This article is written by Dhananjai Singh Rana, Student, BBA LLB (Hons.), Amity Law School Noida. The article deals with the deliberation on the life and teachings of Dr BR Ambedkar and his ideologies.
Dr B.R Ambedkar was the architect of the Indian Constitution and was also India’s first Law and Justice Minister. He devoted his complete life to combat the annihilation of caste by proliferating a motion against the evils of sophistication discrimination. Being himself a Dalit, he made all his efforts to vary the hierarchical structures of Indian society and restoration of the same rights/justice to the marginalized and abolition of untouchability. He stood for an entire reorganization and reconstruction of the Hindu society at the precept of equality unfastened from casteism. He encouraged equality of possibility. He opted for non-violent and constitutional strategies for the sake of resolution of social issues.
B. R Ambedkar- History
Dr B R Ambedkar was born in 1891 into an untouchable caste, stated as mohar – a bunch which was regarded by the British as ‘inferior village servants’. He experienced racial discrimination from an early age, which he defined vividly in his later writings. When at the University, he was not even allowed to touch the taps to quench his thirst and was only allowed to drink water from the tap if it was opened by someone from the upper caste. Ambedkar’s father was a respectable soldier in the Indian Navy and wanted his sons to be educated. At that point, instructors were often reluctant to interact with Dalit youngsters, frequently refusing to mark their exams. Ambedkar turned out to be first in his community to graduate high school and went on to pursue BA in economics and politics at Bombay University, where he met Saraji Rao, the maharajah of the princely kingdom of Baroda. The Maharajah turned into a lively suggestion of social reforms, inclusive of the removal of untouchability. He subsidized Ambedkar’s further education abroad, first at Columbia University, where he finished his Master’s and his PhD, and later at London School of Economics.
All through this period, Ambedkar studied economics, records, and politics, and wrote on a variety of topics, inclusive of the records of caste in India. There’s additional proof in his letters about his perception on schooling as a path to progress, with a specific emphasis on lady schooling. In 1917, Ambedkar’s studies were disrupted with the aid of the conflict and accordingly the termination of his scholarship. He became obliged to go back to India, where he was forcibly reminded of his untouchable reputation, something which he had been incapable of escaping even in the west.
He was even appointed as a Professor at the Sydenham University of Trade and Economics in Bombay, where he was subjected to racial discrimination by his fellow mates. This was the time when he started to campaign in support of Dalit rights. In 1919, he gave proof to British of the desire of separate electorates and reserved seats for untouchables and spiritual minorities, before the Government of India Act, 1919 which laid the first (very limited) foundations for Indian self-authorities. In 1920, he started a weekly Marathi paper, which strongly criticized the caste hierarchy and concerned a Dalit awakening and mobilization towards equality. He also gave motivational lectures convened via the maharajah of Kolhapur, both of which culminated in powerfully symbolic inter-caste dining. It was with the aid of the maharajah of Kolhapur that he was able to return to London and complete his studies at LSE, and his criminal education at Grey’s Hotel.
On his return to Bombay in 1924, Ambedkar intensified his campaign for social reform by establishing the Basharat Hankering Sabha (Group for the Wellbeing of the Excluded) to market socio-political awareness among the Dalits and lift public awareness of their grievances. Over the subsequent twenty years, he played a key role in organizing the untouchables. He created Dalit newspapers, social and cultural institutions, attended more conferences of the Depressed Classes, initiated protests against discrimination in temple entry and access to water, and passionately promoted Dalit access to education. At an equivalent time, he took opportunities offered by the British government to petition for political rights, even on occasions when the Indian National Congress chose to boycott the constitutional reform discussions, for instance during the Simon Commission. He also founded two political parties to contest elections that were granted by the British in 1937 and 1946, although these had little success against the well-resourced Congress Party.
Views on Nationalism
Dr Ambedkar was a social reformer who at the very youth of his career realized what it meant to be an untouchable and the way struggle against untouchability might be launched. The social movement of the caste Hindus couldn’t win him to their side due to his existential understanding of the pangs of untouchability. The problem of untouchability for social reformers was a serious issue. This problem was exterior to them in the sense that it affected only the untouchables. They had never experienced the sinister blows of untouchability.
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s perception of Indian nationalism started with different objectives, which amounted to the welfare of the marginal section of the society. He wanted equality and civic rights for those persons who were bereft of them for thousands of years. Without the upliftment of the lower strata of the society, a nation can’t get momentum for its overall development and can’t have strength in real sense. He had full faith within the greatness and traditional culture of his country and therefore the dignity of his countrymen. Nationalism in him started as a protest, both external domination, and internal oppression. He held the British Empire liable for the negligence of the welfare of Indian people. He argued that status granted to people was “midway between that of the surf and therefore the slave”. Consistent with him, these enforced servility and bar to human intercourse as the consequences of the untouchablity practice, which involved not merely the likelihood of discrimination social life. He said that our government would amend the entire social and economic code of life without the abolition of untouchability.
A nation can’t get united and national brotherhood couldn’t be appreciated by the untouchable and even higher castes. The British government would never be ready to play such a risk. For that purpose, it required a government, which is “of the people, for the people, and by the people” that will make this possible. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar remarked, “British government didn’t energetically and enthusiastically work for the restoration of the rights of the depressed classes and it didn’t exercise its power to counterfeit the problems faced by the untouchables.” Unless the citizens of India secured political power and unless that power was concentrated within the hands of the socially suppressed section of Indian society, it might not be possible to completely wipe out all social, legal, and cultural disabilities under which that section suffered. His main objective was the liberty of the people. Without freedom, nationalism becomes a way of internal slavery, forced labour, and arranged tyranny for the poor and servile classes. Dr Babasaheb argued that “it is entirely wrong to concentrate all our attention on the political independence of our country and to forget the foremost significant issue of social and economic independence. It’s disastrous to imagine that political independence necessarily means real all-sided freedom”.
Views on National Integration
The nation-building has been a posh phenomenon as it covers overall development of nation-state i.e. economic development, increases the spread of literacy, development of mass media, social development, and military strength. The approach of nation-building within the late 20th century has necessarily varied to be with the statecraft of Machiavelli and Hobbs. Before the independence, nation-building denoted techno-economic tasks of the sort performed by government agencies just like the railways, structure department, etc. Nation-building may be a continuous process as it’s a search for perfection, which remains an ever-changing phenomenon. Thus, no nation can claim to have been built to a T. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s contribution to the state building is his direct participation and role within the formulation of certain development policies and planning.
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was involved in policy making, once as a Law Minister within the central cabinet of independent India during 1947-51, and earlier as a member of the Viceroy’s Council, responsible for the labour, irrigation and power portfolios. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was an eminent economist. He was the first Indian to write down the comprehensive economic study, including theoretical issues also as concrete economic problems. He was the primary Indian to write down on national dividend for India, a historic and analytical study. His ideas regarding economic policy, and administration, provincial autonomy and problems of Indian people, poverty, unemployment and inequalities, stagnant agriculture, and distorted industrialization were outstanding. His assertions that (i) social exploitation and injustice were prevalent in every country and (ii) political and economic phenomena were hooked into one another are relevant even today.
He approached and examined the issues with such foresight that his analysis and treatment of a number of them are extremely relevant even today. He got his M.Sc. for his thesis on, “The evolution of provincial finance in British India” and he was awarded D.Sc. for his thesis on, “The problem of the rupee”. His evidence before the Hilton-Young commission was his important contribution to the discussion of the currency problem in India. On different occasions, he has addressed the issues of landless labourers, smallholdings, khoti system, collective farming, land revenue, and the abolition of landlordism. He has expressed his thoughts on the nationalization of industries, food position, socialism, and social equality. In his budget speeches, he had also discussed taxation problems.
Other important works and teachings
Dr Ambedkar expressed his views on Caste through his piece titled “Caste in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development” before the Anthropological Seminar of Dr A.A. Goldenweiser, the Columbia University, New York, USA, on 9th May 1916 for his Doctoral Degree. He described the class structure of Hindu society from the Anthropological point of view. He observed that the population of India may be a mixture of Aryans, Dravidians, Mongolians, and Scythians. These came into India from various directions bearing various cultures, norms, and traditional systems. They gradually came down as peaceful neighbours. Through communication, mutual contact, and sexual activity they evolved a standard culture. Ethnically, all people are heterogeneous. It’s the unity of culture that’s the idea of homogeneity. He believed in intermarriage. To him, the superimposition of endogamy and exogamy means the creation of caste. He described four causes of disparity between men and women. These are: (a) burning the widow together with her deceased husband; (b) compulsory widowhood by which a lady isn’t allowed to remarry; (c) imposing celibacy on the widower; (d) getting him married to a woman not married.
To sum up, all the thoughts of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar bear implicit and explicit impact on the learned; also as illiterate members of Dalit communities. These thoughts have played an important role when most of the social and political leadership seemed distracted by its social concerns. As has been mentioned earlier, Dr. Ambedkar was convinced about illiterate, ignorant untouchable followers. So, he used the only language to place forth their history, social station and political and non-secular measures to urge obviate the wrath of the class structure. As a result, thousands of Buddhists thoroughly followed him and commenced to practice his message in lifestyle. Those that entered welfare work took it as a lift to review thought processes and people who enrolled in the class in the college assumed power as a weapon of words. Hence, it becomes necessary to review the Dalit autobiographies on the backdrop of enlightened messages of the great humanitarian leader of Dalits. According to Dr Ambedkar, there are several conditions needed for the success of democracy. Firstly, there must be social and economic equality.
The shortage of social and economic equality results in social cleavages and violent revolution. Secondly, democracy should be supported by a multi-party system and will have a robust opposition. Thirdly, there shouldn’t be any scope for the tyranny of the majority over the minority in democracy. The bulk should respect the point of view of the minority. He distinguished between the political majority and therefore, the notion of communal majority. The member of the political majority is liberal 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 class structure was the major obstacle within the way of democracy. He remarked that if we fail to ensure equality in social life, political democracy wouldn’t survive for an extended time.
As far as methods of democracy are concerned, he argued that only the constitutional methods should be adopted to understand our social and economic objectives. He didn’t appreciate the methods of non-cooperation, direct action, or other sorts of Satyagrah advocated by Gandhi. Further, he was of the opinion that the power of the people to disapprove of the policies by the government was the ultimate failure of democracy in India. It was that our political leaders treated their followers as livestock. The leaders didn’t have any faith in the rule of law and democratic procedure. Finally, political democracy should be broadened to understand the thought of political orientation supporting the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join: