Politics and Policies of Ambedkarism
Dr. Ambedkar’s politics can be traced as early as 1919 when He deposed before the Southbrough Committee (1919) for special representation of the depressed classes of Bombay Province. The efforts before Simon Commission (1928-29), RTCs (1930-33) to the framing of Indian Constitution (1946-1949) were all part of the politics which was based on principles, policies & programmes. Whereas securing and guaranteeing the rights & safeguards of the depressed classes were the prime objective of his politics, but it was not alone. Creation of a Constitutional and Democratic Order for India was always envisioned & strived for; ever since Simon Commission to GOI Act 1935, till the end. Whereas the politics and movement of the DCs was conducted independently from the so-called nationalists (INC) and communists, socialists, alike; it also maintained independence from both the non-brahmin movement, and the communal politics of Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha [RSS]. This independence of politics [and movement] was not only organizational with the formation of Independent Labour Party (ILP) on 15th August 1936, but one of ‘ideological’ and a ‘world view’. This ‘ideological vision’ was for a NEW INDIA which is democratic & constitutional, based on the principles of Equality, Liberty, Fraternity, Justice (E-L-F-J); parliamentary democracy; welfare state; fundamental rights of all people and safeguards for SCs, STs, OBCs, and policies for ‘reorganizing’ India and Indian Society as a casteless, classless ‘democratic, scientific, humane society’.
The ‘world view’ was nothing less than the establishment of a ‘Democratic World Order’ and ‘New World Order’ based on E-L-F-J for the ‘salvation of world’ and ‘revaluation of values.’ The stand taken by ILP during 2nd World War to fight against Germany for defeating Nazism [a superman race order] and dictatorship for the establishment of ‘Democracy’ and a ‘just and better world of peace’ was extraordinaire, and stands vindicated by the third wave of democracy today when over 120 countries are democratic and the UN continues its endeavour for Human Rights and global justice.
Independent Labour Party (ILP) won 21 members (1937) in the Legislative Assembly of Bombay Province and CP & Berar; apart from this 2 members were nominated to the BLC. Dr. Ambedkar himself won from Bombay City, North which enabled his continuance in legislature from the Legislative Council to Legislative Assembly. For almost three decades from December 1926 to 1956 Dr. Ambedkar was a member of either house, including the Constituent Assembly (1946-49), Central Legislative Assembly (1946-1951) and Council of States (1952-1956).
The Policy of ILP was quite visionary, radical and pragmatist which addressed the social & economic reorganization of Indian ‘caste feudal religious, colonial socio-economic system.’ It spelt about the ‘problems’ and ‘solutions’ to poverty; fragmentation of landholdings; agricultural production, cooperative & marketing societies; land to landless and land settlement schemes , land mortgage banks, abolition of caste feudal landlord, Khots and talukdar systems; village planning; town planning; development of human resources and skills; industrialisation, management and ownership of industry; social security to industrial as well as agricultural workers etc. Abolition of any economic system which is unjust to any class was also promised. The twin enemies of labouring, toiling and depressed classes were brahmanism and capitalism, according to Ambedkar. ILP strived to protect the interests of poor, labourers, farmers and depressed classes. So did the Municipal Workers Union and Kamgar Sangh formed by Labour Leader Ambedkar. It enthused the outcastes who entered the legislatures from the ghettos of Indian villages, and fought for their rights and making India a democratic nation.
Dr. Ambedkar was appointed on the ‘National Defense Council’ (1941), wherein he worked for the entry of DCs in the Army. He was subsequently included in Viceroys Executive Council (July 1942). In view of the Cripps proposals and concerns of constitutional safeguards of the DCs, as a fall out of it and the uncertainty arisen post Poona-Pact scenario, with the Congress opposed to the SCs as a ‘separate and independent minority’ in the national life of India, ‘All India Scheduled Caste Federation’ was formed in (July 1942) with N. Shivraj as its President. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar remained the “leadership of the movement” as ever before. The involvement of the women of DCs was conspicuous in the movement of Dr. Ambedkar, who stood for gender rights and equality, ever since the “feminist interpretation” of caste in 1916 till the drafting and resigning for Hindu Code Bill (1951).
“To leave inequality between class and class, between sex and sex which is the soul of Hindu society untouched and to go on passing legislation relating to economic problems is to make a farce of our Constitution and to build a palace on a dung heap.” Opined so feminist Dr. Ambedkar as Minister of Law during the schism of passage of HCB, which was opposed tooth and nail by the counter modernist Hindus, even like Rajendra Prasad and Nehru. Babasaheb on the contrary preferred to resign in Sept. 1951 for the rights of women rather than be a bondsman of Nehru Cabinet. He was a great believer in ‘Womens Agency’ as an agent of change and said that I measure the progress of a society by the progress made by its women.
As a Labour Member Hon’ble Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, who held labour, irrigation, power portfolios and also of public works and mines worked on the policies of ‘reconstruction of India’; which to Him was mainly a problem of “industrialization” of India for the removal of chronic poverty. Two important questions that a free India will have to tackle according to Dr. Ambedkar were “industrialization and defense”. The policies of building up of a democratic nation-state and welfare of people were envisioned. Policies of labour rights, protections & social security; water & power policy for electricity, irrigation & flood control; mines & minerals for industrialization; education & skill development for human resources were pre-eminently formulated. Also formulated were policies of land resettlement & compensation; reservation for SCs (August 1943); and the quest for “separate settlements” for the SCs and landless as special emancipation zones and a guarantee for economic & social security, which however remained unfulfilled.
Dr. Ambedkar’s “radical emancipatory policies of human liberation and good” encompass a very wide measures apart from the above.
They include the :
- Industrialization as a remedy for abolishing poverty due to the maladjustment of economy based on agriculture.
- Economic holdings, Agriculture Industry and nationalization of land for solving problems of agricultural production and growth, along with food security.
- Urbanization of India for providing ‘leisurful life’ and raising ‘standards of living’, along with addressing the problem of caste & untouchability enrooted in villages.
- Science and Technology for ensuring benefits of these to humankind and development of nation.
- Population Policy for addressing poverty.
- United India with small states [and 2ndcapital at Hyderabad] for a strong centre, with flexible federalism; addressing sentiments of the South India people; solving problems of communal majorities [to minorities]; viability, administration & good governance, and democracy.
- National integration by social, political, economic and geographical integration under a “constitutional democratic polity and policies of growth & development”, and realisation of a ‘democratic humane society’.
- Foreign policy which is pro-democracy and human rights and anti-dictatorship, communism & colonialism for a ‘democratic world order’ and ‘new world order’ based on E-L-F-J [and Dhamma].
- Economic policies and Political Economy for ‘growth, equity & justice’, with pre-eminence of ‘state’ along with role of ‘market’ and macro & micro economic policies [fiscal & monetary policy] for their realization with human & moral considerations.
The emancipation and all round developments of the Bahujans [i.e. SCs, STs, OBCs, women] by constitutional rights of reservations, special protections, land to landless; representative electoral system; gender rights & empowerment, higher education, key posts and political power to address the caste discrimination.
Hon’ble Dr. B. R. Ambedkar could not be included in the Interim Government (June 1946), with Jagjivanram included by Jawaharlal Nehru, amidst electoral loss of AISCF in the secondaries, inspite winning ample number of seats in primaries (51 out of 168); more than that of Congress (38). The ills of Poona-Pact had started showing. In the elections of February 1946 AISCF won only 2 MLA seats from Bengal and CP & Berar. However the DC [and Tribal] MLAs of Bengal overwhelmingly voted for Dr. Ambedkar in July 1946, ensuring his victory in Constituent Assembly (CA). JogendraNath Mandal the leader of AISCF, ensured this historical victory of the supreme leader. Dr. Ambedkar in CA played a pre-eminent role as member of 18 committees and sub-committees out of 23, including the Drafting Committee of which he was the Chairman. He worked in all 20 of them, and drafted the first “democratic constitution” of India, ever since its 10,000 yrs of civilizational history. He thus became not only the Father of Indian Constitution! But also Father of Constitutional and Democratic India !
The “politics” of Dr. Ambedkar and the movement of DCs not only achieved rights and safeguards for the SCs, STs & OBCs but also gave birth to a Constitutional and Democratic Indian nation; which today is indeed strengthening the global democratic order. He was however defeated twice in 1952 from Mumbai and Bhandara (1954) parliamentary elections; due to the staunch opposition of Nehru, Congress, and Hindu Mahasabha led by V. D. Savarkar. Even the Father of Constitution, was not significant for Nehru and caste Hindus, as Dr. Ambedkar spoke for the rights of women (HCB), backwards and the right foreign policy for India. Politics was a mission to Him. “Political Power a Key to all Social Progress”. Democracy and Welfare of People more significant, than mere power. Indian Republic therefore required a party by the People, for the People and of the People. Republicanism was necessary for abolishing rule of the classes (governing class) and establishing rule of the People. He therefore decided to dissolve AISCF and form Republican Party of India (RPI), in December 1955.
RPI’s aims & objects were based on the ‘Preamble’ of Indian Constitution, of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, but its vision encompassed ‘world view’ when it stated :
“It (RPI) will insist on the maintenance of liberty, equality and fraternity and will strive for redemption from oppression and exploitation of man by man, of class by class and of nation by nation.”
RPI could not be however formed in His life time, due to pre occupation with conversion to Buddhism, and the great demise on 6th December 1956CE. AISCF won 8 Parliamentary and 31 MLA seats in August 1957 making it as the 5th largest party in India after Indian National Congress, socialists and communists.
The politics of Dr. Ambedkar thus not only emancipated the servile class [i.e. the Untouchables & Backwards], but also inculcated a ‘dream’ in them to become the governing people by dislodging the hereditary governing class [the so-called brahmins and vaishyas]. It also paved way for a constitutional and democratic Indian order, in place of antiquated Hindu Social Order (HSO) of inequality, injustice and inhumanity.
It continues to guide Indians for becoming a democratic, developed, egalitarian, humanitarian & enlightened nation (PraBuddha Bharat) ! A New India by Constitution and Ambedkarism!