The misunderstood hero

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Watching these two images together is like witnessing a paradox. How could the Father of a nation, who spent his life fighting for equality all over the world, an inspiration for numerous world leaders even today, be blamed for one of the biggest evils that resides in India?

Also, there is a huge number of people, that blames Ambedkar and know him as the man who brought the idea of reservations that still prevents deserving candidates to achieve their goals in every sphere of life. So how did this most sought after lawyer, who laid the foundation of independent India by drafting the constitution became the biggest villain of modern India?

To understand this, let me take you 70 years back. India was burning in the fire of struggle for complete independence and all efforts by the British government to negotiate were boycotted by the Congress and thus, by the masses.

One such attempt was the infamous Simon commission which was greeted by Indians as shown here.
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It was shown black flags by all the political groups except the small group of Untouchables led by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the only Shudra by then who had managed to cross the barrier of primary education, earned a law degree and various doctorates from Columbia University and the London School of Economics. He was skeptical of the government that would form after independence and had understandably feared that the condition of untouchables might remain the same.

Amidst widespread protests and violent attacks on him, he also attended the first round table conference in London to express his concerns and became the biggest villain of the country.

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This was the time when the first official meeting happened between the two pillars of Indian struggle at Gandhi’s ashram. There, they agreed to disagree on all the proposals. Ambedkar aggressively called Gandhi’s fight for equality as fake and Gandhi coldly refused Ambedkar’s demand of separate electorate for Harijans (for initial 10 years), though he had earlier agreed to give the same to Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. The meeting ended with the historical statement that Ambedkar gave. He concluded, “I have no homeland”.

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It is difficult to fight for people who are against you. Still, Ambedkar continued to fight alone and attended the second round table conference (Gandhi also attended this) and convinced the British government that it is much more essential and logical to give separate electorate to Harijans than other minorities.

After this, Gandhi played gathered the masses by a simple but effective measure – he started his fast unto death.

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Though Ambedkar was celebrating his win, he didn’t know when the whole nation (Hindus and Muslims were united for the first time in this measure) including his own wife turned against him because he was the reason that Mahatma Gandhi was dying. It is heartbreaking to spend a lifetime for others, achieve your goal, and see your own stakeholders so determined to shatter what you got for them. Finally, Ambedkar had to negotiate with Gandhi which gave birth to the Poona Pact. This is where Congress  leaders suggested the alternative of Reservations in government schools, colleges and jobs and forced Ambedkar to accept it. Ambedkar, broken and deceived signed the pact and became the scapegoat for allegations from generations to come.

This is the story of a tussle that never ended. Gandhi was of the view that giving separate electorates would divide Hindus and it would be a disastrous measure when the whole country was united. He wanted to get independence first and then slowly eradicate all the evils including untouchability. Ambedkar on the other hand, had experienced the inhuman behavior by his fellow countrymen and wanted political power to get quick results.

A still from the play to depict the mental state of Ambedkar during Poona Pact
A still from the play to depict the mental state of Ambedkar during Poona Pact

We are often misunderstood by those for whom we are always ready to anything. They may or may not acknowledge it, but it is solely our decision to carry on the efforts or not. I recently did a stage play called “Gandhi vs Ambedkar” based on the above story (I played Ambedkar) which can be watched here.

The play is in Hindi so if you need any explanation in English, or any background if you are not aware with any of the above events, please do not hesitate to ask in comments. Also, I would love to know any views or additional information you have on this tussle.

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18 thoughts on “The misunderstood hero

  1. AdiC May 23, 2015 / 3:13 am

    At some level, yes, I criticize both Gandhi and Ambedkar for the policies they propagated in their lives. Yes, the reservation in jobs does make me curse him a lot, as you rightly pointed out. Reservations and separate electorates were maybe required then. They would know that better than us. But 67 years post independence if we still need reservation, don’t you think we are at fault more than them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prateek Kohli May 24, 2015 / 7:36 pm

      1. The point I was trying to make was that Ambedkar was strictly against reservations. He neither proposed that, nor accepted that so easily. The pressure of being called a ‘deshdrohi’ by his own country and the convincing power of Nehru, Patel and Gandhi got the better of his thoughts.
      2. Reservations are indeed a curse to our country. No doubt about that. I have experienced that and bit bullets during college admissions. A few short term goals of some politicians wasted so many careers.
      3. It is always good to criticize. Following blindly can be misleading when we know that history is always written by the winners. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. AdiC May 23, 2015 / 3:15 am

    Oh and I haven’t seen the play yet! I will. Tonight 🙂 When I need my break from preparing for the mock!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prateek Kohli May 24, 2015 / 7:37 pm

      Its not the best play with the best audio. We had little time to put this up and no time to call a professional to record :/

      Liked by 1 person

      • AdiC May 26, 2015 / 2:18 am

        I will wait for links of the other plays then 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prateek Kohli May 27, 2015 / 7:21 pm

        What about the busy schedule till December? 😀
        I hope you like this light-hearted play 😀

        (I play the role of a hyperactive Gujrati stock broker – in yellow shirt) 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • AdiC May 27, 2015 / 7:30 pm

        December was for traveling! A girl still wants her entertainment 😉 I’ll check this soon. Maybe tonight itself 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prateek Kohli May 27, 2015 / 7:33 pm

        I just checked the video. The quality sucks. I hope you still get the dialogues and the intended laughter 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. sunainabhatia May 23, 2015 / 12:36 pm

    History is a bag that is full of hidden pockets. We empty one pocket and think we are done only to be surprised by someone who opens yet another pocket. The points have been brought about nicely. Will watch the play too….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prateek Kohli May 24, 2015 / 7:56 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time out and stopping to comment 🙂
      The reference to the hidden pockets is incredible, especially when we believe that history is always written by the winners and is only one side of the coin 🙂

      Like

      • barrira May 29, 2015 / 7:47 am

        I don’t know where to start from then :$ like all I know is what I have read in history yeah? and you know we are cross border enemies HAHAHA :$ ok bad joke, so our books are distorted and messed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prateek Kohli May 29, 2015 / 8:06 pm

        Yes, I understand. We both must be reading two different versions of history and I would love to know the other version one day from you 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • barrira May 30, 2015 / 5:29 am

        Wohoo whenever you’re up for the discussion, drop by ^_^

        Liked by 1 person

  4. brunda bru June 3, 2015 / 2:02 pm

    I didn’t know about this specific content in history,yes reservations has its backlash but then gandhi was responsible is something new,though never peeked into much of history,good to know that you are into plays!:)not yet watched,will ping you after I do:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prateek Kohli June 3, 2015 / 7:41 pm

      Yes, when we came across this aspect of reservations, we too were stunned. There is also a very powerful statement by Ambedkar given to an English newspaper that, “Gandhi is a polished politician and not a saint. I won’t be surprised if I would be held responsible for casteism in India”. 😀
      And unfortunately, the audio of the play is not very good. Sorry for that :/

      Like

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