Post Mortem

Remembering Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: A Discourse on Tribal Justice & Legacy of Ambedkarism

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 12/9/2019 1:00:56 PM IST

 (From previous issue)

While addressing to the problems of Tribal population government of India adopted three approaches namely Isolationist approach, Assimilation approach and Integration approach. However, none of the approach completely worked because the people in the centre were never in the position to understand complex problems of the complex tribal societies inhabited in different parts of India since time immemorial. There is an evidence to prove how the Tribals were subjected to the cultural hegemony by getting exposed to the alien culture and practices unknown to them which resulted in mass conversion from erstwhile animistic belief system to some mainstream religions. 

Conversion of Tribals might have opened the doors to ‘modern’ world to them, however that did not help them to break the invisible chains of slavery and insult and walk the road to reach the desired destination. What religion could not do, Constitution of India has done to some extent. Acts like Scheduled Caste/Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 has provided necessary armour to the ‘Broken Men’ of India, which not only instil confidence in them but also developed a necessary fighting spirit. The dark evil of untouchability and perpetual social humiliation was destroyed and permanently annihilated by Art. 17 of the Constitution of India. It was all made possible due to only one man that is Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar who is fondly known in every corner of the world as ‘BABASAHEB’. 

Whenever the discourse on Constitution of India is initiated the question regarding the actual contribution of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is often raise by ‘Manuvadi’ brain. There have been narratives floated from time to time challenging the contribution of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the development of Constitution. However, these doubts and queries must be appreciated and settled for once and for all. There should not be an iota of doubt in mind to understand that not only Babasaheb was the chief Architect of the constitution but also he was a Chief draftsman who drafted and defended the text single handed as a Hon’ble Chairman of Drafting Committee. Moreover, due to the absence of couple of members of Drafting Committee (total 7 members) due to various reasons including death and sickness Dr. Ambedkar was required to shoulder the burden to sculpt the idea of nation in the constitution which he imagined to be based on the eternal ideals of Justice, Equality, Liberty and Fraternity. 

The working of Drafting Committee for the Constitution of India was indeed a grand intellectual adventure full of challenges and hardships. The soul of the constitution is the idea of Social Justice and to achieve it certain provisions guaranteeing the Protection & Reservation to the socially backward and depressed classes were required to be made. When Dr. Ambedkar proposed a model of Shared Sovereignty to protect the ‘independent identity’ and ‘natural freedom as well as sovereignty’ of the tribals in the north east part of India (then Assam) in the lines of the provisions made in the Constitution of the United States of America for the Red Indians he was severely criticized and accused by the fellow members of the Constituent Assembly specifically from Assam for trying to vivisect India by creating the constituencies of differences rather than building a nation whose members have equal rights and unifying laws. The original idea of 6th Schedule which was proposed by Dr. Ambedkar could not see the light of the day in its original form and spirit as it lacked essential element that Ambedkar fought for i.e. incorporating respect for tribal sovereignty in the constitution of India. The basic vision for ‘northeast tribal justice’ was reduced merely to the autonomous district councils without any kind of share in the sovereign powers of the central government. The imagination of Dr. Ambedkar was to create a nation giving due weightage and justice to the different distinct tribal nationalities which emerged over the period of time in the northeast region of India. 

Moreover, when the proposal of political as well as social Reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes came for debate; numerous members of the constituent assembly opposed the provisions thinking that the foundation of divided India will be laid down if these provisions are included in the Constitution. Many members also churned out a narrative which connected the individual social and political progress made by Dr. Ambedkar with the dispensability of proposed Reservation policy. Even the Tribal leader Jaipal Singh, a member of constituent assembly, who supposed to represent the social and political interests of tribal people also oppose social and political safeguards to the tribals in the form of reservation and other protection mechanisms. He said, “..Adivasis are the original inhabitants of the country, they have their own laws and they manage their areas better than the mainstream democracy. But he argued that they should be given their due recognition and for that they don’t require any special treatment but they want to be treated like every other Indian. He argued that Adivasis don’t need the safeguards that the objective resolution is talking about rather they need protection from the ministers.” However, in spite of all the oppositions and attempts made to dilute the rightful claims of Tribal population and Dalits in the modern India; 

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was firm and positively stubborn to include Reservation Provisions in the final draft of the Constitution which not only changed their political fate but also liberated them from the chains of eternal social slavery, humiliation and historic injustice.

Dr. Ambedkar’s life was full of suffering, challenges, dreams, passion and adventures which driven him tirelessly throughout his life to change the destiny of those who has been thrown at the far flung end of the social fabric. Dr. Ambedkar had a dream to free India not only from the chains of the British imperialism but also from the invisible chains of Bramhinistic social slavery which was far brutal and cruel than slavery in any other part of the world. 

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar with his supreme foreseeing capacity as an able Statesman, Economist, Lawyer and political seer formulated numerous constitutional, legal, political, social, economic, cultural and educational safeguards for the comprehensive upliftment and welfare of tribals, however, his work and efforts has not been sufficiently recognized and propagated by the mainstream intelligentsia. Ambedkar’s legacy was systematically attempted to be hijacked, confined and trapped within the ‘identity’ that he revolted against. Without Dr. Ambedkar’s efforts; Dalits and Tribals would have never reached where they have reached today. Without Ambedkar the Constitution of India would have ended up becoming an extension of ‘Manusmriti’ where in the name of Dharma Caste System would have been celebrated and the humanity would be brought down on knees again and again. 

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar died more than six decades ago. Yet he continues to inspire Dalits, Tribals, women, minorities and all other socially deprived communities across India. He has also become a symbol of hope to all those who have been engaging in the battle of self-assertion, self-respect and justice in different parts of the world to educate, agitate and organize. Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy as a socio-political reformer had a great impact on modern India. From his writings, speeches and debates a firm belief has been expressed that Indians “must now play by the rules and not resort to revolutions” and social reform should be achieved legally”. Today, statues of Ambedkar outnumber those of Mahatma Gandhi equally as his ideology long superseded that of the latter. His vision of inclusive India through democratic socialism is acknowledged by almost all political parties today. This is a remarkable change in Indian political scenario of 21st century. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar successfully laid down the roadmap to social justice in the constitution; however, it is a responsibility of citizens of India to see that the Nation would achieve it. The work of Dr. Ambedkar will be remembered by the generations to come. Mahatmas have come and gone but the legacy of Ambedkar will remain proactively influencing the present and future generations of the world to struggle for their own survival as a human being. Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy not only continues to influence us towards a great social endosmosis aimed at building a united India with fraternity but also encourages us to be ready and remain strong for the struggle for the survival of humanity, human values and natural justice. 

This article is dedicated to the legacy of Great Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on the occasion of 63rd Mahaparinirvan Diwas (Death Anniversary). 

(Concluded)

Dr. Aniruddha Babar, PhD, MA, LLM, DHRL, (aniruddha.v.babar@gmail.com)

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