Birth Anniversary of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar on April 14 this year is at a time when the rights enshrined in the Constitution are facing unprecedented attacks from the RSS-BJP ruling dispensation. RSS-BJP have launched an all-round attack on the democratic rights of the people in their drive to impose fascist dictatorship over the country. Through their CAA-NRC-NPA project they seek to change the constitutional framework and legal status of minorities, to begin with of Muslims. They select issues for attacks against Muslims but these are just pretexts for the attacks. Any concession to these fascist forces emboldens them, make them more reckless and violent. Appeasement has no other result.
Hindutva is a political chauvinist mobilization for the defense of existing class rule of big capitalists and big landlords and social, economic and political domination of upper castes. It seeks to rally masses following Hindu religion to consolidate its most oppressive part i.e. caste hierarchy. While upper caste landlords have traditionally dominated the rural areas, new eco nomic policies have strengthened upper caste economically. This has enlarged the base of Hindutva in face of challenge by oppressed sections particularly Dalits and other oppressed castes. RSS-BJP talk of “social harmony” which means every caste living in harmony with its traditional role and place in society. They are sworn enemies of social justice.
While caste oppression is part of present society, atrocities against Dalits have been increasing under RSS-BJP rule, hence especially in RSS-BJP ruled states. In last two decades of RSS-BJP rule in Gujarat, most of the period under Narendra Modi, there has been 72% increase in the registered cases of atrocities against Dalits. On the other hand, conviction rate in cases of atrocities have been less than 5% in the state (figures of 2014-16).
Land reforms have been bid a good bye and with that the hope of landless poor peasants, most of whom belong to Dalits and oppressed castes, of getting land through legal means have disappeared. People of SCs, STs and other oppressed castes are mostly in casual and contract employment. On the other hand, vacancies in the govt. are not filled while different ploys are adopted to deny or dilute reservation for these sections. It is well known that RSS is opposed to reservation and RSS activists have always been among the main activists of the movements against reservation. Under RSS-BJP, bureaucratic conspiracies against reservation have increased and higher judiciary is increasingly tolerant of such conspiracies. Discrimination against students and employees from these sections is on the rise.
Dr. Ambedkar had taken up the task of fighting against caste oppression and division as his principal task. When we assess the status of Dalits and other oppressed castes it is obvious that these sections are continuing to face exploitation, oppression and discrimination. While reservation does give an entry to some from these sections to educational institutions and govt. jobs, there also they face humiliation and casteist slurs. Foremost, they still by and large lack ownership of means of production which is the main reason for their continued lower social status. The struggle against caste oppression has to be an overall assault against caste oppression both in base and superstructure as one reinforces the other.
Several parties which claim to base themselves on the social base of these oppressed sections have used them to be part of ruling structure but their becoming such a part has not meant any significant improvement in the conditions of Dalits and other oppressed castes nor it has meant support to their struggle against caste oppression. Rather they themselves become appendages of the ruling structure which patronizes them only to wean them away from struggle and discards them once their utility is over. The approach that holds that let some get raised first while the rest rot in the earlier conditions is not correct because when the condition of overwhelming majority continues as earlier, it also breeds a defensive approach among those raised while ruling classes get emboldened to intensify repression and suppression.
This experience underlines the need to link the different arena of movement and coordinate different forms of struggle which mobilize Dalits and oppressed castes against caste oppression and division and unite them with other sections of toiling masses.
Dr. Ambedkar represented a continuity of the struggle against oppression of Dalits (Depressed Classes). This struggle constituted part of the main struggle of the Indian people against feudalism and also during colonial rule when these feudals acted as a social base of colonial rule. Dr. Ambedkar expressed his appreciation of the struggle of Jyotiba Phule against caste oppression and Brahmannical system institutionalizing it. He carried on this struggle particularly in the period after First World War. While Phule concentrated on the spread of education, Dr. Ambedkar concentrated his energy on securing share of political power along with jobs and higher education.
We have to carry this struggle forward in the present concrete conditions. We have to expose the pretensions of the ruling class parties of opposition to caste oppression while developing movements both in the field of base and superstructure. At present, ruling RSS-BJP pose an increased threat to even the existing rights and unity of Dalits.
On the 129th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar we have to intensify the struggle against caste oppression and make it an integral part of the struggle against the ruling classes to end exploitation and oppression i.e. an integral part of the New Democratic Revolution. We must carry forward the efforts of Dr. Ambedkar.
The ruling dispensation pays lip service to Dr. Ambedkar. But they do so while negating what all Dr. Ambedkar stood, strived and struggled for. In brief, they pretend to uphold Ambedkar while undermining the core values he upheld. It did not bother the rulers that it is on the Birth Anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar that a member of his family and renowned democratic intellectual Anand Teltumbde has been asked to surrender along with other known fighter for democratic rights, Gautam Navlakha. The choice of the date might not have been accidental.
CPI (ML)-New Democracy
April 14, 2020