Reading B. R. Ambedkar’s Critique of ‘Hindu Raj’

Arup Kumar Sen

India is witnessing a topsy-turvy time when aggressive Hindu majoritarian nationalism is putting its signature on all aspects of governance of the polity. In this time of crisis of our civilization, it is worth visiting the political imagination of B. R. Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Constitution of India.

Very recently, selected speeches of B. R. Ambedkar, edited by Bhagwan Das, have been republished bearing the title A Stake in the Nation (Navayana, New Delhi, June 2020), with an introduction by Anurag Bhaskar, a scholar of constitutional law. Bhaskar’s introduction offers valuable insights about Ambedkar’s imagination of India and politics.

Anurag Bhaskar has drawn our attention to the fact that Ambedkar was vilified in his life as an ‘anti-national’ and as a ‘traitor’, and this vilification continued even after his death. Bhaskar has reminded us that Ambedkar was critical of a narrow conception of nationalism and warned against majoritarian nationalism in unequivocal terms. To put it in the words of Ambedkar: “If (the) Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country…Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost”. (Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India, 1946)

We can imagine how B. R. Ambedkar would have reacted to the agenda of Hindutva politics if he were alive in contemporary India.

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Dec 27, 2020

Arup Kumar Sen

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