வெள்ளி, 6 மே, 2016

Dr BR Babasaheb Ambedkar - Important Facts

Dr BR Babasaheb Ambedkar :-

  1. Educational Biography of Dr B. R. Ambedkar
  2. 7 Facts You May Not Have Known About Babasaheb 
  3. Another Important Fact about Dr Ambedkar: Why Weren’t We Told?
  4. B. R. Ambedkar : Important Facts
  5. Life of Babasaheb Ambedkar
  6. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Post War Economic Planning
  7. Babasaheb’s Role in Damodar Valley, Hirakund and the Sone River Valley Projects
  8. Babasaheb Ambedkar and India’s Water Policy and Electric Power Planning
  9. Dr. Ambedkar Role in the Formation of Reserve Bank of India
  10. Dr.Ambedkar and United Nations
  11. Jai Bhim and Jai Hind
  12. Ten Things about BR Ambedkar That You Probably Didn't Know

1: Dr. Ambedkar stood for Sanskrit as the official language of India.
2: Ambedkar is actually a Hindu Brahmin surname.
 3. Ambedkar's father was a Vegetarian
4. Nehru prevented Ambedkar from entering Lok Sabha. Jan Sangh got him to Rajya Sabha.
5. Bhimrao's second wife was a Hindu Brahmin. 
6. Ambedkar was not against Hindutva or RSS. 
7. Ambedkar's strong views on Muslim society's evils, Christianity and Partition of India.
8. Ambedkar's openly opposed Article 370 of Nehru's Congress, for Jammu and Kashmir. 
9. Ambedkar was a confirmed enemy of Communists, in his own words!

10. Ambedkar warned India against China's aggression on Tibet and beyond. 

15. What are the contributions of B. R. Ambedkar towards India?

17. Role of Ambedkar in Upliftment of Dalitas in India.
18. Here Is Why All The DrAmbedkar’s Statues In Tamil Nadu Are Being Put In Cages.
19. Change of Religion
20.Ambedkar and Future of Indian Society 
21.-Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s Role In Women Empowerment
22. Hinduism
23. DR.Ambedkar Idea Of Equality
24.The Hindu Code Bill, 1948
25. Constitutional Provisions

26.Lessons from Dr Ambedkar's life

27 .Reservations – Some Questions and their Answers
28.10 quotes from Dr. B R Ambedkar that have gained more relevance today
29Lying about Ambedkar : RSS Revisionism on his birthday.
30. "We Need Ambedkar--Now, Urgently..." Arunadthi Rai
31. Ambedkar’s Work and Mission
Life of Babasaheb Ambedkar

Babasaheb was born in a caste that was (is still) considered lowest of the low. People used to say it was a sin to be born in this low caste, they would not offer him water, and say that if he sat in a cart it would become polluted. But this man framed the Constitution of India. His entire life was one of struggles and his personal life was so sad; he lost his first wife and sons.
Even then he did not lose his willingness to work for the social welfare of the people of India. The boy who suffered bitter humiliation in the hands of upper caste people became the first Law Minister in free India, and shaped the country’s Constitution.
The above written lines are the maximum limits (or I think I have already crossed the limits!) of what gets told about Dr Ambedkar. He is always portrayed only as a leader of SC/STs and much of his work apart from enlistment of socially; economically backward communities are not taught through schoolbooks or any other credible source. The ink dries from the pens of upper caste media when writing/publishing anything about Dr Ambedkar.
Dr Ambedkar’s contribution to Indian society is much more than what is usually circulated. His other major contributions in diverse fields are rarely articulated. His role in the establishment of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), reformation of Hindu social order, issue of Pakistan, labour policy, electricity and water policy, Damodar valley project, Hirakund project, The Sone River valley project, and post war economic plan (IInd world war) etc are little known to people.

 7 Facts You May Not Have Known About Him

Independent India's first Law Minister, Dr BR Ambedkar was the architect of the Indian constitution. From being one of the most influential names to be working against social discrimination, he inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement in India.
Popularly known as Babasaheb, the Indian jurist, politician, economist and social reformer, who was born in 1891 in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, was known for his campaigns against social discrimination against dalits, women and labour.
Dr. Ambedkar, who had inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement, had died in his sleep on 6 December 1956 at his home in Delhi.
On his 125th birth anniversary, we bring to you 7 facts you may not have known about him:
  • BR Ambedkar was the 14th child of his parents.
  • Ambedkar's ancestors had long been in the employment of the British East India Company's army.
  • Ambedkar's original name was actually Ambavadekar. But his teacher, Mahadev Ambedkar, who was fond of him, changed his surname from 'Ambavadekar' to his own surname 'Ambedkar' in school records.
  • He also held the position of a principal at the Government Law College, Mumbai for 2 years.
  • Ambedkar was opposed to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gives a special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Ambedkar was the first Indian to pursue an Economics doctorate degree abroad.
  • Ambedkar suffered from a severe case of diabetes in the later years.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar(born April 14, 1891MhowIndia—died December 6, 1956, New Delhi) leader of the Dalits (Scheduled Castes; formerly calleduntouchables) and law minister of the government of India (1947–51).
Born of a Dalit Mahar family of western India, he was as a boy humiliated by his high-caste schoolfellows. His father was an officer in the Indian army. Awarded a scholarship by the Gaekwar (ruler) of Baroda (now Vadodara), he studied at universities in the United States, Britain, and Germany. He entered the Baroda Public Service at the Gaekwar’s request, but, again ill-treated by his high-caste colleagues, he turned to legal practice and to teaching. He soon established his leadership among Dalits, founded several journals on their behalf, and succeeded in obtaining special representation for them in the legislative councils of the government. Contesting Mahatma Gandhi’s claim to speak for Dalits (or Harijans, as Gandhi called them), he wrote What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables (1945).
In 1947 Ambedkar became the law minister of the government of India. He took a leading part in the framing of the Indian constitution, outlawing discrimination against untouchables, and skillfully helped to steer it through the assembly. He resigned in 1951, disappointed at his lack of influence in the government. In October 1956, in despair because of the perpetuation of untouchability in Hindu doctrine, he renounced Hinduism and became a Buddhist, together with about 200,000 fellow Dalits, at a ceremony in Nagpur. Ambedkar’s book The Buddha and His Dhamma appeared posthumously in 1957, and it was republished as The Buddha and His Dhamma: A Critical Edition in 2011, edited, introduced, and annotated by Aakash Singh Rathore and Ajay Verma.

All over India 14th April is celebrated as Ambedkar Jayanti. We hear  songs of Ambedkar at every nook and corner and we keep wondering, why  are some people so crazy about him. We all recognize Dr. B. R. Ambedkar  as the architect of the Indian constitution and a crusader for the  rights of the untouchables. But one won’t be wrong to say that history  has been a bit unfair to Ambedkar. All that we know about Dr. Ambedkar  is that he was the messiah of untouchables and someone who drafted our  constitution. When we talk about the pre and post independence India, we  talk about several leaders but limit Ambedkar’s role only to writing of  the constitution. The life and works of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal  Nehru, Sardar Patel, Sarojini Naidu, etc are studied and appreciated by  all. While, we find that Ambedkar’s narrative is somewhere lost.  However, the contribution of Ambedkar to the formation of our modern day  Indian society is immense. He was an erudite leader whose thoughts were  prophetic.
Some of these facts will change your perception about Ambedkar completely.

Here you go!

1. Way back in the year 1955 Ambedkar had  suggested the divison of both Madhya Pradesh and Bihar for better  governance. The states were bifurcated 45 years later and in the year  2000 states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were formed.

2. Ambedkar played a key role in  establishment of Reserve Bank of India in 1935. It was formed based on  the guidelines provided by Dr. Ambedkar. His book ‘The Problem of the  Rupee-Its Origin and Its Solution’ was widely referred during the  formation of RBI.

3. At the 7th Session of Indian Labour conference, Ambedkar changed the working hours in India from 14 hours to 8 hours.
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4. Ambedkar’s autobiography named ‘Waiting for a Visa’ which  he wrote during 1935-36 is used as a text book in the Columbia  University.

5. Ambedkar was instrumental in forming the National Employment Exchange Agency in India.


6. Ambdekar’s self published book  ‘Annihilation of Caste’ is actually a text of his undelivered speech at  the Annual Hindu conference of the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal.

7Ambedkar played a crucial role in  establishment of large dam technology in India. He contributed in  setting up of Damodar, Hirakud and Sone river dam projects.
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8. In 1952, Ambedkar contested first Lok Sabha election from Bombay North and lost to Congress candidate Naryan Kajrolkar.
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9. Ambedkar had opposed Article 370 of the Indian constitution which gives special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
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10. Apart from being the saviour of the untouchables,  Ambedkar also fought for the emancipation of women. He resigned from the  cabinet in 1952 because his Hindu Code Bill was not passed. He had  argued in it for the equal rights for women in inheritance and marriage.  Later on these laws were enacted under the Hindu Marriage Act.
B. R. Ambedkar : Important Facts

● The First Round Table Conference was convened in London on November 12, 1930 and B.R. Ambedkar and Rao Bahadur Srinivasan represented the Depressed Classes.
● Ambedkar formed the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in August, 1936, which participated in the provincial elections of Bombay and won 13 seats out of 15 seats reserved for scheduled castes.
● Ambedkar was opposed to the strike by civil servants. For him strike is nothing more than a breach of contract of service. It is only a civil wrong not a crime.
● In July 1942, Ambedkar was appointed the member of Executive Council of Viceroy as a Labour member. He resigned from this post in May 1946.
● The Independent Labour Party was transformed by Ambedkar as the All India Scheduled Castes Federation in 1942. It was a political party which participated in the general elections of 1946 but was completely defeated.
● In January, 1920 Ambedkar started a weekly paper called ‘Mooknayak’ (Leader of the Dumb) to champion the cause of the depressed classes in India. Some of his famous books include—The Untouchable : Who are They and Why They Have Become Untouchables; Buddha and His Dhamma; ‘The Rise and Fall of Hindu Women’, ‘Emancipation of Untouchables’, ‘The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India’; ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, ‘Thoughts on Linguistic States’, etc.
● Ambedkar was appointed as the first Law Minister of Independent India, but he resigned from the Cabinet on September 1951 due to differences with Nehru on the Hindu Code Bill.
● Ambedkar was elected to the Constituent Assembly from Bengal but he lost his seat after the partition. However, he was chosen by the Bombay Congress Legislative Party in place of M.R. Jaykar who resigned earlier. It should be noted that he was defeated earlier in the election of Constituent Assembly in Bombay. It is interesting to note that in his interview with Cabinet mission on April 5, 1946, Ambedkar opposed the idea of Constituent Assembly as he feared it would be dominated by High Caste Hindus.
● Ambedkar was elected as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly. He is called the father of the Indian Constitution. However, K.V. Rao was of the opinion that Ambedkar was not the father but mother of the Indian Constitution as the vital decisions about the Constitution were taken by Nehru and Patel and Ambedkar followed the same.
● Ambedkar was defeated in the election to the Lok Sabha in 1952 mainly due to his advocacy of partition of Kashmir. However, he was elected as a member of Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra in March 1952. In May 1954, he again contested in the by-election to Lok Sabha but was defeated again. He realised that a party which has no base in rural areas has no future.
● Ambedkar considered the Right to Constitutional Remedy as the Soul of the Constitution.
● Ambedkar converted to Buddhism on October 14, 1956. He died on December 6, 1956 at Delhi due to severe diabetic neurosis.
● After his death, his political party the Scheduled Caste Federation was renamed as Republican Party of India in 1957 by his followers.

Freedom of mind is the real freedom. A person, whose mind is not free though he may not be in chains, is a slave, not a free man. One, whose mind is not free, though he may not be in prison, is a prisoner and not a free man. One whose mind is not free though alive, is no better than dead. Freedom of mind is the proof of one’s existence.
We must break the chains, once and forever.                                                –  Babasaheb Ambedkar
Babasaheb Ambedkar and Post War Economic Planning
When IInd World war ended, there were many challenges for India, such as re-establishing the economy; including improvement in agriculture, development of industries, rehabilitation and re-deployment of defense services etc. For this, the Reconstruction Committee of Council (RCC) was established. Dr Ambedkar was a member of RCC and was assigned the role of the President of “Policy Committee for Irrigation and Power.”
Of great significance but less well known among [Dr] Ambedkar’s contribution to the nation was his direct participation in the formulation of objective & strategy of post-war economic plan & planned development of water and electric power resources in the country. [Dr] Ambedkar was directly involved in framing of the objective and strategy of economic planning and water and electric power policy as a Cabinet Member in charge of the Labour, Irrigation and Power portfolio during 1942-46, though he made a substantial contribution to the economic planning and water and electric power resource development in this position, surprisingly, this aspect of his contribution has hardly been studied.” (Source: Ambedkar’s Role in Economic Planning Water and Power Policy by Sukhadeo Thorat)
Babasaheb’s Role in Damodar Valley, Hirakund and the Sone River Valley Projects
If you ask any school going child, where Damodar Valley, Hirakund and the Sone River Valley projects are, and who inaugurated these projects, they’ll tell you the names of Nehru-Gandhi family, although they have nothing to do with these projects. (Check out the wiki page giving details that “Jawaharlal Nehru, prime minister of India, Dr B C Roy, chief minister of West Bengal and Sri Krishna Sinha, chief minister of Bihar, took personal interest to ensure early success of the project.”).
We have been taught in schools about these projects but we don’t find a word about Dr Ambedkar’s prominent role and contribution towards all these projects. Why weren’t we told?
Since 1930 emphasis has been increasingly placed on engineering practices, on the hydrological unity of a river basin on treating the basin as the unit of development of its water resources. Credit for multipurpose project (irrigation and generating electric power together) goes to Irrigation and Power Department, under the leadership of Dr Ambedkar.
Keeping in view the enhanced magnitude of such projects, it was keenly felt that the technical expert bodies available then at the centre weren’t adequate. Dr Ambedkar approved the Central Waterway and Irrigation Commission (CWINC) in March 1944, and subsequently by the Viceroy on April 4, 1945. Thus Dr Ambedkar helped build a strong technical organisation for the development of India. (Source: Ambedkar’s Role in Economic Planning Water and Power Policy by Sukhadeo Thorat)
If our houses are illuminated and if our fields are green, it’s because of Dr Ambedkar’s stellar role in the planning of these projects, on which rests a major part of India’s economy today. If there is such a concept as water-management and development in India, then the credit goes to Dr Ambedkar for ably using the natural resources to serve India. If it was not for Dr Ambedkar’s vision, one can imagine the situation of electric supply, irrigation and development of India.
Babasaheb Ambedkar and India’s Water Policy and Electric Power Planning
Almost everyone ignores the role of Dr Ambedkar as a Labour leader.  Department of Labour was established in the year November 1937 and Dr Ambedkar took over the Labour portfolio in July 1942. The policy formulation and planning for the development of irrigation and electric power was the major concern. It was the Labour Department under the guidance of Dr Ambedkar, who decided to establish “Central Technical Power Board” (CTPB) for power system development, hydro power station sites, hydro-electric surveys, analysing problems of electricity generation and thermal power station investigation.
Dr Ambedkar emphasised on the significance and need for the “Grid System”, which is still working successfully even today. If today power engineers are going abroad for training, the credit goes to Dr Ambedkar again, who as a leader of Labour Department formulated policy to train the best engineers -overseas. It is a matter of shame that nobody credits Dr Ambedkar for the role he played in India’s water policy and electric power planning.
Ambedkar Role in the Formation of Reserve Bank of India
Did you know Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came into picture according to the guidelines laid down by Dr Ambedkar? RBI was conceptualized as per the guidelines, working style and outlook presented by Dr Ambedkar in front of the Hilton Young Commission. When this commission came to India under the name of “Royal Commission on Indian Currency & Finance”, each and every member of this commission were holding Dr Ambedkar’s book named “The Problem of the Rupee – It’s origin and it’s solution.”
(The legislative assembly passed this under the name of RBI act 1934, its need, working style and its outlook was presented by Dr Ambedkar in-front of Hilton Young Commission. Read, “Evidence before the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance” and “The Problem of the Rupee – It’s origin and it’s solution.” )
Now, walking through the streets of India, on most of the “State Bank of India’s” (SBI’s) street hoardings it shows Rabindranath Tagore as “The banker to this nation”, as if Rabindranath Tagore is the brand ambassador of SBI!
What hurts many of us is the picture of Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi on the Indian currency. We need to ask everyone what’s the contribution of these two leaders (Rabindranath Tagore and Mr. Gandhi) towards Indian currency, finance and economics, and who deserves to be there on the signposts or on Indian currency?
And have you ever noticed the language panel displayed on Indian rupee banknotes? Sanskrit language is there but not Pali language. Does RBI have any answers? First April is the day when RBI celebrates its foundation day, making April fools of common masses!
If a man with God’s name on his tongue and a sword under his armpit deserved the appellation of a Mahatma, then Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a Mahatma.    – Babasaheb Ambedkar
Writing about who deserves the place on Indian currency reminds me of a Hollywood movie “Do the Right Thing” directed a way back in 1989 by Spike Lee. Movie revolves around the demand of Afro-Americans to place some pictures of black heroes on the “Wall of Fame” in a pizza shop (where all pictures are of Italian heroes as pizza shop owner is from Italy and very proud of that) as the pizzeria is situated in a black neighbourhood and sells pizza to black people.
At the end of the struggle Afro-Americans succeeded to have a picture of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, shaking hands on the “Wall of Fame.”
Dr Ambedkar and United Nations
Did you know of the role played by Dr Ambedkar to raise caste issue at the international level?
Dalit leaders and Afro-American leaders since nineteenth century started drawing connections between Dalits of India and Blacks of USA. In 1945-46 when ‘League of Nations’ was preparing for the formal establishment of United Nations (UN), there were many marginalized groups from different parts of the world who were trying to submit memorandums. So that their concerns also gets reflected in the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights.’
At that time there was an exchange of letters between Dr B R Ambedkar and the prominent Afro-American thinker William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. In his book ‘The correspondence of W.E.B. Du Bois, Volume 3’ W.E.B Du Bois writes, “The necessity of a document of this sort is emphasized by the fact that other groups of people, notably from Indians of South Africa, the Jews of Palestine, the Indonesians and others are making similar petitions. I have on my desk a letter from Dr. [B.R.] Ambedkar of the Untouchables of India, in which he intimates that they may make an appeal.”
Dr Ambedkar was well aware of the Black movement as many of his professors/guides were from the Black community, like Herbert Apthekar and C. Vaan Woodward (Woodward said in his autobiography ‘Thinking Back: Perils of Writing History’, that Dr Ambedkar’s description of oppression of Untouchables in India encouraged him to write about the oppression of Blacks) and Dr Ambedkar knew that to some extent Indian Dalits are similar to Blacks of America –segregated, denied right to education, deprived of religious and political power.
Dr Ambedkar knew if all discriminated communities come together they can improve their status in society, also he knew how to bring together all the discriminated communities and pressurize leaders at UN to take concrete steps towards the emancipation of discriminated communities. There might have been a conspiracy to stop Dr Ambedkar from going to UN at that time, so this significant issue couldn’t get addressed.
Jai Bhim and Jai Hind
Did you know that “Jai Bhim” originated before “Jai Hind”? In his article “Jai Bhim and Jai Hind”, Dr K Jamanadas argues and gives reference that “Jai Bhim” came into picture before “Jai Hind”, not as the people think that “Jai Bhim” derives from “Jai Hind”. “Jai Bhim” was coined by Babu L. N. Hardas, a strong follower of Ambedkar; Chief Secretary of the Independent Labour Party and In-Charge of C.P and Berar.
He was elected legislator on ILP Ticket, in 1937, from Kamptee near Nagpur. He was one of the signatories to the “Poona Pact” and had participated in discussions with Gandhi following the Poona Pact. He was the Labour Leader and Founder of the “Beedi Kamgar Sangh” of C.P. and Berar. A writer, thinker, dramatist and a poet, Hardas, was also the editor of a Marathi weekly “Maharattha” and “Chokhamela Visheshanka”. He died young at the age of 35, in 1939.
I think, the slogan “Jai Hind” was given by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, for the first time, after the formation of Indian National Army in Burma, and a call was given to “Chalo Delhi” (”March on Delhi”). This was just before the end of Second World War in 1945. It is clear that Jai Bhim did not originate from Jai Hind. May be it is the other way round.  (Source: “Jai Bhim and Jai Hind” an article by Dr K Jamanadas)
Another Important Fact about Dr Ambedkar: Why Weren’t We Told?
Did you know before handing over the work of drafting constitution of India to Dr. Ambedkar, work was assigned to many other prominent leaders of that time? But everyone declined/refused to work, as this was such a tiresome work and required lots of intellectual depth and hard work, which only Dr. Ambedkar could put in. (Source: Begumpura Sehar, weekly newspaper)
Did you know Dr Ambedkar had suggested division of Madhya Pradesh into northern and southern states also he had suggested division of Bihar way back in 1955 for the better development of states? After almost 45years both states were divided and Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were formed in the year 2000.  (Read Dr Ambedkar’s book “Thoughts on Linguistic States” for more detail) Dr Ambedkar was a far-sighted person and he had anticipated and provided solutions to many of the pertinent problems we are facing today.
Did you know along with Dr Ambedkar more than half a million embraced Buddhism leaving behind the inhuman caste practice of Hinduism? No-where in this world has ever taken place such a BIG mass conversion, not even any religious guru could do this magic!
The purpose of giving all this detail here is, to make Dalit-Bahujan aware of our rich heritage, as many of us don’t take things seriously, and have a habit of letting things go as they are going.  But we need to ask WHY? We need to find more about the “truths of our rich history”, “our role models”, “our culture”, and “realities of caste” etc. Only then we can do something better for our society.
What I see as the purpose of hiding all these facts and great achievements of Dr Ambedkar is that it is aimed at distracting Dalit-Bahujans from the right path. And that Dalit-Bahujans don’t get inspiration from their own history and smash the upper caste hegemony. As Dr Ambedkar said, “Let the slave know that he is a slave and he’ll break the chains of slavery.”
It is no wonder that everyone called him ‘Babasaheb’, out of love and admiration. Bhimrao Ambedkar was the lion-hearted man who fought for equality, justice and humanity. Let’s pay homage to Dr Ambedkar and spread his ideas.
He who is not a slave of circumstances and is always ready and striving to change them in his favour, I call him free. One who is not a slave of usage, customs, of meaningless rituals and ceremonies, of superstitions and traditions; whose flame of reason has not been extinguished, I call him a free man.   –Dr  Babasaheb Ambedkar 

Educational Biography of Dr B. R. Ambedkar

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (MA., Ph.D., M.Sc., D.Sc., Barrister-at-Law, L.L.D., D.Litt)
1. Elementary Education, 1902 Satara, Maharashtra
2. Matriculation, 1907, Elphinstone High School, Bombay Persian etc.,
3. Inter 1909, Elphinstone College,BombayPersian and English
4. B.A, 1913, Elphinstone College, Bombay, University of Bombay, Economics & Political Science
5. M.A, 1915 Majoring in Economics and with Sociology, History Philosophy, Anthropology and Politics asthe other subjects of study.
6. Ph.D, 1917, Columbia University conferred a Degree of Ph.D.
7. M.Sc, 1921 June, London School of Economics, London. Thesis – ‘Provincial Decentralization of Imperial Finance in British India’
8. Barrister-at- Law 30-9-1920 Gray’s Inn, London Law
(1922-23, Spent some time in reading economics in the University of Bonn in Germany.)
9. D.Sc 1923 Nov London School of Economics, London ‘The Problem of the Rupee – Its origin and its solution’ was accepted for the degree of D.Sc. (Economics).
10. L.L.D (Honoris Causa) 5-6-1952 Columbia University, New York For HIS achievements, Leadership and authoring the constitution of India
11. D.Litt (Honoris Causa) 12-1-1953 Osmania University, Hyderabad For HIS achievements, Leadership and writing the constitution of India
Facts about Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar you should know –
Indians today are governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set in the preamble of the Constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion denies them. ~Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Every year on 26 January, we celebrate Constitution Day, also known as Samvidhan Divas, in India in honor of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the Architect of the Indian constitution.
Constitution Drafting Committee
Dr. Ambedkar
India obtained independence on 15 August 1947 as a constitutional monarchy with George VI as Head of State and the Earl of Mountbatten as its Governor-General. The country, though, did not yet had a constitution; instead, its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act of 1935. On 29 August 1947, a resolution was passed by the Constituent Assembly to appoint a Drafting Committee with seven members, including Dr. Ambedkar, for preparing a draft of the Constitution of independent India. It is said that when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel asked Sir Guor Jennings, an internationally-known constitutional expert of that time to draft the Constitution of India, he responded, “Why are you looking outside of India when you have within India an outstanding legal and constitutional expert in Dr. Ambedkar who ought to be entrusted with the role which you so badly need and which he so richly and rightly deserves?”
Committee Membership
Then Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar was appointed the Chairman of the Drafting Committee on 28 August 1947 because of his educational qualifications and deep knowledge, great command of the English language, and expertise in articulating the subject. Other members of the Drafting Committee were N. Goipalswami, Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyas, K.M. Munshi, Saijio Mola Saadulla, N. Madhava Rao and D.P. Khaitan.
Member Responsibilities
The workload of drafting the Constitution of India fell entirely on Dr. Ambedkar and required his full effort and concentration. The other members of the Constitution Committee did not participate for various reasons. Some resigned, some were in ill health, some were busy with political work in their respective States, some were traveling abroad, and so on. It is generally agreed that Dr. Ambedkar was the sole author of the Constitution of India. We Indians owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Ambedkar for such a perfect Constitution which is still in effect after 60 years of Indian Independence.
In his self-evaluation of his work, Dr. Ambedkar told the Assembly, “I do not want to say how good or bad is the Constitution. I feel that it is as much good as bad. It will be bad in the end when the ruling people/party are bad. It will be good in the end when the ruling people/party are good.”
Constitution Characteristics
The Constitution of any country is the basic, fundamental and first law of the country. All other laws of the country are derived within the framework of the Constitution. The Constitution must specify the organs of government, define the concepts of both popular and legal sovereignty, describe the means of its framing and the sources of its terms, and enumerate the fundamental rights of the people it would govern.
The Indian democracy has 4 pillars: the Legislature to make, amend and repeal the laws; the Executive to implement, execute and administer the laws; the Judiciary to interpret and enforce the laws and to administer justice; and the Media to inform the people about the working of their government.
Constituent Assembly
Manabendra Nath Roy had proposed the formation of a Constituent Assembly in 1934. This idea was mandated by the Indian National Congress in 1935 and accepted in August 1940. However, Dr. Ambedkar was against the proposals. He said, “I must state that I am wholly opposed to the proposals for a Constituent Assembly. It is absolutely superfluous. I regard it as a most dangerous project which may lead this country to a civil war. I do not see why a Constituent Assembly is at all necessary. It is quite obvious that the proposals for a Constituent Assembly are intended to win over the Congress. How do the proposals deal with the depressed classes? To put it briefly, they are bound to hand it over to the Hindu Castes. They offer the depressed classes nothing, stone instead of bread. The Constituent Assembly is nothing short of a betrayal of the depressed classes.”
Dr. Ambedkar’s election to the Constituent Assembly has been the most shocking and surprising event in the political history of India, At a time when Congress and Mr.Gandhi did not leave a single seat vacant for the Ambedkar to get elected at that time people of Bengal urged Dr.Ambedkar to contest the Constituent Assembly elections from Bengal.   Muslim League person who was supposed to get elected left his place for Babasaheb Ambedkar to contest and get elected. People of Namoshudra jati voted for Babasaheb and Mahapran Jogendranath Mandal campaigned for Babasaheb. This is how Basaheb got elected to the Constituent Assembly by stepping and crushing the strong opposition from Gandhi and Congress. This was possible for Babasaheb due to 26 years of struggle to create nationwide, countrywide agitation across India.
Mr. Churchill and Viscount Simon. Mr. Churchill observed that the Assembly, as it was meeting then, represented “only one major community in India”. Viscount Simon was more specific and referred to the Assembly as “a body of Hindus”. He went on further to ask “whether this meeting of Caste Hindus at Delhi can be regarded by the Government as the Constituent Assembly they meant at all”.
Dr. Ambedkar opposed and pressure from Britishers Congress given following membership to other religion people.Out of a total of 926 Members who were to take part in the preliminary session, 210 Members attended. These 210 Members consisted of 155 Hindus out of a total of 160, 30 Scheduled Caste representatives out of a total of 33, all the 5 Sikhs, 5 Indian Christians out of a total of 7, all the 5 representatives of Backward Tribes, all 3 Anglo-Indians, all 3 Parsis and 4 Muslims out of 80.
Assembly Membership
Two hundred seven members, including nine women, attended the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly in Constitution Hall on 9 December 1946. Honorable Members sat on green mats in concentric semi-circular rows facing the Presidential dais. Desks which could be warmed electrically were placed on sloping green-carpeted terraces. Those who occupied the front row were Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Acharya J.B. Kripalani, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Smt. Sarojini Naidu, Shri Hare-Krishna Mahatab, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Shri Sarat Chandra Bose, Shri C. Rajagopalachari and Shri M. Asaf Ali. All members of the Constituent Assembly accepted a Resolution of Objectives, on the basis of which Dr. Ambedkar was authorized to prepare the first draft of the Constitution.
The Constituent Assembly inaugural session started at 11AM with the introduction of Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, the temporary Chairman of the Assembly. Dr. Sachdhidananda Sinha was the first President of the Constituent Assembly. All-India Radio of Delhi broadcast a composite sound picture of the entire proceedings. All over the world, countries sent goodwill messages to India for the framing of the Constitution, and it was read by Mr. Sinha. After the Chairman’s inaugural address and the nomination of a Deputy Chairman, the members were formally requested to present their credentials. The First Day’s proceedings ended after all the 207 members present submitted their credentials and signed the Register. After the partition of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly.
Difficulty of Writing the Constitution of India
In India, caste discrimination is enforced by a caste system that is practiced in the name of God. It is difficult to make a Constitution for a people who believe in such a corrupt god, but Dr. Ambedkar did it. He wrote the Constitution based on Buddhism. Gautama Buddha was the first person in the history of mankind who has given the message of Love, Compassion, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Justice. Dr Ambedkar is called the Architect of India because he broke the caste system in the Constitution and gave equal rights to all Indians.
The Constitution Drafting Committee meetings lasted 114 days. Dr. Ambedkar worked on his draft for an additional two years, 11 months, and 18 days. He incurred 63 lakh, 96 thousand, 729 rupees in direct expenses. He responded to a total of 7635 notices regarding the framing of the Constitution. It was not easy to write the Constitution in a way that took into account the many religious groups so that all of the people would agree on the rules and laws. Dr. Ambedkar studied the minds and religions of all Indians. He was a visionary who wrote a Constitution that continues to serve us all beautifully even after 60 years.
Abuse of the Constitution
Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar was very sensitive and aware about the rights of minorities and backward people of this country. The Indian Constitution is based on “Justice, Equality and Fraternity.” The opening words of the Constitution of India are “We the People of India.” In a speech delivered in Siddharth College Bombay, Dr. Ambedkar said, “The idea of making a gift of fundamental rights to every individual is no doubt very laudable. The question is how to make them effective.” The prevalent view is that once the rights are enacted in law, then they are safeguarded. But as experience has proven, rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of the society. Conscience is the only safeguard of all rights.
Why do we see only Brahmins at higher posts in all Departments in all corners of India: Supreme Court, high courts, theater/cinema, IT firms and even in parliament? You can easily find the Brahmin at higher levels in all sectors. Why is this happening when the Constitution has guaranteed equality for all religions, castes, creeds and races of people? Why is there no growth in inclusiveness in this country? Why, after equality was granted in the Constitution, is there inequality everywhere?
Our Indian Constitution promises the Indian people that our society and Nation is based on Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Justice. The people who comprised the Constituent Assembly came from different religions and belief systems. The promises given in the Constitution were given in common to all the people. Even the oppressed classes and people who were poor accepted and believed that change would come through the Constitution.
When the Constitution was ratified on 26 January 1950, it was announced that independent India would be governed on the basis of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Justice. This was meant to give relief to the poor who were oppressed and abandoned by the higher castes. They were happy that soon their good days would come. These things were meant to give happiness to people of all religions of India.
In 1952, India held its first Parliamentary election, and all four pillars were captured by the Brahmins. Forty-seven percent of those elected to Parliament were Brahmins. The Indian independence movement was not meant to deliver the Parliament of India to the Brahmins. The four pillars of society were not fairly won – they were captured. Sixty percent of the ballots had been given to three percent of the people by Jawaharlal Nehru. So when we say we want to save our Constitution, we mean that there is a plan in place that is working to destroy our Constitution. Many people do not understand this conspiracy. If there were not a conspiracy, then there would be no need to talk about saving our Constitution. The people who are talking about making India a Hindu nation would give all rights to Brahmins in the name of Hindu.
It is a painful thing to witness for those who framed the Constitution. None of them guessed this thing would happen. Nobody believed this thing could happen in independent India. But it did happen and has been happening and is still happening to this day.
Man of the Millennium
In 1990, the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, was conferred upon Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is the architect of the Indian Constitution. The new Constitution is the result because of his hard work. His name shall be written in golden letters in history. He is a legend. Dr. Ambedkar’s name will always be associated with the Constitution of India and the existence of India as a nation.”

Ten Things about BR Ambedkar That You Probably Didn't Know

1: Dr. Ambedkar stood for Sanskrit as the official language of India.

This is not a well known fact, but it is a fact. In 2005, this was revealed by Chamu Krishna Shastry, a well known Sanskrit proponent in India. 
"Dr Ambedkar himself wanted to sponsor Sanskrit as the official languageof the Indian union along with his supporters Dr BV Keskar, deputy minister for external affairs, and Naziruddin Ahmed. He moved an amendment draft on September 10, 1949. The resolution had to be withdrawn due to political pressure."
Reference: Ambedkar wanted Sanskrit as official language

It is anyone's guess as to who might have exerted " political pressure" on Ambedkar in 1949 to withdraw that historic resolution, which could have changed India in an different direction. Ambedkar's strong support to Sanskrit is something to ponder upon, for those who consider Sanskrit as an "Aryan" language of upper castes, that should not be supported. 

2: Ambedkar is actually a Hindu Brahmin surname. 
Image from Wiki

Bhimrao's original surname wasAmbavadekar. It comes from his family's native village name in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, even though he was born in today's Madhya Pradesh region. In Marathi, it is a common practice to add "kar" to the village name as the surname. 

In this writeup in the Outlook, Smruti Koppikar describes how his favourite Hindu Brahmin teacher, Mahadev Ambedkar, changed his surname from 'Ambavadekar' to his own surname 'Ambedkar' in the school records. The respect Bhimrao had for his teacher Mahadev, ensured that his borrowed surname continued for rest of his life! It tells us that Bhimrao respected all castes - his fight was against caste discrimination, and not Hinduism or any particular caste. 

Reference: Bhimrao Sakpal Ambavadekar became Bhimrao Ambedkar 

3. Ambedkar's father was a Vegetarian

This one really surprised me. In the recent days, whenever there's a protest against ban on cow slaughter, you will invariably see an Ambedkar picture and beef eating "ceremonies".

But after reading Vikram Doctor's blog on the Economic Times, I stumbled upon two surprising details.    
"Nor is it correct to equate all upper-castes with vegetarianism and all Dalits with eating meat – Dr.Ambedkar’s father, for example, was vegetarian."
"I’m not sure if Dr.Ambedkar became vegetarian when he converted to Buddhism – Keer’s book doesn’t seem to make this clear and there is a surprising lack of other biographical material."
It looks like being a Kabir Panthi, Ambedkar's father Ramji was certainly a vegetarian and teetotaler. It also kind of implies that Babasaheb might have become a vegetarian coming from that family and also a vegetarian during the later part of his life. Something that needs a bit more research. And those who follow Ambedkar's path, this is something critical to ask - why was his father and (likely) himself vegetarian? 

Reference: The Dalit Meanings of Food

4. Nehru prevented Ambedkar from entering Lok Sabha. Jan Sangh got him to Rajya Sabha.

Ambedkar contested Lok Sabha election twice. Both times Nehru's Congress made sure that he was defeated. Babasaheb Ambedkar contested from Bombay North in the first Indian General Election in 1952 but lost to the Congress candidates Narayan Kajrolkar, who had been his assistant once. He tried to enter Lok Sabha again in 1954 when he contested the by-election from Bhandara but he was placed third in the ballot won by Congress. 
"In 1952, the Congress defeated Ambedkar in the parliamentary seat of Dadar in Bombay. It is strange that Jawaharlal Nehru did the sin of campaigning against Ambedkar during the elections.”
"The reason behind this was the Congress mentality of devaluing him. Later,the role played by Jan Sangh in getting him elected for Rajya Sabha from West Bengal is not hidden from anybody,” -  Arvind Menon, BJP.
So much for "love" of Ambedkar by Congress party.

Reference: Babasaheb was close to Jan Sangh, says BJP

5. Bhimrao's second wife was a Hindu Brahmin. 

Ambedkar met Dr. Sharada Kabir, a Saraswat Brahmin, when he needed medical treatment in the late 1940s. He married her on 15 April 1948, at his home in New Delhi. His first wife had passed away a decade ago. Doctors recommended that he needed a companion who was both a good cook and a possessor of medical knowledge and could thus take care of him. She adopted the name Savita Ambedkar and took care of him for the rest of his life.
Pic: photobucket
It is unfortunate that any political or NGO conversations regarding Ambedkar quickly turn into anti-Brahmin mode, when his borrowed surname is that of a Brahmin and his wife who served him during most needy years, was a Brahmin woman. 

6. Ambedkar was not against Hindutva or RSS. 

Ambedkar actually claimed Hindutva for the Dalits (untouchables or depressed classes) in 1927.
"Hindutva belongs as much to untouchable Hindus as to the touchable Hindus. The temples must be open for all. Efforts were made for the growth of Hindutva by Brahmins like Vasishta, Kshatriyas like Krishna, Vaishyas like Harsha and Shudras like Tukaram. The same amount of efforts for Hindutva were pitched in by untouchables (Dalits) like Valmiki (of Ramayana), Drishthara of Vyadha Gita, Chhokamela and Rohidasa. We have brave Sidnak Mahar kind of untouchable who fought for protection of Hindutva. Both touchable and untouchable Hindus have served the Hindu temples built in the names of Hindutva. So everyone has the right to enter them."

He also also praised Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar's efforts to eradicate caste discrimination in his Janata paper in 1933.
"Savarkar's efforts to uplift Dalits are as noble and effective as Gautama Buddha's" 
Ambedkar even visited RSS camp and praised them.
"Ever conscious of Hindu movements supporting Sanghatan – social solidarity, Dr.Ambedkar visited RSS camp in Pune in May 1939. He expressed his satisfaction: “I am surprised to find Swayamsevaks here moving about in absolute equality and brotherhood without even caring to know the castes of others."
7. Ambedkar's strong views on Muslim society's evils, Christianity and Partition of India.

When some Dalit youth were supporting the anti-India Razakars of Hyderabad after independence, Ambedkar told them not to take that path:
"Hyderabad state's scheduled castes must not support the Nizam or Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen under any circumstance. No scheduled caste member should join hands with anti India forces, bringing disrepute to their castes"

If you read Ambedkar's book, chapter 10, you would start seeing his absolutely rational arguments condemning the evils of Muslim society in pre-partitioned India.

Read chapter 10 for instance which has a sub title ;- Muslim Society is even more full of social evils than Hindu Society is.  
"the Muslim woman is the most helpless person in the world."
 "No words can adequately express the great and many evils of polygamy and concubinage, and especially as a source of misery to a Muslim woman. It is true that because polygamy and concubinage are sanctioned, one must not suppose they are indulged in by the generality of Muslims; still the fact remains that they are privileges which are easy for a Muslim to abuse to the misery and unhappiness of his wife."
"Take the caste system. Islam speaks of brotherhood. Everybody infers that Islam must be free from slavery and caste. Regarding slavery nothing needs to be said. It stands abolished now by law. But while it existed, much of its support was derived from Islam and Islamic countries.While the prescriptions by the Prophet regarding the just and humane treatment of slaves contained in the Koran are praiseworthy, there is nothing whatever in Islam that lends support to the abolition of this curse..... But if slavery has gone,  caste among Musalmans has remained. As an illustration one may take the conditions prevalent among the Bengal Muslims."
"There can thus be no manner of doubt that the Muslim Society in India is afflicted by the same social evils as afflict the Hindu Society. Indeed, theMuslims have all the social evils of the Hindus and something more. That something more is the compulsory system of purdah for Muslim women."
Regarding Pakistan, if you read the Chapter 14 of the same book, you can clearly see that he wanted transfer of Muslims to Pakistan (east and West) with non Muslims back to India from there.
What about its workability? The scheme is not new. It has been tried and found workable. It was put into effect after the last European War, to bring about a transfer of population between Greece and Bulgaria and Turkey and Greece. Nobody can deny that it has worked, has been tried and found workable. The scheme I have outlined is a copy of the same scheme. It had the effect of bringing about a transfer of population between Greece and Bulgaria and Turkey and Greece. Nobody can deny that it was [=has] worked with signal success. What succeeded elsewhere may well be expected to succeed in India.
The most recent Organiser special edition on Ambedkar notes his view about Christianity and Islam, and conversion in general:
Ambedkar was against Dalits converting to Christianity or Islam because he believed that “if the numbers of Muslims and Christians rise and it will cause danger to India.” 
8. Ambedkar's openly opposed Article 370 of Nehru's Congress, for Jammu and Kashmir. 

Ambedkar opposed Article 370 in the Constitution, which gives a special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and it was put against his wishes. Balraj Madhok reportedly said, Ambedkar had clearly told Sheikh Abdullah:-
"You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India. But Government of India should have only limited powers and Indian people should have no rights in Kashmir. To give consent to this proposal, would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do it."
Reference: Kashmir problem from Ambedkarite Perspective, by K Jamanadas.

9. Ambedkar was a confirmed enemy of Communists, in his own words!

Read this excerpt from a book on India.  
In another context, presiding over a District conference of the Depressed Classes at Masur in September 1937, Ambedkar declared that he was a confirmed enemy of the Communists who exploited the labourers for their political ends, and there was no possibility of joining them. 
Reference: Book Perfidies of Power: India in the New Millennium, by P Radhakrishnan, page 54.

10. Ambedkar warned India against China's aggression on Tibet and beyond. 

The Time issue dated October 22, 1951, noted:
Ambedkar is the first important Indian official who has openly attacked Nehru for being too friendly to China and not friendly enough to the US”.
On China he disagreed with the Tibet policy and the enunciation of Panchsheel. He said:-
 “If Mao had any faith in the Panchsheel, he certainly would treat the Buddhist in his own country in a very different way. There is no room for Panchsheel in politics”.
Reference: Ambedkar’s views on foreign policy, by Harish Parvathaneni  

Osho speaks on Dr. Ambedkar, Gandhi, and Dalits

In this speech, Osho higly praises Dr.Ambedkar and speaks on the injustice done to Dalits (Untouchables) in various fields. He says that there was no one equally intelligent to Dr.Amedkar in his time as far as constitutions were concerned. Osho also remembers the Poona Pact and criticizes Gandhi over his suicidal fast in order to achieve his goal. He calls the Gandhi’s fast as blackmail. Listen to know more.

What are the contributions of B. R. Ambedkar towards India?

He is not hyped but underrated. Lets look at his contributions other than reservation.

  • RBI was conceptualized by the guidelines from his book "Problem of Rupee; its origin and its solutions''.
  • Established finance commission of india.
  • To empower women at that time, presented Hindu Code Bill in parliament but it was opposed by almost every male member of parliament (including Nehru and Sardar Patel). If passed, it would have ended Saiti Pratha, Dowry system  in 1951 only. After the bill lapsed, he resigned. (the draft also included divorce rights to women, portions of inheritance to daughters, while giving widows complete property rights.)
  • As Labour Minister in the Viceroy’s Council, he successfully led the struggle for reduction of work from 12 hours a day to 8 hours in 1942. He contributed the idea of setting up of Employment Exchanges in India.
  • He was almost single handedly responsible for establishing the Central Technical Power Board, the National Power Grid System and the Central Water Irrigation and Navigation Commission.
  • He played an important role in the establishment of the Damodar Valley project, Hirakud project and Sone river project.
  • Rejected to draft article 370.
  • One of the most interesting proposals by him in the 1955 book "Thoughts on linguistic states'' was to split Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. He wanted Madhya Pradesh divided into northern and southern states.
    Bihar also was to be split into two, with Patna and Ranchi as the capitals. After a good 45 years, the split came with the formation of Chhattisgarh out of Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand out of Bihar in the year 2000.

Ambedkar and small states
Speech by the president of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee delivering Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture 2014 on ‘vision of India in 21st century, as envisaged by Dr. Ambedkar’

Problem of Rupee; its origin and its solutions by Dr. Ambedkar.

Role of Ambedkar in Upliftment of Dalitas in India!
Most social reformers during Ambedkar’s period talked about social reforms like abolition of sati, child marriage, female infanticide, imparting education to women, emphasis on widow remarriage, use of swadeshi, etc., instead of structural changes.
On 31 January 1920, he started a fortnightly newspaper, the Mooknayak (Leader of the Dumb), with the help of Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, a sympathizer of the cause for the upliftment of the depressed classes. The Maharaja also convened many meetings and conferences of the ‘untouchables’ which Bhimrao addressed. In July 1924, Ambedkar founded the ‘Bahishkrut Hitkaraini Sabha, to fight the evil of untouchability.
The Sabha started free school for the young and the old and ran reading rooms and libraries. Ambedkar took the grievances of the ‘untouchables’ to court, seeking justice and equality. Soon he became a father figure to the poor and downtrodden and was respectfully called Babasaheb.
In March 1927, attendees at a conference of the depressed classes held at Mahad, decided to implement the resolution passed four years ago to open public places to all regardless of religion, caste or creed by drinking from the ‘Chavdar Taley’ (Drinking- water Tank). They walked to the tank and drank water from its tank. In reaction to such an unexpected action, high caste Hindus attacked the Dalits and Ambedkar’s sup­porters; pulling down the conference pulpit, they threw away all the cooked food and broke all the vessels.
Ambedkar told his people to stay calm and not retaliate. Later, the same high caste Hindus performed rituals to ‘purify’ the ‘defiled’ water. Ambedkar vowed to offer a Satyagraha and re-establish his people’s right to use water from the same tank. However, after passage of time, the ‘Chavdar Taley’ water dispute that was referred to the Bombay High Court (1927) pronounced its final verdict in favor of the depressed classes.
On 25 December the same year, thousands responded to Ambedkar’s call. Speaker after speaker spoke, passions rose and the vast gathering waited for the Satyagraha to begin with intense anticipation. The Satyagraha was deferred when the matter was referred to the court.
At the end of conference, a copy of the Manusmriti, the age-old code of the Hindus that gave rise to the caste system, was ceremoniously burnt. In a thundering voice, Ambedkar demanded in its place a new smriti, a law code that is devoid of all social stratification. This act sent shockwaves throughout the nation, more so among the high caste Hindus.
Incidentally, Ambedkar made the controversial decision to co-operate with the all British Simon Commission that was to look into setting up a responsible Indian Government in India in 1929. The Congress decided to boycott the Commission and drafted its version of a constitution for free India.
The Congress version made no pro­visions for the depressed classes. Ambedkar became more sceptical of the Congress’s commitment to safeguard the rights of the depressed classes. He pressed for a separate electorate for the depressed classes. When a separate electorate (communal award) was announced for the depressed classes, Gandhiji went on a ‘fast onto death’ against this decision. Leaders rushed to Ambedkar to drop his programme. Ambedkar held counter fast, but did not buckle under the immense pressure from the Gandhians and others.
In consequence, on 24 September 1932, Ambedkar and Gandhiji signed the Poona Pact. According to the pact, the separate electorate demand was replaced with special concessions like ‘reserved seats’ in the regional legislative assemblies and Central Council of States. It was a major compromise that Ambedkar was compelled to make, as he regret­ted later on.
As part of his political activity, Ambedkar set up the Independent Labour Party in August 1936 to contest elections in the Bombay province. The British govern­ment held elections at the provincial level in 1937. On 17 February 1937, Ambedkar and many of his candidates won with a thumping majority, notwithstanding serious opposi­tion from potential rivals belonging to Congress and other parties.
Ambedkar also introduced bills in 1937 to abolish the khoti system of land tenure in the Konkan region, the serfdom of agricultural tenants and the Mahar watan system of working for the government as slaves. On 13 October 1935, at a conference at Nasik, Ambedkar reviewed the progress made on the condition of the ‘untouchables’ in the decade since Ambedkar started the agitation.
Ambedkar declared that their efforts had not borne the kind of results he had expected. He then made a dramatic appeal to the ‘untouchables’ encouraging them to forsake the Hindu religion and convert to a religion where they would be treated with equality. The nation was shocked.
However, on the request of Gandhi and other national leaders, Ambedkar postponed his decision for 15 years, anticipating some change in the upper caste perception of Dalits, but in vain. In May 1956, shortly before his death, Ambedkar announced that he was embracing Buddhism. With him his wife and some three lakh followers also converted to the faith.
Most social reformers during his period talked about social reforms like abolition of sati, child marriage, female infanticide, imparting education to women, emphasis on widow remarriage, use of swadeshi, etc., instead of structural changes.
According to Ambedkar, the irony was that these social reformers were unaware that these evils were offshoots of the caste structure. Ambedkar’s presentation demanded not only the power of articulation, but the ability to look at 3,000 years of social tyranny in the eye. In his time, there was a very small Dalit middle class and the Dalits were hardly present as a potential force. Ambedkar went ahead with the force of conviction that more than made up these shortcomings. Yet, he had the guts to launch a crusade without an intellectual base or the backing of a strong middle class.
Hence, what India needed was annihilation of the caste system and not social reforms. Second, these evils were not present among Dalits and shudras; hence, these reforms had nothing for them. As the caste institution affected Dalits differently, Ambedkar wanted to end the caste system itself. This could be done only by questioning the sanctity of Hindu sacred texts, institutionalizing inter- caste marriages and inter-dining, and dismantling the hereditary priesthood.
Another structure that Ambedkar questioned and wanted dismantled was the Indian regimented village system. He faced scathing criticism for ignoring the village as the unit of administration in the draft Constitution. Why was the Constitution not being raised and built upon the village panchayats? His critics wanted India to contain many village governments.
Ambedkar showed the real image of Indian villages to the Constituent Assembly by stating that Indian villages were devoid of equality, liberty and fraternity, and hence of democracy. To quote him: It is the very negation of republic. If it is a republic, it is a republic of touchable, by the touchable and for the touchable.
The republic is an empire of the Hindus over the untouchables’, said Ambedkar. That is why he pleaded that the individual should be considered as the unit of the Constitution, which was happily accepted. How can one ignore Ambedkar’s contribution towards the nation as whole, when 70 per cent of India’s population still lives in villages?
Ambedkar’s major contribution towards reconstituting the Indian social structure was dismantling the hierarchical Indian society based on astrictive and particularistic cultural traits and establishment of parliamentary democracy. He saw that democracy would ensure equality, liberty, fraternity, prosperity and happiness to common man. Therefore, he emphasized that social and economic democracies are sine qua non for a successful political democracy. But, he cautioned against leaders taking a superficial view of democracy.
He was against treating constitutional morality, adult suffrage and frequent elections as the be all and end all of democracy, because even Western thinkers had made the same mistake. Parliamentary democracy collapsed in Italy, Germany and Russia in the twentieth century because it could not create a government of the people or by the people; it was producing government of the hereditary ruling class.
Real democracy, according to Ambedkar, would lead to the governing class losing power. His vision is bearing fruit today, when one finds the subaltern classes, the Dalits and the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) who have never tasted power, in the corridors of power.
Ambedkar envisaged establishment of equality, social, economic and political, not just as a slogan but also as a concrete policy. He made equality of opportunity a funda­mental right. But, he was conscious that in an unequal society, equality of opportunity could lead to further production of inequality because those groups which were already ahead in the social ladder would always have an advantage.
Therefore, Ambedkar also enshrined ‘equality of condition in the Indian Constitution. This condition was nothing but reservations for the Dalits. With these measures, he possibly wanted to change the composition of the institutions of power with representation of marginalized sections.
But when one observes the output of these policies for equality, one sees that there is a lot to be done and that there is still a wide gap. For, the marginalized sections lag far behind despite their modest mobility. Can a strong nation be built if a quarter of its population is still lagging behind? Till this population is left behind, Ambedkar and his vision will remain relevant. Finally, Baba Saheb Ambedkar has more ideological fol­lowers than any leader born in the last 1,000 years. There are more statues and busts of Ambedkar than any individual born after Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ.
But still, Dalits had to wage a battle to get Ambedkars writings published by the Maharashtra government. Thus, 16 volumes of Ambedkars writings and speeches came to light very late, in the late 1980s and 1990s. However, Ambedkar and his works have emerged as an important symbol of the Dalit movement, and thus difficult to ignore in the recent times.

Let's help realise the vision of Ambedkar for Dalits

As the nation pays tribute to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on his birth anniversary (April 14), one would realise that much more remains to be done to achieve his aim of social equality for the suppressed classes. A principal architect in drafting the Constitution, he made significant efforts at giving political rights and social freedom to Dalits. However, till date, members of Schedule Castes continue to face caste biases.
Dr. Ambedkar had a first-hand experience of untouchability in school, where he was segregated from caste Hindus. He was allowed to drink water from vessel only if it was poured from a height by the peon. In his biography, he spoke of school days when he would not drink water as very often the peon intentionally became unavailable.
Even today, there are instances where Dalit children are made to sit separately for the mid-day meal. Also, in some places students belonging to caste Hindus refuse to eat the food cooked by the ‘lower caste’ people. In a few districts of Madhya Pradesh, Dalit children are reportedly served food from a distance. Such caste biases in school will not only deprive these children of education but also fill their minds with pessimism about society at a tender age. Dr. Ambedkar throughout his life advised Dalits to get educated before agitating for their rights.
Data from the House listing & Housing Census 2011 highlight the continued injustice done to Dalits through the demeaning practice of manual scavenging. These workers collect human excreta with their brooms and tinplate and carry it for disposal. This work division continues based upon the traditional Hindu social order, which assigns to the Dalits the dirty, mean jobs. Dr. Ambedkar said that “in India, a man is not a scavenger because of his work. He is a scavenger because of his birth irrespective of the question whether he does scavenging or not.”
A depressing fact as revealed in the 2011 census data on households is that an estimated 8 lakh people are traditionally engaged in manual removal of night soil — a great embarrassment to the State governments that are still in denial mode. Dr. Ambedkar’s efforts to root out such caste biases were perceived to be advanced by Mayawati, who eventually became Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. However, the census data show that Uttar Pradesh continues to have the dubious distinction of leading the list with approximately 3.2 lakh people still involved in manually removing human waste.
The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act in 1993 has provision for punishment, including fine, for employing scavengers or constructing dry toilets. However, manual scavengers are continued to be employed to this day by municipalities, the Railways and defence establishments. The UPA government, on the advice of the National Advisory Council, has recognised manual scavenging as a social problem rather than as a sanitation issue and is looking for ways to stop the abhorrent practice.
Dr. Ambedkar is considered the messiah for his efforts to bring equal opportunity and social justice to the marginalised communities. A real tribute to the great leader would be to continue with his efforts of empowering the Scheduled Castes and helping them overcome the vicious cycle of caste and cultural barrier, rather than merely offering flowers to his statue on his birth and death anniversaries.

Why Babasaheb Married a Brahmin

Many Dalit intellectuals have burnt a lot of midnight oil trying to analyze why our saviour Babasaheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar married Mai Savitha Ambedkar, a chitpavan brahmin from Maharashtra. Did Babasaheb fall a prey to the Brahmin conspiracy. Many of my dalit brothers and writers in Maharashtra hint that there is a conspiracy from the brahmins. Some of the upper caste people laugh at this. Some of their twice born intellectuals even claim that Babasaheb wanted a trophy Brahmin wife. How true are all these. Why have we dalits come to such a stage that we are even questioning our leader. Do these people think that they are more intelligent than Babasaheb, the most revolutionary leader since Gautama Buddha.
Babsaheb can never be wrong. There is a message in each and every action of his life. Babasaheb by Marrying the doctor brahmin Mai Ambedkar has shown us that even women in Brahmin community is oppressed and the only way they can be saved is to get them out of their jati. Brahmin women are also Dalits in a way. Brahmin women are the biggest victim of Brahmin conspiracy. Manu treats women like filth, even brahmin woman. Out dalit women are much more free than the brahmins. They dont become untouchable during menstruation. They work in the fields and they cook.
If you want to finish the brahmins then marry the Brahmin women. Dalits should marry Brahmin women and take them out of their varna. Then Brahmins the micro minority 3 percent population of india will have no women left to marry and breed. They will die a natural death and become extinct. Look at the genius of Ambedkar. Without understanding Ambedkar’s genius all these so called Dalit intellectuals are making all kinds of noise and falling prey to manuwadi agendas. Remmber manuwadis beleive what they want to believe and they make you believe what they want you to believe.
Educate, Organize and Agitate – Jai Bhim
Here Is Why All The Dr Ambedkar’s Statues In Tamil Nadu Are Being Put In Cages
Even after entering the 70th year of Independence, India still finds itself unable to shed the identity of being a caste-ridden society. And when the intolerance reaches a stage where not only the people, but even the statues feel unsafe, it is a definite sign that terms like justice, equality, secular and fraternity mentioned in our Preamble are in grave danger.
Source: slideshare.net
Dr B. R. Ambedkar was one of the most scholarly leaders of India and the founding father of our constitution - the world's lengthiest written constitution. Regarded as modern Manu, he advocated equality in the society and asserted that India cannot achieve the status of a developed society if it does not learn to treat its citizens equally. He worked for the rights of Dalits and ensured that the law provides them with equal opportunity and justice against oppression.
Source: Wikipedia
But, despite the constitution providing equal rights to everyone in our country, the fact does not seem to resonate with the dominant castes of Tamil Nadu. Over the years, there have been incidents where Dalit opponents garlanded Dr Ambedkar's statue with slippers, provoked violence and riots by cutting the statue's head off and other similar actions to disturb the harmony.
The intolerance towards Dalits in Tamil Nadu is such that people from dominant caste groups do not shy from demanding laws protecting Dalits against atrocities to be toned down. There are still some villages that don't allow Dalits to enter Hindu temples or use the community wells.

How is the authority expected to act in this case?

In a rather cowardly way adopted by the Tamil Nadu government to ensure that offenders do not disregard the revered leader and sentiments of people again, the officials have put the statues in cage.
Source: bbc.com
It has also been reported that no action was taken against the offenders. Also, from among 15 judicial enquiries into incidents of atrocities against Dalits since 1956, no one has been punished.
Source: bbc.com
As the political scientist C Lakshman said on the issue, "This is Tamil Nadu's biggest shame. It shows the complete failure of the state to protect the Dalits. The state is increasingly succumbing to caste barbarity."

Incidents like this shake the hollow pride that we take in being a country with unity in diversity.

Ambedkar's Mission and Deeds: Their Long Term Effect on India 
by Mahesh Chandra Dewedy   

"Civilization has never been a continuous process. There were states and societies which at one time been civilized. In the course of time something happened which made these societies stagnant and decayed. This could be illustrated by India's history itself. There could be no doubt that of all countries which could boast of ancient civilization is India. When the inhabitants of Europe were living under the barbaric conditions, this country had reached the highest peak of civilization and had parliamentary institutions when people of Europe were mere nomads." - B. R. Ambedkar

Greatness of a great person can be measured by the relation between what one professes and what is the truth, what one professes and how much of it one applies to oneself, and what effect one's words and deeds have on the society at large. In order to enhance human wisdom it is imperative that we keep on assessing the greatness of the great men of the past- not with intent to idolize, glamorize or demean them, but to unravel the hidden truths, if any, and to gauge the long term effects of that person's deeds on society. This historical wisdom shows the path of progress to the new generations and gives them opportunity to choose their ideals. This analytical wisdom is also necessary to prevent the stagnation and decay of a society- as stated above by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar about the ancient Indian civilization. Baba Sahab had his mahanirvan on December 6, 1956, and today after 43 years of his passing away, it is high time we attempt an assessment of the effect of thoughts and deeds of one of the greatest sons of the country.

The latter half of the 19th century can be indisputably credited with giving birth to some of the greatest sons to mother India, who rose and shone like shining stars during the 20th century in the otherwise dark skies of the country. During this period the resurgence of feelings of patriotism, nationalism and societal justice and efforts to translate those feelings into action was unique and unparalleled. Baba Sahab Bhimrao Ambedkar was one of the brightest stars among them and despite having been born in the most under-privileged circumstances, he grew brighter and brighter with age and illuminated the minds of millions with truth- even if harsh and unpalatable.

He was a multi-faceted personality and due to his sharp intellect, clarity of vision, integrity of thought and unadulterated courage to speak the truth he excelled in all fields that he chose to tread in. Justice K. Ramaswamy had aptly summarized his persona in his article titled 'B. R. Ambedkar: A Multidimensional Personality' in the following words,
"To put in a nutshell, Ambedkar is a prolific writer, a renowned economist, an assiduous anthropologist and sociologist, an eminent constitutional lawyer, a foremost social reformer, a profound thinker like Martin Luther to Protestant Christians, the brightest star and jewel of India. He was a profound thinker like Karl Marx, and Rousseau and that tribe, profound visionary and a nationalist to the core….. He had shown that birth in penury would stand no handicap for anyone dedicated to scale the heights of intellectual excellence by dint of hard work, assiduity, courage of intellectual conviction, honesty and relentless pursuit."
Vijaya Chintaman Sonawane has attributed to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar the greatest quality of humanism in the following words,
"There are two fundamental types of human nature- creative and possessive. Creative humans use human intellect for creative endeavors which enrich human thought, knowledge and wealth; thereby contribute to the development of human heritage for the posterity. Possessive people, on the other hand, do not believe in the use of human intellect for creative purpose. Rather, they believe in appropriation, amassing and even usurpation of the products of the labor of the creative people. This type of people possess a strong urge to become the governing class by all means in order to achieve their aims. Lesser the degree of civilization in the society, greater is the probability of succeeding this type of people in becoming the governing class. ….. Karl Marx has scientifically analyzed this conflict by applying the principles of dialectical materialism to the sphere of social phenomenon and described it as the historical materialism." - (Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as a Humanist)
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar obviously and eminently belonged to the 'Creative' class.

A deep probe into Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's personal life, his mission in life and his deeds would reveal that during his lifetime he had been under-studied and under-rated. His greatness is percolating gradually in the minds of the people of this country and abroad. His sympathy towards downtrodden and untiring efforts to ameliorate their condition were beyond comparison. All right thinking Indians accept him to be an intellectual giant, an accomplished economist, a social scientist, jurist and humanist. He was the prime architect of our Constitution.

However, it would be an affront to the wisdom of future generations to state that there were no infirmities in his perceptions and projections; and whatever he thought, said or did and the consequences thereof, could not be subjected to scrutiny. So the need of the hour is to develop the incisive wisdom of a historian as defined by Baba Sahab Ambedkar himself,

"A historian ought to be exact, sincere and impartial; free from passion, unbiased by internal resentment or affection; and faithful to the truth, which is the mother of history, the enemy of oblivion, the witness of the past, and the director of the future."
 Early Life

Ambedkar had to go through almost every circumstance that would pull down an ordinary ascending mortal to the ground. He was born in an untouchable family, his mother had died at his tender age of six years, he was married at an early age and he had to face penury as his father had retired a few years after his birth and had remarried. The incidents that made him realize that he was untouchable and so below the status of even the cattle were too frequent and too painful in his life. To quote one among them: one day he was caught drinking water from a public water course and was thrashed badly for the same. Because of these reasons and psychological reactions thereof, he had not done too well in the High School examination and had barely managed to pass the examination, yet he had an unquenchable thirst to read and sensing this his father decided to pursue his studies further. Fortunately, the benevolent Maharaja of Baroda, highly impressed with the intellect of Bhim, sanctioned scholarship to him, which took him to the land of opportunities, i.e. United States of America for higher studies.

During these formative years what distinguished Ambedkar from others was his doggedness to overcome the adversity. He was deeply affected by insults hurled on him due to his caste, but they did not make him sulk and shy away from understanding the deep-rooted causes of them and then openly condemning them and exhorting his fellow beings to rise against them. Even as a small child he was undaunted. One day he was challenged by his classmate to go to school without umbrella and he took up the gauntlet and went to school in soaking rain and chill. Even Pendse, who was a Brahmin teacher, was deeply moved and asked his son to take him home to get him dry and provide a cloth to cover his body.

He had wide vision of life and such an audacity to overcome adversities that the bitterness of his experiences in life only made him stronger and stronger to strive for the annihilation of their causes. His is a saga of development of one's personality in geometrical progression. His desire and earnestness to strive for welfare of mankind despite obstacles and risks is exhibited in his own words :

"One who has striven neither for his own welfare nor for that of others, i. e., neither for his own liberty and equality, nor for that of others, is a worthless person. He is useless to the world. And he is useless to himself. One who has fought for the liberty and equality of others at the cost of his own life is both excellent and eminent. But in the case of the person who has striven both for his own welfare, liberty and equality and for that of others is the best man, a person of highest virtues."  - (The Buddha and his Dhamma)

Although being a genius Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had pertinent views on many subjects, all of which cannot be discussed in a short article like this. Hence, an attempt will be made here to deliberate on some of his more famous pronouncements and acts.

Religion and Rationality: Dr. Ambedkar's views on religion and its applicability to our lives put him in the category of the greatest rationalists and humanists that the world has ever produced. To quote a few of them:

" Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills the responsibility which is an essence of a true religious act…Sovereignty of scriptures of all religions must came to an end if we want to have a united integrated India."

History of religions reveals that there is no doubt that it is the sovereignty of scriptures which has been the cause of many wars, terrorist acts and senseless killings of innocent people throughout the world.

Yet Dr. Ambedkar considered religion necessary for peaceful and progressive existence of society and declared, 

"Some people think that religion is not essential to the society. I do not hold this view. Foundations of religion are essential to the society… At the roots of Hindu social system lies dogma prescribed in the Manusmriti. Such being the case I do not think it is possible to abolish inequalities in the Hindu society unless foundation of the Smriti religion is removed and a better one laid in. I, however, despair of Hindu society, being able to reconstruct itself on such a better foundation."

This despair of Dr. Ambedkar had real foundations is no secret to any dispassionate observer of Hindu society.

Annihilation of Castes
For the sake of solidarity and unity in the country Dr. Ambedkar desired a social union as much as a political union in the Indian society. He was aware of the fragility of a political union sans social union and stated that,

"Without social union, political unity is difficult to be achieved. It would be as precarious as a sapling, liable to be uprooted by the gust of a hostile wind....A political majority grows. A communal majority is born. The admission to a political majority is open. The door to communal majority is closed. The politics of political majority is free to all to make or unmake. The politics of communal majority is made by its own members born in it."

Dr. Ambedkar was clear in his mind that so long as there are castes in Hinduism, the social unity cannot be achieved. His treatise on annihilation of caste is superb in its analysis of the caste system and desirability to abolish the castes in order to bring social unity. He wrote,

"The idea of hoping to remove untouchability without destroying the caste system is an utter futility. The underlying idea that caste and untouchability are two different things is founded on a fallacy. The two are one and are inseparable. ... The untouchability will vanish only when the whole of the Hindu social order, particularly the caste system, will be dissolved. ... Nothing can be built on the foundations of caste. Neither a nation, nor a morality. Anything built on the foundations of caste will crack and will never be a whole. Caste prevents mobilization. Indeed, the destiny of a defeat which has been the lot of India throughout history is due to caste."

Emancipation of Dalits: Acquisition of Power 

The most eminent mission of DR. Ambedkar's life was undoubtedly the unshackling of the bondages and upliftment of the depressed castes among Hindus. He was of the view that this is possible only through attainment of political power. Addressing a depressed class Railway Workmen conference in 1938 he had advised his brethren,

"You must abolish your slavery yourselves. Do not depend for its abolition on God or supermen. Your salvation lies in political power and not in making pilgrimages and observance of fasts. Devotion to scriptures would not free you from your bondage, want and poverty. Your forefathers have been doing it for generations, but there has been no respite, nor even a slight difference in your miserable life in any way. Like your forefathers you wear rags. Like them you subsist on thrown out crumbs; and like them you fall easy victims to diseases with a death rate that rages among poultry. Your religious fasts, austerities, and penances have not saved you from starvation. ... In short law is the abode of all worldly happiness. You capture the power of law-making. It is , therefore, your duty to divert your attention from fasting, worship and penance and apply it to capturing law-making power. That way lies your salvation. That way will end your starvation. Remember that it is not enough that a people are numerically in majority. They must be always watchful, strong, well-educated and self-respecting to attain and maintain success. ... We want our own people- people who will fight tooth and nail for our interest and secure privileges for under-privileged, people who will undo the wrongs done to our people, people who will redress our grievances fearlessly, people who can think, lead and act, people with principles and character- should be sent to legislatures. We must send such people to legislatures who will be subservient to none but remain free to their conscience and get our grievances redressed, ... The mission of our movement is to fight out tyranny, injustice and false traditions, and undo all privileges and release the harassed people from bondage."

And in order to emphasize this point he went to the extent of openly declaring,

"Attempts to uplift my community rather than win Swaraj for the nation is my goal."

Dr. Ambedkar was as much a doer as a thinker and he fiercely and ceaselessly fought for capture of this law-making power by the depressed classes. He organized Mahad satyagrah inspite of great risk to himself personally and to the members of his community. He fought for separate electorate for the depressed classes as he thought that the representatives elected by joint electorate would not whole-heartedly fight for the cause of Dalits. Due to Mahatma Gandhi's fast unto death against the communal award, Dr, Ambedkar did not succeed in securing a separate electorate for the Dalits, yet he got more seats for Dalits by way of reservations in legislature. As chairman of the committee to draft the Indian constitution, he ensured provision of reservation in legislature for 10 years (initially). Moreover, reservation in recruitment of scheduled castes/scheduled tribes to various services was also provided in the Constitution. This ensured entry of Dalits in the administrative machinery which implements the policies of the government. This machinery, although not in law but in practice, greatly influences the political leadership in the government in forming its policies.

Change of Religion

Dr. Ambedkar, who had suffered the indignities and disadvantages thrust on him for having been born an untouchable Hindu, had fearlessly and unequivocally denounced its such tenets which created exploitative inequality among various castes and exhorted the depressed classes to change their religion in the following words:

"Religion is for man and not man for religion. If you want to organize, consolidate and be successful in this world, change this religion. The religion that does not recognize you as a human being, does not give you water to drink, or allow you to enter into temples is not worthy to be called a religion. The religion that forbids you to receive education, and comes in the way of your material advancement is not deserving of appellation 'religion'. The religion that does not teach its followers to show humanity in dealing with coreligionists is nothing but a display of force.  ... The religion that compels ignorant to be ignorant and the poor to be poor is not a religion but a visitation." 

Yet, as he was a true nationalist and had incisive wisdom to foresee the effect of dogmas of various religions, he was appalled on hearing that the scheduled castes were not allowed to come to Hindustan from newly created Pakistan and were being forcibly converted to Islam. Inspite of his disaffection with Hinduism, he advised his people:

"I would like to tell the scheduled castes who happen today to be impounded inside Pakistan to come over to India by such means as may be available to them. The second thing I want to say is that it would be fatal for the scheduled castes, whether in Pakistan or in Hyderabad, to put their faith in Islam or the Muslim League. It has become a habit with the scheduled castes to look upon the Muslims as their friends simply because they dislike Hindus. This is a mistaken view."

' He warned the Scheduled castes in Hyderabad not to side with the Nizam and bring disgrace upon the community by siding with one who was the enemy of India.' - (The Free Press Journal, 28 November 1947)

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was brought up in a Hindu family and according to Hindu traditions. In his heart of hearts he was a religious person. He criticized- and later condemned- Hinduism for the inbuilt graded inequality in its caste system; yet, it is interesting to observe that he did not change his religion till the fag end of his life. Apparently, he converted to Buddhism on 14th Oct. 1956 mainly because of the obstinacy of upper castes in not assimilating the Dalits among them on equal terms. 

Ambedkar and Future of Indian Society 
Ambedkar's writings, exhortations, untiring efforts and his inputs in the Indian constitution have undoubtedly had tremendous effect in raising the self-pride, aspirations, status and desire to unshackle themselves from the age-old bondages of the depressed classes. They have also helped in material advancement of some of them, who are proving to be role models for others to follow. Reservations for Scheduled Caste/ Schedule Tribes in recruitment and promotions in government services have ensured their easy entry into the bureaucracy. Many literary, social and political groups have been formed among Dalits to further the cause espoused by Ambedkar and to capture political power. Special provisions for S. Cs./S. Ts. in education have vastly helped in increasing their enrolment at primary level as well as in providing higher education to them. Among various government services S.C./S.T. groups and unions have also come up which are very active in furthering the interests of schedule caste/schedule tribe employees: Bamsafe and DS-4 are noteworthy among them. Propelled by the government officials covertly and overtly, the conversion of S. Cs. to Buddhism is gaining momentum day by day. Lately, Ambedkar's ideas are reported to be influencing some disadvantaged groups in western countries also. For example, the Romas Of Hungary, who are stereotyped as thieves and criminals by other Europeans, are reportedly organizing themselves under the influence of Ambedkarites.

Therefore, it can be confidently concluded today that Dr. Ambedkar has succeeded greatly in his mission 'to uplift his community.' However, a fair critique of the effect of Dr. Ambedkar's labors on the future of the nation as a whole requires consideration of many other factors and circumstances.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had proclaimed, 'Attempts to uplift my community rather than win Swaraj for the nation is my goal.' There is no doubt that the then Hindu society provided enough grounds for an angry Dalit to prefer liberation from the shackles of caste over attainment of Swaraj for the nation, yet one cannot overlook the truth that without Swaraj the condition of neither the Dalits nor others would have improved substantially. Even if British conceded to pass laws granting social equality and reservation in legislature and government services to Dalits, the country would not have progressed enough economically to bring any substantial change in the education, occupation and status of Dalits. Moreover the bondage of foreign yoke would have kept them- along with others- servile and lacking in self-pride. The truth is that Swaraj for which the nation's heroes fought and democracy which Gandhi and Nehru cherished have been almost exclusively responsible for bringing the sea change in the life, thinking and status of Dalits. Any effort, howsoever mighty, would not have produced even a fraction of that result. 

Dr. Ambedkar wanted implementation of communal award and separate electorate for Dalits as he had his reasons for not trusting upper caste voters to send such representatives to the legislature as would speak for the welfare of Dalits. Although, in order to save fasting Mahatma's life, he had relented on this issue, but later he criticized Mahatma's 'dubious' ways of pressurizing him. His followers term Mahatma's tactics as 'Kshadyantra against the Dalits'. However, today the efficacy- or the absence thereof- of separate electorate can be seen in Pakistan, where Hindus have a separate electorate. The truth is that Hindus there have little or no voice in governance, which has resulted in their systematic dwindling in number as well as social status. A separate electorate necessarily generates a feeling of being a separate nation; and Mahatma Gandhi rightly apprehended such a consequence, if separate electorates on caste/communal lines were granted.

Dr. Ambedkar was all for annihilation of castes, which is certainly necessary to bring social equality and unity. Yet, he made provisions in the Constitution for reservations in legislature and government services on the basis of caste alone. How can caste be abolished so long as this remains the sole basis for grabbing power and jobs? The truth is that such caste-based reservations have divided the entire society and the bureaucracy in competing caste groups, which care more for their castes than for public good. Further, more and more castes are competing fiercely for inclusion in the most beneficial reservation-list irrespective of any ground reality with respect to their eligibility for the same. Fight between Minas and Gujars in Rajasthan, inclusion of Jats among O. B. Cs. in U. P. and recommendation of previous U. P. Government to include many more castes in the Scheduled Caste List are some of the glaring examples. Unfortunately, these caste divisions have sprung some of the most corrupt self-seeking politicians and bureaucrats to prominence. Thus, it is obvious that Dr. Ambedkar's labors have resulted in just the opposite of what he cherished, i. e., annihilation of castes and bringing social unity.

Dr. Ambedkar had rightly apprehended, 

'This urge for self- realization in the down-trodden classes must not be allowed to develop into a class struggle or class war. It would lead to a division of the House. That would indeed be a day of disaster. For, as has been well said by Abraham Lincoln, a house divided against itself cannot stand very long.' 

And in order to fulfill that urge of self-realization and to bring liberty, equality and fraternity among the depressed classes, he exhorted them to convert to Buddhism. He himself also changed his religion to became a Boddh. However, any serious reader of history of nations and any observer of present day communal conditions in various nations would readily agree that mass conversion of nearly one fourth S. Cs./ S. Ts. to Buddhism would sooner or later make a recipe for this nation to become a house divided, which is ultimately a recipe for disaster according to Dr. Ambedkar himself. After all is said and done, there is no doubt that the most powerful element in a nation's unity has been religion. When conversion of S. Cs./S. Ts. to Buddhism is completed, the composition of Indian society will be about 25% Buddhists, about 20 % Muslims, about 10% others and about 45 % Hindus. Which nation in the world with such a religious composition has existed peacefully? Iraq, Ireland, Sri Lanka, many African nations, erstwhile Spain, etc. are glaring examples of unrest caused by religious disunity in their population. India itself got divided in 1947 only because Muslims had become a very substantial minority here. So, given the momentum with which conversions are taking place, we shall not only be a house divided but may also become a country divided within this century.

The genius and genuineness of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is beyond question and beyond compare and so are his success in his mission to uplift the Dalits; the consequences of his more noteworthy actions, although unintended, will most likely prove to be divisive and disastrous for this nation in the long run.
  1. Dr.Ambedkar: Life and Mission - Dhananjay Keer
  2. B.. R. Ambedkar: Life Work and relevance - Edited by M. L. Ranga
  3. Ambedkar and Nation Building - Shyam Lal & K. S. Saxena
  4. Life and Works of B. R. Ambedkar- S. R. Sharma
  5. B. R. Ambedkar- His thoughts and Observations - S. N. Mandal
  6.  B. R. Ambedkar- A vision of Man and Morals -DR. D. R. Jatava
  7.  Internet information on B. R. Ambedkar
  8.  Ambedkar's speech, Janata, Nov, 20, 1937
  9.  The Bahishkrit Bharat
  10. The Free Press Journal
  11. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: writing and Speeches
  12.  Ambedkar, B. R., "Castes in India - Their Mechanism, Genesis, and Development
  13.  Annihilation of caste- B.R. Ambedkar
  14.  The Buddha and his Dhamma - B. R. Ambedkar
  15.  Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as Humanist - Vijay Chintaman Sonavane  

-Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s Role In Women Empowerment

I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

A woman is the full circle within her is the power to create, nurture and transform – Diane Mariechild

In ancient India, women enjoyed a very high position but gradually their position degenerated into merely objects of pleasure meant to serve certain purpose. They lost their individual identity and even their basic human right. Empowerment is a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and multi-layered concept. Women’s empowerment is a process in which women gain greater share of control over resources material, human and intellectual like knowledge, information, ideas and financial resources like money - and access to money and control over decision-making in the home, community, society end nation, and to gain ‘power’. According to the Country Report of Government of India, “Empowerment means moving from a position of enforced powerlessness to one; of power”. But, from time immemorial, the women in this land of ours were treated as a sort of thing. Her placing in the society was not at par with other human beings. She has no rights. She cannot move nor do anything at her will. In Hindu Shastras, she has been branded just like animals or some Objects of enjoyment. From the verses of Ramayana as written by Tulsi Das, Dhol, ganwar, shudra, pashu, naari - Ye sab tadan ke adhikari”, In ‘Manusmriti’ the ancient Hindu Code-book, the status granted to women is quite visible and she was put to the lowest rug of humanity as she was treated at par with the animals and slave by the proprietors of Hindu Dharma. Such was the placement earmarked to our mothers, sisters and even great grand mothers that humanity was ashamed of. That is why Dr. Ambedkar, the father and architect of Indian Constitution, was of the firm opinion that until and unless, we defy the Hindu Dharma-Shastras, nothing much can be changed. In the name of sanskaras, the Hindu women are tied to bondages of superstitions, which they carry till their death. They are also responsible for inculcating certain wrong notions learnt through baseless traditions and preaching of the Shastras, in the budding minds of their offspring.

Dr. B.R Ambedkar Towards The Empowerment Of Indian Women

The operations of caste both at the systemic level and at the functioning of patriarchy, the growing caste / class divide in feminist political discourse makes Ambedkar’s view on women's oppression, social democracy, caste and Hindu social order and philoshopy, significant to modern Indian feminist thinking. Although Ambedkar proved, himself to be a genius and was known as a great thinker, philosopher, revolutionary, jurist – par excellence, prolific writer, social activist and critic and strode like a colossus in the Indian sociopolitical scene unto his death, his thoughts never received adequate attention in the generality of Indian society just because he was born as an untouchable. However, the contemporary social realities warrant close examination of the wide range of his topics, the width of his vision, the depth of his analysis, and the rationality of his outlook and there essential humanity of his suggestions for practical action. Hence, for Indian women’s movement Ambedkar provides a powerful source of inspiration to formulate a feminist political agenda which simultaneously addresses the issues of class, caste and gender in the contemporary sociopolitical set up, which still keeps conservative and reactionary values in many respects, particularly on gender relations. The writings and Speeches of Ambedkar show what values India should develop and how they would modernize its social and political institutions. Ambedkar saw women as the victims of the oppressive, caste- based and rigid hierarchical social system.


It is true that great men do not demand rights they do their duties. But for Ambedkar, this is hardly true in respect of the general masses. The rights of the upper castes are automatically protected, but not of the poor classes. The poor masses must have specific rights, otherwise they would be exploited and opposed by the clever and shrewd persons. The Hindu ideal of duties under the Varna-Vyavastha has developed only as a means of exploitation and oppression. It is a system which deadens, paralyes and crippled the people from which useful activity, and also prevents them form eretivity. 
Ambedkar made some memorable speeches in the Round Table conference. He placed the view point of the depressed classes and pleaded for Dominion Status. His speeches created a good impression upon the British public. He served on a number of important sub-committees and prepared scheme of political safeguards far the protections of depressed classes in the future constitution of a self governing India. Ambedkar also advocated the immediate introduction of adult franchise.

Ambedkar was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India by the members of West Bengal Legislative Assembly though he was defeated in Bombay. He was elected on the on the Drafting Committee and later appointed its chairman.

My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize, have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can loose our battle to me is a matter of joy. You must abolish your slavery yourselves. Do not depend for its abolition upon god or a superman.

He also suggests strategies for emancipation from oppression. He found their emancipation in Buddhist values, which promotes equality, self-respect and education. Ambedkar believes that Buddha treated women with respect and love and never tried to degrade them like Manu did. He taught women Buddha Dharma and religious philosophy. Ambedkar cites women like Vishakha, Amrapali of Visali, Gautami, Rani Mallika, Queen of Prasenajjth who approached Buddha, as evidences of Budda’s treatment of women as equals. (Paul, 1993 : 383-84) it was mainly the Hindu culture and social customs, which stood in the headway of women's empowerment.

Like Ambedkar, the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women 2001, also admits, “The underlying causes of gender inequality are related to social and economic structure .............. and practices, Consequently, the access of women, particularly those belonging to weaker section including Scheduled Caste / Tribes Other Backward Classes and Minorities .......... To education, health, and productive resources, among others is inadequate. Therefore, they remain largely marginalized, poor and socially excluded.” Since Ambedkar himself was a victim of oppression and discrimination in all its severity, his views about women’s oppression and equal rights are more useful than anybody else’s theory based on mere observation for the feminist movement to strengthen its strategy for approaching the systemic challenges and contradictions in a more pragmatic way to bring women to the mainstream.

He was the 14 child of Ramji Sakpal and Bhimabai who belonged to Mahar and Murbadker untouchable communities respectively. The Mahars formed the backbone of the Maratha army and also were important part or the Mumbai Army of the East India Company since they were the first to come into contact with the Europeans in India. From Satara government school Ambedkar completed primary education and entered high school. Here started the painful story of oppression and humiliation which compelled him later to act to blow up the oppressive social order. At the school he was insulted due to his inferior caste status as an untouchable. Ambedkar was pushed to a side of the classroom and was not allowed to mingle with other students. He was never given the opportunity to participate in sports and other extracurricular activates with fellow students. Even the teachers were reluctant to correct Ambedkar’s and his brother notebook and avoded asking them questions because of the fear of being polluted. He was barred from studying certain subjects especially Sanskrit. Ambedkar was given Persian as second language when the Sanskrit teacher refused to teach him. In the midest of humanizations also, Ambedkar concentrated on his studies due to the encouragement from his father.

According to Ambedkar, the society must be based on reason, and not on atrocious traditions of caste system. He found education, intercaste marriage and interdine as methods, which may eliminate caste and patriarchy, maintained through endogamy.

In 1918, Ambedkar demanded separate electorate and reserved seats for the Depressed Classes in proportion to their population. After fifty years of the working of the Indian Constitution, the Indian women’s demand for political reservation and the lower status of other disadvantage sections proves that his theory is correct. Ambedkar started his movement in 1920. He started fierce propaganda against the Hindu social order and lunched a journal Mook Nayak in 1920 and Bahishkrit Bharat in 1927 for this purpose.

His exposure to the west has influenced his perception on feminist issues. it was a time when first wave feminism had been coming to an end with the achievement of franchise rights for women in Britain in 1918, and America in 1920 and Ambedkar’s perception of the women question, emphasizing their right to education, equal treatment with men, right to property and involvement in the political process resembled the global feminist demands. It is well known that Ambedkar has the habit to working for more then eighteen hours a day without any difficulty. His reading habit helped him to understand the feminist development in different cultures and countries around the world.

After returning to India he devoted his life fully to work for the depressed classes including women. He was firmly committed to the ideals of equality, liberty and fraternity. In Ambedkar’s movement lanched from 1920 onward, women actively participated and acquired the confidence to voice their issues on various platforms. Venbai Bhatkar and Renubai work for the socio- political equality of depressed people and promoting their economic interests.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar The Champion Of Women’s Rights
Dr. Ambedkar championed the cause of women as well as the miserable plight of Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes throughout his career. He discussed a number of problems of Indian women and sought for their solutions in Bombay Legislative Council, in the Viceroy’s Assembly as the chairman of the Drafting Committee and also in the Parliament as the first Law Minister of Independent India. 
Dr. Ambedkar was sworn in as a nominated members of the Bombay Legislative Council on 18th Feb., 1927. He advised Indians to participate in the world war on behalf of the British Government. His arguments on the Maternity Benefit Bill and on Birth Critical were quite relevant to recognize the dignity of women. He vehemently supported the Maternity Bill. 

His argument was – 
“It is in the interest of the nation that the mother ought to get a certain amount of rest during the pre-natal period and also subsequently, and the principle of the Bill is based entirely on that principle”.

“That being so Sir, I am bound to admit that the burden of this ought to be largely borne by the Government, I am prepared to admit this fact because of the conservation of the people’s welfare is primary concern of the Government. And in every country, you will find that the Government has been subjected to a certain amount of charge with regard to maternity benefit.”

Women started participating in satyagrahs and also launched women’s associations for untouchable women for spreading education and awareness among them. In the Mahad Satyagraha for temple entry in 1927, even caste Hindues participated. Shandabai Shinde was one such participant. In the Satyagraha it was decided to burn the Manusmriti, which humiliated women, and shudras. In the demonstration after the bonfire of the Manusmriti more than fifty Women participated. Ambedkar addressed the meeting thereafter and advised women to change their style of wearing saress, wear lightweight ornaments, not to eat meat of dead animals. It was upper caste women like Tipnis who taught them proper way of wearing sarees.

At the All India Depressed Classes Women’s Conference held at Nagpur on 20th July, 1940 Dr. Ambedkar emphasized that there could not be any progress without women. He spoke “I am a great believer in women’s organization I know that what they can do to improve the condition of the society if they are convinced. They should educate their children and instill high ambition in them. 
Ambedkar made some memorable speeches in the Round Table conference. He placed the view point of the depressed classes and pleaded for Dominion Status. His speeches created a good impression upon the British public. He served on a number of important sub-committees and prepared scheme of political safeguards far the protections of depressed classes in the future constitution of a self governing India. Ambedkar also advocated the immediate introduction of adult franchise. 

When Ambedkar returned to India after attending the round table conference in 1932, hundards of women were present for the committee meetings. Since Amhedkar was well convinced about the status of women, as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee he tried and adequate inclusion of women’s rights in the political vocabulary and constitution of India. Therefore, by considering women’s equality both in formal and substantial senses he included special provisions for women’s equality both in formal and sustainable senses he included special provisions for women while all other general provisions are applicable to them, as to men constitutional provisions. Hence, there are Articles like 15(3), 51(A), and so on. His key work in the preparation of IndianConstitution made it to be known as a New Charter of Human Rights. He looked upon law as the instrument of creating a sane social order in which the development of individual should be in harmony with the growth of society. 

Ambedkar Idea Of Equality
He incorporated the values of liberty, equality and fraternity in the Indian Constitution. Based on the belief that any scheme of franchise and constituency that fails to bring about representation of opinions as well representation of persons falls short of creating a popular government, he submitted the Constitution with a warning. He said in his speech delivered in the Constituent Assembly on 25th November 1949, “Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy.” By social he means a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as principal of life. He further said: “On 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principal of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principal of one man one value. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.” 

Ambedkar believed primarily in the efficacy of law and legislation, and he struggled to evolve a constitutional mechanism to fashion India of his dreams, where equality, liberty and fraternity would have an unhindered play. In Ambedkar’s vision of India, all citizens would be equal before law; they have equal civic rights, equal access to all institutions, conveniences and amenities maintained by or for the public; they possess equal opportunities to settle or reside in any part of India to hold any public office, or exercise any trade or calling, here all key and basic industries would be owned by the state. He pleaded for special privileges and safeguards for the Dalits as scheduled Castes. In short, he demanded equality, which would not only lead, to the redressal of the part wrongs but also provide sufficient leverage, may be by way of compensation, as siabid to ensure their leveling up. – B.R. Ambedkar, his life, work and relevance.

The Hindu Code Bill, 1948

In 1948 when the Hindu Code Bill was introduced in parliament and debated on the floor of the house, the opposition was strong against the Bill. Ambedkar tried his level best to defend the Bill by pointing out the Constitutional principals of equality, liberty and fraternity and that in the Indian society characterized by the caste system and the necessary for a social change in which women have equality in a legal frame system and the oppression of women since women are deprived of equality, a legal frame work is necessary for a social change in which women have equal right with men. However, the Bill could not withstand the opposition from the Hindu orthodoxy. In reality, the Bill was a threat to patriarchy on which traditional family structure, was bounded and that was the major reasons behind the opposition. Therefore, on the eve of the first elections in 1951 Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru dropped the Bill by saying that there was too much opposition. On this issue the then Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar resigned. His explanations for resignation show how the parliament of independent India deprived its women citizens of even basic rights. His resignation letter dated 27th September 1951.

Although most of the provisions proposed by Ambedkar were later passed during 1955-56 in four bills on Hindu ‘marriage’ succession, minority and guardianship and maintenances and later in 1976 some changes were made in Hindu law it still remains true that the basic rights of women have yet to be restored to them even after fifty years of the working of the Indian Constitutionbased on the principle of liberty, equality and justice to all Indian citizens. However, the Hindu code Bill helped the resurgence of feminist movement in India. This crusade of Ambedkar to emancipate women from injustice inspires the women leader in parliament to keep the issue alive until its enactment. This was the starting point for women to recognize their position and pursue rights movement by acquiring strength from second wave feminism started in the early 1960s. Women are still fighting issues such as rape, dowry death, communalism, fundamentalism, sexual harassment, violence - domestic and social, poverty and so on.

The parinirvan of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar who was recognized internationally as a crusader against caste system, a vigilant fighter for the human rights of all the oppressed and enslaved and the emancipator of humanity from social and economic injustice, occurred on 6th December 1956. In the condolence message, on Ambedkar death in Parliament, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said: “Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar was a symbol of revolt against all oppressive features of the Hindu society.” His dream of society based on gender equality is yet to be realized and therefore his thoughts are important for the social reconstruction that favours women’s empowerment. The Nation honoured Baba Saheb Ambedkar by offering Bharat Ratna posthumously to him which was received by his widow Savita Ambedkar in 1990. Dr. Ambedkar foundation was set up under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on 24th March 1992 for the purpose of promoting and propagating his ideology of social justice so as to reach the common masses. The foundation implemented Schemes such as Dr. Ambedkar National Memorial, Dr. Ambedkar National Public Library, Dr. Ambedkar Chairs in Universities / Institutions, Dr. Ambedkar Award for Social Understanding and upliftment of Weaker Sections and the Dr. Ambedkar International Award for Social Change.

Constitutional Provisions
The Constitution of India contains various provisions, which provide for equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. The salient features are:-
• Article 14 guarantees that the State shall not deny equality before the law and equal protection of the laws;
• Article 15 prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the ground of sex;
• Article 15 (3) empowers the State to make positive discrimination in favour of women and children;
• Article 16 provides for Equality of Opportunity in matters of public employment;
• Article 23 prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labour;
• Article 39 (a) and (d) enjoins the State to provide equal means of livelihood and equal pay for equal work;
• Article 42 enjoins upon the State to make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work, and for maternity relief;
• Article 51A(e) imposes a Fundamental Duty on every citizen to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
• Article 243D (3) provides that not less than 1/3rd of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat to be reserved for women, and such seats to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat;
• Article 243T(3) provides that not less than 1/3rd of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Municipality shall be reserved for women and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality;
• Article 243T(4) provides reservation of offices of Chairperson in Municipalities for Sc, ST, Women in such manner as the legislature of a State, may by law provide; 
In pursuance of the above Constitutional provisions, various legislative enactments have been framed to protect, safeguard and promote the interests of women. Many of these legislative enactments have been in the sphere of labour laws to ameliorate the working conditions of women labour.

Steps Taken By The Government Of India For Women’s Empowerment
It is the education which is the right weapon to cut the social slavery and it is 
the education which will enlighten the downtrodden masses to come up 
and gain social status, economic betterment and political freedom – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Education of Women:
Education to women is the most powerful instrument of changing their position in the society. Education also brings about reduction in inequalities and also acts as a means to improve their status within the family. In order to encourage education of women at all levels and to dilute gender bias in the provision and acquaintance of education, schools, colleges and even universities were established exclusively for women in the country. To bring more girl children, especially from marginalised BPL families, into the mainstream of education, Government has been providing a package of concessions in the form of free supply of books, uniform, boarding and lodging, clothing for hostilities, mid-day meals, scholarships, free by-cycles and so on. Many universities such as Mother Teresa Women University have been established for the development of Women Studies and to encourage higher education among women and their social mobility.

My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize, have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can loose our battle to me is a matter of joy. You must abolish your slavery yourselves. Do not depend for its abolition upon god or a superman.

Self Help Groups:
Self Help Groups are small homogenous groups consisting of 12-20 women from BPL families voluntarily organised to promote savings. They are self-managed groups of poor women which primarily came into existence to mobilise financial resources through their own savings and lend the same amongst themselves to meet the credit needs of their members.

Capacity Building and Skill formation:
In order to improve the entrepreneurial ability and skill of the women, Government has been imparting various types of training designed to promote self and wage employment.

Skill Up-gradation Training Programme:
Provision of skill training to women in SHG has been given recognition so as to enable them to start their own income-generating activities. The duration of the training and the cost depends on the nature of the trade selected by the members.

Women & Child Development 
Women’s empowerment is an important agenda in the development efforts. There has been significant shift in approach of the district administration towards the development of women, especially the poor & the illiterate. 

Working Women's Hostel: 
To provide secured accommodation to the working women, Working Women’s Hostel has been established at Angul & functioning since 1996. State Old Age Pension (SOAP) / National Old Age Pension (NOAP).

Employment And Work Participation Rate
The work participation rate indicates to a great extent the economic empowerment of women in the society. The status of women is intimately connected with their economic position, which in turn depends on opportunities for participation in economic activities. Education along with participation of women in workforce has been universally recognised as an important element in the adoption of small family norms, which is essential for family planning. There has been a considerable improvement in the entry of women in all sectors of employment in the country.

Women And Political Participation
Political equality to all children regardless of birth, sex, colour, etc is one of the basic premises of democracy. Political equality includes not only equal right to franchise but also more importantly, the right to access to the institutionalised centres of power. Thus, political participation of women means not only using the right to vote but also power sharing, co-decision making and co-policy making at all levels. The active participation of women in political sphere is integral to empowerment of women and helps to build a gender-equal society as well as to speed up the process of national development.

National Commission For Women
In January 1992, the National Commission for Women was set up by an Act of Parliament with the specific mandate to study and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and legal safeguards provided for women, review the existing legislation, to suggest amendments wherever necessary, and safeguard the rights and entitlements of women. The Commission extend financial support to NGOs and educational institutions to conduct legal awareness programme to enable women to become aware of their rights.

Society is in a continuous process of evolution. It will take several decades for these imbalances to be rectified. Education of both men and women will lead to change in attitudes and perceptions. It is not easy to eradicate deep-seated cultural value, or alter tradition that perpetuate discrimination. Law can only be an instrument of change, that must be effectively used. The absence of effective law enforcement, results in low rates of conviction, which in turn emboldens the feeling that the accused can get away. It is necessary that deterrent punishments are provided in the statute, and are strictly enforced. A beginning has certainly been made in urban areas. Working women continue to remain primarily responsible for taking care of home and child rearing, in addition to their careers. Increased stress has made them more prone to heart and other stress related diseases. Hence, it is necessary to improve the Support System for working women. 

The march towards elimination of gender bias has to go on, so as to make it meaningful for the vast majority of women in this country. There is a greater representation now in the legislature, executive and judiciary. India is one of the few countries in the world, which has had a woman Prime Minister. Various States have from time to time, had women Chief Ministers. A woman Judge in the Supreme Court, and in the High Courts, has today become the norm. Women have crossed many barriers, and head various departments in large multinationals today. A beginning has been made in the Army also, when women are being commissioned as SSC Officers. The 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Indian Constitution were brought about in 1993, which served as a break-through towards ensuring equal access and increased participation in the political power structure. The proposed Womens’ Reservation Bill to provide 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and State Legislature is now under consideration. The empowerment of women in urban areas and the metropolises cannot be the indicator of growth in the country. In a country, where eighty percent of the population is in rural areas, until the lot of women in these areas is also not improved simultaneously, development will remain an illusion to them. The status of women cannot be raised without opening up opportunities of independent income and employment. In the rural areas, employment of women is concentrated mainly in labour-intensive, unskilled jobs where simple or traditional skills are required. There is lack of access to vocational institutions.

Women in the rural areas are wholly oblivious of their rights. It will require a much greater and concerted effort for the various measures to become a living reality for women in the rural areas. This can happen only through the collective effort of the State, NGOs, imparting of formal and informal education, through the media, etc. Empowerment of women so as to enable them to become equal partners with their male counterparts so that they have mutual respect for each other and share the responsibilities of the home and finances should be the ultimate goal that we must aspire to achieve. Enforcement of basic human rights of gender equality must take place, without undermining the institution and sanctity of marriage, and family.

# Ahir, D.C. The Legacy of Ambedkar, Delhi 1990.
# Ambedkar, B.R. “Women and Counter Revaluation”. “Riddles of Hindu Women” in Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speech, Vo. 3, Department of Education.
# Chirakarode, Paul : Ambedkar : Budhika Vikasobhathinte Agnijwala, Dalit Books, Thiruballa, 1993. 
# Constitutional Law of India, J.N. Pandey.
# Empowerment of Women – An Article by Indu Malhotra, An Advocate of Supreme Court of India. Nyaydeep Law Journal. 
# Government of India: The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women 2001, Department of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Human Resource Development, New Delhi, 2001.
# Gupta, U.P. Mohini, Makers of India Series.
# Haksar, Nandita, Demystification of Law for Women, Lancer Press, New Delhi. 1986.
# Indu Malhotra, Advocate Supreme Court, Women empowerment. 
# Jatava, D.R., B.R. Ambedkar – A Vision on Man & Morals.
# Limaye, Champa : Women Power and Progress, B.R. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi, 1999.
# Mathew, Thomas : Ambedkar : Reform or Revolution, Segment Books, New Delhi, 1991.
# Ranga, M.L., B.R. Ambedkar, his life, work and relevance.
# Sahay, Lalit K., Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – Man of Millenium. 
# Sharma, Sanjay Parkash – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – A Crusader of Social Justice. 
# The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001.
# “The rise and falls of the Hindu Women”, The Mahabodhi (Calcutta), 59.5-6, 139-151, 1950. Arya Sudha, Women Gender Equality and the State, Deep and Deep Publications, New Delhi. 2000.
www.proutjournal.com/sepcialjustice . visited on 3rd April 2012.
* Assistant Professor, Institute of Law, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra. 
[1] www.proutjournal.com/sepcialjustice. visited on 3rd April 2012.
[4] Jatava, D.R., B.R. Ambedkar – A Vision on Man & Morals, p. 91.
[5] Ibid. p. 
[6] The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001.
[7] The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Sharma, Sanjay Parkash – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – A Crusader of Social Justice. P. 158, ed. 2003. 
[10] Ibid.
[11] Gupta, U.P. Mohini, Makers of India Series. P. 54, ed. 1998.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ranga, M.L., B.R. Ambedkar, his life, work and relevance, p. 55, ed. 
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Empowerment of Women – An Article by Indu Malhotra, An Advocate of Supreme Court of India. Nyaydeep Law Journal. 
[19] Ibid.
[20] Sahay, Lalit K., Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – Man of Millenium, p. 219, ed. 2010. 

Why Dr. Ambedkar renounced Hinduism?

Dr. Ambedkar's role as a prominent constitution maker of India is quite well known. However, his views on religion, particularly his reasons for renouncing Hinduism, the religion of his birth, are not as widely known. Ambedkar who was born in an "untouchable" family carried on a relentless battle against untouchability throughout his adult life. In the last part of his life, he renounced Hinduism and became a Buddhist. What were his reasons for doing so?

A detailed answer to this question can be obtained by studying his The Buddha and His Dhamma, Annihilation of Caste, Philosophy of Hinduism, Riddles in Hinduism etc. Nonetheless, some of his articles, speeches and interviews before and after his conversion to Buddhism throw some light on this question.

Ambedkar’s statement in 1935 at Yeola Conference is quite instructive in this regard. Ambedkar believed that the untouchables occupied a "weak and lowly status" only because they were a part of the Hindu society. When attempts to gain equal status and "ordinary rights as human beings" within the Hindu society started failing, Ambedkar thought it was essential to embrace a religion which will give "equal status, equal rights and fair treatment" to untouchables. He clearly said to his supporters "select only that religion in which you will get equal status, equal opportunity and equal treatment…"

Evidently, after a comparative study of different religions, Ambedkar concluded that Buddhism was the best religion from this point of view.

In his article "Buddha and the Future of his Religion" published in 1950 in the Mahabodhi Society Journal, Ambedkar has summarized his views on religion and on Buddhism in the following manner:

1. The society must have either the sanction of law or the sanction of morality to hold it

together. Without either, the society is sure to go to pieces. 2. Religion, if it is to survive, it must be in consonance with reason, which is another name for science.

3. It is not enough for religion to consist of moral code, but its moral code must recognize the fundamental tenets of liberty, equality and fraternity.

4. Religion must not sanctify or make a virtue out of poverty.

According to Ambedkar, Buddhism fulfilled these requirements and so among the existing religions it was the only suitable religion for the world. He felt that the propagation of Buddhism needed a Bible. Apparently, Ambedkar wrote The Buddha and his Dhamma to fulfill this need.

In the same article, Ambedkar has enumerated the evils of Hinduism in the following manner:

1. It has deprived moral life of freedom.

2. It has only emphasized conformity to commands.

3. The laws are unjust because they are not the same for one class as of another. Besides, the code is treated as final.

According to Ambedkar, "what is called religion by Hindus is nothing but a multitude of commands and prohibitions."

In the same year, Ambedkar delivered a speech on Buddha Jayanti day in Delhi, in which he attacked Hindu gods and goddess and praised Buddhism because it was a religion based on moral principles. Besides, he pointed out, unlike the founders of other religions who considered themselves emissaries of god; the Buddha regarded himself only as a guide and gave a revolutionary meaning to the concept of religion. He said that Hinduism stood for inequality, whereas Buddhism stood for equality.

In May 1956, a talk by Ambedkar titled "Why I like Buddhism and how it is useful to the world in its present circumstances" was broadcast from the British Broadcasting Corporation, London. In his talk Ambedkar said:

I prefer Buddhism because it gives three principles in combination, which no other religion does. Buddhism teaches prajna (understanding as against superstition and supernaturalism), karuna (love), and samata (equality). This is what man wants for a good and happy life. Neither god nor soul can save society.

In his last speech delivered in Bombay in May 24 1956, in which he declared his resolve to embrace Buddhism, Ambedkar observed:

Hinduism believes in God. Buddhism has no God. Hinduism believes in soul. According to Buddhism, there is no soul. Hinduism believes in Chaturvarnya and the caste system. Buddhism has no place for the caste system and Chaturvarnya.

It is obvious that Ambedkar regarded Buddhism as a much more rational religion compared to Hinduism, rather the most rational religion. His main objection to Hinduism was that it sanctified inequality and untouchability through its doctrine of Chaturvarnya. Buddhism, on the other hand, rejected Chaturvarnya and supported equality. He commends Buddhism for rejecting god and soul and for emphasizing morality. According to him, prajna (understanding as against superstition and supernaturalism), karuna (love), and samata (equality), which Buddhism alone teaches, is all that human beings need for a "good and happy life".

Ambedkar’s final religious act was to embrace Buddhism. His work The Buddha and his Dhamma contains his own understanding and interpretation of Buddhism. We may say that Buddhism as expounded in this book is what Ambedkar embraced and recommended. In this book Ambedkar has tried to interpret Buddhism in a rationalistic manner. Ambedkar did not believe in the existence of god and soul. This is obvious from the reasons he has given for embracing Buddhism as well as from his interpretation of Buddhism in Buddha and His Dhamma. In Buddhism, as interpreted by Ambedkar, there is no place for god and soul. Further, according to Ambedkar, Buddha did not believe in rebirth, karma and moksha as traditionally conceived. Besides, Buddha rejected the varna vyavastha.

It is widely recognized by scholars of Buddhism that Buddha did not believe in god and soul and also that he rejected varna-vyavastha. However, according to the traditional interpretation of Buddhism, Buddha did believe in rebirth and the related doctrine of "bondage" and liberation (nirvana). Ambedkar's interpretation of Buddhism differs from the traditional interpretation on this point. But regrettably Ambedkar has not documented his book Buddha and his Dhamma. Therefore it is not possible to say how he arrived at his alternative interpretation of Buddhism. From a rationalist and humanist point of view, one may say that Buddhism is a better religion than Hinduism and that it is closer to rationalism-humanism compared to any other religion. Still, it cannot be denied that Buddhism is a religion and certain elements like faith, worship and other-worldliness or supernaturalism, which are common to all religions, are also found in Buddhism. Therefore the best thing is to give up all religions and adopt rational humanism as a philosophy of life.

Dr. Ramendra
Reader, Department of Philosophy
Patna College, Patna University

Lessons from Dr Ambedkar's life

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (popularly known as Babasaheb) used education as a tool to rise above the ordinary and become one of the great leaders of modern India, an effective fighter against the discrimination present in a caste-ridden society, and one of the chief architects of the Indian Constitution.  
As jurist, economist, politician and social reformer, his life is an example to all of us.
On his 124th birth anniversary today, April 14, we take a look at what we can learn from him.
Education is the key to success
Ambedkar was a bright student and did not let anything come in the way of his determination to be educated.
In a society that shamefully denied Dalits or 'untouchables' an education, he became the first Dalit to finish college.
He won a scholarship of Rs 25 to Mumbai University, and a state scholarship that enabled him to travel abroad for a post-graduate degree.
He studied at the London School of Economics and at Columbia University in the US, emerging with a PhD in Economics.
He served as defence secretary in the state of Baroda.
He was India’s first Law minister and chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee.
Don’t be daunted
The stranglehold of the pernicious Hindu caste system was even stronger then than now.
The young Ambedkar was not allowed to sit in the same classroom, or drink water from the same well, as his ‘higher born’ peers.
He did not allow this discrimination to come in the way of his determination to get an education and become a leading figure in the history of this country.
In 1990, he was posthumously awarded the country’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna.
Give back to society
Ambedkar used his education to spearhead the cause of equality, fraternity and liberty.
He believed that society will progress only when women are empowered and thus upheld women’s right to higher education and employment.
He wrote several books and columns highlighting the fundamental and human rights of all people.
To close the gap of inequality inflicted on Dalits for centuries, he canvassed for reservation in education and employment for Dalits, and won. 
Human rights are more talked about than practised in India.
Dr Ambedkar, himself a victim of the denial of rights, made sure that fundamental rights were enshrined in our Constitution, benefiting generations to come.

Reservations – Some Questions and their Answers

Reservations – Some Questions and their Answers

Q: What is reservation?

The word reservation is a misnomer. The appropriate word for it used in the Indian constitution is Representation. It is not given to anyone in his individual capacity. It is given to individual as a representative of the underprivileged community. The beneficiaries of reservations are in turn expected to help their communities to come up.

Q: Why reservation?

The policy of reservations is being used as a strategy to overcome discrimination and act as a compensatory exercise. A large section of the society was historically denied right to property, education, business and civil rights because of the practice of untouchability. In order to compensate for the historical denial and have safeguards against discrimination, we have the reservation policy.

Q: Were Reservations incorporated by the founding fathers of the constitution only for first 10 years?

Only the political reservations (seats reserved in Loksabha, Vidhansabha, etc) were to be reserved for 10 years and the policy review was to be made after that. That is why after every 10 years the parliament extends political reservations.

The 10 year limit for reservations is not true for the reservations in education and employment. The reservations in educational institutions and in employment are never given extension as it is given for the political reservations.

Q: Why give reservations on basis of caste?

To answer this question we must first understand why the need for the reservations has arisen. The cause for the various types of disabilities that the underprivileged castes in India face / have faced, is the systemic historical subjugation of a massive magnitude based on caste system having a religious sanction. Therefore if the caste system was the prime cause of all the disabilities, injustice and inequalities that the Dalit-Bahujans suffered, then to overcome these disabilities the solution has to be designed on basis of caste only.

Q: Why not on basis of economic criterion?

Reservations should never be based on economic status for various reasons as follows:

1. The poverty prevailing among the Dalit-Bahujans has its genesis in the social-religious deprivations based on caste system. Therefore poverty is an effect and caste system a cause. The solution should strike at the cause and not the effect
2. An individual's Economic status can change. Low income may be taken to mean poverty. But the purchasing value of money, in India, depends upon caste. For example a Dalit can not buy a cup of tea even in some places.

3. Practical difficulties in proving economic status of individual to the state machinery are many. The weak may suffer.

4. In caste ridden India infested with rampant corruption, even for an unchangeable status like caste, the false "Caste Certificate" can be purchased. How much easier will it be to purchase a false "Income Certificate"? So income based reservation is impractical. It is no use arguing when both certificates can be bought, why caste only should form basis of reservation. It is certainly more difficult to buy a false caste certificate than a false income certificate.

5. Reservation is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The main aim is to achieve the active participation and sharing by the "socially excluded" humanity in all the fields of the affairs of the society. It is not panacea for all ills, neither it is permanent. It would be a temporary measure till such time the matrimonial advertisements in newspaper columns continue to contain the mention of caste.

Q: Should there be a creamy layer criterion or not?

The demand from anti-reservationists for introduction of creamy layer is ploy to scuttle the whole effectiveness of reservations. Even now out of all seats meant for SC/STs in IITs , 25-40 % seats remain vacant because it seems IITs do not find suitable candidates. Just imagine what would happen if by applying creamy layer criterion the SC/ST middle class, lower middle class people who are in position to take decent education are excluded from reservations benefit ! Will the poor among SC/STs be able to compete with these ‘privileged ‘students’ trained under Ramaiah and at various IIT-JEE training centers at Kota ?
Of course Not.
This will lead to 100 % seats in IITs for SC/STs going vacant.

Q: How long should the reservations continue?

The answer to this question lies with the anti-reservationists. It depends on how sincerely and effectively the policy makers which constitute “privileged castes” people in executive, judiciary and legislature, implement the reservations policy.
Is it just on part of “privileged castes” people who have enjoyed undeclared exclusive reservations for past 3000 years and continue to enjoy the same even in 21st century in all religious institutions and places of worship, to ask for the timelines for reservations policy?
Why do not they ask, how long the exclusive reservations for particular community in the religious institutions and places of worship are going to continue?
The people who have acquired disabilities due to inhuman subjugation for 3000 years will need substantial time to come over those disabilities. 50 years of affirmative action is nothing as compared to 3000 years of subjugation.

Q: Will not the reservations based on castes lead to divisions in the society?

There are apprehensions that reservations will lead to the divisions in the society. These apprehensions are totally irrational. The society is already divided into different castes. On the contrary reservations will help in annihilating the caste system. There are around 5000 castes among the SC/ST and OBCs. By grouping these various castes under 3 broad categories of SC, ST and OBC, the differences among 5000 separate castes can be abridged. This is a best way of annihilation of castes. Therefore rather than making rhetoric about reservations leading to divisions in the society the anti-reservationists should make honest and sincere efforts to annihilate castes. Have these people made any efforts towards this direction? In most of the cases the answer is NO. The people making these anti-reservations rhetoric, all this time have been enjoying all the privileges that the Indian caste system offers to the “Privileged Castes”. As long as they enjoy the privileges of the caste system they do not have any qualms regarding it. But when it comes to making castes as basis for achieving social equality by providing representations these same people make noises. These are the double standards of highest order practiced by the ‘privileged’ people.

Q: Will not reservations affect the Merit?

As regards to how Merit is defined in a very narrow sense and what it actually means, following is the quote from an article by Prof Rahul Barman of IIT Kanpur.

“Is merit all about passing exams? After all, are the exams a means or an end? If the exams are means to look for ability to make better engineers, doctors and managers, then can there be better methods to look for such ability? After all in my first engineering class I was told that a good engineer is the one who can produce the best out of the least resources and similarly, management is supposed to find one’s way in an uncertain situation – or allocate scarce resources in the most optimal way possible. If that is so, whatever I have seen of our deprived masses (of which overwhelming majority belongs to the backward, dalit castes or adivasis), they have the astonishing capacity to make something productive from almost next to nothing! For the last few years I have been studying small industry clusters, like Moradabad brass, Varanasi silk and Kanpur leather. Put together (all the clusters in the country), they are exporting more than the IT sector and their cumulative employment will be several times of the whole of IT industry. In all these clusters they operate with miniscule resources – small investment, no electricity, forget about air-conditioning, non existent roads, lack of water, and little formal education. These clusters are primarily constituted of these so called backward/ dalit castes and are truly a tribute to the genius that our society is. But in spite of centuries of excellence these communities have hardly produced any formal ‘engineers’, ‘doctors’ and ‘managers’, and conversely these elite institutions have not developed any linkages with such industries and their people. “

Reservations of more than 60 % have existed in the 4 states of southern India and around 40 % in Maharashtra since last 50 years. On other hand in the north Indian states the 15 % ‘privileged castes’ have been enjoying 77 % of the seats in educational institutions and in employment (assuming that 23 % reservations for SC/STs are totally filled, which is not the case). The World Bank study has found that all the 4 south Indian states are much ahead of north Indian states in terms of their human development index. It is a common knowledge that all the southern states and Maharashtra are much ahead in fields of education, health, industrial development, in implementing poverty alleviation schemes, etc. than the north Indian states. This shows that reservations have indeed helped the southern Indian states in making progress on various fronts. Whereas lack of adequate reservations is responsible for the lack of development in most of the north Indian states.

Q: Have existing reservations for SC/STs been effective or not?

The reservation policy in the public sector has benefited a lot of people. The Central government alone has 14 lakh employees. The proportion of Scheduled castes in class III and IV is well above the quota of 16 per cent and in class I and II, the proportion is around 8–12 per cent. So, the middle and the lower middle class that we see today from the Dalit community is because of reservation. With no reservation, the entry of these people in government services would have been doubtful.
The situation is similar in education. An article in the EPW (Economic and Political Weekly) estimates that there are seven lakh SC /ST students in higher education and about half of them are there because of reservation. Reservation has certainly helped but there are limitations in any policy with the way it is implemented

Contributed by Page Member Harshal Dhanvijay

10 quotes from Dr. B R Ambedkar that have gained more relevance today

Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the principal architect of India’s Constitution was a true visionary and these lines by him show that his concerns for India and her independence were not unfounded:
“On 26th January, 1950, India will be an independent country. What would happen to her independence? Will she maintain or will she lose it again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is not that India was never an independent country. The point is that she once lost the independence she had. Will she lose it a second time? It is this thought which makes me most anxious for the future. What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by treachery of some of her own people…
Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realisation of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds, we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or above their country? I do not know, but this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we all must resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood!
Born on 14th April, 1891, Babasaheb as he is popularly known was a social reformer who championed the cause of the dalits, women and labour. A jurist and economist, he was also independent India’s first law minister.
As we celebrate his 124th birth anniversary, here are some quotes by Babasaheb that are still relevant in the day and age we will live in.
The sovereignty of scriptures of all religions must come to an end if we want to have a united integrated modern India.
“I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.”
“The relationship between husband and wife should be one of closest friends.”
“Equality may be a fiction but nonetheless one must accept it as a governing principle.”
An ideal society should be mobile, should be full of channels for conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts. In an ideal society there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared.
“Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.”
Sincerity is the sum of all moral qualities.
“In India, ‘Bhakti’ or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship plays a part in politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other of the world. ‘Bhakti’ in religion may be a road to salvation of the soul. But in politics, ‘Bhakti’ or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”
“We are Indians, firstly and lastly.

Lying about Ambedkar : RSS Revisionism on his birthday.
 What's happening to the legacy of Dr B R Ambedkar at the hands of the RSS/BJP and the Congress on the occasion of his 124th birth anniversary is perhaps the biggest travesty of social and political history of India.
The man, an intellectual giant and peerless social reformer, who fiercely fought Hinduism till his death and was highly critical of Gandhi and the Congress, is today being misappropriated by both the Sangh Parivar and the Congress. And both are making elaborate plans to celebrate his anniversary.
The RSS will come out with commemorative collector’s editions of its mouthpieces Panchjanya and The Organiser, while the BJP will roll out year long celebrations with a particular focus on social welfare. The Congress, under a special committee chaired by Sonia Gandhi, also will ride on the glory of Ambedkar throughout the year. Prince Rahul will join the misappropriation plan.
The most outlandish and fallacious claims have been made by the RSS. It has said that Ambedkar's work was similar to that of its icons such as Veer Savarkar and Madan Mohan Malaviya and that he even supported its polarising idea of "Ghar Wapsi". The laughable irony of this claim is that Ambedkar’s politics was anchored in his uncompromising opposition to Hinduism, particularly the practice of caste or "varnashram". He was so vocal in his antagonism to Hindu religion that he converted to Buddhism a few months before his death. While becoming a Buddhist, he had said that he felt free by renouncing Hindu religion and was no more an untouchable.
But an opportunist RSS sees Ambedkar’s lifelong fight against Hinduism as an attempt to reform the religion. In its stilted eyes, Ambedkar is a Hindu reformist. It doesn’t see his sufferings or the subjugation of Dalits at the hands of caste Hindus, but find great affection for Hinduism in his conversion to Buddhism because he turned down the overtures of Muslims and Christians. For the RSS, a person who didn’t want to convert to Islam or Christianity is a loyalist of the Hindus even though he was trying escape the cruelty of the Hindu caste-system.
The RSS has one more reason to misrepresent Ambedkar - that he was highly critical of the Muslims and did not support Pakistan. Ambedkar indeed went to great lengths to assert that “Muslim Society is even more full of social evils than Hindu Society is” and how it sanctioned and perpetuated slavery and subjugation of women. He was highly critical that there was no organised social reform movement in Islam. He also said that a “Muslim woman is the most helpless person in the world” because “Islam has set its seal of inferiority upon her, and given the sanction of religion to social customs which have deprived her of the full opportunity for self-expression and development of personality.”
These words do qualify him to be a severe critic of Islam and do make him a darling of the RSS, but what’s conveniently obscured is that in the same breath he had said that "in a 'communal malaise,' both groups (Hindus and Muslims) ignore the urgent claims of social justice."
Social justice and social equality for all had been the centrepiece of Ambedkar’s politics and reforms agenda, and he believed that they had to precede any form of political freedom. He famously had said that “a democratic form of government presupposes a democratic form of society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value, and would indeed be a misfit if there was no social democracy.” He didn’t value India’s freedom that was not consistent with its social freedom.
This is the point that Gandhi and the Congress refused to acknowledge. The Congress and its freedom fighters thought Ambedkar was a lackey of the British when he put social democracy before political democracy and engaged with them in pursuance of his agenda. He was certain that the untouchables, or the "depressed classes" as he called them, will never get justice if the British left without giving them their due. Political freedom, as Gandhi and the nationalists saw, had little significance to him. As he had said, “the politicals never realised that democracy was not a form of government. It was essentially a form of Society.” He also had said that the "animosity of the Congress Press towards me can to my mind, not unfairly, be explained as a reflex of the hatred of the Hindus for the Untouchables.”

Clearly, for him, the Congress and the Hindu-forces represented the same side of the coin.
Ambedkar didn't see the subjugation of the untouchables by caste-Hindus and the lack of political freedom as two separate situations. For him, if the nation wanted to be free, it had to be free from both. "It may not be necessary for a Democratic society to be marked by unity, by community of purpose, by loyalty to public ends, and by mutuality of sympathy. But it does unmistakably involve two things. The first is an attitude of mind, an attitude of respect and equality towards their fellows. The second is a social organisation free from rigid social barriers. Democracy is incompatible and inconsistent with isolation and exclusiveness, resulting in the distinction between the privileged and the unprivileged."
His clash with Gandhi in fact combined both - the tyranny of the Hindu caste system and the wilful neglect of social democracy. Nothing can be more direct to show that the ideologies of Gandhi and Ambedkar were at loggerheads when it came to the former’s belief in the caste system: "I am a Hindu, not merely because I am born in the Hindu fold, but I am one by conviction and choice. There is no superiority or inferiority in Hinduism of my conception. But when Dr. Ambedkar wants to fight Varnashram itself, I cannot be in his camp, because I believe Varnashram to be an integral part of Hinduism.” In other words, Gandhi believed in the caste-system that Ambedkar fought against throughout his life.
Today, the Congress and the RSS/BJP indulge in historical revisionism for political aggrandisement. A mendacious BJP wants to usurp and misrepresent Ambedkar’s legacy by making invidious comparisons to attract Dalit votes and to take on the BSP in UP, while a status quoist Congress wants to continue misleading its tradition Dalit vote-base.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the Congress and the BJP alone that do injustice to Ambedkar’s legacy, but also Dalit parties such as the BSP. They had long since compromised with Hindutva forces, caste-Hindu organisations and Muslim fanatics, and what’s happening now is another political farce in a farcical democracy. An what we lose in the process is a great opportunity to revive his social reformist politics and discover the immensity of his scholarship.

"We Need Ambedkar--Now, Urgently..."

The Booker prize-winning author on her essay The Doctor and the Saint and more

In 1936, Dr B.R. Ambedkar was asked to deliver the annual lecture by the Hindu reformist group, the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal (Forum for Break-up of Caste) in Lahore. When the hosts received the text of the speech, they found the contents “unbearable” and withdrew the invitation. Ambedkar then printed 1,500 copies of his speech at his own expense and it was soon translated into several languages.Annihilation of Caste would go on to have a cult readership among the Dalit community, but remains largely unread by the privileged castes for whom it was written.
Ambedkar’s landmark speech has now been carefully annotated and reprinted. What will certainly draw contemporary public attention to it is the essay written as an introduction by the Booker prize-winning author Arundhati Roy, titled The Doctor and the Saint.
Almost half of the 400-page book is Roy’s essay, the other halfAnnihilation of Caste. Roy writes about caste in contemporary India before getting into the Gandhi-Ambedkar stand-off. Taking off from what Ambedkar described as “the infection of imitation”, the domino effect of each caste dominating the ones lower down in the hierarchy, Roy says, “The ‘infection of imitation’, like the half-life of a radioactive atom, decays exponentially as it moves down the caste ladder, but never quite disappears. It has created what Ambedkar describes as the system of ‘graded inequality’ in which even the ‘low is privileged as compared with lower. Each class being privileged, every class is interested in maintaining the system’”.
However, the thrust of Roy’s powerful but disturbing essay deals with her exploration of the Gandhi-Ambedkar debate, and the man deified as the father of the nation does not come off well in this book. She writes: “Ambedkar was Gandhi’s most formidable adversary. He challenged him not just politically or intellectually, but also morally. To have excised Ambedkar from Gandhi’s story, which is the story we all grew up on, is a travesty. Equally, to ignore Gandhi while writing about Ambedkar is to do Ambedkar a disservice, because Gandhi loomed over Ambedkar’s world in myriad and un-wonderful ways.”
The Doctor and the Saint, your introduction to this new, annotated edition of Dr Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, is also a deeply disturbing critique of Gandhi, especially to those of us for whom Gandhi is a loved and revered figure.
Yes, I know. It wasn’t easy to write it either. But in these times, when all of us are groping in the dark, despairing, and unable to understand why things are the way they are, I think revisiting this debate between Gandhi and Ambedkar, however disturbing it may be for some people, however much it disrupts old and settled patterns of thought, will actually, in the end, help illuminate our path. I think Annihilation of Caste is absolutely essential reading. Caste is at the heart of the rot in our society. Quite apart from what it has done to the subordinated castes, it has corroded the moral core of the privileged castes. We need Ambedkar—now, urgently.
Why should Gandhi figure so prominently in a book about Ambedkar? How did that come about?
Ambedkar was Gandhi’s most trenchant critic, not just politically and intellectually, but also morally. And that has just been written out of the mainstream narrative. It’s a travesty. I could not write an introduction to the book without addressing his debate with Gandhi, something which continues to have an immense bearing on us even today.
Caste is at the heart of the rot in our society. Quite apart from what it has done to the subordinated castes, it has corroded the moral core of the privileged castes. We need to take Ambedkar seriously.
Annihilation of Caste is the text of a speech that Ambedkar never delivered. When the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal, an offshoot of the Arya Samaj, saw the text and realised Ambedkar was going to launch a direct attack on Hinduism and its sacred texts, it withdrew its invitation. Ambedkar publi­shed the text as a pamphlet. Gandhi published a response to it in his magazineHarijan. But this exchange was only one part of a long and bitter conflict between the two of them...when I say that Ambedkar has been written out of the narrative, I’m not suggesting that he has been igno­red; on the contrary, he is given a lot of attention—he’s either valorised as the ‘Father of the Constitution’ or ghettoised and then praised as a “leader of the untouchables”. But the anger and the passion that drove him is more or less airbrushed out of the story. I think that if we are to find a way out of the morass that we find ourselves in at present, we must take Ambedkar seriously. Dalits have known that for years. It’s time the rest of the country caught up with them.
Have you always held these views about Gandhi, or did you discover new aspects to him as you explored him vis-a-vis Ambedkar?
I am not naturally drawn to piety, particularly when it becomes a political manifesto. I mean, for heaven’s sake, Gandhi called eating a “filthy act” and sex a “poison worse than snake-bite”. Of course, he was prescient in his understanding of the toll that the Western idea of modernity and “development” was going to take on the earth and its inhabitants. On the other hand, his Doctrine of Trusteeship, in which he says that the rich should be left in possession of their wealth and be trusted to use it for the welfare of the poor—what we call Corporate Social Responsibility today—cannot possibly be taken seriously. His attitude to women has always made me uncomfortable. But on the subject of caste and Gandhi’s attitude towards it, I was woolly and unclear. ReadingAnnihilation of Caste prompted me to read Ambedkar’s What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables. I was very disturbed by that. I then began to read Gandhi—his letters, his articles in the papers—tracing his views on caste right from 1909 when he wrote his most famous tract, Hind Swaraj. In the months it took me to research and write The Doctor and the Saint I couldn’t believe some of the things I was reading. Look—Gandhi was a complex figure. We should have the courage to see him for what he really was, a brilliant politician, a fascinating, flawed human being—and those flaws were not to do with just his personal life or his role as a husband and father. If we want to celebrate him, we must have the courage to celebrate him for what he was. Not some ima­gined, constructed idea we have of him.
You could be accused of selectively picking out quotes from his writing to suit your own imagined, constructed idea of Gandhi....
When a man leaves behind 98 volumes of his Collected Works, what option does anybody have other than to be selective? Of course I have been selective, as selective as everybody else has been. And of course, those choices say a lot about the politics of the person who has done the selecting. My brief was to write an introduction to Anni­hilation of Caste. Reading Ambed­kar made me realise how large Gandhi loomed in Ambedkar’s universe. When I read Gandhi’s pronoun­cements supporting the caste system, I wondered how his doctrine of non-violence and satyagraha could rest so comfortably on the foundation of a system which can be held in place only by the permanent threat of violence, and the frequ­ent application of unimaginable violence. I grew curious about how Gandhi even came to be called a Mahatma.
I found that the first time he was publicly called Mahatma was in 1915, soon after he returned to India after spending 20 years in South Africa. What had he done in South Africa to earn him that honour?
Ambedkar challenged Gandhi not just politically and intellectually, but also morally. To excise him out of the mainstream narrative is a travesty.
That took me back to 1893, the year he first arrived in South Africa as a 24-year-old lawyer. I followed Gandhi’s writings about caste over a period of more than 50 years. So that answers questions like—“Did Gandhi change? And if so, how? Did he start off badly and grow into a Mahatma?” I wasn’t really researching Gandhi’s views on diet or natural cures, I was following the caste trail, and in the process I stumbled on the race trail, and eventually, through all the turbulence and mayhem, I found coherence. It all made sense.
It was consistent, and consistently disturbing. The fact is that whatever else he said and did, and however beautiful some of it was, he did say and write and do some very disturbing things. Those must be explained and accounted for. This applies to all of us, to everybody, sinner and saint alike. Let’s for the sake of argument imagine that someone driven by extreme prejudice ransacks the writings of Rabindranath Tagore. I am not a Tagore scholar, but I very much doubt that he or she would find letters, articles, speeches and interviews that are as worrying as some of the writings in the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi.
You say that Gandhi harboured attitudes that can only be described as racist towards the Blacks during his years in South Africa, you seem to see his positions as flawed and hypocritical. Would you agree with that?
I have not used those adjectives. I think you have inferred them from Gandhi’s speeches and writings reproduced in my introduction, which is perfectly understandable. Actually I don’t think Gandhi was a hypocrite. On the contrary, he was astonishingly frank. And I am impressed that all his writings, some of them—in my view at least—seriously incriminating, have been retained in the Collected Works.
That really is a courageous thing. I have written at length about Gandhi’s years in South Africa. I’ll just say a couple of things here about that period. First, the famous story about Gandhi’s political awakening to racism and imperialism because he was thrown out of a ‘whites only’ compartment in Pietermaritzberg is only half the story. The other half is that Gandhi was not opposed to racial segregation. Many of his campaigns in South Africa were for separate treatment of Indians. He only objected to Indians being treated on a par with ‘raw kaffirs’, which is what he called Black Africans. One of his first political victories was a ‘solution’ to the Durban post office ‘problem’. He successfully campaigned to have a third entrance opened so that Indians would not have to use the same door as the ‘kaffirs’. He worked with the British army in the Anglo-Boer war and during the crushing of the Bambatha rebellion. In his speeches he said he was looking forward to “an Imperial brotherhood”. And so it goes, the story. In 1913, after signing a settlement with the South African military leader Jan Smuts, Gandhi left South Africa. On his way back to India he stopped in London where he was awarded the Kaiser-e-Hind for public service to the British Empire. How did that add up to fighting racism and imperialism?
But ultimately he did fight imperialism, did he not? He led our country to freedom....
What was ‘freedom’ for some was, for others, nothing more than a transfer of power. Once again, I’d say the Gandhi-Ambedkar debate deepens and complicates our understanding of words like “imperialism” and “freedom”. In 1931, when Ambedkar met Gandhi for the first time, Gandhi questioned him about his sharp criticism of the Congress, which at the time amounted to criticising the struggle for the homeland. Ambedkar’s famous, and heart-breaking, reply was: “Gandhiji, I have no homeland. No untouchable worth the name would be proud of this land.”
Even after he returned from South Africa, Gandhi still saw himself as a ‘responsible’ subject of Empire. But in a few years, by the time of the first national non-cooperation movement, Gandhi had turned against the British. Millions of people rallied to his call, and though it would be incorrect to say that he alone led India to freedom from British rule, of course he played a stellar part. Yet in the struggle, though Gandhi spoke about equality and sometimes even sounded like a socialist, he never challenged traditional caste hierarchies or big zamindars.
The rise of Dalit parties has been dazzling. The real worry is that even as Dalits become more influential in parliamentary politics, democracy itself is being undermined in serious, structural ways.
Industrialists like the Birlas, the Tatas and the house of Bajaj bankrolled Gandhi’s political activity and he took care never to cross swords with them. Many of them had made a lot of money during the First World War, and had now come up against a glass ceiling.
They were irked and limited by British rule and by their own brushes with racism. So they threw their weight behind the national movement.
Around the time Gandhi returned from South Africa, mill workers who had not benefited from the managements’ windfall profits had become restive and there were a series of lightning strikes in the Ahmedabad mills. The mill-owners asked Gandhi to mediate. I have written about Gandhi’s interventions over the years in labour disputes, his handling of labour unions and his advice to workers about strikes—much of it is very puzzling. In other areas too, the famous Gandhian ‘pragmatism’ took some very strange turns. For example, in 1924, when villagers were protesting against the Mulshi Dam being built by the Tatas some distance away from Pune, to generate electricity for the Bombay mills, Gandhi wrote them a letter advising them to give up their protest. His logic is so very similar to the Supreme Court judgement of 2000 that allowed the construction of the World Bank-funded Sardar Sarovar Dam to proceed...so Ambedkar was spot-on when he said, “The question whether the Congress is fighting for freedom has very little importance as compared to the question for whose freedom is the Congress fighting?”

Photograph by Corbis, From Outlook 10 March 2014
In the past you have written powerful political essays based on reporting from the field or on contemporary events as they unfold. But in this work, you seem to have done some very serious historical research and drawn very different conclusions from many known historians who have worked on the national movement, Gandhi and Ambedkar. You are obviously going to be challenged. Do tell us about the journey that writing The Doctor and the Saint involved.
You say I’ll be challenged? Oh, and here I was imagining that it was me that was doing the challenging! Several years ago, S. Anand, the publisher of Navayana, gave me a spiral-bound copy ofAnni­hilation of Caste and asked me if I would write an introduction to it. I read it and found it electrifying. But I was intimidated by the prospect of writing an introduction to it—a real introduction, not just some quotes patched together with praise and banalities. I didn’t feel that I was equipped to do that. I knew it would mean swimming through some pretty treacherous waters. Anand said he would wait, and he did.
On the issue of Muslims, there were serious differences between Gandhi and the Hindu Right. But on the issues of caste, religious conversion and cow protection, Gandhi was in stride with the Hindu Right.
Meanwhile, he began work on the annotations which place Annihilation of Caste in a context and make it an extraordinarily rich resource for scholars interested in the subject. I was writing fiction and had promised myself that I wasn’t going to write anything that involved footnotes anymore. But of course, when I started writing the introduction, given the way my argument developed, I had to reference almost every sentence. After a while I began to enjoy myself. The notes are not just references, they’re almost a parallel narrative, in and of themselves. I hope at least some people take the trouble to read them....
But coming back to your question of The Doctor and the Saintbeing a challenge—many historians have criticised Gandhi before, for other reasons, so I don’t think I am alone on this one at all. Many Dalits and Dalit scholars have, over the decades, been very sharply critical of Gandhi and Gandhism. Having said that, if this book begins another debate, a real debate, it can only be a good thing. I think it’s high time that there was one. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would be happy to weigh in on it.
Given what happened to Wendy Doniger’s book, are you worried?
Not about this book in particular, no. It’s Ambedkar’s book. But it’s true that we are becoming less and less free to write and say what we think. What the irreverent Mirza Ghalib could say in the 19th century about his relationship with Islam, what Saadat Hasan Manto could say about mullahs in the 1940s, what Ambedkar could say about Hinduism in the 1930s, what Nehru or JP could say about Kashmir—none of us can say today without risking our lives. The argument between Gandhi and Ambedkar that followed the publication of Annihilation of Caste was a harsh, intense debate between two extraordinary men—they were not afraid of real debate. Unlike contemporary bigots who demand book-banning, Gandhi—who found the text of Ambedkar’s speech disagreeable—actually wanted people to read it. He said, “No reformer can ignore the address.... It has to be read only because it is open to serious objection. Dr Ambed­kar is a challenge to Hinduism.”
Your introduction begins with a powerful critique of the all-pervasive domination of traditional upper castes in the establishment, including the media, and you suggest that there has been a ‘project of unseeing’ across the political establishment. Don’t you think that the post-Mandal realities of contemporary India have actually made caste a fundamental unit of all politics?
When you look at India, through the prism of caste, at who controls the money, who owns the corporations, who owns the big media, who makes up the judiciary, the bureaucracy, who owns land, who doesn’t—contemporary India suddenly begins to look extremely un-contemporary. Caste was the engine that drove Indian society—not just Hindu society—much before the recommendations of the Mandal Comm­ission. A long section ofThe Doctor and the Saint is an analysis of how, in the late 19th century, when the idea of ‘empire’ began to mutate into the idea of a ‘nation’, when the new ideas of governance and ‘representation’ arrived on our shores, it led to an immense anxiety about demography, about numbers. For centuries before that, millions of people who belonged to the subordinated castes—those who had been socially ostracised by privileged castes for thousands of years—had been converting to Islam, and later to Sikhism and Christianity to escape the stigma of their caste. But suddenly numbers began to matter. The almost fifty million “untouchables” became crucial in the numbers game. A raft of Hindu reformist outfits began to proselytise among them, to prevent conversion. The Arya Samaj started the Shuddhi movement—to ‘purify the impure’—to try and woo untouchables and Adivasis back into the ‘Hindu fold’. A version of that is still going on today with the VHP and the Bajrang Dal running their ‘Ghar Vapasi’ programmes in which Adivasi people are ‘purified’ and ‘returned’ to Hinduism. So yes, caste was, and continues to be, the fundamental unit of all politics in India.
So how can you call it a ‘project of unseeing’?
The ‘project of unseeing’ that I write about is something else altogether. It’s about the ways in which influential Indian intellectuals today, particularly those on the Left, for whom caste is just a footnote—an awkward, inconvenient appendage of reductive Marxist class analysis—have rendered caste invisible. To say “we don’t believe in caste” sounds nice and progressive. But it is either an act of evasion, or it comes from a position of such rarefied privilege where caste is not encountered at all. The ‘project of unseeing’ exists in almost all of our cultural practice—does Bollywood deal with it? Never. How many of our high-profile writers deal with it? Very few. Those who write about justice and identity, about the ill effects of neo-liberalism—how many address the issue of caste? Even some of our most militant people’s movements elide caste.
Is there a version of Communism that I endorse? I don’t know, I am not a Communist. But we do need a robust, structural critique of capitalism.
The Indian government’s churlish reaction to Dalits who wanted to be represented at the 2001 World Conference against racism in Durban is part of the ‘project of unseeing’. In the same way, the Indian census entirely elides caste in its data collection—leaving us all in the dark about what’s really going on—the scale of dispossession and violence against Dalits is part of the ‘project of unseeing’. Here’s something to think about—in 1919, during what came to be called ‘The Red Summer’ in the United States, approximately 165 Black people were killed. Almost one century later, in 2012 in India—the year of the Delhi gang-rape and murder—according to official statistics, 1,574 Dalit women were raped. And 651 Dalits were murdered. That’s just the criminal assault against Dalits. The economic assault, notwithstanding the emergence of a clutch of Dalit millionaires, is another matter altogether.
You say that caste in India—“one of the most brutal modes of hierarchical social organisation that human society has known—has managed to escape censure because it is so fused with Hinduism, and by extension with so much that is seen to be kind and good—mysticism, spiritualism, non-violence, tolerance, vegetarianism, Gandhi, yoga, backpackers, the Beatles—that, at least to outsiders, it seems impossible to pry it loose and try to understand it”. You argue that caste prejudice is on a par with racial discrimination and apartheid but has not been treated as such. Many would argue that electoral politics and reservation are adequate to deal with historical injustice. But recen­tly a senior Congress leader, Janar­dhan Dwivedi, said reservation should be discontinued. How would you respond to such an argument?
It was an outrageous thing for anyone to say. Reservation is extremely important, and I have written at some length about it. To be eligible for the reservation policy, a Scheduled Caste person needs to have completed high school. Govern­ment figures say more than 70 per cent of Sche­duled Caste students drop out before they matriculate. Which means for even low-end government jobs only one in every four Dalits is eligible. For a white-collar job, the minimum qualification is a graduate degree. Just over 2 per cent of Dalits are graduates. Even though it actually applies to so few, the reservation policy has meant that Dalits at least have some representation in the echelons of power. This is absolu­tely vital. Look at what one Ambedkar, who had the good fortune to get a scholarship to study in Columbia, managed to do. It is thanks to reservation that Dalits are now lawyers, doctors, scholars and civil servants. But even this little window of opportunity is resented and is under fire from the privileged. And the track record of government institutions, the judiciary, the bureaucracy and even supposedly progressive ins­titutions like jnu in implementing reservation is appalling. There is only one government department in which Dalits are over-represented by a factor of six.
Almost 90 per cent of those designated as municipal sweepers—people who clean streets, who risk their lives to go down manholes and service the sewage system, who clean toilets and do menial jobs—are Dalits. Even this sector is up for privatisation now, which means private companies will be able to subcontract jobs on a temporary basis to Dalits for less pay and with no guarantee of job security. Of course there are problems with people getting fake certificates and so on. Those need to be addressed. But to use that to say reservation shouldn’t exist is ridiculous.
But surely you agree that the rise of Dalit parties like the BSP marks something close to a revolution in Indian democracy?
The rise of Dalit political parties has been a dazzling phenomenon.
But then our electoral politics, in the present shape, cannot really be revolutionary, can it? The book, and not just the introduction, deals with it in some detail. Ambedkar’s confrontation with Gandhi at the Second Round Table Conference in London in 1931 had precisely to do with that—with their very different views on the matter of political representation of and for Dalits.
Ambedkar believed that the right to representation was a basic right.
Reductive Marxist class analysis renders caste invisible. Very few high-profile writers deal with it. Our most militant people’s movements elide the issue. It finds no place in Indian census data. It’s a Project of Unseeing.
And all his life he fought for untouchables to have that right. He thought and wrote a great deal about the first-past-the-post electoral system and how untouchables would never be able to emerge from the domination of privileged castes in such a system because the population was scattered in a way that they would never form a majority in a political constituency. Gandhi, who worked among untouchables with missionary zeal, was not prepared to allow them to represent themselves. And he explicitly worked against that possibility. His Harijan Sevak Sangh—funded by G.D. Birla—which fronted the Temple Entry movement was made up only of privileged caste members. In the Mahajan Mazdoor Sangh, the mill workers’ union that Gandhi started in Ahmedabad, workers, many of whom were untouchables, were not allowed to be office-bearers, they were not allowed to represent themselves. At the Second Round Table Conference in London in 1931, Gandhi said, “I claim myself, in my own person, to represent the vast mass of untouchables.” In S. Anand’s note on the Poona Pact at the back of the book, he writes of how Gandhi, in a reply to a question from an untouchable member of the Congress party asking if he would ensure that Harijans were represented in state councils and panchayat boards, said the principle was “dangerous”.
Gandhi played a great part in seeing to it that Ambedkar’s project of developing untouchables into a political community that was aware of its rights, that could choose its own representatives from among themselves, was thwarted and undermined. Even today Dalits are paying the price for that. Despite these odds, the Bahujan Samaj Party has emerged in UP. But even there, it took more than half a century for Kanshi Ram—and then Mayawati—to succeed. Kanshi Ram worked for years, painstakingly making alliances with other subordinated castes, to achieve this victory. The BSP needed the peculiar demography of Uttar Pradesh and the support of many OBCs. But if it is to grow as a political party, it will have to make alliances that will dilute its political thrust. For a Dalit candidate to win an election from an open seat—even in UP—continues to be almost impossible. Still, notwithstanding the charges of corruption and malpractice, I don’t think anybody should ever minimise the immense contribution the BSP has made in building Dalit dignity. The real worry is that even as Dalits are becoming more influential in parliamentary politics, democracy itself is being undermined in serious and structural ways.
Your account of the manner in which Gandhi prevailed over Ambedkar on the issue of the Communal Award, in which the British awarded a separate electorate for untouchables, is fascinating—the description of how Ambe­dkar had to give up his dream and sign the Poona Pact in 1932. But I have a question about the issue of separate electorates. Many histo­rians argue that this idea really was at the root of the problems that would lead to Partition. And many would argue against separate electorates. Do you think that India still needs separate electorates?
I think our first-past-the-post electoral system is gravely flawed and is failing us. We need to rethink it. But I think we should be careful of collapsing all these very contentious issues about separate electorates, the Communal Award and Partition into one big accusatory mess. As I said earlier, Ambedkar had thought out the demand for a separate electorate and separate representation for untou­chables very carefully. I really don’t want to restate what I’ve written...but let’s just say that he had come up with a brilliant and unique plan.
His idea really was to create a situation in which Dalits could develop into a political community with its own leaders. His proposal for a separate electorate was to last for only 10 years. And we are talking here about a people who were ostracised by the privileged castes for thousands of years in the most unimaginably crude and cruel manner—people who were shunned, who were not allowed access to public wells, to education, to temples, besides other things. People who were not entitled to anything except violence and abuse. But when they asked for a separate electorate, everybody behaved as though the world was ending.
Ambedkar speaks about the Adivasis in the same patronising way as Gandhi speaks about untouchables. It’s hard to understand how a man who saw the insult to his own people so clearly could have done that.
Gandhi went on an indefinite hunger strike and public pressure forced Ambedkar to give up his demand and sign the Poona Pact. It was preposterous. How can we possibly say that Ambedkar’s demand for a separate electorate led to Partition? The impulse was exactly the opposite. He was trying to bring liberty and equality to a society that practised a vicious form of apartheid. He was talking about justice, brotherhood, unity and fellow feeling—not Partition. But caste hierarchy means that only the privileged can close the door on Dalits.
When Dalits close the door on themselves, it is made out to be an act of treachery. Also, while we like to place all the blame for Partition on Jinnah—using the word ‘blame’ presupposes that everybody agrees that Partition was a terrible thing, but even that is not true—we forget that people like Bhai Parmanand, a founder-member of the Ghadar Party, a pillar of the Arya Samaj in Lahore, and later an important leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, suggested, as far back as 1905, during the partition of Bengal, that Sindh should be joined with Afghanistan and the North West Frontier Province, and should be united into a great Muslim Kingdom. Partition happened because a whole set of forces was set into play, and it all spun out of the control of the men who had positioned themselves at the helm of affairs.
You criticise Ambedkar quite harshly for his views on Adivasis.
Ambedkar speaks about Adivasis in the same patronising way that Gandhi speaks about untouchables. It’s hard to understand how a man who saw the insult to his own people so clearly could have done that.
Ambedkar was a man of reason, and a man with a keen sense of justice. I bel­ieve he would have taken the criticism seriously and would have changed his views. But that’s not the only criticism I have of him. In his embrace of Western liberalism, his support of urbanisation and modern ‘development’, he failed to see the seeds of catastrophe that were embedded in it. I have written about this at some length too.
You have also explored the great failure of Communists to address caste. You write that “they treated caste as a sort of folk dialect derived from the classical language of class analysis”. I think all Communists should read your precise take on the great trade union leader S.A. Dange. My question to you is this: Party communism has disappointed you. But is there any version of Commu­nism that you support and endorse?
My criticism of the way mainstream Communist parties have dealt with caste goes all the way back to The God of Small Things. When the novel came out in 1997, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was extremely angry with the book. They were angry with my depiction of a character called Comrade K.N.M. Pillai who was a member of the Communist Party and his prejudices against Velutha, a Dalit who was one of the main characters in the book. Communists and Dalits ought to have been natural allies, but sadly that has just not happened. The rift began in the late 1920s, quite soon after the Communist Party of India was formed. S.A. Dange—a Brahmin like many Communist leaders tend to be even today, and one of its chief ideologues—organised India’s first Communist trade union, the Girni Kamgar Union with 70,000 members. A large section of the workers were Mahars, untouchables, the caste that Ambedkar belonged to. They were only employed in the lower-paid jobs in the spinning department, because in the weaving department, workers had to hold the thread in their mouths, and the untouchables’ saliva was considered polluting to the product. In 1928, Dange led the Girni Kamgar Union’s first major strike. Ambedkar suggested that one of the issues that ought to be raised was equality and equal entitlement within the ranks of workers. Dange did not agree, and this led to a bitter falling out. That was when Ambedkar said, “Caste is not just a division of labour, it is a division of labourers.” There is a very very compelling section in Annihilation of Caste in which Ambedkar writes about Caste and Socialism. Is there a version of Communism that I support and endorse? I’m not sure what that means. I am not a Communist. But I do think that we are in dire need of a structural and robust criticism of capitalism, and I do not mean just crony capitalism.
Right now, the new player on the political scene, the Aam Aadmi Party, which is obviously inspired by Gandhian symbolism, is taking on crony capitalism. It has attacked Mukesh Ambani and RIL, who you wrote about in your last big essay Capitalism: A Ghost Story. What are your views on AAP?
It’s a little difficult to have a coherent view on AAP because it doesn’t seem to have a coherent view of itself. I am not an admirer of anti-corruption as a political ideology, because I think corruption is the manifestation of a problem, and not the problem itself. Of course, it gets a lot of political traction in an election year—after all even the corrupt are against corruption—but eventually it will lead us down a blind alley. But I was one of the people who cheered when AAP took on Mukesh Ambani. Suddenly everybody, the mainstream media as well as the social media, began to discuss the Ambanis and the gas-pricing issue—these are things that hardly anybody dared to even whisper about only a few months ago. We all remember how the news of the Ambani car crash in Mumbai was just blanked out. On this score, the Aam Aadmi Party has put a little steel into everybody’s spine. They identify themselves with the Gandhi cap, but going after industrial houses in this way is very un-Gandhian activity, and I’m all for it. I just hope it doesn’t end in a gladiatorial inter-corporate war, where a new monster takes the place of the old one. Mud-slinging and allegations about who has been bought over or bribed by whom is good entertainment, but the rot is deeper than corruption and bribery. The real problem as I see it is that the big corporations—Tata, Reliance, Jindals, Vedanta and several others—run so many businesses simultaneously. Mukesh Ambani is personally worth something like 1,000 billion rupees. But the Tatas, Vedanta, Jindals, Adanis are not all that different. Even if everything is completely above board there is a problem. Even if you are a hard-core classical capitalist you have to see there is a problem here. This kind of cross-ownership of businesses, this scale of profits—limitless profits—accruing to fewer and fewer people, the conflict of interest between corporates and the media—how can you have a free press that is owned and run by corporations? I understand that as a political strategy, AAP is singling out Mukesh Ambani and taking him on for the sheer spectacle of it. Having a 27-storeyed tower built as a personal residence—it’s hubris, he was asking, begging, to be taken down. But at some point I would be glad to see the problem being addressed in a more serious and structural way. Particularly since we are looking to AAP to put a few roadblocks in the way of what is being called the rise of Moditva—which is basically corporate capitalism fused with primitive fascism.
Many people will take issue with your interpretation when you say “there was never much daylight between Gandhi’s views on caste and those of the Hindu Right. From a Dalit point of view Gandhi’s assassination could appear to be more a fratricidal killing than an assassination by an ideological opponent”. You then go on to say that Narendra Modi is able to invoke Gandhi without the slightest discomfort because of this. Are you therefore handing Gandhi over to the Hindu Right? He is someone they have been eager to appropriate, so are you not playing into their hands?
Gandhi’s not a stuffed toy, and who am I to hand him over to anyone?
Let me just say this—on the issue of Muslims and their place in the Indian nation there surely were serious ideological differences between Gandhi and the Hindu Right, and for this Gandhi paid with his life. But on the issues of caste, religious conversion and cow protection, Gandhi was perfectly in stride with the Hindu Right. At the turn of the century—the 19th and 20th centuries—when various reformist organisations were proselytising to the untouchable population, the right-wing was, if anything, more enthusiastic. For example, V.D. Savarkar, a disciple of Tilak’s, and a hero of the Hindu Right, supported the 1927 Mahad satyagraha which Ambedkar led, for the untouchables’ right to use water from a public tank. Gandhi’s support was less forthcoming. Who were the signatories to the Poona Pact?
There were many, but among them were G.D. Birla, Gandhi’s industrialist-patron, who bankrolled him for most of his life; Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, a conservative Brahmin and founder of the Hindu Mahasabha; and Savarkar, who was accused of being an accomplice in the assassination of Gandhi. They were all interconnected in complex ways.
One cannot have a coherent view on AAP as it doesn’t have one of itself. But it has put steel in everyone’s spine. I just hope it doesn’t end in a gladiatorial inter-corporate war, where a new monster replaces the old.
Birla funded Gandhi as well as the Arya Samaj’s Shuddhi movement. When the RSS was banned after the assassination of Gandhi, Birla lobbied for the ban to be lifted. A recent report in Caravan about Swami Aseemanand, a major RSS leader and the son of a devout Gandhian, who is in jail, being tried for orchestrating a series of bomb blasts including the Samjhauta Express blast, in which about 80 people were killed, describes how boys in his ashram in Gujarat were made to chant the Ekata mantra every morning, an ode to national unity that invokes Gandhi as well as M.S. Golwalkar, the most important RSS ideologue.
Narendra Modi delivers many of his hissy pronouncements from a spanking new convention hall in Gujarat called Mahatma Mandir. In 1936, Gandhi wrote an extraordinary essay called The Ideal Bhangi which he ends by saying—“Such an ideal Bhangi, while deriving his livelihood from his occupation, would approach it only as a sacred duty. In other words, he would not dream of amassing wealth out of it.” Seventy years later, in his book,Karmayogi (which he withdrew after the Balmiki community protested), Narendra Modi said: “I do not believe they have been doing this job just to sustain their livelihood. Had this been so, they would not have continued with this kind of job generation after generation.... At some point of time somebody must have got the enlightenment that it is their (Balmikis’) duty to work for the happiness of the entire society and the Gods; that they have to do this job bestowed upon them by Gods; and this job should continue as internal spiritual activity for centuries.” You tell me—where’s the daylight?
When Arundhati Roy does a scathing critique of a man as revered as Mahatma Gandhi, it gets noticed around the world. Some would argue that keeping a beautiful idea alive is more important than undermining it with a certain reality.
That’s a good question. I actually thought about that quite a lot—as any writer would, or should. I decided it was completely wrong, completely unacceptable. That kind of a cover-up—and it would be nothing less than a cover-up—comes at a price. And that price is Ambedkar. We have to deal with Gandhi, with all his brilliance and all his flaws, in order to make room for Ambedkar, with all his brilliance as well as his flaws. The Saint must allow the Doctor a place in the light. Ambed­kar’s time has come.

Short Biography of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Dr. B R Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh where his father was posted as head instructor of  military training school. He belonged to Mahar family of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. Mahars were among the several untouchable castes of those times in Maharashtra
Original Surname The original surname of Dr. Ambedkar was “Sakpal” but a teacher in his school, who was fond of him changed his surname to his own as Ambedkar. The children of untouchables had to sit apart in classroom and had to bring their own gunny sack from home to sit on them. The same had to be done by Dr. Ambedkar also in his childhood. Education He graduated in 1912 from Elphinstone College, Bombay. He was married to Ramabai at the age of 14. With the financial assistance from Maharaja Sayajirao of Baroda, he joined Columbia University in USA in 1913 for higher studies. He was able to obtain his M.A. degree in 1915 for his thesis, ‘Ancient Indian Commerce’. In June 1916 he submitted his thesis on National Dividend for India: A Historic and Analytical Study for his PhD degree. In June 2016, he left Columbia University and joined London School of Economics and Political Science for advance studies. His scholarship was not extended and so he had to leave the study. From 1917 to 1920, he worked as Military Secretary to the Maharaja of Baroda. With the help of Shahu Chhatrapati, Maharaja of Kolhapur, he went back to London in 1920 for further study and obtained MSc (Economics) for his thesis, “Provincial Decentralisation of Imperial Finance in British India” in 1917. In 1923, he obtained DSc (Economics) for his thesis, “The problem of Rupee-Its Origin and Solution.” Social Influences During his stay in America, he was deeply influenced by two things. Firstly, it was the fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of USA, which granted freedom to the Negroes. Secondly,  he was impressed by the activities of Booker T. Washington, who was a great social reformer and educator of Negros in America. Back home, he was deeply influenced by three great social reformers viz. Kabir, Jyotiba Phule and Gautam Buddha. His family was a follower of Kabir and Kabir’s teachings of social equality influenced him in early childhood. Jyotiba Phule himself was an untouchable and great social reformer of Maharashtra who for the first time instilled self-confidence among the downtrodden in the history. He had established Satya Sodhak Samaj in 1873 and preached social equality among castes. It was Phule’s influence that Dr. Ambedkar later strived for anti-Brahmanism and amelioration of the masses, their education and economic upliftment. Finally, Buddha’s teachings gave him mental and metaphysical satisfaction and showed the way leading to the emancipation of untouchables. Further, Dr. Ambedkar was also influenced by the pragmatism of John Dewey, his teacher in America. All these influence led in the development of the social philosophy of Ambedkar on three principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. It was his conviction that he decided to fight against untouchability and oppression by upper castes. Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha In 1924, Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha was formed by Dr. Ambedkar for removing difficulties of the untouchables and placing their grievances before government. This was his first organization to achieve his political and social ideals. The aims and objects of the Sabha were: To promote the spread of education among the Depressed Class by opening Hostels or by employing such other means as may seem necessary or desirable. To promote the spread of culture among the Depressed study circles. To advance and improve the economic condition of the Depressed Classes by starting Industrial and Agricultural schools. To represent the grievances of the Depressed Classes. Mahad Satyagrah, 1927 The struggle of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar began from 1927 with Mahad Satyagraha. In 1926, the Municipal Board of Mahad in Maharashtra had passed orders to allow all communities including dalits to drink and collect water from a famous tank in the city. This tank was hitherto inaccessible for untouchables. These orders were opposed by upper caste Hindus and this led Dr. Ambedkar to call a conference of Dailts, which was participated by thousands of untouchables to support the municipal decision. In his address to the people there, Dr. Ambedkar asserted that the Hindu society should be organised on the basis of equality and absence of casteism. Here, he also burnt a copy of Manusmriti on December 25, 1927. Temple Entry Movements, 1930 In Maharashtra, as in other parts of the country, the untouchables were not allowed to enter the Hindu temples. Ambedkar organised a Satyagrah for entering into Kala Ram Mandir temple at Nasik in May 1930. It was the perception of Ambedkar that such Satyagrah may facilitate the entry of untouchables to other temples. Ambedkar led 15,000 male volunteers and 500 female volunteers in this Satyagrah. A mile long procession was taken towards Kala Ram Mandir in the batches of four. After a month’s struggle a compromise was reached to allow entry of untouchables. Depressed Classes Movement The Depressed Classes conferences were organised even before Ambedkar’s effort to oppose untouchability in Indian society. For the first time, the Depressed Classes Mission Society of India was formed by Justice Sir N.G. Chandravarkar on October 18, 1906. The first conference of Depressed Classes was convened on November 11, 1917 by Justice Chandravarkar. The conference pleaded the demands of untouchables before the government. The first All India Depressed Classes conference was held in Bombay on March 23, 1918 under the Chairmanship of Maharaja Shivajirao of Baroda. It was attended by many prominent leaders. Bal Gangadhar Tilak said in this conference that he would not recognise God if he were to tolerate untouchability. However, Ambedkar was sceptical about the movement started by high caste Hindus. In this backdrop, Ambedkar himself organised the All India Depressed Classes Association on August 8, 1930, and expressed great concern at the probability of the caste ridden Hindu Oligarchy being granted unrestricted power. For the first time, he demanded safeguards for the downtrodden untouchables in the Constitution and pleaded for direct representation in the councils in proportion to the strength of depressed community. Contrast with Gandhi on question of untouchability At around the same time, Mahatma Gandhi had broadened his movement for removal of untouchability under the banner of Anti-untouchability League in 1932. Gandhi advised that the activities of Anti-untouchability League should be mainly directed towards the economic, social and educational improvement of the depressed classes rather than to the temple entry and inter-dining. Henceforth, the word untouchable was replaced by Harijan and Anti-untouchability League was renamed has Harijan Sevak Sangh. This Harijan Sevak Sangh worked as a branch of Congress. Dr. Ambedkar was on the board of this Sangh but soon he disconnected himself from it because  he felt that this Sangh is not a platform for programme for removal of untouchability. This is how, Gandhi and Ambedkar developed different perspectives in context with the amelioration of problems of depressed classes. According to Dr. Ambedkar, Harijan Sevak Sangh was a political organisation aimed to draw untouchables into Congress fold. Consequently, he formed a Samata Sainik Dal (Social Equality Army) to dislodge all those values which conserved and fostered anti-human elements in the name of tradition and cultural heritage. We note here that after assassination of Gandhi in 1948, this Samata Sainik Dal was one of the organizations which were banned in those times. Dr. Ambedkar remarked that disbanding Samata Sainik Dal was an act of cowardice. Political Ideals of Ambedkar Regarding Empowerment of Untouchables Jawaharlal Nehru had termed Dr. Ambedkar as a symbol of revolt against the exploitative elements of Indian society. The struggle against the caste system and untouchability is based on some political ideals of Dr. Ambedkar. Firstly, Dr. Ambedkar had firm faith that caste system in India cannot be reformed and thus the only remedy is the total destruction of the caste system. In one of his speeches {Annihilation of caste}, he remarks that the root of untouchability is caste system, the root of caste system is religion attached to Varnashrma, the root of Varnashrma is Brahmanical religion, and the root of Brahmanical religion is authoritarianism. To him, virtue and charity have become caste ridden and morality has become caste bound. He characterised caste system as irrational and tyrannical and he attacked Brahmanism. He remarked that you would succeed in saving Hinduism, if you kill Brahmanism. Secondly,  he believed that some social reformers and saints of high castes had sympathy towards untouchables but they did not do any concrete action to improve their position in society. Hence, the movement for social equality should be initiated and launched by the untouchable themselves. Thirdly, he exhorted the depressed classes in self-improvement by leaving derogatory practices and concentrating on education and self-respect. He believed that the untouchables do not lack merit and so, they should improve their education and skills for better life. Fourthly, he was the staunch supporter of empowerment of depressed classes by demanding their due representation in political institutions. He participated in the Round Table conferences in 1930s as a representative of depressed classes. It was his persuasion that the British Government announced the Communal Award in 1932, which gave separate and communal representation to depressed classes. In Communal Award, a certain number of seats were reserved for depressed class candidates and who were to be elected by depressed class voters only. However, Gandhi opposed communal representation of depressed classes as he considered them as part of Hindu society. Gandhi went on fast unto death in Poona Jail in 1932 to demand withdrawal of this award. Finally, an agreement was reached between Gandhi and Ambedkar, which is known as Poona pact. In terms of this pact, the seats were to be reserved for these classes in proportion to their population, but the representatives of scheduled castes were to be elected by a joint electorate and not separate electorate. The same scheme has been adopted in the Indian Constitution. Thus, in the political empowerment of scheduled castes Ambedkar has played a very important role. Concept of Democracy Dr. Ambedkar believed that the democracy is a form of government which facilitates radical social and economic changes without violence through peaceful means. There are several reasons why Dr. Ambedkar supported the parliamentary form of democracy. Firstly, it does not give hereditary power to rulers and the political power is vested in the representatives elected by people. Secondly,  in democracy, no individual can claim that he is omnipotent and capable of doing all things in the government. Thirdly, democracy requires that ministers and rulers seek confidence of people at regular intervals. However, in this context also, Dr. Ambedkar had contrasted with Gandhi. While Gandhi supported decentralization, Dr. Ambedkar supported the unitary form of government or strong centre in the interest of unity and integrity of the nation. He opposed decentralisation of political power beyond a point. Conditions for Success of Democracy According to Dr. Ambedkar, there are several conditions needed for success of the democracy. Firstly, there needs to be social and economic equality. The lack of social and economic equality leads to social cleavages and violent revolution. Secondly,  the democracy should be based on multi-party system and should have a strong opposition. Thirdly, there should not be any scope for the tyranny of majority over the minority in democracy. The majority should always respect the viewpoint of minority. He distinguished between the political majority and the notion of communal majority. The member of political majority is free to take any political action which he finds suitable, whereas a member of a communal majority takes only those political actions, which are determined by his community. Therefore, he found that the caste system was the greatest obstacle in the way of democracy. He concluded that if we fail to ensure democracy in social life, the political democracy would not survive for long time. As far as methods of democracy are concerned, he argued that only the constitutional methods should be adopted to realise our social and economic objectives. He did not appreciate the methods of non-cooperation, civil disobedience or other forms of Satyagrah advocated by Gandhi. Further, he was against the practice of hero worship in democracy. According to Ambedkar, the main reason for the failure of democracy in India was that our political leaders treated their followers as domestic animals. The leaders did not have any faith in the rule of law and democratic procedure. Finally, the political democracy should be broadened to realise the idea of social democracy based on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity

Ambedkar’s Work and Mission

Monday 14 April 2008by C. Sheela Reddy
Some people are born great, some have greatness thrust upon them and some achieve greatness. To the last category, Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar belongs. Ambedkar was a great nationalist, political thinker, reformer and revolutionary and prolific writer with prodigious ideas. He stood for all scientific and social activities which enhanced the cause of human progress and happiness. His contribution in the making of the Constitution of India was phenomenal. He defiantly fought for the betterment of the oppressed classes. And in this struggle, he showed rare crusading spirit, carving out in the process an important place for himself among the prominent architects of modern India.
Ambedkar, the Cornerstone of the Constitution
DRAFTING a Constitution is by no means an easy task. It requires the highest statecraft, statesmanship, scholarship, intellectual acumen endowed with a flood of knowledge of the nation’s and world history, the working of Constitutions in the democratic, totalitarian and dictatorship governments. To Ambedkar, the Constitution was not just the basic law for the governance of the country. It was a vehicle of the nation’s progress, reflecting the best in the past traditions of the country, to cope with the needs of the present and possessing enough resilience to meet the needs of the future. At the same time he was of the view that it must be a living organ, not for one or two generations, but for generations to come. In that perspective, the provisions of the Constitution are couched in the language of generalities with pregnant contents of significance which vary from age to age and have at the same time transcendental continuity without any hiatus.
The heart of the Constitution is the Fundamental Rights given to every citizen and the Directive Principles to the executive and legislature for governance of the country. The idea behind them is to ensure certain basic rights to the citizens, so that they are not at the mercy of the shifting opinions of the legislators. The chapter on Fundamental Rights ensures the dignity of man as a human being and emphasises the creation of a casteless, classless and homogeneous society. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru remarked: “Dr. Ambedkar had played a most important part in the framing of India’s Constitution. No one took greater trouble and care over Constitution-making than Dr. Ambedkar.” He carved a unique and impregnable pride of place and honour in the history of the free Indian nation. So long as the Indian Constitution survives, the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar will remain immortal. He lives forever in the hearts of every downtrodden.
Political and Economic Thoughts
AMBEDKAR believed in a democratic system of government and power to the people had been a major concern for him. He was very clear that unless citizens have power in their own hands, there could be no democracy. That is why he says that democracy rests on four premises, where the citizen remains at the centre:
• The individual is an end in itself.
• The individual has certain inalienable rights, which must be guaranteed to him by the Constitution.
• The individual shall not be required to relinquish any of his constitutional rights as a price of any privilege.
• The state shall not delegate power to private persons to govern others.
The core of Dr Ambedkar’s political thinking is contained in two of his statements: (1) rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of society; and (2) a democratic form of government presupposes a democratic form of society. Social conscience is the only safeguard of all rights, fundamental or non—fundamental. The prevalent view, that once rights are enacted in a law they are safeguarded, is unwarranted. The formal framework of democracy is of no value. Democracy is essentially a form of society, a mode of associated living. The roots of democracy are to be searched in the social relationship, in the terms of associated life between the people who form a society.
Dr Ambedkar’s expertise as a constitutional expert went a long way in enshrining the concepts of political democracy in the Indian Constitution. To him, political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. Social democracy is a way of life which recognises liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life.
These principles are not to be treated as separate items but in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Unless there is social democracy, power to the people would remain a distant dream.
Ambedkar knew that mere adoption of a democratic system of government in the Constitution would not be sufficient. Equality in society, equality before law and administration, constitutional morality, lack of tyranny of the majority and developing public conscience are conditions for the success of democracy in India. The foremost condition for democracy, in Ambedkar’s opinion, is equality in society as equality is the foundation stone where the notions of liberty and fraternity develop. He remarked that equality is the original notion and respect for human personality is a reflection of it. If equality is denied, everything else may be taken to be denied.
Dr Ambedkar also recognised the fact that the lofty ideals expressed in the Constitution would remain as they were, given the nature of contradictions inherent in society. Absence of equality on the social and economic plane is a cause of contradictions. This has resulted in a society based on the principle of graded inequality on the social plane which means elevation for some and degradation for others. On the economic plane there are some in society who have immense wealth as against many who live in abject poverty. To deny equality in social and economic life would be putting political democracy in peril. If the contradictions are not removed, those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which Constituent Assembly has laboriously built up.
The observations made by Dr.Ambedkar on November, 25, 1949 are prophetic and relevant considering the present political situation in our country. However the good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turnout to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot. The working of the Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution. The Constitution can provide only the organs of state such as legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The factors on which the workings of these organs of state depend are the people and the political parties they will set up as their instruments to carry out their wishes and policies. It is, therefore, futile to pass any judgment upon the Constitution without reference to the part which the people and their parties are likely to play.
Social Philosophy
AMBEDKAR was, par excellence, a spokesman of the ignored humanity—the workers, small peasants and landless labourers. He expressed the sorrows of the untouchables and tried sincerely to channel the activities of the depressed classes. In mobilising them, he created a sense of self-respect and pride in them. He dedicated his life to the cause of removal of untouchability and completely identified himself with the socially segregated section of the Indian society. He launched a life-long crusade for liberating them from their centuries-old enslavement and ostracism. It is this crusade which “lifted him up high from a mere ghetto boy to a legend in his own lifetime”. He was born an untouchable and therefore he had an intense yearning to see that the untouchables are better placed in social, political and economic fields. He rejected social reforms received as charity and accommodation. He wanted social reforms as of right. He was not so much for peripheral social reforms in Hindu society like widow remarriage and abolition of child marriage. He was for a total reorganisation and reconstruction of the Hindu society on two main principles—equality and absence of casteism.
The socially progressive values that Dr Ambedkar cherished were the basis of his social and political life. Though he was born in the Mahar community, he never represented his own community but represented all those communities which were socially and economically downtrodden. He has been variously described as a crusader for the rights of the depressed classes of India, a literary genius, an eminent educationist, a political philosopher and an able parliamentarian. He was an indefatigable activist who by virtue of his formidable intellectual attributes started a movement for attainment of self-respect for the untouchables as well as depressed classes. He carried on a relentless struggle against the social, political and economic segregation of these classes.
Ambedkar’s thinking arose out of his acute dissatisfaction with the anomalous treatment meted out to the people of his community. His mind was preoccupied with the social amelioration, political enlightment, economic well-being and spiritual awakening of the downtrodden. He had a deep faith in fundamental human rights, in the equal rights of man and woman, in the dignity of the individual, in the promotion of better standards of life and, above all, in peace and security in all spheres of human life. He was a champion of a revolution to be brought about by the dynamics of public opinion through a change in the laws of the land. He was not a Utopian, but a realist. He saw a vast difference between a revolution and real social change. A revolution transfers political power from one party to another or one nation to another. The transfer of power must be accompanied by such distribution of power that the result would be a real social change in the relative strength of forces operating in society.
Ambedkar was totally committed to the annihilation of the caste system. According to him, caste system is not merely a division of labour but a division of labourers. It is a hierarchy in which the division of labourers is graded one above other. This division of labour is based on neither natural aptitude nor choice of the individual concerned. It is, therefore, harmful inasmuch as it involves the subordination of man’s natural powers and inclinations to the exigencies of social rules. Ambedkar reiterated:
The caste system prevents common activity and by preventing it, it has prevented the Hindus from becoming a society with unified life and a consciousness of its own being.
Ambedkar’s great vision enjoined the abolition of casteism in every shape and form, since he was opposed to all divisive forces and aimed at strengthing the impulse of national integration. The greatly cherished ideals of “fraternity and equality were the cement with which he wanted to bind together a totally cohesive nation”. Ambedkar’s philosophy was that self-respect and human dignity were of paramount importanance in a free republic. He espoused the noble cause of equality of status and opportunity to every Indian, assuring the dignity of the individual and unity of the nation. He was not merely a learned man, but also an intellectual who sacrificed his life for the dignity and uplift of the poorest of the poor of the world. His aim was not communal and not limited to personal benefit, but it was essentially social and human, related to all who suffered from slavery, injustice, tyranny and exploitation. Dr Ambedkar’s principle was not to fight against the particular persons who created a frustrating situation for him and his fellow sufferers, because the cause of the situation was not these persons but the social philosophy which supported a social system of inequalities. His long-range response was a direct attack against the root cause.
It is pertinent to raise some questions to reflect on Dr Ambedkar’s legacy. Have his projects shaped out as he would have wished? Has India moved in the direction that he thought optimal? Have his inheritors embalmed his ideas in dogma, or extended them while confronting new predicaments? Dr Ambedkar’s vision did not end at the horizon of Dalit power; rather, he envisaged an India liberated from caste consciousness, a futuristic society no longer trapped in the feudal binaries of master and slave, privilege and privation. Ironically, again, this vision has been negated by the perpetuation of caste attitudes in an electoral democracy whose political dynamics are fuelled by group antagonisms. With group identitities and interests raised to a cornerstone of political struggle, India now faces the long-running scenario of a caste war fought out on various social and economic fronts, at varying intensities.
The conditions of the untouchables and depressed sections of Indian society have not changed much. Social and economic justice is still evading them. The pathetic condition of the depressed classes has not shown the expected improvement. Social and economic inequalities continue to persist. Ambedkar’s dream of a society based on socio- economic justice, human dignity and equality is yet to be realised. So we cannot stop with Ambedkar and his programme of social reform. We have to go beyond Ambedkar in our struggle to establish an egalitarian society. Dr Ambedkar’s legacy will have to be retrieved and extended by activists committed to the social and cultural renaissance he had envisioned; and not by the political purveyors of an exhausted rhetoric who claim to speak in his name.
THE core of Ambedkar’s philosophy of life hapened to be the basics tenets of liberty, equality and fraternity. To him, A great man must be motivated by the dynamics of a social purpose and must act as the scourge and the scavenger of society. These are the elements which distinguish an eminent individual from a great man and constitute his title-deeds to respect and reverence.
Indeed, he himself fulfilled all the conditions of being a great man. His title to this dignity rests upon the social purposes he served and in the way he served them. His life is a saga of great struggles and achievements. His message to the people was:
You must have firm belief in sacredness of your mission. Noble is your aim and sublime and glorious is your mission. Blessed are those who are awakened to their duty to those among whom they are born. 

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