Out Of My Mind: Rest in peace

Now lo and behold, poor Babasaheb is being claimed by the BJP/RSS as a great Hindu!

Written by Meghnad Desai | Updated: April 19, 2015 12:17 am
column, sunday column, Ruia College, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Republican Party, Dr Ambedkar, Dalit, Mahatma Gandhi, hindus, untouchables, BJP, RSS All his life Ambedkar fought Hinduism and caste.

I was a teenager studying at Ruia College in Matunga. One day in December, I saw a long queue had formed starting somewhere away and it wound around just across from our college doubling in length. The people who were queuing were patient but sad. You could see that they were poor and yet they had managed to put on their best, often ragged torn clothes. Here were the Lower Depths.

I asked around why this long queue. I was told they were patiently waiting to pay their respects to Babasaheb Ambedkar who had just died. The sight changed my view of politics. I had of course been aware of Dr Ambedkar. I knew he had started Siddharth College. I was also aware of the Republican Party he had founded. What I had not realised was the depth of his following among the downtrodden. The word Dalit had not taken as strong a root in popular language as it has now done. As an upper-caste middle-class boy, I had been brought up like all caste Hindus to be blind to the existence, let alone the plight, of the Untouchables. They were invisible to us. Here for the first time in my life, I was witnessing the power of this Man to inspire the love and devotion of these invisible people.

That was 59 years ago. Much has changed since then. Few would argue that it was the political organising genius Kanshi Ram who converted the large following of Babasaheb into a political power bloc. If political parties are falling over each other to claim the Man for themselves, it is because Dalits have been empowered as a vote bloc. The Congress may snarl at the BJP/RSS in their fight over Babasaheb, but they have forgotten what damage Gandhiji did to Ambedkar’s great achievement at the Round Table Conference. The Congress had refused to attend the first Conference but the rest of India — all religions, castes, including the Untouchables, provinces and Rajas and Maharajas — were there. Ambedkar negotiated hard to win separate electorates for his people. But caste Hindus were opposed to giving such concessions to the lowest in their view. Gandhiji went on a fast unto death, “a filthy act” as Babasaheb described it.

Ambedkar had to surrender. A pact was signed by him and Congress leaders on behalf of caste Hindus (whom the Congress chose to represent, being a secular party!). The Untouchables lost their chance to carve out the means for their uplift. They were offered reserved seats but that meant the caste Hindus had to vote for the Untouchable candidates. Only the tame ones, who would not challenge the caste order, would get by.

All his life Ambedkar fought Hinduism and caste. His immense learning can be seen in his critique of the Bhagavad Gita and his scorching analysis of caste. Of course, he did not secure the change he would have wished. Congress leaders stood strong against any tinkering with caste. They had breadcrumbs for their favourite Untouchables like Babu Jagjivan Ram. Even he faced discrimination when, during the Janata days, Charan Singh vetoed JP’s idea that Jagjivan Ram should be prime minister. No matter how far you get as an Untouchable, you remain an object of contempt by the upper castes.

Now lo and behold, poor Babasaheb is being claimed by the BJP/RSS as a great Hindu!

Hypocrisy has no limits when it comes to vote-grabbing. Rather than remember his radical fight against the caste system (a fight which the Communist movement did not support), they now put him on the neutral pedestal of the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly. As Father of the Constitution, he is less likely to be remembered for his challenge to Hinduism, which suits all the major parties.

Ambedkar rejected Brahmanism. He wrote about the revolutionary challenge that Buddhism had offered to Brahmanism for a thousand years long ago. That history has been written out of Indian memory. Babasaheb should be remembered for what he was — a staunch critique of Brahmanism and the caste system, not to be fought over as the bearer of a vote bank. After a long life of struggle, he deserves to rest in peace.

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  1. K
    Kumarpushp
    Apr 19, 2015 at 4:43 pm
    120 million dalits are keeping shoes for RSS
    Reply
    1. K
      Kumarpushp
      Apr 19, 2015 at 4:46 pm
      120 million dalits sre keeping shoes for BJP
      Reply
      1. K
        Kumarpushp
        Apr 19, 2015 at 4:48 pm
        120 milllion dalits are keeping shoes for BJP
        Reply
        1. K
          Kumarpushp
          Apr 19, 2015 at 3:14 pm
          My Hat off to MEGhnad Desai who first time mentioned about Poona pact. If dalits would have got separate electorate which was snatched by hi means dalits would have true representive in Parliament and dalits would have changed the fate of India Parliament forever stan Hindus are having separaste electorate why cant India to give separate electorate.dalits intellectuals should fight for separate electorate which was snatched by hi to better life for there progeny in India.
          Reply
          1. K
            Kumarpushp
            Apr 22, 2015 at 10:37 pm
            yes we eat your cow mata also
            Reply
            1. M
              manohar sharma
              Apr 19, 2015 at 8:08 am
              Dear Lord Meghnad Desai You may have been taught by your family not to notice the existence of low castes but let me tell you my father a thorough bred Pandit allowed all and sundry to attend , offer and partake the " havan" food in our village and later when we moved to town.So I have not learnt your venomous ways and I hold the views just the opposite of yours Please be considerate of the fact that you and your views/ understandings of Hinduism it's texts can be not just wrong but horribly biased
              Reply
              1. N
                Neo
                Apr 19, 2015 at 11:26 am
                Though, I have to give credit to Meghand Desai for candidness over poone pact. None of upper caste thinkers imply that it has enslaved dalits. He is also right over another point reductionism of Ambedkar to architect of consution. It totally neglect other and more important contributions and intellectual legacy which still inspire people.
                Reply
                1. N
                  Neo
                  Apr 19, 2015 at 10:35 pm
                  First of all, reservation was a compromise but there was fight for a separate country. If you could read pre-independent indian history , you can find out . Your ignorance knows no bound , do you even know Indian Census define hinduism ? And top of that, percentage of so-called hindus are declining over years. It is hardly 78 percent right now. Now, it is up to you to reproduce like pigs to maintian majority. Only a coward and sutpid stand behind majority to claim his greatness. Friend, it is not hard to be a decent man.
                  Reply
                  1. N
                    Neo
                    Apr 19, 2015 at 9:41 pm
                    It is really interesting to read comments by people. Many people are claiming that hinduism had and has no issues . It was all hunky-dory. Reservation is proof of it and it's basis lie in the inherent casteism in the hinduism. An upper caste will take pride in his caste and its ociated privileges but oppression on others. Reservation is the acknowledgement of this pathology of hinduism. So, either hindus can have pride in their religion and extensive reservation or hindus will neither have religion . Reservation is going to include judiciary , private sector etc. Mind you, nitish kumar has already asked for OBC reservation in the judiciary. Lets not forget even RSS now support reservation. Reservation and hinduism go hand in hand.
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      Sanjay
                      Apr 19, 2015 at 8:58 am
                      It is indeed very sad & painful that the parties & the people who never gave due credit to his work are now trying to appropriate his legacy & emphasis ing only his being creator of Conststation.
                      Reply
                      1. T
                        TSBindra
                        Apr 19, 2015 at 3:21 pm
                        Human dignity is fundamental, far above the worshipping places.
                        Reply
                        1. A
                          A.
                          Apr 19, 2015 at 9:30 pm
                          Meghnad Desai hs drove the point Hindus hate---attacking their caste which is their religion. hi a caste worshipper was the best man to carry out their agenda to keep the untouchables as their slaves for eternity. Hinduism is the savage attack on millions of untouchables who are treated worse than dogs. It is no pride to be dogs under a religious cover.
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                          1. D
                            Devaki Khanna
                            Apr 19, 2015 at 8:32 pm
                            It's true that we have tended to forget Ambedkar's role as a Dalit leader, as opposed to his leadership of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Consution. It is also true that the BJP/RSS is desperately trying to claim him as one of their own, brushing under the carpet his staunch opposition to brahmanical Hinduism. Of course, this is an attempt to claim the Dalit vote--which will backfire. What is it they say in the US: You can fool some of the people all the time; you can fool all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
                            Reply
                            1. G
                              Gram Massla
                              Apr 19, 2015 at 6:36 pm
                              "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice", wrote Martin Luther King. There is a common thread that runs through bigots of all stripes, be they white American racists, extreme Islamists and Hindutva caste Hindus. All such bigots will swear till kingdom come that oppression never existed: that people were happy with their slots in life. They will spew venom at the words and actions of others but refuse to acknowledge the poison in their own minds. The tale of the Dalit in India is one continuous story of oppression that would have lasted forever if not for Western Industrial Revolution, which degraded human labor by producing machines. Freedom took a long time coming and full freedom will come when India is fully mechanized.
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                              1. G
                                Gazni
                                Apr 19, 2015 at 11:38 pm
                                How stupid can one be to write against the generous Hindus? Get some knowledge and education and find out the truth.Western world is embracing HInduism as if there is no tomorrow. Look at the destruction of Buddhist monuments in Islamic countries and how the Hindustan providing shelters for all the people trying to escape Buddhist murderers in Myanmar? Mostly converts forget their past and are angry.
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                                1. G
                                  Gazni
                                  Apr 19, 2015 at 11:49 pm
                                  True that untouchability still exists. But that is because of economic power of vested interests. We must put an end to that.RSS has taken a vow-"one well,one temple,one place to eat" for everyone. Why not stand by that proclamation and help build a new HIndustan instead of fighting each other? The muslim/chritian groups are finding ways to divide the country and rule under Sonia again.
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                                  1. G
                                    Gazni
                                    Apr 19, 2015 at 11:50 pm
                                    True that untouchability still exists. But that is because of economic power of vested interests. We must put an end to that.RSS has taken a vow-"one well,one temple,one place to eat" for everyone. Why not stand by that proclamation and help build a new HIndustan instead of fighting each other? The muslim/chritian groups are finding ways to divide the country and rule under Sonia again.
                                    Reply
                                    1. H
                                      Harsh Lath
                                      Apr 19, 2015 at 10:07 pm
                                      Mr Meghnad Desai, why have you not commented on his views on Islam e.g. he wrote: '' No words can adequately express the great and many evils of polygamy and concubinage, and especially as a source of misery to a Muslim woman. Take the caste system. Everybody infers that Islam must be free from slavery and caste.[While slavery existed], much of its support was derived from Islam and Islamic countries. While the prescriptions by the Prophet regarding the just and humane treatment of slaves contained in the Koran are praiseworthy, there is nothing whatever in Islam that lends support to the abolition of this curse. But if slavery has gone, caste among Musalmans [Muslims] has remained. '' "There is no doubt that the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasions of the Musalmans. Islam came out as the enemy of the ‘But'. The word ‘But' as everybody knows is an Arabic word and means an idol. Not many people however know what the derivation of the word ‘But' is. ‘But' is the Arabic corruption of Buddha. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Muslim mind idol worship had come to be identified with the religion of the Budhha." On the issue of destruction of Buddhist monasteries he writes, "The Musalman invaders sacked the Budhhist Universities of Nalanda, Vikramasila, Jagaddala, Odantapuri to name only a few. They razed to the ground Budhhist monasteries with which the country was studded." Babasaheb further writes, "Such was the slaughter of the Budhhist priesthood perpetrated by the Islamic invaders. The axe was struck at the very root. For by killing the Budhhist priesthood Islam killed Budhhism."
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                                      1. H
                                        HariOm
                                        Apr 19, 2015 at 10:30 pm
                                        Before make such comment,realise the facts and truth.Buddhism is great but these evangelical fanatics under the foreign influence are the problem.The muslims and christians should look no further--SEE those Muslims fleeing in droves to HIndustan due to m murder and violence by Buddhists. If,HIndustan was so bad,how come all the Muslims and Christans are fleeing to Hindustan? Do not instigate the generous HIndus,enjoy their generosity.
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                                        1. H
                                          HariOm
                                          Apr 19, 2015 at 7:48 pm
                                          First,this author Desai is an opportunist. I am told,in his earlier life he did everything to please his British masters to be honored.He sold the nation for that.Is it true that he wanted to switch to BJP if offered a senior position ? That didn`t happen.Now he spews venom against the Hindus and BJP. We must find the truth. He writes-"I had been brought up like all caste Hindus to be blind to the existence, let alone the plight, of the Untouchables" He must have been brought up in a racist family with such hatred against his own human race. Hindus always teach their children to show love and kindness to less fortunate.Yes,there were some problems and still few racist people like Desai exists in Hindustan.RSS and many other Hindu insutions are working hard to put an end to such discriminations. We all are human being,do not get swa by these opportunist person like Desai.
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                                          1. H
                                            HariOm
                                            Apr 19, 2015 at 10:06 pm
                                            One should thank the Hindus for being generous to allow reservation for the neglected ones to improve and imilate with the rest. RSS/BJP is trying to correct the mistakes of earlier times.Unlike,the other religions where they either convert or kill you. Even after conversion,they still treat the lower castes with no dignity.Check it out for yourself, the situation in different parts of India. Be happy,all those cry babies,that you live in a HIndu majority country.
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