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Mainstream, VOL LX No 35 New Delhi, August 20, 2022

Ambedkar Saw Savarkar’s Hindutva as a Danger to India - Would Have been Shocked to See His Name Being Taken Along with Savarkar | SN Sahu

Friday 19 August 2022, by S N Sahu

Ambedkar Would Have Been Shocked By Prime Minister Taking His Name Along With Savarkar in his Independence Day Speech in the Context of Service to the Nation

On the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of India’s independence Prime Minister Modi while addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15th August 2022 invoked four names- Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, B R Ambedkar, and V D Savarkar- and said that the countrymen are deeply indebted to them because they “devoted all their life on the path of duty towards the nation”. In his 2021 independence day speech, Modi had invoked the names of several freedom fighters including Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
Interestingly there was no reference to the name of Savarkar in that speech even as in some of the other independence day speeches delivered prior to 2021 he invoked the name of Savarkar. Modi is possibly the first Prime Minister of India who has mentioned the name of Savarkar in several of his independence day speeches and in doing so he stands in sharp contrast to Prime Minister Vajpayee who possibly never took the name of Savarkar in any of his addresses to the nation from Lal Quila.

Vajpayee Withdrew His Recommendation for Bharat Ratna for Savarkar Because of K R Narayanan

This point is mentioned with emphasis because Prime Minister Vajpayee while agreeing to President of India K R Narayanan’s proposal for Bharat Ratna for shenai maestro Bismillha Khan, had recommended Bharat Ratna for Savarkar and when President Naayanan did not approve it for several months, Vajpayee sensed Narayanan’s disapproval and so withdrew his recommendation. Later in its 2019 manifesto for Maharashtra State elections the BJP stated that it would confer Bharat Ratna, among others, on Savarkar in the event of winning the mandate of the people to form the Government in the State. Never ever Bharat Ratna was politicised in the manner in which it was done by BJP in 2019. In 2021 BJP leader Rajnath Singh made a preposterous claim that on the request of Mahatma Gandhi Savarkar submitted multiple mercy petitions to the British regime for his release from Cellular Jail in Andamans.

Ambedkar’s Warned that Savarkar’s Idea of Swaraj Would Endanger India

This background is important to understand Modi’s invocation of Savarkar in his independence day speech. As earlier stated he also took the name of Ambedkar. It is instructive that Savarkar’s worldview based on his concept of Hindutva was very severely indicted by Ambedkar who never minced words in warning that Savarkar’s worldview would endanger India’s safety and security on a continuous basis.

B R Ambedkar in his book “Pakistan and Partition of India” gave an exhaustive analysis of Savrakar’s ideas and indicted his divisive ideology by saying, “And it is because he wants his(Savarkar’s) Swaraj to bear the stamp of being a Hindu Raj that Mr. Savarkar wants that India should have the appellation of Hindustan”(https://mea.gov.in/Images/attach/amb/Volume_08.pdf). If we combine Ambedkar’s interpretation of Savarkar’s philosophy in terms of Hindu Raj and his statement, “If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country”, then it is crystal clear that both Ambedkar and Savarkar had no common ground to share. While the vision of India nurtured by Ambedkar was inclusive, the vision of India nurtured by Savarkar was highly exclusive and contrary to the values and ideals of freedom struggle.

Let us take another aspect of Dr. Ambedkar’s deep understanding of inclusive character of Indian society and his criticism of Jinha and his Muslim followers who demanded a separate State of Pakistan on the ground that there are no commonalities between Hindus and Muslims. Again it is worthwhile to quote from Ambedkar’s book ‘Pakistan and Partition of India” wherein he wrote,

“When a society is disintegrating—and the two nation theory is a positive disintegration of society and country—it is evidence of the fact that there do not exist what Carlyle calls “organic filaments”—i.e., the vital forces which work to bind together the parts that are cut asunder. In such cases disintegration can only be regretted. It cannot be prevented. Where, however, such organic filaments do exist, it is a crime to overlook them and deliberately force the disintegration of society and country as the Muslims seem to be doing”.

He then observed, “If the Musalmans want to be a different nation it is not because they have been but because they want to be. There is much in the Musalmans which, if they wish, can roll them into a nation”. He then asked, “But isn’t there enough that is common to both Hindus and Musalmans, which if developed, is capable of moulding them into one people ?” Answering that question he observed, ‘“Nobody can deny that there are many modes, manners, rites and customs which are common to both. Nobody can deny that there are rites, customs and usages based on religion which do divide Hindus and Musalmans.” He then stated that “If the emphasis is laid on things that are common, there need be no two nations in India. If the emphasis is laid on points of difference, it will no doubt give rise to two nations”. Ambedkar with his constructive and inclusive vision proceeded to add, “If the Hindus and Musalmans agree to emphasize the things that bind them and forget those that separate them there is no reason why in course of time they should not grow into a nation. It may be that their nationalism may not be quite so integrated as that of the French or the Germans. But they can easily produce a common state of mind on common questions which is the sum total which the spirit of nationalism helps to produce and for which it is so much prized. Is it right for the Muslim League to emphasize only differences and ignore altogether the forces that bind ? Let it not be forgotten that if two nations come into being it will not be because it is predestined. It will be the result of deliberate design.”

Savarkar Preceded Jinah in Giving Two Nation Theory

The above observations sharply brought out Ambedkar’s positive spirit guided by inclusive vision and nationalism which stood in sharp contrast to Savarkar’s vision articulated by him in his speech delivered in 1937 in the Ahmedabad session of the Hindu Maha Sabha. He had said, “India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogeneous nation, but on the contrary, these are two nations in the main, the Hindus and the Muslims in India.” He thus preceded Jinha in propounding the two-nation theory. It is worthwhile to note that before Savarkar said in the Ahmedabad session that Hindus and Muslims are two nations he observed that “.....the so-called communal questions are but a legacy handed down to us by centuries of a cultural, religious and national antagonism between the Hindus and the Muslims”. This statement is incompatible with Ambedkar’s statement that “If the emphasis is laid on things that are common, there need be no two nations in India.” Clearly Ambedkar was emphasising on commonalities among Hindus and Muslims in opposition to Savarkar’s emphasis on antagonisms between the two communities. Therefore, he indicted Savarkar and Jinha by bringing out their shared vision and observed, “Strange as it may appear, Mr. Savarkar and Mr. Jinnah instead of being opposed to each other on the one nation versus two nations issue are in complete agreement about it. Both agree, not only agree but insist that there are two nations in India—one the Muslim nation and the other the Hindu nation”. “They differ,” Ambedkar said, “only as regards the terms and conditions on which the two nations should live”. Outlining that difference, he observed, “Mr. Jinnah says India should be cut up into two, Pakistan and Hindustan, the Muslim nation to occupy Pakistan and the Hindu nation to occupy Hindustan. Mr. Savarkar on the other hand insists that, although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution; that the constitution shall be such that the Hindu nation will be enabled to occupy a predominant position that is due to it and the Muslim nation made to live in the position of subordinate co-operation with the Hindu nation.”

“But Mr. Savarkar in advocating his scheme” asserted Ambedkar, “is really creating a most dangerous situation for the safety and security of India”. He went on to explain that by saying, “But it can never ensure a stable and peaceful future for the Hindus, for the simple reason that the Muslims will never yield willing obedience to so dreadful an alternative”.

Ambedkar Would Have been Shocked to See His Name Taken Along with Savarkar

Will India embrace the “dreadful alternative” in the next twenty-five years by which Prime Minister Modi says India would be transformed? So when Prime Minister Modi said in his independence day speech that both Ambedkar and Savarkar “devoted all their life on the path of duty towards the nation” Ambedkar with his inclusive vision would have found “dreadful alternative” vision of Savarkar unacceptable for the onward march of India. What is required is to embrace Ambedkar’s inclusive vision and shun Savarkar’s divisive approach which is contrary to the constitutional vision of India

(Author: S N Sahu served as Officer on Special Duty to President of India K R Narayanan)

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