Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rediscovering Ambedkar, and NOT Nehru!!

Years ago Prof.Ambirajan said in his Ambedkar Memorial Lecture:

  • I am somewhat distressed to see that he is portrayed as a leader of the ‘dalit’ community and nothing else. Partly it is the fault of the Indian political leadership in the post-independent era. It succeeded in its effort to marginalise him politically. But equally it is the fault of the community itself for having projected him exclusively as its own leader. This led to the repercussion of other much inferior people propelled as leaders of other communities, and the result was that Ambedkar got equated on a politico-intellectual plane with regional pygmies devoid of any significant national presence.

  • It is my conviction that in reality we have had only two major personalities who could be considered the founding fathers of modern India. Vallabhbhai Patel unified and organised whatever bits and pieces left of a brutally partitioned geographical entity into a nation state. Ambedkar provided the cementing framework in the form of a Constitution that gave the newly born state a measure of feasibility and stability. All the remaining leaders were mere bit-players in this great story of the building of our sovereign democratic republic.

According to him Nehru was a “much inferior…. propelled as leaders” as compared to Dr.Ambedkar!!

There is a wrong propaganda even today. Just see what Y K Alagh says’s:

  • To Nehru the harnessing of modern technology to economic development was very important. There were two implications of this. The first was an acceptance of the emphasis on heavy industries in the process of industrialisation. While there has been considerable controversy in India on large scale vs small scale industrialisation, Nehru himself had clinched the issue in his own mind even in his early economic thinking. This was perhaps one of the few economic choices he really made. Discussing the issue of the big machine vs cottage industries, he stated emphatically that “it is not a mere question if adjustment of the two forms of production and economy. One must be dominating and paramount, with the other as complementary to it, fitting in where it can. The economy bases on the latest technical achievements of the day must necessarily be the dominating one.” The second, wider implication of this approach was his emphasis on scientific education and research. He seems to have a particular fascination for the idea that under “proper” social conditions, experimentation with the machine would inculcate the “scientific temper” and widen the experience and outlook of men. Formal economics is now accepting this idea in the shape of the productivity implications of “learning theory approach”.
  • The economic implication of this to him was the emphasis on basic minimum needs. His earlier emphasis on rural development was argued with this end in view. (Later speeches accept the role of agricultural production as a constraint in the process of economic development). The role of cottage industries, albeit a secondary one, was argued from this objective, as also the long-term employment potential of heavy industrialisation.
  • Another basic economic idea for Nehru seems to be a concept of “national self-sufficiency”, with a strong autarchic element in it. Heavy industrialisation and a scientific research policy were argued partly with this end in view. The emphasis was conditioned by early experience. (“We were anxious to avoid being drawn into the whirlpool of economic imperialism.”)
  • There was in Nehru a genuine concern about the need for a peaceful transition through consensus in the developmental phase. There is frequent emphasis on the “social” implications of economic ideas and programmes. The late Prime Minister was liable to discuss it sometimes along “wider” national, international or even philosophical lines. The earlier method of “democratic collectivism” remains later in the shape of “democratic socialism” and the “mixed economy”. Equality of opportunity for all remains a basic theme.

All roads led to low level of growth, low level of development, no choice and no freedom.

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