Legacy of Ambedkar – UPSC GS1

Critically assess the legacy of Babasaheb Ambedkar, especially in the context of the efforts by mainstream political parties to appropriate him. (200 Words)

    1. He was among one of the delegates at 1st Round Table Conference and raised voice for separate representation of the depressed classes. Communal award and Poona Pact were outcomes whereby he succeeded in getting separate electorates for the depressed class.
    2. He was chairman of the Drafting Committee in the Constituent Assembly. Having great knowledge of all the existing constitutions, this barrister succeeded in making the lengthiest Constitution of the world. He was known for his forceful and convincing arguments in the floor. He ensured that a free India is not just a political democracy but a social democracy. The shining ideals of Fundamental Rights is the best example.
    3. Post-independence, he was at the centre of Hindu Code Bill and he favoured egalitarianism. He advocated for women’s’ equality.
    4. He converted to Buddhism with his followers to clearly express his disapproval of casteism.
The current events of appropriating his legacies by various Political Parties seem to more guided by vested political interests [vote-bank] rather than conviction in his legacy.
Though, this has led to building of memorials, institutions, roads etc. in his name, they remain symbolic and peripheral. The true legacy can only be realized by implementation of Indian Constitution and its values both in letter and spirit and, building of an Indian society which has no place for discrimination [especially against Dalits] and cherishes ideas of equality, liberty and fraternity.

 

“Ambedkar was one of modern India’s first great economic thinkers, its constitutional draftsman and its first law minister who ensured the codification of Hindu law.” Elaborate. (200 Words)
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s personality was a multifaceted one. He was a jurist, economist, politician and social reformer and played an important role in building modern India. The following are his major achievements and contribution:
    1. Ambedkar was one of the first generation of professionally trained economists in India, who made a name for himself as a monetary economist. His doctoral thesis was on the problems of the Indian rupee, wherein he argued for the devaluation of the overvalued exchange system, which was in place to help the British exporters.
    2. As the chairperson of the drafting committee, Dr. Ambedkar was the chief architect of our Constitution. It was his legal acumen and mastery of language, which makes the Indian constitution one of the best constitutions the world over. He continues to inspire with his debates, which formed part of the constitutional assembly debates.
    3. He worked relentlessly for the rights of the depressed class. 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 that ensured great number of seats for the depressed class eventually becoming one of the most important constituents of the Indian polity.
    4. He inspired the modern Buddhist movement in India by converting to the Buddhism along with six lakhs of his followers.
    5. He was also an eminent educationist and founded institutions like the People Educations Society, Milind College to advance the interests of the scheduled castes.
    6. As the first law minister of the country, he led the campaign for the codification of Hindu law and is responsible for reformation of the same upon the passage of the Hindu Code Bill.
For all of these achievements, Babasaheb has been awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1990.

 

“Ambedkar stands apart for combining three attributes: modernity of outlook; bringing scholarship and learning to political life; and pragmatism in public life.” In the light of the statement, critically examine Ambedkar’s contribution to India both during pre and post-Independence years. (200 Words)
Pre-independence:
    1. He called for annihilation of caste instead of uplifting depressed ones opposed to Gandhiji. He said till there is caste, there will always be discrimination as we see in India today.
    2. Poona Pact, established societies to mobilise people politically, urging people to go to towns etc. were his pragmatic methods to fight caste discrimination.
    3. He supported partition as that was a pragmatic solution of communalism and also improving social and political status of Muslims at that time.
    4. He supported western education and also absorption of new technologies for betterment of economy such as large dams and multi-purpose projects.
    5. His modern ideas on economics stated debates on money problem, monetary governance and ways to industrialise India.
    6. He guided the passage of factories act, maternity benefit act, trade union act, minimum wage act etc. which were way forward to more humane working conditions of workers and find their place in India even today.
Post-Independence:
    1. He worked for betterment of women by pushing Hindu Code Bill which was defeated but eventually passed in 1956.
    2. He contributed immensely in drafting a constitution based on modern values of equality, liberty and freedom.
    3. Provision of reservation was his pragmatic way to uplift depressed classes in modern India till they attain self-reliance.
Ambedkar views on Nationalism:
His views on nationalism were quite different from others as he did not believe in caste-system. According to him, a country having so many castes cannot be called a nation. His notion of nationalism was embedded in a society where there is no caste-system and there would be equality in every sphere be it social, economic or political.
During the WWII, Ambedkar took out a no. of legislative actions such as Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill and numerous Factories (Amendment) Bills collaborating with the Colonial power as he thought that Nazis, Japan were more dangerous than British. Thus getting freedom from the British is much easier than other powers.
His action was also considered anti-national because:
    1. He opposed leaders of 1930s and ’40s on the ground that even leaders can be oppressive.
    2. Preferred the interests of Depressed Classes over the nation.
    3. He welcomed the Britishers as a tool to root out deeply entrenched caste system from the country.
    4. Opposition to Gandhiji’s Quit India Movement in 1942 because he felt that such movement would help facilitate subjugation of country by Japan.
Despite the fact that his views were contrary to other leaders, his brand of nationalism was not simply of getting freedom from the colonial rule but also from the inhuman caste discrimination and other forms of inequality and help achieve an egalitarian society, which later made the national movement stronger and helped achieve freedom.