Sunday, May 1, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Unthinkable? An Ambedkar memorial

Unthinkable? An Ambedkar memorial

Born 'untouchable', he fought for freedom and emancipation of all
castes and helped to draft the constitution of India

The Guardian, Saturday 30 April 2011

Among the most tiresome of all observations made about the royal
wedding was that it represented some kind of triumph of social
mobility. The new Duchess of Cambridge is the
great-great-granddaughter of a coalminer, runs this story, and her
mother worked as an air hostess. Never mind that she also went to
Marlborough College. Such cant brings to mind a more potent example of
social mobility – and of that mobility being put to significant
purpose. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born in 1891, an untouchable in an
India run by the British – that is to say a subaltern twice over,
subjugated by an imperial government and by high-caste Indians. He
died in 1956, with doctorates from Columbia University and the LSE.
Most importantly, he will be remembered as the emancipator of other
untouchables and the jurist in charge of drafting the constitution of
the Indian republic. Ambedkar fought for a free India, and for the
freedom of all castes within that state. He sought advancement not
just for himself, nor for those like him, but also for Brahmins,
Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists. His time at the bar in London and at the
LSE, but most of all his sterling example, surely make him more than
deserving of public memorial here. "How long shall we continue to deny
equality in our social and economic life?" asked Ambedkar. "If we
continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our
political democracy in peril." His message, intended for 20th-century
India, is just as relevant for 21st-century Britain.


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