AMBEDKAR JAYANTI


Today is Ambedkar Jayanti ,and in keeping with reading at least one article about every person's day , this is the one I pick.
I , personally, have a distaste for Arundhati Roy's style of writing, I think she chooses to complicate statements that could be expressed in far simpler terms, and has a way of going on about one thing for 20 pages. Personal opinion. That being said, this is quite an interesting paper.

It compares the ideologies of Ambedkar and Gandhi, and glorifies Ambedkar , in a certain sense.
Now, I won't pretend to have read the whole thing, and I don't expect any of you to read it through to the end.
But, it does make some interesting points.

We have statues of Ambedkar, all over the country. I don't think there's a single town that doesn't boast of a bronze, or stone man marching ahead , with a book in his hand. He is supposed to be marching ahead, leading India into a civilized , lawful nation, and the book in his hand is the 'Constitution of India'. We have repeatedly through every civics class in school learnt about his role in the writing of the Constitution. That's the association our brains come up with Ambedkar - Constitution - Dalits - Reservations.
But, what do we really know about the man ?


He was strongly criticised for being 'anti'-congress , for being anti-Gandhi, and that, of course, was a sin. He was in British employment at the time of the freedom struggle, and that damned him. But he was right when he said he had no cause to fight for freedom, for Swaraj, wasn't he? He used to be under the yoke of the upper Hindu castes, now he was under the British yoke, and if he fought against it, he would again be under the upper castes' yoke. So, did it matter? He and his fellow untouchables (harijans as Gandhi liked to call them) were going to be ill-treated regardless who was in power in the country.
“Gandhiji, I have no Homeland,” was Ambedkar’s famous reply. “No Untouchable worth the name will be proud of this land.”

He was a revolutionary in his own right , a man who balanced being a part of the system , and opposing it at the same time. A dichotomy which confused many about his real stand.
But it is understandable. He was doubly oppressed... possessed of a double identity - an Indian, and an untouchable. And negotiating the two , he made the best of his circumstances.
The article explores this internal struggle, and Ambedkar's struggle with the 'father of the nation' .

Ambedkar's life work, as he himself claimed , was encompassed in his "Annihilation of Caste" ( An excellent read, please download a copy) , and yet history-makers put the book of the Constitution in his hand, made him the face of a work he wasn't even fully satisfied with. There were many aspects of the constitution, he helped frame, that he was quite displeased with.
The book that's held in Ambedkar's hand, as he marches forward into an enlightened future, should be the "Annihilation of Caste".
This argument is thoroughly explained in the article, and serves as an eye-opener.


I know I will remember his true legacy whenever I see his idol, which I do at least ten times a day, thanks to the Dalit Samajs. Where I live, there's statute at almost every street corner (and this is, but a slight exaggeration).


History is written by the victors... the followers of victors. And Gandhi, and the Congress were the victors. They used his image to represent the Indian constitution makers. The later , self-serving minorities groups/Dalit Samajs used and use his image as the leader of selfish propaganda , vote politics and to play the victim card (6 decades later!).

And Ambedkar, the man is lost to us, is all of this.
Let us try to revive the man behind the false images-- the intellectual, the revolutionary, the fighter -- a good human being.

Now whenever I see a statue of Ambedkar, I see a hero, marching forward into an egalitarian India, with a copy of his masterpiece "Annihilation of Caste" is his hands.


PS- I realise I've mentioned "Annihilation of Caste" way too many times, but that's kind of what the article kind of stresses on, and I am writing about it. His biography, all the stuff about Buddhism , and law ministry - ‪#‎wikipedia‬.

Comments

  1. "The later, self-serving minorities groups/Dalit Samajs used and use his image as the leader of selfish propaganda , vote politics and to play the victim card (6 decades later!)." I find these very problematic. Are you saying that caste discrimination has ended in India and dalits are "playing" victims without being victims? It's been 6 decades but if you have a look at the state of caste discrimination, I'm sorry but not much has changed. One look at the matrimonial columns in newspapers are testimonies to the great Indian educated and enlightened casteist middle class. And the count of statues. How many statues don't we have of Gandhi and his parivar and other upper caste leaders all over the place? Colleges, universities, airports are named after them, currency is printed with their photos but no one thinks the upper castes are over-represented in these. Why?

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  2. You just concentrated on that one line and took it out of context.. I didn't say it was a problem that the man had statues... Its an honor he deserves, just to put a spin on it that he wasn't all for was problematic... And I didn't really know what to say about your upper class comments cause most of the blog was Gandhi bashing... And you kinda said I supported Congress when a whole para was about the false propaganda and bitchiness of congress... I didn't why you were attacking things that you agreed with.
    And I still don't get how you deny that the 'creamy' layer of the scheduled castes exploit the upper castes and the down trodden lower castes.
    We know they do. Some of them might be fighting for real rights in rural areas. But you know how they hype the issue for votes and stuff in the cities at the very least.

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  3. No, I don't understand why people (mostly from the upper castes) hype the issue of creamy layer so much. And I think it is fair to expect that the creamy layer is probably much more likely to represent their folks as compared to what the upper castes are doing in their positions at the top of the ladder anyway where they are over-represented even compared to the creamy layer. And when we only look at the middle class which constitutes both the creamy layer and some from the upper castes, and thus problematize why one should benefit at the expense of the other, we are still only looking at class and not taking caste into account. Also, there is a fine line between vote bank politics and representation. Vote bank politics is when the powerful try to divide the powerless on some arbitrary difference to break their solidarity so that the powerless fight among each other and forget to fight against the powerful who continue to oppress them. It is not vote bank politics when people from a historically oppressed group try to organize themselves on the basis of their identity of belonging to an oppressed group. I think we need to differentiate between the two. Secondly, caste discrimination is very much present in urban areas as well. It only manifests in different forms in rural vs urban. Like my earlier example, if caste didn't matter in the urban areas, are matrimonials lying? And even meritocracy itself is an enemy of all students, keeping the caste divides aside for a minute. We should remember that, because of the limited number of seats which are always much much lower than the number of students who want to study or seek employment, an unequal society is maintained on the lines of class. We should together question that. Raking up the issue of reservation rather than understanding why it is necessary is also a ploy to make students across castes fight with each other over who is getting how many of those few seats in the already limited pie rather than question why the pie is so small. That issue gets sidelined. This is votebank politics, where the real issues get sidelined by making students whose interests are otherwise similar fight with each other thus breaking the solidarity among them.

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