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Ambedkar’s Thoughts on Indian Muslim Society and Politics

Ambedkar’s Thoughts on Indian Muslim Society and Politic JNU Hadia Hijab

Mingling the Incompatibles: A Curious Try at Islamist ‘Ambedkarism’

It was final yr once I was strolling about on the campus of my alma mater – Jawaharlal Nehru College – instantly earlier than or after Worldwide Ladies’s Day (I don’t precisely keep in mind). All of a sudden, a poster caught on one of many unplastered naked brick partitions, so attribute of the development on the JNU campus, caught my consideration. It had been launched by the Bhagat Singh Ambedkar College students’ Group (BASO) to mark eight March. All college students’ organizations lively within the JNU launch posters or pamphlets round Ladies’s Day to affirm their dedication to gender equality and ladies’s rights and the BASO had not been an exception. The imagery employed by this poster was such that I drew out my telephone and clicked an image. It bore the drawing of a hijab clad younger lady and “saluted”, together with another ladies, Hadia (presumably for struggling towards patriarchy). Now, let me observe, on the danger of inflicting umbrage to lots of people within the academia, that the hijab is probably extra of an emblem of a lady’s subjection to patriarchy moderately than her wrestle towards it. Coming to Hadia, the reader may know that she was previously generally known as Akhila. She modified her religion beneath somewhat doubtful circumstances and married (or was married to) a person equally doubtful. In 2016, her conversion and marriage had occasioned a courtroom case in addition to an enormous public controversy since her mother and father doubted if she truly exercised any company throughout all the affair. I feel that the BASO might have left her out of its listing of girls who in line with it have cocked a snook at patriarchy.

Although the BASO appears to evoke Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary legacy, to me it seems to be primarily into ‘Ambedkarism’ – I say this on the idea of what I’ve seen of its posters and pamphlets within the JNU. What’s ‘Ambedkarism’? Merely put, it’s the pursuit of, what’s within the eyes of the ‘Ambedkarite’ (a believer in ‘Ambedkarism’), social justice. This social justice could possibly be within the type of, to borrow phrases from Valerian Rodrigues, editor of an omnibus version of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s writings, “equality of consideration, equality of respect and equality of dignity.”[i] On the idea of the aforestated, to what extent is the picture of a hijab clad lady an applicable motif for the BASO’s ‘Ambedkarism’? Not fairly, since Ambedkar would undoubtedly have thought that such a lady is socially aware about neither consideration, nor respect, nor dignity on the identical degree as a person. The BASO, via its mischievous selection of images (and identification of Hadia as a challenger of patriarchy) was truly selling Islamism within the guise of ‘Ambedkarism’. So far as pairings go, that of Islamism and Ambedkarism is a really odd one. It positive would have made Ambedkar cringe as he had as soon as finished a really thorough critique of the regressive and supremacist social and cultural attitudes prevalent amongst Indian Muslims and their software in politics (that’s what Islamism is). However we have no idea of this aspect of Ambedkar because it embarrasses our politically right academia. It has studiously hid it from public information whereas ceaselessly tom-toming Ambedkar’s critiques of Hinduism.

Final yr, the ‘Ladies’s Day’ poster of the Bhagat Singh Ambedkar College students’ Union featured a hijab clad lady and recognized Hadia (identify circled in purple) as a feminist icon.

 Ambedkar’s Critique of Indian Muslim Society and Politics

Within the yr 1940, quickly after the Muslim League handed the ‘Pakistan decision’ in its Lahore session (on 22 March), Dr. B. R. Ambedkar got here up with a prolonged research titled Ideas on Pakistan. It was republished in 1945 as Pakistan or the Partition of India (henceforth PPI). The biographers of Ambedkar barely inform the reader what’s contained therein. Gail Omvedt writes that on this work Ambedkar concluded that “the creation of Pakistan was inevitable” because of the “creating political temper of Muslims.”[ii] Eleanor Zelliot phrases it Ambedkar’s “protection of the thought of a separate Muslim nation” because the Indian Muslims “have been emotionally a nation.”[iii] By displaying an understanding of the Muslim demand for Pakistan, Zelliot additional (disingenuously) argues, Ambedkar indicated that “Untouchables and Muslims shared a way of separateness, of isolation….”[iv] Christophe Jafferelot, writer of a quantity of essays on Ambedkar (Dr Ambedkar and Untouchability. Analysing and Preventing Caste), does by no means point out PPI anyplace. Valerian Rodrigues does in his introduction to The Important Writings of B. R. Ambedkar, however he barefacedly lies about it. He says that in PPI Ambedkar recommended that “the attraction of Pakistan for the Muslim plenty” was because of the “failure of Congress to attempt for social reforms and democratize society.”[v] Nevertheless, his choice from Ambedkar’s writings does embrace an excerpt from PPI. Rodrigues provides it a title of his personal devising – ‘Is There a Case for Pakistan?’ Thoughts you, within the unique quantity there’s not a chapter, and even some part of 1, bearing such a rubric. This excerpt has been strategically chosen (with out the context being sketched out) to convey to the reader the impression that Ambedkar was recognizing that the Muslims of India share a unity of feelings and consciousness and, consequently, was conceding their declare to nationhood (as Zelliot too may have us consider). The precise actuality of PPI shouldn’t be fairly that. It’s true that in it Ambedkar suggested the Hindus to grant the Muslims of India Pakistan. However the causes he adduced to help this suggestion have been, to place it mildly, slightly uncharitable in the direction of Indian Muslim society and politics. One might time period Ambedkar’s reasoning a really thorough critique of them. That’s the reason, pricey readers, the aforementioned discovered individuals are so queasy about PPI. They barely, or by no means, contact upon what’s in it. One even lies about it. They don’t need us to know what this textual content actually accommodates.

Ambedkar needed the Hindus to accede to the Pakistan demand as a result of, because of quite a lot of causes, he thought that an unbiased India with a big Muslim inhabitants will probably be an impractical concept. Therefore, he argued that will probably be higher if the Hindus willingly let go of the Muslim majority territories within the North West and East of India which the Muslim league needed to represent as Pakistan (current day Pakistan and Bangladesh). He noticed that the Muslim majority territories of the north haven’t any “religious unity”[vi] with the remainder of India. “Certainly”, he wrote, “there’s extra religious unity between Hindustan and Burma….”[vii] What had brought on the religious alienation of those Muslim majority territories from the rest of the nation? For Ambedkar it was the result of the bloody invasions that India had suffered over the various centuries. He was no negationist and held that those that led these invasions – Mahmud of Ghazni, Mohammad Ghori, Taimur, Babur, Nadirshah and Ahmadshah Abdali – “have been all united by one widespread goal and that was to destroy the Hindu religion.”[viii] To realize this finish that they had been extraordinarily merciless and barbarous resorting to, in his phrases, “destruction of temples and compelled conversions, with spoliation of property, with slaughter, enslavement and abasement of males ladies and youngsters….”[ix] Whereas these reminiscences brought on the Hindus disgrace, for Muslims they have been “a supply of delight.”[x] So, a number of Indian Muslims, as seen by Ambedkar, weren’t simply uprooted from their mum or dad civilization however even took satisfaction of their state together with the brokers and occasions that had introduced it about.

Shifting on, the obvious extra-territorial loyalties of the Indian Muslims have been a priority for Ambedkar – the truth that they noticed themselves as members of a common Islamic brotherhood. The Indian military because it existed then, he identified, was “predominantly Muslim in its composition”[xi] being recruited within the Punjab and North West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P). This made the Muslims of the Punjab and N.W.F.P the ‘gate-keepers’ of India. He, thus, questioned if the neighboring Afghans “singly or together with different Muslim states” have been to invade an unbiased India “will these gate-keepers cease the invaders or will they open the gates to allow them to in?”[xii] Apart from being of uncertain loyalty if confronted with a Muslim enemy, Ambedkar additionally thought that a Muslim dominated military will probably be arduous to regulate and self-discipline for a united India. The rationale was Muslim supremacism vis-à-vis the Hindus. “The realist should pay attention to the truth that”, we see him urging, “whereas the Musalman accepts the European as his superior, he appears upon the Hindu as his inferior.”[xiii] Therefore, he declared, “It’s uncertain how far a regiment of Musalmans will settle for the authority of their Hindu officers in the event that they be positioned beneath them.”[xiv]

Thirdly, Ambedkar discovered conceding Pakistan a politic choice for the Hindus because of the communal state of affairs prevailing in India. Because the frequent outbreak of riots was indicating, Hindus and Muslims have been clearly not getting alongside. Certainly, in Ambedkar’s estimate the state of affairs was so dangerous that he termed it a “civil warfare” that was “interrupted by temporary intervals of armed piece.”[xv] Although each side had suffered, Hindus, Ambedkar thought, had suffered a bit greater than the Muslims. Extra “carnage, pillage, sacrilege and outrage of each species”, he writes in PPI, was dedicated by “Musalmans towards Hindus than by Hindus and Musalmans.”[xvi] Ambedkar discovered this state of affairs irremediable and any try at forging Hindu-Muslim unity doomed to failure. This was since, as he noticed, their spiritual outlooks have been basically and irreconcilably totally different. “From a religious perspective,” he concluded, “Hindus and Musalmans…are two distinct species.”[xvii] This made the unity of India impractical as “With out social union (rendered unattainable by the spiritual distinction), political unity is troublesome to be achieved.”[xviii] Additional, Ambedkar was uncertain if Muslim calls for for political concessions will ever stop since they have been a manifestation of Machi Politic (energy politics).[xix] He needed the Hindus to know that “there’s a distinction between safeguards to allay the apprehensions of the weak, and contrivances to fulfill the ambition for energy of the robust; that there’s a distinction between offering safeguards and handing over the nation (to the Muslims).”[xx] And, then, Muslim nationalism might any day disrupt a united India as Greek, Balkan and Arab nationalism had “blown up the Turkish State”[xxi] (Ambedkar was referring to the disintegration of the Turkish dominated Ottoman Empire). As he noticed, India required a robust central authorities and it couldn’t have one “as long as Pakistan [remained] part of India.”[xxii]

In PPI, we additionally discover Ambedkar dwelling at size upon the stagnation that Indian Muslim society was affected by. Simply because the Hindus, he noticed, Muslims too countenanced quite a lot of social evils – subjugation of girls, caste and purdah. However they differed from the Hindus within the sense that there was “no organized motion of social reform among the many Musalmans of India….”[xxiii] However, a minimum of some Hindus have been “actively agitating” for the removing of the evils prevalent in Hindu society.[xxiv] Politically too he discovered the Indian Muslims stagnant as their politicians “didn’t acknowledge the secular classes of life…as a result of to them it means the weakening of their group of their battle towards the Hindus.”[xxv] Thus, Muslims by no means shaped class solidarities outdoors their faith – poor Muslims didn’t unite with poor Hindus to get justice from the wealthy.[xxvi] We see Ambedkar concluding that this political and social stagnation of the Indian Muslims was as a result of they thought that they “should perpetually wrestle” with the Hindus to “set up their historic place because the ruling group.”[xxvii] To win this wrestle, Muslims wanted power and “to make sure power” they have been prepared to “suppress or put in chilly storage the whole lot that causes dissension of their ranks”[xxviii] – specifically, efforts at reform. Ambedkar observed that Hindus too have been now able to droop social reform efforts and prioritize their wrestle with Muslims.[xxix] This was one more reason to concede Pakistan – Hindus and Muslims regarded one another a menace and this state of affairs was more likely to final as lengthy they “have been required to reside as members of 1 nation.”[xxx]

Ambedkar additionally decries in PPI the Indian Muslims’ propensity for political aggression which issued from a “spirit of exploiting the weak spot of the Hindus.”[xxxi] Each time the Hindus objected to some Muslim apply, he observes, the Muslims insisted upon it “and gave it up solely when the Hindus [showed] themselves prepared to supply a worth for it by giving the Muslims another concessions”[xxxii] (over and above those they already loved). For instance, he cites the Hindu objection to cow slaughter and the Muslim insistence upon it although “Islamic regulation doesn’t [require] the slaughter of the cow for sacrificial functions….”[xxxiii] As Ambedkar noticed, the Congress’s coverage of creating concessions to the Muslims had been ineffectual and had solely “elevated Muslim aggressiveness.”[xxxiv] This was as a result of Muslims interpreted this angle “as an indication of defeatism on the a part of the Hindus and the absence of the desire to withstand.”[xxxv] We see Ambedkar going to the extent of questioning if the Indian Muslims will in any respect obey a authorities of unbiased India that’s “manned and managed by the Hindus.”[xxxvi] He nurtured this concern since “To the Muslims, a Hindu is a Kaffir”[xxxvii] and, consequently, “low-born and with out standing.”[xxxviii] Ambedkar went on to cite the next notorious comment by Maulana Mohammad Ali about Mahatma Gandhi to underline the diploma of contempt that a Muslim may nurture for a non-Muslim (even when it have been to be Gandhi himself) –

“Nevertheless pure Mr. Gandhi’s character could also be, he should seem to me from the perspective of faith inferior to any Musalman, regardless that he be with out character.”[xxxix]

Right here I need to inform the reader that Maulana Mohammad Ali was an in depth affiliate of Gandhi and options in educational mythology as a ‘nationalist Muslim.’ A bit factor extra, we will say that Ambedkar made the foregoing criticism of Indian Muslims as a non-Hindu since he had made public his intention of leaving Hinduism in 1935. Ambedkar was not being a partisan on behalf of the Hindus; he was extra like a impartial observing the politics that knowledgeable the relations of the Hindus and Muslims at a take away.

Epilogue: Why the try at Islamist ‘Ambedkarism’?

As we noticed above, Ambedkar was very comprehensively essential of what one can time period the Islamism of the Indian Muslims. Then why did the BASO make that devious try at Islamist ‘Ambedkarism’? It’s extremely unlikely that the parents within the BASO are unaware of the existence of Pakistan or the Partition of India. All in larger academia know of it, it is just that they don’t inform the widespread public about this textual content in order that Ambedkar might be introduced as somebody who solely lambasted the Hindus and Hinduism. The rationale why we see the BASO shelling out ‘Ambedkarism’ with a dose of Islamism is as a result of it’s an enterprise run by Mr. Umar Khalid (of 9 February 2016 fame). You see, pricey readers, in current occasions there was an incursion of the Islamists into ‘Ambedkarism’. It’s because it permits them to want dying upon the ‘Brahamanical fascist’ Indian state whereas posing as social progressives. This infiltration might additionally happen within the first place as a result of a number of radical ‘Ambedkarites’ are on the identical web page with the Islamists (within the JNU at the least). I, for instance, intently knew this Maharashtrian ‘Ambedkarite’ within the JNU who as soon as piously hoped earlier than me that at some point the ‘Brahmanical’ Indian state will disintegrate. Beware, pricey readers, nowadays ‘Amebedkarism’ is the popular subterfuge for lots of the ‘breaking India’ parts.


[i] Valerian Rodrigues (ed.), The Important Writings of B.R. Ambedkar, OUP, New Delhi, 2018 (twenty-first impression), Introduction, p.21.

[ii] Ambedkar. In the direction of an Enlightened India, Penguin Books, 2008, p.94.

[iii] Ambedkar’s World. The Making of Babasaheb and the Dalit Motion, Navayana, New Delhi, 2004, p.188.

[iv] Ibid., p.189.

[v] The Important Writings of B.R. Ambedkar, p.13.

[vi] Pakistan or the Partition of India, Samyak Prakashan, New Delhi, 2013, p.81.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid., p.71.

[ix] Ibid., p.80.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid., p.112.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid., p.114.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid., p.206.

[xvi] Ibid., p.206.

[xvii] Ibid., p.214.

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] Ibid., p.225.

[xx] Ibid., pp.225-226.

[xxi] Ibid., p.242.

[xxii] Ibid.

[xxiii] Ibid., p.253.

[xxiv] Ibid.

[xxv] Ibid., 256.

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] Ibid., p.257.

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Ibid., p.268.

[xxx] Ibid., p.269.

[xxxi] Ibid., p.291.

[xxxii] Ibid., p.292.

[xxxiii] Ibid.

[xxxiv] Ibid., p.294.

[xxxv] Ibid.

[xxxvi] Ibid., p.330.

[xxxvii] Ibid.

[xxxviii] Ibid.

[xxxix] Ibid., p.332.

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The writer is Assistant Professor of Historical past at O P Jindal International College