Dr. P. Kesava Kumar
(This is the first part of the paper first published in International Research Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.1 No.2. Pp.193-210, 2008, Pondicherry University, Puducherry)
The political philosophy of Ambedkar may help in renegotiating the crisis of western political theory in particular and leading the struggles of the masses in general. One can see Ambedkar's association with the grand political streams such as liberal, radical or conservative through his writings. At the same time he differentiates himself with these three dominant political traditions. Ambedkar's philosophy is essentially ethical and religious. For him, the social precedes the political. Social morality is central to his political philosophy. He is neither a fierce individualist nor a conservative communitarian. His conceptions of democracy internalises the principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity in their true spirit. Though there are many attempts but one may find difficulty in locating him in dominant political traditions. Often this may lead to misunderstanding of the essence of Ambedkar. Ambedkar's political thought demands a new language to understand the complexity of his thoughts.
Key words: Moral community, Caste system, Democracy, Liberalism, Marxism, Conservatism, Liberal Bourgeoisie, Social Democrat, Progressive Radical, State Socialism
Ambedkar has emerged as a major political philosopher with the rise of the dalit movement in contemporary times. There are several attempts to understand Ambedkar and his philosophy. Confusion prevails among scholars due to the existence of diverse, and sometimes, contradictory theoretical assessments of Ambedkar. The social context of the scholars and their subjective positions play a major role in the assessment of the thinker and very often the opinions of scholars evoke extreme reactions which either elevate or demean Ambedkar. Though he had a great influence on Indian politics from the nationalist movement onwards, till the eighties, there has been not much academic debate on Ambedkar. The communities of knowledge and centres of power either ignored or deliberately marginalized him as a thinker and social scientist. Ambedkar is nowhere mentioned in the contemporary Indian philosophy and the philosophical discourses. This exclusion of Ambedkar has to be understood with the implicit politics of the writers on Indian philosophy. Very interestingly, the masses /communities of the underprivileged of Indian society bring him into the forefront. It is not an exaggeration to say that there is no major village in the country without a statue of Ambedkar. He is the most celebrated symbol of contemporary times in India. Due to the masses/Dalit communities's symbolic association with Ambedkar, political parties and academics ranging from conservatives to radicals, are forced to look at Ambedkar. The celebration of Ambedkar has the undercurrent of failure of the Indian democratic State to reach the majority of this nation, and the assertion of these ignored communities. In other words, Ambedkar's philosophy is a search towards the theories of social reconstruction of the Indian society.