Life and Thoughts of Babasaheb
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar is one of the most celebrated polymaths of twentieth century. He was a thinker, activist and social scientist who dedicated his life for the emanicipation of Dalit cause.He was a democrat , who fought an ideological and people's movement to reform Indian democracy. He defined democracy as the rule of political majority , not absolute or communal majority. A democracy is ill-functioning if the decision making process is devoid of proactive involvement of political minority. This formed the ideological basis of Ambedkarite thought of uprooting the caste reinforced social equilibrium.
Reading Ambedkarite thought in Indian context, communal minority are dalits, tribals and religious minority. Ambedkar's reformist activism seeked to bring voices,fears and aspirations of communal minority in law making process of democracy. Ambedkar fought his reforms in three fronts - social, educational and political.
Social Reforms : organize
Ambedkar believed that political and economic reforms are powerless without achieving social revolution.His critical analysis of history and culture of the country detailed the genesis, mechanism and functioning of caste.He challenged the orthodox sections of dominant ideology. He vehemently criticised the caste-blind reformists for failing to address the monstrous caste system.He argued that caste blind reforms was a license for continuation of status quo ,where communal majority remained political majority.The preservation of status quo is a cover for preservation of social order instituted by ‘age old civilisation’. The scathing attack on status quo was shaking the grounds of caste rigged social equilibrium.It was this realisation that led him to the historic Mahar Tank struggle seeking dalit access to community tank. Ambedkar also led Temple entry agitation in Nashik as an attempt to question the communal ideology that provided the ideological justification of keeping dalits deprived and marginalised. Ambedkar publicly burned Manu Smriti, the ancient Hindu law code that formed the bedrock of the Savarna ideology. Ambedkar's act was a strong signal in divorcing the discriminating and communal elements of the Hindu society from the mainstream.
Unlike elite class led reform movements, independent dalit movements led by Ambedkar provided a new pathway for dalit liberation without the overlordship of elite patriarchs.
Educational Reforms : Educate
Ambedkar was an educationist activist who reiterated the necessity of education for achieving upward mobility in society. He established People's Education Society to take a proactive involvement in educating the dalit masses. Education is a social and cultural capital that can stimulate intellectual, economic and cultural advancement of people. Dalits have been kept outside the centres of learning for centuries by institutional design. It was this ignorance that killed an intellectual awakening in dalit masses. For a complete integration of dalits with the mainstream democratic space , it is imperative to ensure dalit representation in higher echleons of power.In the modern world , education is the passport to higher echleons of power. Reservation of seats in schools and colleges was a revolutionary step in widening the access of education to the underprivileged sections. Ambedkar not only fought , but keenly implemented revolutionary laws to equip the depressed classes in their sanity seeking ordeal.
Political Reforms : Agitate
Ambedkar inserted political safeguards for the upliftment of the dalits and marginalised groups.To allay the fears of minority, Ambedkar included provisions in the constitution for the cultural and religious of the minority. To ensure equitable access to depressed classes, Ambedkar demanded seperate electorates during round table conferences. He laid out provisions for legal and political safeguards against discrimination and untouchability. He strongly vouched for reserving a quota of seats for depressed classes in education, employment and legislature. These political reforms wide opened gates of community resources and administration to dalits. The reforms gave a platform for underprivileged sections to perform and progress in a space which was earlier barred to them.
Ambedkarite political activism brought dalit cause into national agenda. Emergence of leaders like Kanshi Ram and Jagjivan Ram in national politics can be attributed to depressed classes politics of Ambedkar. Ambedkarite politics also brought issues of workers, women and tribals in his ideology distinguishing his movement from communal movements of the era.
“Agitate, Organise Educate “
The Ambedkarite mantra for liberating the depressed classes from the decadent ideology, social backwardness and communal imbalance. Life long contributions of Ambedkar are to be concluded in the three worded slogan condensing a microcosm of struggle, sacrifices and ideas.