*What is in the name?*

*Highlighting ‘Ramji’ in Ambedkar’s name!*

*Ram Puniyani*

Currently many a dalit’s leaders are up in arms and criticizing the move of
UP Government of adding ‘Ramji’ in official records of Bhimrao Ambedkar. It
is true that Babasaheb signed the Constitution as Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar,
but as such not too often Ramji is added to his name. The addition may not
be challenged technically but it reminds one that this addition is a part
of political symbolism, part of co-opting him for Hindutva politics. For
BJP Lord Ram is the central figure for communalizing the society, be it Ram
temple issue or violence unleashed on the eve of Ramnavami. With coming to
power of Modi-BJP government one can clearly see two antagonistic trends at
the same time. One is the rise in the atrocities against dalits and second
is organizing Ambedkar Anniversaries on grander scale with the show of
public respect for him by Hindu nationalists.

During last close to four years, we saw the clamp down on Periyar Study
circle in IIT Madras, the institutional murder of Rothith Vemula and anti
dalit violence in the name of beef in Una. The Saharanpur violence of May
2017, with Yogi as Chief Minister of UP, there occurred burning of dalit
households. Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Ravan, despite getting bail, is
still in custody allegedly for the violence. This burning of dalit
households was in the aftermath of the procession taken out by BJP MP, chanting
  “UP mein Rahna hai to Yogi Yogi Kahna Hoga” and ‘Jai Shree Ram’. In
Maharashtra Bhima Koregaon violence against dalits was instigated. Dalits
have been compared to dogs by VK Singh in 2016, and recently by
Ramakrishna Hegde
in <https://thewire.in/216137/anant-kumar-hegde-dalit-dogs/> Karnataka. In
UP, Kushinagar, when Yogi was to visit Mushars; the officials distributed
soap bars and shampoos for cleaning up before the visit of Yogi.

Ambedkar was for Indian nationalism, for ‘Annihilation of Caste’ and
attributed the caste and untouchablity to the Hindu scriptures. In an
attempt to distance himself from these values he went on to burn
Manusmriti. He also drafted Indian Constitution where the core values of
freedom movement. On the other side we see that Hindu Mahasabha which began
with the Hindu Rajas and Landlords harped on ‘back to the glorious past’,
which was dictated by the scriptures where varna caste is regarded as being
of divine making. From here the concept of Hidnutva was highlighted. The
Hindutva or ‘Total Hinduness’, aims at Hindu nation (as per Savarkar) with
Aryan race and culture. This politics was further taken up by RSS.

Madhav Sadshiv Golwalkar and most other Hindutva ideologues upheld the
scriptures opposed by Ambedkar. Savarkar stated that Manusmriti is the
Hindu law today. Golwalkar; went on further to declare Lord Manu as the
greatest ever law giver, whose laws are relevant even today. He had said
 “…Brahmin is the head, Kshatriya the hands, Vaishya the thighs and Shudra
the feet. This means that the people who have this fourfold arrangement,
that is, the Hindu people, is our god. This supreme vision of godhead is
the very core of our concept of ‘nation’ and has permeated our thinking and
given rise to various unique concepts of our cultural heritage.”

 In the wake of Indian Constitution coming into fore; RSS mouth piece
organizer wrote an editorial running down the same. The RSS, and even Union
minister Anant Kumar Hegde, have publicly spoken of
 “changing the Constitution “Following Ambedkars putting forward Hindu code
bill, there was a sever opposition to it. Ambedkar stood his ground and
stated “You must not only discard the Shastras, you must deny their
authority, as did Buddha and Nanak. You must have the courage to tell the
Hindus that what is wrong with them is their religion – the religion which
has produced in them this notion of the sacredness of caste

What is happening currently? The Caste is being upheld in various ways. The
dilution of anti Dalit atrocities act and removal of reservation clause for
teachers in Universities is a direct affront to the social justice credo,
the central mission of Ambedkar.

Hindu nationalist politics is based on the values in which caste and gender
hierarchy is the central part of its agenda. They have on one side to
bypass the aspirations of dalits and on the other to woo them for electoral
goals. The latter is manifest in their tokenism towards the issues of
dalits and especially paying obeisance to Babasaheb Ambedkar. At the same
time the strategy of cooption of dalit sections to their agenda is to be
mixed up with their own core agenda, which is centered on, Lord Ram, Holy
cow, stepping up religiosity with targeting religious minorities.

There is running down of the principles and values for which Ambedkar
struggled all his life, while on surface he is being eulogized. Now comes
another dimension to Hindu nationalist politics, to strength politics of
Ram using the name of Ambedkar.

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