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Ambedkar: Resurrection of Dalits
|by Mahesh Chandra Dewedy|
Existence of injustice in one form or the other is universal in all human societies. Main cause of perpetuation of injustices in traditional societies has been the rigorously imposed supremacy of birth. Noted historian A. L. Basham has written in his book ‘The wonder that was India’ that among all ancient civilized societies Indian society was the most kind society towards its downtrodden. But gradually it went through such vicissitudes of circumstances that the division of society based on profession steadily turned into castes, i. e., division based on birth. And this created a hierarchy where every higher-echelon-caste enjoyed unbridled right to exploit the lower-echelon-caste.
The ‘untouchables’ were at the lowest stratum of the society and, hence, bore the burden of atrocities and inhumanities perpetrated by all other castes. The shackles of caste were institutionalized and granted religious sanction. To break free from those shackles became a very risky and Herculean task for any individual, and to break those shackles of the society as a whole became nearly impossible. Under those circumstances, leaving a few honorable exceptions, every member of the society took the safe and easy path of bowing before the established- although unjust- norms. The sufferers had themselves completely resigned to their fate and fallen in a state of uninterrupted stupor having no intervals.
Only a few kind, wise and very courageous people dared to take stand against those norms. Among those who desired to break those shackles, some limited themselves to speaking only, some to speaking and writing, and some to intervening in individual cases.
Babasaheb Ambedkar had himself faced those atrocities and he had such a vision and grit that he analyzed their causes coolly and rationally in historical perspective, wrote fearlessly against them, organized mass protests, and tried to resurrect Dalits from their eternal stupor. Babasaheb Ambedkar also made emancipation of Dalits the sole objective of his existence. He had categorically stated that if he had only one choice between independence and emancipation of Dalits, he would go for the latter. Yet, he never exhorted his men to violence against the perpetrators of atrocities. Therefore, Babasaheb was rightly called the Savior of the depressed classes.
Ambedkar was a keen observer of societal behavior. His insight into Indian social system was widely acclaimed when as a student he read a paper titled “Castes in India, their mechanism, genesis and development”. Later, for him, caste annihilation was to become the only effective weapon of bringing equality in the society, and he wrote his famous treatise on ‘Annihilation of Caste ’
Babasaheb was fully aware that the condition of depressed classes cannot be uplifted by merely getting right to draw water from village wells, right to enter temples and reservations in schools and jobs; but the real uplift will come when these classes are able to stand on their feet and individually as well as collectively compete with other classes in the society. Therefore he advised them,
Babasaheb was blessed with one eminent quality which all successful leaders must possess, i. e., fight the evil with determination and faith, keep gaining ground and fighting with greater vigor. Accordingly, his fight against inequities got stronger with time and experience: initially in his writings, speeches and demonstrations he emphasized on equal social and religious rights, then he emphasized more on political and economic rights, and in his last efforts to achieve the same in 1935, he exhorted his community to abandon Hinduism and seek self respect in some other religion. And ultimately he himself got converted to Buddhism.
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