Ambedkar was for full social integration
By Manju Gupta
Dr Ambedkar on Minorities by Shriprakash Singh, India First Foundation, 172 pp, Rs 300.00
Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar was an exception among his contemporaries as he was the chief architect of the socio-economic and political power structure of modern India with his very own and individualistic social views.
Dr Ambedkar considered the society and nation above everything else. India has been able to reach where it is today because of the solid foundation he provided by laying down the Constitution of India and by working towards the empowerment and uplift of the Dalits. He was disturbed at the elements of untouchability, social inequality, social division and appeasement of the minorities.
It is a common phenomenon to see that while one gets over one challenge, another raises its head. And there is one particular challenge?the problem of minorityism, which is considered the mother of secessionism?that never seems to come to an end. Here one is tempted to ask, what is minorityism? Who are the minorities? What are the constitutional safeguards for them? What is their social, political and economic condition? Why is it so?
In order to obtain the answers to such queries, one needs to study the architect of the Indian Constitution, a great scholar, legal expert and social reformer Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
Regarding the question as to who are the minorities, the author Shivprakash Singh has presented the views of great thinkers and politicians against the Indian perspective in the first chapter. He has attempted to analyse the linguistic, regional, cultural, racial or religious basis for granting the minority status. At one place the author has quoted Theodore P. Right (Jr) as saying, ?It is generally considered that Hindus are a majority?But to say this is wrong and misleading. There are many sub-caste minorities in this vast community called as Hindus…and there are many places where Muslim community attains the majority status.? Even the renowned thinker Myron Weiner has said, ?A class constituting as majority may be minority from another point of view.?
Dr Ambedkar explained this issue in detail and said, ?There are several minority classes who must get their distinct political identity but all of these minority classes are not similar. There is a great disparity among them and they differ from one another on a large scale. For example, the Parsi community is the smallest group of minority. Social and economic status of this community is at par with that of the majority community. On the other hand, the social status of the Dalits, which is the second largest minority group after the Muslims, is a big zero.?
In the second chapter, the author analyses the question as to who are the minorities which were named in the Round Table Conference of 1930-31 in London. Dr Ambedkar was not satisfied with conferring the Dalits with the special status only. He wanted to provide equal rights and economic security. Since Mahatma Gandhi was of the view that only Muslims and Sikhs should be recognised as minority, Ambedkar came into conflict with him. At the Round Table Conference in London, a member of the sub-committee, Shri A.P. Patrui asked, ?Are Dalits not Hindus? Will you separate them from Hindus? There are such Dalits among the Dalit class who will revolt against such a suggestion. Dr Ambedkar may go to south India, let him tell the Dalits that they are not Hindus, he will see the outcome.? Even K.M. Munshi said, ??Harijans are part and parcel of Hindu society.? But Ambedkar, in the draft of the Constitution of India that he had prepared, made provisions for Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs and linguistic minorities in the Constitution under Fundamental Rights.
The theme of the third chapter is the constitutional provision for providing reservations to Muslims which has led to religious conversion, fanaticism, growing madrasa culture, secessionist approach, terrorist alliance, formation of extremist outfits, misuse of madrasas as centres for terrorists, pro-Arab and pro-Pakistan feelings of Indian Muslims.
The sixth chapter is based on constitutional provisions. What constitutional provisions did Ambedkar make for the Dalits? What is their present status? What benefits have they derived? What loss have they suffered? On this issue, the author regrets that after 58 years of our Independence we are moving in the reverse direction for which all the political parties are responsible. He regrets that we have ?forgotten the history of our freedom movement and the ideals of those who led the way to freedom. We have forgotten the Constitution which contains all these ideals.?
The seventh chapter, which is also the last chapter, presents the personal views of the writer of the book.
This book, while analysing Dr Ambedkar'sviews on religion and religious conversion, has advised the Hindu society to curb the tendency to view different sects in India as minorities as this would lead the country to appear as a nation of minorities only.