Dalits ignore Ambedkar's advice, choose Gandhigiri
R Jagannathan 55 mins ago
Babasaheb Ambedkar's Dalit followers have done him a great disservice.
They have taken over a National Textile Corporation mill in
Mumbai—Indu Mill—because they want to convert it into a memorial for
him. In doing so, they have adopted the "grammar of anarchy" that
A division bench of the Bombay high court has called this forced
takeover as being "just a step away from anarchy" and compared the act
to the destruction of the Babri Masjid.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar with his wife Sharda Kabir on 15 April 1948. Getty Images
The issue is not whether Ambedkar deserves a memorial or not. Not just
Mumbai, every city and village in India needs to honour Ambedkar for
his service to humanity and not just Dalits.
But in occupying someone else's property illegally—for which the high
court has criticised both the Maharashtra government and the
Republican Party activists who stormed the place—Dalits have
effectively buried two important messages their doyen gave India
groups: sticking to constitutional methods, and avoiding hero-worship
They have also given Gandhi—Ambedkar's bete noire—the last laugh.
This is what Ambedkar had to say on constitutional methods.
"If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in
fact, what must we do? The first thing, in my judgement, we must do is
to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and
economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of
revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil
disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way
left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social
objectives, there was a great deal of justification for
unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open,
there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods.
These methods are nothing but the grammar of anarchy and the sooner
they are abandoned, the better for us."
The above statement was clearly Ambedkar's dislike for Gandhi's
agitational methods. But his followers obviously prefer to follow
Gandhi's methods despite their hearty dislike for his politics.
This is what Ambedkar had to say on avoiding hero worship.
"There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have
rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to
gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel
O'Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman
can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be
grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more
necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country.
For in India, bhakti, or what may be called the path of devotion or
hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by
the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world.
Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in
politics, bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to
In making bhakti to Ambedkar the cornerstone of their politics,
India's Dalit parties have essentially junked the elevating thoughts
of their mentor – which were partially targeted at Gandhi's
Ambedkar's irritation and disagreements with Gandhi are too well
documented to bear repetition. The last thing he would have wanted was
for his own followers to let him down on his positions vis-à-vis
The Indu Mill takeover—which a spineless state government has been
unwilling to prevent and has now passed a resolution in favour of—has
essentially given Gandhi the last laugh over Ambedkar.
It is not too late for Ambedkar's followers to honour their hero's
timeless words of wisdom.
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