Monday, 16 September 2019

Dr. Ambedkar: A Brave Fighter - Lord Mountbatten

Dr. Ambedkar: A Brave Fighter
-         Lord Mountbatten
I became interested in Dr. Ambedkar in 1943 when I was appointed Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, and setup my operational Headquarters in Delhi. He was the Labour Member of Viceroy’s Council. He was fighting for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and fair conditions of life. He clearly understood that this new order could never be established if the Nazis and the Fascists won the war, he and the Indian Labour had been actively cooperating in the prosecution of the war.
At a time when so many Indian leaders opposed war, the knowledge of his support was greatly heartening to me, since India was my base and a million Indian Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen were fighting under my control in Burma.
When I became the last Viceroy of India in March 1947 I had extremely interesting and valuable talks with him, and strongly backed my Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru’s  proposal to appoint him as Minister for Law in the first Independent Cabinet.
I was even more pleased to agree to his appointment as Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, and watched with admiration the very efficient way in which he piloted the new constitution of India through the Constituent Assembly. That was a magnificent achievement.
But his continuous championing of the Untouchable Scheduled Castes is what remains the strongest in my mind. At the time of the transfer of power there were sixty millions of them, far more than the population of the British Isles. Babasaheb, as they affectionately called their leader, had personal experience of the fearful disabilities under which his people suffered. He stood up for them against all opponents. He disagreed violently with Mahatma Gandhi’s solution for their representation in the Assembly in the Poona Pact which he felt tied them to the Congress Party. He had the courage, and it required tremendous courage in the climate of India, to stand up to him.
All in all, it was a refreshing experience to know this clear seeing brave fighter who has an immortal niche in the history of India .
(Extracted from Bheem Patrika, edited by Bhagwan Das, Vol 3, No. 21, July 1974.)

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Dr. Ambedkar’s Contribution to Water Resources Development

Dr. Ambedkar’s Contribution to Water Resources Development


National Reconstruction 
The first quarter of the present century brought forth an impressive crop of eminent personages who contributed tremendously to the making of modern India. Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956) among them merits a special place. By sheer dint of industry and perseverance, he rose to the eminence of a great scholar, statesman, and the main architect of the nation's Constitution and above all, the leader of the oppressed. In many respects, he stood apart from his eminent contemporaries. He combined in himself the distinction of being a great scholar, social revolutionary and statesman, a combination that is rarely come across. An intellectual giant and a prolific writer, he had imbibed knowledge that was truly encyclopaedic. His erudition and experience covered such diverse fields as law, constitution, economics, sociology, politics, and comparative religion. His range of topics, width of vision, depth of analysis, rationality of outlook and essential humanity of argument marked him out as a man of destiny.  Ambedkar hardly ever wrote for literacy fame1. Rather, in his scholarly pursuits as in his political
1  See Appendix 1.1 for a list of Ambedkar's wiriting. See, for complete writings in English of Dr. Ambedkar, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vasant Moon (ed.) Vol. I (1979), Vol. II (1982), Vol. III(1987), Vol. IV (1988), Vol. V (1989), Vol. VI (1989), Vol. VII(1990), Vol. VIII (1990), Vol. IX (1990), Vol. X (1991), Vol. XI (1992). Bombay: Education Department, Government of Maharashtra.
activities, he was driven by a desire to understand the vital issues of his times and to find solutions to the problems troubling the people. With this motivation, he helped decisively in shaping the social, economic and political development of the nation during a crucial period of its history. There was hardly any issue which arose between the early 1920s and the mid1950s to which Ambedkar did not apply his razor sharp analysis, whether it was the problem of minorities, reorganisation of states, partition, or the political and economic framework for an independent India.2 He did not rest content with making scholarly expositions on these issues. He attended to the problems if they came within his authority; where they did not, he helped those in authority to find appropriate solutions. Most memorable of Ambedkar's contributions, of course, was his intellectual contribution to the making of the Indian Constitution, his social and political efforts for the uplift of the socially deprived classes and his revival of Buddhism. Close to his heart was the cause of the downtrodden, to which he devoted much of his academic and political efforts since 1917.3 It goes to his eternal credit that he was successful in placing this “invisible” segment of Hindu society on the social and political map of India. Ambedkar articulated their problems, brought about a deserved recognition of these problems, and
                                                           2  See "States and Minorities" (1947), "Communal Deadlock and the Way to solve it" (1945), "Evidence before the Southborough Committee on Franchise" (1919), in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings And Speeches, op. cit., Vol. 1, 1979. 3  Among Ambedkar's writings on the problem of caste are: (a) "Castes in India: Their Genesis, Mechanism and Development" (1917), (b) "Annihilation of Castes" (1935), (c) "The Untouchables: Who are they and why they Become Untouchable” (1948), (d) "Who were the Shudras? How they Became the Fourth Varna in Indo-Aryan Society" (1946), in ibid., Vols. I, V and VII.
was successful in providing safe-guards in the Constitution and in the legal system of India against social and economic discrimination. With untiring zeal, he generated among the depressed classes an intense awakening about their rights. He left behind him a legacy of an apparatus of social, religious and political organisations, a network of educational institutions, a revived Buddhist religion, and an ideology supported by a prodigious literary output which forms an enduring base for the perennial awakening of the masses in India for years to come.4 In the area of Constitution making, Ambedkar was involved in all the deliberations, even preceding the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms of 1919. Prior to these reforms, a Franchise Committee was appointed under the Chairmanship of Lord Southborough to deal with the issue of franchise. Ambedkar, who gave extensive evidence before this committee, argued forcefully for political representation for depressed classes on the basis of population. The committee recognized representation to the depressed classes by nomination, though to a lesser extent than Ambedkar had envisaged. Ambedkar also presented a printed memorandum to the Indian Statutory Commission under the Chairmanship of Sir John Simon in May 1928, which revised the Government of India Act of 1919. He also played a crucial role in the Round Table Conferences which were convened in London in the 1930s to frame a Constitution for India, and served on the Minority sub-committee, the Provincial sub-committee and the Service subcommittee. In a scheme of political safeguards for depressed classes in a self-governing India that he submitted to the Minority sub-committee, he argued for common citizenship, free use of rights, and adequate representation in legislation and
                         4  Eleanor Zelliot (1992), From Untouchable to Dalit, Delhi: Manohar, pp. 54-78.
government services to the depressed classes. The emergence of the depressed classes as a force to reckon with in the political map of India was mainly the achievement of Ambedkar's eloquence in the Round Table Conferences in the 1930s.5 When a Constitutent Assembly was to be constituted to frame the Constitution of India, Ambedkar submitted a memorandum to it, entitled "State and Minorities,”6 probably the only person to have done so. The memorandum outlined his view on the form of the envisaged Constitution and it was much more than a charter of provisions for minorities in the country's constitution. On account of his profound knowledge of constitutional matters, Ambedkar was appointed a member of the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly and finally its Chairman, a trust that he vindicated in full measure. Working with incredible speed and energy, he almost single-handedly produced the draft within two years of the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly, and a little over a year later, the final Constitution. Recalling his contribution to this stupendous achievement, T.T. Krishnamachari, who was a member of the Drafting Committee, said in the Constituent Assembly on November 5, 1948:
The House is perhaps aware that of the seven members nominated by you one resigned from the house and was replaced. One died and was not replaced. One was away in America and his place was not filled up and another person was engaged in state affairs and there was void to the extent. One or two people were far away from Delhi and perhaps reason of health did not permit them to attend. So it happened
  5  See W.N. Kuber (1991), Ambedkar: A Critical Study, New Delhi: People's Publishing House. 6  Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1947), State and Minorities, Bombay: Thacker & Co. 
ultimately that the burden of drafting the Constitution fell on Dr. Ambedkar and I have no hesitation in saying that we are grateful to him for having achieved this task in a manner which is undoubtedly commendable.7
Pylee writes:
Ambedkar brought to bear on his task a vast area of qualities, erudition, scholarship, imagination, logic and eloquence and experience. Whenever he spoke in the house usually to reply to the criticisms advanced against provisions of Draft Constitution there emerged a clear and lucid exposition of provisions of the Constitution. As he sat down, the mist of doubts vanished as also the clouds of confusion and vagueness. Indeed, he was a modern Manu and deserves to be called the Father or the Chief Architect of the Constitution of India.8
In his concluding speech Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Constituent Assembly said: 
Sitting in the chair and watching the proceedings from day to day, I have realised as nobody else could have, with what zeal and devotion the members of the Drafting Committee and especially its Chairman Dr. Ambedkar, in spite of his indifferent health have worked. We would have never made a decision which was or could be ever so right as when we put him on the Drafting Committee and made him its Chairman. He has not only justified his selection but has added lustre to the work which he has done.
Among the more noteworthy of Ambedkar's contibutions are his views on the reorganisation of states, which posed considerable difficulty to the Constituent Assembly. He dealt with the issue in its
 7  Dananjay Keer (1954), Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission, Bombay: Popular Prakashan. 8  Kuber, op.cit.,147-8.

entirety in "Thoughts on Linguistic States", in which he stated his position. 9 His views were new and differed from those of the State Reorganisation Commission. According to him, "the one state, one language theory may be put up by any two ways: (1) one state, one language or (2) one language, many states." While in principle he agreed that language should form the base for the creation of states, since a linguistic province produces what democracy needs, namely social homogeneity, and makes democracy work better than it would in a mixed province, he favoured the second option of people speaking one language organised into many states, his preference being for small states.10 He laid down five principles for the formation of the individual states: (a) efficient administration, (b) needs of the different areas, (c) Sentiments of different areas, (d) proportion between the majority and minority, and (e) the size of the state. Regarding religious minorities, an issue which was uppermost in the minds of many at that time, Ambedkar expressed his views in a book titled Thoughts on Pakistan, which was a provocative and helpful analysis of the basis of nationalism.11
Water Policy and Planning 
No less important, but less well known among Ambedkar's contributions to the nation are his direct participation and role in the formulation of certain development policies and planning. At least on two occasions, Ambedkar was directly involved in policy making: once as Law Minister in the Central Cabinet of independent India during 1947-51 and, earlier, as
  9  See Ambedkar's “Thoughts on Linguistic States” (1955), “Maharashtra as a Linguistic Province” (1954), "Need for Check and Balance" (1953) in Dr. Babasaheb  Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol. I, op. cit. 10  Kuber, op.cit. 234. 11  "Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: Thoughts on Pakistan" First Edition (1940), Pakistan or the Partition of India, Bombay: Thacker (1946), third edition.
a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council, in charge of the Labour, Irrigation and Power portfolio during 1942-46. Though he made a substantial contribution to the nation's development in this position, surprisingly, this aspect of his life has hardly been studied.12 An Independent Department of Labour had been created in November 1937, the Department of Industry, which was a part of a combined Department of Industry and Labour, going to the Commerce Department. Subjects like "irrigation", "electricity" and others related to public works were also transferred to the newly created Department of Labour. The policy formulation and planning for the development of "irrigation and electric power" including "hydro-electric power" thus became the major concern of the labour portfolio in July 1942.13 The early 1940s, when Ambedkar took charge of irrigation and electricity, were a crucial period for the evolution and adoption of the concept of economic planning at an all-India level. The post-war plan for the reconstruction and economic development for India was then taking shape. The Government took a very ambitious initiative to develop a framework within which positive alternative policies were centrally formulated. It was to be an action plan. The policy regarding water resources and electric power development was conceived, initiated and was given a definite shape as part of this programme. The Labour Department began all-India planning for the development of irrigation, waterways and navigation virtually from scratch. Sporadic local
12 Bhagwan Das (1979) "Introductory note on the River Valley Project", Thus Spoke Ambedkar, Vol 3, Bhagwan Das (ed.), In this short essay Bhagwan Das highlights the role of Dr Ambedkar in the development of river valley projects. 13 National Archive of India (1987), International Council on Archives, Guide to sources of Asian History: India 3.1, New Delhi, 105-12. 
enquiries and investigations in these matters had been made by the Centre from time to time, but planning efforts had been undertaken exclusively on a local basis. It was the first time that the Centre began to consider planning as a fundamental subject for water, power, mineral resource etc., on a comprehensive all-India scale and against an all India background. 14 A Central Government policy with regard to water resources and hydro-electric power development was accordingly evolved and given a definite shape. Among the consequences of these efforts were:  (a) the emergence of a definite all-India policy with regard to the development of "water and electric power resources" of the country;
 (b) the creation of an administrative apparatus and technical bodies at the Centre to assist the states in the development of irrigation and electric power resources such as the present-day Central Water Commission and Central Electricity Authority;
 (c) the adoption of the concept of River Valley Authority or Corporation to overcome constitutional problems regarding the jurisdiction of Central-State Governments and to develop irrigation and hydro-electric power of interstate rivers;
 (d) the introduction of the concept of regional and multipurpose development of  river valley basin for the first time in India; and
 (e) the initiation of some important present day river valley projects, major and minor, which include
 14  File No. DW-1-25 CWINC/47, Labour Department, "Setting up of the Central Water, Irrigation and Navigation Commission on Permanent Basis", National Archive, New Delhi. 
the Damodar River Valley, Sone River Valley, Orissa river Schemes including the Mahanadi, the Chambal River Scheme and the schemes for the river of the Deccan.
Dr. Ambedkar, being at the helm of affairs of the Labour Department was instrumental in initiating these steps. With his deep knowledge in the area of economics, politics and constitutional law, he helped the Central Government and his Department in the articulation of water and power policy and planning. What follows is an attempt to understand and highlight the role and contribution made by Ambedkar and his department during 1942-46 to this aspect of India's development. Their achievements were in terms of policy formulation, creation of an administrative apparatus and technical bodies at the Centre that provided an alternative solution to state-Central problems, and setting in motion several present-day major and medium river valley projects.
An extract from the book “Ambedkar’s Contribution to Water Resources Development” A Research Project by Central Water Commission ,  Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, CENTRAL WATER COMMISSION NEW DELHI. First published in 1993

Sunday, 25 August 2019

A Short History of Untouchables in Indian Army and Role of Dr. Ambedkar - Bhagwan Das

A Short History of Untouchables in Indian Army and Role of Dr. Ambedkar
-Bhagwan Das
(Note: This essay was written by Bhagwan Das in 2005 on my request. Actually Bhagwan Das proposed to write a book on Untouchables role in Indian Army and he had collected some material also but he could not. It was because Bhagwan Das himself had served in Royal Air Force as Radar Operator and was deployed on Burma border to face Japenese attack during Second Word War. He motivated the Dalit Youth to join army where there are lot of vacancies at officer level. Actually Dr. Ambedkar was also in favour of Dalits joining the army because it has played a very important role in awakening the Dalits.
 He also edited and published a small book under the name “Untouchable Soldier” which was M.A. assignment of Ardyth Basham, a Canadian scholar. This book gives details of Mazhbi and Mahar communities (Untouchable) who were recruited in the Army by the Britishers.  These still survive in the Indian army as Sikh Light Infantry (Sikh L.I.) and Mahar Regiments. I have translated “Untouchable Soldier) as “Achhoot Sainik” in Hindi and Dalit Today Prakshan, Lucknow is going to publish it soon. - S.R. Darapuri I.P.S.(Retd.)
I am not going into the history of the development of armed forces in India. Perhaps in the initial stages members of the family fought for property, land etc. Later on the families joined to form regular fighting groups. Bows, arrows, swords, spears, were used before the arrival of the people from western regions who had developed gun powder and explosives. With these new weapons some people or groups of people conquered new lands and created empires.  
Army in India
India was divided into various linguistic states and regions. Tamil, Telgu, Kanarrese, Malyalam. Oria, Marathi, Bengali, different dialects of Hindi, Punjabi, Pushtu etc., were spoken in different parts of India.
India produced best kind of cloth which was very popular in Northern region, Europe etc., People from European countries like Britain, France, Porutgal, Spain etc. came to India mainly to set up markets and import cloth, spices etc.  East India Company (British) and similar small groups of traders set up trading companies and to protect their owners and the colonies inhabited by them recruited watchmen and trained them to handle guns and to defend themselves. These forces were hired by some Nawabs and petty rulers especially in the areas near Bengal, Orissa and Madras. France and Spain wound up their business early because they could not compete with the British.
Not many people could come to India from British islands- England, Ireland and Wales. They had to recruit people of Indian origin, professing Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. People belonging to lower castes and Untouchables were not recruited as soldiers in the army of the East India Company. People belonging to higher castes like Rajputs, Jats etc. were recruited in the Indian army. Moslems joined in large numbers because the salaries offered by the East India Company were much higher than that paid by the Hindu and Muslim rulers.
British formulated the theory of “martial” and non-martial races. Most of the soldiers were recruited from the so called martial races. British soldiers were paid higher wages as compared to the Indian soldiers.
Indian soldiers had many grievances and complaints against the British rulers. There were Indians belonging to the upper and ambitious castes and classes of Hindus and Moslems. Somebody started the rumour that the cartridges which began to be supplied in the middle of nineteenth century were smeared with the fats of the pigs and cows and had to be removed by holding the cartridge by teeth. Many people showed resentment and refused to handle the new cartridges. Some British officers withdrew the cartridges and advised the Indian soldiers to smear the cartridges with oil of their choice. Revolt in some areas was withdrawn by the soldiers. But the rumour about the bullets and cartridges being smeared with animal fat spread very quickly especially in the northern region and resulted in killing of many British officers, looting their property, killing traders etc. Who was behind this mutiny, there are different theories and many books have been written. Some people called the mutiny the “First War of Independence’ and some people called it the revolt of the people and struggle for independence. Situation was brought under control and the British took severe action against the rebel soldiers.
Sikhs in the Punjab: Ranjit Singh was the most famous ruler who conquered large areas of Northern India and created the Sikh empire. After his death British made many rulers their friends and allies. Patiala, Nabha, Kalsia, Kapurthala supported the British. British recruited Sikhs in the army and they proved to be very committed and brave soldiers.
Leather workers (Chamars), Sweepers and Scavengers, Butchers (Khatiks) served the British in the cantonments and performed menial duties. They served under the army but were not recruited as soldiers. During mutiny owing to the shortage of soldiers belonging to upper castes British changed their policy and began to recruit the Chamars and Chuhra as soldiers. They raised Mazhbi-Ramdassia Regiment and after giving some training sent them to Delhi and Uttar Pradesh to fight against the rebel soldiers. The British also raised a Mehtar Regiment in the Hindi belt and they were used not only as soldiers but were also employed to punish the upper caste soldiers in Uttar Pradesh (Kanpur) and neighbouring states. After the mutiny these regiments were disbanded but Mazhbi-Ramdassia regiment was allowed to continue.
After the mutiny Britsh changed their policy of recruitment and carefully recruited the people belonging to Sikhs, Muslims etc. In view of the political struggle launched by the upper caste people especially the trading communities, the British changed their policy.
During the First World War (1914-18) against Germany the British again changed their recruitment policy. People belonging to different castes of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs etc., were recruited as soldiers and sent to fight in Europe. Germany was defeated and European politics underwent a change.
WORLD WAR II (1939-1946)
British had introduced some changes in view of the developing political situation in the country.
Gandhi was emerging as a powerful political leader. He was promoting Hinduism and also supporting the fight against ‘communalism’, Germany again started War which soon spread and affected Britain, France, Belgium and other countries of Europe. Britain especially some major industrial centres became easy targets of bombing. Germans did not land in Britain. British shifted some industries to India. Special arrangements were made for manufacturing war material and training people.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Role
Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as Labour Member in the Viceroy’s Executive Council in 1942. Labour Department did not only deal with problems of Labour, Technical Training and other departments were also transferred under Labour Department. Mr. H.C. Prior. ICS was the Secretary; Brig. A.W.H. Rea was the Director, Technical Training. Khan Bahadur Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani was the Director Publicity and Recruitment. Dr. Ambedkar started many new schemes to train the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes people. Many people were sent to study and undergo training in U.K. in different branches of Engineering and technology under the Bevin Training Scheme. After returning to India these young men held very important posts. Babasaheb also led to the raising of Civil Pioneer Force and semi-military Forces. He also took special interest in raising the Mahar Regiment. Thousands of young men were trained as technicians in the training centre run by the Department of Labour.
Many regiments and soldiers dealt only with technical jobs. Many people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes also joined these departments. Some rose to high positions in the I.E.M.E. and R.E.M.E.
The Labour Department under the control and guidance of Dr. Ambedkar played a very important historical role in the secularization of Indian Army. Many people belonging to these neglected communities also joined Indian Air Force and Royal Indian Army.
Contribution of Dr. Ambedkar as Labour Member in the Government of India introduced certain measures which brought about historical changes in the outlook of the people of India especially among the down-trodden and backward sections of society.