May 25, 2024

General Studies Paper 1

Context: Modern liberal ideascapitalist development and democratic churning have made it possible that Dalits are now a well-recognised social and political force — a transformation made possible under the leadership of R. Babasaheb Ambedkar

  • He is known as the Father of the Indian Constitution and was independent India’s first law minister.

Dr. B R Ambedkar:

  • He was born on 14 April 1891in Mhow, Central Province (now Madhya Pradesh).
  • He founded the Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha (1923).
  • Mahad Satyagraha: He led the Mahad Satyagraha in March 1927to challenge the regressive customs of the Hindus.
  • Round table conferences:He participated in all three round-table conferences.

Major contributions:

  • Indian constitution:Main Architect of Indian Constitution
  • Constitutional morality:Effective coordination between conflicting interests of different people and administrative cooperation.
  • Social Reforms:devoted his life to remove untouchability.
  • ‘Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha (Outcastes Welfare Association)-1923
  • The temple entry movement launched by Dr. Ambedkar in 1930at Kalaram temple, Nasik.
  • Attended all the three Round Table Conferences (1930-32).
  • In 1936: founded the Independent Labour Party.
  • In 1990: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar,was bestowed with Bharat Ratna.

Few important works of Dr. Ambedkar:

  • Mook Nayak (weekly) 1920
  • Janta (weekly) 1930
  • The Annihilation of Caste 1936
  • The Untouchables 1948
  • Buddha Or Karl Marx 1956

Current Issues faced by Dalits:

  • The government has been aggressive in adopting neo-liberal economic policies that often undermine social justice safeguards meant for the emancipation of historically marginalized communities.
  • The ideological agenda considers independent Dalit assertions as a challenge to the politics of cultural nationalism.
  • The threats and surveillance against the Dalit socio-political movement have been accentuated, relegating it to a passive powerless location today.

Vision for social justice by Ambedkar:

  • Constitutional principles allowed the untouchable castes in particular to raise their grievances effectively.
    • It prevented social elite leadership for their exclusive exploitation of state power and social privileges.
  • The policy of job reservation or Dalit representation in legislative bodies: It would induce the substantive democratization of political power and introduce Dalits as influential shareholders in modern institutions.
  • Ambedkar visualized that the non-political public spaces (educational institutions, media, culture and art industries): They should be democratized, allowing Dalits to play an effective role as entitled citizens.
  • The state should take effective measures to cultivate a sensitive public culture and punish offenders who practiced caste or community-based discrimination.
  • Ambedkar believed that modernity should not be adored only for elevating the untouchables as a special category that would require the perpetual assistance of the state.
  • Dalits must escape the burdened social identity(by converting to Buddhism) and reduce their dependence on the state.

Dalit assertion:

  • Influenced by Ambedkar’s socio-political directives
  • Dalit intervention in the public sphere has been to demand:
    • social dignity
    • independent cultural rights
    • political power.
  • The arrival of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the 1980s was possible due to the committed support of the Dalit middle class.
  • Social and cultural front: Dalits introduced themselves as an assertive and independent alternative.
    • Ambedkar’s life-size statues in many cities are a visible marker of the dignified presence of Dalits in public spaces.
  • Dalits organize impressive public events (celebration of Constitution Day), or the birth anniversaries of revolutionary icons or the organization of massive gatherings at historic sites to showcase their elevated sense of equality and dignity in public life.
  • Dalits have introduced themselves as the proponent of alternative cultural values and have democratized the public sphere.
  • Marginalization: It is in electoral battles that Dalits have witnessed their growing marginalization.
    • With the periodic decline of the BSP in Uttar Pradesh as a commendable mainstream party
      • The possibility that the national regime can be governed under Dalit-Bahujan leadership has been derailed.

Ambedkar’s Work:

  • Association with the Simon Commission
  • Representing the cause of the Depressed Classes in all three Round Table conferences,
  • As labor member in the Viceroy’s Council (1942-46)
  • As chairman of the Constitution’s drafting committee

Government’s pro-poor stand:

  • The governance system has been conditioned to adhere to Ambedkar’s vision.
  • Development of the Panch Tirtha
  • Dr Ambedkar International Centre
  • Implementation of pro-poor and people-centric policy measures to facilitate the ease of life of citizens.
  • Stand-Up India
  • Start-Up India
  • PM Awas Scheme
  • BHIM
  • Mudra
  • JAM trinity

Ambedkar’s vision and relevance in present time:(“politics in India is nothing but theology in action”(1928):

  • The recent observation of the Supreme Court: The state is incapable of dealing with hate speeches and its sharp observation that the remedy to such speeches is nothing but the separation of politics from religion.
    • It vindicates Ambedkar
  • Ambedkar’s warning in the Constituent Assembly in 1946that leaders giving alarming statements against minorities must be kept in check.

Ambedkar’s role in uplifting Dalit women;

  • Baby Kamble in Jine Amuche (Our Lives): The message of Buddha filled with compassion came through Baba.
  • Ambedkar told the women:
    • Men and women are partners in a marriage
    • Treat your husband with equality
    • Send your children to school
    • Wear clean clothes

Important contribution as policy maker:

  • Indian constitution:Main Architect of Indian Constitution
  • Hindu Code Bill:
    • It revolutionized the Hindu domestic sphere.
    • Offering women the right to marry by choice and across caste boundaries
    • Given them the right to divorce
    • Right to inherit property.

Way Forward

  • The affirmative action policies of the state have helped a significant Dalit section to emerge as a crucial segment of the mainstream middle class, allowing them to enjoy the profits of urban life.
  • The post-Ambedkar Dalit activism has surely enlarged its presence and democratized the social and political sphere substantially.
    • However, the conventional class and caste relationships have not reformed much.
  • In modern institutions such as universities, the judiciary, the media and cultural industries, there is a marginalization of Dalit participation.
  • The dignified public presence of Dalits may be visible,but there are substantive issues about growing political marginalization
  • A rethinking is needed to build a popular Dalit agenda that mobilizes the vulnerable and marginalized communities for a greater emancipatory project.
  • The dynamism to accept Ambedkar “as he is” on the one hand, and emulating his values through actions on the other, is a fitting tribute to his contribution.

 

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