 July 1969)

    • About:
      • Tukaram Bhaurao Sathe, popularly known as Anna Bhau Sathe was a social reformer, folk poet, and writer from Maharashtra. 
      • He was a Dalit born into the untouchable community, and his upbringing and identity were central to his writing and political activism.
      • In 1930, his family left the village and came to Mumbai. Here, he worked as a porter, a hawker and even a cotton mill helper.
      • In 1934, Mumbai witnessed a workers’ strike under the leadership of Lal Bawta Mill Workers Union in which he participated.
      • During his days at the Matunga Labour Camp, he got to know R B More, an associate of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in the famous ‘Chavdar Lake’ satyagraha at Mahad, and joined the Labour Study Circle.
      • Sathe was a Marxist-Ambedkarite mosaic, initially influenced by the communists but he later became an Ambedkarite.
      • He is credited as a founding father of ‘Dalit Literature’ and played vital role in Samyukta Maharashtra Movement.
    • His works as a Writer
      • Sathe’s work was immensely inspired by the Russian revolution and the Communist ideology. 
      • He was a member of the Communist Party of India (CPI), and featured among the selected authors from India whose work was translated in Russian.
      • He formed Dalit Yuvak Sangh, a cultural group and started writing poems on workers’ protests, agitations.
      • Sathe wrote his first poem on the menace of mosquitoes in the labour camp.  The group used to perform in front of the mill gates. 
      • Progressive Writers Association was formed at the national level at the same time with the likes of Premchand, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Manto, Ismat Chugtai, Rahul Sankrutyayan, Mulkraj Anand as its members. The group would translate the Russian work of Maxim Gorky, Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev into Marathi, which Sathe got hooked on. 
      • In 1939, he wrote his first ballad ‘Spanish Povada’.
      • Sathe and his group travelled across Mumbai campaigning for workers’ rights. Out of the 49 years that he lived, Sathe, who began writing only after the age of 20, churned out 32 novels, 13 collections of short stories, four plays, a travelogue and 11 povadas (ballads).
      • Several of his works like ‘Aklechi Goshta,’ ‘Stalingradacha Povada,’ ‘Mazi Maina Gavavar Rahili,’ ‘Jag Badal Ghaluni Ghav’ were popular across the state. 
      • Almost six of his novels were turned into films and many translated into other languages, including Russian. 
      • His ‘Bangalchi Hak’ (Bengal’s Call) on the Bengal famine was translated into Bengali and later presented at London’s Royal Theatre. 
      • His literature depicted the caste and class reality of Indian society of that time.
    • Russian connection:
      • He was once called the Maxim Gorky of Maharashtra.
      • He was immensely inspired by Gorky’s ‘The Mother’ and the Russian revolution, which was reflected in his writings.
      • He travelled to Russia in 1961 along with a group of other Indians.