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Dr. Ambedkar, Doyen of Contemporary Dalit olitics

Dr. Ambedkar – Ambedkar was the undisputed leader of untouchables, and Doyen of Contemporary Dalit Politics. Today he has attracted many followers. Many politicians and political parties have given a glorified status to Ambedkar. All political parties have indulged in politicking Ambedkar’s name, claiming him as their role-model. Glorification of his name helps them to overcome their insecurity.  It also helps them to unite various Dalit groups and to harness Dalit votes. Very few try to know who real Ambedkar was?

Referring to Ambedkar, Sonia Gandhi Congerss president says “His faith in democracy, which he shared with Mahatma Gandhi Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and other stalwarts of the freedom movement (?), is one of his proud legacies to our country.”  (Quoted from TOI, April 15, 2016, P. 17) Modi gives credit to Ambedkar for his rise to the country’s most powerful office to the Constitution and its chief architect (?). Mayawati, BSP leader has built memorials to Dalit icons installing statues of Ambedkar and next to him of BSP founder Kansi Ram and herself, because she has dedicated her life to realizing Ambedkar’s dream and working for welfare of Dalits.

Now when mainstream political parties are vying with each other to appropriate Dr Ambedkar’s legacy, on the eve of Dr. Ambedkar’s 125th anniversary, a band of young men and women from nearly 500 districts highlighted that existing practice of manual scavenging – cleaning of toilets and septic-tanks by manual labour as unconstitutional, illegal. Census 2011 estimated nearly 8 lakh people were involved in it. In 2014 the Supreme Court ordered for swift measures to end the system and now on Ambedkar’s anniversary, these people have  demanded strong measures to end manual scavenging which has taken over 1,327 lives in the past few years. It says, “Unless they (political leaders recognize that deaths that occur in sewers and septic tanks are not accident, but political murders, we do not think they have the right to project themselves as defenders of the rights of Dalits and highly marginalized communities such as manual scavengers.

No doubt, Ambedkar was a man, whose life is most inspiring example of what a man can achieve by hard work, knowledge, and clear-cut priorities. Before 1947, even Ambedkar did not know that he would be assigned the responsibility of the Chairman of the drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly. earlier he believed that: –

  • While speaking in Constituent Assembly, Dr Ambedkar spoke on November 25, 1949, “If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact … the first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. .. It means we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation, and satyagrah. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but grammar of anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.”
  • Reservation is not aimed at economic uplift or alleviation of poverty. But it is a provision made for the entry of certain castes, which have so far been outside the administration. Hence the need for their adequate representation in State Services. Adequacy should be judged not by their presence in the lower rung of the services, but their entry into the higher echelons, the corridor of power.
  • Where a majority of population is denied its share in actual power, there exists no democracy.
  • Attempt to uplift my community rather than to win Swaraj for the nation is my goal.
  • I will leave no doubt in the minds of the people of this country that I have another loyalty, to which I am bound and which I can never for-sake. The loyalty is to the community of the untouchables; in which I am born, to which I belong and which I hope, I shall never desert. And I say this…. as strongly as I possibly can that whenever there is any conflict of interests between the country and the untouchables, so far as I am concerned, the untouchable interests will take precedence over the interests of the country. I am not going to support a tyranny of the majority, simply because it happens to speak in the name of the country”
  • “As between the country and myself, the country will have precedence, as between the country and the depressed classes, the depressed classes will have precedence.
  • Like Jyotirao Phule or E V Ramaswami Naiker, fondly remembered by his followers as ‘Periyar’, he was also anti-Brahmin, anti-caste,and anti-birth based social structure. He regarded caste system as great obstacles to Hindu Unity”, in which Dalits are treated as untouchables, or impure human beings. he thought Caste-system has given rise to a social hierarchy. He said, “No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity, On that account it is incompatible with democracy.”
  • Ambedkar’s political philosophy was against the ideology of Congress and Gandhi. He criticized varnashrama or idea of Gandhi about village life.
  • While Gandhi and Congress leaders took Poona Pact as a ploy to divide Indian society, Ambedkar regarded it as essential for political equality between caste Hindu and Dalits.
  • Ambedkar was against Hinduism as well.My self-respect can not assimilate Hinduism…The religion that does not recognize you as human beings…is not worthy to be called a religion.
  • He believed in political democracy. He considered any system that does not work towards egalitarian society, meaningless. “In an ideal society, there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared. There should be varied and free points of contact with other modes of association. In other words, there should be social endosmosis. There is fraternity, which is only another name of democracy. Democracy is not merely a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellow men.

He was choosen as the Chairman of the drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly in 1947. He then joined Nehru’s cabinet as India’s first Law Minister. But he quitted the post soon over the Question of the Hindu Code Bill.  As years passed on, many of his views were changed. Even Ambedkar’s  views on Reservations, later-on, in his life have become more humanistic. During Constituent Assembly Debates, Ambedkar advocated the policy of Reservation. But later on, as a socialist and humanist, which had the long-range interests of untouchables at heart, had developed doubts about advisability and efficacy of Reservation Policy. Chowdhary Charan Singh said, Ambedkar himself declared in a speech sometime before his death that the provision of Reservation in service should not extend beyond 1960/61.

When Ambedkar prepared for his party the Manifesto for his party, (TOI, Oct 3, 1951) for first Lok Sabha elections of 1952, he said, “The policy of the party is not tied to any particular dogma or ideology, such as Communism, or socialism, Gandhian or any other ‘ism’.” (Document on Ambedkar, Volume 21, part 3)  Manifesto advocates the rapid industrialization and promises to replace small landholdings with large farms.” He insisted that Agriculture must be mechanized”. He realized the role of machine in liberating thousands of Dalits tilting land using bullocks and plough.

Ambedkar during his life time during pre-Independence period – Ambedkar earned the wrath of intelligentsia during pre-Independence period because: –

Ø   He, himself, was a beneficiary of social reform movement in Maharashtra led by nationalist leaders and reformers mostly belonging to caste Hindus. But he regarded caste Hindus as his enemy,

Ø   The intelligentsia regarded his move for separate electorates for untouchable as an act to divide Hindu society permanently. It is alleged that he could not rise beyond his caste identity,

Ø   He was criticized for his association with Simon Commission proceedings, First Round Table Conference and Viceroy’s Executive Committee as member, with an intention to cooperate with British rulers, at the time, when national leaders were fighting British rulers for Independence;

Ø   His anguish against Hinduism and caste system and his act of burning Hindu-script, which he regarded as great obstacles to the Indian unity, annoyed many.

Ø   People did not like his confrontation with Gandhi. Ambedkar, like Jinnah was against Hindu majority rule, Congress Party and Gandhi. Both of them reacted against the above three in similar manner most of the times and preferred continuance of British rule.

Depressed Ambedkar, later in life – Pr. Balraj Madhok had also pointed out that later in life, Ambedkar realized that SC and ST would not be able to stand on their own feet, so long as they depended on the crutches of Reservation. Reservation, Dr. Ambedkar said, Encouraged backwardness, inefficiency and lack of competitive merit among them barring a few stray cases.

Therefore, when he launched the Republican Party of India, he incorporated this view in the Manifesto, according to which the party was committed itself to abolish all kinds of Reservations based on caste and birth.

During his last days, Ambedkar was depressed, because as he said, I have not been able to fulfil my mission. I wanted to do more for the SC people and to see them as governing class in my life. I could have succeeded, but my own people have deceived me. Whatever I have been able to do, is being enjoyed by the educated people and they are the worst fools. I now want to divert my attention to the uneducated masses, but life seems short. The second worry to my mind is that I wanted that somebody from the SC should come forward and take the responsibilities from me. There, however, seems none to shoulder such a heavy responsibility. All are selfish and quarrel themselves on petty matters.

Glorification of Ambedkar in political arena – Till Ambedkar was alive, he had recognition as an intellectual having his own philosophy and interpretations, but he lacked leadership qualities and mass appeal. The trend of idolization of Ambedkar or attempts of Ambedkarization of the nation started during 1980s-1990s. Ambedkar himself considered idolization as an act leading to destruction.

Followers of Ambedkar – Recently many followers of Ambedkar – Many Paswans, Mayawatis, Manjhhis, have emerged in political scenario. In order to woo Dalits, all political parties highlight convenient aspects of his thoughts. They praise Ambedkar as a great lawgiver, maker of the Indian Constitution, great nationalist a liberal and true democrat, champion of reservations so on and so forth. None of them appear to have done justice with Ambedkar and used his name ruthlessly for their selfish motive and political ends. Some people say that they have idolized Ambedkar as “Rescuer of Dalits”, but have not understood Ambedkar in right perspective. Their deeds have exposed their  intentions.

Deeds of present Dalit leaders – Today agitated the Dalit leaders are, but their agitation is far away from being a positive or constructive one. It has turned into a negative militancy against caste Hindu. They have benefitted politically from their caste-identity. Their politics revolves around self-aggrandisement. They have been unable to bring any sustainable or radical change in the social or economic status of their poor brethrens or to raise the intellect and stature of Dalit masses. Also they have been unable to raise an army of Dalit intellectuals or leaders with rational thinking. Their aim is to woo Dalit masses and create a strong vote-bank for themselves.

Ambedkar’s vision – Ambedkar envisioned to seek political power for social justice. He wanted to annihilate caste system not by revenge, hatred and violence, but by rethinking, reason and reformation.

  • Organize, educate and agitate – He, therefore, taught untouchables To organize, educate and agitate with an aim to finishing caste prejudices, the arrogance, and the Holier than thou’ attitude of Brahmins.
  • He wanted his people to improve their condition by education, enlightenment and enterprise not by animosity, anger and abuse.
  • Like Jyotirao Phule and E V Ramaswami Naiker, ‘Periyar’, Ambedkar was anti-brahmanism, not Brahmins. he was happily married to a Brahmin lady. He respected Justice Ranade.
  • He was against birth-based/caste-based social hierarchy, which treated individuals born in lower castes as untouchables.

Wave of Ambedkarization –  After the death of Ambedkar, many politicians started describing Ambedkar as the Father or The maker of Indian Constitution. Experts on Constitutional law have some Reservation to such expressions, because both the constituent Assembly headed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad and its Drafting Committee headed by Dr. Ambedkar were the formal centers of work. The real place of work was the Congress Working Committee, which took all the important decisions.

In the making of the Constitution of India, the prominent role was played by leaders like Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad or Constitutional jurists like Alladi Krishna Swami Ayyar, K.M. Munshi and others. It was frankly admitted by Mahavir Tyagi, one of the members of Drafting Committee, and Dr. Ambedkar himself that their hands were tied and they were only carrying out the wishes of the majority.

Joint efforts of prominent national leaders – Pr. K.V. Rao said, No doubt, Ambedkar, a man of legal acumen, untiring industry, consummate skill and firmness, tempered with modernization, made substantial contribution to the framing of the Constitution…My reading of the Constitution makes me feel that it is inappropriate to call Dr. Ambedkar, the father of the Constitution. If any people are entitled to be called so, they are Nehru and Patel, but I would like to call them the Presiding Deities, the sources of all the ideas of the Constitution, the real makers of the Constitution. I would like to attribute father-hood to them as well as to the members of the Drafting Committee in common, but I would not like to single out Dr. Ambedkar for this honour.

 

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October 12, 2015 - Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | ,

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