Filed under: General
@ 7:44 pm
Happy 14th April to all, its the D-day when our savior took birth and subsequently worked hard all his life so that we can come here and boast about anything we have today, Gave all the protections for us to live respectfully in Free India as a “Father of constitution of India”.
I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.
Quotation of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Dr. B. R. AMBEDKAR
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, affectionately known as Babasaheb, was one of the
most illustrious sons of India. He appeared on the Indian socio-political scene
in early 1920s and remained in the forefront of all social, economic, political
and religious efforts for upliftment of the lowest stratum of the Indian society
known as untouchables. Babasaheb was a great scholar who made outstanding
contributions as an economist, sociologist, legal luminary, educationalist,
journalist, Parliamentarian and above all, as a social reformer and champion of
human rights. Babasaheb organised, united and inspired the untouchables in
India to effectively use political means towards their goal of social equality.
Born in 1891 to an untouchable school teacher in the British Army, he
was highly educated – Ph.D. from Columbia University (1917), D.Sc. from
London School of Economics and Bar-At-Law from Gray’s Inn in London
(1923). These achievements spectacular by in standard were truly incredible for
Dr. Ambedkar was an economist by his basic training. His career was
characterised by two distinct phases : the first one up to 1921 as a professional
economist contributing scholarly books and the second one as a political leader
thereafter until his demise in 1956, during which he made pathbreaking
contributions as a champion of human rights for the untouchables.
Dr. Ambedkar wrote three scholarly books on economics:
(i) Administration and Finance of the East India Company,
(ii) The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India, and
(iii) The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution
The first two represent his contribution to the field of public finance:
the first one evaluating finances of the East India Company during the period,
1792 through 1858 and the second one analysing the evolution of the Centre-
State financial relations in British India during the period, 1833 through 1921.
The third book, his
magnum opus in economics, represents a seminal
contribution to the field of monetary economics. In this book Dr. Ambedkar
examined the evolution of the Indian currency as a medium of exchange
covering the period, 1800 to 1893 and discussed the problem of the choice of
an appropriate currency system for India in the early 1920s. On his return to
India, Dr. Ambedkar did not write any book on economics per se, though
several of his other contributions during that period carry a distinctive imprint
of the economist in him.
As a member of the Bombay Legislative Assembly (since 1926),
Ambedkar gave effective expression to the grievances of the rural poor through
his mass movements. His successful struggle against the prevailing land tenure
system called Khoti liberated a vast majority of the rural poor from an extreme
form of economic exploitation. His successful agitation against Mahar Vatan
emancipated a large section of the rural poor from virtual serfdom. He
presented a bill in the State Assembly aimed at preventing the malpractices of
money-lenders hurting the poor. On the industrial front, Dr. Ambedkar
founded in 1936, the Independent Labour Party. While the prevailing trade
unions fought for the rights of workers, they were indifferent to the rights of
untouchable workers as human beings. The new political party took up their
cause. Subsequently, as the Labour Member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council
from 1942 to 1946, Dr. Ambedkar was instrumental in bringing about several
labour reforms including establishment of employment exchanges, generally
laying the foundations of industrial relations in Independent India. His
ministry also included irrigation, power and other public works. He played an
important role in shaping the irrigation policy, especially the Damodar Valley
A distinctive feature of Dr. Ambedkar’s scholarly contribution is his
perceptive analysis of economic dimension of social maladies, such as, the
caste system and untouchability. While Mahatma Gandhi had defended the
caste system on the basis of division of labour, Ambedkar came out with a
hard-hitting critique in his book ‘
Annihilation of Castes’ (1936), pointing out
that what was implicit in the caste system was
not merely division of labour but
a division of laboures. Dr. Ambedkar’s attack on the caste system was not
merely aimed at challenging the hegemony of the upper castes but had broader
connotation of economic growth and development. He argued that the caste
system had reduced the mobility of labour and capital which in turn, impeded
economic growth and development in India.
In his memorandum submitted to the British Government titled “States
and Minorities’ in 1947, Dr. Ambedkar laid down a strategy for India’s
economic development. The strategy placed “an obligation on the State to plan
the economic life of the people on lines which would lead to highest point of
productivity without closing every avenue to private enterprise and also
provide for the equitable distribution of wealth”.
After Independence, Dr. Ambedkar became the first Law Minister of
India. Even while drafting the Indian Constitution (as the Chairman, Drafting
Committee) in 1948-49, the economist in Dr. Ambedkar was very much alive.
He strongly recommended democracy as the ‘governing principle of human
relationship’ but emphasized that principles of equality, liberty and fraternity
which are the cornerstones of democracy should not be interpreted narrowly in
terms of the political rights alone. He emphasised the social and economic
dimensions of democracy and warmed that political democracy cannot succeed
when there is no social and economic democracy. He gave an expression to the
objective of economic democracy by corporating the Directive Principles of
State Policy in the Indian Constitution.
As the Law Minister, Dr. Ambedkar fought vigorously for the passage
of the Hindu Code Bill – most significant reform for women’s rights in respect
of marriage and inheritance. He resigned in September 1951 when the Bill did
not pass in the Parliament.
There is a unified theme running through Ambedkar’s multifaceted and
diverse contributions. The economic philosophy underlying is best captured in
his own phrase:
Bahujan Hitaya Bahujan Sukhay (i.e., Greatest Good to the
largest number of people). Ambedkar philosophy is
couched in social,
religious and moral considerations. The focal point of philosophy is the
oppressed and the depressed. The philosophy aims at giving life to those who
are disowned, at elevating those who are suppressed, and ennobling those who
are downtrodden and granting liberty, equality and justice to all irrespective of
their castes. Before his death in 1956, Dr. Ambedkar led nearly three quarter
of a million untouchables to Buddhism.
Caste is descent-based and hereditary in nature. It is a characteristic determined by one’s birth into a particular caste irrespective of the faith practiced by the individual. Some faiths believe in souls of human beings and no souls for other beings, so that they can do whatever they feel like. Some faiths believe in
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th rate souls and human beings without any soul, so that they could do whatever they want to do with such human beings. The Buddha did not believe in any soul, but said all are equal.
Caste denotes a system of rigid social stratification into ranked groups defined by descent and occupation. Under various caste systems throughout the world, caste divisions also dominate in housing, marriage, and general social interaction-divisions that are reinforced through the practice and threat of social ostracism, economic boycotts, and even physical violence.
Discriminatory and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of a vast global population has been justified on the basis of caste. In much of Asia and parts of < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Africa, caste is the basis for the definition and exclusion of distinct population groups by reason of their descent. Over 250 million people worldwide continue to suffer under what is often a hidden apartheid of segregation, modern-day slavery, and other extreme forms of discrimination, exploitation, and violence. Caste imposes enormous obstacles to their full attainment of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
The so-called untouchables of South Asia-including Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan-the Buraku people of Japan, the Osu of Nigeria’s Igbo people, and certain groups in Senegal and Mauritania and prominence of caste as a social and economic indicator for the widespread South Asian diaspora share many features; features that have allowed even the most appalling practices to escape international scrutiny. In many cases, caste systems coexist with otherwise democratic structures. In countries such as India and Nigeria, governments have also enacted progressive legislation to combat abuses against lower-caste communities. Despite formal protections in law, however, discriminatory treatment remains endemic and discriminatory societal norms continue to be reinforced by government and private structures and practices, in some cases through violent means.
Thus Spoke Ambedkar
Quotations of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Untouchability shuts all doors of opportunities for betterment in life for Untouchables. It does not offer an Untouchable any opportunity to move freely in society; it compels him to live in dungeons and seclusion; it prevents him from educating himself and following a profession of his choice.
There have been many Mahatmas in India whose sole object was to remove Untouchability and to elevate and absorb the depressed classes, but everyone has failed in their mission. Mahatmas have come, Mahatmas have gone but the Untouchables have remained as Untouchables.
From the point of view of annihilation of caste, the struggle of the saints did not have any effects on society. The value of a man is axiomatic and self-evident; it does not come to him from the gilding of Bhakti. The saints did not struggle to establish this point. On the contrary their struggle had very unhealthy effect on the depressed classes. It provided the Brahmins with an excuse to silence them by telling them that they would be respected if they attained the status of Chokhamela.
It is mischievously propagated by Hindu scriptures that by serving the upper classes the Shudras achieve salvation. Untouchability is another appellation of slavery. No race can be raised by destroying its self-respect. So if you really want to uplift the Untouchables, you must treat them in the social order as free citizens, free to carve out their destiny.
What you have lost others have gained. Your humiliations are a matter of pride with others. You are made to suffer wants, privations and humiliations not because it was pre-ordained by the sins committed in your previous birth, but because of the overpowering tyranny and treachery of those who are above you. You have no lands because others have usurped them; you have no posts because others have monopolised them. Do not believe in fate; believe in your strength.
Learn to live in this world with self-respect. You should always cherish some ambition of doing something in this world. But remember that the age of selflessness has ended. A new epoch is set in. All things are now possible because of your being able to participate in the politics and legislature of your country.
Some people think that religion is not essential to the society. I do not hold this view. I consider the foundations of religion are essential to the society. At the roots of Hindu social system lies a Dharma as prescribed in the Manusmriti. Such being the case I do not think it is possible to abolish the inequality in the Hindu society unless foundations of the Smriti-religion is removed and a better one laid in its place. I however, despair of Hindu society, being able to reconstruct itself on such a better foundation.
My religious conversion is not inspired by any material motive. This is hardly anything I cannot achieve even while remaining an Untouchable. There is no other feeling than that of a spiritual feeling underlying my religious conversion. Hinduism does not appeal to my conscience. My self-respect cannot assimilate Hinduism. In your case change of religion is imperative for worldly as well as spiritual ends. Do not care for the opinion of those who foolishly ridicule the idea of conversion for material ends. Why should you live under the fold of that religion which has deprived you of honor, money, food and shelter?
I tell you, religion is for man and not man for religion. If you want to organise, consolidate and be successful in this world, change this religion. The religion that does not recognise you as a human being, or give you water to drink, or allow you to enter in temples is not worthy to be called a religion. The religion that forbids you to receive education and comes in the way of your material advancement is not worthy of the appellation ‘religion’. The religion that does not teach its followers to show humanity in dealing with its co-religionists is nothing but a display of a force. The religion that teaches its followers to suffer the touch of animals but not the touch of human beings is not a religion but a mockery. The religion that compels the ignorant to be ignorant and the poor to be poor is not a religion but a visitation!
The basic idea underlying religion is to create an atmosphere for the spiritual development of the individual. This being the situation, it is clear that you cannot develop your personality at all in Hinduism.
In Hinduism, conscience, reason and independent thinking have no scope for development.
It is your claim to equality which hurts them. They want to maintain the status quo. If you continue to accept your lowly status ungrudgingly, continue to remain dirty, filthy, backward, ignorant, poor and disunited, they will allow you to live in peace. The moment you start to raise your level, the conflict starts. Untouchability is not transitory or temporary feature; it is eternal, it is lasting. Frankly it can be said that the struggle between the Hindus and the Untouchables is a never-ending conflict. It is eternal because the religion which assigns you the lowest status in society is itself divine and eternal according to the belief of the so-called high caste Hindus. No change warranted by change of time and circumstances is possible.
I have never claimed to be a universal leader of suffering humanity. The problem of the untouchables is quite enough for my slender strength. I do not say that other causes are not equally noble. But knowing that life is short, one can only serve one cause and I have never aspired to do more than serve the Untouchables.
Every man must have a philosophy of life, for everyone must have a standard by which to measure his conduct. And philosophy is nothing but a standard by which to measure.
Negatively I reject the Hindu social philosophy propounded in Bhagvad Gita, based as it is on the Triguna of Sankhya Philosophy which in my judgement is a cruel perversion of the philosophy of Kapila, and which had made the caste system of graded inequality the law of Hindu social life.
Positively, my social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: liberty, equality and fraternity. Let no one however say that I have borrowed my philosophy from the French Revolution. I have not. My philosophy has its roots in religion and not in political science. I have derived them from the teachings of my master, the Buddha.
Indians today are governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set in the preamble of the Constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion denies them.
Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.
Freedom of mind is the real freedom. A person whose mind is not free though he may not be in chains, is a slave, not a free man. One whose mind is not free, though he may not be in prison, is a prisoner and not a free man. One whose mind is not free though alive, is no better than dead. Freedom of mind is the proof of one’s existence.
What is the proof to judge that the flame of mental freedom is not extinguished in the mind of person? To whom can we say that his mind is free. I call him free who with his conscience awake realises his rights, responsibilities and duties. He who is not a slave of circumstances and is always ready and striving to change them in his flavor, I call him free. One who is not a slave of usage, customs, of meaningless rituals and ceremonies, of superstitions and traditions; whose flame of reason has not been extinguished, I call him a free man. He who has not surrendered his free will and abdicated his intelligence and independent thinking, who does not blindly act on the teachings of others, who does not blindly accept anything without critically analysing and examining its veracity and usefulness, who is always prepared to protect his rights, who is not afraid of ridicule and unjust public criticism, who has a sound conscience and self-respect so as not become a tool in the hands of others, I call him a free man. He who does not lead his life under the direction of others, who sets his own goal of life according to his own reasoning and decides for himself as to how and in what way life should be lead, is a free man. In short, who is a master of his own free will, him alone I call a free man.
Caste cannot be abolished by inter caste dinners or stray instances of inter caste marriages. Caste is a state of mind. It is a disease of mind. The teachings of the Hindu religion are the root cause of this disease. We practice casteism and we observe Untouchability because we are enjoined to do so by the Hindu religion. A bitter thing cannot be made sweet. The taste of anything can be changed. But poison cannot be changed into nectar.
What struck me most was that my community still continues to accept a position of humiliation only because caste Hindus persist in dominating over them. You must rely on your own strength, shake off the notion that you are in any way inferior to any community.
Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil whish is essentially undemocratic.
Majorities are of two sorts: (1) communal majority and (2) political majority. A political majority is changeable in its class composition. A political majority grows. A communal majority is born. The admission to a political majority is open. The door to a communal majority is closed. The politics of political majority are free to all to make and unmake. The politics of communal majority are made by its own members born in it.
The minorities in India have loyally accepted the rule of the majority whish is basically a communal majority and not a political majority. It is for the majority to realise its duty not to discriminate against minorities. Whether the minorities will continue or will vanish must depend upon this habit of majority. The moment the majority looses the habit of discriminating against the minority, the minorities can have no ground to exist. They will vanish.
We want our own people, people who will fight tooth and nail for our interest and secure privilege for the under-privileged; people who will undo the wrongs done to our people ;people who will voice our grievances fearlessly; people who can think, lead and act; people with principles and character. Such people should be sent to the legislatures. We must send such people to Legislatures who will be slaves to none but remain free to their conscience and get our grievances redressed.
Why does a human body become deceased? The reason is that as long as the human body is not free from suffering, mind cannot be happy. If a man lacks enthusiasm, either his body or mind is in a deceased condition…. Now what saps the enthusiasm in man? If there is no enthusiasm, life becomes drudgery - a mere burden to be dragged. Nothing can be achieved if there is no enthusiasm. The main reason for this lack of enthusiasm on the part of a man is that an individual looses the hope of getting an opportunity to elevate himself. Hopelessness leads to lack of enthusiasm. The mind in such cases becomes deceased…. When is enthusiasm created? When one breaths an atmosphere where one is sure of getting the legitimate reward for one’s labor, only then one feels enriched by enthusiasm and inspiration.
The fundamental principle of Buddhism is equality… Buddhism was called the religion of Shudras. There was only one man who raised his voice against separatism and Untouchability and that was Lord Buddha.
The teachings of Buddha are eternal, but even then Buddha did not proclaim them to be infallible. The religion of Buddha has the capacity to change according to times, a quality which no other religion can claim to have…Now what is the basis of Buddhism? If you study carefully, you will see that Buddhism is based on reason. There is an element of flexibility inherent in it, which is not found in any other religion.
I am myself a believer in Animas (non-violence). But I make a distinction between Animas and meekness. Meekness is weakness and weakness is voluntarily imposed upon oneself is not a virtue. I am believer in Animas but in the sense defined by the saint Takuma. Takuma has quite rightly said that Animas consisted of two things: (1) love and kindness towards all creatures and (2) destruction of evil doers. The second part of this definition is often lost sight of that the doctrine of Animas becomes so ridiculous.
Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act.
Men are mortal. So are ideas. An idea needs propagation as much as a plant needs watering. Otherwise both will wither and die.
In every country the intellectual class is the most influential class. This is the class which can foresee, advise and lead. In no country does the mass of the people live the life for intelligent thought and action. It is largely imitative and follows the intellectual class. There is no exaggeration in saying that the entire destination of the country depends upon its intellectual class. If the intellectual class is honest and independent, it can be trusted to take the initiative and give a proper lead when a crisis arises. It is true that the intellect by itself is no virtue. It is only a means and the use of a means depends upon the ends which an intellectual person pursues. An intellectual man can be a good man but he may easily be a rogue. Similarly an intellectual class may be a band of high-souled persons, ready to help, ready to emancipate erring humanity or it may easily be a gang of crooks or a body of advocates of narrow clique from which it draws its support.
My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can loose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality.
You must abolish your slavery yourselves. Do not depend for its abolition upon god or a superman. Remember that it is not enough that a people are numerically in the majority. They must be always watchful, strong and self-respecting to attain and maintain success. We must shape our course ourselves and by ourselves.
We must begin by acknowledging that there is a complete absence of two things in Indian Society. One of these is equality. On the social plane we have an India based on the principles of graded inequality, which means elevation for some and degradation for others. On the economic plane we have a society in which there are some who have immense wealth as against many who live in abject poverty.
The second thing we are wanting in is the recognition of the principle of fraternity. What does fraternity mean? Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians, all Indians being one people. It is a principle that gives solidarity to social life. It is difficult thing to achieve. It seems to me that there lies a heavy duty to see that democracy does not vanish from the earth as a governing principle of human relationship. If we believe in it, we must both be true and loyal to it. We must not only be staunch in our faith in democracy but we must resolve to see that whatever we do, we do not help the enemies of democracy to uproot the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. It follows that we must strive along with other democratic countries to maintain the basis of democratic civilization. If democracy lives we are sure to reap the benefit of it. If democracy dies it will be our doom. On that there can be no doubt.
The basis of my politics lies in the proposition that the Untouchables are not a sub-division or sub-section of Hindus, and that they are a separate and distinct element in the national life of India.
The true function of law consists in repairing the faults in society. Unfortunately ancient societies never dared to assume the function of repairing their own defects; consequently they decayed. This country has seen the conflict between ecclesiastical law and secular law long before Europeans sought to challenge the authority of the Pope. Kautilya’s Arthshastra lays down the foundation of secular law. In India unfortunately ecclesiastical law triumphed over secular law. In my opinion this was the one of the greatest disasters in the country. The unprogressive nature of the Hindu society was due to the notion that the law cannot be changed
Civilization has never been a continuous process. There were states and societies which at one time had been civilised. In the course of time something happened which made these societies stagnant and decayed. This could be illustrated by India’s history itself. There could be no doubt that one of the countries which could boast of ancient civilization is India. When the inhabitants of Europe were living under the barbaric conditions, this country had reached the highest peak of civilization, it had parliamentary institutions when the people of Europe were mere nomads.
I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.
Justice has always evoked ideas of equality, of proportion of compensation. Equity signifies equality. Rules and regulations, right and righteousness are concerned with equality in value. If all men are equal, then all men are of the same essence, and the common essence entitles them of the same fundamental rights and equal liberty… In short justice is another name of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Anyone who studies working of the system of social economy based on private enterprise and pursuit of personal gain will realise how it undermines, if it does not actually violate the individual rights on which democracy rests. How many have to relinquish their rights in order to gain their living? How many have to subject themselves to be governed by private employers?
I hate injustice, tyranny, pompousness and humbug, and my hatred embraces all those who are guilty of them. I want to tell my critics that I regard my feelings of hatred as a real force. They are only the reflexes of love I bear for the causes I believe in and I am in no wise ashamed of it.
Indifferentism is the worst kind of disease that can affect people.
Political tyranny is nothing compared to the social tyranny and a reformer who defies society is a more courageous man than a politician who defies Government.
Every man who repeats the dogma of Mill that one country is no fit to rule another country must admit that one class is not fit to rule another class.
One cannot have any respect or regard for men who take the position of the reformer and then refuse to see the logical consequences of that position, let alone following them out in action.
History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them.
Slavery does not merely mean a legalised form of subjection. It means a state of society in which some men are forced to accept from others the purposes which control their conduct.
This condition obtains even where there is no slavery in the legal sense. It is found where as in caste system, some persons are forced to carry on the prescribed callings which are not their choice.
India is a peculiar country and her nationalists and patriots are a peculiar people. A patriot and a nationalist in India is one who sees with open eyes his fellow men treated as being less than man. But his humanity does not rise in protest. He knows that men and women for no cause are denied their rights. But it does not prick his civil sense of helpful action. He finds a whole class of people shut out from public employment. But it does not rouse his sense of justice and fair play. Hundreds of evil practices that injure man and society are perceived by him. But they do not sicken him with disgust. The patriot’s one cry is power for him and his class. I am glad I do not belong to that class of patriots. I belong to that class which takes its stand on democracy and which seeks to destroy monopoly in every form. Our aim is to realise in practice our ideal of one man one value in all walks of life - political, economical and social.
There is no nation of Indians in the real sense of the world, it is yet to be created. In believing we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into thousand of castes be a nation? The sooner we realise that we are not yet a nation, in a social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us.
It is not enough to be electors only. It is necessary to be law-makers; otherwise those who can be law-makers ill be the masters of those who can only be electors.
Walter Bagehot defined democracy as ‘ Government by discussion’. Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as ‘ A Government of the people, by the people and for the people’.
My definition of democracy is - A form and a method of Government whereby revolutionary changes in the social life are brought about without bloodshed. That is the real test. It is perhaps the severest test. But when you are judging the quality of the material you must put it to the severest test.
Democracy is not merely a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards our fellow men.
A democratic form of Government presupposes a democratic form of a society, The formal framework of democracy is of no value and would indeed be a misfit if there was no social democracy. It may not be necessary for a democratic society to be marked by unity, by community of purpose, by loyalty to public ends and by mutuality of sympathy. But it does unmistakably involve two things. The first is an attitude of mind, and attitude of respect and equality towards their fellows. The second is a social organisation free from rigid social barriers. Democracy is incompatible and inconsistent with isolation and exclusiveness resulting in the distinction between the privileged and the unprivileged.
Democracy is not a Form of Government, but a form of social organisation.
What we must do is not to content ourselves with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there is at the base of it, a social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognises liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items. They form a union in the sense that, to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity.
Without social union, political unity is difficult to be achieved. If achieved, it would be as precarious as a summer sapling, liable to be uprooted by the gust of wind. With mere political unity, India may be a state. But to be a state is not to be a nation and a state which is not a nation has small prospects of survival in the struggle of existence. This is especially true where nationalism - the most dynamic force of modern times, is seeking everywhere to free itself by the destruction and disruption of all mixed states. The danger to a mixed and composite state, therefore lies not so much in external aggression as in the internal resurgence of nationalities which are fragmented, entrapped, suppressed and held against their will.
The idea of fundamental rights has become a familiar one since their enactment in the American Constitution and in the Constitution framed by the Revolutionary France. The idea of making a gift of fundamental rights to every individual is no doubt very laudable. The question is how to make them effective? The prevalent view is that once the rights are enacted in law then they are safeguarded. This again is an unwarranted assumption. As experience proves, rights are protected not by law but by social and moral conscience of the society. If social conscience is such that it is prepared to recognise the rights which law proposes to enact, rights will be safe and secure. But if the fundamental rights are opposed by the community, no Law, no Parliament, no Judiciary can guarantee them in the real sense of the world. What is the use of Fundamental rights to the Untouchables in India? As Burke said, there is no method found for punishing the multitude. Law can punish a single solitary recalcitrant criminal. It can never operate against the whole body of people who choose to defy it. Social conscience is the only safeguard of all rights, fundamental or non-fundamental.
Rights are real only if they are accompanied by remedies. It is no use giving rights if the aggrieved person has no legal remedy to which he can resort when his rights are invaded.
Lost rights are never regained by appeals to the conscience of the usurpers, but by relentless struggle…. Goats are used for sacrificial offerings and not lions.
Life should be great rather than long.
For a successful revolution it is not enough that there is discontent. What is required is a profound and thorough conviction of the justice, necessity and importance of political and social rights.
I feel that the constitution is workable, it is flexible and it is strong enough to hold the country together both in peacetime and in wartime. Indeed, if I may say so, if things go wrong under the new Constitution, the reason will not be that we had a bad Constitution. What we will have to say is that Man was vile.
Equality may be a fiction but nonetheless one must accept it as a governing principle.
What are we having this liberty for? We are having this liberty in order to reform our social system, which is full of inequality, discrimination and other things, which conflict with our fundamental rights.
Our object in framing the Constitution is rally two-fold: (1) To lay down the form of political democracy, and (2) To lay down that our ideal is economic democracy and also to prescribe that every Government whatever is in power shall strive to bring about economic democracy. The directive principles have a great value, for they lay down that our ideal is economic democracy.
If I find the constitution being misused, I shall be the first to burn it.
On the 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of democracy which this Constituent Assembly has so laboriously built up.
There can be no gain saying that political power in this country has too long been the monopoly of the few, and the many are not beasts of burden but also beasts of prey.
The monopoly has not merely deprived them of their chance of betterment, it has sapped them of what may be called the significance of life. Those downtrodden classes are tired of being governed. They are impatient to govern themselves. This urge of self-realisation in the downtrodden must not be allowed to devolve into class struggle or class war. It would lead to the division of the House. That would indeed be a day of disaster. For, as has been well-said by Abraham Lincoln: “A house divided against cannot stand very long”. Therefore the sooner room is made for realisation of their aspiration, the better for the few, the better for the country, the better for the independence and the better for the continuance of its democratic structure. This can only be done by the establishment of equality and fraternity in all walks of life.
It is disgraceful to live at the cost of one’s self-respect. Self-respect is the most vital factor in life. Without it, man is a cipher. To live worthily with self-respect, one has to overcome difficulties. It is out of hard and ceaseless struggle alone that one derives strength, confidence and recognition.
Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.
Sincerity is the sum of all moral qualities.
Man is mortal. Everyone has to die some day or the other. But one must resolve to lay down one’s life in enriching the noble ideals of self-respect and in bettering one’s human life. We are not slaves. Nothing is more disgraceful for a brave man than to live life devoid of self-respect.
My social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: liberty, equality and fraternity. My philosophy has roots in religion and not in political science. I have derived them from the teachings of my master, the Buddha.
Emerson has said that consistency is a virtue of an ass. No thinking human being can be tied down to a view once expressed in the name of consistency. More important than consistency is responsibility. A responsible person must learn to unlearn what he has learned. A responsible person must have the courage to rethink and change his thoughts. Of course there must be good and sufficient reason for unlearning what he has learned and for recasting his thoughts. There can be no finality in rethinking.
John Dewey said: “Every society gets encumbered with what is trivial, with what is dead wood from the past and what is positively perverse. As a society becomes more enlightened, it realises that it is responsible not to conserve and transmit the whole of its achievement, but only such as makes a better future society”
There is nothing fixed, nothing eternal, nothing sanatan; everything is changing, change is the law of life for individuals as well as for society. In a changing society there must be constant revolution of old values.
No civilised society of today presents more survivals of primitive times than does the Indian society. Its religion is essentially primitive and its tribal code, in spite of the advance of time and civilization, operates in all its pristine vigor even today. Indian society still savors of the clan system, even though there are no clans.
An ideal society should be mobile, should be full of channels for conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts. In an ideal society there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared.
The strength of a society depends upon the presence of points of contacts, possibilities of interaction between different groups that exist in it. These are what Carlyle calls “Organic filaments”, i.e. the elastic threads which helps to bring the disintegrating elements together and to reunite them.
Heroes and hero-worship is a hard fact in India’s political life. I agree that hero-worship is demoralising for the devotee and dangerous to the country. I welcome the criticism so far as it conveys the caution that you must know your man is really great before you start worshipping him. This unfortunately is not an easy task. For in these days with the Press in hand it is easy to manufacture Great Men. Carlyle used a happy phrase when he described the Great Men of history as so many bank notes. Like bank notes they represent gold. What we have to see that they are not forged notes. I admit that we ought to be more cautious in our worship of Great Men. For in this country we have arrived at such a stage when alongside the notice boards saying “Beware of pickpockets”, we need to have notice boards saying “Beware of Great Men”. Even Carlyle who defended the worship of Great Men warned his readers how: “Multitudes of Great Men have figured in history who were false and selfish “.
Hero-worship in the sense of expressing our unbound admiration is one thing. To obey the hero is a totally different kind of worship. There is nothing wrong in the former while the latter is no doubt a most pernicious thing. The former is man’s respect for which is noble and of which the great men are only an embodiment. The latter is the serf’s fealty to his lord. The former is consistent with respect, but the latter is a sign of debasement. The former does not take away one’s intelligence to think and independence to act. The latter makes one perfect fool. The former involves no disaster to the state. The latter is a source of positive danger to it.
In India, ‘Bhakti’ or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship plays a part in politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other of the world. ‘Bhakti’ in religion may be a road to salvation of the soul. But in politics, ‘Bhakti’ or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.
The questions which President Roosevelt propounded for the American public to consider will arise here, if they have not already arisen: Who shall rule - wealth or man? Which shall lead - money or intellect? Who shall fill the public stations - educated and patriotic free men or the feudal serf’s of the corporate capital? For the president, Indian politics, at any rate the Hindu part of it, instead of being spiritualised has become grossly commercialised, so much so that it has become a byword for corruption. Many men of culture are refusing to concern themselves in this cesspool. Politics has become a kind of sewage system intolerably unsavory and insanitary. To become a politician is like going to work in the drain.
History bears out the proposition that political revolutions have always been preceded by social and religious revolutions. Social reform in India has few friends and many critics.
Law and order are the medicine of the body politic and when the body politic gets sick, medicine must be administered.
The world owes much to rebels who would dare to argue in the face of the pontiff (high priest) and insist that he is not infallible.
A people and their religion must be judged by social standards based on social ethics. No other standard would have any meaning if religion is held to be necessary good for the well-being of the people.
Ethnologists are of the opinion that men of pure race exist nowhere and that there has been admixture of all races in all parts of the world - especially is this the case with the people if India. Mr. D.R. Bhandarkar has stated: “There is hardly a class or caste in India which has not a foreign strain in it. There is as an admixture of alien blood not only among the warrior classes - the Rajputs and Marathas - but among the Brahmins who are under the happy delusion that they are free from all foreign elements.
The question is not whether a community lives or dies, the question is on what plane does it live. There are different modes of survival. But all are not equally honorable. For an individual as well as a society, there is a gulf between merely living and living worthily. To fight in a battle and live in a glory is one mode. To beat a retreat to surrender and to live the life of a captive is also a mode of survival.
The sovereignty of scriptures of all religions must come to an end if we want to have a united integrated modern India.
Law and religion are two forces which govern the conduct of men. At times they act as handmaids to each other. At other times they act as check and counter-check. Of the two forces, Law is personal while religion is impersonal. Law being personal it is capable of being unjust and iniquitous. But religion being impersonal, it can be impartial, it is capable of defeating the inequity committed by law. Religion is believed to ennoble man and not degrade him. Hinduism is an exception.
I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality & fraternity.
The relationship between husband & wife should be one of closest friends.
To open or not to open the temples is a question for you to consider & not for me to agitate. If you think it is bad manners not to believe in the sanctity of human beings, then throw open the doors & be a gentleman, but if you wish to remain a orthodox Hindu then shut the doors & damn yourself, for I don’t care to come.
We are Indians, firstly & lastly
Given the time & circumstances, nothing under the sun shall stop this country from becoming a super power.
Being grateful has limitations, no man can be grateful at the cost of his dignity, no woman at the cost of her chastity & no country at the cost of its freedom.
I hope that Mr. Gandhi will not drive me to the necessity of making a choice between his life & rights of my people, for I shall never consent to deliver my people bound hand & foot to the orthodox for generations to come.
A great man is different from an eminent one in that he is ready to be the servant of the society.
So long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you.
On 26th Jan. 1950,India will be an independent country. What would happen to her independence? Will she maintain or will she lose it again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is not that India was never an independent country. The point is that she once lost the independence she had. Will she lose it a second time? It is this thought which makes me most anxious for the future. What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by treachery of some of her own people…
Will history repeat itself ?It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realization of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes &creeds, we are going to have many political parties with diverse & opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or creed above their country? I do not know, But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time & probably be lost forever. This eventuality we all must resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood!
BSP rally in Ambedkar Nagar Wednesday
Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will be holding rally in the state’s Ambedkar Nagar town on Bhimrao Ambedkar’s birth anniversary Wednesday.
Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution and whom the BSP eulogises as its top icon.
The BSP rally will be held. However, Chief Minister Mayawati has chosen to keep herself away from the event, which will be addressed by her close lieutenant and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Lalji Verma.
Mayawati has also directed her partymen to stage nation-wide demonstrations against the Congress party. Simultaneously, the BSP also proposes to reiterate its opposition to the women’s reservation bill, which Mayawati has already termed “anti-SC/ST”.
“Our nation-wide demonstrations are aimed at exposing the Congress lies of championing the cause of SC/STs. We will tell the people of this country how the Congress party had always opposed the wellbeing of downtrodden SC/STs, who were only exploited as vote banks,” state BSP chief Swami Prasad Maurya said here.
Another close Mayawati lieutenant and multi-portfolio minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui would lead the Lucknow show.
The chief minister would simply address the media after paying floral tributes to Ambedkar at the Rs.1,200 crore memorial dedicated to him here.
Meanwhile heavy security arrangements have been made in Ambedkar Nagar.
BSP plans protest
Bangalore:The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will protest against the Women’s Reservation Bill on 14th April, at 1:0 AM Opp. to Town Hall, Bangalore, B.R.Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, as part of the nation-wide protest. The protest is to seek “quota within quota” in the Bill which provides 33 percent reservation to women.
BAHUJAN SAMAJ PARTY
Karnataka State Unit
On the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Dr.Ambedkar,
the Messiah of SC/ST/OBCs and the entire exploited
masses. against the Congress-led UPA Government’s
adoption of ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ in the Rajyasabha
April 14, 2010 at 11 AM In front of Town Hall, Bangalore.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The Congress-led UPA Government in the Centre has got the Women’s Reservation Bill passed in the Rajyasabha on March 9, 2010. According to this Bill the Indian women will get a reservation of 33% of seats in the Loksabha and stste assemblies. On the adoption of this Bill in the Rajyasanha, the Congress leaders are boastfully claiming that they created a revolution in the lives of Indian women!
The history of is the history of extreme inequality and our women have been the worst victims of it. Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar the Chief Architect of Indian Constitution, was the first leader to take initiative to end this inequality against the entire women population. He presented the first post-independent Bill-Hindu Code Bill – in the Indian Parliament assuring equal rights in property and status for the women. But this revolutionary Bill was ruthlessly defeated in the Parliament by the then ruling Congress Government under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru. All the ant-women conservatives joined together and defeated the Hindu Code Bill. Dr. Ambedkar could have continued in his chair as the Law Minister even after this event. But he did not find any meaning in continuing with such an ant-woman and anti-human government. He was convinced beyond doubt that the Jawaharlal Nehru’s Congress Government would never allow the country to progress as per the Constitutional provisions. Hence, he resigned his post in Sep.1951 and thereby became the first and the only leader to sacrifice his post for the cause of women’s empowerment! This is the infamous history of the Congress which is beating its own drums for women’s reservation! This being the past record of Congress, what made its leaders to push the Women’s Reservation Bill so hurriedly now?
It is the Kanshi Ram phenomena that forced the Congress to ‘respect’ the women’s rights. Bahujan movement of Manyawar Kanshi Ram during nineties had created a tremendous socio-political awareness among the backward classes of India. Consequently , the Congress had, for the first time, to depend on the smaller parties to form the government in 1991 and the era of coalition governments began. The political awareness among the Bahujan Samaj has upset the apple-cart of Congress! We have been witnessing the growing presence of Scheduled Castes/Tribes, Other Backward Class and Religious Minorities in the Parliament and state assemblies. The 125 years –old Congress Party is not able to form governments on its own in many of the states and also at the Centre. The Nehru family and the think-tank of Congress have been trying all kinds of tricks and strategies to regain their lost hold. The Women’s Reservation Bill is one such strategy to fool the Backward Classes in the guise of protecting the women’s rights. The hidden agenda of the Congress party, through this Bill, is to empower the rich savarnas to regain their control over the political power in the Centre and state assemblies. That is why they are vehemently opposing any representation to Backward Classes in the proposed Women’s Reservation Bill!
Bahujan Samaj Party, the third biggest political party of India, under the leadership of ‘Iron Lady’ and one of the eight most powerful women of the world, Behan Kumari Mayawati, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous State of India, is committed to the cause of women’s liberty as envisaged by Babasaheb Dr.Ambedkar. The women of India, particularly the women from backward classes-have remained educationally socially backward and economically poor. They deserve utmost attention of the governments. But unfortunately, not much has been done in this regard by any party in power. The present Women’s Reservation Bill too has nothing much to offer for the empowerment of these women.
Reservation, as an affirmative action, in an effective means of empowerment. As per the Indian Constitution, reservation can be provided only to those sections that are educationally and socially backward. But the Women’s Reservation Bill is quite contrary to this constitutionally provision. The Congress-led UPA Government has shown total disregard for the principles of Babasaheb Dr.Ambedkar by committing a sacrilege against the Constitution through this Bill. In this present Bill there is no separate quota for the SC/ST women within the quota of 33% proposed for all the women. The SC/STs have already got a reservation of 22.5% in the Loksabha and accordingly they have 120 seats reserved. Out of these 120 seats, 40 seats will be deducted for the SC/ST women, if the present Bill becomes the Act! Not only that, these 40 seats will be interchanged with other 80 reserved seats once every five years! Can you imagine the devastative effects of such a Bill becoming an Act?
In the present situation, it is a Herculean task for the SC/STs to create their own constituencies. Such being the case, if their constituencies are to be interchanges once in five years, there cannot be any scope for the development of leadership among SC/STs in future. This is the biggest evil object of the Bill being created by the Congress Party! And the elected representatives of reserved constituencies can never develop an emotional attachment with their constituencies. They will remain as aliens throughout their tenure as they would be aware from the very beginning that they would not represent the same constituencies in the next term! This kind of representation will be harmful to the democracy and the development of nation!
The proposed Women’s Reservation Bill does not give any representation from the women from Other Backward Classes, Religious Minorities and the poor among the savarnas. It means, this Bill is absolutely of no use to the majority number of women! It only means that the Congress and other manuvadi parties will easily be able to capture political power by getting elected savarna rich women in over 150 constituencies! And these undemocratic phenomena will repeat in states also. In future, the SC/ST women representatives will become useless, powerless, ineffective and namesake representatives and the women from OBCs and Religious Minorities will never have an opportunity to enter either the Parliament or the state assemblies!
Foreseeing all these socio-political devastations, the Bahujan Samaj Party has opposed and boycotted the Women’s Reservation Bill within the Parliament House. But the Congress Party, which has determined to throw the constitutional ideals to wind, has got passed in the Rajyasabha! However, the BSP will not remain as a mute spectator. We, under the leadership of Behan Kum. Mayawati, are launching a “Nation-wide Agitation” against this Women’s Reservation Bill. In the first phase of our Agitation, we will be organizing Dharnas in the state capitals of the country on the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Dr.Ambedkar, i.e., on April 14, 2010.
We request you all to join this mass agitation to prevent an unconstitutional Bill becoming an act.
Dr.Ashok Kumar Siddharth, MLC, UP Karnataka State Incharge.
Mr.Marasandra Muniappa, Karnataka State President
Mr.N.Mahesh State Vice-President,
State General Secretaries: Mr.Gopinath, Mr.Jigini Shankar, Mr.Bulla Subbarao. State Treasurer: KoramangalaMuniappa. State Secretaries: Mr.R.Muniappa Mr.Julfikar Haasmi, Mr.B.Kamalanabhan, Ramachandra Kosagi, Changappa, State Executive Committee Members: Dr.Subhash Bharani IPS, Smt.Shoba Bellary Basavaraju, Smt.Lakshmi Gopinath, Shamshul Hudha, Smt.Nahida Salma, B.K.Nagaraj and other Office Bearers.
Special Note: Kannada version
of Babasaheb Dr.Ambedkar’s statement
issued after his resignation from the post of Law
Minister protesting Congress Government’s refusal to
Adopt Hindu Code Bill in 1951 will be released.
Let’s meet with family & friends 2 garland Dr.Ambedkar Statue @ Vidhana Saudha & 8AM today d auspicious & prosperous day all over d Country.
Hats off to Iron Lady !
The Uttar Pradesh Government has taken an extraordinary step towards police reforms, something which everybody talks about but nobody does anything to implement. Ms Mayawati has instructed her administration to scan the answer-sheets of 2,28,000 candidates who recently sat for a selection examination for 35,000 posts of constables and make them available online. Each applicant will have the right to access his or her answer-sheet, tally it with the listed right answers, and if he or she has been unfairly marked, file an appeal. Given the fact that Indians are a litigious lot, we can expect many of the hopefuls to not only appeal against their grades but even approach the courts. But since it was an objective test based on multiple choice answers and the examiners had no discretionary powers to either mark up or mark down the applicants based on their ‘subjective’ assessment of his or her abilities, it’s unlikely those who contest the results will get too far in using loopholes in the law to either hold up the recruitment process or force the Government to employ those unworthy of the job.
Filed under: General
@ 5:57 am
Babasaheb Ambedkar and ‘the SC/STs(Aboriginal Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, i.e., the Great Prabuddha Bharath) of Europe’
By Pardeep Singh Attri
Dispatches from Hungary - I
Jai bhim Network’s logo
Jai Bhim Network is a group that is working among the Romas (derogatorily referred as Gypsies) in Hungary. In their effort of creating linkages with the SC/ST movement of India and draw inspiration the network has been in constant interaction with many of the young SC/ST activists in India. The network is also instrumental in inviting young SC/ST students and activists to stay with the community in Hungary and exchange their views. Towards this three of us – me, Swati Kamble and Bharat are in Hungary since last fortnight and will be writing for our blog on our experiences. Here is my first post.
It was 14th April 2008, when I wrote an article titled Schools, Toilets or Temples? On the same day I got an email from one Mr. Derdak Tibor, appreciating the article. He is a Hungarian activist working with the Roma community in the country.
Hungarian Roma community leader Janos Orsos with Buddhist kids in Maharashtra, December 2005
This was the beginning of long email exchanges between us where I was able to learn a lot about the lives and the problem faced by Romas (derogatorily referred as Gypsies), especially in Hungary. Till then I had a very limited knowledge about the community, derived mostly from the English movies that I saw.
‘Gypsies’ are normally considered to be a nomadic group with the worldwide population of about 12 million, originally from south Asia. With their 8 million population in Europe they constitute one of the biggest minority blocks in many European countries and have the history of being discriminated, stigmatized and persecuted by white Europeans based on their prejudices and stereotyping of the community. They are still mostly found segregated from the mainstream, hated and ridiculed by the white society.
After communicating with Tibor, as an Indian Scheduled Caste I was not surprised to recognize the fact that most often than not these movies displayed the prejudices and stereotypes that are prevalent in Europe against the Romas.
Babasaheb as a source of inspiration
One of the most interesting facts that Derdak Tibor informed me was that his group of Roma activists and community leaders in Hungary derive their inspiration from Babasaheb Ambedkar and Buddhism and trying to inculcate Ambedkarite thoughts in their movement towards equal rights for the Roma community. They have created a support network called Jai Bhim Network, embraced Buddhism and opened an high school in the name of Dr Ambedkar High School for the Roma children in Hungary.
Roma activists find their situation in the otherwise ‘white’ Hungary almost akin to the SC/STs of India and therefore they now call their community, ‘the SC/STs of Europe’ as the Romas are also found in other European countries too and face the similar prejudices and discrimination every where.
Apparently, the connection with Babasaheb and the Indian SC/STs started when Derdak Tibor found a book on Babasaheb in Paris and got inspired after reading it. He was immediately able to draw the linkages between the discrimination faced by Indian SC/STs and Romas in Europe. Fascinated by the life and struggle of Babasaheb, he together with his group of Roma activists interacted with Friends of World Buddhist Order (FWBO), a group that has been working with Ambedkarite Buddhist in India for quite some time now.
This interaction led Derdak Tibor and Janos Orsos (one of the Roma leaders) to visit India and to meet SC/ST activists, particularly in Maharashtra in December 2005. By then both of them knew about the work of Babasaheb and had been deeply impressed by what they had read of his work and the suffering of his people. But after visiting India they felt very deep connections with the SC/STs here and got convinced that Babasaheb’s message of social transformation is deeply relevant to the Romas as well.
After this visit, both these activists started introducing Dr. Ambedkar and his philosophy of social transformation amongst the Romas in Hungary and are making huge efforts to bond with Indian SC/ST movement by creating various linkages through their platform ‘Jai Bhim Network’.
One of them is to invite young SC/ST activists to Hungary and provide them opportunities to interact with the Roma community and through this to provide exposure to both the Indian SC/STs and the Hungarian SC/STs about each other’s struggle towards a just and humane society.
Recently held Roma community’s protest in Budapest, Hungary, against their segregation
I am writing these dispatches from Hungary being part of one such Indian SC/ST delegation that has been invited by the Jai Bhim Network to visit, interact and stay with the Roma community living in a small town called Sajókaza in Northeast Hungary.
On 24th September 2009, me and Bharat reached Budapest, the capital city. Both of us were little nervous being travelling abroad first time and were much relieved to see one Mr Saboj from Jai Bhim Network waiting for us at the airport. Within no time in the company of Mr. Saboj, we felt completely at ease and started interacting as if we knew each other since decades.
Perhaps our respective movements created some synergy between us and I immediately felt a fellow feeling, a bond and a deep relationship between us though we lived thousands of miles apart and were meeting for the first time. At night we reached Sajókaza village where we had to stay with the Roma community. Swati Kamble, our fellow companion from India, had already arrived there.
Roma Houses are located outside the village
Sajókaza is a village about 30 km north east of Miskolc and has a population of about 3300 people with half of them from the Roma community. It is a very beautiful village. Big fields around the village refreshed my memory of the villages of Punjab.
However, majority of the Romas live in the outskirts of village in the ghettos. Their life style is totally different from other Hungarians of the village. Once upon a time, in 1900s, almost all Romas of the village were employed in the nearby mines but now there are all unemployed and live on monthly benefits, which they get from the government.
Hungarian people consider Roma people the most problematic community of Hungary as they are different from the other Hungarians. Hungarian people hate them just because they need someone to hate in difficult times and being helpless Romas are the easy target. Even a local police chief Albert Pasztor said publicly that, “The perpetrators of all crimes are gypsies”.
The Roma kids are forced to sit in the separate classroom. The children grow up constantly being dehumanized, humiliated, persecuted and rejected. I read there were separate cup plates for their kids around 10 years back.
I also became aware that the Roma kids are declared mentally challenged and are send to special schools and now days around 90% of special school students are from this community only. Even the special schools seems to take more interest in these students rather than other students, may be because they get higher grants/money/benefits in the name of these ‘mentally challenged’ kids.
It was very interesting to find that, during our travel, most of the Hungarian people thought that we were also Hungarian Romas till the time we spoke English. Then only they could understand that we are not Romas but from some third world country.
Our physical similarities with the Romas are so striking that even many Romas thought that we belong there. It made us feel like at home, being among our own community and people and delighted me to no end. It became a bit emotional when old Roma women, knowing that we have come from India and are from the SC/ST community, said, “You are like my grand children”. Perhaps the Indian origin of Romas, our physical similarities and similar conditions of facing prejudices and discrimination from the rest of the society made us feel that we belong to one community.
During our stay, on the first hand itself it became very clear that the life of Roma people is not an easy one and suffer as much discrimination as faced by us SC/STs in our every day lives. There are 3 churches in Sajókaza, but not even a single Roma visit them. When I asked why it is so? The young Romas replied, “We are not treated well in the society and are looked down. Hence we don’t feel like visiting them”. It immediately reminded me of the Hindu temples in India that actually prohibits our entry.
Later during our stay we were invited to teach more about India, its culture and the problem of caste at Dr. Ambedkar High School there. Our students included Roma children and women from all age group. All of them listened us patiently and were very curious to know more about our community, its struggle to reclaim human dignity which they found resonating completely with their own struggle in Hungary.
I was also pleasantly surprised to know that due to the regular activities of Jai Bhim Network, most of our students were aware of the caste virus and the role of Dr Ambedkar. Our next stop was at nearby place called Hegymeg and we interacted with the students of Dr Ambedkar High School there also on the same lines.
Roma kids playing near their ghettos
Next evening, we went to the local community centre called Pink House accompanied by two other young Roma activists Benö and Kubu to teach English to the women and also attended an awareness programme organised by Roma activists for nourishing dreams of good life among Roma people. There we also participated in the drama and singing classes organised by Benö where we danced to our heart content.
During the proceedings of awareness programme, I enquired one participant about her dream. She replied, “I would like my kids to go to school then university and get some good jobs and earn well”. She was pained with the stigma that gypsies are lazy and are not interested in education. Her sentiments perfectly echoed that of any person from our community who also share the same dream of being free from caste-based stigmas and is able to provide for education of his/her children. We also visited the nearby kindergarten in Sajókaza and interacted with the kids and played with them.
English Language and Romas
However, before writing more about my other experiences here working with Jai Bhim Network, I would like to write about English language. The local Roma community speaks a dialect of Romanian language and not many can speak and understand English.
However, the Roma activists understand the significance of English language in today’s world and are making efforts to promote English among the community that will open new opportunities for young Romas in globalised world together with creating an avenue to highlight about their discrimination and to get support from the international community.
In this, the Roma activists give example of the Indian SC/STs who due to their struggle for education and relative access to English language is able to globalise their struggle. While interacting, I also tried to emphasise on the importance for English for our emancipation and empowerment and narrated the struggle of Jotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule for modern English education and their urgings for SC/STs and other marginalised sections of the society to learn English.
During one of our interactions, I even recited one poem written by Savitribai Phule known as ‘Mother English’. I also referred to the appeal of our Babasaheb for SC/STs to come out of their ghettos/villages and march towards cities. In contrast to Gandhi’s silly romanticism about villages, it was the farsightedness of Babasaheb that knew that the development of the SC/ST community is not possible till they live in ghettos/villages. Only coming to the urban centres could get them better access to schools and other facilities. I feel the same is true with the Romas too.
While interacting with the students of Dr. Ambedkar High School at Sajókaza, I mentioned about the language problem that I was facing there and told about my helplessness in interacting with them with more freedom. I got an interesting reply from one of the student (Benö’s brother) that “Till recently we were not given right to study, now we are learning and you come again next year, we will learn English by them”.
Jai Bhim Network and its work
Not many Europeans are interested in knowing Roma people and are grossly insensitive towards the problems faced by them. Jai Bhim Network inspired by Dr B R Ambedkar’s work is working mostly in the northern part of Hungary, where they have been running a school named Dr Ambedkar High School in Sajókaza and another one in the same name in Hegymeg. They are working in the areas where the chances for Roma kids to get higher education are very low. Hardly anyone there goes even to secondary schools.
The objective of the Network is to uplift the living standards of Roma people, to help them come out of poverty and to achieve equal social & economic status in the Hungarian society. Moreover the Network is soon going to start Microfinance Institution on the lines of Grameen Bank from Bangladesh, which changed millions lives there.
to be continued…
October 14th, 2009 in Culture
| tags: Ambedkar
, Derdak Tibor
, Jai Bhim
, Janos Orsos