Tag Archives: Ambedkar in Germany
Also Watch – Dr. B. R. Ambedkar at Columbia University
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24 January 1938: Dr. Ambedkar spoke on Small Holder’s Bill in Bombay Legislative Assembly.
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24 January 1942: Gandhi was shown black flags in Nagpur by the Ambedkarite movement.
In 1941, the Chokhamela hostel management in Nagpur, with the collaboration of some Harijan students decided to call M K Gandhi for the hostel annual gathering. Most of the students, who were strong Ambedkarites and activitsts of the Samata Sainik Dal, opposed this. However, no one was in the mood to listen to them. Sadanand Dongare, an Ambedarite activist lived in the hostel, but felt he could not vanquish the idea of bringing Gandhi while staying there. One or two kilometers away from the hostel towards the railiway lines, there stood a hostel for Mahars named Gaddi Godam. He took a room there and laid out all his plans. The youth of north and central Nagpur came together.
By the day of Gandhi’s planned arrival i.e. 24 January 1942, a huge pavilion had been erected in the central area of the hostel’s open ground. A strong line of police was placed outside. Nanasaheb Gavai, Kisan Fagu Bansode, and other Mahar opponents of Dr. Ambedkar were members of the managing board. The president was Chaturbhajabhai Jasani of Gondia district who was a loyal member of Congress and a big leader of Madhya Pradesh. He brought Gandhi from Delhi, but he took him off the train two stations early; and because of this the Ambedkarite community, which was spread throughout Nagpur, was led to believe that Gandi had not come. However, Gandhi had come to Nagpur in the company of Jasani.
On the east side of the Chokamela hostel lay a parallel railyway line running north – south. This line goes via Itwara, Katol and Kalmeshwar to Delhi and east of Calcutta, Stone rocks had fallen on the railway line. Women and men, young and old gathered on this line, and shoulted, “Long Live Ambedkar!” On the north, south and west of the hostel lay people’s houses and narrow roads.
Gandhi’s car came to the hostel from behind. There the members of the reception committee were waiting to welcome him. While they were trying to shout “Long LIve Gandhi,” a noise like one voice could be heard from the thousands of demonstrators outside of hostel: “Mahatma Gandhi go back!” And as this noise reached the neighbourhoods around, people began to run towards the hostel.
The hostel was a four-sided block two hundred by two hundred feet in size. The pavilion had been set up in the open ground in the middle. Here along with the students of the hostel, distinguished guests had been invited to sit. But there were many Ambedkaritie Dalits among the students. Until Gandhi went onto the stage, everything was quiet inside. But once he rose to speak, some of the Ambedkaritie students in the audience stood up and began to shout, “Gandhiji, we have many questions for you.” Gandhi was standing quietly. He said, “Yes, ask them.” But the turmoil only increased. No one could hear the questions in that confusion. The hundreds of people standing outside on the railway lines began a massive stone-throwing into the hostel. The stones fell inside the pavilion also. There was no sign of halting this attack. Once the stones hit the canvas, it began to collapse. No one would give Gandhi a chance to make his speech. In this confusion, the organizers brought Gandhi out of the pavilion to protect him. Just as he had come in by the back door, so he left.
With the shouting of “Long Live Ambedkar! Bhim Raj is coming soon!” Gandhi’s car departed with black flags shown to him. The incident showed the ferocity of the anti-Gandhi sentiments of our people after the signing of the Poona pact.
24 January 1950: Consituent assembly met and in all 284 members appended their signatures on the Constitution of India
H.V.R. lyengar, Secretary of the Assembly announced that only one nomination paper was received for the office of the President of India (election was on 21 January 1950). The name of that candidate was Dr Rajendra Prasad. His nomination was proposed by Jawaharlal Nehru and seconded by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Thus Rajendra Prasad was duly elected to the Office of President of India. The members then fell over one another to sing paeans to the President. Nehru led the brigade with a speech that ended: “It is a comfort for us all to know that in future tasks and struggles, we shall have you as the Head of this Republic of India, and may I, sir, pledge my loyalty and fealty to this Republic of which you will be the honoured President.” Not to be out-done, Patel too joined the chorus of congratulations. This was followed by many members. One by one, they showered praise on the President, paying no heed to his repeated requests to stop, till, finally, he stopped the discussion with “I am sure I have the House with me on this occasion as on all occasions, and so, I would request Members who are anxious to speak to desist.”
President Obama recognized Dr. Ambedkar for his extraordinary contributions to India in his address to the Indian parliament in November 2010. Here is the part of the speech.
23 January 1933: A welcome was accorded to Dr. Ambedkar by Samata Sainik Dal in Mumbai.
Dr. Ambedkar returned from the third round table conference to Bombay (now Mumbai) by the Gange ship on 23 January 1933. Along with him was Sir Purshottamdas Thakurdas. On the landing, he was given an enthusiastic reception by the Samata Sainik Dal. Amongst the prominent leaders Dr. Ambedkar was the only one who had attended all the three round table conferences and pushed for the rights of depressed classes (now called dalits). Gandhi and Malviya did not participate in the first and third round table conferences while Jinnah did not participate in the sessions of second round table conference.
23 January 1938: Dr. Ambedkar addressed a Peasants’ Conference at Ahmednagar (Maharshtra state).
 Dhananjay Keer, Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission, book, pg 225
Also Watch – Tribute to Dr Ambedkar at Columbia University (USA)
In recent years, Dr. Ambedkar (1891-1956), India’s great Dalit leader, social reformer and first law minister after independence has gained increasing recognition in academic and political circles in Germany. Within the realm of scholarship at the South Asia Institute, his mediating role in the framing of the Indian Constitution has been adequately recognized (Kulke, Rothermund 1998: 394) as well as the implementation of constitutional safeguards for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Conrad 1995: 419) through so-called reservation of seats in politics, education and administration. His political role, especially the social movement initiated by him, has been subject to a dissertation in political sciences (Hust 2000) as well as part of a more elaborate discourse on the part of Dalits in social movements in India (Fuchs 1999; 2003).
In the fields of German Indology and History of Religion, Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism at the end of his life caught considerable academic attention. His cast of Buddhism was understood as theology of liberation (Gensichen 1995: 197) as well as an original development under the heading of civil religion (Fuchs 2001: 205). In addition, fieldwork among Mahars in Maharashtra focussed on the social relevance of Dr. Ambedkar’s Navayana Buddhism (Beltz 2001). Textual studies focussed on a comparison of Buddhist sources with Dr. Ambedkar’s “The Buddha and His Dhamma” (Buss 1998; Fiske/Emmrich forthcoming), projecting Dr. Ambedkar’s cast of Buddhism as an effort to reconstruct the world (Beltz/ Jondhale forthcoming).
Ambedkar studies apart, the concern with Dalits has been the focus of a number of studies in social anthroplogy in the urban (Bellwinkel 1980) as well as the rural setting (Randeria 1993) setting. The most comprehensive project in this respect was an interdisciplinary research project, financed by the Volkswagen Foundation and linked with the Department of Modern Indology, South Asia Institute and the Department of Sociology, Delhi University. Under the heading of “Memory, Violence and the Agency”, the topic was the role of Dalits as victims and perpetrators in Bombay and Kanpur (Fuchs forthcoming).This project set an example for the Memorandum of Understanding between Heidelberg University and Delhi University in common fieldwork for the exchange of scholars and students.
During my fieldwork among Dalits in Kanpur (Bellwinkel-Schempp 1998), I was often asked to give a speech, which I used to do with the introductory words, that I was born at Bonn in Germany, the town where Dr. Ambedkar studied Sanskrit. I had found the reference of a short, three months stay in 1923 in Dhananjay Keer’s Dr. Ambedkar biography (Keer 1995: 49). My projection of benevolent German indology, transgressing the Hindu norms of reserving Sanskritic knowledge to the upper castes and caring for the Dalits, was highly appreciated by my Dalit audience. It made me even think of a Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti in 2003 in Bonn, why not, perhaps with the German “Dalit Plattform” and concerned scholars and Dalit activists.
This idea made me visit the University Archives at Bonn on the 14th of January 2003 to find out more about Dr. Ambedkar’s studies at Bonn university. Within no time I found * Dr. Ambedkars application for registration with the Prussian Ministry of Science, Fine Arts and Public Education, a CV in German (!) and his registration into the university ledger on 29 April 1921, which reads as follows:
Father’s profession: General; religion: Hindu; previous universities: Bombay, Columbia, London; number of semesters: 18; school leaving certificate: yes; subject: Economics; date of birth: 14.4.1891; place of birth: Mhow; home town: Bombay; district: Bombay. So he delightfully upgraded his father’s military rank. Noteworthy is also his religious affiliation- at the early stage of his life- certainly before he was contemplating on the question of conversion, he wrote Hindu under the heading of religion. Amazingly, Dr. Ambedkar registered for Economics and not for Indology.
In his handwritten CV he stated that he knew German well, because he had taken it as a minor at Columbia University: He continued: “I would like to mention that the University of Bonn through the kind help of Prof. Dr. H. Jacobi granted me to submit a Ph.D. thesis in case I show adequate performance and I am enrolled for three semesters there.” It is not clear in which subject he intended to submit his dissertation, or how he got in touch with Professor Hermann Jacobi (1850-1937), who was the leading German Indologist of his times.