Ambedkarism in the 21st Century:A Revisit of Ideas

April 14 this year will be celebrated as the 131st birth anniversary of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, famously known as the ‘Modern Manu’ for drafting the Constitution that became the horizon of hope for the Dalits in India since Independence.

Ambedkar ensured that the social discrimination practised against them before Independence did not recur in post-colonial India. However, the erosion of constitutional values over the decades has affected the Dalit community adversely.

The original constitutional idea of the nation remains the political horizon that Ambedkarites and other humanists fight towards. In this respect, we should make a distinction between two categories for analytical purposes: the constitutional idea of the nation and the Ambedkarite idea of the nation.

The constitutional idea of the nation is the conception stemming from the Constitution and its Preamble. This idea of the nation is being undermined today. The Ambedkarite idea of the nation is the conception emerging not only from the present structure of the Constitution but also from Ambedkar’s idea that we ought to take substantive measures to make such a nation, upholding social democracy.

As opposed to other members of the constituent assembly, Ambedkar’s views on establishing political democracy are unique. His views were radically different from Muslim extremists and Hindu revivalists.He rather argued, “A nation is not a people synthesized by a common culture derived from a common language, common religion or common race…Nationality is a subjective psychological feeling. It is a feeling of oneness that makes those who are charged with it feel that they are kith and kin.”

He added that “There cannot be nationalism without the feeling of nationality being existent. But the converse is not always true. For nationality to flame nationalism, there must arise the desire for collective living. Nationalism is the dynamic expression of that desire.”

This is possible only through constant communication, participation, and open sharing among all those who constitute one nation. Hence, Ambedkar says that fraternity is the essence of forming a nation. The lack of brotherhood in social relations undermines all efforts to strengthen the nation. Without fraternity, we would always remain a nation in making.

The Dalits are excluded from the nation-building process due to the caste system which remains a major roadblock prevalent in the Hindu social order. Caste divides people and leads to a sense of isolation and segregation. It leads to antagonism and arrogance between the various castes.

Ambedkar was inclined toward ‘evolutionary socialism’ and his understanding of caste-induced social and economic inequality was brought forth in all his work. He has effectively shown the convergence of caste and class issues in India.

The best quality of Ambedkar, according to scholars, was his ability to look at critical social problems from an academic perspective and write about them while also discovering practical solutions to them through law and policy. His tendency to learn from experience and unite all the marginalized communities politically is something that modern Bahujan leaders must learn.

References: Scroll.in, The Wire

Featured Image Source: TV9 Bharatvarsh

 

 

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