How I discovered Dr. Ambedkar.
This year’s Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti is close to my heart, being the first one ever I am celebrating with much awareness. I find myself to be lucky enough that I got the chance and inspiration to read Dr. Ambedkar. Whereas being the unlucky one I used to associate Dr. Ambedkar up to the extent of The Constitution as most people do. The father of the constitution. Dr. Ambedkar would not have liked his association with The Constitution as he himself stated in the debates “Sir, my friends tell me that I have made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out.1” He explains further “The reason is this: We built a temple for god to come in and reside, but before the god could be installed if the devil had taken possession of it, what else could we do except destroy the temple? We did not intend that it should be occupied by the Asuras. We intended it to be occupied by the Devas. That’s the reason why I said I would rather like to burn it.
India, specially today, needs to know about Dr. Ambedkar besides the fact that he drafted the Constitution of India, Of course he drafted the constitution of India, he was the only exceedingly educated person in the Drafting Committee except B.N. Rau no body else could have done the job.
My curiosity about Dr. Ambedkar was dense and I started reading about Dr. Ambedkar through a book by Sh. Chandra Bhan Prasad, “ What is Ambedkarism”. The author emphasizes we read “The Schedule Caste Emancipation Manifesto 4” stating that “This piece of writing[the Schedule Caste Emancipation Manifesto] should be regarded as the greatest document Dr. Ambedkar writes. By definition, manifestos are visions, promises for the future”. Chandra Bhan rightly complains that rather than being in the 17th Volume of BAWS it should have been right in the front and celebrated by the followers of Ambedkar as the Communist Manifesto is by Communists and Hind swaraj by Gandhians”. Dr. Ambedkar starts the Manifesto with these lines : “To men and women of India who are expected to think before they vote. To the men and women of India who are expected to believe that public good should come before selfish gain5”. Ambedkar’s India, according to the manifesto of his party, not only proposed to bring about equality in society but also included mechanized large-scale cooperative farming, Successful public sector enterprises competing for global tenders, and an Industrial development that is neither Socialistic nor Capitalistic in nature.
In order to obtain some historical context of the atrocities of the caste system I came across an auto-biography of Baby Kamble: “The prisons we broke”. In the world of Baby kamble you are introduced to the harsh lives she was living alongside her community. She mentions the horror the Mahar community faced every day just to survive. They were to get down the road if they sees an upper caste person coming from the other side, that was the norm. A master-servant relation so to say. She also mentions how Dr. Ambedkar changed her life and influenced her to break the “prisons”. They realized the importance of education over higher education through the words of Dr. Ambedkar only. which brought me to Dr. Ambedkar’s own autobiography. Though it is not detailed documentation, assuming he was not a narcissist, It contains certain chapters of his life that he felt like writing about. In “Waiting for a Visa”, Dr. Ambedkar pens the bitter experience of his first job in Baroda where he failed to find any accommodation for himself for being an Untouchable. Note that by now he was a qualified professional out of Columbia University New York and attended the first year of post-graduation from the London School of Economics. The only place he found to stay was to be vacated after a week when people with lathis surrounded the house demanding his exit from the premises.