Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Association for Education, Japan

If you ask me, my ideal would be the society based on liberty, equality and fraternity. An ideal society should be mobile and full of channels of conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts.

-Dr. Ambedkar

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Essay on Vision and Direction

Written by Mangesh
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Dear brothers and sisters in the Sangha,
Jai Bhim!!
Please find copied below the essay that I wrote. Any comments and criticism is more than welcome.
With much metta, Mangesh
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Essay on Vision and Direction

Where are we since 1956?

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar died in the year 1956. During his lifetime, he singlehandedly led the movement of the untouchables and won important landmark victories in their favour, such as access to education, representations in institutions and rise in political consciousness. What Babasaheb Ambedkar achieved in a short span of 34 years of his active public career is unique in the history of the world. He stands tall in the galaxy of the luminaries who sacrificed their lives to liberate their fellow human beings. Though he addressed his followers who were mostly from the untouchable castes, his vision of social change, or reclamation of human personality, was universal. This vision often comes clear and shining in his innumerable speeches and debates of the constituent assembly of India. This vision also crystallized in the Constitution of India, which Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar drafted. The story of Ambedkar era will inspire generations to come and his name will remain forever so long humanity lives is beyond doubt.

During his lifetime, Babasaheb used various methods and strategies to create a society based on the values of liberty, equality, fraternity and manuski (Manuski is the Marathi word often used by Babasaheb, and it has connotations of humanity, humanness and respect for human life) through education, agitation and organization. He gave to his people self respect, dignity and most importantly moral courage to fight any odds. He started political parties, fought for the transfer of power to the untouchables, liberated Hindu women from heinous Hindu laws tainted by male chauvinism, gave representation to the untouchables and made passionate plea to include OBCs (Shudras) in the process of democratization of the Indian masses, created political and legal structure to make it possible for social democracy to take its shape in heterogeneous country like India. His achievements are innumerable.

The focus of the succeeding paragraphs is to look at what happened after 1956, in other words, where do the followers of Babasaheb stand as of today. I am going to describe the situation in general. The broader areas that I am going to look at are: education, institutions, politics, religions, and other areas which include; academics, science and research, sports, media and entertainment.  

Education:

Considerable progress is made in this area. After 1956, there are thousands of doctors, engineers and lawyers amongst the followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar and many of these professional are living well to do life. The recent trends in globalization have exposed a lot of followers of Babasaheb to the outside world. This was not possible without Babasaheb’s efforts. Despite of that majority of the Dalit population is illiterate and have no access to education. There is certainly quite an advancement, but still a long way to go in this area. However there is a considerable mass of the educated lot who can lead the movement inaugurated by Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Institutions:

Due to representation, one will find a good representation of Dalits in governmental or semi-governmental institutes. Though many seats go vacant, still there is a representation in these institution, which includes Executives and at the moment, the Chief Justice of India is from the untouchable background.

Politics:

BSP set up a new convention and broke the myth that Dalits cant come to power. Now the BSP is the third largest party in India, with party structure established in the all the states of India.

Religion:

Conversions to Buddhism are happening all over India, and followers of Babasaheb have taken Buddhist practices seriously and at the least a new culture on Buddhist values is emerging in Maharashtra which will soon spread all India.

Other areas:

In other areas like academics, Science and research, sports, media and entertainment, the participation is meager and far less compared to extent and opportunities in these areas.  There is much stride to make in these areas so that these areas are effectively influenced to make contribution in the social change in India.

I have attempted to take stock of the situation in general so as to derive some specific conclusions which will be practical in nature and in a way help us to suggest whither we go from here and how.

   1.       Though there is some progress, there is a long way to go towards annihilation of caste

   2.       The caste is not annihilated, it is not only prevalent in amongst the Indians at large, but also the Dalits practice the caste system within their own community thus an effective and coherent movement is not possible

  3.       The success in some areas indicate that the movement is not dead at all and far from it, it is kicking and thousands of Individuals and organizations are working since 1956 for advancement of their kind in several areas.

In this situation of diverse interests and commitment and various interpretations of vision of Babasaheb itself, it is very important to clearly define the goal. The task is made easy by Babasaheb himself, when he declared that the battle is for the “Reclamation of Human Personality”.

In case of untouchables in India, their personality is mutilated by the Hindu Caste system and practice of untouchability. Let no one say that the practice of untouchability is ended in India. The study conducted in 2006 clearly showed that untouchability is still practiced massively all over India. Caste system mutilates and degrades the human personality is the important conclusion and to reclame the personality and restore it is the goal of the movement. Once the goal of the movement is clear, one can spell out the strategies and use various structures towards achieving the goal. Needless to say that Babasaheb Ambedkar fought entire life towards this goal.

The mutilated personality:

Caste mutilates the personality in two ways: internally and externally

The external factors such as presence of caste puts limitations on the growth of individuals and it crushes the personalities by the predominant value system like Brahmanism. It needs various strategies to dismantle the external structures and factors and political power is the sure way of doing that as the society lacks requisite social and economic strength. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar looked at democratic principles of Governance as a way to dismantle the external structures that mutilates the human personality from outside.

The internalization of the caste system and its values is the most important factor in reclaiming human personality. Enough progress has been made since 1956 that most of the members from the untouchable caste are free to reclaim their human personality by freeing themselves from the caste, but contrary to that many, if not most, of them are still entangled into the labyrinth of the caste identities. They take pride in the narrow caste identities and thus limit their own growth and that of the larger community that Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar strove hard to create. Basically, humans do not need support of identities to live a fulfilled life. They can be just human and act in the world. But the security is one of the psychological problems of human beings and they try to find it somewhere, including in case of Indians, the identity of the caste. The faster the followers of Babasaheb cast away their caste, faster will be the social movement towards realization of the values of liberty, equality, fraternity and manuski. This is not to say that one should be naïve and not understand caste. One should strive to understand the dynamics of the caste system and see how this dynamics can be used to gain access to power for the disenfranchised communities in India.

The larger goal is therefore reclamation of human personality; of our own and that of others.

The Grand single strategy which will influence various methods and tactics are therefore as follows:

1.       Recruiting oneself for the social revolution

We always try to recruit others for the battle, but what is important is self recruitment for this noble and great battle. After the recruitment follows the training. We must strive to train our selves so that first of all we save ourselves from the heinous caste identities that pull us down from the level of humans. This can be done by following the straightforward path of the Buddha. I am just describing it in some details below.

Applying the principle of no-fixed self (Anatta)

However hard we try to fixed self in our experience of body and mind, we cant really find it, The Buddha asked us to find, rather challenged us to find, the fixed self. The self is conceptually created. It is the outcome of the social, cultural and family conditioning. The caste is same as this. It is just a label, but this labeling process creates a perpetual cycle of locking ourselves in the narrow and limiting selves. Once we break from this illusion of “atta” and see that reality and nature of our being, we no longer fix ourselves in the labels.

Applying teachings of the impermanence

Everything changes. If we understand this basic truth of the existence, it is very easy to brave and not to hear unknown.

Unsatisfactoriness of the self centered life

The self centered life is basically a limiting life and it is not the full expression of what we really are, to use the jargonic language, social creatures. It is therefore essential to understands limits of self centeredness and family life or life confined to one caste.

2.       Recruiting other human beings for the social revolution

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is a great example of this. He not only recruited and trained his own caste men, but influenced and opened up a broad and glorious vision for all the people who came in his sphere of influence. He has no enemy and he often said that he carries no animosity even in the worst situations. There are various ways to recruit other human beings; one of the important way is to open up a new Vista of world for them, another is challenging their intellect so that they can think big and for themselves.

Whither we go from here

1.       Building communities of people who are trying to create a society beyond caste through practical methods

2.       Making caste and social discrimination the most important issue in politics, debates on national and international levels

3.       Immediate followers of Babasaheb casting away their caste and reclaiming their personality, which is the essence of social revolution that Babasaheb inaugurated.

If we work on these simple things slowly and gradually, the complex things will happen surely and suddenly!!

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