Just two days back on December 6, two very contrasting events for entirely contrasting reasons engaged public attention and reflection. It was on December 6, 1956, that Dr. B R Ambedkar breathed his last and that solemn event is observed every year by his followers as the Parinirvan Divas.
The sombre and sublime nature of Parinirvan associated with Dr. Ambedkar's sad demise and evocative of legacy associated with Lord Buddha stands in agonising contrast to the demolition of Babri Mosque described by the Supreme Court of India as "egregious violation of law" and celebrated by forces and formations representing Hindutva as Shaurya Divas, Day of Victory.
Dr. Ambedkar renouncing Hinduism because of its foundational principles anchored on graded social inequality and his historic decision to embrace Buddhism on the ground that it is based on Pragyan (Enlightenment), Karuna (Compassion) and Samata (Equality) heralded a new era in India to revive Buddhism and ideals of Buddha. According to Swami Vivekananda, Buddha gave for the first time in the humann history "the gospel of social raising up". Therefore the usage of the term Parinirvan for describing the passing away of Ambedkar is associated with the "gospel of social raising up" which became the central concern of his life and work.
Demolition of Babri Mosque an affront to Ambedkar's Legacy
Dr. Ambedkar proclaimed law as the greatest disinfectant against inequality, dubbed castes as anti-national, celebrated liberty, equality and fraternity, and stressed on reclamation of human personality held in bondage by caste system described by him as an ascending order of reverence and descending order of contempt.
Juxtapose it with the Supreme Court's observation in its Ayodhya judgement that, "The law is ... a legislative instrument designed to protect the secular features of the Indian polity, which is one of the basic features of the Constitution," even as it strangely allowed construction of temple where the Babri Mosque stood demolished. Ambedkar's understanding of law and Supreme Court's interpretation of it in the context of secularism stand in exact opposition to the Shourya Divas which celebrates assault and violence on a Mosque, and therefore, constitutes an affront to the legacy of Dr. Ambedkar.
War against Muslims
The destruction of Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992, heralded an ominous trend representing all out attack on secularism, and particularly on Muslims of India who are now at the receiving end because of many regressive and draconian legislations aimed against them.
The most recent one is the stringent ordinance of the UP Government to deal with Love Jihad. It targets interfaith couples belonging to Hindu and Muslim communities with severe penal offences and takes away their fundamental right and liberty to exercise their choices for forging matrimonial alliances. Such egregious violation of law and liberty is part of the calculated attack on Muslims, manifested in a sinister manner in lynching of many of them in the name of beef, their faith, dress and life style.
On December 17, 1946 while participating in the discussion on the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar had flagged with anxiety that some leaders made belligerent statements that amounted to waging war against Muslims and warned that “…if there is anybody who has in his mind the project of solving the Hindu-Muslim problem by force, which is another name of solving it by war… in order that the Muslims may be subjugated ...[t]his country would be involved in perpetually conquering them”.
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Celebration of Shaurya Divas on December 6 is a celebration of violence and hatred associated with the destruction of Babri Mosque and, therefore, such a celebration amounts to celebration of war as was apprehended by Dr. Ambedkar during pre-Partition days.
The Special CBI Court while acquitting all 22 accused in the Babri Moque demolition case had observed that anti-social elements had destroyed it. Therefore, all those who are celebrating its demolition as Shauriya Divas are celebrating the work of the anti-social elements.
Dr. Ambedkar had cautioned in his last speech in the Constituent Assembly that adoption of the methods contrary to the constitutional method in pursuit of the objectives enshrined in the Constitution would result in grammar of anarchy. The demolition of Babri Mosque represented the brutal manifestation of the employment of unconstitutional method and, therefore, the "grammar of anarchy" that India witnessed in its aftermath constituted. in the words of late Shri K R Narayanan, then Vice President of India and Chairman, Rajya Sabha, a tragedy similar to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Educate, Organise, Agitate
On the occasion of the Mahaparinirvan Divas of Dr. Ambedkar, one recalls his electrifying slogan "Educate, Organise and Agitate". The protagonists of Shaurya Divas and the leaders who swear by it are now at the helm of affairs of India and they while selectively quoting Ambedkar go against the very grain of his worldview. It is best manifested in the manner in which the agitation of lakhs of farmers against Farm laws has been handled, in a coercive manner for preventing their entry to Delhi to protest. The method of tear gassing them, blocking the road they travelled by barricades covered with barbed wire, digging trenches on their way and deployment of para military forces to deal with protest and agitation smacks of an approach disapproving of dissent by applying disproportionate force.
Also read: On the Trajectory Shown by Ambedkar
Such a muscular approach to deal with farmers' agitation combined with criminalisation of dissent and protest is inconsistent with Dr. Ambedkar's vision anchored on constitutional method and cultivation of constitutional morality for defending the idea and unity of India.
Ambedkar on journalism
The protagonists of Shaurya Divas who attempted to suppress farmers and foil their agitation are relying on embedded media to transmit news and views which would be in variance with the cause of farmers who have specifically kept at bay such media channels describing them as Godi Media. It is in this context one is reminded the words of Dr. Ambedkar who indicted media in 1943 in his piece "Gandhi, Ranade and Jinha" and wrote, "Journalism in India was once a profession. It has now become a trade. It has no more moral function than the manufacture of soap. It does not regard itself as the responsible adviser of the Public."
Adding further he stated, "To give the news uncoloured by any motive, to present a certain view of public policy which it believes to be for the good of the community, to correct and chastise without fear all those, no matter how high, who have chosen a wrong or a barren path, is not regarded by journalism in India its first or foremost duty. To accept a hero and worship him has become its principal duty". His words, "Under it, news gives place to sensation, reasoned opinion to unreasoning passion, appeal to the minds of responsible people to appeal to the emotions of the irresponsible" sounds so true in the context of post truth age of twenty first century.
" ...Indian journalism", stated Ambedkar, "...is written by drum-boys to glorify their heroes". "Never has the interest of country been sacrificed so senselessly for the propagation of hero-worship", wrote Ambedkar, and added with anguish, "Never has hero-worship become so blind as we see it in India today. There are, I am glad to say, honourable exceptions. But they are too few and their voice is never heard".
Recalling those insightful remarks of Dr. Ambedkar on his Parinirvan Divas. we underline their contemporary significance to address and defeat the forces celebrating the so-called Shaurya Divas
Also read: Aijaz Ahmad on Hindutva
The writer served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to Former President of India, late K R Narayanan. The views are personal.