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Author: Christophe Jaffrelot
Publisher: Permanent Black
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8178241560
B R Ambedkar (1891-1956) was the first Dalit or low-caste Hindu to be formally educated to the highest level, gaining his PhD in the West. Despite this huge achievement he remained true to his background and origins, fighting for Dalit rights throughout his life. No one today doubts Ambedkar’s status as India’s first and foremost Dalit.
For years, Ambedkar waged a singular and lonely battle against India’s brahminical and higher-caste political establishment, which included Mahatma Gandhi, who resisted Ambedkar’s effort to formalize and codify a separate identity for lower-caste Hindus.
Nonetheless, Ambedkar became Law Minister in the first government of independent India, and chairman of the committee which drafted the Indian constitution, and was able to modify Gandhian attempts to influence India’s polity.
In the final stage of his life Ambedkar distanced himself from politics and sought solace in Buddhism, to which he converted a short while before his death.
Jaffrelot’s major new book focuses on the three key areas that are central to a full understanding of India’s pioneering Dalit-Ambedkar as social theorist, Ambedkar as statesman and politician; and Ambedkar as an opponent of caste Hinduism and advocate of Buddhism as a method of release from Hindu social oppression. In each case, Jaffrelot argues, Ambedkar was the first to forge new political, symbolic, and emotively powerful strategies for Dalits. These not only proved effective in Ambedkar’s own lifetime, they resonate powerfully even today.
A work of the first importance which will find a wide and appreciative readership, both within the academy and outside it. It is a subtle, thoughtful and above all well-rounded study which nicely balances the personal and the historical, the intellectual and the political, to give us what we haven’t had so far (and yet so badly need)-a multidimensional portrait of this extraordinary and under-appreciated figure.
A very valuable addition to the literature. Jaffrelot’s viewpoint is both fresh and very knowledgeable. He brings a political scientist’s expertise to Ambedkar’s actions which is not duplicated in other work. In addition he considers Ambedkar’s thought in an evolutionary perspective, keeping in mind the constant of his pragmatism.
INTRODUCTION-THE FIRST DALIT LEADER OF INDIA
Maharashtra between Social Reform and anti-Brahmin Mobilisation
Maharashtra and its socio-political system
The questioning of the social order during the nineteenth century
Ambedkar-Son of a Mahar Soldier
Mahars, first of the last
The family environment-the army and Western education under princely patronage
Analyzing and Ethnicising Caste to Eradicate it More Effectively
Inventing a golden age for the lower castes-the prestige of autochthony
How to resist Sanskritisation?
In the Political Arena, against Gandhi
Reserved seats or separate electorates?
Arm wrestling with Gandhi and the Poona Pact
Ambedkar and the Arya Samaj
Searching for an Electoral Strategy
The ILP, or how to defend workers without being a Marxist
The Scheduled Castes Federation and caste Politics
>From the SCF to the RPI-a return to the ILP?
Opposition or Collaboration? Ambedkar’s Pragmatism and Resilience
The British-objective allies?
Ambedkar, a Dalit leader in the establishment of post -1947 India
Shaping the Indian Constitution
The False Manu
The revenge on Gandhi of a westernized democrat
The Hindu Code Bill and the break with Nehru
The Solution of Conversion
Conversion, a strategy of social emancipation?
The choice of Buddhism as an egalitarian creed
The Impact and Relevance of Ambedkar Today
The target of Gandhians and Hindu nationalists
Collaborator with the British and gravedigger of social reform?
The political legacy of Ambedkar-posterity or treason?