29 November, 2020

Ambedkar’s Desiderata

In six decades of ‘progress’ India hasn’t realised our founders’ vision of social democracy

Rashtrapati Bhawan
Ambedkar’s Desiderata

Over the years, the makers of modern India have been parochialised by the sect or state to which they originally belonged. Rabindranath Tagore, whose stories and especially essays are of universal appeal, is now considered an icon of Bengalis alone. Vallabhbhai Patel, without whose efforts India would not be a united nation, is now hardly remembered outside Gujarat. Jawaharlal Nehru, who helped nurture a democratic ethos across India, is now the property of a single party.

A fourth Indian who has become a victim of sectarian diminution is B.R. Ambedkar. He is now known only for his contributions to the emancipation of the subaltern castes. To be sure, he did a great deal to instil a sense of dignity among the oppressed. But we seem to have forgotten that he was not just a militant Dalit, but also a wise democrat, whose life and thought can profitably be studied by all Indians, regardless of the caste or religion to which they belong.

This week, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Indian republic. Our republic owes its...



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