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Ambedkar

Why Equality is Necessary for Democracy

In Ambedkar’s view, three main types of foreigners that become interested in Indian politics and inequality. The first attempt to use the disparity of India to justify continued British rule. The second doesn’t know or care about the depressed classes and only wants India to be free. The third only have a passing interest in India and involve themselves only for multi-cultural effect. For the rare few that are interested in the intersection of inequality and independence, Ambedkar details difference in India hurts the cause of independence.

Foreign misunderstanding is quite understandable. Congress was the only party strong enough to have international press coverage. They can control Indian media because most of the capitalist class are upper castemen and supply all the advertising revenue for the newspaper. The monopoly on the media led to the perception that they are the only group resisting the British. Also, the press suppressed the shortcomings of Congress on Dalit issues.

Those in command of Congress despise depressed classes and want to maintain the caste system. There was one Congressman, Mr. Tilak, that said depressed classes are only to obey laws not make them. The mere notion that depressed classes should join the war effort angered Congressman Patel. All the provinces that had a population majority of Hindus had Brahmin Prime Ministers. When Congress did promote depressed class legislatures, it was done to discourage Hindu participation. They knew self-respecting Hindus would not participate in a Parliament that included depressed classes. Congress was not only fighting for the removal of British rule but the reinstatement of the ancient caste rulers.

The caste order was not just an extreme version of the stratification in all societies of the ruling and servile class. The result of the class solidification was those that governed in previous generations produced the current governors. This stratification can only be partially explained by the fact most don’t want to participate in governance. Those in the ruled class begin to form an inferiority complex that helps to perpetuate and solidify class. Because the ruling class is rarely lost power, their prestige grew. That is why adult suffrage by itself is not enough to ensure equality.

The parliamentary government replaced despotic sovereigns in most of the developed world. At the time of the World Wars, parliamentary government fell to despots in Italy, German, Russia, and Spain. The cause of regression was a disparity between rulers and those ruled. The Constitution should primarily prevent the formation of a permanent governing class. Parliamentary government, by its very nature, cannot move quickly enough to meet the needs of the servile class after the creation of significant disparities. If this class developed, the only recourse was a revolution.

Democracy requires constitutional safeguards to protect the servile class and prevent the development of a permanent ruling class. Many that are against these safeguards operate under the incorrect assumption that individuals operate with equal bargaining power. The disparity between rulers and the ruled is only one barrier to truly free enterprise. The government must act affirmatively to balance power between individuals.

How Gandhism hurts Dalits

Gandhism is the name given to the philosophy of Mr. Mohandes Gandhi. He never admitted to fathering a new philosophy, but also didn’t object to the publication of books entitled Gandhism. Ambedkar used Gandhi’s speeches, published interviews, and the book Hindu Raj to define Gandhism.

The return to the village and ancient life served as the center for Gandhi’s philosophy. It was not a plan for modernization. He was only against the caste system due to its complication and formation of hundreds of castes. Gandhi supported the Varna system that had only four castes: Brahmin (Priest), Kshatriyas (Soldiers), Vanias (Retailers), and Shudra (Menials). Those without Caste, Dalits, would be added as a fifth caste. There would be no untouchability observed. So if someone interacted with Dalits, they would not need to be cleansed. Dalits would keep their hereditary occupations, including sewer cleaning. So Gandhi was for the replacement of the caste system with the Varna system. He did not support the equality of Dalits.

Gandhi saw the caste system as no worse than any other societal stratification. All societies have rules. Intermarriage between castes are outlawed no differently as a marriage between relatives is outlawed. All societies set limits around enjoyment to prevent the community from devolving into chaos.

The varna system is superior to the caste system because it prohibits no caste from learning or conducting any tasks. It only prevents one from earning a living in any other profession than that prescribed by one’s caste. Because no one can change their profession, there is no reason for class war or struggle.

Gandhi is opposed to unionization or collective bargaining in anything other than extreme circumstances. A strike should happen only with a “real” grievance. Those participating in the strike should live on savings or temporary work. They should not ask for donations or charity. Also, they must make their minimum demand know from the beginning of the strike. So with criteria such as these, it would be challenging for unions to be effective.

The overreach of capitalists was common. Gandhi admitted this. However, he thought workers should show restraint when addressing these grievances. The use of violence was out of the question. The laborers should remember that the capitalists have strength and intelligence. Their guidance was vital.

Machinery is another evil in Gandhi’s view. It removes man from his work, making the body idle. He also said “I would not weep over the disappearance of machinery or consider it a calamity.” If people serve in their caste profession, there will be more than enough labor and no need for machinery.

If India adopted Western values, their culture would dissolve. In Europe, the is suspicion around all the interactions between groups. Workers distrust company owners. French distrust English. Catholics distrust Protestants. Almost all members of Western Civilization are miserable. Indians must hold on to their culture not to be swept up in misery.

Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with the disparity in Indian society, only the perception of disparity. Instead of being angry that Shudras can’t accumulate wealth, praise the Shudras for not being materialistic. Instead of being jealous that only Brahmin can make a living in academia, say that they were the burden of becoming learned for their people. Most importantly, the Dalits profession of manually cleaning sewers was the noblest profession of all. This profession was ordained by divine fate as all others were. Never mind if most Dalits hated the job or had potential far greater than scavenging.

Ambedkar rebuts by making clear that caste divisions are more stringent than class divisions. Caste is the complete separation of individuals by birth. There is no way to improve one’s lot in the caste system. One can work hard and climb socially in Europe. Forcing people to hold an occupation by birth is an anathema to an industrious society.

Machinery and modernization are vital for the development of culture. When people have the burden of work lessened, time is freed for the development of culture. Man is separated from animals by his ability to build a culture. The growth of science, art, and philosophy is the foundation for a more equitable society.

The main discrepancy between the philosophy of Ambedkar and Gandhi is :

“Is it natural that a group of people solidify to govern society in perpetuity?”

or

“Is the creation of a ruling class the result of a dysfunctional society?”

Ambedkar emphatically sides with the latter. There needs to be a specific plan of redress to funnel resources into underprivileged communities. Gandhi only wanted to lessen the burden of the servile class while keeping society stratified.

Dr. King and Ambedkar Agree on Communism

Two names are synonymous with social justice in their respective countries, Bhimrao Ambedkar and Dr. Martin Luther King. Both men were considered radicals in their time and even smeared as Communists. Anyone that reads what these men wrote understands the ridiculousness of the accusation.

Ambedkar was an advocate for untouchables, now known as Dalits. As a Dalit himself, Ambedkar faced many hardships. He overcame them to become educated at Columbia University in New York. He returned to India in the late 1920s. He worked to give Dalit’s voting rights, access to water, and education. In advocating for Dalits, he often found himself at odds with Gandhi. Despite political opposition, Ambedkar wrote the Indian Constitution. Toward the end of his life, he promoted Buddhism and held a mass conversion of Dalits to the faith in 1956. He died of natural causes a few months later.

The story of Dr. King is far better known to Americans. King was born in the American South and suffered through segregation. Like Ambedkar, he went to prestigious schools such as Morehouse and Boston College. The Montgomery Bus boycott was King’s first civil rights campaign. While aiding a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, he was gunned down.

The rise of Communism is one of the most important events of the early twentieth century. Communism was billed as the dawn of a new classless Utopia. Unfortunately, the actual implementation in Soviet Russia proved Communism was far from the mother of paradise.

Ambedkar and Dr. King wrote on the subject in their lifetime. Ambedkar’s The Buddha or Karl Marx and Dr. King’s “How Should a Christian View Communism” echo similar themes. A later version of King’s view on Communism is “Can a Christian Be Communist?”. Both works fundamentally rebuke Communism as antithetical to their religion. Due to Communism’s lack of moral absolutes, violence is used to suppress dissent. The result is a totalitarian government with no individual freedom.

Even though both men denounced Communism, they did not dismiss its critique of religion out of hand. Both agreed that the standard form of their faith was “otherworldly.” Most practitioners distracted themselves from the material lack in their life with spiritual pursuits. These religious endeavors foster an unhealthy individualism and a disconnection from social justice.

Ambedkar’s Buddhism and Dr. King’s Christianity were not the mainstream versions of either religion. The clergy of Burma rejected Ambedkar’s attempt to become a lay teacher. Fundamentalist Christians, white and black, opposed Dr. King. Instead, both men forged a new path for their religion infused with social justice. Their advocacy was their spiritual path.

The two works can be found below:

How Should a Christian View Communism

Can a Christian be Communist?

The Buddha or Karl Marx

Maharashtra as a Linguistic Province

A linguistic province is an independent political entity formed to ensure that those who speak a similar language can govern together. Ambedkar takes on the idea of reforming the region that includes his hometown of Mhow as a linguistic province.

Those that support linguistic provinces see it as a way to preserve and develop local culture. If the government creates provinces without considering local cultures, they will die. In heterogeneous societies, people tend to advantage their group over others. The group hostilities will hinder nation-building.

Linguistic states would make a national democracy more challenging to develop. Democracies work best in homogenous societies. By having province drawn without linguistic considerations, everyone in the province would be forced to use the common language. The use of the common language builds national identity.

In addition to hindering the construction of national identity, Linguistic states increase government bureaucracy. The central government would have to make documents and provide translators of all the provincial languages.

The compromise solution proposed by Ambedkar was to create provinces based on common local language but use the national language for business and government transactions. The local language could be used for cultural activities. However, if the national language overtakes the provincial, so be it. A culture can stay together without a government entity or a unique language. Cultures can be cohesive through shared history, experience, and tradition.

Maharashtra as a Province

Ambedkar begins by explaining that the proposed province of Maharashtra would be viable. When comparing Maharashtra to the American state of Delaware, it is much larger. The population is greater than the most populous American state, New York. Maharashtra also had enough tax revenue to stay self-sufficient.

The next question was, should the province be unitary or federal. Federal meaning that Maharashtra would be broken into sub-provinces that work in a confederation. Ambedkar takes the stand that a federal province would only increase bureaucracy without any advantage. Maharashtra should be a unitary province.

Bombay

The largest city in Maharashtra would be Bombay, which has historically been an international trading capital. It has a sizeable Gujarathi population. Most work as merchants and liaisons from English and other European business. Many of the Gujaratis wanted Bombay to be independent.

Mostly the argument was that the Gujaratis turn Bombay into an economic powerhouse, and local Maharashtrians should not rule them. Most of the Maharashtrians in Bombay were laborers. They had no idea how to govern correctly. Many of the Gujaratis believed that Maharashtra wanted the surplus revenue of Bombay.

Ambedkar reminds the Gujaratis that they are only captains of industry because the British East India company gave them privileges to work in Bombay. Also, the surrounding provinces provide tax revenue to keep Bombay afloat. Lastly, the wealth of Bombay would not exist without Maharashtrian labor. The Capitalist did not gather their wealth themselves and had no right to its complete control. Wealth is the property of the society because it takes a community to build it.

Evidence Before the Royal Commission

The paper is a court transcript in which Ambedkar advised the commission on how to improve the strength of the rupee. The transcript implies that rupees saturate the market.

To solve this problem, Ambedkar proposes what he calls the gold standard. India would use the following currencies.

1. The rupee which will no longer be manufactured

2. A paper currency fully backed by gold

3. Bank notes partially backed by gold

With these three currencies, there is always a possibility that one could be overvalued or undervalued in respect to the other two.

The gold back paper currency will have limited production each year. There will not be enough issued to affect the overall price of gold. The public can exchange the gold backed currency for gold. The ability to exchange will ensure the currency will not be undervalued in respect to gold. Because if it is the currency will be traded in for gold reducing the supply.

Another advantage to having gold-backed currency circulating in the economy is it helps to stabilize the price of gold. Ambedkar saw more and more countries stockpiling gold, yet there were many alternatives to gold in the form of currency. He estimated that the price of gold would continue to be devalued because as people substitute currency for gold. Keeping gold circulating would increase demand, and that would steady the price as gold production increases due to technology.

The market was over saturated with rupees, so Ambedkar recommended putting a halt on production. The price of the rupee would be pegged to gold, but rupees could not be exchanged for gold. So the value of the rupee would not go down because it had a limited issuance. The value would also not inflate because when it does people will use the gold back currency. Ambedkar did accept there could be some extreme conditions in which the government would be forced to trade rupees for gold.

Bank notes were only mentioned briefly. Bank notes will be issued by private banks, and the government will require that the notes are partially backed by gold. It can be assumed that Ambedkar didn’t think bank notes would be created in large numbers.

Ambedkar asserts that he is a member of the labor class. As a member of said class, it is in his best interest to create a currency scheme that keeps the price of goods low. Most economists want a currency that holds its value in respect to gold. By doing this, he gives a window into how he sees himself. He also asserts that keep prices low or steady is the best thing for the country because it helps most people.

The price of goods should be the primary factor in Indian currency policy. The reason is the Indian economy is chiefly driven by internal trade. Most large European countries are driven by foreign trade. Therefore European currency policies can’t be imported whole-cloth.

Many on the council wanted Indian currency to return to its pre World War I level. In response, Ambedkar reminds them that increasing the value of the rupee will only matter if the prices of goods return to the pre- World War I levels. Increasing the value of a currency will increase price hurting the poor. Increasing the value of currency will also reduce trade.

The opposing view of Ambedkar’s gold standard is the gold exchange standard. In a gold exchange standard, a gold back currency is circulating in the country, but it can’t be exchanged for gold within the country. However, the currency could be exchanged for gold outside the country. So the exchange value is only valuable to exporters. Ambedkar explains the limited exchange will not be enough to ensure that the money supply will not grow too large.

The full document can be read HERE

Review of Currencies and Exchanges

Ambedkar criticizes a book written by his colleague at Elphinstone College, H. Chablaini. He claims the work is too short to properly explain the topic. It lacks proper methodology and has conflicting ideas.

Chablani wrote his plan to stablize the Indian economy.

  1. Issue Rupees in conjunction with the increase in Indian production
  2. Allow large amounts of rupees to be converted into metals
  3. Have the Rupee backed by silver

If too many Rupees are issued their value would decrease in respect to gold and silver. The result would be investors trading in currency for metal reducing the amount of currency. The metal exchange would be a safety value for inflation.

Ambedkar rebuts this with a history of the gold exchange in the world market. In 1873, there was a sharp decline in gold production. Gold exchanges allowed for more money to circulate in the world economy keeping prices steady. After gold production increased in 1910, the major economies ended or restricted their gold exchanges. If they had not inflation would have reduced overall growth because too much money was circulating in the economy. So having a metal exchange would reduce the stability of currency.

Ambedkar also criticizes Chablani’s idea that the limited issuance of the Rupee did not lead to its rise in 1893. Ambedkar folds firm in his belief in fiat currency backed by gold without exchange value.

Administration and Finance in the East India Company

This book is about how power was wielded by the British in India. It goes from the time of the East India Company to the time of direct rule by the British as a colony. It demonstrates how the people did not have sovereignty and the resources of India were used to enrich share and bondholders. Because the profits were not used to better the lives of those in India, Ambedkar makes a case for sovereignty.

The administration of the East India company had three branches. The first was the Court of Proprietor which consisted of all shareholders. The Court of Directors which had twenty-four members who would be in the governor and supreme council roles. The Board of Commissioners were company employees to decided on the policy that would run the company controlled territories.

As stated earlier the pick the governor and three of four Supreme Council members. The supreme council expanded in later years, but the company retained ultimate power. To further quell the will of the people the governor could unilaterally initiate and enact legislation.

The governors spilt India into three presidencies. Bengal was the principle presidency that had more power than Madras and Bombay. These governments simply enacted company policies on the people and collected taxes. Ambedkar goes into detail on how various industries were taxed. The common thread was that the taxation policy was designed to benefit share and bondholders at the expense of the people.

The British finally dissolve the company after the mutiny of 1857. Contrary to popular belief the mutiny did not spurn the dissolution of the company. The British had been trying to destroy the company to stop their monopoly on Indian products.

The colonial government that was formed on the condition it assumed the East India Companies debt of 69 M pounds. The debt further hamstrung the government in improving the lives of poverty-stricken Indians.

Ambedkar does give the British credit for the modernization of India. However, he buffers his praise by explaining that the life of the average Indian did not improve. The ideal scenario would be that the resources of India be used to enhance the status of the average Indian. The goal of those in charge would be to work toward the betterment of India.

The full document can be read HERE

Revolution and Counter Revolution in Ancient India

The book Revolution and Counter-Revolution is an unfinished work of Ambedkar.

At the time of the Buddha, India was a decadent country. Hinduism permitted all manner of licentious behavior. The Buddha came as a reformer and gave people an alternative that can lead to a purposeful life. The religion spread due to the charisma of the leader and being backed by influential people. After his death, his disciples spread his dhamma from India to Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Far East.

Hundreds of years after Buddhism began, Ashoka became the most prominent Buddhist. Ashoka was emperor of the Maurya Empire and converted to Buddhism toward the end of his life. At the time Buddhism was vegetarian. As king, Ashoka banned the killing of animals and animal sacrifice. The Hindu Brahman primarily served the community as officiants in animal sacrifice. They lost not only money but prestige and social standing. Ashoka conquered the Maurya Empire around 45 BC.

The revolt against Buddhism was lead by Pushyamitra. The goal was to re-solidify and secure the role of the Brahman. To ensure Brahman stay in control, Brahmans had to grant themselves the right to hold kingship and fight in a war. Both responsibilities were initially given to the Kshatriya. Then the Brahman had to create a strict social order to ensure a converted king could not reinstall Buddhism. The Manusmriti was the perfect sacred document for this purpose. The Pushyamitra revolution happened in 185 BC.

Pushyamitra persecuted Buddhist monks, going as far as placing a bounty on their heads. If Buddhist were found practicing their religion, were banished from the realm. Denial of water was also punishment for practicing Buddhism. Pushyamitra was a brutal dictator.

Through Manusmriti, Pushyamitra was able to codify the caste system. To solidify the place of Brahman in society and ensure the progeny would enjoy the same privilege, Manusmriti prohibited inter-dinning, inter-marriage, and general social interaction. These prohibitions provided the Brahman were an isolated group held above the rest of society.

Changing marriage laws to allow child brides and forbidding widows to remarry further solidified the Brahmans place and lineage. Controlling the sexuality of women reduces the likelihood they will procreate with those outside their caste. Having women wed in childhood prevents sexual exploration in youth. The killing of widows does prevent sexual exploration in adult years. Brahman also allowed themselves to marry and have children with lower varna women. Low varna men were castrated if he had sex with high caste women. To further extend the privilege of Brahman men, they were not responsible for the children they had by low caste women. The children would have their mother’s caste.

The Islamic invasion starting in 712 AD and ending around 1296 AD was another blow to Buddhism. The areas conquered by Muslims outlawed the practice of other religions. Islamic rulers killed Buddhist and Hindu clergy. The Hindu were able to replenish quicker because Hindus are born into the priesthood. Buddhist have to undergo a lengthy process administered by elder monks. If all the monks in a region died, the Sangha ended. Also, the Hindu priest had the support of the state, Buddhist had no state support.

Even though many Buddhist were forced to convert, others willingly joined Islam. Hindu rulers were persecuting Buddhist in southern India as severely as they did in the Mauryan Empire. Many Buddhist joined Islam to consolidate forces and resist. Ambedkar also offers evidence that the present-day country of Bangladesh was once a Buddhist kingdom. Converting to Islam provided a nominal level of protection from Hindu and other Muslim invaders.

Ultimately Hindu India was invaded by Muslim invaders, and Brahman invaders invaded Buddhist India.

Caste in Buddhism

Ambedkar reiterates that Buddha allowed people of both genders and all social status to be part of his Sangha. For further evidence, he provides the Ambattha Sutta. In this Sutta, Buddha refuses to pay respect to a Brahman because Buddha knows the Brahman does not come from a pure lineage. Also, he makes the Brahman acknowledge that his life is not virtuous and renounce Hinduism. The Brahman is then allowed to join the Sangha.

Manusmirti and the conflict between Brahmin and Kshatriya

Manusmirti is the religious text that codified the caste system. The caste system existed long before the document, but no one text housed all the rules. In this text, the four castes were separated with Brahman on the top. To solidify the superiority of Brahman, they were allowed to take the duty of caste below them. However, lower castes could not assume the role of castes higher than them. Manusmirti allowed Brahman to take up arms against Kshatriya. The arming of Brahman was a fundamental change to the caste system unprecedented in previous works.

Brahman taking up arms was important to solidify their dominance over the Kshatriyan Kings. The Kshatriya wanted to have their own priesthood to solidify power, temporal and divine. The conflict between Kshatriya and Brahman is mythologized as the conflict between the Brahman Vashishtha and the Kshatriya Vishvamitra.

Ambedkar contradicts his other works by saying the Shudra were members of a privileged political class not vanquished Kshatriyas. The King that the name Shudra is derived, Sudas, was always a Shudra. There were many Shudra kings before Manusmirti and Brahman say nothing wrong with serving them.

Manusmirti degraded women. Specifically:

  1. Women had no right to initiate divorce
  2. Be subject to beatings by husband
  3. Own property
  4. Obtain education

Women before Manusmirti had freedom and were considered equals in society and marriage.

Significance of Bhagvat Gita

Ambedkar makes a case that the Bhagvat Gita is not a religious text. Instead, it is a counter-revolutionary text used to oppose Buddhism. The three main points of the Bhagvat Gita are:

  1. Justification of killing because the soul and body are separate. If a person is killed or dies in war only their body perishes. The soul is indestructible and the body will re-incarnate
  2. Defense of the caste system as the result of unchangeable quality in an individual
  3. Expands the idea of karmic yoga, the concept that your current life conditions are the result of past actions in this or previous lives, to make a case against revolt. Ultimately, people should accept there position in society as a cosmic duty

There is no over-arching morality to the text. It is merely a defense of duty and the status quo.

Ambedkar also questions the year the text was written and if it predates Buddhism. To begin the Bhagvat Gita has concepts that are in Buddhism and not the Upanishads. Scholars know the idea of Nirvana started with Buddhism. Also, when the text describes a good devotee of Krishna, the language is very similar to the Sutta’s description of an excellent devote of Buddha. Also, The Bhagvat Gita mentions a religious sect called Mahasanghikas. Ambedkar determined Mahasanghikas are an early sect of Mahayana Buddhist.

The Bhagvat Gita is also determined by Ambedkar to have four distinct parts written at different times. The first and original is the epic poem in which Krishna is determined to be a mortal human. The second is the introduction of Sankhya and Vedanta philosophy. The third raises Krishna to the level of a god. The work is unfinished so the fourth point is not detailed.

Full Text can be found HERE

Ambedkar Biography

Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891, in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh. His father was a leading administrator in a military school, and his family had been involved in the military for generations. Military service was common for hundreds of years in Ambedkar’s subcaste of Mahars. The Mahar community also had a history of fighting for equality.

Ambedkar’s family pushed for him to become educated. He went to a school reserved for upper caste children. As a Dalit, the school segregated him from the other students. After graduation, which in and of itself was a feat for a Dalit, he was able to obtain Ph.D.’s from Columbia University and London School of Economics. His thesis “The Problem with the Rupee” was a seminal work in economics. He became a Barrister at Grey’s Inn. Finally, he worked as a consultant to the anthropology department; he began to debunk the Aryan Invasion Theory. This theory was the scientific justification of the caste system and British rule. The work eventually became the book “The Annihilation of Caste.”

He began his career as an advocate for India by joining the Indian Home Rule League. He eventually left because they were not concerned with ending untouchability. The Depressed Classes Mission was the most popular anti-untouchability movement during Ambedkar’s early career. Ambedkar criticized this organization because it did not have Dalits in its leadership or consult with Dalits on strategy. Ambedkar will ultimately oppose the Mission in the Southborough Commission. For the first time, Ambedkar was an advocate to the ruling elite for Dalit rights including the right to a separate electorate.

The water rites of untouchables was always a contentious subject. Under the caste system, Dalits could not drink from the same water sources as upper caste individuals. Ambedkar began a publication for Dalit water rights in 1930.

At the time of Ambedkar, there were various visions for an independent India. Ambedkar saw that the Dalits had to issues to solve. The first was building an egalitarian society within India. The second was freeing India from British Rule. Ambedkar always cared more about fighting the caste system then overthrowing the British. The quality of life in India was more important than merely being free. Also, British rule will allow Indians to concentrate on social reform because the British would take care of running the state.

The famous confrontation between Ambedkar and Mohandas Gandhi took place during the round table conferences. Both men claimed to represent the interest of Dalits. However, Gandhi saw the Dalits as a group of people the upper caste needed to care for and manage. Ambedkar believed in Dalit self-determination. Ambedkar secured a separate Dalit electorate for 78 seats in Congress through the Communal Award. Gandhi saw that a separate Dalit electorate would weaken the Hindu position concerning Muslims and Sikhs. Gandhi then went on fast to build public support against separate Dalit electorates. Their standoff ended with the Poona Pact which doubled the number of seats allocated to Dalits, but a general electorate would elect the Dalit candidates.

Ambedkar opposition to Gandhi and the Indian National Congress with the creation of the Independent Labor Party 1936. The party of Ambedkar had a moderate socialist bent and saw the enemy of the working class being both Brahmanism and Capitalism. Through the party, Ambedkar would advocate for citizenship and economic opportunity. Later he would form the Samata Sainik Dal as a youth league focused on self-defense. The league would later form the Scheduled Caste Federation in 1942. All these political organizations focused on building an egalitarian society and funneling resources to underprivileged communities.

Upon Indian Independence, India appointed Ambedkar as first Law Minister. In this position, he got to draft the Indian constitution.

Women’s rights were fundamental to the building Ambedkar’s new India. He saw the subjugation of women as essential to preserving the caste system. Once women were free to marry whom they want or no one at all, the rest of the system would come crashing down. He advocated for the Hindu Code Bills which, among other things, would establish some gender equality.

Ambedkar’s first wife was ill and died when she was forty. She wanted to make a pilgrimage to a Hindu holy site. Ambedkar would not let her go because the priest at this site would not conduct the last rites while facing a Dalit. He promised her to build Dalits their holy sites. Ambedkar began to study and court the leaders of various world religions. The plan was to facilitate a mass exodus of Dalits out of Hinduism. After much deliberation, Ambedkar accepted Buddhism and oversaw the first mass conversion in modern Buddhism on October 14, 1956. This mass conversion earned Ambedkar the moniker of the father of modern Buddhism.

Due to complications from diabetes and other illnesses, Ambedkar died on December 6, 1956. He is remembered fondly in India with more statues than any other modern Indian. There are several schools and organizations named in his honor. The airport in Nagpur was named in his honor. His school of Buddhism, Navayanna, has inspired many downtrodden people including the Romani of Hungary. There are now many Navayanna Buddhism in India and Hungary. Ambedkar’s secular philosophy is still encouraging revolutionaries and other freedom organizations.

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