Tribtue to Dr Ambedkar on death anniversary, December 6
Dr Krishna Gopal
The life of Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar popularly known as Babasaheb, who extolled in his life with sheer dint of his intellect, hard work and firm determination, is full of diversities, though he is primarily known as maker of the Indian Constitution but his role in ameliorating the condition of the neglected and oppressed sections of the society is often overlooked. These two aspects of his life are most important and there is no doubt about it. But there are other equally or even more important aspects of his life and mission that needs more in depth study, analysis and research. The present discussion is a humble attempt to throw light on some of such unattended aspects of his life.
Born in a most common family Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar carved a niche for himself on the basis of his brilliant capabilities and intellect braving all shortages, neglect, insults and hatred of his time. His intellect was accepted by the country and he was made the member of the Constituent Assembly. He had in his mind to work for providing constitutional rights to the untouchables. He was surprised when the Constituent Assembly appointed him member and later Chairman of the Drafting Committee. He did not expect such a great honour even in dreams that he, a untouchable, would be made to head a committee comprised of members coming from so-called higher castes.
One remarkable thing that is visible in Dr Ambedkar’s life is that he was not in favour of total annihilation of all old ideals, systems and customs neither he had enmity towards any caste or varna. He believed in preserving that was good and removing that which has lost its propriety. From this point of view he can be described as an agitationist.
Dr Ambedkar explained Dharma in the light of thoughts of Prof Elwood. He writes: “Dharma is basically a value deciding tendency that accords universality to man’s determination and feelings and thus Dharma coordinates between human beings and their determination and feelings…..Dharma encourages hopes and gives new strength to face adversity in life.
Dr Ambedkar taught his followers to take all along with them. His fight was not with those castes but with those mentalities that considered others as fallen or downgrades or even untouchables. He never allowed hatred, enmity and caste conflict to dominate in his movement and mission. Like Buddha he too believed that even the greatest of enemies can be won by selfless and pure love. This was the reason that we find people from all castes working hand in hand with Dr Ambedkar.
Dr Ambedkar accorded priority to social reforms over political reforms. He was in favour of political freedom, no doubt, but wanted that the process of social reforms should also be carried out side by side. For him the social reforms of Congress were incomplete and he used to say “Congress is not committed in its mission. Had it been so, it would have made compulsory the condition of removing untouchability for its membership as it had made wearing khadi.”
“Who is more courageous—a social reformer or a political leader?” Babasaheb wanted to know. And he answered that a social reformer is more courageous as he has to face the axe of social boycott as he challenges the society. The political reformer challenges the political power and simply invites a jail term. Any social reformer remains aloof from his friends, society and even his near and dear ones; he faces the wrath of the people. But when a political reformer challenges the power that be and faces jail term he is praised as freedom fighter, patriot, or even martyr.
Very few people knew that Dr Ambedkar was a great economist. He obtained knowledge about economics from famous universities of the world. He obtained MA, PhD, DSc in economics from London School of Economics. He wrote many books including Administration and finance of the East India Company; The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India; The Problem of the Rupee (The History of Indian Currency and Banking, Vol-1) which were hailed by many economists of his time. The country could not utilise his expertise in this field.
Dr Ambedkar was opposed to the demand of separation of Muslim majority Sindh province from Bombay Presidency. Dr Ambedkar was elected member of the Bombay Presidency and was against the suggestion of the Bombay State Committee that placed its demand before the Simon Commission in 1928. Dr Ambedkar was of the strong view that separating Sindh as Muslim Majority province would tantamount to Partition of the country.
He wrote: “Hardly majority of people knew that India is not the only country where Muslims are in minority. In other countries also Muslims live but they are not given separate electorates. Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Russia have Muslims as minority population but these countries have not pressed for separate electorates for them. Thus their demand in India is far away from logic and truth.”
Dr D R Jatav writes that Dr Ambedkar opposed separate electorate for Muslims on the plea that this would destroy democracy. Constituencies could be reserved on the basis of number but voting should be done by adults only.
From the very beginning he was not in favour of separate electorate. Congress supported separate electorates for Muslims and did not oppose the same for the Sikhs which disturbed Dr Ambedkar. The British wanted to give separate electorates for Scheduled Castes and after the Second Round Table Conference they got them. Gandhi opposed this provision as it would have divided the Hindu society and started fast unto death at Yerwada Jail on September 20, 1932. Dr Ambedkar, who had earlier opposed this now came in support of the same. He was persuaded by Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, Rajgopalachari, Tejbahadur Sapru and the number of reserved constituencies was increased for Harijans. All promised to fight for eradication of untouchability and Dr Ambedkar gave up his demand under the Poona Pact which was signed on September 24, 1932.
Similarly he was opposed to the reorganisation of states on the basis of languages. He was of the view that all the languages are national one and wanted that a feeling of one nationality should be injected in all the people so that they think that they are Indians first and Indians last.
Dr Ambedkar blasted the myth of Aryan invasion with his scholarly intervention. He termed the western indologists for floating this theory because they thought that like Europeans the Aryans were too belonged to a higher race and like Europeans who destroyed the cultures and races of various lands, the Aryans too invaded India and pushed the Dravids to the south. This is all baseless and wrong to say that the Aryans came from outside.
He was a strong critic of Pt Nehru’s foreign policy and had even resigned from the Cabinet on this issue. Addressing the Parliament on the eve of his resignation he said: “I am not just concerned over the foreign policy of the country, I am worried too. When we became free in 1947 we had a lot of friends in the world. Within just four years we have lost many of them with no friend worth the name left behind. Even in the UNO we have no friend who would support us.”
Warning about the dangerous portents of Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1949 he said: “By accepting Chinese claim over Lhasa the Prime Minister allowed China to have direct borders with India. I am afraid, in future India would be exposed for invasion to the Chinese and they would not lose this opportunity because by nature they are aggressive.”
When Muslim League demanded Pakistan, Dr Ambedkar pressed for total exchange of population between Pakistan and India. He believed that there was more hatred between the Hindus and Muslims and as such they could not live in peace. Therefore, there should be complete exchange of populations to save both the countries from impending civil war.
What is the greatest gift of Dr Ambedkar to Hindu society? He did not want to die in Hindu Dharma and he had made this clear on a number of occasions. When he declared that he would leave Hindu fold many Christian and Muslim religious leaders called on him to persuade him to join their religions. But he declined their proposals for he was aware that even after conversion to these alien faiths, the caste system and caste feelings did not vanish. His acceptance of Buddhism and initiation in that faith saved the Hindu society from further division and this is the greatest gift he had given to the Hindu society.
(The writer is Sahsarkaryavah of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh)