In his speech delivered on December 17, 1946 in the Constituent Assembly at New Delhi, Ambedkar clearly outlined the conditions for a democratic system. In democracy those who are in place of authority must seek mandate to rule after every five years. He called it "long term veto" of five years. The second condition is the necessity of strong opposition. Third condition is equality to all in the eyes of law and administration. Setting the fourth condition of a democratic government Ambedkar said, "In my judgement for the successful working of democracy an important condition is observance of constitutional morality. In the larger interest of society and country, the party in power must resist
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temptations. Not only this, "in the name of democracy there must be no tyranny of the majority over the minority."
There are different forms of democracy prevalent in different countries. Of all these Ambedkar felt that parliamentary democracy of the British type could suit India. Speaking at D.A.V. College, Jullundhar on October 28, 1951 he said, "Personally speaking, I am very greatly attached to the Parliamentary system of government. We must understand what it means and we must preserve it in the Constitution." Explaining his liking for such a system Ambedkar said that it had three inherent traits : negation of heredity rule, laws applicable to public life have public approval; rulers cannot stay in power without the confidence of the people. To quote his words, "In parliamentary democracy there is the legislature to express the voice of the people; there is the executive which is subordinate to the legislature and bound to obey the legislature. Over and above the legislature and executive there is the judiciary to control both and keep them both within prescribed bounds. Parliament democracy has all the marks of a popular government."1
Ambedkar knew that parliamentary democracy could fail as there could be discontent and dissatisfaction in such a system. In spite of constitutional assurance of equality and liberty the parliamentary system cannot succeed without social and economic democracy. According to Ambedkar, "Democracy is another name of equality. Parliamentary democracy developed passion for liberty. It never made even a nodding acquaintance with equality. It failed to realise the significance of equality and did not even endeavour to strike a balance between liberty and equality, with the result that liberty swallowed equality."2 Conscious of the possibility of failure of parliamentary democracy in India due to division of population on account of castes, untouchability and religious minorities, Ambedkar fought for a separate electorate for the depressed classes. From 1919 to 1946 he pleaded for this in all deliberations of constitutional reforms. So far as rights of untouchables were concerned he had serious doubts in the intentions of the Congress Party largely governed by Hindu leaders. Later on he conceded on the mere reservation of seats in the provincial and central legislatures. Appreciating his cooperative approach he was made the Chairman of the committee to draft free India's Constitution. As an architect of Indian Constitution he did whatever was possible to ensure political and economic rights of the depressed classes.
ihe reconstruction of society on the principles of equality and justice. Studying the development of education in Indian society he found that during the rule of Peshwas in Maharashtra and even during the earlier period of British Raj, right to education was restricted to higher castes. He fought for the education of masses without discrimination of caste and sex. As a nominative member of the Bombay Legislative Council in February, 1927 he took active part and pleaded for greater attention towards education. Participating in the budget debate he said. 'Education is something which ought to be brought within the reach of everyone. The education department is not a department which can be treated on the basis of quid pro quo. Education ought to be cheapened in all possible ways and to the greatest possible extent."1 Taking active part in the discussion on Bombay University Act and Primary Education Amendment Bill, he contributed his views in the reform of education. He founded the People's Education Society, and started colleges at Bombay and Auran-gabad. He repeatedly pleaded with the government that providing equal educational opportunities to all without discrimination was its responsibility. However, boys and girls should get the different education. Independent Labour Party
According to the Government of India Act, 1935 general elections were to take place in 1937. Being critical of the Congress Party, Ambedkar formed in August 1936 a separate political party called the Independent Labour Party. This party representing the scheduled classes won 13 seats. It protested against the Wardha Scheme of Education prepared by Gandhiji and some leading educationists. He even opposed schemes of social reconstruction such as the Wardha Scheme, due to the fact that unlike other Indian leaders who drew inspirations from English Liberal tradition, he was the only one who received inspiration from John Dewey, the great instrumentalist.
Ambedkar knew that India being a multilingual country has the possibility of problems for the unity of the country on account of regional pressures and pulls. When the idea of linguistic states was mooted he favoured it for two reasons. Firstly it would facilitate functioning of democracy in the country, secondly, linguistic states would help in the removal of racial and cultural tensions. Expressing his views Ambedkar said, "In seeking to create linguistic states India is treading the right road. It is the road which all states have followed. In case of other linguistic states they have been so from the very beginning. In the case of India she has to put herself in the reverse gear to reach the goal. But the road she proposes to travel is a well tried road."2
Babasaheb Ambedkar : Writings and Speeches, Vol. II, pp. 40-41.
Babasaheb Ambedkar : Writings and Speeches, Vol. I, p. 145.
According to Ambedkar, in the enthusiasm to accept the idea of linguistic states India could commit the grave blunder of giving official
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status to regional language. Therefore he warned that with regional languages as their official languages the states could aspire for independent nationality and thus pose a threat to the national unity. To avoid this possibility in future he suggested that it should be laid down in the Constitution that regional languages shall never be accepted as official languages of the states. Hindi must be declared as the official language of the nation, English should continue as the only official language so long as Hindi does not become fit for this status. He warned that linguistic states without this proviso would be a peril. Indians should be Indians first and Indians last to keep India a united country. The idea of linguistic states with regional languages as their official languages was contrary to this basic principle. Ambedkar said, "One language can unite. Two languages are sure to divide people. Culture is conserved by language. Since Indians wish to unite and develop a common culture, it is the bounden duty of all Indians to own up Hindi as their language."1 He said that any Indian who refused to accept his idea had no right to call himself an Indian. Such a person might be hundred per cent Tamil or Gujarati but could not be an Indian in the real sense. Unfortunately, as his warning and suggestions were not understood in the proper spirit. Today, people in Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Assam are openly asking for separate nationalities. As Indian politics is suffering from lack of unity of interests under the influence of castes. This will be sharpened with linguistic states. India is bound to move to disintegration if suitable amendment in our Constitution is not made and a national consensus on one official language is not accepted and enforced.
Solution of Communalism
The problem of hostile relations between Hindus and Muslims began in India when the powerful Mughal Empire perished and the Britishers took over the control of administration from the Indians. Thus Muslims, who always formed a minority community and yet ruled over the majority of Hindu population for 600 years, were brought to the level of Hindus. From masters they became fellow-subjects under British Empire. Under the teachings of Islam, Hindus were always kafirs for Muslims. So long as they ruled over kafirs there was no problem as the rights of majority were determined by the minority rulers. When they were brought to the level of the majority hostility in relations started. Tracing the historical reasons of these hostile relations, Ambedkar pointed out that Gandhiji's efforts of unity and harmony between Hindus and Muslims were bound to fail. He did not favour the Congress Party joining the Khilafat Movement in 1919-20 to win Muslim support for the freedom struggle. He was critical of Gandhiji when, with the hope of unity, Gandhiji went to the extent of overlooking great atrocities committed by Muslims—the Moplas in Malabar — against the Hindus. Though the Moplas resorted to forcible
conversion, looting and killing but Gandhiji described them as "brave
Dr. B. R. AMBEDKAR
God-fearing Moplas." Ignoring Gandhiji and other Hindu leaders' sincerity for a solution to the communal problem in India, Muslim leaders at the Khilafat Conference repeatedly referred to Jihad and killing of kafirs in the presence of Gandhiji and Swami Shradhanand. Refusing to accept the principle of non-violence preached by Gandhiji they failed to reciprocate Hindu sentiments. In 1931-32 they refused to close shops on the call given by the nationalists at the martrydom of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. This resulted in communal riot in which 500 people died, including Ganesh Shankar Vldyarthi.
Support to Division
In the face of these and many more instances of continued hostile attitude of the Muslims, Ambedkar favoured the partition of India with creation of Pakistan as a separate Muslim State. But even after the creation of Pakistan the problem continued as large numbers of Muslims were left in India. According to Ambedkar the continued hostility of Muslims in the secular India towards the majority was for historical reasons and unprogressive social outlook. Muslims were never taught to find virtues in other religion. Due to the fanatic belief that Islam is the world religion, fit for all people and for all times. Amoedkar felt a great need of social reforms among Muslims. Only this could solve the communal problem in the future. He provided a strong secular basis through the Constitution of free India. He gave credit to Gandhiji for initiating a courageous movement for Hindu-Muslim Unity. But he believed that Gandhiji should have protested at the cold-blooded murders of Hindu leaders like Swami Shradhanand in 1926.
A Social Humanist
1. D.R. Jatav, Social Philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar, 1965.
Dr. D. R. Jatav has rightly described Ambedkar as a social humanist.1 After careful study of the history of human relations among Hindus in Indian society, he sincerely felt that it required serious and concerted efforts for reforms. Though he had great admiration for some of the noblest traits of Hindu religion, he was pained to see a great religion misinterpreted and brought down to the level of ritualism, rules of eating, pretentions of purity and division of Hindus into touchables and untouchables. According to him it was the work of certain vested interests who wanted domination over the society for over. Declaring religious sanction to the caste system and untouchability, an incalculable harm was done to the Hindu community. Ambedkar waged a relentless struggle against the Hindu social system to build a new social order based on freedom, equality and justice in social, religious, political and economic life of people. As a great humanist he could not tolerate man being maltreated by man in the name of caste. Hence he decided to fight for the rights of the depressed classes and against untouchability throughout his life. However he did not get wholehearted support from influential
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leadership who were mainly from higher castes. Even political organisations like the Indian National Congress always adopted a very cautious approach to his suggestions. The attitude of an average Hindu towards the untouchables so much disillusioned him that he decided to convert to Buddhism in later part of his life in October 1956. He could have converted to Buddhism much earlier but did not do so due to his personal admiration for Hindu religion and his desire that Hindu community should own 50 million untouchables as equal social partners. His parting with Hindu religion was the most painful decision for him.
Ambedkar was a great optimist. He had faith in man's capacity to distinguish between true and false, right and wrong. Addressing the Constituent Assembly on December 17, 1946, he said, "I have not the slightest doubt about the future evolution of the social, political and economic structure of this country. I know today, we are divided politically, socially and economically. We are in warring camps, and I am probably one of the leaders of a warring camp. With all this, I am convinced that given time and circumstances, nothing in the world will prevent this country from becoming one, and with all our caste and creeds, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that we shall in some form be united people." Due to this faith Ambedkar adopted a realistic and moderate attitude when he felt that Britishers were preparing to withdraw from India. For safeguarding the rights of the depressed classes, he accepted membership of the Constituent Assembly in 1946 and decided to cooperate with the Congress Party. This was ample proof of his sense of responsibility towards the nation. As Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Constitution for free India he made provisions for members of Schedule Caste community to develop itself with constitutional guarantee of equality of opportunities. However, he never wanted the Schedule Caste to remain a separate community with the privilege of reservation of seats in parliament, legislatures and government jobs for all times to come. He made it clear that provision of reservation must be only for a limited period, and with legal prohibition of discrimination on caste basis the Scheduled Castes were to rise to the level of other communities. As early as on October 13,1955, Ambedkar reportedly told leaders of the Scheduled Castes Federation that time had come when they should demand the abolition of reserved seats for Scheduled Castes. He believed that privilege of reserved seats would create a class within the Scheduled Castes who would demand.the privilege to continue for ever. He was against permanent division of Indian society. He always visualised a stage when the Scheduled Castes would join the larger group. National Leader
Ambedkar had all potentiality of becorning a national leader commanding respect of all sections of the Indian society though he always preferred to remain a leader of the depressed classes. He tried to apply
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logic to politics, religion and social philosophy. However, he could not succeed in the first general elections in 1952 for the Lok Sabha. He alienated himself from the majority of the population due to expressed bitterness for Hinduism and for advocacy of the partition of Kashmir. A scholar par excellence and master of seven languages he was a rationalist. Had he worked for education of the masses and against social and economic exploitation of weaker sections by the powerful and rich he would have won admirations of the whole nation. With the spreading of education to day social discrimination is slowly ending. Continued privileged treatment and reservation of seils for Scheduled Castes has given rise to a vested interest among them. Most of them want to maintain their separate identity even at the cost of social unity. Ambedkar knew this danger and yet he worked for the rights of only Scheduled Castes and untouchables. If, today, people take upon themselves the task of fighting for the rights of poor and discriminated people regardless of caste, creed and sex, one can hope to build a socialist society of Ambedkar's dream in India.