Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why "States and Minorities" Essay by Dr. Ambedkar is not enough


I was able to refresh myself on States and Minorities.Some observations
1. Dr. Ambedkar and Mr. Nehru were both the creation of the dominantthought streams of their generations in terms about their viewabout "state socialism".
2. "States and minorities" talks about state socialism withparliamentary democracy and justifies it. As all of us are aware, thedrivers of this nation changed course since 1980. The dominant visionand rhetoric now is of controlled capitalism (capitalism with humanface et al). I am not defending the latter or criticizing the former.The legitimacy to the latter is derived from the electoral and theconstitutional framework and is real. The global experience isagainst the former, with all the votaries of State socialism (esp.Russia and China) incorporating some or the other capitalisticmeasures.
3. "States and minorities" reduces private sector to the minimum.Globally nations are coming round to the thinking that governmentsshould not be in business...

The role of the state in the day to daylife of individuals is decreasing. "States and minorities" does predict that the private employer becomes the driver of individuallives in this case. The issues that crop up when this happens atvarious levels have not been discussed in detail in "States andminorities", since they were not as relevant during Dr. Ambedkarsgeneration. As you can understand, given my exposure to employment inIndias private sector, I face issues. These issues may be lessemotional than the denial of basic rights of rural poor dalits. Butthey are relevant to the eventual integration of dalits into theIndian mainstream. My only source for my problems is the protectiveframework put in place for minorities in US. This is not to say thatUS has all the solutions for my problems. US is ahead of us in theirthinking on these issues. In India, dalits are getting addicted togovernment and public sector and not venturing enough into theprivate sector, which is the place where social power is movingincreasingly. Where are the dalit entrepreneurs? My IDBIdalit friend tells me that if dalits want to raise big money, thenthey should hide their identities. These hidden barriers toactualizing the potential of dalit entrepreneurship have'nt beenaddressed enough by anyone yet. The problems of the dalits, who workin the private sector without the protective cover of the governmentare not discussed. Because they now have enough to eat, wear, live,their issues of self-respect, identity, discrimination are notdiscussed enough.4. To summarise, "States and Minorities" needs to be supplementedwith details about "States, Private sector enterprises andMinorities", since world over (and increasingly in India), privatesector enteprises are dominating the economy.5. Study of history is not a problem. The only issue is that ourintellectuals are pre-occupied with it and unwilling to apply theirminds to the newer emerging issues. Intellectuals have the role ofunderstanding the emerging development and help steer the communitythrough it. Excessive focus on the past can create consensus aboutthe past among dalits. That is useful. But it is more important anddirectly relevant (in an electoral sense) to build consensus amongdalits about how to respond to the altered (and altering) reality.RegardsPratap Tambay
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