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Ambedkar’s ideology

India should have a Capitalistic approach that suits it the best



by Chandrabhan Prasad

(April 25, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the I950s, people lived in a world that was divided. Torn ideologically, the Communist world was led by the former Soviet Union. The US was the leader of the Capitalist world. It was also the time when anti-colonial struggle was at its peak. Once free, they chose a new identity for themselves — they called themselves the Third World country.

The Soviet Union claimed leadership of the Third World countries. With Communist Party of China taking over country, a major part of the world had turned Red. Many leaders believed that the days of Capitalism were numbered. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s book Imperialism is the highest stage of Capitalism was extremely popular during that time. The Lenin’s thesis argued a logical fall of Capitalism. It was based on a simple arithmetical calculation — once the Third World was free from Imperialism, the contradictions between the Proletariats and Capitalism will sharpen to a point of a breakdown. To Lenin, Proletariats in the Capitalist world were not revolting because they wanted to benefit from the loot brought from the colonies.

In India, as elsewhere, Lenin’s slogan Road to London and Washington goes via Calcutta and Peking had millions of takers. That meant, after triumph of Communism in China in 1949, India was next in line to turn Red. Even Jawaharlal Nehru was all in praise of Marxism. No wonder then many Brahmins would turn Communist which would mean triumph of Communism in the country. What was Dr Ambedkar’s stand and ideology during this time? The Dalits need to debate over this. Through this column, some insight can be gathered.

Ahead of the first Parliamentary Elections in 1952, Dr Ambedkar decided to write a manifesto of his party — All India Scheduled Caste Federation. On October 6, 1951, a meeting was held at his residence. The manifesto outlined following policies to be implemented — for agriculture in case federation won elections:

  • Agriculture must be mechanised. India can never become prosperous so long as the method of cultivation remains primitive
  • To make mechanised farming possible, cultivation on small holdings must be replaced by large farms
  • To increase the yield, there must be provision of for adequate manuring and supply of healthy seeds

This was penned by Dr Ambedkar 60 years ago. What was the ideological position of Communism in India then? Wasn’t land to the tiller the main slogan of the Communist party? Is land to the tiller slogan possible on large farms? To whom does the idea of large farms belong? Doesn’t it belong to Communists?

In 1951, Dr Ambedkar wanted mechanisation of agriculture. Have the Communist parties in India ever supported mechanisation of agriculture? In fact, Communists along with Socialists were the first to oppose introduction of tractors on the ground that machines will create more unemployment.

Today, adequate manuring and healthy seeds mean the use of chemical fertilizers and hybrid seeds.

Dr Ambedkar’s manifesto lay emphasis on tackling poverty. “Looking at the intense poverty of the people of this country, no other consideration except that of greater production can be the primary and paramount condition,” wrote Dr Ambedkar in his manifesto.

But under what kind of system would the production will increase? The manifesto has an answer for this. “For the purpose of increasing production, the Scheduled Caste Federation (SCF) will not be bound by any dogma or any pattern,” says the manifesto (pg 39). What did Dr Ambedkar mean when he wrote this?

Was he against the private sector? “The pattern of industrial enterprise will be a matter regulated by the needs of the time and circumstances. Where national undertaking of an industry is possible and essential, the SCF will support national undertaking. Where private enterprise is possible and national undertaking not essential, private enterprise will be allowed,” manifesto reads.

Dr Ambedkar strongly opposed Marxism. By the time he wrote the manifesto, the idea of State Socialism lost its appeal. Did Dr Ambedkar then stand for a Capitalistic social order? Nowhere does he praise Capitalism. In his life time, horrifying results of Communism had not been revealed. For many enlightened scholars belonging to the Third World and upholding Capitalism was blasphemous.

Yet, Dr Ambedkar’s manifesto virtually endorses Capitalism, with a difference though. Today, we know that Capitalism can have many shades. Capitalism in Scandinavia countries — Denmark, Norway and Sweden is not the same as Capitalism in the UK and the US.

In other words, Dr Ambedkar’s ideology was Ambedkarism — a Capitalism that best suited India. 

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