Raja Sekhar Vundru

Raja Sekhar Vundru's Writings

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Location: New Delhi, India

Ph.D on Dr.Ambedkar's Electoral System from the National Law School, Bangalore (NLSUI) Currently working as Deputy Director General, UIDAI, Government of India , New Delhi +911123752322 (office)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Poona Pact and Representative Politics: Reflections talk at Osmania University, April 2013

Sakshi Telugu Newspaper 14 April 2015

Ambedkarite empowerment will emancipate our languishing millions
At 125, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar enters the domain of immortality. He has more statues than all our leaders put together— candles are lit, he’s revered, he’s garlanded, consecrated on every occasion, whether it be a protest or a celebration. Since his mahaparinirvan as a Bodhisattva in 1956, Ambedkar’s memory and ideology has been kept alive by his followers. He’s become the single-most rallying point for every instance that seeks social justice. Indeed, the turn of the century along with his centenary celebrations in 1991 has reinforced the Dalit consolidation behind Ambedkar.
The Dalits have now sufficiently driven a point that, core to the emancipatory future of millions in India (irrespective of caste), is the reinforcing of his legacy in constitutional democr­acy; a rights-based constitutional fra­­me­­w­ork and the cultural nationalism of his Buddhism and Ambedkarite politics. This probably will be the driving force, not only for Dalits but for all citizen-centric rights-based movements in India.
The best example of this came when the courts expanded the understanding of Article 21 on right to protection of life and liberty, which emanated from the framework of rights created by Ambedkar. It lived up to Ambedkar’s vision by ensuring rights to food, to work and to education under the garb of right to life.
Rights-based constitutional agitation is now expanding, with individual rights of citizens attaining primacy. Mov­ements and agitations by the youth in New Delhi for greater rights is a good example of this. This is where citizens’ rights tend to coincide with the clamour of Dalits to free themselves of caste-based discrimination. Yet Dalits continue to suffer from discriminations—caste and poverty—in addition to the rights violations afflicting other ‘citizens’. One hundred million fol­lowers of Ambedkar’s ideology would like to see the nat­ion’s policies towards better justice reworked.
After 1991, a serious revaluation of the cultural nationalism ingrained in Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism was done. He was hailed as the greatest ‘Hindu reformer’, lauded for having chosen an Indian religion. Ambedkar’s followers are taking his Buddhist legacy forward. Every year on Dussehra the pilgrimage of a million Dalits to Nagpur’s deekshabhoomi is a spectacle; it is the biggest congregation of Buddhists in modern India. Ambedkarite Buddhism and his book Buddha and his Dhamma (1956), is now his followers’ religion. The years to come will see the complete integration of Dalits into the fold of Buddhism, as Ambedkar had wished.
Again in 1991, the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, UK, ensured the installation of a plaque on 10, King Henry Road, Chalk Farm, London. It reads: “Dr. Bhi­mrao Ramji Ambedkar, 1891-1956, Indian Crusader for Social Justice lived here 1921-1922”. fabo also used Ambedkar’s ideology against caste discrimination in the UK in the debate leading to the recent Equality Bill.
The promise of Ambedkarite empowerment and the slow gains over the years help Dalits survive the various political reverses and false hopes laid bare by political parties. Denial of political rights is a way of life for Dalits; it will be so till the time the Ambedkarite legacy obliterates the politics of injustice and discrimination. The final achievement of constitutional democracy will come when the struggle of Dalits—who have analysed and internalised the Constitution—is crowned with success. The strength of Ambedkarite politics grew manifold after 1991, with one political party with a core Ambedkarite political ideology securing power four times in Uttar Pradesh.
The collective strength of the Dalits, who comprise 15-20 per cent of the population, cannot be underestimated. This is one group who, armed with Ambedkar’s ideology, have unwavering demands, unlike other voters whose political demands keep changing. This strength has come to the fore in the two decades following the Ambedkar centenary. The best example is the way Dalits in Andhra Pradesh made the assembly convene a special session in 2013 to pass the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan (Planning, Allocation and Utilisation of Financial Resources) Act. This, despite efforts of Andhra politics to divide Dalits on sub-caste lines. Economic justice was the essence of this act, which is now enforceable in Telangana, Karnataka and Andhra. While the leaders who bro­­u­ght this about, Sirivella Prasad and Korivi Vinay, moved on to politics, the  unassuming Dalit activist-journalist, Mall­­ep­alli Laxma­iah, aims to replicate this law all over India. With Dalits like Laxmaiah on the rise, a resurgent Ambedkarite politics will seek and win economic, political and social justice. At the very least, Ambedkar’s immortal legacy deserves this.

(Raja Sekhar Vundru, an IAS officer, has a doctorate from National Law School, Bangalore. The views are personal.)
Click here to see the article in its standard web format

Friday, December 12, 2014

S R Sankaran 4th Memorial Lecture by Dr Rajasekhar Vundru : PART TWO

S R Sankaran 4th Memorial Lecture by Dr. Raja Sekhar Vundru : PART ONE

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Review : Further Echoes From Babasaheb

Books / Reviews Magazine | May 12, 2014 Weak Constitution This 'intellectual biography' of Ambedkar is a cut-and-paste job Review Further Echoes From Babasaheb A book that slices Ambedkar’s life for clarity is actually a pastiche of past scholarship and fills up its pages by liberally quoting from his own works Raja Sekhar Vundru Ambedkar: Awakening India’s Social Conscience Ambedkar: Awakening India’s Social Conscience By By Narendra Jadhav Konark | Pages: 640 | Rs 595 Ambedkar: Awakening India’s Social Conscience is a ninety per cent reproduction of either B.R. Ambedkar’s published speeches or his writings. To fill the rest ten per cent, Narendra Jadhav treads the dan­gerous ground of plagiarism. The first sample: on the first-ever meeting of Gandhi and Ambedkar on August 14, 1931, and the impending conflict, Dhananjay Keer’s biography (1971, page 168) reads “But the die was cast. The spark of opposition was ignited.” Here, page 14 reads, “The die was cast. The spark of confrontation was ignited”. Ambedkar has been among the most studied, revered, misunderstood and talked about leaders of India. His rightful claim to a central role in nation-building has been consistently flagged by scholars like Eleanor Zelliot, Gail Omvedt and Christophe Jaffrelot. His importance in the arena of political democracy—via the bequest of a rights-based constitution for new generations—has been accentuated by the churning India is passing through. Our efforts to understand the great man started in two ways. Primarily, it was through biographers. Then, starting from 1979, came the massive publication of Ambedkar’s writings and speeches by the Maharashtra government, numbering 22 volumes till date, and mostly edi­ted by Vasant Moon. But by 1979, the core work of Ambedkar had already been brought to the public domain by followers. After Ambedkar’s centenary celebrations in 1991, scholarship grew in multitudes—on the life, work and ideas. Jadhav’s current work, claimed to be an “intellectual biography” of Ambedkar, is somewhat modelled on W.N. Kuber and Keer. Jadhav shot into fame by translating into English his family’s autobiography from Marathi (Amcha Baap aan Aamhi, 1993) as Outcaste: A Memoir (2003). His recent works are edited volumes on Ambedkar: Ambedkar Speaks (2013) and Ambedkar Writes (2013), which are simply a rehash of the multi-­volume published writings and speec­hes. This book is a further rehash of Ambedkar Speaks and Ambedkar Writes. The author divides Ambedkar’s scholarly life into ten parts, and merely fills every part with extracts of his writings and speeches. It starts with Ambedkar’s education and foray into public sphere in 1913-1923, as a scholar in mass movements till 1930 and the Gandhi-Ambedkar conflict in 1930-36. At his political debut after the 1937 elections, he’s classified as a “sch­olar-politician”, and later, in his days as lab­our member in the viceroy’s executive council, as a “scholar-politician-adm­inis­tra­­tor”. Ambedkar’s role in the government in 1947 and while in opposition from 1951 is cov­ered only with a reproduction of his speeches in Par­liament. His search for identity for Dalits is exemplified by reproducing his works on the origins of ‘untouchables’. Biographies of great men are never to be written in a hurry. To write an “intellectual biography” of Ambedkar needs int­ellectual honesty. This 640-page book is a cut-and-paste job of Ambedkar’s spe­eches and writings. Like quick-fix writers, Jadhav probably knows that Ambedkar sells like hot cakes at present. (The reviewer is an IAS officer and has a PhD on Ambedkar’s electoral ideas) Click here to see the article in its standard web format