'Ambedkar was a national, not just Dalit, leader'

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) It is "grossly unfair" to describe B.R. Ambedkar as a Dalit leader, says a new biography, adding that the architect of India's constitution was nothing short of "a national leader".

"It is grossly unfair to characterize Ambedkar simply as a leader of a leader of Untouchables or Dalits, as is often done even in otherwise responsible quarters," says Narendra Jadhav in the 640-page book "Ambedkar: Awakening India's Social Conscience" (Konark Publishers). "He was a national leader, period." Jadhav is a member of the Planning Commission and the National Advisory Council (NAC).

Ambedkar's erudition, his mass movements, his role in the government and outside clearly showed that "he was a patriot of a sterling order," says the author, a well known economist, policy maker, educationist and social scientist.

"His brand of nationalism was quite different from others in India's freedom struggle."

The book says: "Ambedkar's nationalism was not merely confined to the transfer of political power to the Indians from the British rule. It was focused on a much broader notion of sustainable national re-construction that is, building a democratic Republic through creation of social equality and cultural integration in the age-old caste-ridden, inherently unjust and discriminating society."

Author Jadhav, who has written or edited 29 books including 12 on Ambedkar, says Ambedkar "made outstanding contribution as an economist, sociologist, anthropologist, educationist, journalist, as an authority on comparative religion, as a policy maker and administrator and as a parliamentarian, besides being a jurist who became the principal architect of the Indian constitution".

No wonder, the books says, there are more statues of Ambedkar in India than any other leader.

The "intellectual biography", as the book is described, details the humiliation Ambedkar faced in his young age but who still overcame all odds to secure the most reputable degrees from world class universities.

"He then returns to India and devotes his life to the destruction of the caste-ridden old order, characterized by injustice and denial of human rights."

As a key architect of the constitution, he proceeded to build the safeguards of affirmative action for establishing a more equitable society capable of delivering social justice to millions of downtrodden.

"In this process, Ambedkar comes to the forefront not only as a valiant upholder of the Indian Republic but also emerges as the conscience keeper of modern India," the book says.

Even while being fully engrossed in mass movements, he wrote remarkable treatises on economics, sociology, anthropology, politics, law, religion and culture which is clearly the mark of a true intellectual.

The book says Ambedkar was a prolific writer and "perhaps no other mass leader in India produced anywhere even close to the voluminous writings that (he) did".

"The sheer volume is astonishing: 22 books and monographs completed and published plus 10 books left behind incomplete at various stages, 10 major memoranda and statements submitted to various authorities, 10 research papers, articles and book reviews besides hundreds of articles in Marathi...

"Even if a first rate scholar devotes himself only to writing alone, it would still be exceedingly difficult to match these contributions.

"What is simply unbelievable is that Ambedkar produced these magnificent books while being fully engaged in politics and in drafting the constitution of India!"