Friday, 4 March 2016

THE ROLE OF B. R. AMBHEDKAR IN SHAPING THE MODERN INDIA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Dr. S. Vijay Kumar
Abstract: The main aim of this paper is to study, analyze and evaluate critically the role of B.R.Ambedkar in relation to his contribution towards Dalits, Society, as a Constitution maker, as a feminist, Welfare of Labourers, as an Economist, as a Politician, as a Nation builder and as a Writer in shaping modern India.

Keywords: Constitution Maker, Emancipation, Inequalities, Humanist, Dalits, Reformer

                      Dr. B.R. Ambedkar popularly known as Dr. Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was a multifaceted personality, an intellectual, a philosopher, a patriot, a social reformer, a champion of dalits, a scholar, a writer, constitution maker, an economist, an eminent lawyer and a feminist. He earned unique distinction of being India's first monetary economist who prudently analyzed the problems of Indian rupee. He was protagonist of industrial modernization and favored industrialization based on economic model along with core socialistic values of Gandhian economy. He favored skill development, land reforms and technological up gradation in agriculture. He targeted centralized nature of fiscal federalism and pursued cooperative approach. He drafted Hindu Code Bill that worked as 'magna carta' for equitable status of Hindu women in society. He did not hesitate to even resign from the cabinet for favoring this landmark legislation. His most significant contribution has undoubtedly been the chief architect of Indian constitution based on values of democracy, liberty, equality and secularism. Dr. Ambedkar is undoubtedly a magnificent personality that has immensely contributed to bring 'independent India' onto the path of 'modernized india.' He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1990 for his contribution as the “Architect of the Modern India”. This paper attempts to study his role in shaping of modern India.

Objectives of the Study:

1). Hero of Depressed Class (Dalits)
2). Ambedkar – A Social Reformer
3). B.R. Ambedkar and Indian Constitution
4). Ambedkar – Women Empowerment
5). A Champion for the Welfare of Labourers & Framing Labour Laws
6). Ambedkar as an Economist
7). Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as a Politician
8). Ambedkar as a Nation Builder
9). Ambedkar as a Writer
10). Critical Analysis of B. R. Ambedkar

Methodology
The present study on ‘The Role of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in shaping the Modern India’ is based on historical method. This research is based on secondary sources that are available from the reference books given at the end of my paper.

Hero of Depressed Class (Dalits): Dr. Ambedkar dedicated his life for the uplifting of Dalits. He was opposed to the theory of caste based superiority and social discrimination. He worked relentlessly for the rights of the depressed class. He was a scholar as much as a “man of action”. He gave an inspiring self-confidence to the Dalits, untouchables and women. He was in the favour of education and equal rights to everyone. He has been regarded as a ray of hope, for downtrodden in India. He emerged as the leader of the underprivileged and even separately represented them at the round table conferences in 1930s. It was after his signing of the Poona Pact with Gandhi which ensured great number of seats for the depressed class eventually becoming one of the most important constituents of the Indian polity. Dr. Ambedkar views were consistently been inspiring the oppressed, depressed and the downtrodden classes to challenge the dominant strands of political articulations in the country. According to Raja Sekhar Vundru who calls Dr. Ambedkar as the other father (Father of Indian Constitution) said: “Dr. Ambedkar gave millions of untouchables an identity of their own. He is now regarded as a great Indian, a person relevant for all times to come. He dedicated his life for the uplifting of Dalits. He made a path for legal rights to enact the laws in connection with progress of dalits which could positively change their lives. He always led by example. He showed his followers, through the way he lived his own life, that education and hard work alone held the key to their liberation. Dr. Ambedkar said, “You can change your lot, but do not flock to temples hoping for justice to come to you in heaven. There is justice to be found on earth if you can fight for it. This idea gave them a new courage and a sense of self respect that they had never known before.

Ambedkar – A Social Reformer: As a social democrat Dr. Ambedkar stressed on a much broader notion of stable reconstruction of our country with inclusive growth and cultural integration in the Nation without caste discrimination. As the major architect of the Indian constitution, Dr. Ambedkar constructed the safeguards for establishing a more equitable society to millions of oppressed and depressed classes. He has popularly known as the pioneer who initiated the liberation movement of roughly 65 million untouchables of India. He realized that the right of the untouchables could only be safeguard by making constitutional provision. He made a path for legal rights to enact the laws in connection with progress of dalits which could positively change their lives.

                    He believed in peaceful methods of social change. He was supported to constitutional lines in the evolutionary process of social transformation. He thought the factors like law and order which are indispensable for social life. A welfare state of all cannot be developed on the grounds of terror, force and brutal methods. According to him violent methods to a peaceful society is not only improper but also unscientific and immoral. He urged them to found organizations to deal with urgent cases of discrimination. The organizations should deal the powerful section of society to give a chance to the oppressed and depressed classes to work in different sectors. The Hindu society should give a space to depressed sections by employing them in their various sectors suited to the capacities of applicants. His vision of democracy and equality was closely related to good society, rationality and the scientific outlook. He held that the emancipation of Dalits in India was possible only through the three-pronged approached of education, agitation and organization. Thus Ambedkarism is the great relevance to the Indian society to achieve social justice, removal of untouchability, in establishing equality and true democracy. While Mahatma Gandhi led fellow Indians in a struggle against discrimination in South Africa, Dr. Ambedkar led a battle too, against prejudice within his own country.

B.R. Ambedkar and Indian Constitution:  For drafting of the Indian Constitution, on 29th August, 1947 passing one resolution, the Constituent Assembly appointed a ‘Drafting Committee” with the seven members including Dr. Ambedkar for preparing a draft of the constitution of the independent India. It is said when drafting of the Constitution of India was embarked upon, Pandit Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel thought of inviting and consulting Sir Guor Jennings, as internationally known constitutional expert of those times. When approached for advice in the matter “Gandhiji is reported to have told them why they should be looking for foreign experts when we have the right person within India an outstanding legal and constitutional expert Dr. Ambedkar”. The Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee. There were seven members, including the Chairman of the ‘Drafting Committee’.

                           Dr. Ambedkar had imprinted his mark of talent and vision in drafting Indian Constitution. His statesman qualities can easily visible on each and every article of Indian Constitution. Ambedkar preferred the parliamentary system of England rather than the Presidential System in America. He strongly supported for federal system. He said “The Draft constitution is, Federal Constitution is a much as it establishes what may be called Dual polity. This Dual polity under the proposed constitution will consist of the union at the centre and the states at the periphery each endowed with Sovereign powers to be exercised in the field assigned to them respectively by the constitution. The draft constitution can be both unitary as well as federal according to the requirements of time and circumstances. In normal times, it is framed to work as a federal system. But in times of war it is so designed as to make it work as though it was a unitary system. Dr. Ambedkar clarified about the criticisms of The Directive Principles of state of policy as “whoever captures power will not be free to do what he likes with it. In the exercise of it, he will have to respect these instruments of instructions which are called Directive Principles. He cannot ignore them. He may not have to answer for their breach in a court of Law. But he will certainly have to answer for them before the electorate at election time”. Dr. Ambedkar stated about Article 32 that “It I was asked to name any particular article in this as the most important an article without which the constitution would be a nullity I would not refer to any other article except this one. It is the very soul of the constitution and heart of it”. Dr. Ambedkar said about independent Election Commission that “the greatest safeguard for purity of elections, for fairness in elections, was to take away the matter from the hands of the executive authority and to hand it over to some independent authority”. He remarked about the constitution as “It is workable, it is flexible and it is strong enough to hold the country together both in peace time and in war time. Indeed, if I may so, if things go wrong under the new constitution, the reason will not be that we had a bad constitution what we will have to say is that man is vile”.

Ambedkar – Women Empowerment: Dr. Ambedkar as the law minister was the chief architect of the Hindu Code Bill, which was introduced in the constituent assembly. It is among the most formidable legislations introduced in the history of India. It not only delineated who would be considered as a Hindu, it also did away with the caste system in the marriages. It established the equality of men and women in all legal matters, ensured property rights and right to adoption to women, right to divorce, provided for the equal inheritance for men and women and put an end to a variety of marriage systems prevailing in India and legalized only monogamous marriages. When he was faced with strong opposition from the orthodoxy, he brilliantly argued that he is proposing no additional rights which were not already enjoyed by the Hindu women in the past. But orthodoxy succeeds in stalling the bill and Dr. Ambedkar chose to resign from the post of the law minster rather than diluting the rights of women as proposed in the bill. The bill was later enacted as four separate bills – The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; The Hindu Succession Act, 1956; The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.

A Champion for the Welfare of Labourers & Framing Labour Laws: The condition of workers was his main concern during his stint as the Labour Member of the Governor- General‘s Executive Council from 1942 to 1946 and after. He was instrumental in reducing the factory hours from 14 to 8 hours. He is also credited in framing various laws for welfare of women labours, mention worthy among them are: Women Labour Welfare, Women and Child Labour Protection Act and Maternity benefit for women. Indian Factory Act was also framed under his supervision. Due to his untiring efforts, National Employment Agency (Employment Exchange) came into being. Dr. Ambedkar also enacted the Employees State Insurance (ESI) scheme for providing workers with medical care, compensation for injuries, insurance etc. Dr. Ambedkar was also instrumental in enacting the Coal Mines Safety (Stowing) Amendment Bill for the benefit of the mine workers on January 31st, 1944. On 8th April 1946, he brought the Mica Mines Labor Welfare Fund, which helped the workers with housing, water supply, education, entertainment, and co-operative arrangements. Beside this, he is also credited to introduce various welfare initiatives for workers such as providing them with Dearness Allowance (DA), Leave Benefit to Piece Workers and Labour Welfare Funds. In 1943, he brought the Indian Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill for the compulsory recognition of trade unions. Apart from the above mentioned initiatives, other significant measures taken by him to ensure the welfare of the workers are: Health Insurance Scheme, Factory Amendment Act, Labour Disputes Act and determination of minimum wages. Dr. Ambedkar’s concern for work force in the industrial sector was also driven by his firm faith in industrialization and modernization as an antidote to the caste system. His main concern was that Dalits should leave the feudal-agrarian sector and migrate to cities to find employment in the newly emerging modern industrial sector as a mean to socio-economic mobility.
Ambedkar as an Economist: His Ph.D thesis was inspired to set up for the Finance Commission of India and his works helped a lot in framing guidelines for the RBI Act 1934.He was one of the founders of Employment Exchanges in our country. He played a vital role in establishment of the National Power Grid System, Central Water Irrigation, Navigation Commission, Damodar valley project, Hirakud project and Sone river project.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as a Politician: He was strongly believed that political institutions were responsible for reforming the existing social institutions by using legislative force to yield the results. Political institutions will survive only when they actively work for social reformation. Before independence, Dr. Ambedkar founded the Independent Labour Party in 1936 (ILP) to champion the cause of workers when even Congress was ambivalent about the issue. He was faced with stiff opposition from the communist parties who wanted monopoly over the political representation of workers even while dismissing the caste division & problems of Dalits within the labour force. Undeterred, he carried forward the task of organizing workers and challenging the caste system which he rightly diagnosed as a system of “division of labour” but not of “division of labourers”. His party demanded strong labour laws, remunerative wages, to fix hours of work (He was instrumental in reducing the factory hours from 14 to 8 hours), leave with pay and a sanitary dwelling at reasonable amount. It advocated an extensive programme for the improvement of educational facility in technical institutes and an end of feudal practices and mindset. The popularity of party was revealed in the 1937 provincial elections when in Maharashtra, party secured a total of 14 seats out of 17, in which it contested. This included 11 reserved (out of 13) and 3 general seats (out of 4). He underlined the importance of creating not just a political democracy, but also a social and economic one.

Ambedkar As A Nation Builder: Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), ‘a symbol of revolt’ (as mentioned by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India), was one of the front-ranking nation-builders of modern India. He is popularly known as the ‘pioneer’ who initiated the ‘liberation movement’ of roughly sixty-five million untouchables of India. Yet, Dr. Ambedkar, the chief architect of Indian Constitution, notwithstanding all handicaps of birth, has made, by pursuit of knowledge in the humanities, social sciences, politics and law, an indelible imprint on the body politic of the country. A glance of his copious writings would evidently show that despite his preoccupations with the problems of the dalits (Untouchables), Ambedkar has in his own way, made significant contributions to the contemporary political ideas. B.R.Ambedkar stood apart from his well-known famous contemporaries of India in three respects. Being a great scholar, social revolutionary and statesman, he had in himself a combination of these attributes that one rarely possesses which made him distinguished from other intellectual personalities of that time. As an intellectual, gigantic personality and creative writer, he had imbibed knowledge that was truly encyclopedic. The range of topics, width of vision, depth and sophistication of analysis, rationality of outlook and essential humanity of the arguments that he came-up with made him different from his illustrious contemporaries. Ambedkar never wrote merely for literary purpose. In his scholarly pursuit as in his political activities, he was driven by a desire to comprehend the vital issues of his time and to find solutions to the problems of Indian society. With this motivation, he intervened, at times decisively in shaping the social, economic and political development of the nation during its formative stage. There was hardly any issue that arose between the early 1920s and the mid-1950s in India to which Ambedkar did not apply his razor-sharp analysis, whether it was the question of minorities, reorganization of states, partition, constitution or the political and economic framework for an independent India.

Ambedkar as a Writer: Some of his major writings are as follows: (1) Essay on Untouchables and Untouchability : Social, (2) Small Holdings in India and their Remedies, (3) Buddha and Karl Marx, (4) Manu and the Shudras, (5) Untouchables or the Children of India’s Ghetto, (6) Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah, (7) Statement of Evidence to Royal Commission on Indian Currency, (8) Who were Shudras ?, (9)Buddha and his Dharma, (10) Revolution and Counter Revolution in India, (11) Paramountacy and the Claim of the Indian States to be independent, (12)The Evolution of Provincial finance in British India : A Study in the Provincial, (13) History of Indian currency and banking, (14) The Untouchables : who were they and why became untouchable?, (16) Federation versus Freedom, (17) Philosophy of Hinduism, (18) Notes on Acts and Laws, (19) Ancient Indian Commerce, (20) Caste in India : their mechanism, genesis and development, (21) Annihilation of Caste, (22) Preservation of social order, (23) India on the Eve of Crown Government, (24) The Constitution of British India, (25) Pakistan or the Partition of India, (26) Need for check and balances ¾ article on linguistic state, (27) Maharashtra as linguistic provision, (28) Riddles of Hinduism, (29) Lectures on English Constitution, (30) Communal deadlock and a way to solve it… etc. His works are testimony enough of the vastness and depth of his studies, wisdom and the free-feeling thought and greatness of his qualities which are eloquently refulgent in his works.

Critical Analysis BR Ambedkar: He opposed the caste system in our country and conveyed a good message to all Hindus that if we are divided among ourselves on caste basis and fight with each other, “we will fall prey to our enemies”. That is to say, “if we are united together, we stand, if divided we will fall”. Dr. Ambedkar believed in equality. He respected freedom and liberal democracy. Amartya Sen rightly opined that, freedom is valuable for at least two different reasons. 

First, More Freedom gives us more opportunity to pursue our objectives those things that we value. Dr. Ambedkar also respected freedom and he aimed to develop human being through this freedom. 

Second, Process of Choice itself. Dr. Ambedkar provided such choices (Reservations) to the oppressed people through constitutional law. In the beginning Reservations were provided only to SCs and STs under the Article 15 (4) for providing admissions in the educational institutions and under the Article16 (4) for jobs. But, later on this was extended to Other Back Ward Castes (OBCs). Originally, it was stated that these reservations will continue up to 1960 that is for 10 years only and later on they will be removed. But, till this date they are continued to gain political advantage out of it to retain in power claiming that they are doing social justice to SCs, STs and OBCs. But, in reality this is entirely a different story. Let us forget a while, a great injustice done to the economically weaker sections in the Forward Casts (FCs) all these years (more than 66 years) in the name of castes, which ambedkar was against. Now, let us suppose, a SC, ST or a BC candidate became an IAS Officer availing reservation facility. But, later on these IAS Officer’s children are also availing further reservations for admissions in colleges and in jobs. Due to this system, in their communities only other people are losing chances of getting admissions in reputed institutions and good jobs of higher cadre. Hence, Government should enact that “creamy layer (A generation already availed reservations) should not be allowed for further reservations”. Government must also think about those people who are economically back ward in the forward castes, so that they may not further lose their bright career in the name of caste system, due to which previously SCs, STs and OBCs suffered. If we ignore EBCs in the FCs, again a class struggle may prevail which is not good for the future of our country. The present and future generations will not excuse us for this mistake. Due to reservations policy, lot of “Brain Drain” is going in our country (Lot of our intellectuals are leaving the country for their bright future) for example, highly intellectuals like Noble Prize winners – Hargobindh Kurana and Amartya Sen etc.  

Suggestions:
1). Review of Reservation Policy of BR Ambedkar: Now, the time has come to review the “Reservation Policy of BR Ambedkar” after 66 years of Indian Constitution came in to existence, because at present the situation has been drastically changed. SCs, STs, OBc are now equally treated on par with all the forward castes in the society.
2). Government should enact that “creamy layer should not be allowed for further reservations: Government should enact that “creamy layer (A generation already availed reservations) should not be allowed for further reservations”. Because for example, let us suppose, if, a SC, ST or a BC candidate became an IAS Officer availing reservation facility. But, later on these IAS Officer’s children are also availing further reservations for admissions in colleges and jobs. Due to this system, in their communities only other people are losing chances of getting admissions in reputed institutions and good jobs of higher cadre.
3). Government Must Think of Reservations to “All Economically Back ward Classes Irrespective Castes: Instead of implementing the age old “Reservation Policy of BR Ambedkar,” Government must think of reservations for “All the Economically Back ward Classes of Irrespective Castes”. By doing so we can stop “Brain Drain” from our country.
4). Stop Frustration among the Youth: In the “Present Reservation Policy” most of the bright youth are suffering a great frustration, because most of the youth born in forward castes even after scoring more than 90% of marks in their competitive exams are not getting seats in Medicine and in other courses which has bright future for them. Even for IAS exams also reservation system is adopted, which require top most brilliant people who will decide the future of country. Contrast to this, SCs, STs or OBCs are selected with low marks for the courses and jobs which has bright future. Hence, “EBC Reservation System of Irrespective Castes” is the only solution to save our country.
5). Great threat to our Social Fabric: Day by all the castes are demanding reservations irrespective of their economical status, leading to unrest among all the castes and agitations in the country there by destroying public property like Railways, Water pipe lines causing lot of inconvenience to the common public. For example, recent “Jats” Community fighting for reservations in Haryana State, Recent “Kaapus” agitation in Andhra Pradesh to include them in BCs Community list, and some time back in Rajasthan “Gujjars” lead a great agitation to include them in SCs. If Government don’t put full stop for such type of “present reservation policy” there will be no end for this and ultimately our society will be divided in to fragments and this may even lead for demanding separate regions for separate castes, thus dividing the whole nation on caste – wise, which would be a “great threat to our social fabric”. 

Conclusion: Dr. Ambedkar’s was a short life (65 years) and yet a most remarkable one. He rose up from dust, from being treated worse than an animal to becoming the father of the Indian Constitution. Dr. Ambedkar was truly a multi-faceted personality. A veritable emancipator of Dalits, a great National leader and patriot, a great author, a great educationalist, a great political philosopher, a great religious guide and above all a great humanist without any parallel among his contemporary. All these facets of Ambedkar’s personality had strong humanist underpinnings.

                     Ambedkarism is of great relevance to Indian society even today in achieving social justice, removal of untouchability, in establishing equality and freedom and true democracy. In conclusion, it can be said that this research gives closer and analytical insight into the thoughts of Ambedkar and provides an answer to the question of whether we, the Indians, achieve religious tolerance, human equality and freedom, true democracy, gender respect in the society, justice and peace in the light of political philosophy of Ambedkar whose memory will ever guide the nation on the path of justice, liberty and equality. Thus, we conclude Dr. Ambedkar was one of the foremost makers of Modern India.

References:

1). B.R. Ambedkar, What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables?

2). B. R. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste, an undelivered speech written in 1936 by B. R. Ambedkar

3). Jaoul Nicolas, Learning the use of Symbolic means: Dalits, Ambedkar statues and the state in U.P., Contributions to Indian Sociology

4). S. Anand (Ed.), Annihilation of Caste: The annotated critical edition – B.R. Ambedkar – Introduced with the essay ‘The Doctor and the Saint’ by Arundhati Roy, Navayana Publishers, New Delhi, (2014)

5). Rajasekhar Vundru, ‘The other Father’, Outlook (Weekly), Independence Day Special, 20 August (2012)

6). Jadhav Narendra, Ambedkar: Awakening India’s social conscience, Konark Publishers, New Delhi (2014)

7). Badal Sarkar, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s theory of State Socialism International Research Journal of Social
Sciences, 2, (2013)
8). Lokhande. G. S., B.R. Ambedkar: A study in social democracy. Constituent Assembly Debates, (25-11-1949) vol. xi

9). Pylee, M.V.., Constitutional Government in India

10). D.R.Jatava. Political philosophy of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar

11). B.R.Ambedkar: Writing and Speeches, Vol-1

12). Speeches delivered by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar before the Poona District Law Library on 22nd December, 1952; Quoted in Ambedkar College Magazines, Mahad, 1962.

13). Kheer, Dhanajay, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar: Life and Mission

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7 comments:

  1. gud efforts to encapsulate the works n contributions done baba saheb. cbut can name the article or articles where it is specifically mentioned about the provision of 10year clause.. pls tell us.moreover can u provide the authentic data which proves dalit at par with upper castes???

    ReplyDelete
  2. To your First Query, Article 334 of the Constitution had originally required the reservation to cease in 1960, but this was extended to 1970 by the 8th Amendment. The period of reservation was extended to 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 by the 23rd, 45th, 62nd and 79th Amendments respectively. The 95th Amendment extended the period of reservation to 2020.
    To your Second Query, If you really visualize the situation in India today, many dalits positions improved substantiality economically and socially. They became Ministers and IASs, IPSs, IFSs and occupied prestigious positions in the Government. I never said in my article to wind up the reservations permanently, but I said to make them rationale by eliminating creamy layer so that more SCs, STs and OBCs from their own communities can be more benefited in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s theory of State Socialism International Research Journal of Social

    http://www.babasahebdrbrambedkar.com/

    ReplyDelete
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