Mumbai Ocean of people 6.30 PM 06dec06

31/10/2010

Mumbai almost has  3-4 million people today in Central Dadar area. On Every road in Dadar- the people were seen as coming like rivers from diffrent directions and merging into Arabian sea at Chaityabhumi. They all have come there to pay tributes to  a Real model of Inspiration in 21st century to whom one regards Bodhisatva, the seedling of Bodhi.

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Pic 1: Long que 3km long taking 5 hrs to reach Chaityabhumi , Dadar

Our special correspondant reports:
Bhim-gite, the inspirational songs are heard in different languages. The stalls are visible here and there predominantly stuffed with Books as its fact that dalit movement thrives primarily on literature. However the stall from Political Parties  are looking empty because of two reasons 1. They are fractured in factions 2 . Most of them were in Nagpur detained till yesterday.

This time some new features-

1. Maharastrians are outnumbered by people from UP, TN, AP, Karnataka, Orrisa,Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajastan  Many domestic and international NGOs have come up first time to ‘Chaityabhumi’ and arranged workshops and advocacy.

2. Periodicals seen on streets getting distributed.

3. First time Media like NDTV  giving special coverage to the event.mms://wms.cityguys.net/sports for live coverage.

4. For Atrocity helpline, people have shown ready interests from all Indian corners.

5. People are impressed by the facilities this time provided by the Mumbai Corporation. Water, hygiene and medicines are available. The cleanliness is also worth noting.

Special Thanks to Mumbai Corporation on behalf of people of India!

Mahaparinirvana Day- Day of Dedication

 

The Last message to his people:

“Whatever I have done, I have been able to do after passing through crushing miseries and endless struggle all my life and fighting with my opponents. With great difficulty I have brought this caravan where it is seen today. Let the caravan march on despite the hurdles that may come in its way. If my lieutenants are not able to take the caravan ahead they should leave it there, but in no circumstances should they allow the caravan to go back. This is the message to my people”

It is worthwhile reviewing whether the caravan which Babasaheb had referred to has moved forward or backward in the last 44 years.

Here is another statement which encourages the activists of our mission:

“Noble is your aim and sublime and glorious is your mission. Blessed are those who are awakened to their duty to those among whom they are born. Glory to those who devote their time, talents and their all to the amelioration of slavery. Glory to those who would keep their struggle for the liberation of the enslaved in spite of heavy odds, carping humiliation, storms and dangers till the downtrodden secure their human rights.

So to secure the human rights to all the downtrodden people was the ultimate dream of Babasaheb. Has that dream been fulfilled after 44 years after his death?

Here is another statement of Babasaheb about the dalit employees of his time:

“There is some progress on education in our society. By acquiring education some people have reached to the higher positions; but these educated people have deceived me. I was hoping from them that after acquiring higher education they will serve the society; but what I am seeing is that a crowd of small and big clerks has gathered around, who are busy feeding themselves and their families”.

Please note Babasaheb made these remarks during his public speech at Agra on 18 March 1956. Has the situation changed today?

Babasaheb wanted our people to contribute 5% of their resources (time and financial) for the cause of the upliftment of our society. Do we do it?

Politics:

In political field, Babasaheb said way back in 1924 that”Write down on the walls of your houses that we want to be the ruling race”.

Have we grabbed any political power? Even in Maharashtra for the last 3 decades or so we have not been able to elect more that one or two MLAs through RPI, the party which Babasaheb himself was to launch(the constitution of RPI was written by Babasaheb). I hope we do not mistook the MLAs and MPs who are elected through Congress, BJP etc as the real representatives of our society. This can be easily verified from their performance in the assemblies and parliament. The only success in this direction is through BSP in U.P.

Buddhism:

Babasaheb wanted to make India a Buddhist country. Till date we have not converted more than 1% of India’s population to Buddhism. A dismal performance of the organisations, like Buddhist Society of India, which Babasaheb formed exlusively to work for the propagation of Buddhism.

An all round review of his mission and its achievements and to rededicate to complete the unfulfilled dream of Babasaheb, is the real homage to this great victorious revolutionary, the only of its kind in the last 2000 years.

Raju Kamble

 


Dr. B.R.Ambedkar’s Contribution To Buddhist Education In India

31/10/2010

Dr. B.R.Ambedkar’s Contribution
To Buddhist Education In India

By Nishikant Waghmare

16 February, 2007
Countercurrents.org


“Noble is your aim and sublime and glorious is your mission. Blessed are those who are awakened to their duty to those among whom they are born. Glory to those who devote their time, talents and their all to the amelioration of slavery. Glory to those who would reap their struggle for the liberation of the enslaved in spite of heavy odds, carpine humiliation, storms and dangers till the downtrodden secure their Human Rights.”– Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Dr.B.R.Ambedkar.

Today’s Ambedkarites may have reduced their mentor to a symbol to center their electoral campaign on, but history will view Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar differently—as a man whose genius extended over a diverse arrange of human affairs. Born to Mahar parents, Babasaheb would have been one of the many Untouchable of his times condemned to a life of suffering and misery, had he not doggedly overcome the oppressive circumstances of his birth to rise to pre-eminence in India’s public life. Ambedkar was, of course, a towering leader of the Untouchables, but he was also much more- patriot, scholar, thinker and Founding Father of the Indian Constitution.

Ambedkar started the Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha and the Samaj Samanta Sangh for the uplift of untouchables. He led processions and dharnas for his community, demanded separate electorates for them, parted ways with Gandhi, violently differing with Gandhi’s approach toward the Untouchables, and finally, left the Hindu fold, embracing with thousands of his followers the more egalitarian faith of Buddhism.

India got Independence 55 years ago, till today Dalit has to suffer for basic needs for their day to day living i.e. Drinking water, food, shelter and Right to live as human being in society. The Untouchables “Dalit” were denied even Human Rights, which are essential for a bare existence of human life. They were not allowed to drink water from public well; and even their shadow was supposed to pollute the so- called upper Castes. The Hindu social order made the life of the Dalit miserable in every sense of the term. The Hindu Dharmashastra gave sanction to this evil Caste system and the practice of Untochability. This continued for the Centuries.

Then arose on the horizon Dr. BabaSaheb Ambedkar, the liberator of the Millions of downtrodden in India. He made abolition of the Caste system and Untouchability a mission of His life. Perhaps it would take a rebirth by the Mahatma Gandhi to end the abominable evil of Caste. As he he had said: “If I do not want to attain moksha, I do not want to be reborn. But if I were to be reborn, I should be born an Untouchable… not as a Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya or Shudra But as an Atishudra, a Bhangi.”


Babasaheb Ambedkar raised the banner of Buddhism and brought back to his motherland the Buddha who suffered an exile for over twelve hundred years. Ambedkar, a man of provocative learning, challenged opponents of Buddhism to hold discussions with him, and was confident that he would defeat all Pandits. He propagated Buddhism in India. He made the provision for the study of Pali in the Indian constitution. The Government of India had declared Buddha Jayanti a holiday mainly through his efforts. Dr. Ambedkar was the greatest Pioneer of Buddhist revival in India.

India, no doubt, continues to be proud of its Buddhist heritage. Since regaining independence, Buddhist symbols like the Wheel of Dhamma and the Asoka Capital, have become national symbols and the Mathura Buddha adorns the house of Parliament and inspires Indian lawmakers.

The Buddha established a classless society by opening the gates of the Sangha to all deserving individuals, making no distinction between caste and class. The fundamental principle of Buddhism is equality… Buddhism was called the religion of the Shudra’s… ” There was only one man who raised his voice against separatism and Untouchability and that was Lord Buddha… Buddhism is the only religion, which does not recognize caste and affords full scope for progress.

Dr. Ambedkar’s speech on the Eve of the great conversion at Nagpur on October14, 1956, Dr. Ambedkar said Buddhism can serve not only this country, India, but the whole World at this juncture in the world affairs; Buddhism is indispensable for world peace you must pledge today that you, the followers of Buddha, will not only work to liberate yourself, but will try to elevate your country and the world in general.

Dr. Ambedkar declared: “By discarding my ancient religion which stood for inequality and oppression today I am reborn. I have no faith in the philosophy of incarnation; and it is wrong and mischievous to say that Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu. I am no more a devotee of any Hindu god or goddess. I will not perform shradha. I will strictly follow the eightfold path of Buddha. Buddhism is a true religion and I will lead a life guided by the tree principles of knowledge, right path and compassion. Dr. Ambedkar denounced Hinduism, its customs and traditions and declared that from that moment onwards he would strive for the spread of equality among human beings.

Emancipation and empowerment of Dalits is possible only through education. The present Dalit leadership, unlike Spartacus or Ambedkar, is suffering from intellectual bankruptcy. It fails to criticize the ruling classes or follow Ambedkar’s philosophical and ideological roots. Nearly 60 to 70 per cent of India’s wealth belongs to Dalits. It is their blood and sweat. But they are the principle victims of the system.

Dr. Ambedkar explained to his people that “a great responsibility had fallen on their shoulders in connection with the upholding of Buddhism; and if they would not follow rigidly and nobly the principles of Buddhism, it would mean that the Mahars reduced it to a miserable state, no other person under that the sum was burdened with such unparalleled responsibility as he was, he concluded.

Dr. Ambedkar set the wheel of Dhamma in motion once again, spreading the message of his Master to all the corners of the world. The Buddhists said the “the Dhamma Chakra was set revolution by Dr.Ambedkar and it was the greatest religious revolution which India had witnessed in modern times.”

Dr. Ambedkar dedicated himself to the propagation of the Buddhist faith in India. He wrote a book on Buddhism titled “Buddha and His Dhamma” explaining its tenets in simple language to the common man. His two other books “Revolution and Counter Revolution in India’ and “Buddha and Karl Marx”

The malafide intentions of including the Buddha in the Avatara pantheon are also clear from the fact that the Brahmins never worshiped the Buddha and no temples were built in his honour. Logically, the theory that Buddha is an incarnation of Vishnu is dubious one. Therefore, Dr. Ambedkar exhorted Buddhists not to believe that the Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu. Now even a Brahmin Priest agrees that the Buddha was not an incarnation of Vishnu. Principal Vipassana Teacher, Shri S.N.Goenka and Sankaracharya of Kanchikam Kote Peetham Sri Jayendra Saraswati made a joint declaration on 11.11.1999 at Sarnath that Gotama the Buddha was not an incarnation of Vishnu.

“I am reported to be against peace. This is not correct. I am for peace. But, the peace, which is, based on justice not the peace of a graveyard. So long as justice is not respected in the world there cannot be any peace. Buddhism and Buddhism alone can save the World.”

Dr. B.R.Ambedkar a great scholar, Lawyer and freedom fighter along with hundreds of thousands of Mahar’s an untouchable caste, converted to Buddhism and changed the face of Buddhism in India. Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion was a symbolic protest to the oppressions of caste inequality. His conversion was an intellectual decision that would meet with the least opposition from the Hindu majority.

India, have no leader of the kind Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Indian Crusader for Social Justice and Champion of Human Rights. One of the greatest contributions of Dr. Ambedkar was in respect of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The fundamental Rights provide for freedom, equality, abolition of Untouchability and remedies to ensure the enforcement of rights.

Fifty-five years after independence, Caste prejudices in India have not erased very much. And now there is a deliberate attempt to revive these prejudices to their former position.

Grundtvig’s conception about Nordic mythology and Christian “Anskuelese” may be compared with Ambedkar’s views on the original tradition of Buddhism as a source of inspiration. In describing the work of on Buddhism he said” we have started this movement to develop and educate our minds” Explaining the need for religion among the poor as a need arising for hope, Ambedkar referred to a German professor of his, Professor Wintermitz.


“The Watergang Rabelan Depth was the book which he recommended and by which I was much inspired. It is only the poor, he said who need religion.” Hope is the spring of action in life. Religion affords hope. Therefore, mankind finds solace in the religion, and that is why the poor cling to religion.”

Those who are turned to Buddhism, but remained within Hinduism but wanted Hinduism to change, Ambedkar made the following suggestion:

“You must give a new doctrinal basis to your religion-a-basis that will be in consonance with Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, in short, with Democracy.”

Dr. BabaSaheb Ambedkar once commented, “Dalit representatives elected from reserved seats open their mouth in the Indian parliament only when they have to yawn.”

It was the Buddha who, for the first time in the known history of mankind, attempted to abolish slavery and “invented the higher morality and the idea of the brotherhood of the entire human race, and in striking terms condemned” the degrading caste-system which in Indian society at that time was firmly rooted. The Buddha declared: “By birth is not one an outcast, By birth is not one a Brahmin, By deeds is one an outcast, By deeds is one a Brahmin.”

Dr. Ambedkar in His book “Annihilation of Caste” reproduces his major difference with the Mahatma Gandhi. While he was for abolition of the caste system, prescribed by Hindu sage Manu, Gandhi was for giving up caste prejudice, and for reform of the system, so that the stigma of Untouchability may be removed, but function of various castes remains.

As Dr. Ambedkar could not abolish the caste system, when Mahatma Gandhi asked for dedication on the shared cause of struggle for freedom, he asked for separate electorates for the so-called “outcastes” whom the Mahatma called “Harijan”- sons of the ‘God’

Dr. Ambedkar turned on Gandhi too: The Dalits leaders converted to Buddhism perhaps the least dogmatic or hierarchic of world religions. Dr. Ambedkar’s response to Gandhi was that he wanted to treat the symptom, not the cause of the disease- you can’t abolish Untouchability without addressing the Caste and the Dharma system, which is at the root of it.

“ Gandhiji, felt that the high castes should change their hearts: Dr. Ambedkar said that we’ ve been suffering for over 2000 years, many Hindu saints have come and gone; but nothing has changed, so he legally empowered to challenge it.” Article 17, of the Constitution that abolished “Untouchability” The problem is if you implement it half of India would be in Jail.”


There have been many Mahatmas in India whose sole object was to remove Untouchability and to elevate and absorb the depressed Classes, but every one of them has failed in his mission. Mahatmas have come, Mahatmas have gone. But the Untouchables have remained as Untouchables.

Buddhists of India need the friendship, understanding and cooperation for uplifting themselves and for strengthening the hands of those who are striving for peace, equality and justice. Let the scent of the Dhamma spread in all directions and illumine the minds of those who put much faith in steel and fire but ignore the value of peace, loving kindness and compassion.

Venerable Anagarika Dharampal, great son of Sri Lanka, came to India and was distressed to find even the great Bodhi Gaya Temple in a dilapidated condition under the control of Brahmin Mahant. He struggled to take possession of Boudh -Viharas of the Buddhist but failed owing to the hostile attitude of the British Government and the Upper Caste Hindus. He founded Maha-Boudhi Society to propagate the Dhamma and to continue the struggle for reviving Buddhism.

Dr. S. Radhakrishna, Late -President of India and Philosopher said; Buddhism brought about a profound change in the lives of the Indian people. “For us in this country the Buddha is an outstanding representative of our religious tradition.”

Dr. G.P.Malalasekera said: Let us not forget that some of the leaders of religion have themselves been revolutionaries. The Buddha, for instance, was one of the greatest rebels in human history. He denied the assumptions on which religion in His day was based and gave the religious quest an entirely new orientation. He refused to accept the sincerity of the Vedas or the power of the Priesthood. He refuted the illusion that human problems could be solved with sacred rituals and incarnations. He was a sworn enemy of the Caste –System on which the World structure of Indian Society rested. He was ridiculed and persecuted and several attempts were made on his life.

Dr. Ambedkar said, my final words of advice to you is “Educate, Agitate, Organize” have faith in yourself. With justice on our side, I do not see how we can lose 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 a battle for freedom. It is a battle for reclamations of the human personality.

Amedkar was Bharat Ratna in the refuge of Tri- Ratna Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Therefore all Ambedkarites must call themselves as Buddhist and nothing else. Thus Ambedkar’s whole life and mission was a practical contribution to humanistic Buddhist education in India and not just intellectual and philosophical which is common these days. Though he was not a Buddhist by birth but by practice and at heart he was a Buddhist.

BabaSaheb Ambedkar had said Tuesday July 31, 1956, at his official residence 26 Alipur Road, New Dehli at 17-50 to his Honorary Personal secretary Mr. Nanak Chand Rattu… Tell my people Nanak Chand: “Whatever I have done, I have been able to do after passing through crushing miseries and endless troubles all my life fighting with my opponents. With great difficulty, I have brought this caravan where it is seen today. Let the caravan march on and further on despite the hurdles, pitfalls and difficulties that may come in its way. If my people, my lieutenants are not able to take the caravan ahead, they should leave it where it is seen today, but in no circumstances should they allow the caravan to go back?”

The most significant development in the resurgence of Buddhism in modern India was the movement inaugurated by BabaSaheb Ambedkar, as a result of which mass conversions of Buddhism have been taking place in many parts of the country. The Neo-Buddhist is progressively gaining self-sufficiency as regards temples and shrines, monastic leadership and guidance, educational institutions and religious literature. In India, too, Buddhism is numerically the fastest growing religion.

I, for one, truly believe that individuals can make a difference in society. Since periods of great change such as the present one come so rarely in human history, it is up to the each one of us to make the best use of our time to help create a happier world for new generation to live with peace, freedom and love for mankind on planet earth. This century is the most important century of humankind said: His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

BabaSaheb Ambedkar said: The first point, which makes off Buddha from the rest, is his self-abnegation. JESUS insists that he is the Son of God. MOHAMMED went a step further. He claimed that he was the messenger of God on earth and insisted that he was the last messenger. Lord KRISHNA went a step beyond both Jesus and Mohammed. He claimed that he was “Parameshwar” – the God of Gods. BUDDHA never arrogated to himself a status. He was born a son of man and was content to remain common man and Krishna claimed for them selves a role of MOKSHADATA, Buddha was satisfied with playing the role of MARGADATA.

Buddha’s Teachings are based on wisdom, morals and concentration, which are applicable not only for Buddhist nations but are of Universal application. He is the giver of path of sublime promotions and reliever from painful demotions. Hence let us all practice His teachings without hesitations walking on the path of noble truth realization and making “Nibbana” as our final destination.

The socio-cultural movement, which gradually transformed the original teaching of Buddha to popular Buddhism as practiced by millions of people, needs to be given due consideration in a study of Buddhism as religion.

“The Hindus wanted the Vedas and they sent for Vyasa, who was not a caste Hindu. The Hindus wanted an Epic and they sent for Valmiki, who was an Untouchable. The Hindus wanted a Constitution, and they sent for me.”-Dr. B.R.Ambedkare.

“Law is secular, which any body may break while fraternity or religion is sacred which everybody must respect. My philosophy has a mission. I have to do the work of conversion: for I have to make the followers of Triguna theory to give it up and accept mine. Indians today governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set out in the preamble to the Indian Constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion, denies them.” Dr. B.R.Ambedkar
(All-India Radio broadcast of speech on October 03, 1954)

Buddhism makes enlightenment the sole aim of life. This was the philosophy that Ambedkar accepted and tried to revive. Besides this there was another reason. Buddha, whose life and movement Ambedkar had studied, was a believer of the educatability and the creativity of the people. Under the influence of those teachings, the most rejected peoples of India has once risen and uplifted their life as well as that of the whole society. If that was once possible in India, it must be possible again. He had a solid historical basis to trust India’s ordinary folk as India’s future democrats.

This is what Jawaharlal Nehru wrote of the commitment of Ambedkar to the untouchables: “Dr.B.R.Ambedkar would be remembered mostly as the symbol of revolt against all the oppressing features of Hindu society. In a way he symbolized the hopes and aspiration of the oppressed and the Untouchables.”

Buddha was the first religious leader of the world, who expounded peace and equality in the history of man. Five precepts (Panchsheeel) of Buddha’s life are principles of building world peace the precepts Panchsheel based on Buddha’s life would help to build world peace and harmony among the Nations.

Our Humanity is cultivated through our emotions. Each day we should look not only to be moved by others, But also to move them through kindness, patience and caring. Said Venerable Master Hsing Yun.

It is my hope and prayer that we will always live a happy, joyful, peaceful life based on non-violence, truth, equality, love and compassion, this great message of Buddha is relevant today.

Nishikant Waghmare, Peace Representative, The World Peace Prayer Society, USA. Director- Asia & Pacific, Airline Ambassadors International UN NGO USA.

NOTES

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar – -“Buddha and His Dhamma” Siddhartha Publication Mumbai, 1957.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – – “Annihilation of Caste”

Dr.B.R. Ambedkar – – “Writing and Speeches” The Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai 1987.

Mr.Bhagwan Das- “Buddhism in India” Dalit Liberation Today, June 1997, New Delhi.

H.H. Dalai Lama – – “A Human Approach to World Peace.”

H.H. Dalai Lama — “Compassion and the Individual”

Dhananjay Keer – -“Dr. Ambedkar’s Life and Mission” Popular Prakashan, Mumbai, 1971, “Revival of Buddhism”

Dr. Prof. Ananda W.P. Guruge – – “What In Brief Is Buddhism” Published by Mitram Books, A Subsidiary of, Dhamma Healing Way. Inc. Monterey Park, CA. USA, 1999.

W.J. Basil Fernando – – “ Demoralization and Hope” A Comparative study of the Ideas of N.E.S. Grungtvig of Denmark and B.R. Ambedkar of India, A Publication of Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong, 2000.

Venerable Narada Mahathera – – “The Buddha and His Teachings” Buddhist Missionary society, Kuala Lumpur, 1988, “Is Buddhism A Religion”

Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda – – Ven. Narada Mahathera, Dr. G.P. Maklalasekera “Gems of Buddhist Wisdom” The Buddhist Missionary society, Kuala Lumpur.

S. Krishna (Anand) –“The Buddha the Essence of Dhamma and its Practice” Publication By, Samrudh Bharat Publication, Mumbai, August 2002

The Times of India — “100 Indians who made a difference this Century” Monday, December 6, 1999. Mumbai.

Venerable Bhikkhu Vinayarakkhita, Dharmayatana, Maharagama, Sri Lanka.

Dr. BabaSaheb Ambedkar… “The Man who made all the difference.”


dhammaindia@hotmail.com,
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nishinirvana@yahoo.com

 


AP: Upper castes deny water to dalits in village

29/10/2010
First Published : 28 Oct 2010 04:03:01 AM IST
Last Updated : 28 Oct 2010 09:05:18 AM IST

NELLORE: Tension prevailed in Vaddipalem hamlet of Kothavangallu village panachayat in Kodavaluru mandal when the upper caste people of the village prevented dalits from the Dalitwada from using water of the village well.

As the news spread like wildfire, several dalit organisations rushed to the village resulting in exchange of arguments between the upper caste people and dalit leaders. District collector K Ramgopal directed the Kodavaluru MRO to get the pipeline fixed and restore water supply from the well to the Dalitwada and submit a report on the incident immediately.

Vaddipalem, 30 km from here, has two wells, one used by the upper castes and the other by dalits. The water in the well meant for dalits got contaminated a few months ago. Following a request by the dalits, the collector sanctioned Rs1 lakh for laying a pipeline from the other well in the village to supply drinking water to the Dalitwada.

According to Kodavalur tahsildar N Syamalamma, the two groups had agreed to the arrangement and things went smoothly.

However, four days ago, an upper caste person had allegedly de-linked the pipeline cutting of water to Dalits.When the dalits went to the well to fetch water, they were chased away by the upper caste people. The dalits were forced to use the contaminated water for the last four days.

As the news spread, several dalit leaders from other places rushed to the village in support of the local dalits.

MRPS district president J Ramanaiah condemned the ill-treatment of dalits and said even after six decades of independence, caste discrimination was still prevalent and Vaddipallem incident stood  testimony to it. Bahujan Samaj Party Kovur incharge B Mastanaiah said it was unfortunate that discrimination against dalits was still continuing.

Courtesy: http://expressbuzz.com/states/andhrapradesh/ap-upper-castes-deny-water-to-dalits-in-village/218707.html


Dr.B.R. Ambedkar’s speech in Parliament-Constitution Assembly

29/10/2010


Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil

29/10/2010
The slave’s dream
By Jawed Naqvi
Thursday, 28 Jan, 2010
Chief Minister of Gujrat, Narendra Modi’s administration reinforces an Indian variant of apartheid. –Photo by AFP

“Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.” Arundhati Roy? Wrong. It’s Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the Dalit leader who wrote India’s republican constitution 60 years ago.

Going by Ambedkar’s expressed fears, the Indian republic is like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Slave’s Dream. It was created by a people that were subjugated by colonialism and its republican ideals were shaped by a human rights pioneer who rose from the lowest layers of the country’s caste heap, a form of slavery in some ways more degrading than apartheid.

India celebrates its Republic Day each year with an hour-long display of military hardware, which of late has included dummies of nuclear-tipped missiles. The accompanying convoy of floats showcasing the country’s cultural variety (and humour) with everything ranging from ayurvedic massages to tribal dances, to harvest festivals is a more realistic sample of the country’s anarchy and depth than imported military arsenal, which guzzles depleted resources, annoys neighbours and contributes to keeping millions of Indians in penury and poor health.

Ambedkar’s fear of an inhospitable soil that deters rather than nurtures democracy if left to itself has been vindicated by the country’s sharp tilt to the right since 1990. His most entrenched detractors belong to the Hindu right, but the exigencies of the country’s caste arithmetic, which shores up the parliamentary system, compels them to woo his followers, if not his legacy.

That’s why it remained unclear on Tuesday, as to which was a bigger affront to India’s democracy — the inability of the state for the first time in 19 years to hoist the Indian flag in the alienated precincts of Srinagar’s Lal Chowk or a vaudeville staged by the chief minister of Gujarat who carried a giant replica of the Indian constitution on elephant back to display his sudden fondness for the rule of law.

“This is a historic moment for Gujarat, as the procession of the constitution is being taken out for the first time in Indian history,” Chief Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed not without dollops of irony. There was no remorse in his tone over the worst anti-Muslim pogrom his state witnessed, and for which he is being investigated.

Ambedkar had perhaps anticipated Modi’s antics, whose administration reinforces an Indian variant of apartheid, in which Muslims and Dalits have been driven to live in hidebound ghettoes. Let’s hear what Ambedkar had to say about a Republic Day he had helped create.

“On 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality and in 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 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 thousands 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.”

“… 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.”

“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.”

“… On 26th January, 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 has India 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. … 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 and 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.”

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.
jawednaqvi@gmail.com

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New KPCC President confident of no more desertions

27/10/2010
Newly appointed KPCC President G Parameshwar being greeted by Siddaramaiah, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly at his residence in Bangalore on Wednesday. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy.

The HinduNewly appointed KPCC President G Parameshwar being greeted by Siddaramaiah, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly at his residence in Bangalore on Wednesday. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy.

Faced with a daunting task of guarding party MLAs from being poached by the ruling BJP, newly appointed Karnataka Congress chief G Parameshwara today exuded confidence, saying no legislator would leave the party.

“We can say with confidence that none will leave the party. Our MLAs have confidence that whatever the problems they have, will be redressed,” Mr. Parameshwara, who was with Congress leader Siddaramaiah, told reporters.

Mr. Parameshwara’s comment came in the backdrop of speculations that some Congress MLAs were being lured by BJP.

The Congress president met Mr. Siddaramaiah and said he would focus attention on carrying all party workers with him and gear up the party for upcoming zilla and taluk panchayat elections likely to be held by this year end.

An action plan would be drawn up to fight the coming elections and also against the BJP government, which he branded as “inefficient, corrupt and anti-development“.

He said he would also ask the party high command to appoint executive committee and other office-bearers to the State unit before the panchayat polls.

Meanwhile Mr. Siddaramaiah, who has been holding parleys with party MLAs and persuading them not to quit also expressed optimism that there would be no more desertions by legislators.

 


Terrorism and Hindus not related to each other: Bhagwat

27/10/2010

 

NEW DELHI Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has taken a strong exception to the use of the term ‘saffron or Hindu terror’ and said terrorism and Hindus cannot be related to each other. Addressing the annual Dussehra rally here, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said, “Terrorism and Hindus are the oxymoron and can never be related to each other. This was an attempt to weaken strength of the Hindus in India and at the same time to appease the Muslims.”
A handful of incidents involving Hindus were reported and for that to blame the entire Hindu community was improper and unjust, Bhagwat said. Bharatiya Janata Party national president, Nitin Gadkari was also present at the occasion. PTI
BJP’s Nitin Gadkari at the RSS rally
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