Learning to fight majoritarianism from Ambedkar

D. Raja
D Raja writes: B R Ambedkar’s slogan of ‘Educate, Agitate and Organise’ should become our path to political and social liberation

B R Ambedkar wrote that Savarkar visualised a Constitution in which the ‘Hindu nation will be enabled to occupy a predominant position that is due to it and the Muslim nation made to live in the position of subordinate co-operation with the Hindu nation.’

“Minority communities may be crushed. If not crushed, they may be tyrannised and oppressed. They are sure to be discriminated against and denied equality before law and equal opportunity in public life.” These prescient lines were written by B R Ambedkar in Thoughts on Linguistic States. Tragically, India’s minorities are now being denied equality before law and equal opportunities in public life. The use of polarising narratives by BJP leaders — including the prime minister and the UP chief minister — in the recently-held assembly elections bear testimony to the veracity of Ambedkar’s predictions.

The manner in which young women in parts of Karnataka were denied their fundamental right to access education just because they wore the hijab painfully brought out the discrimination heaped on them. As does Muslim traders being banned from fairs organised in Karnataka during Hindu religious festivals. This is against the fundamental right of every citizen to pursue trade and commerce. The Centre and BJP-ruled states are trampling on the fundamental rights of citizens just because they profess a religion not in conformity with the project of the Hindu Rashtra. The majoritarian obsession of the ruling party has reduced politics, in the words of Ambedkar, to “theology in action”.

The toxic majoritarianism in “new India” — conjured up by the RSS — is a by-product of

V D Savarkar’s philosophy and vision that Hindus and Muslims have unbridgeable differences. Ambedkar wrote that Savarkar visualised a constitution in which the “Hindu nation will be enabled to occupy a predominant position that is due to it and the Muslim nation made to live in the position of subordinate co-operation with the Hindu nation.” Ambedkar then warned that “Mr Savarkar in advocating his scheme is really creating a most dangerous situation for the safety and security of India”. Similarly, the RSS chief and ideologue M S Golwalkar also advocated second-class citizenship for Muslims. Unfortunately, the Modi regime and BJP-ruled states are now implementing this vision.

The economic boycott of Muslims on any considerable scale has never been witnessed in India. Combined with manufactured narratives like “love jihad”, these steps are dividing India and creating conditions conducive to animosity and hate. Tragically, neither the PM nor any senior ministers uttered a single word condemning the open calls for violence against Muslims by so-called holy men.

Ambedkar wrote: “… if we want to build up unity, it is not by devising a day, however, sacred that day maybe, when both Hindus and Mahomedans will come to the same polling booth. If we want really to devise some means to build up unity, what we should do is break up the social barrier. I say that in this matter the lead has to be taken up by the Hindu community, because they are a very exclusive community. If other communities live a separate life, it is because the Hindu community regards certain interests as its own interests and the fault is entirely due to the Hindu community.”

Given these words, everyone who prefers democracy over communal majoritarianism, equality over exclusion and our Constitution over theology must come together to establish a lasting progressive unity to effectively neutralise the agenda of the RSS-BJP. We need a movement in the pattern of the freedom movement. In that struggle, political liberation went hand-in-hand with social reform. We fondly remember the herculean work done by Ram Mohun Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Jotiba Phule, Mahatma Ayyankali, Sree Narayana Guru and EVR Periyar in bringing about social reforms. Today, political unity among democratic people should be accompanied by liberating society from the attempts at homogeneity by the RSS.

Hinduism was a diverse and diffused set of practices with great regional variations and the absence of a centralised institution. Hindus themselves should remove RSS from its self-appointed role as the sole representative of all Hindus. Other organised religions should also make space for reforms. Mass education on these pertinent issues, a spirit of agitation and robust democratic unity can achieve these objectives. Ambedkar’s slogan of “Educate, Agitate and Organise” should become our path to political and social liberation.

Courtesy The Indian Express

Leave a Reply