Learning From Ambedkar

His struggle to reform Hindu society has lessons for the triple talaq debate

Written by Arnav Das Sharma | Updated: May 22, 2017 1:03 am
B.R. Ambedkar, Uniform Civil Code, Anti-Hindu Code Bill Committee, triple talaq, Supreme Court, Supreme Court on Triple Talaq, indian express column  As the nation gears up for the landmark SC judgment, Ambedkar’s unwavering commitment to the principles of liberalism is a lesson well worth remembering.

When the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on the contentious triple talaq issue, it would be, perhaps, one of the landmark promulgations in independent India’s judicial history. If the SC were to declare triple talaq unconstitutional, it could well open up the path for the institution of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) — an ideal that has been an important demand of the BJP for a long time.

But as the arguments and counter-arguments are meted out in court, it is worth looking back on the years that led to the formulation of the landmark Hindu Code bills. It is pertinent to invoke this incident for two reasons: One, much of our present debate on the UCC and the triple talaq controversy is still under the shadow of that landmark event.

Second, the pioneering role that B.R. Ambedkar played in bringing those bills to fruition. It is important to remember the degree of opposition that the bills garnered during that time. For instance, in March 1949, the Anti-Hindu Code Bill Committee was formed, which enjoyed vast support from clerics and other conservative lawyers. As Ramachandra Guha chronicles in India After Gandhi, the committee would campaign against the reform bills from place to place.

In these meetings, its primary participants, which included several members of the RSS, characterised themselves as “religious warriors” who were fighting a religious battle. On December 11, 1949, the RSS held a massive rally in the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi where its members denounced the bills in the strongest possible terms. The next day, a march was organised to the Constituent Assembly where effigies of Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah were burnt.

The version of the bill that Ambedkar wanted was never to be had. With the first general election imminent, and fearing a massive Hindu backlash, Nehru had to compromise. Besides, in the Constituent Assembly, many amendments to the original bill were demanded; it took more than a year to get even four clauses passed. Eventually, the bill lapsed. This caused Ambedkar to resign as law minister.

At one point in his resignation letter, Ambedkar, expressing his shock, writes: “The Cabinet unanimously decided that it [the Bill] should be put through in this Parliament… As the discussion was going on, the Prime Minister put forth a new proposal, namely, that the Bill as a whole may not be got through within the time. The Prime Minister suggested that we should select the Marriage and Divorce part.

The Bill in its truncated form went on. After two or three days… the Prime Minister came up with another proposal. This time his proposal was to drop the whole Bill, even the Marriage and Divorce portion. This came to me as a great shock.” The reason for Ambedkar’s shock is two-fold. First, arising from the failure to get the bill passed in its entirety, and second, and more importantly, seeing the core element of the bill — which was about marriage and divorce — rejected as well.

Throughout his life, apart from fighting caste oppression, if there was one cause Ambedkar espoused, it was that of gender emancipation. As his writings testify, Ambedkar very clearly saw the way caste endeared itself to masculinity in order to perpetuate itself. He realised that the primary way to break caste oppression was to make way for marriage reforms. This endeavour was tied to Ambedkar’s larger radical role in taking the Hindu texts to task, by opening them up for reinterpretation, a method by which Brahminical control over these texts was removed. We see this very clearly in his formulation of the Hindu Code Bill, where Ambedkar went back to the texts to reinforce his arguments.

As the nation gears up for the landmark SC judgment, Ambedkar’s pioneering role in trying to modernise Hindu society, and more than anything else, his unwavering commitment to the principles of liberalism is a lesson well worth remembering.

The writer, 29, is a doctoral fellow at the Delhi School of Economics. His first novel, ‘Darklands’, will be published later this year

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    Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan
    May 23, 2017 at 10:14 am
    from Rector JCMesh J Alphabets Letter Animation ClipartMesh C Alphabets Letter Animation Clipart INSIGHT-NET-Hi Tech Radio Free Animation Clipart Online A1 (Awakened One) Tipiṭaka Research & Practice University in Visual Format (FOA1TRPUVF) Mayawati to visit Saharanpur tomorrow. With the recent caste clashes in Saharanpur giving Mayawati an opportunity to regain lost ground among her support base, the BSP chief will visit the scene of violence on Tuesday. Mayawati's visit to the trouble-torn area comes in the backdrop of the Dalit outfit Bhim Sena staging a massive dharna in Delhi over the issue. The organisation of Dalit youths across seven states in northern India, was founded by a young lawyer Chandrashekhar two years ago, and shot into prominence during the clashes. After the BSP's drubbing in the recent embly elections in Uttar Pradesh, it will be Mayawati's first attempt to reach out to her Dalit cons uency. She will leave for Saharanpur from Delhi by road to visit Sh
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      Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan
      May 23, 2017 at 10:14 am
      ALSO READ Saharanpur violence: Thousands of Dalit protesters swarm Jantar Mantar in Delhi Around 20 to 25 upper caste 'thakur' community youths of Shabbirpur village were on their way to attend a function for garlanding the statue of Maharana Pratap organised in Simlana village under Badgaon police station area when Dalit locals objected to playing of loud music, triggering an exchange of heated words. The altercation soon snowballed into a full-blown clash with both groups throwing stones and bricks at each other. A police team somehow pacified the upper-caste youths and asked them return but they came back with more people to Shabbirpur village and indulged in brick batting and arson, torching 15 to 20 houses of the scheduled castes. As many as 16 people from both sides were injured in the incident. Sumit Rajput (35), who suffered injuries in the violence, died later. Enraged over the kil , an angry mob torched several houses of Dalits in the village and also set afire several
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        Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan
        May 23, 2017 at 10:13 am
        Mayawati Prabhu Das commonly fondly known as Mayawati is an Indian politician heading the Bahujan Samaj Party. Being the member of the party since itsinception in 1984, she later became the party president in 2001. She has served as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh four times (briefly in 1995, 1997, 2002-2003 and 2007-2012). Mayawati has been the youngest woman Chief Minister and the first ever female Scheduled Caste member to become Chief Minister of any state. After losing in the 2012 legislative embly elections to Samajwadi Party, she resigned from her post as a party leader on March 2012, and later that month she was elected to a seat in Rajya Sabha through acclamation. As the leader of the party, she has also been lauded for mobilizing funds for her party.Born on 15th January 1956 in Delhis Shrimati Sucheta Kriplani hospital, Mayawati has 6 brothers. Her father Prabhu Das was a postal employee at Badalpur in Gautam Buddha Nagar in 1975, her mothers name is Ram Rati. In her
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        1. J
          Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan
          May 23, 2017 at 10:12 am
          Sometime in 1977, a well kown Scheduled Caste politician Kanshi Ram visited her family home and was highly impressed by Mayawati’s speaking style and motivated her to join politics. According to biographer Ajay Bose, Kanshi Ram told her that I can make you such a big leader one day that not one but a w row of IAS officers will line up for your orders. In 1984, Kanshi Ram founded the Bahujan Samaj Party and the party focused as a platform to bring social change and to improve the welfare of the weakest of the Indian society consisting of the Bahujans or SC/STs, Other Backward castes and religious minorities. Kanshi Ram included Mayawati as the member of the party marking her first step in Indian politics. She was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 1989 representing Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh in the 9th Lok Sabha elections. In 1994, she became a member of Rajya Sabha for the first time. Kanshi Ram remained the president of BSP until 2001 however, due to his deteriorating health in
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            Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan
            May 23, 2017 at 10:12 am
            She created history by becoming the first ever Scheduled Caste women in India to serve as the Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh. On October 1995, the BJP withdrew support to her and fresh elections were called after Presidents rule. She won to the Lok Sabha elections in 1996 from two different cons uencies and chose to serve Harora. After that from 1996 to 1998, she also served as MLA in the U.P state embly. On 21st March 1997, she again became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh marking her second term as the Chief Minister and retained the post till 20th September 1997. In the 12th Lok Sabha elections of 1998, she was elected as member representing Akbarpur cons uency. In 1999, she became a member of the 13th Lok Sabha. Despite Mayawati leading the party, Kanshi Ram remained the party’s president until 2001. Being a diabetic and a host of other serious ailments, he wasn’t able to lead an active political life. On December 15, 2001, Kanshi Ram in a rally in Lucknow declared Mayaw
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              Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan
              May 23, 2017 at 10:11 am
              On March 2002, she resigned from the Akbarpur Lok Sabha seat and on 3rd May 2003, she became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for the third time and remained on this post till 26th August 2002. Following the ill health of Kanshi Ram, she became the National President of BSP on 18th September 2003. In May 2004, she was re elected from Akbarpur for the 14th Lok Sabha. In July 2004, she resigned from Lok Sabha and became the member of Rajya Sabha for the second time. On 27th August, she was elected as the National President of BSP for the second time. Kanshi Ram died on October 2006 due to a severe heart attack. Mayawati performed the last rites of Kanshi Ram in Buddhist tradition which is traditionally performed by the male heirs of the family in Hindu tradition. In the 2007 Uttar Pradesh elections, BSP won the majority and she became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for the fourth time and retained the post of the Chief Minister till March 2012. In the 2007 elections, Mayawati had
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                Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan
                May 23, 2017 at 10:10 am
                Mayawati is unmarried and has dedicated her life to serve the weaker sections of the society. Mayawati is criticized for wasting the tax payers money by building several statues of icons of Buddhism, Hinduism and SC/STs including herself during her tenure as the Chief Minister. The CBI in 2002 raided her house suspecting financial irregularities related to Taj Heritage Corridor, however in June 2007, the then Governor T.V. Rajeshwar declared that there is no evidence of her involvement. . On 9th August 2009, Mayawati declared that she has chosen her successor from the Scheduled Caste community who is 18-20 years junior to her and she has pinned down the name in a sealed packet in a safe custody. The name of the successor will be declared after her death in particular and the 99 Sarvajan Samaj i.e., all societies belonging to SC/STs/OBCs/Minorities and the poor Upper castes in general. In 2007 Ms Mayawati as Chief ninister of Uttar pradesh gave th best governance by way of distributin
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                  Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan
                  May 23, 2017 at 10:09 am
                  While the 1 intolerant, violent, militant, shooting, lynching, lunatic, mentally ed, cannibal chitpawan brahmins of RSS headed by Mohan Bagawath with an inherent problem of trying to intermingle religion with politics. The basis of religion is morality, purity and faith, while that for politics is power. In the course of history, religion has often been used to give legitimacy to those in power and their exercise of that power. Religion was used to justify wars and conquests, cutions, atrocities, rebellions, destruction of works of art and culture. When religion is used to pander to political whims by tampering the fraud EVMs, it has to forego its high moral ideals and become debased by worldly political demands. There is a limit to the extent to which a political system can sa uard the happiness and prosperity of its people. No political system, no matter how ideal it may appear to be, can bring about peace and happiness as long as the people in the system are dominate
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