Thiruvananthapuram: Former Gujarat DGP R.B. Sreekumar, in an open letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has called upon the State Government to use 'Ambedkarism' as the tool to design projects and programmes for the disenfranchised. The proposed schemes, he said, should achieve the standards set by Ambedkar in his various writings and speeches, like 'Annihilation of Caste', 'Buddha and his Dharma', 'Rise and fall of Hindu Women', 'Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah', 'States and minorities', 'Who were the Shudras', 'Riddles of Hinduism', 'Untouchables', and 'Speeches in the Constituent Assembly'. Mr Sreekumar wants the Chief Minister to employ Ambedkar's principles to usher in radical changes in three areas: education, removal of scavenging, and Hindu priesthood. Here are excerpts from his letter.
Ambedkarism in educational syllabi
"Quintessential ideals of Ambedkarism should be incorporated in the curriculum of all schools at Middle and High School levels in Kerala. Earlier, reportedly, the State governments of Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, have included concepts from the Hindu scripture - Bhagvad Gita, in schools' syllabi though this Hindu scripture divinises caste system (Varna Vyavastha). So, it will be quite relevant to make students aware of Ambedkar's ideas on Indian conditions and his futuristic vision. "The Annihilation of Caste" as a Text Book: Normally, for an SSLC student, a Secondary text book is prescribed for language papers, i.e.; English, regional languages or Hindi. The autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, books by Rabindranath Tagore, Prem Chand (Hindi), Umashankar Joshi (Gujarati), Thakazhi Shivashankara Pillai (Malayalam), Tiruvalluvar (Tamil), Ananda Murthy (Kannada), Sharat Chandra Chatterjee (Bengali), Kalidas (Sanskrit) etc. are illustrative cases.
Instead of mere Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations, his epoch-making and incisive book "Annihilation of Caste" (1936), re-published by Navayana Publications, New Delhi in 2014, should be introduced as an additional text book for all SSLC students in Kerala. Graduate and Post-Graduate courses on Ambedkarism in Universities: In Kerala State Universities, BA and MA courses on Ambedkarism should be introduced. Course materials should also include theoretical concepts and practical skill training in social welfare, gender justice, awareness creation on social legislations on dowry, child labour, civil rights, drug addiction etc., empowerment of the marginalised, qualitative up-gradation in delivery of socio-economic welfare schemes for the targeted people etc. This would make the students, who hold degrees on Ambedkarism, objectively skillful for employment in implementation of government's welfare programmes.
In the subject of Ambedkarism, the following papers can be designed for BA/MA courses :-
(1) Life, basic work and evolution of Ambedkar,
(2) Ambedkar's views on origin and evil of Caste system in India,
(3) Ambedkar's jurisprudence,
(4) Ambedkar's ideas on welfare economics,
(5) Ambedkar's contribution in the making of the Constitution and other legislations.
(6) Relevance of Ambedkar's ideas for Social upliftment and enlightenment,
(7) Ambedkar's ideas on Science, Technology, Development and Distributive justice.
(8) Ambedkar's political ideology,
(9) Ambedkar's vision of India's future,
(10) Interface of Ambedkar with his contemporaries in public life,
(11) Ambedkar's views on Buddhism and Marxism,
(12) Critical study of Ambedkar's book, 'The Riddles of Hinduism'.
(13) Relevance and applicability of Ambedkarism in today's India.
Madurai Kamraj University in Tamil Nadu is conducting Graduate and Post-Graduate courses on Gandhian Thought, since last 10 years.
Facing out the evil of manual scavenging
The famous social health care analyst, Anurudh Lalit Jain, has said: "A depressing fact as revealed in the 2011 census data on households is that an estimated 8 lakh people are traditionally engaged in manual removal of night soil - a great embarrassment to the State governments that are still in denial mode".
The Kerala government should launch a special drive to stamp out this sadistic, barbarous, mentally and physically hazardous vocation or debilitating profession imposed on Dalits for their economic subsistence, sanctified by the quagmire of Hindu caste system.
Cleaning of human waste from underground pits is still done by Dalits, without equipped by modern safety kits, in Kerala. There are many instances of death of those engaged in this work, by inhalation of toxic gases. An award-winning film, ‘Manhole’ by Ms Vidhu Vincent, depicts the appalling conditions of manual scavengers. A well-planned socio-economic rehabilitation and re-settlement programme for those cursed to do the perilous job of manual scavenging, be introduced, by imparting them alternative skills to take up any other productive and healthy employment, with sufficient financial package.
The Kerala State Special Branch (Intelligence Wing of State Police), having State-wise competent and ingenious information gathering material and human resources, should be tasked to conduct State-wide secret survey about prevalence of manual scavenging and provide adequate relevant inputs for launching a long term, durable and permanent rehabilitation programme through alternative employment opportunities.
Creation of cadre of priests from all castes among Hindus
Altitude of a caste in hierarchy of Hindu Caste order is, generally, proportionate to the physical contiguity of those belonging to that caste to the worshiping idols (Murti) in temples. Persons, who are religiously entitled and scripturally eligible to conduct devotional and sacramental rites and theological ceremonies in the sanctum sanctorum (Garbha Gruha), i.e.; Agnihotri, Tantri, Vajpayee, Namboothiri etc. are installed in the highest pedestal of Hindu caste pecking order.
Those engaged in the miscellaneous and auxiliary temple duties like preparing items for worship (Pooja) and deity's ceremonial food (prasadam) do occupy the next grade to the priest. The security providers stand next in the line. Unfortunately, in temples administered by Kerala government, this illegal, unethical, unjust and anachronistic system violating basic foundational ideals of the Constitution, viz.; concepts of equality, fraternity and reservation in government services are prevalent throughout Kerala. Kerala Temple Service (KTS) should be created for the training of Hindus eligible for appointment as priests, tantris and auxiliary temple servants.
‘Without equality, liberty would produce supremacy of the few’
Political Democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it, social democracy, i.e.; a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as principles of life. They form a union or trinity. Without equality, liberty would produce supremacy of the few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things……..We have a society based on the principle of graded inequality, means elevation of some and degradation of others. We are entering into a life of contradictions. We have political equality; but in social and economic life, we will have inequality. In politics, we follow one man, one vote and one vote one value. In society and economics, we deny principle of one man, one value…… Those who suffer from inequality, will blow up the structure of democracy……Fraternity envisages a common brotherhood of all Indians - being one people - giving unity and solidarity to social life.
The castes are anti-national, they bring about separation in life, generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste. Without fraternity, equality and liberty, will be no deeper than coats of paint……Many in India are beasts of burden, but also beasts of prey. The down-trodden classes are tired of being governed. People are tired of government by the people. They are prepared to have government for the people and are indifferent whether it is government of the people and by the people. If we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principles of government of the people, for the people and by the people, let us resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of evils that lie across our path and which induce people to prefer government for the people, to government by the people, nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them. That is the only way to serve the country, I know of no better".
(Ambedkar's vision as outlined in his Speech in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949)...