Life and Mission of Dr Ambedkar

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Labor Member

1. Super Speeches - In an interview to the Times of India on 27/7/1942 BRA described Gandhi’s all out rebellion as both irresponsible & insane and a measure to retrieve the Congress prestige that had gone down since the war started. It would be madness; he proceeded, to weaken law & order at a time when the barbarians were at the gates of India for the mastery of India. The Congress criticized BRA’s statement. The Muslim League warned its members to keep away from the Congress. Savarkar declared that the Sabha stood by the integrity & unity of India. He foretold that Gandhi, as was his wont, would agree not only to one Pakistan but to many.

Congress leaders all over the country were arrested & put in detention. The movement plunged the country into turmoil. At a reception given the DC Welfare Association in Delhi he pointed out that in the Executive Council the representation given to the Muslims was three times greater than the DC, who were almost equal in population strength. He declared that the DC resented this. BRA made a thought provoking speech on ‘Indian Labor & War on 13/11/1942 from the Bombay station of the All India Radio. Excerpts – So labor must fight for victory over Nazism, which if successful, would end in Nazi order under which liberty would be found to be suppressed, equality denied, and fraternity expunged as a pernicious doctrine. The worth of independence depended on the kind of Govt and society that were built up. So labor ought to place more emphasizes on ‘New India’ and less on Quit India. Peace obtained by surrender to forces of violence was no peace. ‘War cannot be abolished’, he concluded, ‘by merely refusing to fight when attacked. To abolish war, you must win war & establish peace’.

BRA was invited to Poona to address a meeting on 19/1/1943 on the occasion of the Birth Anniversary of Ranade, India’s patriot & reformer. Here he delivered one of the most important speeches of his life. At the outset he discussed three theories of estimating the greatness of a man. He observed that the Augustine theory that history was only an unfolding of a divine plan in which mankind was to continue through war & suffering until that divine plan was completed on the day of judgment, was now a belief only with the theologians. The theory of Buckle that history was made by Geography & Physics, & the theory of Marx that history was the result of economic forces did not result the whole truth. Impersonal forces were not everything; man was necessary to rub two pieces of flint to make fire.

Summarizing his discussion, BRA opined that a Great Man must be motivated by the dynamics of a social purpose and must act as the scourge & scavenger of society. Applying this test to Ranade, BRA held that Ranade was a Great Man not only by the standards of his time, but was a Great Man according to any standard. Ranade’s life was nothing but a relentless struggle against social injustice, social evils & reforms. BRA compared Ranade with Gandhi & Jinnah and opined that it would be difficult to find two persons who would rival Gandhi & Jinnah for their colossal egoism. He then observed that Indian journalism was once a profession, but it had then become a trade. He thus, denounced the writings of the Congress journals as the writings done by drum boys to glorify their heroes. In the end he said that hero worship in the sense of expressing one’s unbound admiration is one thing, to obey the hero blindly was another.

He hated injustice, tyranny, pompousness, humbug etc but hatred was a reflex of the love he bears for the causes he believed in nothing else. The principle of hate BRA had not imbibed from Buddhism, a phase that was yet to come in his life. It was Buddha’s eternal rule that hatred was ceased by love. BRA loved the principle of absolute non-violence as an end & believed in relative violence as a means. He was of the opinion that Gandhi’s non-violence was derived from Jainism & not from the Buddha, who never stretched it to the extreme view of Jainism.

2. BRA works for Labor Cause - The ill prepared and ill-ordered August Revolution came to an end after a few weeks of violent disorder, mass lawlessness & mob violence. Realizing the fiasco, Gandhi started a 21-day fast on 10/2/1943, a tactical move to force his release from the Aga Khan Palace. The fast rocked the nation & the Indian sky was filled with cries of ‘Release Gandhi’. Some executive council members like Sarkar, Modi resigned by BRA/Srivastava remained unmoved. A few days after the end of the fast Sir Chimanlal Setalvad paid BRA a glowing tribute on his 51st birthday saying that BRA was an outstanding example of natural intelligence, perseverance & courage.

BRA was now deeply engrossed in the welfare of the laboring classes. Addressing the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce he said the reasons why the European nations adopted an attitude of superiority towards the Oriental nations was, in his judgment, their potential economic & industrial strength. He thus held that India’s economic & industrial strength would resolve the problem of imperialism & color. Just at this time discussions were going on in the media on a scheme out forth by BRA to solve the political deadlock. It contemplated the setting up of a Delimitation Committee & the holding of two plebiscites. Plebiscite one, the Muslims were to determine whether they want Pakistan, two was to decide whether non-Muslims in the proposed Pakistan wanted to stay there or not. In the non-Muslims preferred to stay in Pakistan the scheme suggested no change in the existing boundaries. If they declared their opposition to be in Pakistan, a boundary commission was to be appointed to demarcate the predominantly populated Muslim districts, and at the end of two years it was to be decided whether the Muslims wanted separation or not. Friends plebiscite one if held might have thrown interesting results.

BRA had some satisfaction that he could add to the representation of the DC in the Central Assembly as well as in the Council of States. He had secured 8.5. % Appointments in govt posts, reserved seats for technical education of the DC students in London and one more seat in the Central Assembly & got one created in the Council of States. In April 1944, BRA moved an amending Bill proposing holidays with pay for industrial workers employed in perennial factories.

A few days later, Gandhi was released on health grounds from internment in the Aga Khan Palace in Poona. He went to Panchagani where Rajagopalachari declared that he had sent a new offer to Jinnah which had been approved by Gandhi during his fast in internment.

3. Rajaji Pakistan formula - BRA welcomed Gandhi’s acceptance of the principle of vivisection, but felt that it would have been better had the offer been made by Gandhi himself & if it had been an unconditional one. Now what were Rajaja’s proposals, reproduce from article ‘Life Story of Savarkar’ based on a book by the same author - Rajaji had by now released to the press his correspondence with Jinnah on the offer that was fathered by Gandhi during his jail stay. Rajaji said, “I stand for Pakistan because I do not want that State where Hindus and Muslims are not honored. Let the Muslims have Pakistan. If we agree our country will be saved. Gandhi approved of my proposals and authorized me to approach you (Jinnah) on that basis”. Jinnah said, “Gandhi is offering a shadow, a husk, a maimed, mutilated and moth-eaten Pakistan and thus trying to pass off as having met the Muslim demand”. Rajaji’s new offer had these terms. That the League should endorse the Indian demand for independence and co-operate with the Congress in the formation of a provincial Interim govt and conceded that if the Muslim majority provinces of the West and East decided a plebiscite in favor an independent state the decision should be given effect to, a mutual agreement should be entered into for safeguarding defense, commerce and communication. End of quote.

BRA said that he could not understand why Jinnah turned down the offer, there were risks in a plebiscite but any rate people must be the final judges. BRA was sorry that people Gandhi’s friends who thought he was opposed to Pakistan were made to look small by this offer. BRA added that the Hindu press would suppress the voice of the Hindu Mahasabha who were opposed to India’s partition. But it is strange that in his second edition of Thoughts on Pakistan BRA described this very scheme as a snare which did not offer any solutions.

Seeing a change in Gandhi’s attitude towards the League BRA wrote to Gandhi that a settlement of Hindu–Untouchables problem was necessary if the Indian political goal was to be achieved & added that he was willing to formulate points for settlement. Gandhi replied that for him the question of DC was of religious & social reform. He accepted that BRA & himself held different views on this question. Licks to those who are aggressive & kicks to those who are feeble. As a politician, Gandhi was not exception to this.

BRA gave talks at various DC gatherings in Calcutta, Hyderabad, Madras. Briefly he said that it was good on the part of the Viceroy to tell Gandhi that for the transfer of power a tripartite agreement was necessary among Hindus, Muslims & the DC. He was not opposed to a national Govt but history did not warrant the assumption that once a Parliamentary Govt was established on adult suffrage, it would put an end to all human sufferings. Since the departure of Cripps, BRA had worked furiously to impress upon the country & the British Govt that the DC were an important element & demanded a recognized place in the social, economic & political structure of Indian society. That was long & short of his whirlwind propaganda and his arguments won the Viceroy over.

4. Pakistan - Meanwhile BRA took out a second edition of Thoughts on Pakistan under a new title Pakistan or Partition of India, adding one more chapter. Although he admitted to cultural & geographical unity of India, he said that Pakistan should be conceded for a sure defence of free India & for Muslim sentiments who wanted to be a nation.

Vigorous attempts were made to solve the political deadlock for which there about nine schemes as alternatives to Pakistan. BRA unfolded his plan on 6/5/1945 where he said that majority rule was untenable in theory, he proposed weightages to be given to the minority communities in legislatures & asked the Hindus to be satisfied with a relative majority. Although his plan ensured a united India, he appealed to the Muslims to accept this plan as it promised them better security, a continuance of weightage & relieved them from the fear of Hindu domination. The most important part of the plan was that DC were to hold the balance of power & the aboriginals were not to get any representation as BRA felt they were devoid of political sense. The scheme was rejected outright. The consensus opinion among Hindu journals that BRA aimed at minority rule over India.

In June 1945 another book by BRA titled What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables. It hit the Congress party like a bombshell. Full of statistics & powerful arguments the main thesis of the book was that advertised Harijan uplift work of the Congress, since it adopted in 1917 as one of its planks, was actuated more by a desire to prevent the DC from appearing as a separate element in national life than anything. Criticizing the work of Gandhi, BRA paid a rare tribute to Swami Shraddhanand by praising him as the greatest champion of the Untouchables. BRA warned the DC to beware of Gandhi & Gandhism. BRA’s book remained unchallenged. BRA’s violent opposition to Gandhi on rationalistic basis was not a new phase.

In June 1945 came the Wavell Plan. The Conference broke on the question of the personnel of the interim Ministry, the Congress insisting on Muslim nominees of its own. As a member of the Executive Council BRA could not take part but he was preparing the case for the Schedule Castes.

5. BRA routed in Elections - In July Britain went to the polls & the Labor came to power. Japan also surrendered. In September Wavell announced general elections. All the parties went into election mode including the Scheduled Castes federation. BRA went to Manmad to address a conference of the SC federation where he explained how the Congress campaign for removal of untouchability had proved a utter failure and cited how during his recent visit to Puri he could have only a distant view of the Jagannath Temple. Next he traveled to South India.

In January 1946 he held talks with a British Parliamentary delegation of ten members, Jinnah & Nehru met them too. At a talk in Bombay BRA said that the Scastes were not asking for a territorial division like the Muslims, what they wanted was equal rights & patronage. Just before this speech, Sardar Patel declared that the first concern of the Congress Ministries would be to destroy the very roots of untouchability by force of law. He said that BRA’s aspirations were legitimate but his ways wrong. Though the Harijans had benefited by the Poona pact BRA continued abusing the Congress & Gandhi. A number of DC leaders wrote to the Press in reply to Patel stating how the Poona Pact had been a curse to them.

The Provincial Elections were held. BRA’s party was routed. Lack of organization & indifference/non-cooperation of the caste Hindu voters made him eat his words, which he had uttered at Sholpaur. This was a stunning blow to his prestige as a leader, which drove to think of drastic methods. Congress defeated both BRA & Hindu Mahasabha but the Muslim voters routed the Congress.

The patriotic upsurge emanated from the I.N.A. Revolt & their trials, Revolt raised by the Royal Indian Air Force & Indian Naval Ratings seemed to break down the imperial structure. It was a clear indication that Indian Army was feeling & experiencing the pangs of freedom. The British realized that is was longer possible to keep India in bondage. So on 15/3/1946, PM C Attlee, acknowledged India’s right to attain full independence within or without the British Commonwealth and said that they would not allow a minority to place their veto on the advance of the majority.

A delegation of three cabinet ministers came to India to discuss with Indian Party leaders the question of resolving the political deadlock. Various interviews took place; the outstanding feature was that Maulana Azad represented the Congress party, Jinnah the Muslim League & Nawab of Bhopal, the Princely India. Thus the whole of India was represented by three Muslim leaders. Friends can you ever think of a Hindu representing Muslims in a meeting as important as this, Oh Hindus when will you learn!

BRA & Master Tara Singh were interviewed too. The failure at the elections had made BRA’s position shaky. He was almost throttled. Authorised by the Scheduled Castes Federation as its sole spokesman, he expounded their claims. It was reported that BRA pleaded his case forcefully, demanded safeguards for his people in the new constitution. The Mission Plan declared on 16/5/946 contemplated a feeble & formal union with three groups of provinces, the formation of a Constituent Assembly & an interim Govt. As it was almost decided by the British govt to set up a new govt with the representatives of the successful parties, the Viceroy made it clear to his cabinet colleagues that they were to go. BRA left Delhi & came to Bombay in the last week of May 1946.