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Dalit Movement

The Annihilation of Caste

Preface
The Annihilation of Caste was originally written as a speech for the Society of the Abolition of Caste (Jat-Pat-Todak). The Society wanted Ambedkar to lead the 1936 Conference in Lahore. The Society composed of Dalits and Caste Hindus working to end caste first invited Ambedkar on December 12, 1935. Ambedkar initially turned them down because even liberal Hindus often opposed his views. The Society sent a delegation to Ambedkar in Bombay. He eventually agreed to explain in detail how it is impossible to break caste without annihilating religious notions undergirding the caste system.

Ambedkar prepared the first draft and sent it to the Society for approval. An argument began on whether the Society should publish the speech in Lahore or by Ambedkar in Bombay during the completion of the final draft. Ambedkar held firm to his right to publish his work. The Society sent a representative to Ambedkar to make amends and get a final draft of the address.

When the Society received the final draft, many Hindu members were upset that the speech attacked Hindu scripture and the fundamental morality of Hinduism. The Society then asked Ambedkar to change the address to make it more palatable to all the members. Ambedkar refused. The Society specifically asked him to explain how Hinduism is fundamental to the Caste System. If they had a problem with his speech, the Society should have rejected the first draft. Criticizing the casteism within Hindu scriptures is fundamental to Ambedkar’s prescription for Indian progress. The existence of caste inside scripture makes the religion of Hinduism antithetical to equality. Ambedkar canceled the conference and left the Society with the following quote:

But What can anyone expect from a relationship so tragic as the relationship between the reforming sect of Caste Hindus and the self-respecting sect of Untouchables where the former have no desire to alienate their orthodox fellows, and the latter have no alternative but to insist upon return being carried out?

The Annihilation of Caste

India must annihilate caste to facilitate unification. Without unification, there will never be a large enough population resisting British rule. Even if Britain granted independence to a divided India, persecution of the lower castes will continue. The divisions with in the country will retard India’s growth if not rip it apart.

The caste system is a system that divides India into thousands of sub-castes due to birth. Also, the caste system created a hierarchy in which sub-caste in the highest positions have more rights and privileges. There is no unifying moral belief that everyone must follow. All morality is contingent on caste. One is also born with this caste and cannot change it. Therefore conversion is not possible. If one were to adopt Hinduism, they would not have a caste and would not intermingle with other believers. India has a large population of people that still live in tribes uninfluenced by Hinduism.

The term “Hindu” is derived from Arabic to describe the people they conquered in India. Before the Islamic invasion, no word unified all the people in the sub-continent. Essentially, Indians never saw themselves as one united people. The caste worshiped Hindu gods in separate cults. There was never a unifying ethos or praxis in the religion.

Separation due to caste had always weakened India. Muslims and Sikhs stood united against oppression, whereas Hindus understood people of other castes would not support them. That is why so many invaders took over India. Hinduism and the caste system have left India weak. India’s failure to repel a conqueror proves it. The Hindu culture has survived thousands of years only because no conqueror saw it necessary to destroy it. Hinduism is not uniquely resilient.

Many Indians, including Mr. Mohandes Gandhi, favored replacing the caste system with Chaturuvarnya. The Chaturuvarnya classified people into four castes Brahmin (Priest), Kshatriyas (Soldiers), Vaishya (Retailers), and Shudras (Menials). The idea was that reducing the hundreds of castes in India currently would be the first step in unification. Also, the Chaturvarnya doesn’t forbid anyone from learning a profession outside their birth occupation. It only prohibits earning a living from it.

Ambedkar explains Chatruvarnya will not work because people don’t fit into simple categories. People are much too complicated for that, and classification is only superficial. Determining one’s profession by birth hinders people from fulfilling market needs. People need the flexibility to change jobs when needs arise, such as war. If India were to be invaded and only Kshatriyas could serve in the military, there would not be enough soldiers for defense, as seen many times in Indian history.

Even within the Chatruvarnya, there is no motivation for a Kshatriya to defend the rights of a Shudra. There is no motivation for a Brahmin to use his intellect for the good of the Shudra. Hierarchies naturally lead to exploitation. People in every community depends on experts. However, all societies should allow all citizens access to education and self-defense as both are vital needs.

Socialists, in contrast to supporters of Chatruvarnya, wanted to end caste. However, they saw it best to do this indirectly with the inevitable socialist revolution. Once workers owned the means of production, all the workers would unite regardless of caste. There was no need to attack caste directly; the natural progression of society would end caste.

Here the socialist are class reductionists, and Ambedkar reminds them that money is not the only source of power for many people. Religious and social statuses are also a source of power. Muslims will sell their last possessions to go on Haj. Wealthy Hindus will obey penniless gurus. The idea that money is the primary method to obtain power comes from an analysis of modern-day Europe. India is a very different creature, and the socialist theorist had not evaluated the intersectionality of economics, religion, and culture.

The socialist revolution will require all workers to unite. Worker unity is not possible without the abolition of caste. Those of low caste will not trust high caste leadership. Those of high caste would not follow leaders of low caste. The people of India must foment fellow-feeling as a prerequisite to solidarity.

It is essential to remember class is not the same as caste. Classes are not separated socially. Nothing is stopping the poor woman from eating with the rich woman, no reason to kill a poor man that marries a rich woman. Castes are separated in every area of intercourse and suffer stiff penalties for transgression. Dalits are not allowed on the sidewalk at the same time as a Hindu because the Dalit shadow could pollute the Hindu. Dalits had to wear a pot around their neck to catch their spittle and a broom on their waste to sweep away their footsteps. No poor person in Europe had to go through this level of humiliation.

Caste is also not based on race or ethnology. Even in the 1930s, ethnologist agreed that no one is racially pure. Even the ethnologists that support the idea of race do not believe races represent different species. Even if race was the basis of caste, there is no reason to think there would be a scientific justification for hundreds of subcastes. It is also important that those that support eugenicists, those that believe races are different species, are also supporting the idea that Indians are pygmies, and 90% are unfit for military service.

Ambedkar did not believe all men have equal ability. He did believe there is no way to predetermine a person’s ability. Ability is dependent on physical heredity, environment, and personal effort. These factors interconnect in complex ways that are difficult for outsiders to understand. From a practical standpoint, Society should be organized in a way to allow for as much equality from the very start. Equity is the only way to get the most out of each member of Society. The following quote is the best summary:

Treat all men alike not because they are alike but because classification and assortment is impossible. The doctrine of equality is glaringly fallacious but taking all in all it is the only way a statesmen can proceed in politics which is a severely practical affair and which demands a severely practical test.

One must destroy the religious underpinnings of caste to eradicate it from Indian Society. That means an abdication of the Vedas, Smirtis, Shastras, and Sadachars. These texts do not serve as a moral code and are only a set of rules. Ambedkar thinks Hinduism should be reformed as a state religion with the following parameters:

  1. There should be one and only one standard book of Hinduism acceptable to all Hindus
  2. Priesthood should be open to all citizens, and heredical priesthood should be abolished
  3. Only licensed priest can perform ceremonies
  4. State should discipline priest that break moral or civil codes
  5. State should limit the amount of priest based on population

After the annihilation of caste, Indians can establish fellow-feeling amongst themselves. This fraternity is the basis of democracy. There will not be campaigns to promote inter-dining or intermarriage because those things will not be needed. India needs and deserves more than a new system of government. Indians need an equitable society.

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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.

Ambedkar’s View of the Civil War and Reconstruction

Ambedkar spoke on the similarities between the struggle of Blacks Americans and Dalits in India in What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables. Dalit is the proper name for someone that suffers from untouchability. Ambedkar named the political party he started the Indian Republican Party after the party that freed the slaves in America. He was intensely studied on issues involving Black Americans and corresponded with W.E.B Dubois, the most prominent Black leader of the day.

Ambedkar revered Lincoln but also researched his motives well enough to understand him. He mentions an 1862 correspondence with Horace Greenly in which Lincoln says his primary goal was to preserve the Union. If freeing the slaves was needed, he would free slaves. If keeping all the slaves was required, he would keep everyone enslaved. Ambedkar likened Lincoln’s conditional support for abolition to Gandhi’s conditional support for Dalit rights. Gandhi would only speak on untouchability if the cause of Indian independence required Dalit support.

Fortunately, the victory of the Union was heavily dependent on the support of black Americans. 125,000 freed slaves joined Union forces along with 80,000 freed blacks from the North. These brave soldiers fought in 450 battles. The Black soldiers faced even more danger than Whites because they would not be recognized as POWs and sent back to slavery. They also received less pay from the Union forces until 1864. Thirty-seven thousand black soldiers fell to preserve the Union.

Once the war was over, the government understood that constitutional safeguards were needed to ensure the freedom of Blacks. The 13th amendment ended slavery, and the 14th amendment provide birthright citizenship to all Americans. Finally, the 15th amendment outlawed discrimination due to color. The American Congress passed the Reconstruction Act to facilitate the re-entry of rebelling states. All southern states must frame a new constitution and ratify the 14th amendment.

The old southern powers did not take this lying down. The Ku Klux Klan was formed to terrorize Black citizens. The southern governments instituted the Grandfather Clause that state one could not vote unless their grandfather could vote. When Blacks went to the court to fight the Grandfather Clause and get protection from Klansman, the government abandoned them. The North was not ready to re-engage the South in war. Their state in society steadily declined after the government abandoned Black people.

Both Black Americans and Dalits needed constitutional safeguards and a specific plan of redress. Ambedkar fought for Dalits to have access to all public facilities, including water resources. When India was transitioning out of British rule, Ambedkar proposed and won a special electorate with reserved seats in parliament for Dalits. His most impressive and longest-lasting accomplishment was a mass conversion of Dalits into Buddhism. As a matter of self-respect, one could not stay part of a religion that views them as inferior. The conversion to Buddhism was a recognition of Dalit humanity.

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.

India and the Pre-Requistes of Communism

This work was unfinished.

One must first understand how the Hindu social order differs from free social order.

In a free social order, society sees the individual and his development as an end in itself. Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are the cornerstones of the societies values. To justify man being the impetus for creating a society, Ambedkar uses a quote from French philosopher Jacques Maritain that states that people are unique in the universe because they possess a divine spirit.

Ambedkar uniquely defines equality and fraternity. Equality further specified as moral equality, the belief that all people deserve to have their rights respected. As the Declaration of Independence states, “All men are created equal” meaning they begin equal. Ambedkar does not mean that all men have equal ability. Fraternity is defined by reverence for the fellow man and the desire to be in unity with him.

Liberty has two parts, civil and political. Civil Liberty is the freedom of movement, speech, and action. Whereas, political liberty is the right for individual people to share in lawmaking and governance. These two aspects of liberty are intertwined and inseparable.

In contrast, the Hindu social order does not recognize individuals or individual responsibility. Instead, caste serves as the basis for social order. The four castes are Brahmin (Priest), Kshatriya (Soldiers), Vaishyas (Retailers), Shudra (Menials). In addition to the four major castes, there are over 3,000 subcastes. These castes are solidified, and individuals do not pursue their purpose to maintain social order. The base institution of society is caste. Marriage and inheritance are the only subjects in which Hindu society recognizes family. Castes are a division of society by occupation given at birth. Hinduism further separates caste for purposes of dining and marriage.

The three unique features of the Hindu Caste System:

  1. Worship of a Superman
  2. The Brahmin serves as the object of worship for the lower castes. The lower castes, especially, the Shudra exist to serve Brahmin. The servitude of Brahmin lasts until death. Hinduism does not permit Shudra to retire. In the same vein, a Brahmin has no obligation to a shudra.

  3. King is responsible for maintaining the Social Order
  4. The king must maintain social order. If he fails in doing this, he will suffer prosecution like any other criminal. The king also heads a legal system in which penalties are dependent on the caste of the victim and perpetrator. If someone of lower caste injures a person of the higher caste they receive a harsh sentence. The reverse is also true, to the point that someone outside the Caste system could be killed a will by a Brahmin with no penalty.

  5. The social order was ordained by Brahma (God)
  6. It is believed the Brahmin sprang from God’s mouth. The Kshatriya from God’s shoulders. Vaishya came from the thighs, and Shudra came from the feet. The origin of each caste is different, and therefore, so should their station in life. Because the caste system is divine, no modification or change is valid. Ambedkar reiterates that caste is not equivalent to class. Class is something one can ascend or descend depending on individual efforts.

There is also an interesting discussion of the revolution in the book. Three conditions lead to rebellion. The first is a wrong being committed to a group of people. The second is the capacity for the people to realize they suffer a slight—finally, the availability of arms or other means in the overthrowing government. The Hindu social order exists because Hinduism keeps people blind to the fact they suffered wrong. Hindus believe the social order is divinely prepared. Ambedkar lists Nazi and Muslim examples of societies that allow their people to realize they were wronged and then violently suppress the rebellions once they happen.

In the last paragraph, Ambedkar differentiates between Savarna, caste observing, Hindus and Avarna, non-caste observing, Hindus. Ambedkar says there is a class division between them, but not much other information is available.

There is no discussion on Communism because the work is unfinished.

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.

Essay on Untouchability II: Social Undergirding of Caste

When most social analysts study India, they see the chief division as religion, Hindu vs. Muslim. However, it is also essential to understand caste divisions. These divisions are recognized by those that practice all the religions of India. Those in the lower caste, namely: primitive tribes, criminal tribes, and untouchables make up 60% of the population or 79.5 million people. Since the caste system is disenfranchising a larger number of people than the population of Japan, one cannot ignore the division.

As stated early, the lower or avarna castes: primitive tribes, criminal tribes, and the untouchables are unique on the subcontinent. Primitive tribes exist in the wilderness of India, living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The criminal tribes earn their name by raiding neighboring villages and committing assisinations. One clan called the Pindharies can muster up to 20,000 in Calvary. The clan of hired assassins is called, The Thugs. The government considers their acts legitimate business, and they pay taxes. Untouchables live observing Hindu culture and law. However, touching them would pollute a Hindu and require him to be cleansed at a temple.

Of the three avarna castes, Untouchables are the only group that has a social condition that cannot be changed. If a member of the primitive or criminal tribes decides to leave his group and enter Hindu society, they would be welcomed with open arms. An Untouchable could become the leader in his industry and would still cause a Hindu to be polluted. Therefore, Untouchable has a unique struggle in society. Ambedkar uses the analogy that Hindus relate to untouchables as a man relates to his shoes. Untouchables are just a means to an end.

The idea of caste causes separation in marriage, dining, and occupation. The specifics of the Caste System has changed as evidenced by records of foreign travelers to India. At the time of publishing of the treatise, Gandhi wanted Untouchables added to the least powerful caste, Shudra (Laborer). The Untouchables would not have permission to change occupations. The only difference would be, they would not pollute a person of a higher caste.

Aside from the fact that Hinduism promotes the caste system, the religion is also invalid because the highest form of religious experience is trance. It is absurd to think an abnormal psychological condition produced by artificial means is the sign of enlightenment. Trance (Samadhi) was just another aspect of Hindu metaphysics that prevented the population from moving toward rationalism. It is rationalism that will advance society and end discrimination.

Caste is a social order made sacred by the religion of Hinduism and enforced by Hindu law. The laws supporting caste are as old as antiquity, but they were rarely invoked. The laws supporting caste ended in 1850 with the Caste Disabilities Removal Act. The Caste system stayed intact despite not having legal bases. The fact the caste system survived without legal undergirding shows that religion served as the caste system’s base.

Hinduism was exceptionally robust in enforcing caste because it was a religion of a book without a prophet. Ambedkar defines his position by referencing Professor Max Muller’s work on classifying religions as natural vs. revealed. In the natural category, he groups the religion of aboriginal people such as Iroquois. The natural faiths classify objects and people as sacred or taboo and don’t use a personified being as supreme. The revealed religions are those that have a book revealed by a prophet. In the revealed camp, one would find most of the Abrahamic religions and Zoroastrianism. The Vedas are Hinduism holy book, but a prophet did not reveal them to the worshipers. Therefore the credibility of the book cannot be questioned by attacking the character or historical validity of a prophet.

The Caste System occupied a scared space in Hinduism. No other religion deemed any social order sacred. There have been those that have fought against the system such as the Buddha and King Vishvamitra. Yet the idea has persisted. Most religions consider economic activity outside the purview of religion. Combining religious/ social and economic disadvantage was a dangerous combination.

Ambedkar objected to Gandhi’s proportion that caste was the ideal form of society. In fact, caste is not founded on the cooperation of various professions, but their antagonism and class war. To justify his position, Ambedkar uses allegories from sacred Hindu texts that show that Kshatriya and Brahmin had a bloody civil war over the right to perform sacrifices. Bloody conflict is the inevitable result of the Caste System.

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

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