We are hardly told anything about him; at least I knew very few things about him from lessons in school. I just knew that he was the chairman of drafting committee of our Constitution; he was awarded Bharat Ratna, he is responsible for the menace of reservation system, he was born in a low caste, was discriminated, he worked hard became the leader of Dalits and April 14 is a Govt holiday for us.
There is a stark contrast in our society as to how different sections treat him, the so called upper castes blame him for today’s menace of ‘reservation system’ while Dalits treat him as no less than God, hardly anyone acknowledges that his works and his fight was not just for a particular community but Indian society as a whole. We only study the political contributions and struggle for Independence, and conveniently neglect the social struggle of the early 1900s and post independence.
But let me share some things that I guess every Indian should know about Ambedkar.
Dr. B.R Ambedkar is the most qualified and learned Indian by far. He has completed his B.A in Economics and Political Science; he majored in Sociology, Anthropology before taking up law, PhD and many other degrees. He is to-date revered in Columbia University, evident from his statue at the university.
He was not just a well-learned man but a progressive thinker, he could think of the problems that India would face years later, and was vocal about them back then, but he wasn’t heard or given much importance to.
- Much before the agitation for formation of linguistic states, Ambedkar wrote a paper on how linguistic classification of states should be done with proper checks and balances in his papers “Thoughts on linguistic states” and “Maharashtra as a Linguistic Province”. Congress went ahead with Dhar Commission and JVP committee over his. And what happened after that is known to us. We are still tied with the problem of regionalism, our regional identity over national identity. In his paper he also discussed for the division of the then Hindi speaking provinces on economic lines and for better governance, he made compelling cases for division of Central Provinces, United Provinces, Bihar, which actually took shape in 2000 with division of UP, MP, and Bihar into UK, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand almost 60 years later.
- He said India being vast country would require two capital cities, so that administration could be well managed, equitable, and he said Hyderabad as a second capital of India would help in uniting Indians. Though we aren’t discussing about it yet, but I see the days ain’t very far when we will agitate for it too and will quote Ambedkar then.
- Today one of the best performing institutions and sectors of India are Reserve Bank of India and Banking sector respectively, which were formed on the lines of the paper written by Ambedkar on the problems of Rupee and solution.
- His vocal opposition to congress party is well known, he slated of reasons why he considered the party as a showoff and had selfish motives. Its political struggle wasn’t well conceived without it standing for Social struggle. Today we are realizing what a disaster Congress has done to our nation.
- Today we argue about the merit of Article 370 and Nehru’s failure on that front, but Ambedkar way back wrote letter to the Kashmir’s premier Sheik Abdullah on how Article 370 was actually bad for Kashmir and India.
- He strived for Hindu code bill and even resigned on that issue, he even wanted Uniform Civil Code be brought, which we aren’t able to yet.
- The debates he did, the questions he raised 60 years ago are still referred to by our Supreme Court judges to arrive at their judgements.
I can go on listing his thoughts over various issues, but ultimately what marks Ambedkar from virtually the entire class of nationalist leaders of his age is his pragmatism, progressive thinking, unfortunately I think we don’t have a thinker of his caliber even today. Intellectually, in his constitutionalism, in his approach to education and much else in public life, he was way ahead of his times, that is how we could have got such an organic, flexible and well-written Constitution and the social, political rights that we have today.
Today, if only one section of Indians rever him, it is the gravest injustice done to his stature.
Never got a chance to be part of an event on April 14th since School 10 years ago. But, I am thankful, I got an opportunity today to pay homage to this great man with diyas and garlands at a local Government College.