SOME POLITICAL THOUGHTS OF BABASAHEB – Compilation by S.S.DHAMMY(National President – BAMCEF)

“My definition of democracy is – A form and a method of Government whereby revolutionary changes in the social life are brought about without bloodshed. That is the real test. It is perhaps the severest test.   But when you are judging the quality of the material you must put it to the severest test.”- Dr. Ambedkar’s.

Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar in 1943, argued that, “A democratic form of Government presupposes a democratic form of society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value and would indeed be a misfit if there was no social democracy”. He further emphasized, “The politicians never realized that democracy was not a form of Government: it was essentially a form of society”. He was extremely apprehensive of the untouchables’ fate in the independent India. For, he could clearly see that most political outfits of his time were preparing for a democratic form of government, without even questioning the Varna/caste organisation of the Indian society. That is why, he was insistent on going thorough social reform movements along radical lines, of which, most political conflicts were averse to. He could also see that, no political organisation was prepared to intervene in the internal affairs of the society. While referring to the experiences of other societies, he had cautioned, “As experience proves, rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of society. If social conscience is such that it is prepared to recognise the rights which law chooses to enact, rights will be safe and secure. But if the fundamental rights are opposed by the community, no law, no Parliament, no Judiciary can guarantee them in the real sense of the word”.

Babasaheb Ambedkar’s political thought is still very relevant to not only to the politics of India but also to politics in South Asia in general. South Asian countries are today facing deep crises, unable to develop political and social institutions to guarantee stability to their societies primarily because of centuries of oppressive and social political systems that were their heritage due to the caste system. The caste system essentially was a system of domination by a small group, called Brahmins, who developed most sophisticated forms of cunning into the social control systems of their time in a way that even for centuries they could maintain their dominance. The damage that was done in the process of repression that accompanied the creation and the maintenance of the caste system have become the obstacles to the development of the intelligence the creativity and the capacity of all the people to deal with contemporary problems. Their past holds them in their bondage. The bonds are so deeply engrained into the very nervous systems that generation after generation people are reproduced with mentalities that prevent them from realizing the capacity for freedom and capacity for deeper social communion in each other in their social context. Deep divisiveness inbuilt into the South Asian culture was created by these centuries of subtle of social control. Methods of control were formulated as rules of religion and rituals to which the individual life was so deeply tied up.

The idea of the individual freedom is so alien to this cultural heritage. The intricate mechanism that entraps people emotionally and psychologically by various kinds of mythical beliefs got so engrained in the minds of all due to this past.

It was B.R. Ambedkar that identified the cause of the retardation of the Indian creativity, which is also the source of the retardation of the mindsets of people of other South Asian countries. He saw that purely by way of mental exercises this bondage cannot be broken. What needed to be broken were the social the social linkages which had tied up the minds of the people over centuries. To this he gave and for the understanding of this processes he devoted his time. And his way of understanding was not by reading into the text of the past but into the lives of the ordinary folk of India spread in that vast country.

In the poverty of India was the evidence that was necessary to look into in order to discover the methods by which people lives are destroyed by this terrible heritage.

Jawaharlal Nehru in the Discovery of India tries to talk about the glories of India in the past. Ambedkar on the other hand tries to demonstrate how the glory was lost and how the bondage of the Indian minds and the Indian spirit and as a result the Indian way of life was come to what it is today. It is this discovery that has the capacity and the liberating effect that not only the masses but the entire country is in need of in order to face the challenges of the modern times.

Ambedkar was well-versed on history and the political theories which have been produced in the process of struggles for democracy. He was also deeply aware of the history of minority problems in the world. He understood that if a minority problem is not properly resolved entire civilizations can be destroyed in conflicts which not only destroy the minorities but entirety of society.

Ambedkar needs to be studied much more by the younger generations who are in search of solutions to the kinds of problems that they very often which they feel that there are no solution to. The easy solutions many have sought have not worked. There is a depth that needs to be explored in order to be able to explore all the possibilities of getting over these severe problems. In the work of Ambedkar there are great insights that are yet to be explored and in that exploration the real glories of the past of the sub-continent could reemerge. Pseudo respect for Buddhism today was challenged by Ambedkar who himself became a Buddhist by trying to rediscover the actual history of Buddhism in India. The destruction of Buddhism in India was a result of the caste struggles in India and in that struggle the certainties that the Brahmins had developed to get victory and to win back their dominance were also constantly exposed by Ambedkar.

Without doubt, Baba Saheb Ambedkar is the greatest political leader in modern South Asian history, with regard to his understanding of the linkage between social controls exercised by religion and its influence in the contemporary history. While Mahatma Gandhi saw the meaning of freedom in terms of getting rid of the colonial power and passing the power to local elites, Ambedkar saw freedom of Indians from the point of view of getting rid of cultural inhabited bondage of created by the caste system. He saw centuries old practices in which social control of the masses has been done mainly by the use of language, rituals and ‘ethical codes’ reinforcing the caste domination over the masses.

Ambedkar also saw moments of liberation in Indian history. That was the way he saw Buddhism. He called Buddha his guru. He said that he didn’t learn principles of democracy from Western philosophers but from his guru, Gautama Buddha.

 “Positively, my social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: liberty, equality and fraternity. Let no one, however, say that I have borrowed my philosophy from the French Revolution. I have not. My philosophy has roots in religion and not in political science. I have derived them from the teachings of my master, the Buddha. In his philosophy, liberty and equality had a place: but he added that unlimited liberty destroyed equality, and absolute equality leaves no room for liberty. In his philosophy, law had a place only as a safeguard against the breaches of liberty and equality; but he did not believe that law could be a guarantee for breaches of liberty or equality. He gave the highest place to fraternity as the only real safeguard against the denial of liberty or equality or fraternity which was another name for brotherhood or South Asian, which was again another name for religion.

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