This treatise was used as evidence in the Round Table Conference. It explains the unique suffering of the Dalits and how Britain was coupable.
He begins with a short history of how exploration centered around finding routes to India. The conquest of India was unique in that it had a complex government when it was conquered that had survived for hundreds of years. Another aspect of the conquest that is perplexing is how the East India Company was able to capture the area without help from those in Britain. The Napoleonic Wars were raging from 1757 to 1818, and they consumed most of Britain’s resources. Ambedkar’s answer the East India Company employed Dalits as soldiers. Four of every five East India Company soldiers was from the native Dalit population.
Dalits made a name for themselves in the military and did more than enough to prove they were a martial race. They were instrumental in the suppression of The Mutiny of 1857. Unfortunately, as British influence spread to the upper caste, Dalits were unceremoniously banned from military service. The ban began in 1890, and in twenty years most of the Dalit in the military retired. The only exception was a brief lift on the ban during World War 1.
Other avenues of advancement were not available to the Dalits. The Civil Service requires education, most commonly it requires a college degree. Even when Dalit obtain degrees, the Caste Hindus in charge of the department will not hire them out of prejudice. Not only would prejudice prevent Dalit from being employed, but the tradition of untouchability would also prohibit them from working. For example, if a Dalit were to arrest a Caste Hindu, he would have to enter his home. The act of entering the house of a Caste Hindu would make the home unclean. Therefore Dalits could not be policemen.
Britain excluded Dalits from education in 1854. The lift on the ban to Dalit education came with no effort to integrate the schools. Therefore those in charge of the school would find ways to exclude Dalit. The only education available to Dalit’s was from the Christian missions. After 1882 Britain created special schools for Dalits. They also gave grants to missions that educated Dalits. However, these efforts were not enough to significantly raise the level of Dalit education.
Ambedkar contrasts education levels among Dalit to education levels among Muslims. Muslims were also a disadvantaged class, but their education was second only to high Caste Hindus. The reason is Muslim petitioned for reserved representation in school administration. These administrators were able to earmark funds and resource to combat specific education hurdles in their community. If Dalit had been given the same representation, their fate might have been different.
Britian has made laws in the past that go against local customs to keep order and observe human rights. A short list can be found below:
- A law preventing BRahmin from killing women and children
- Removal of restrictions on the marriage of widows
- Prohibition of using religious law in arbitrations between Hindu’s and Muslims
- Law against rape
- Law against marriage of women under ten years old
These laws have helped India to modernize. However, Britain has not banned untouchability or the observation of caste. Early on Britain did not see anything wrong with the practice as they practiced similar customs in their African and American holdings. Later on, they felt advocating for Dalits would cause turmoil. Ambedkar reiterates there is more than enough court precedence to justify laws against caste and untouchability. Not only is protecting Dalits morally right, but Dalits are also currently paying taxes for public service they can not use, such as wells.
A copy of the treatise can be found HERE