Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Lost Rights

Friday, 1 June 2012




 PrefaceChapter I : Total Population Of The Untouchables
Chapter II : The Importance Of The Untouchables
Chapter III : The Political Demands Of  The Untouchables
Chapter IV : Hindu Opposition
Chapter V : Joint v/s Separate Electorates
Chapter VI  : The Executive
Chapter VII : Public Services
Chapter VIII : Separate Settlements
Chapter IX : Caste and Constitution
Chapter X : Some Questions To The Hindus and Their Friends

In response to the invitation of the Chairman of the Indian section of the Institute of Pacific Relations, I wrote in August last year a Paper on the Problem of the Untouchables of India for the Session of the Conference which was due to be held on December 1942 at Mont' Tramblant in Quebec in Canada. The Paper is printed in the proceedings of the Conference. Ever since it became known that I had written such a Paper, the leaders of the Untouchables and Americans interested in their problem have been pressing me to issue it separately in the form of a book and make it available to the general public. It was not possible to refuse the demand. At the same time I could not without breach of etiquette publish the paper until the proceedings of the Conference were made public. I am now told by the Secretary of the Pacific Relations Conference that the proceedings have been made public and there can be no objection to the publication of my Paper if I desired it. This will explain why the Paper is published nearly 10 months after it was written.
Except for a few verbal alterations the Paper is printed as it was presented to the Conference. The Paper will speak for itself. There is only one thing I would like to add. It is generally agreed among the thoughtful part of humanity that there are three problems which the Peace Conference is expected to tackle. They are (1) Imperialism,(2) Racialism, (3) Anti-semitism and (4) Free Traffic in that merchandise of death popularly called munitions. There is no doubt these are the plague glands in which nation's cruelty to nation and man's inhumanity to man have their origin. There is no doubt that these problems must be tackled if a new and a better world is to emerge from the ashes of this terrible and devastating war. What my fear is that the problem of the Untouchables may be forgotten as it has been so far. That would indeed be a calamity. For the ills which the Untouchables are suffering if they are not as much advertised as those of the Jews, are not less real. Nor are the means and the methods of suppression used by the Hindus against the Untouchables less effective because they are less bloody than the ways which the Nazis have adopted against the Jews. The Anti-semitism of the Nazis against the Jews is in no way different in ideology and in effect from the Sanatanism of the Hindus against the Untouchables .
The world owes a duty to the Untouchables as it does to all suppressed people to break their shackles and to set them free. I accepted the invitation to write this Paper because I felt that it was the best opportunity to draw the attention of the world to this problem in comparison to which the problem of the Slaves, the Negroes and the Jews is nothing. I hope the publication of this Paper will serve as a notice to the Peace Conference that this problem will be on the Board of Causes which it will have to bear and decide and also to the Hindus that they will have to answer for it before the bar of the world.

22, Prithviraj Road,
New Delhi.                                                                                                        B.R.AMBEDKAR
1st September 1943.

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In the midst of this political controversy one notices that the Hindus are behaving differently towards different communities. The Untouchables are not the only people in India who are demanding political safeguards. Like the Untouchables the Muslims and the Sikhs have also presented their political demands to the Hindus. Both the Mussulmans and the Sikhs can in no sense be called helpless minorities. On the contrary they are the two most powerful communities in India. They are educationally quite advanced and economically well placed. By their social standing they are quite as high as the Hindus. Their organisation is a solid structure and no Hindu will dare to take any liberties with them much less cause any harm to them.
What are the political demands of the Muslims and the Sikhs? It is not possible to set them out here. But the general opinion is that they are very extravagant and the Hindus resent them very much. In contrast with this the condition and the demands of the Untouchables are just the opposite of the condition of the Muslims and the Sikhs. They are a weak, helpless and despised minority. They are at the mercy of all and there are not a few occasions when Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs combine to oppress them. Of all the Minorities they need the greatest protection and the strongest safeguards. Their demands are of the modest kind and there is nothing in them of that over-insurance which may be said to characterise the demands of the Muslims and the Sikhs. What is the reaction of the Hindus to the demands of the Muslims, the Sikhs and the Untouchables? Notwithstanding the extravagance of their demands the Hindus are ever ready to conciliate the Mussalmans and the Sikhs, particularly the former. They not only want to be correct in their relationship with the Mussalmans, they are prepared to be considerate and even generous. Mr. Rajagopalachari's political exploits are too fresh to be forgotten. Suddenly he enrolled himself as a soldier of the             Muslim League and proclaimed a war on his own kin and former
friends and for what ? Not for their not failure to grant the reasonable demands of the Muslim but for their conceding the most extravagant one, namely Pakistan !! What is Mr. Rajagopalachari's response to the demands of the Untouchables ? So far I am aware there is no response. He does not even seem to be aware that there are 60 million Untouchables in this country and that they too like the Muslims are demanding political safeguards. This attitude of studied silence and cold indifference of Mr. Rajagopalachari is typical of the whole body of Hindus. The Hindus have been opposing the political demands of the Untouchables with the tenacity of. a bulldog and the perversity of a renegade. The Press is theirs and they make a systematic attempt to ignore the Untouchables. When they fail to ignore them they buy their leaders; and where they find a leader not open to purchase they systematically abuse him, misrepresent him, blackmail him, and do everything possible that lies in their power to suppress him and silence him: Any such leader who is determined to fight for the cause of the Untouchables he and his followers are condemned as anti-National. So exasperated the Hindus become by the political demands of the Untouchables that they in their rage refuse to recognise how generous the Untouchables are in consenting to be ruled by a Hindu Majority in return for nothing more than a few political safeguards. The Hindus are not aware of what Carson said to Redmond when the two were negotiating for a United Ireland. The incident is worth recalling. Redmond said to Carson "Ask any safeguards you like for the Protestant Minority of Ulster, I am prepared to give them; but let us have a United Ireland under one constitution." Carson's reply was curt and brutal. He said without asking for time to consider the offer "Damn your safeguards, I don’t want to be ruled by you". The Hindus ought to be thankful that the Untouchables have not taken the attitude which Carson took. But far from being thankful they are angry because the Untouchables are daring to ask for political rights. In the opinion of the Hindus the Untouchables have no right to ask for any rights. What does this difference of attitude on the part of the Hindus to the political demands of the different communities indicate? It indicates three things (1) They want to get all power to themselves, (2) They are not prepared to base their political institutions on the principle of justice, (3) Where they have to surrender power they will surrender it to the forces of truculence and the mailed first but never to the dictates of justice.
This attitude of the Hindus forms the tragic scene of Indian politics. Unfortunately this is not the only tragic scene with Indian Politics. There is another equally tragic in character. It concerns the friends of the Hindus in foreign countries, The Hindus have created many friends for themselves all over the world by their clever propaganda, particularly in America, "the land of liberty". The tragedy is that these friends of the Hindus are supporting a side without examining whether it is the side which they in point of justice ought to support No American friends of the Hindus have, so far as I know, asked what do the Hindus stand for ? Are they fighting for freedom or are they fighting for power ? If the Hindus are fighting for power, are the American friends justified in helping the Hindus ? If the Hindus are engaged in a war for freedom, must they not be asked to declare their war aims? This is the least bit these American friends could do. Since the American friends have thought it fit to respond to the Hindu call for help it is necessary to tell these American friends of the Hindus what wrong they will be doing to the cause of freedom by their indiscriminate and blind support to the Hindu side. What I want to say follows the line of argument which the Hindus themselves have taken. Since the war started the Hindus, both inside and outside the Congress, demanded that the British should declare their war aims. Day in and day out the British were told, " If you want our help, tell us what you are fighting for? If you are fighting for freedom, tell us if you will give us. freedom in the name of which you are waging this war" There was a stage when the Hindus were prepared to be satisfied with a promise from the British that India will have the benefit of freedom for which the British are waging. They have gone a stage further. They are no longer content with a promise. Or to put it in the language of a Congressman, "They refuse to accept a post-dated cheque on a crashing Bank". They wanted freedom to be given right now, before the Hindus would consent to give their voluntary support to the War effort. That is the significance of Mr. Gandhi's new slogan of "Quit India". Mr. Churchill on whom the responsibility of answering these questions fell replied, that his war aim was victory over the enemy. The Hindus were not satisfied. They questioned him further "What are you going to do after you get that victory ? What social order you propose to establish after the war ?" There was a storm when Mr. Churchil replied that he hoped to restore traditional Britain. These were legitimate            questions I agree. But do not the friends of Hindus think that if it is legitimate to ask the very same questions to Mr. Churchill it is also legitimate to ask the very same questions to Mr. Gandhi and-the Hindus ? The British had declared war against Hitler. Mr. Gandhi has declared war against the British. The British have           an Empire. So have the Hindus. For is not Hinduism a form of I imperialism and are not the Untouchables a subject race, owing there allegiance and their servitude to their Hindu Master ? If Churchill must be asked to declare his war aims how could anybody avoid asking Mr. Gandhi and the Hindus to declare their war aims 7 Both say their war is a war for freedom. If that is so both have a duty to declare what their war aims are. What does Mr. Gandhi propose to do after he gets his victory over the British 7 Does he propose to use the freedom he hopes to get to make the Untouchables free or will he allow the freedom he gets to be used to endow the Hindus with more power than they now possess, to hold the Untouchables as their bondsmen ? Will Mr. Gandhi arid Hindus establish a New Older or will they be content with rehabilitation of the traditional Hindu India, with its castes and its untouchability, with its denial of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity 71 should think that these questions should be asked by those American friends to Mr. Gandhi and the Hindus who are helping them in this so-called war for Freedom. These questions are legitimate and pertinent. It is only answers to such questions which will enable these American friends to know whether Mr. Gandhi's war is a war for freedom or a war for power. These questions are not merely pertinent and legitimate, they are also necessary. The reason is obvious to those who know the Hindus. The Hindus have an innate and inveterate conservatism and they have a religion which is incompatible with liberty, equality and fratemity i. e. with democracy. Inequality, no doubt, exists everywhere in the world. It is largely to conditions and circumstances. But it never has had the support of religion. With the Hindus it is different. There is not only inequality in Hindu Society but inequality is the official doctrine of the Hindu religion. The Hindu has no will to equality. His inclination and his attitude are opposed to the democratic doctrine of one man one value. Every Hindu is a social Tory and political Radical. Mr Gandhi is no exception to this rule. He presents himself to the world as a liberal but his liberalism is only a very thin veneer which sits very lightly on him as dust does on one's boots. You scratch him and you will find that underneath his liberalism he is a blue blooded Tory. He stands for the cursed caste. He is a fanatic Hindu upholding the Hindu religion. See how the Hindus read the famous American Declaration of Independence of 1776. The Hindu is mad with joy when he reads the Declaration to say-
That whenever any Form of Government become destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organising its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.' 
But he stops there. He never bothers about the earlier part of that Declaration which says :-
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights. Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The implementation of this Declaration has no doubt been a tragic episode in the history of the United States. There have been two views about this document Some hold that it is a great spiritual document. Others have held that it immoralises many untruths. In any case this charter of human Liberty was not applied to the Negroes. What is however important to note is the faith underlying the Declaration. There is no doubt about it and certainly no doubt about the faith of Jefferson, the author of this Declaration. He never forgot that while enunciating along principle, his country decided to take a short step. He wrote, "I am sorry for my countrymen." It may be no. recompense to the Negroes. But it is by no means small comfort to know that the conscience of the country is not altogether dead and the flame of righteous indignation may one day bust forth. The Negroes may laugh at this. But the fact is that even this much comfort the Untouchables cannot hope to have from the Hindus. People today are proud of the fact that the Hindus are a solid mass. But strange as it may appear, to the Untouchables of India, this is more a matter of dread than comfort-as the "Solid South" is to the Negroes in the United States. Where could anyone find in India among the Hindus any person with a sense of shame and a sense of remorse such as was felt by Jefferson ? I should have thought the Hindus would be too ashamed of this stigma of Untouchability on them to appear before the world with a demand for their freedom. That they do clamour for freedom- the pity is that they get support- is evidence that their conscience is dead, that they feel no righteous indignation, and to them Untouchability is neither a moral sit) nor a civil wrong. It is just a sport as cricket or hockey is. The friends of Mr. Gandhi will no doubt point to him and his work. But what has Mr. Gandhi done to reform Hindu Society that his work and life be cited by democrats as a witness of hope and assurance 7 His friends have been informed of the Harijan Sevak Sangh and they continue to ask, "Is not Mr. Gandhi working to uplift the Harijans ?" Is he ? What is the object of this Hanjan Sevak Sangh ? Is it to prepare the Untouchables to win their freedom from their Hindu masters, to make them their social and political equals ? Mr. Gandhi had never had any such object before him and he never wants to do this, and I say that he cannot do this. This is the task of a democrat and a revolutionary. Mr. Gandhi is neither. He is a Tory by birth as well as by faith. The work of the Harijan Sevak Sangh is not to raise the Untouchables. His main object, as every self-respecting Untouchable knows, is to make India safe for Hindus and Hinduism. He is certainly not fighting the battle of the Untouchables. On the contrary by distributing through the Harijan Sevak Sangh petty gifts to petty Untouchables he is buying, benumbing and drawing the laws of the opposition of the Untouchables which he knows is the only force which will disrupt the caste system and will establish real democracy in India. Mr. Gandhi wants Hinduism and the Hindu caste system to remain intact. Mr. Gandhi also wants the Untouchables to remain as Hindus. But as what 7 not as partners but as poor relations of the Hindus. Mr. Gandhi is kind to the Untouchables. But for what ?  Only because he wants to kill, by kindness, them and their movement for separation and independence from Hindus. The Harijan Sevak Sangh is one of the many techniques which has enabled Mr. Gandhi to be a successful humbug.
Turn to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He draws his inspiration from the Jeffersonian Declaration; but has he ever expressed any shame or any remorse about the condition of the 60 millions of Untouchables ? Has he anywhere referred to them in the torrent of literature which comes out from his pen ? Go to the youth of India, if you want. The youths who fill the Universities and who follow the Pandit's lead are ever ready to fight the political battle of India against the British. But what do these children of the leisured class Hindus have done to redress the wrongs their forefathers have done to the Untouchables ? You can get thousands of Hindu youths to join political propaganda but you cannot get one single youth to take up the cause of breaking the caste system or of removing Untouchability. Democracy and democratic life, justice and conscience which are sustained by a belief in democratic principle are foreign to the Hindu mind. To leave democracy and freedom in such Tory hands would be the greatest mistake democrats could commit It is therefore very necessary for the American friends of the Hindus to ask Mr. Gandhi and the Hindus to declare their War aims, so that they may be sure that the fight of the Hindus against British is really and truly a fight for freedom. The Congress and the Hindus will no doubt refer their inquiring foreign friends to the Congress Resolutions regarding minority rights. But I would like to warn the American friends of the Hindus not to be content with the "glittering generalities" contained in congress declaration of Minority Rights. To declare the rights of the minority is one thing and to have them implemented is another. And why should the friends of the Hindus if they are really friends of freedom, not insist on implementation straight away? Are not the Hindus saying that they would not be satisfied with mere declaration of freedom from the British ? Are they not asking for immediate implementation ? If they want the British to implement their War aims, why should the Hindus be not prepared to implement their war aims ? American friends of the Hindus, I am sure, will not be misled by the Hindu propaganda that this war of the Hindus against the British is a War for freedom. Before helping the Hindus they must get themselves satisfied that the Hindus who are urging that their war against the British is a war for freedom will not turn out to be the enemies of the freedom of millions of Indians like the Untouchables. That is the plea I am making on behalf of the 60 millions of the Untouchables of India. And above all let not the American friends think that checks and balances in a Constitution-the demand for checks and balances suited to Indian conditions-are not necessary because the struggle is carried on by a people and is carried on in the name of freedom. Friends of democracy and freedom cannot afford to forget the words of John Adams when he said-

"We may appeal to every page of history we have hitherto turned over, for proof irrefragable that the people when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous , and cruel as any king or Senate possessed of uncontrollable power : the majority has eternally and without one exception usurped over the rights of the minority." 
If all Majorities must be subjected to checks and balances how much more must it be so in the case of the Hindus ?              


Caste System (11) Ambedkar Speech (9) Chaturvarnya (8) Gandhi (8) Hinduism (8) Varnashrama (6) Brahmin (5) British India (5) Freedom (5) Quotes (5) Wallpapers (5) Annihilation of Caste (4) Brahmanism (4) Constitution (4) Federation (4) Philosophy (4) God (3) Hindu Society (3) Indian Constitution (3) Law (3) Parliament (3) Untouchable (3) Ancient India (2) Caste-Hindu (2) Constitutional Law (2) Counter-Revolution (2) Democracy (2) Depressed Classes (2) Federal Executive (2) Federal Form of Government (2) Federal Legislature (2) Government of India Act (2) Legislative Assembly (2) Morality (2) Religion (2) Shastra (2) Shudra (2) States (2) Veda (2) American Constitution (1) Apastamba Dharmasutra (1) Aryan (1) Atman (1) Beef (1) Biography of Dr B R Ambedkar (1) Books Buy (1) Brahma (1) British India Politics (1) Buddha (1) Canadian Constitution (1) Chaturvarna (1) Constitution of British India (1) Economics (1) Eleanor Zelliot (1) Federal Court (1) Federal Judiciary (1) French Revolution (1) Fundamental Rights (1) Government (1) Hindu Code Bill (1) Independence Struggle (1) Indian Federation (1) Indian Independence Movement (1) Indian States (1) Indo-Aryan (1) Jinnah (1) John Dewey (1) Judiciary (1) Labour (1) Legislation (1) Liberty (1) Linguistic States (1) Manu (1) Nehru (1) Politics (1) Provincial Autonomy (1) Resignation Speech (1) Revolution (1) Riddles in Hinduism (1) Rigveda (1) Shankaracharya (1) Shatapatha Brahmana (1) Small Holdings (1) Social Conscience (1) Socialism (1) Socialist (1) Society (1) Some Views (1) Supreme Court (1) Theology (1) Upanayana (1) Upanishads (1) Vedanta (1) Yajnavalkya (1)



Ambedkar: The Champion of Women

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