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Remembering Dr Ambedkar

All  of us know that Dr Ambedkar was a Dalit, an untouchable who fought for the rights of his people throughout his life. Our social texts tell us that Dr Ambedkar also studied law and was the main architect of the Indian Constitution.

 How many of us know that the Reserve Bank Of India formed in 1935 was a result of his ideas presented to the Hilton Young Commission in his book, “The problem of the rupee?” He was an economist by training (educated in Colombia University and London School of Economics), went on to study law and has written numerous scholarly books(all of them freely available online).

What Ambedkar thought of Hinduism?

All of us remember Ambedkar as a Hindu- an Untouchable no doubt but nevertheless a Hindu. Do we know what he thought of Hinduism?

“The religion which treats crores of its adherents worse than dogs and criminals and inflicts upon them insufferable disabilities is no religion at all.”

Most of us know that Ambedkar became a Buddhist –he said he had no choice but to be born as a Hindu but he did not want to die a Hindu. How many of us know Ambedkar’s reasons for quitting Hinduism?  And the fact that it provoked a spate of mass conversions  every year in Nagpur,Maharashtra on  14th  October 1956 onwards (an event not given TV coverage like other regular festivals).

“Why do you remain in a religion which does not treat you as human beings? Why do you remain in a religion which prohibits you from entering temples? Why do you remain in a religion which prohibits you from securing drinking water from the public well? Why do you remain in a religion which comes in your way for getting a job? Why do you remain in a religion which insults you at every step? A religion in which man’s human behaviour with man is prohibited, is not religion, but a display of force. A religion which does not recognise a man as man, is not a religion but a disease. A religion in which the touch of animals is permitted, but the touch of human beings is prohibited, is not a religion but a mockery. A religion which precludes some classes from education, forbids them to accumulate wealth and to bear arms, is not a religion but a mockery of human beings. A religion that compels the ignorant to be ignorant, and the poor to be poor, is not a religion but a punishment.”

Today on the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar, every ruling class wants to appropriate him. The BJP wants to appropriate the legacy of Ambedkar. This  is the same party which encourages “ghar wapsi” and bans beef eating! It is now the politically and socially correct  thing to remember and praise Ambedkar, while enforcing the caste system that he opposed his entire life.

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