Today is observed as Ambedkar Jayanti. While in JNU in late 1970s we never studied about Ambedkar. But it is insightful to note that Mr. K. R. Narayanan who was JNU VC during 1978 and 1979 wrote a brilliant article on Ambedkar some time in 1980s.
The very first sentence of the article synthesised the vision of Gandhi, Ambedkar and Nehru. He wrote "If Gandhi gave a moral purpose and mass dimension to freedom struggle Nehru gave a economic and socialist dimension and Ambedkar gave a challenging social and democratic dimension".
Later in 2004 when the new building of Kerala Assembly was constructed three huge statues of Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar occupied prominent place in its premises and those statues were unveiled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. While doing so he quoted that sentence of Mr. Narayanan and it was widely covered by media.
On the occasion of his birth anniversary one recalls Ambedkar with respect and his ideas are assuming far more importance for our time than they were during his own time. One particular mention may be made of his formulation of anti nationalism in the context of usage of this term by the present regime so frequently to dub any body and every body who questioned the Government as anti national.
Ambedkar said that castes are anti national. He was the only leader who described castes as anti national. How true he was indeed! The present regime which claims that it has showered more honours on Ambedkar than any other regime never invoked the idea of nationalism expounded by him. In fact Ambedkar in his writings very prophetically said that there could be challenges to the nationhood of India from extra electoral forces.
The extra electoral forces he talked about are now seen every where and the biggest manifestation of it is Sangha Parivar. It is challenging the very idea of India. He described the idea of Hindu Rashtra as arrant nonsense and predicted that it would cause calamity.
The ideals of Hindu Rashtra often conveyed through binary vision of ruling leadership in terms of Smasan- Kabristan and Diwali -Id has done enough damage and its brutal example is the rape and murder of Asifa in Jammu and the horrendous display of tri colour and shouting of Bharat Mata Ki Jai by those who defended rape and murder of the little girl in the name of Hinduism and nationalism.
The calamity is impacting the Republic of India in a devastating manner. Annihilation of caste is the goal. The idea of Hindu Rashtra which is celebrated in the geo strategic space of its proponents is a negation of it. The opposition to it must be based on Ambedkar's slogan "Educate, Organise and Agitate". It constitutes a great slogan and JNU ethos deeply reflected it both in theory and practice. Professor Amartya Sen interpreted Babasaheb's slogan as a slogan for deepening of public reasoning.
At a time when din and cacophony is devastating reasoning, dialogue and debate we need to invoke that slogan of Ambedkar. In giving primacy to education and harmoniously blending it with Organisation and Agitation Dr. Ambedkar showed the way for social transformation by adopting constitutional method. He had cautioned that in the absence of constitutional method there would be "grammar of anarchy".
He talked of India where there would be "one man one vote and not one man one value". It was powerful indictment of an inegalitarian social order informed by political equality and entrenched social inequality. The challenge is to bridge the gap for establishing a society based on ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity.
The genius of Ambedkar was well reflected in his ability to reconcile and accommodate. Even while bitterly criticising Hinduism he embraced Buddhism which he said is closer to Hinduism. While defending Hindu Code Bill he quoted some of the Hindu scriptures to defend the rights of women to own property and promote the cause of monogamy.
This reconciliatory approach was best reflected by him when he said that the religion of India should not be based on scriptures but on liberty, equality and fraternity and such a religion should derive inspiration from Upanishadas. Let his vision triumph in the troubled times India is passing through. Humble Tributes to Ambedkar on his birth anniversary.
# Mr Satya Narayan Sahu was OSD and Press Secretary to the late President of India Shri K.R. Narayanan and served as Director in the Prime Minister's Office. He is currently Joint Secretary in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. The views expressed by him are personal and not that of Rajya Sabha Secretariat.