It appears from Anindya Sen's hatchet job on Ambedkar [Ambedkar : The New found Messiah, Frontier March 12-18, 2017] that his gravest fault, which makes him unworthy of any regard, was that he was not a Marxist. I find the analysis unconvincing as it seeks to undermine his contribution to modern Indian politics and political ideology. We should first try to understand his social context and position without prejuduce before judging him. A predecessor like Jotiba Phule had the same critical attitude to the leadership of the national movement against colonial rule. Both felt their support base was too thin and narrow to persuade the upper caste leaders of the vital necessity of social reform in Hindu society, especially alleviation of caste oppression.

This is still serious enough, yet even leftist leaders are disinclined to take it seriously. The present government has sought to erase awareness of this grievous malady, by carefully dismantling the system of reservation. A recent order from MHRD has cut off funding for centres of study of social exclusion and discrimination. A neo-Brahminical order is being carefully and slowly put in place. lt is not enough to denounce feudalism. It is vital to deal with the specificity of caste. It is unfortunate that he has been called a stooge of the British. The unpalatable fact is that only the British rulers for their own reasons paid any heed to his struggle against caste oppression.Even Gandhi first became truly aware of the curse of untouchability after Ambedkar's polemics. As national leaders including leftists postponed consideration of the enormity and urgency of caste oppression. Ambedkar was forced to rely on the colonial government for immediate relief.

He was no doubt a constitutionalist. That may be his limitation. But he was the man who first put the caste question squarely before Indian leaders and masses as a major national issue. We should honour him/or what he gave us and not merely condemn him for where he was wanting.
Hiren Gohain, Guwahati

Triple Talaq
A group of Muslim intellectuals has decided to form a Majlis-e-Hukama (council of the wise) to take a stand against triple talaq, as they feel that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has failed to handle the issue effectively. They have also accused the board of misinterpreting the Quran while filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court over the issue.

The decision to form the council was taken at a two-day international conference in Aligarh. The conference was organized at the initiative of Rashid Shaz, a professor at the Centre for Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims of India at Aligarh Muslim University. Shaz told TOI, "We don't want to stand against AIMPLB, but they are factually incorrect. There is a need for modification in interpretation of the Quran, as it has never allowed cruelty against women. So how can the Board say triple talaq has Quranic sanction?"

Shaz said the proposal of forming the council was accepted at the conference and its modalities will be finalised in a few days. "The council will intervene in the triple talaq issue as AIMPLB is guilty of misinterpreting the Islamic and Quranic standpoint in the matter", he added.

According to intellectuals who participated in the conference, they would, if required, call members of AIMPLB and tell them they were not addressing the issue in a correct manner. If the board did not agree to the objections, the council would oppose the board in public.

"AIMPLB is misguiding and misleading the court as well as the masses. They are suppressing facts and there is need to present these in a correct manner."

Those who debated on triple talaq at the conference included Maulana Asghar Imam Salafi, secretary general, Markaz-i-Jamiat-e-Ahl-e-Hadeeth; Mujtaba Farooq, former president, Welfare Party and member, policy council, Jamaat-e-lslam-i-Hind and Maulana Ameen Usmani, secretary, Fiqh Academy of India, New Delhi.
Dr Lubna Sarwath, Hyderabad

Vol. 49, No.43, April 30 - May 6, 2017