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Understanding Ambedkar & Ambedkarism

  Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on 14th April 1891 in a military cantonment in Mahu town of Madhya Pradesh. He was a political leader, philosopher, anthropologist, historian, orator, economist, teacher, editor (journalist), writer, revolutionary and a revivalist for Buddhism in India. He was the first Law Minister of India and also the Minister of Labor, Energy, Public Constructions & Water Resources. He was the chairman of Constitution Drafting Committee and became the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. In British India, only kings, dignitaries, degree holders & tax payer rich people was having the right to vote for any election; in this era, the first person who said, “Every person should get equal rights of voting for elections”, not only in India but in the whole Asia was Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

  In his early life, he faced many difficulties in education because of his caste. He was born to Bhimabai & Ramji Sakpal in a poor Mahar caste, which was treated as untouchable. These untouchable castes include mainly Mahar, Matang, Chambhar, Lohar, Sutar, Teli, Mali, Shimpi, Koshti, Kunbi, Dhangar, Chandal, Bhangi, Valmiki, Mehtar, etc. People belonging to these castes were also called as "Shudra(s)" and these Shudras were prohibited to take education. So, these people remained untouched & uneducated since about 2,500 years - till independence of India. Only so-called upper castes were able to be educated. These upper caste people can harass, scold, take revenge, punish the people belonging to lower caste than them. These brutal rights were given to upper castes by "ManuSmruti", a Hindu scripture. This hierarchy of caste was inscribed in ManuSmruti and all the privileges were given to Brahmins, the priests & uppermost caste. Below them are Kshatriyas, the warrior caste. Thirdly, the Vaishyas are traders & businessmen. And below are the Shudras, they were only servants to all their upper caste. This classification of castes in four categories & their work is called as "Varna" or "Varnashram System". But according to Brahminism, all other three Varnas were Shudra to them.

  In 1897, Ambedkar's family moved to Bombay where Bhimrao became the only untouchable enrolled at Elphinstone High School. He passed his matriculation exam in year 1907 and in the following year he entered Elphinston College. He was the first amongst his community to do so. In 1912, he obtained his degree in Economics and Political Science from Bombay University. In 1913, he moved to United States with the award of Baroda State Scholarship of £11.50 (Sterling) per month for three years. With the help of Sayajirao Gaekwad, he post-graduated from Columbia University. He passed his MA exam in June 1915, majoring in Economics, with Sociology, History, Philosophy and Anthropology as other subjects of study; he presented a thesis, "Ancient Indian Commerce". In 1916 he offered another MA thesis, "National Dividend of India-A Historic and Analytical Study". On 9 May, he read his paper "Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development" before a seminar conducted by the anthropologist Alexander Goldenweiser. In October 1916 he studied for the Bar examination at Gray's Inn, and enrolled at the London School of Economics where he started work on a doctoral thesis. In June 1917 he was obliged to go back to India as the term of his scholarship from Baroda ended, however he was given permission to return and submit his thesis within four years. He travelled separately from his collection of books, which were lost when the ship on which they were dispatched was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. He worked as a private tutor, as an accountant, and established an investment consulting business, but it failed when his clients learned that he was an untouchable. In 1918 he became Professor of Political Economy in the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Bombay. Even though he was successful with the students, other professors objected to his sharing the same drinking-water jug that they all used.

  Ambedkar was a professional economist until 1921. After that time he became a political leader. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), formed in 1934, was based on the ideas that Ambedkar presented to the Hilton Young Commission.
Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, claims that, "Ambedkar is my Father in Economics. He is true celebrated champion of the underprivileged.He deserves more than what he has achieved today. However he was highly controversial figure in his home country,though it was not the reality. His contribution in the field of economics is marvelous and will be remembered forever..!"

  With the help of Sayajirao Gaekwad, Maharaja of Baroda Province, Bhimrao Ambedkar completed his higher education. And with the help of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, King of Kolhapur, he started weekly "Mooknayak" and further work. He followed Lord Buddha, Saint Kabir and Mahatma Jotiba Phule as a Guru (guide) for his whole life. His notable social movement started in year 1927, with the march & gathering for right to drink water from public tank at Mahad on 25th & 26th December; and right to enter the Kalaram Mandir, a Hindu temple. During this, Jawalkar, a leader of "Brahmanettar Chalval" (Non-Brahmin Movement), a movement against Brahmins wrote a letter to Babasaheb Ambedkar, to remove all the Brahmins from his movement and Jawalkar's all Non-brahmin people will support him. (In Jawalkar's words; “We, the Non-Brahmin leaders of Maharashtra declare our whole hearted support for the satyagraha, on condition that all brahmins should be weeded out from it.”) Dr. Ambedkar replied that, “The view that all Brahmins are enemies of untouchables is a wrong view. I do not hate Brahmins personally. I hate the spirit of brahminism, which may be found in Brahmins & non-brahmins alike.” Later he decided to burn the "Manusmriti" near Raigad. This Hindu scripture was burnt by not only Dr. Ambedkar or untouchables or Shudras or oppressed people, but also by Brahmins like Sahasrabuddhe, Chitre, etc.
  These Brahmins took part in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar's movement because, they came to know, what Ambedkar is struggling for. Some people think that, because of caste hierarchy and privileged Brahmins, Dr. Ambedkar is against the Brahmin caste, which was/is wrong because Ambedkar was struggling to annihilate castes from Indian society; so how could he'll be against Brahmins or any particular caste? Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar's struggle was to reform the Indian Society by removing inequality, castes and brahminism. The word "Brahminism" do not represent any community or caste, it is an atrocious mentality of caste based system.

  Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar not only studied the caste system; he faced the problems occurred due to the caste, he saw the atrocities on oppressed people and started reading & writing books and formed union for movement and political power to stop all this. He didn't studied only caste system; he also studied politics, science, philosophy, anthropology, history, literature, economics, religions, constitutions of various countries, etc. Not only this, but he observed & studied the Indian society as well as foreign society and its culture in various ways & dimensions. He didn't only study, observed & analyzed his subjects of study, but he was proficient in all of them. He was a scholar not only amongst his caste, community, state, province, country or others’ society, but on international level.

  In 1932, he was invited to attend the Second Round Table Conference in London. To empower and conserve the place of Dalits in politics, Dr. Ambedkar was going to form a separate electorate. But Gandhi fiercely opposed a separate electorate for untouchables, saying he feared that such an arrangement would split the Hindu community into two groups. In 1932, when the British had agreed with Ambedkar and announced a Communal Award of a separate electorate, Gandhi protested by fasting while imprisoned in the Yerwada Central Jail of Poona (Pune). Congress politicians and activists such as Madan Mohan Malaviya and Palwankar Baloo organised joint meetings with Ambedkar and his supporters at Yerwada. Fearing a communal reprisal and genocidal acts against untouchables, Ambedkar was coerced into agreeing with Gandhi.  This agreement, which saw Gandhi end his fast and Ambedkar drop his demand for a separate electorate. Babasaheb literally cried after signing on Poona Pact (Pune Karaar).

  In 1935, Ambedkar was appointed principal of the Government Law College, Mumbai, a position he held for two years. At Yeola Conversion Conference on 13 October in Nasik, Ambedkar announced his intention to convert to a different religion. He said, “It’s not my fault that I’ve born as a Hindu, but I’ll not die as a Hindu.” In 1936, Ambedkar founded the Independent Labour Party. After few years, in 1941, the initial draft of the Hindu Code bill was introduced. In 1948, the first draft was revised and Ambedkar introduced his draft with some ammendments. The Hindu Code Bill was the controversial issue for Hindus during this period.

  During 1942 to 1946, when Dr. Ambedkar was the Minister of Labor, Energy, Public Constructions & Water Resources Minister in Cabinet, he developed & presented a blueprint in Viceroy’s Executive Council which can join most of the rivers in the country by building 15 biggest dams, which if applied may result in stopping the suicide of the farmers. Many times situation like flood & drought take place at a same time, so he also worked on that problems to handle such situations. In October 1943, while establishing new Government schemes, he wrote in the bill that, “The broadening of the electrical industry and the development of hydro-electric power are inextricably connected with development of industries and food production.” He also concentrated on generating electricity from coal, petrol, alcohol & water. He studied that how much water & energy can be made available & utilized till year 2000 and started working towards it as a minister. He also taught about the importance of literacy of water & energy conservation to the citizens of India. Further he established “Central Irrigation and Waterways Advisory Board” to fasten this project; and took his footsteps towards to control flood and loss due to it, making availability of water from underground for farming, building waterways & dams, generating electricity, training Indian engineers, publishing books by studying environment, nature & characteristics of earth.

  On 14 November 1944, he formed “Central Waterways, Irrigation & Navigation Commission”; which started Hirakud Dam project on 15 March 1946 and completed in 1957. Further he also worked on Damodar and Son River. Through which, he made the availability of water for 100 years, electricity management and the economy for it. If our government could apply all this instructions of Dr. Ambedkar, our country now would be seen free from tankers and load shedding. He also worked for family planning, gender justice, OBC reservations, progress & development of nomadic tribes.

  Nowdays, people from dalit community, who entered Congress only for money, says that; only Congress can raise & uplift the oppressed people of India. Even though Babasaheb said that Congress is a burning house, which only works to set dalits on fire. These corrupt people, don't even know what Dr. Babasaheb had done, and for what & for whom. They do not know their history. A sentence said by Dr. Ambedkar is really very true, that "Who do not know their history, cannot make history."

  If we see the Indian history, we'll surely come to know that, history of India is nothing but the struggle between Brahminism & Buddhism. Buddhism is fighting against Varna, caste-system & inequality due to this; since Lord Buddha's existence for about 2,500 years. During this era; "Charvaka", a person with extreme rational ideology tried to spread the knowledge of equality & dignity. After many decades & centuries, Saints in 13th century embraced Buddha's philosophy of dignity, equality & fraternity, but didn't followed one thing i.e. God. They kept worshipping Hindu gods. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a king who fought for "Swarajya", the kingdom of people, and not for Hinduism or any religion; was a great king of Maharashtra in the whole history of India. Dr. Ambedkar said about him, that "It wasn't too strenuous for me to write the Indian Constitution, because I kept the imagery kingdom of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in front of my eyes." In 19th century, Mahatma Jotiba Phule explained the term "Dalit" & coined the term "Ati-Shudra" to the oppressed class & women. His wife Savitribai Phule, started teaching and educating women & girls, which was again not permitted in orthodox Hindu religion & society. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar studied & followed all these great people & their philosophies. He brought all the constructive ideologies in one place i.e. his writings, speeches & of-course the Constitution of India.

  Dr. Ambedkar tried to reform Hindu religion by making amendments in it and fought for it about 30 years of his life. But, because of Gandhi and Shanakaracharyas, it didn’t happened. According to their view, “Varnashram” is the base of the Hindu Dharm and caste is important for the division of works (chores). At last, Babasaheb didn’t found any change in Hindu society; neither between higher castes nor towards untouchables. On 14th October 1956, after studying all the philosophies, religions and its scriptures, Dr. Babasaheb embraced (returned to) Buddhism with millions of his followers.

  He also said in his speech, that the Communism is not suitable philosophy for India because it only speaks on the class difference i.e. labors and capitalist. In India, along with class i.e. workers, industrialists, capitalists, etc. we have castes also. If we accept communism, it won’t affect caste system in India. But if we embrace Buddhism, it will ultimately help to destroy class differences, because basically Buddhist philosophy is against any inequality. Again, Karl Marx has not told whether to make a war or maintain peace to apply communism. So its conclusion is that, it permits disharmony. That’s why further we’ve to see the history of Mao Tse-Tung. Even if we accept communism, did Karl Marx explained in Das Capitol or Communist Manifesto or anywhere that what is after communism? Here neither Ambedkar is wrong, nor Marx; because particular political system can be applied in the society where situation and mentality of the people for such system is acceptable. That’s why, he embraced peaceful and democratic religion i.e. Buddhism.

  Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar said, “I don’t want worshippers; I want followers.” Nowadays, we see people praying in front of Ambedkar’s statue like a God & making wish. What Lord Buddha didn’t allowed or he opposed; exactly that thing is being seen here. People think, by changing the religion, only our God changes, everything else remains same. Basically, the idea of the religion in India is really very hard to destroy or change. The great man like Dr. Ambedkar, who taught us the philosophy of Buddha in a literal simplified way; we are not going to understand it and keep worshipping them blindfolded. We’ve to identify and stop going with the blithering politicians. Now it’s the time to stop worshipping and start following Babasaheb & Buddha’s thoughts.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's writings can be categorized in 5 sections:-

  • A>  Social Books   :-
1.       Untouchables
2.       Who were Shudra and Why they become Untouchable
3.       Who were Shudras?
4.       Castes in India
5.       Annihilation of Caste
6.       Communal Dead Lock and Way to solve it
7.       M.K. Gandhi and Emancipation of the Untouchables

  • B> Political Books :-
1.       Federation verses Freedom
2.       Pakistan and Partition of India
3.       What Congress and Gandhi have done for the Untouchables
4.       Linguistic States - Need for checks & balances
5.       Maharashtra as Linguistic Province
6.       Thoughts on Linguistic States
7.       Revolution & Counter-revolution
8.       State and Minority - What's their rights & how to secure them in constitution  of free India
9.       India and Pre-requisite of Communism
10.   Ranade, Gandhi, Jinnah

  • C> Economics :-
1.       History of Indian Currency and Banking
2.       The Problem of Rupee - Its Origin and Its Solution
3.       The Evaluation Provincial Finance in British India
4.       Administration and Finance of East India Company
5.       Small Holdings in India and their Remedies

  • D> Religious books :-
1.       Buddha and His Dhamma
2.       Buddha and Karl Marx
3.       Buddha and Future of Religion
4.       Rise and fall of Hindu women
5.       Philosophy of Hinduism
6.       Riddles in Hinduism

  • E> Press and Publications :- (dd/mm/yyyy)
1.       Mooknayak (30/01/1920) - daily
2.       Bahishkrut Bharat (03/04/1927) - daily
3.       Samata (29/09/1928) - fortnightly
4.       Janata (24/11/1930) - daily
5.       Prabuddha Bharat (04/02/1956) – daily

The Education Department, Government of Maharashtra (Bombay) published the collection of Ambedkar's writings and speeches in different volumes. :-

1.      Dr. Ambedkar in the Bombay Legislature, with the Simon Commission and at the Round Table Conferences, 1927–1939 (vol. 2)
2.       Essays on untouchables and un-touchability (vol.5)
3.       Dr. Ambedkar as member of the Governor General's Executive Council, 1942–46 (vol. 10)
4.       Ancient Indian commerce, Notes on laws, Waiting for a Visa, Miscellaneous notes, etc.(vol.12)
5.       Dr. Ambedkar as the principal architect of the Constitution of India (vol. 13)
6.       Dr. Ambedkar and The Hindu Code Bill (vol. 14)
7.       Dr. Ambedkar as free India's first Law Minister and member of opposition in Indian Parliament (1947–1956) (vol. 15)
8.       Dr. Ambedkar's The Pali grammar (vol. 16)
9.       Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and his Egalitarian Revolution (vol. 17)
         i.      Struggle for Human Rights. Events starting from March 1927 to 17 November 1956 in the chronological order
       ii.       Socio-political and religious activities. Events starting from November 1929 to 8 May 1956 in the chronological order
      iii.       Speeches. Events starting from 1 January to 20 November 1956 in the chronological order
10.   Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Speeches and writing in Marathi (3 parts of vol. 18)
11.   Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Speeches and writing in Marathi (vol. 19 & 20)
12.   Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Photo Album and correspondence.  (vol. 21)

References :-

Aamhi Bouddha ka zalo
Asprushya mulche kon ani te Asprushya kase banle
Castes in India
Buddha and Karl Marx
Bahujananchi Vruttapatr Chalval (G. M. Moon)
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (Dhananjay Keer)
Kalamnaama – weekly magazine
Internet:- Wikipedia, Facebook, Blogs, Articles, etc.

- Aashit Sable

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