Even if it appears so but Freedom is not free. Someone has fought for the rights we have right now. Like Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, who shall be one the most under-mentioned intellectual in Indian Political history who had written the most comprehensive, well researched and fiercely honest books in his time. If there was no Ambedkar, we (women) would not have the right to get equal pay for equal work, or any legal rights for maternity leave, no rights on our father’s or husband’s property after their death or even we would not have the right to vote! Inter caste marriages would be illegal, there would be no legal document of marriage and women would not even be able to file a divorce! In 1951, Dr. Ambedkar resigned as the law minister of India following rejections of these very rights proposed by him in the Hindu code bill. These laws were prevalent in all progressive nations even at that time. This bill was passed a year later, and rest is history.
Imagine! Which seem like the most obvious rights of today, were termed as ‘harmful to Indian culture’ by the staunch RSS and Hindu Mahasabha.
But of course, all of this was so inconsequential to put in our school textbooks or in any introduction about Ambedkar (essentially limited to ‘Father of Indian constitution’ or discussing Indian feminism. Dr. Ambedkar, a Dalit himself, was a strong supporter of Dalit rights. It is ironic how the recently program by our government to honour Ambedkar’s birthday does not even mention the word ‘Dalit’. It says ‘let’s help farmers’. The irony is that in the political campaign, there are claims of being Ambedkar’s ‘Bhakt’ (something which he hated from all his heart) but no one is talking about his principles. It is difficult to be Ambedkar’s fan. It is not
The easiest way to bury the past is to remove traces of it from the history textbooks and mentions of it in the current media- both easily manageable by any government. Ironically, that doesn’t change the past.
(This article was published in City Bhaskar, Ahmedabad in Gujarati on 17th of Feb 2016, as a part of Ambedkar’s Birthday on 14th of April. Liked it? Hated it? Would love to know!)