No other personality in India enjoys non-governmental celebrations for a birth anniversary at such a mass scale as does BR Ambedkar. If the Uttar Pradesh government had not imposed restrictions on the installation of more Ambedkar’s statues, by now they would have been found in every nook and corner of the state.
This popularity, however, does not mask the tension that lie in the Dalit movement today. One can see contradictions in the behaviour of his followers when, on the one hand, they still languish in the practice of caste system and, on the other hand, are busy erecting his statues and organising seminars and public meetings to discuss caste issues.
Ambedkar primarily fought against social and mental corruption. The questions raised by him are yet to be answered. The nation did not take him seriously because of his Dalit background and, therefore, his thoughts do not haunt the majority of people.
Anna Hazare fasted against a different kind of corruption; will the fast help in the eradication of corruption? The material corruption will not vanish till the issue of mental corruption is solved.
Truth is bitter and some truths taste worse. If the British had not ruled India, Ambedkar would not have been born. A free India has not allowed any Dalit to reach that position that Ambedkar enjoys.
No doubt, the British exploited their colony, but they ensured the dignity and better participation of Dalits in polity and society. When the Simon Commission came to India, Ambedkar and his followers did not oppose it. They rather tried to articulate the grievances of the untouchables.
As a result, he was invited to the Round Table Conference in London. Had he not been invited to the conference, the concerns of Dalits would not have surfaced in the mainstream.