Observe Dr. Ambedkar Day, 6th December; Intensify Movement against Caste Oppression, with the Perspective of Annihilation of Caste System.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was a great visionary who assimilating the teachings of French Revolution: liberty, equality, fraternity, struggled for the liberation of the most oppressed sections in the caste divided Indian society, the Atisudras. Starting from his own bitter experience as one among them he explained how the varna system
came into existence later as actually social enslavement of the shudras by the upper castes. Shudras were actually toiling people like, artisans, peasants etc who were supposed to serve the upper castes. The fifth category of untouchables were the avarnas, or Ati-shudras, they were destined to carry on the duties related to dead bodies and scavenging jobs and cleaning and carrying of human excreta. The nomadic and tribal communities also are included in the category of avarnas, because they reside outside the boundaries of settlements of Savarnas. Varna and Jati are not similar categories. Varna system represented a naked form of social slavery prior to the emergence of developed agrarian economy. Caste system on the other hand developed simultaneously with the development of feudalism in agriculture. Manusmruti originated at the end of 7th and beginning of 8th century.
Movement of Dalits led by Dr. Ambedkar was essentially a movement of Ati-shudras against the social discrimination by the savarnas including shudras. He started this movement with the founding of “Independent Labor Party". Com. Shyamrao Parulelkar like communists were also part it. ILP took issues like scrapping of unfair ID act and inclusion of SC workers in the bobbing section of the textile mills. In his work, "Caste in India" he explained that caste system is a graded hierarchy, and therefore for struggle against caste systeem to succeed, it is necessary to combine it with class struggle.
Dr. Ambedkar said that Brahmanism and capitalism are two enemies of Indian people. By Brahmanism he meant the lack of liberty, equality and fraternity. This Brahmanshahi prevalent among workers prevent them to unite, and their exploitation continues as they are divided. He called to workers to unite and give up all the feelings of high and low, untouchability etc. which keeps them divided. The Manifesto of Dalit Panthers published translated his concerns in the following manner mentioned revolutionary parties who are against varna and class system, all social sections of people victimized by political and economic dominance of the upper castes as friends of Dalits.
The enemies of dalits were characterized as the state power, elite section of society,
the landlords, capitalists, sahukars and their stooges, along with the political parties indulging in communal and castiest politics and the government standing behind them. It mentioned following as burning issues: food, water, clothing and shelter; Job, land, and freedom from untouchability, social and physical atrocities. In this formulation of Dalit Panther manifesto based on the statements of Dr. Ambedkar, we can see that proper importance and the inter-linkage between the two entities, the caste and the class are given.
In 1936 when Ambedkar had put forward his writings on annihilation of caste system, and nationalization of land and industries in the program of the ILP had approached the CPI leadership for united activities among the workers, the latter was not prepared to take a stand against the caste based discrimination in the textile industry and the talks failed. We have to take lessons from this experience. It is a fact that disunity among the workers based on caste divisions is still rampant. The caste contradictions among the friendly classes of revolution cannot be oveerlooked. We should treat these contradictions as non antagonistic and continuous efforts should be made to overcome these non-antagonistic contradictions through education and persuasion, and along with these by spreading the caste annihilation movement. Sharpening of class struggle also leads into heightening of proletarian consciousness and to anti-caste, secular awareness.
At the same time, mainly during the last five decades, based on the post-modernist theories propagated by imperialist think tanks, the “Identity based" movements have completely occupied the Indian political space with fake anti caste postures. Dr. Ambedkar was for annihilation of the caste system, but most of the dalit organizations and even the OBC organizations of shudras, today are engaged in the task of consolidating different castes in the name of countering the Brahminical caste domination. It has led to tailism to the ruling class parties as practiced by BSP and RPI factions. It should not be forgetten that the identity based politics of the 1970s and ‘80s by SP, BSP and many of the dalit parties and organizations also played a role in the growth and coming to power of the Brahmanical gave rise to the phenomenon of Hindu fundamentalist forces in many states and at the centre.
Six decades after the death of Dr. Ambedkar we can see the importance of his contributions. He did not limit his vision to just reservation for the Scheduled Castes. He was calling for struggles towards political power for which he wanted to unite with all oppressed classes and sections. He was very clear that the class struggle can develop in a country like India only if the caste annihilation is taken as an important part of it. He had also linked the caste annihilation struggles, struggles against caste based oppression in all forms with the struggle for nationalization of land and industries as it was the Savarna sections who were owning it. Learning from the struggles waged by Dr Ambedkar and his important teachings against the manuvadi ruling system, we should strive for uniting with all those dalit sections who are fighting against the ruling system, especially the neo-fascist RSS/BJP who are trying to consolidate their hegemony through majoritarian Brahmanical offensive and Hindurashtra.
K N Ramachandran
CPI (ML) Redstar