Dr Ambedkar and Women's Suffrage


A power struggle had ensued between British women suffragettes and the elite Indian women leaders on who should lead the initiative for women's franchise and political representation of Indian women. A pitched back and forth set of protests and political manoeuvres took place between prominent leaders of Indian women's organizations and British women suffragettes, Eleanor Rathbone in particular. The question of universal franchise hinged on the qualification of having property. In the excerpt below, we get a glimpse of Dr Ambedkar examining the arguments being presented with his characteristic clarity of vision ensuring that there is no scope at all for denying voting rights to any section of Indian women. 

A part of the 'Evidence before the Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform' is reproduced here. The witnesses examined were Lady Layton, Mrs. O. Stracey and Sir Philip Hartog, on behalf of the British Committee for Indian Women's Franchise.


babasaheb meenambalDr. B. R. Ambedkar: I would like to ask one question. I do not know whether you agree with me, but I suppose when you press for votes for women, I think you also desire that the franchise should be so devised that the women who will be brought upon the register will be drawn from all strata of Indian society, and not necessarily drawn, either from the upper strata or the middle strata or the lower strata exclusively; that there ought to be some proportion of the women on the electoral roll to the communities from which they are drawn?

Lady Layton: As far as is practically possible, certainly.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: I mean, it is not your case that you want this mathematical ratio of 1 to 4 or 1 to 5, but apart from that ratio, you would also desire that all women from all sections should be on the register?

Lady Layton: Certainly, as far as possible, we do want to feel that the urban and rural voters and the different sections will be adequately represented.


December 6th: Ambedkar - Babri Masjid Demolition and Dalit


Praveen Tulasi

Praveen tulasi

This write up is in response to a facebook debate which popped up after Manikanta a BAPSA activist posted the below picture.

Image: Debate, Depiction and Disturbance  

Excerpts from the Debate:

While Zeeshan Hussain commented that ‘good no. Dalits and Muslims are getting united slowly. lets keep the memory alive. lets keep recalling that our enemy is same’For a moment let us understand what Zeeshan comments, he uses words like – good, unity of Dalit and Muslim, slowly, memory, and enemy is the same. What is wrong in the above formulation? Immediately, Majid Hassan commented that ‘Are we sure of the identity of those on top of dome? I fear the foot soldiers have something in common with this great leader's followers.  Gujrat 2002 witnessed the riot where a dalit face (Ashok Mochi) became a poster for it. One needs to get records about their identity if they were dalits, then before standing together there is a need of apology at least’.  After this, the debate became personal between individuals and they deviated from the exact topic. 


Trojan Horse Book Written for 'Others'


Amarjit Singh

 [Excerpt from the talk given at SOAS event of the launch of Hatred in the belly: Politics behind the appropriation of Dr Ambedkar's writings] 

amarjit singh    1. Thank you for coming. Since I am not a scholar, but an activist, I am going to be direct.

    2. First couple of points of information: Columbia University had a pop up annotated version of Annihilation of Caste on the website for nearly a decade. These popups explain Indian terms in their historical settings.

    3. Arundhati Roy claims that some Dalit leaders actually support her in what she says.

    4. Udit Raj, a Dalit politician felt that Gandhi wanted to remove untouchability but retain caste. How can untouchability be removed without annihilating caste was not explained by Udit Raj. Was Ambedkar wrong in this instance? Udit Raj should have been clear in this.

5.  Kancha Illiah a Bahujan intellectual also felt that The Doctor and the Saint was good in part, as it linked current Dalit issues with Ambedkar’s historical speech. But these added issues were rather selective, missing the main question raised in the original AOC thus forming a false impression. I will return to this point later at the end of my speech.  


ನಾಲ್ವಡಿ ಕೃಷ್ಣರಾಜ ಒಡೆಯರ ಕಾಲದ ಮೈಸೂರು ಸಂಸ್ಥಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ ಅವರ ಪ್ರವೇಶವಾಗದ ಕುರಿತು ಕಾಡುವ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳು


 ಡಾ.ಎನ್. ಚಿನ್ನಸ್ವಾಮಿ ಸೋಸಲೆ (Chinnaswamy Sosale)

ಮೈಸೂರು ಸಂಸ್ಥಾನದ ಇಂದಿನ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಭಾಗಕ್ಕೆ ಬಾಬಾ ಸಾಹೇಬ್ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ ಅವರ ತತ್ವಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತಗಳು ಪ್ರವೇಶವಾಗುವುದು 1970ರಿಂದೀಚೆಗೆ. ಏಕೆಂದರೆ ಸಂಸ್ಥಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಪಡೆದ ಮೊದಲ ತಲೆಮಾರಿನ ದಲಿತ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣವಂತರು ಹಾಗೂ ಸಾಹಿತಿಗಳು ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ ಅವರ ಜಾಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಗಾಂಧಿಯನ್ನು ಕಾಣುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಅಥವಾ ಗಾಂಧಿ ಅವರನ್ನು ಕಾಣುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಲಾಯಿತು ಎಂದರೆ ನನ್ನ ವಿಷಯ ಮಂಡನೆಗೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಸತ್ವ ದೊರಕಬಹುದಾಗಿದೆ. ಮೊದಲ ತಲೆಮಾರಿನ ದಲಿತರು ಶಿಕ್ಷಣವಂತರಾಗಲು ಪ್ರಮುಖ ಕಾರಣಕರ್ತರು ಮೈಸೂರು ಸಂಸ್ಥಾನದ ಸಮಯ ಸಾಧಕತನದ ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣರು.

sosale book launch

ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣ ಸಮಾಜ ಸೇವಕರು ಹಾಗೂ ಸ್ವಂಘೋಷಿತ ಹಿಂದೂಧರ್ಮ ರಕ್ಷಕರು. ಅಪ್ಪಿ-ತಪ್ಪಿಯೂ ಇವರು ತಾವು ವಿಶೇಷ ಸೌಲಭ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ರಾಜರಿಂದ ಪಡೆಯುವ ಸಲುವಾಗಿ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ನೀಡಲು ಮುಂದಾದ ದಲಿತರಿಗೆ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ ಅವರನ್ನು ಪರಿಚಯಿಸಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಏಕೆಂದರೆ, ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ ಅವರು ಅಂದು ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರದಾದ್ಯಂತ ಕೈಗೊಂಡಿದ್ದ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯತೆಯ ವಿರುದ್ಧದ ಹೋರಾಟ ಇವರಿಗೆ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರ ವಿರೋಧಿ ಕೆಲಸವಾಗಿ ಕಂಡಿತು. ಆದರೆ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ ಅವರೊಂದಿಗೆ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಅವರು ಪುನಾ ಒಪ್ಪಂದಲ್ಲಿ ಸೋತು-ಗೆದ್ದಂತೆ ಫೋಜು ನೀಡಿ ಅದರನ್ವಯದ ನಂತರ ಅವರು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಹರಿಜನರು ಎಂದು ಹೊಸ ಹೆಸರನ್ನಿಟ್ಟು ದಲಿತರ ಉದ್ಧಾರಕ್ಕೆ ನಾನು ಕಂಕಣಕಟ್ಟಿ ನಿಂತಿರುವೆ ಎಂದು ಗಂಟಲ ಮೇಲಿಂದಲೇ ಕರೆಕೊಟ್ಟ ತಕ್ಷಣ ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣ ಹಾಗೂ ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣೇತರ ಪ್ರಬಲ ಕೋಮಿನ ಕೆಲ ಜನರು ದಲಿತರ ಉದ್ಧಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಸ್ವಂಘೋಷಿತ ನಾಯಕರಾಗಿ ಹೊರಹೊಮ್ಮಿದರು. ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಅವರನ್ನು ತಮ್ಮ ನಾಯಕರನ್ನಾಗಿ ಆಯ್ಕೆ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡು ದಲಿತರಿಗೆ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ನೀಡುವ ನೆಪದಲ್ಲಿ ತಮ್ಮ ಪಾರಂಪರಿಕ ಸನಾತನೀಯ ಧರ್ಮ ರಕ್ಷಣೆಗೆ ಮುಂದಾದರು.


Hatred in the belly: Interrogating Internalised Prejudices and Supremacy


Kavita Bhanot

[Excerpts from the talks given at SOAS and Manchester launch of Hatred in the belly: The politics behind the appropriation of Dr Ambedkar's writings]

kavitaFor some years now, I've been thinking, talking about white supremacy, the ways in which it is present and normalised in every aspect of our lives in the UK, how as people of colour we can internalise it, reproduce it. It can be easy here in Britain to hide behind this struggle, to present yourself only as oppressed. It can be convenient not to think or talk about the ways in which you might be an oppressor as well, particularly if you are an upper caste South Asian - the active and subtle ways in which you're complicit in the violence of caste, including through silence or ignorance. Often this ignorance is wilful because it is too difficult to look at ourselves with honesty, to question our own privilege and participation in a violent structure, we become defensive or fragile – this can be a form of silencing of those we oppress. I'm speaking today as someone who is on a journey of self-interrogation - I'm likely to reveal my own complicity again and again.


सामाजिक आंदोलन व् स्त्री शिक्षा: डॉ अम्बेडकर और उनकी दृष्टि


रितेश सिंह तोमर (Ritesh Singh Tomer)

ritesh tomerआधुनिक भारत के संविधान की प्रारूप समिति के अध्यक्ष व् सम्पूर्ण संविधान के निर्माण का हिस्सा रहे भारत रत्न भीम राव अम्बेडकर राजनैतिक व् सामाजिक हलकों में अपने कई अविस्मरणीय योगदानों के लिए स्मरण किये जाते हैं । लोकतांत्रिक राष्ट्र की स्थापना हेतु आधुनिक व् प्रकर्ति में पंथ निरपेक्ष और वैज्ञानिक संस्था निर्माण, स्वतंत्रता के भाव को राजनैतिक आज़ादी से अधिक सामाजिक परिवर्तन समझना, राष्ट्रिय आंदोलन से अम्बेडकर समाज के सबसे निचले तबकों के जुड़ाव के अथक प्रयासों जैसे कई कार्यों ने उन्हें कुछ लोगों का डाक्टर व् कई अन्य लोगों के लिए बाबा साहब बनाया । वे ऐसी किसी भी स्वतंत्रता के विपक्षी थे जो अपने मूल में सामाजिक ढांचे के निम्नतर व्यक्ति के मानवीय अधिकारों से अछूती हो । स्त्रियों को शिक्षित कर उनकी सामाजिक राजनैतिक आन्दोलनों में भागीदारी का सक्रीय प्रयास उनकी इस ही समझ का एक नमूना है । सामाजिक राजनैतिक आंदोलनों की श्रृंखला के तहत कार्य चाहे मंदिर प्रवेश व् अंतर् जातीय भोज द्वारा समाज सुधार का हो या धर्मान्तरण के ज़रिये हिंदुत्व व् ब्राह्मणवाद के मूल विरोध का अथवा संविधान निर्माण द्वारा वैधानिक प्रयासों का, अम्बेडकर ने उनमे स्त्रियों की भागीदारी को सुनिश्चित करने के लिए भरसक चेष्टाएँ की ।


Hatred in the belly: Speaking Truth to Power


Sruthi Herbert 

[Talk given at the Manchester Launch of Hatred in the belly: Politics Behind the Appropriation of Dr Ambedkar's Writings, held on October 6th, 2016]

sruthiIt's an honour to be on this stage with all the others who are here – both in this room and over skype.

In these ten minutes, what I would like to do is to pick two important pieces in this book: the questions to Arundhati Roy by Dalit Camera in their letter, and Roy's response to it. I believe these shed light on some of the larger questions that need to be discussed, may be not just in this talk but in the future too.

Some of the pointed questions addressed to Roy by Dalit Camera are these: Do you share the view that Dalit activists and scholars are better qualified to introduce AoC both in terms of their engagement with Ambedkar and their life experiences? Another question to Roy was: "Do you feel you are an authority (in terms of your research or involvement in Dalit politics) on Ambedkar and therefore, you are competent to assess Ambedkar's position on Adivasis, Brahmanism, caste etc? Yet another was: Dalits feel cheated that you and Navayana GOT all the media attention but the title Annihilation of Caste by Dr Ambedkar is just used. Why did you use Ambedkar in this manner? Do you feel now that it is unethical?


In the name of the Nation: Historicizing Caste in Indian Universities


Nidhin Shobhana

In the name of the Nation: Historicizing Caste in Indian Universities (with special reference to Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Setting up the Stage

nidhin shobhana1The 'idea' of a university and its connections to democracy, nation-building and knowledge production have been historically discussed and debated by several social scientists and policy-makers in great depth1. Such discussions have often avoided perceptive historical analysis of social structures and actions which established shaped and sustained universities. In other words, the 'idea' of the university is often not contextualized in the specific histories of its place or players.

 This essay would think of Universities as a complex system of buildings, committees, senates, courts, councils, financial budgets, affirmative action, student's unions, teacher appointments; dominated by historically powerful groups, endowed and subsidised by the nation-state in various degrees. Such a view is not new2. Nevertheless, this essay also identifies Universities as dynamic places of on-going political struggles by all groups (and not just the marginalized or excluded). These struggles could be inside (university streets, courts, selection panels, staff quarters etc.) or outside the universities, shaping its future in many different ways. However, these groups historically embody unequal social, economic and cultural power. Thus, the politics of the historically oppressed to enter various ranks of the university should always be studied along with the politics of the historically powerful to sustain their influence, not concede to opponents or make compromises of varying degrees. Thus this essay understands university as a tangible reality marked by specific, conflicting histories (of social groups, their mobilizations and places) and not simply as an abode of 'unmarked, abstract, priceless knowledge' suspended in a national scale. Again, the ideational and tangible aspects of a university are not exclusive to each other. They share a reciprocal relationship.


The Janeyu in My News Story


Rahi Gaikwad

rahi gaikwad 1Years ago, while studying journalism, a remark made by a foreign national classmate during a class discussion on caste has stuck in my mind till date. From what I remember, she said that she had many Indian friends who told her they did not believe in caste, but somehow mentioned they were Brahmins. Had I noted her words, quoting them verbatim would have sounded more perceptive.

 The memory of my classmate's observation came gushing back to me as I read an article in The Indian Express on Monday, November 28, 2016, titled: 'When a professor played translator for a terrorist'. (Link 1 below)

 The story is about an Indian-origin professor who had a telephonic conversation from the US with a terrorist at Nariman House, Mumbai, during the 26/11 serial attacks in the city. All is well till the report states, "Born in Kerala and schooled in Mumbai, the Tamil-Brahmin Viswanath has been in the United States for nearly four decades. A PhD holder in economics and finance, he teaches corporate finance at the Lubin School of Business, Pace University, New York. Keenly interested in languages, he speaks French, Spanish, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu and Yiddish fluently, as well as some German, Italian, Hebrew, Marathi, Malayalam and Bengali."


Poverty and Malnutrition in Odisha: Who is responsible?


Bansidhar Deep

bansidharIndira Gandhi used the "Garibi Hatao" rhetoric to defend her contempt for constitutional morality, while the present BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government uses the rhetoric of "Sabka Vikas" and "Shreshth Bharat" to adopt the same cynical approach (Suhas Palshikar, Indian Express July 15, 2016). There was a time when India, after independence, was talking about production of food grains and crops, so that the country's people will not face food grain shortage. That is why the so-called "green revolution" was ushered in the sixties-seventies although it was confined to northern India only. Today there is enough production, but people are not getting food and lack of food is causing deaths. Most recently, in Odisha (Jaipur district, Nagada village) 26 children died due to malnutrition/poverty. And this can be seen in most of the places in Odisha in particular and India in general.


Wherever Caste exists in the World, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable


Dr Manisha Bangar


manisha bangarIn India, and wherever in the world Caste exists, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable.

Starting from the happenings in Hyderabad Central University in August 2015 when the students of ASA were ostracized, more so from the time of the Institutional murder of Rohith Vemula in January 2016, from the Una atrocity in July 2016 to the ongoing victimization and brutal institutional and non-institutional atrocities on Muslims and Scheduled Castes, the Communists of India through their network of political parties (CPI, CPM etc) and Students' Organizations (SFI, AISA, DSF etc) have been seen in the forefront staging protests inside and outside University campuses or rather they are more often shown, more than required, to be in the foreground in the struggles of the oppressed.

They have also had the exclusive privilege of being highlighted by a thin stream of mainstream media as being the only resisting force against the Fascist (a word communist use for BJP-RSS combine, while at the same time consciously avoiding the usage of the words Brahmins, Brahmanvaad and Brahminism) Government.

However this deliberate, sudden projections in favour of the Communists has in many ways worked to the detriment of the Mulniwasi Bahujan movement and may continue to harm the process of social polarization of the SC, ST, OBC, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians if the Bahujans remain ignorant of the ways in which the predominantly Brahmin leadership in Communist Organizations is executing its agenda to stall the unity of Bahujans and prevent it from becoming a force to reckon with, which can break down the shackles of Brahmanism and Casteism.


Rise of BSP and Dalit Politics in U.P.


Saquib Salim

saquib"In 1962-63, when I got the opportunity to read Ambedkar's book, Annihilation of Caste, then I also felt that it is perhaps possible to eradicate casteism from the society. But, later on when I studied caste system and its behaviour in depth gradually there was a modification in my thoughts. I have not only gained knowledge about caste from the books but from my personal life too....................... So if the people have so much affection for their caste then how can we think of annihilating it? That is why I have stopped thinking about the annihilation of caste."
~ Kanshi Ram

This excerpt from one of the speeches of Kanshi Ram, the founder of BSP, clearly shows a new type of understanding in Dalit politics which emerged after Ambedkar, who along with Periyar, Phule and others believed in the annihilation of this social system based upon caste. BSP, which was floated as a political outfit by Kanshi Ram in 1984, has had a huge impact on the way Dalits were perceived in the socio- political circles of Uttar Pradesh (U.P) in particular and north India in general. Political scientists during the last two decades have argued that political mobilisation led by Kanshi Ram in the form of BAMCEF (Backward And Minority Communities Employees Federation), DS-4 and BSP can not be considered as a Dalit movement. However, here I would like to differ.


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