Why Ambedkar’s vision of Dalit consciousness stands defied

While BR Ambedkar’s fan base is growing, his great bequest to India’s democracy – a vibrant, resilient and sometimes militant movement for the socio-political emancipation and invigoration of the Dalit – appears to have reached a precipice. Photo: Reuters

On April 14, India marked the 131st birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. Political parties, irrespective of their ideological persuasions, broke into a competitive frenzy to unveil statues of the Dalit icon and architect of the Indian Constitution, launch welfare schemes or organise seminars and events in his name.

It is tempting to imagine how Babasaheb, were he alive today, would have reacted to being elevated to a cult figure. In his final address to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949, Ambedkar had warned the nation of the perils of hero-worship of even great men. “For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics......