So yesterday was Ambedkar Jayanti – a national holiday (on the occasion of his 125th birthday) to mark how instrumental Dr. Ambedkar has been in developing India and for representing dalits.
Let’s first go through what did Dr. Ambedkar do and why do we celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti in the first place and later to how the same has been commoditised.
What did Ambedkar do?
Let me quote from a story I read on Quora by anonymous
Once upon a time, In the far-far lands of Middle earth, the species of humans, animals and fairies lived together. Among all, fairies were the strongest, stacked with mythical powers and prowess. All species worshiped the fairies. The far-far land was also called a land of million fairies.
The lands were divided in small states ruled by the human kings and queens. Unless there was some traction between few of these states, the states lived peacefully. For until rulers from others far-far lands came to rage wars upon them and loot their wealth.
As in all other mammal species, the work in humans was divided among different segments in the kingdom. The people were tagged depending upon their work for ease of identification. And humans in this human society, were identified based on their work. All humans were free to choose there work of interest and pursue it.
All was happy going. People were working, things were progressing, maths was being reinvented, gold was accumulating, temples of the fairies were prospering.
But then came the devil dark fairy Evilin. Evilin had the powers to change emotions in a creature of any race, whom she gazed upon at. Soon the far-far lands of middle earth were filled with feelings of Selfishness. It is truly said that none lands can be happy for too long, for them shall be born an evil fairy to corrupt the minds of their creatures and destroy their peace.
Soon the priest of the great temple of Fairies, corrupted by Evilin, banished anyone but the people doing high class work. They closed the gates for the people performing the works of cleaning fields, growing, burrowing as considered lowly by some. To keep the wealth of knowledge only to there offspring’s, to keep the wealth of gold withing the family, devoured by Evilin ,the priests and kings lost their souls.
The chief of temples and kings not only closed the temples gates, but also considered the people not working same job as them as the others. Soon the others were considered trolls and orcs and banished from the main lands of humans to outskirts of the cities and villages. Orcs were the worst hit, banished to enter the main stream and forced to stay in dark forests as forest dueling creatures. The offspring’s of the others were considered others and were not allowed to mingle with normal humans. Such was the strong dark spell cast that it made people blind to apathy of others. Others were mistreated, misused, exploited, and left in their eternal sense of self pity and banished from the lands of knowledge.
The chief goddess fairy said, “The whole world consisted of Humans. I who created you all, the chief Brahma, created you equally.”
“Neither birth, nor the purification rites, nor learning, nor offspring, can be regarded as grounds for conferring upon one the regenerate status. Its all in the good deeds done by one, and he who shall continue good will constitute me in every part of himself.”
The chief goddess fairy said, “Each man devoted to his own duty, attains perfection and in end meets me.”
But in the midst of Evilins’s devilish mist of selfish clouds, chief priests of the temples and his followers including kings ignored goddess fairies words, manipulated them, and modified them in every new copy of holy manuscripts they created.
Knowledge was scarce, and so was the felling of sharing it.
Generations passed, and knowledge lost and so were the orcs and trolls from the lands of humans. Though created as same beings, humans ostracized the others.
Still the society prospered, though slowly and unequally. And many years later, looking at this wealth came the Whites. In ships and cargoes they came. They came for trade and they came here to trade. But they not only traded, but bought many more and so much that they worshiped Evilin and grew her powers by manifolds. Eviling cast her new learnt spells on all kings and queen and suddenly everyone started fighting in between.
Falling the kings and queen were, cause they were lost. One society of their own banished from mainlands as others, the humans were left but very few. Soon the resistance fell to the Whites and they started ruling humans and giving them same treatment as humans had ruled Orcs and Trolls for centuries !
Humans started complaining and rising again and again. For even one century they could not take this banishment and treatment faced to them by the Whites. Forgetting, the treatment they did to the troll and orcs as others.
After years of breaking their bones, leaving them to die without food, malnourished, collecting heavy taxes, bringing droughts, finally the white’s decided to leave back to their lands.
Humans were happy that they will finally be free. They had never seen same feelings as what The Others felt for many centuries. A feeling even worse than slaves.
The far-far land of Middle Earth was being reconstructed. And this time arose a great leader of The Others, (whom everyone hates) and created the Holy Grail by which all men, women of the Far-Far land of Middle Earth will be ruled upon and must follow to treat every fellow humans equally.
He brought reforms for Women !
He brought reforms for Education !
He brought the Great Land Reforms !
He formed the Great Reserve Bank of India ! (finance commission of India)
He got the state of Kashmir as an integral part of India (article 370 ) !
He was a reputed scholar or his times and remains still !
He followed the Noblest Fairy Spirit of “Buddha” and his principles !
He was the first Indian to pursue Economics degree abroad!
Spilling the seeds of Industrialization and agriculture industry growth!
Stressed on money spending on Agriculture to feed the billion people of India as primary action of Govt of Free India.
Land revenue, tax and excise duty policy.
And many others.
His scholar degrees included :- M.A, PhD, DSc, Bar-at-Law, LLD
He set the seed for building a free, equal India, not only for Gender-equality, but for caste, community, prosperity, education equality.
He envisioned to make people believe in their thoughts and dreams. He envisioned to bring those dreams to life because no state, no community, no ruler has the rights to kill the dreams of a children, born a girl or a boy, born a untouchable or a touchable, born a black or a white, born on land or on water, born in hut or a palace, but the child himself. And this child is the future of this far-far land in the middle earth.
Why do we celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti?
I’d like to refer to the answer by Ashish Shete on Quora:
1. The conditions of oppressed classes were really worse back then. You sure are underestimating what being Untouchable meant in India. Here is an account what Dr. Ambedkar faced as a little school boy –
Although able to attend school, Ambedkar and other untouchable children were segregated and given little attention or assistance by the teachers. They were not allowed to sit inside the class. Even if they needed to drink water, someone from a higher caste would have to pour that water from a height as they were not allowed to touch either the water or the vessel that contained it. This task was usually performed for the young Ambedkar by the school, and if the peon was not available then he had to go without water; the situation he later in his writings described as “No peon, No Water”. He was required to sit on a gunny sack which he had to take home with him.
After reading this, could you relate yourself as “Modern Day Untouchable”. You may want to invent a new word for your feelings.
2. You are only seeing him as someone who worked for the untouchables.
No.. try to read wiki page of Dr. Ambedkar. The man was a genius. He had 4 doctorates from top notch colleges in the US and England. Despite of his hardships, he made his way from the bottom tiers of society to the elites. Without Reservations. Isn’t that remarkable?
Ambedkar was a prolific student, earning a law degree and variousfrom and the , and gained a reputation as a scholar for his research in law, economics and political science. In his early career he was an , , and .
3. He was a patriot. He was active in Independence movement and played crucial role in drafting key laws. We all know what a mess Kashmir issue is today.
Ambedkar opposed in the Constitution, which gives a special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and it was put against his wishes.
reportedly said, Ambedkar had clearly told Sk. Abdullah: “You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India. But Government of India should have only limited powers and Indian people should have no rights in Kashmir. To give consent to this proposal, would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do it.” Then Sk. Abdullah went to Nehru, who directed him to Gopal Swami Ayyangar, who approached Sardar Patel asking him to do something as it was a matter of prestige of Nehru, who has promised Sk. Abdullah accordingly. Patel got it passed when Nehru was on foreign tour. On the day this article came up for discussion, Ambedkar did not reply to questions on it though he did participate on other articles. All arguments were done by Krishna Swami Ayyangar.
4. He also worked for betterment of Indian women; not only Dalit women but Muslims and Hindus too. He was a strong proponent of gender equality in the laws of inheritance and marriage. Drafted Hindu Code Bill, which gave equal rights to the women heirs in the ancestral property.
5. I totally agree with you that the root cause of Brain drain in India is Reservations.
But, blaming Dr.Ambedkar for that isn’t fair. Every man has limitations, so did Dr. Ambedkar. He might have not foreseen the full repercussions of reservation system back then. Or he did, but later the vote bank politics screwed up his vision.
I don’t have any proof of this but I have heard this several times that Dr.Ambdekar wanted the reservations to fade away slowly. He had initially made the provisions for 20-30 years, not more than that.
Also, he didn’t show hatred against the higher castes. In fact, in his venture of achieving equality in society many persons from higher castes made their contribution. Shahu of Princely state of Kolhapur, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad were amongst those people.
6. I feel sorry for people who live in the cities and think that ‘practice of untouchability’ has been totally eradicated from India. No.. far from truth.
Still, people mention castes. Marriage in lower caste? you are a blot on the family name. Still some people deliberately avoid breaking bread with persons of scheduled castes.
This is a account of my friend who went to his village for day or two to meet his grandparents –
“Some of my cousins and I was wandering in the fields and we went quite far from our home. It was hot summer afternoon and we desperately wanted to have some water. We went to nearby house and asked for water. The lady at the house asked where we came from. I pointed out our house. She understood that we’d come from Maharwada ( Mahar commune). She brought the water and made us drink it with cupped hands while she poured it from some height. She didn’t want us to touch the vessel. I felt like crap.”
Now, why my friend did not oppose this, is a question for another day. Maybe he didn’t want to create a scene there.
I was shocked to know about this incidence from him. India has long way to go before untouchability is completely finished.
In conclusion, Dr.Ambedkar was a genius, visionary, patriot, reformer and a brave heart who tried to break shackles of untouchability. We celebrate his charisma and his values which we still are trying to achieve.
Celebration of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s 125th Birthday in Mumbai
I was on my way back home from Ghatkopar West to Ghatkopar East in the evening. The road passes through three huge slums on the way.
I turn off the radio and pull up the window glasses as I pass through the first slum. The slum shines in innumerable floodlights put up on the trees and the music raging from the loudspeakers is deafening. People are dancing on the streets to beats of typical item songs. There is a huge banner of a local politician paying his homage to Dr. Ambedkar and beneath it is a huge rack on which a buffet has been arranged for the slum members by the politician. There is a makeshift kitchen just beside the place where they defecate openly where meat is being cooked in a huge vessel by a huge man in his vest and dhoti sweating profusely in darkness. The energy, excitement and hope of the slum members as they wait in queue for this food is unexplainable.
As I proceed ahead, I pass through another slum settlement which has been decorated with chinese lanterns and waterfalls have been installed on the street along with huge rangolis and banners. This arrangement is done by a different politician. The music and food arrangement and type is the same. They offer free bhang to every passerby too!
The situation is so incongruent with the ideology of the man in whose honour they are celebrating the day! I wonder how Babasaheb Ambedkar would feel if he saw what was being done under his name. The essence of his fight has been commoditised and reduced to address the mere purpose of vote banks!
I’d like to urge everyone to revisit his ideology and work hard to progress ahead in life.