Category Archives: Dalit-Bahujans

What are the prospects of democracy in India? – By Dr. B. R. Ambedkar


The subject assigned to me is, “What are the prospects of democracy in India?” Most Indians speak with great pride as though their country was already a democracy. The foreigners also, when they sit at a dinner table to do diplomatic honor to India, speak of the Great Indian Prime Minister and the Great Indian Democracy.

From this, it is held without waiting to argue that where there is a Republic, there must be democracy. It is also supposed that where there is Parliament which is elected by the people on adult suffrage and the laws are made by the People’s Representatives in Parliament elected after few years, there is democracy. In other words, democracy is understood to be a political instrument and where this political instrument exists, there is democracy.

Is there democracy in India or is there no democracy in India? What is the truth? No positive answer can be given unless the confusion caused by equating democracy with Republic and by equating democracy with Parliamentary Government is removed.

Democracy is quite different from a Republic as well as from Parliamentary Government. The roots of democracy lie not in the form of Government, Parliamentary or otherwise. A democracy is more than a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living. The roots of Democracy are to be searched in the social relationship, in the terms of associated life between the people who form a society.

What does the word ‘Society’ cannot? To put it briefly when we speak of ‘Society,’ we conceive of it as one by its very nature. The qualities which accompany this unity are praiseworthy community of purpose and desire for welfare, loyalty to public ends and mutuality of sympathy and co-operation.

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Are these ideals to be found in Indian Society? The Indian Society does not consist of individuals. It consists of an innumerable collection of castes which are exclusive in their life and have no common experience to share and have no bond of sympathy. Given this fact it is not necessary to argue the point. The existence of the Caste System is a standing denial of the existence of those ideals of society and therefore of democracy.

Indian Society is so imbedded in the Caste System that everything is organized on the basis of caste. Enter Indian Society and you can see caste in its glaring form. An Indian cannot eat or marry with an Indian simply because he or she does not belong to his or her caste. An Indian cannot touch an Indian because he or she does not belong to his or her caste. Go and enter politics and you can see caste reflected therein. How does an Indian vote in an election? He votes for a candidate who belongs to his own caste and no other. Even the Indian Congress exploits the Caste system for election purpose as no other political party in Indian does. Examine the lists of its candidates in relation to the social composition of the constituencies and it will be found that the candidate belongs to the caste which is the largest one in that constituency. The Congress, as a matter of fact, is upholding the Caste System against which it is outworldly raising an outcry against the existence of caste.

Go into the field of industry. What will you find? You will find that all the topmost men drawing the highest salary belong to the caste of the particular industrialist who owns the industry. The rest hang on for life on the lowest rungs of the ladder on a pittance. Go into the field of commerce and you will see the same picture. The whole commercial house is one camp of one caste, with no entry board on the door for others.

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Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on discrimination in Education, Charity and Industries


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Also check - What Guru Ravidas said on Vedas and Education. (Photos)

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Also check – What Winston Churchill said on untouchables. (Photos)

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Also check – Wallpapers on Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

Charity

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Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Pariwartan Sthal (Ambedkar Park) Lucknow


Watch movies on Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in Hindi, English and Tamil from here.

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5th February in Dalit History – Mahatma Jyotiba Phule asked economic assistance from Government


5 February 1852: Mahatma Jyotiba Phule asked economic assistance from Government for his educational institutions.[1]

Among the documents at the Mumbai Archives is an application dated 5 February 1852 written by Jyotiba Phule asking for economic assistance from the government for his educational institution. The other copy of the letter is accompanied by a recommendation letter by Major Kandy, the Principal of Poona College. According to this, the first three schools for girls were started on 3 July 1851, 17 November 1851 and 15 March 1852 at the Chiplunkar Wada, Rasta Peth and Vetal Peth, respectively. It has been noted that there were four, three and one teachers and forty eight, fifty one and thirty three girls respectively in these schools. Savitribai Phule was the Headmistress in the first of these schools along with Vishnupant Moreshwar and Vitthal Bhaskar as co-teachers. There were eight girls on the first day of the first school. Soon their numbers went up to more than forty eight.

It is to note that earlier, the Inspector of Schools Dadoba Pandurang had inspected the school and examined the girls on 16 October 1851. Though not much time had passed since the school began, the progress that girls showed was remarkable.

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule

5 February 1951: Hindu Code bill was introduced in the Parliament[2]

Following India’s independence Jawaharlal Nehru entrusted his first Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar, who belonged to the Scheduled Caste Federation, with the task of codifying the Hindu personal law as the first step towards a uniform civil code. Dr. Ambedkar formed a committee with himself as its chairperson. The other members were K Y Bhandarkar. G R Rajagopal of the Ministry of Law and S V Gupte of the Bombay Bar. The committee made only minor revisions to the draft that was presented to the Consituent Assembly in 1947 before Independence. But even before the bill could be put up to the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) some vocal sections of Hindu public opinion raised the bogey ‘Hinduism in danger’. Dr. Ambedkar and his team, however, was undaunted and continued with their efforts with all seriousness and presented the draft bill to Nehru’s cabinet, which unanimously approved it.  Emboldened by this exercise, on 5 February 1951 he introduced the bill to the Parliament. But to his utter surprise, many Hindu members, including some who had approved it in the cabinet earlier, now resisted it. Sardar Patel as the home minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, Syama Prasad Mookerjee as the industry minister who belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha, and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, a tradionalist Congressman, strongly opposed the bill. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, the Congress president, also opposed it, particularly keeping in view its negative impacts on Hindu votes in the election of 1951-52. Mookerjee said it would ’shatter the magnificent structure of Hindu culture and stultify a dynamic and catholic way of life that had wonderfully adapted itself to the changes for centuries’. Even women belonging to the Hindu Mahasabha came to the forefront to oppose the bill. Already a year ago, in a long letter to President Rajendra Prasad, Janakibai Joshi, the President of the All India Hindu Women’s Conference that belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha, had written on 4 February 1950 that any move to replace the concept of Hindu marriage as sacrament by making it contractual would destroy the entire family system of the Hindus. ‘The Hindu family should be taken as a unit and fragmentation of the property should not be allowed so as to go away to other family through daughter’.[3]

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4th February in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar met Gandhi in Yervada Jail


04 Feb 1889: Phules adopted son, Dr.Yashwant was married to Radha the daughter of Sasane.

The Satyashodhak Samaj (The Truth-Seekerís Society) was established on 24 September 1873, and Savitribai was an extremely dedicated and passionate activist of the Samaj. The Samaj undertook the programme of arranging marriages without a priest, without dowry and at minimum costs. The first such marriage was arranged on 25 December 1873. Later, this movement spread across the newly emerging nation. The first report of the Samaj proudly notes that Savitribai was the inspiration behind this revolutionary initiative of a constructive revolt to reject 21 centuries old religious traditions. The marriage of Radha, daughter of Savitribaiís friend Bajubai Gyanoba Nimbankar and activist Sitram Jabaji Aalhat was the first‘Satyashodhaki’ marriage. Savitribai herself bore all the expenses on this historic occasion. This method of marriage, similar to a registered marriage, is still prevalent in many parts of India. These marriages were opposed by priests and ‘bhatjis’ (Brahmans) all over the country and they also went to court on this matter. Savitribai and Jotirao had to face severe difficulties but that did not deter them from their path. On 4 February 1889, at the age of 16, they also got their adopted son married in this manner. This was the first inter-caste marriage in modern India. The Satyashodhak marriage required the bridegroom to take an oath of giving education and equal rights to women. The ‘mangalashtake’ (the Mantras chanted at the time of the wedding) were to be sung by the bride and the bridegroom themselves, and these were in the form of pledges made by the bride and the groom to each other. Yeshwant was married to Radha (this is another Radha) alias Laxmi, daughter of Satyashodhak Samaj leader Gyanoba Krishnaji Sasane in this manner. To ensure that they got better acquainted with each other and with each other’s likes and dislikes, Savitribai had made Radha stay in the Phule household even before the marriage took place. She also made provisions for Radha’s education.[1] 

04 February 1933: Dr. Ambedkar met Gandhi in Yervada Jail[2].

Dr. Ambedkar was accompanied by S N Shivtarkar, Dolas, Upsaham, Kowly, Ghorpade and Keshavrao Jedhe. In a happy mood Gandhi got up and welcomed the visitors.

After a while, the conversation turned to the question of temple entry. Gandhi requested Dr. Ambedkar to lend this support to the Dr. Subbarayan’s Bill and that of Ranga Iyer.  Dr. Ambedkar flatly refused to have anything to do with Subbaraya’s Bill, since the Bill did not condemn untouchability as a sin. It only said that if a referendum favored the temple entry, temples should be thrown open to the Depressed Classes, but nothing of the right to worship the deity in the temples. He told Gandhi that the Depressed Classes did not want to be Shudras in the order of the caste system and added that he honestly could not call himself a Hindu. Why, he asked, he should be proud of the religion which condemned him to be a degraded position. If that system was to continue, he had no use of the benefits of the temple entry. Gandhi said that according to him, the caste system was not a bad system. He continued: “Let the touchable Hindus have an opportunity to expiate their sins and purify Hinduism. Do not be indifferent to this question. If the reformation takes place, the Untouchables would rise in society.” Dr. Ambedkar differed from Gandhi. He was convinced that if the Untouchables made progress in the economic, educational and political filed, temple entry would follow automatically.

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Discussing the propriety of two Bills – Dr. Subbarayan’s Bill and Ranga Iyer’s Bill.

Dr. Ambedkar: The one-paragraph Bill (Dr. Subbarayan’s Bill) is a very simple one. It’s fair point lies in admitting that this custom is immoral. There is no such admission in the second Bill (Ranga Iyer’s).

M K Gandhi: No, it is there in its preamble.

Dr. Ambedkar: But it is not clear…. I also think that the two Bills do not go together…

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3rd Feburary (2015) in Dalit History – Best wishes to everyone on birth-anniversary of Guru Ravidas


Also read – I, Ravidas, proclaim all Vedas are worthless

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The Annihilation of Caste


A scanned image of the front page of Dr. Ambedkar’s speech in text format. He was scheduled to deliver this speech to a conference in Lahore, but could not. The conference organizers cancelled his invitation as it felt the contents of the speech were too radical for the time. Dr. Ambedkar later released the speech in written format, and it became one of his most famous work – title, ‘The Annihilation of Caste’. In this work, Dr. Ambedkar discussed the problems in ending the caste system in India, and how those problems could be countered.

The Annihilation of Caste

The Annihilation of Caste – Front Page

If you’d like to read the text, Columbia University in the City of New York has designed a special e-text format of the speech for easy readability and cross-referencing at http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/ambedkar/web/index.html

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2nd February in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Subedar Major Ramji Maloji Sakpal


2 February 1915: Death of Subedar Major Ramji Maloji Sakpal, father of  Dr. Ambedkar.

Dr. Ambedkar’s ancestral village is Ambavade, five miles off Mandanged, a small town in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. His grand father Maloji Sakpal was a retired Havaldar in the Bombay Army of the East India Company. He is said to have been allotted some land for acts of bravery in the battle field.[1]  Maloji had two children – Ramji (son) and Mira Bai (daughter).

Like his father, Ramji also joined the army. He was an enlightened person who worked hard and attained proficiency in English language. He obtained Diploma in Teaching from the Army Normal School in Poona.[2] Consequently, he was appointed as a teacher in the Army School. He served as Head Master and had attained the rank of Subedhar Major. The Sakpal’s belonged to the Kabir cult along with the untouchability (Mahar) tag attached.

Ramji had 14 children, the 14th being Bhimrao (Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar). However only three sons – Balaram, Anandrao and Bhimrao – and two daughters – Manjula and Tulasa –survived. The Bhakti movement in Maharashtra had impressed the Sakpal’s family to imbibe its spiritual content, Ramji Sakpal brought up his children under strict religious atmosphere at time performing poojas and offerings with great devotion. Thus, during childhood Bhimrao used to sing devotional songs. Ramji Sakpal’s attitude towards his children was basically responsible to the all-around development of Dr. Amebdkar. Ramji was good in English and Arithmetic. He was a teetotaler and as mostly interested in his won and his children’s spiritual development.

Father of Dr. Ambedkar

Father of Dr. Ambedkar

Ramji Sakpal retired in 1894 and the family moved from Dapoli to Satara two years later. Shortly after their move, Bhimrao’s mother (Bhima Bai) died. After the death of his wife Ramji married for the second time, which was opposed by Bhimrao. The children were cared for by their paternal aunt. However, Ramji did not curtail the ambition of Bhimrao towards his education. Ramji stood firm and committed to his children’s betterment and Bhimrao’s intellectual aspirations in particular.

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31st January in Dalit History – Baba Saheb Ambedkar started Mooknayak newspaper


31 January 1920: Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar started ‘Mooknayak’ newspaper.

Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj had donated Rs 2500 as seed money to start Mooknayak (Leader of the Dumb). This Marathi weekly paper championed the causes of the depressed classes. Shri Nandra Bhatkar was the editor, later Shri Dyander Gholap was the editor. Dr. Ambedkar wrote in the first issue of this paper dated 31 January 1920 the following:

 “The hindu society is like a tower of many stories. It has neither a ladder nor a door to go out. And therefore there is no way to interchange stories. Those who are born on a particular storey die in that storey. Even if the lowest storey person is worthy deserving to be promoted to upper storey he cannot move to that level. And if the person in the upper storey is most unworthy and undeserving still he cannot be pushed down…….. …. A Society which believes that God exists even in inanimate things, also says that people who are a part of that very society should not be touched!”

Newspapers started by Dr. Ambedkar

Newspapers started by Dr. Ambedkar

31 January: National bird day.

In Buddhism, Peacock,  the National Bird symbolizes wisdom.

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Winston Churchill on Untouchables


As world remembers Winston Churchill on his 50th death anniversary, I remember his views on ‘Untouchables‘ with few pictures and text taken from Winston Churchill’s speech at Albert Hall, London, 18th March, 1931.

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