Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dr. Ambedkar and Women Empowerment


 Historical Back ground of enslaving Women:-
                    Considering sacrifices, sufferings & contribution of women for the welfare of the family, in the early times of human history, the families were Matriarchal (mother as head of the family).Although woman was not weaker than man, during menstruation, pregnancy & child birth she had to depend upon man., who subsequently enslaved her and society took the form of “Patriarchal” (Father as Ruler & Head of family). Still woman continued to enjoy authority & respect in the family. This continued in the Vedic Period, and women continued enjoying equal rights as men with liberty to choose their husbands in open “Sayambars” The respect enjoyed by woman of that time   could be gauged from the verse” Yater Nariasye Pujante, Ramte Tater Devita (God  reside at places where women are worshiped)” No religious ceremony by man was complete without participation of his wife and Rama had to get statue of Sita made to carry on with ceremonies for Ashawmegh Yagna. But process of down grading & enslaving woman had set in. Rishi ( Hermit )Gotama’s wife  Ahalya’s chastity was out raged by “Moon,Indra and August Rishi” by deceit. Gotama instead of getting  punishing or at least protesting the action against wrong doers, he cursed his wife  by get her converted to a stone for long time. This shows that  even enlightened persons showed little concerns for the females.
          Enslaving of women started in the later Vedic period, when Hindu Law Givers like Manu although, he too was born out of a mother ( woman ) , codified   in his book Manu Smiriti as” It is the very nature of woman to corrupt men Verse 2(213 ) ; woman has no right to acquire property Verse  8 (416 ); Rules  like  serving husbands faithfully even, if he is devoid of any good qualities verse 154 (5); a girl, a young woman, or  even an old woman should not do anything independently, even in her  own house.Verse147 (5). A  widow should be long suffering, until death, self restrained, and chaste( Abstain re marring ) verse158 (5)” She should obey her husband while he is alive and not violate her vow to him when he is dead151(5)   Shankara charya of Kerela ( 9th Century AD ) proclaimed “A woman is a sure gate of  hell & she is poison in the disguise of nectar”. In India  so called Golden rule Of Gupta  dynasty kings proved   worst period for women, when  Brahminical Rules  & dogmas ,codified against women were got strictly enforced . The system started for keeping unmarried girls/ women in temples “Dev- Dassies”  for the service including sexual abuse  by the priest in the name of God . Polygamy, Child marriage, illiteracy for women and discrimination on Sex, besides caste creed became order of the day.
           In  Ramchariter Manas  Goswami Tulsi  Das Says in Arandkand salok 9 “ No body can be as vile as a woman ,who for a moment’s enjoyment, does not  understand the pains of   hundreds of births ”  In Saloka 5 he further says “ A woman is impure from her birth”. In Balkanda ( sloka 57-A) Tulsi writes that a woman is silly and stupid by nature. Even Muslim religion advocates strict rules for women to remain in Parda (veil). In recent past a writer summed up the plight of women in his song” Aurat Ne Janam Diya Mardon Ko, Mardon  Ne usse Bazar Diya.  (Woman gives birth to man, but man puts her in Prostitution centre)”.
     Modern Challengers:---Keeping in view un-natural law enforcing by men duly sanctified with discimatory religious sanctions against women, besides Dr. Ambedkar, many saints like Guru Nanak, Kabir, Ravidas & social reformers like Swami Vivekananda. Dayananda, Raja ram Mohan Roy,  Periyar E.V. Ramaswami, Mahatama Jyotiba phuley raised their forceful  voices  in favour of women be given equality in status and opportunities with man. Ever condemned British Rule in India came to rescue of Indian women in a big way, as it banned Sati System on the insistence of  Raja Ram Mohan Roy . Matama Jyotirba Phule  and his wife revered Mata Savitribhai Phule opened 18 schools for girls in Pune  starting from ever first school for girls on 1-1-1848, and adopted son born to a  Brahmin widow as their heir  against strict opposition from Hindu clergies.  Till half a centaury ago the girl child was buried alive by some Upper Caste Hindus. Honour killing to suppress female persons to marry as per their choice continues despite existing laws to the contrary. Out of the 20 Congress women MPs( Total Women members 37) in the 1991-­1996 Lok Sabha, none was a Cabinet minister.
          Rise of Ambedkar: - With the rise of Polar Star from tatters in Marashtra , named Dr BR Ambedkar
(1891-1956 ) women got their  real emancipator .The Manusmiriti was burnt in full public view by Dr Ambedkar on 25th December 1927, thus  he blew  bugle of fight against discrimination and exploitation on the basis of one’s caste, creed , sex or place of birth. His principle of life was to speak, work & fight for the just cause of oppressed, depressed, exploited, illiterates, ill fed & ill treated men & women irrespective of their caste or social status, place of birth affiliations and without caring for his personnel life discomforts. Till then woman was considered lowest of the low in the Indian society, so he fought a very difficult battle for their cause.  On March 19 & 20, 1927 he addressed a huge meeting of depressed classes, including women, and gave strong call for liberation of women. He advised them to attend more to their development of mind and the spirit of self help; He said that education was as necessary for development of women as was for men. He declared “As you are, so shall be your children”. While addressing largely attended Depressed Classes   Women conference on 18-/9 July 1942, he said, “He measured the progress of a community by the degree of progress made by the women of that community.  He advised, let every girl who marries, stand by her husband, claim to be her husband’s friend and equal and refuse to be his slave. He advocated avoiding early marriage and producing too many children. Give proper education to your children, so that they live a dignified life”.  Dr Ambedkar advocated for equal wages for equal work without discrimination on the basis of sex or caste, besides grant of paid maternity leave to expecting mothers. While strongly supporting proposed maternity benefits to women in Bombay Legislative Council in 1928 he said “---- it is in the interest of the Nation that the mother ought to get a certain amount of rest during the pre-natal period and also subsequently”
    Constitutional Provisions: -     Baba Sahib Dr. Ambedkar worked with, dedication, zeal & conviction for the betterment of women on becoming Chairman Of Constitution Drafting Committee & First Law Minister of Independent Indian. He gave India a living& organic Constitution, enshrining in it all those conditions which are necessary to promote fraternity among all citizens of free India, including women.. Discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, sex, creed, place of birth was codified as illegal acts under the Statute Book.  The Indian Constitution  provides for Equality before Law( Art.14 ) , the State shall not discriminate any citizen on the grounds  of , religion, caste, race, sex , place of birth or any of them ( Art 15 ), equal opportunities to all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment under the State ( Art16 ), equal pay to all for equal work for both men & women( Art.39d ) right to work , to education and public assistance in certain cases  ( Art 41 ), Provision of  just and human conditions  of work and maternity relief (Art 42) ,  Provision of uniform Civil Code to all the citizens throughout the Indian Territory (Art 44). Dr. Ambedkar by his scholarly arguments in framing/ debating Indian Constitution get put his seal of equality for women by getting them right of vote to equalize her position in running the State affairs.
               Hindu Code Bill:-  To strike last nail in the coffin of discrimination against Indian women ,
Dr Ambedkar raised a new battle cry by finally submitting modified and revised Hindu Code bill to Constituent assembly in October 1948, which was under consideration since 1941 this gave a great shock to the reactionary opponents.   But elite persons supported it as Justice Gajenderagadkar, an imminent Sanskrit Scholar, jurist & Judge of the Bombay High Court said, “If Dr Ambedkar gives us Hindu Code Bill, his achievement would go down in history as a very eloquent piece of poetic justice indeed”. The discussion on this historic Bill  by  the Modern Manu began on Feb.5, 1951 in the Parliament and continued for three days, when its consideration was  postponed to next session in Sept. , 1951. Pt Nehru promised for the passage of the Bill and said that, if, the Hindu Code bill was not passed he along with his Cabinet of Ministers shall resign. But it is reported that even Dr Rajindra Prasad (Then President of India), a devote Brahmin, said, that, if, the Bill was passed he shall resign. Patel was not in favour of even its consideration, not to speak of passing of the Hindu Code Bill. It was decided by the Congress Party to take it up on Sept., 17, 1951, but only the first part of the Bill “Marriage & Divorce” and other clauses to be taken later. Elaborate security arrangements were made in & around Parliament, as opponents of the Bill, were gearing up for trouble.  During discussion Dr.  Shayama Prashad Mookerjee said “The Hindu Code Bill would shatter the magnificent structure of Hindu culture---.”  The tactics of long speeches to delay the passage of the Bill was resorted to by the members opposed to the Bill.  All objections raised against the Bill, during debates were replied ably by the Law Minister, but even the” Marriage & Divorce”   Bill could not be completed, and the rest of the Hindu Code Bill was never taken up. The Hindu Code Bill was let down in the tragic manner and in the words of Dr. Ambedkar “It was killed and buried, unwept and unsung after four clauses were passed”. Even Nehru did not honor his word of full support for passage of the Bill.   The four clauses of the Bill, which were adopted by the House on 25 Sept, 1951, strengthened the position of the women in the society.  The four clauses passed were incorporated in the Hindu Code Bill, these were
I)                     The Hindu marriage Act,1955
II)                    The Hindu succession Act,1956
III)                   The Hindu Minority and guardianship Act1956
IV)                    The adoption & maintenance Act 1956
       The First Union Law Minister was disappointed due to non passage of the Hindu Code Bill, as was conceived by him and promised support by Pt. Nehru. So Dr Ambedkar created history of sorts in sacrificing his Cabinet Law Ministry for the just  cause of women  by resigning on Sept., 27, 1951 as a matter of protest. An example  of supreme sacrifice for women  liberation was created in not only Indian but world history. Although Dr Ambedkar could not succeed in getting passed the full Hindu Code Bill, he successfully put the ball rolling & laid the foundation of equality for the women of India in all spheres of life. Women can now have custody of child, no marriage before age of 18 years, Provision of alimony (maintenance allowance from husband on getting legally separation) ), Widow can now  adopt a child, rights over parental property , a uniform scheme for succession to the property of a Hindu female who dies intestate ( not having made a will ), Mother can change  guardian of minor  by will, and many more rights due to the relentless efforts of Dr Ambedkar. Due to Dr. Ambedkar efforts the women are now holding high positions of authority  in all fields including, Engineering, Medical, Education including Higher Education; Army, Air Force, Aviation, Navy. Police, Administration. Politics; Foreign Services, Industry & Trade. India was proud to send in Space Indian Woman Kalpana Chawla. Installing Miss Mayawati a Dalit woman as Chief Minister besides other women CM’s, Mrs Indra Gandhi as Prime Minister of India & now Her Excellency Madam Pratibha Singh Patil is President of Indian Union as per the equal rights granted by our Constitution. Madam Sonia Gandhi is chairperson of one of the ruling   National Parties, Madam J. Jayalalithaaa,madam  Mamta Bhennerji are the proud Chief Ministers in India, where at one time woman was equated with the man’s shoe. With the proposed amendment to Art.243-D of Indian Constitution, India shall have 50 percent share of women in Panchayati Raj with nearly ten lacs and forty thousands women force. Already 15th Lok Sabha have 59 Women members( 10.82%), which shall be raised three fold in the next  Parliament with the passing of the  proposed Women’s Reservation Bill, for which ruling party is committed . However adequate representation to deprived castes women in Parliament and other elected bodies is a distant dream. Dalit women are suffering on two fronts of castes and sex.

        Still religiously dominated India did not permit Mrs. Indra Gandhi, the only child of Pt Nehru, to lit pyre of her father,  as such acts are solely reserved for men only. Madam Savitribai Phuley(1830-1897) dared to lit the Pyre of her husband against all opposition from religious orthodox ,as their  heir son, being an adopted one was also not  religiously qualified to do .  It a matter of concern that a handful orthodox  , are still glorifying the illegal act like Sati ,  favoring child marriage, Parading naked,  Dalit women in full public view  for minor crimes , advocating opening of Girl-  Dance Bars .Still curse of killing of girl child in the mother’s womb is continuing unabated despite strict rules against this inhuman act. This has reduced the population of the girls in India greatly and it needs to be curved with strong hand.
             It may be noted that Dr. Ambedkar was not against Religions, he was against un-religious acts in the name of religion, by the orthodox clergies and he always opposed the unreligious act of differentiating between humans (woman & Child included) on the basis of castes, sects, sex, color or place/ status at birth.   Dr. Ambedkar said “If God does not recognize man or woman by caste or place of birth, the man made Orthodox and superstitious religions cannot/ should not do so .” 
       Dr. Ambedkar’s heart can be read for women welfare from his following saying “Unity is meaningless with out the accompaniment of women. Education is fruitless without educated women, and agitation is incomplete without the strength of women”.                                                                                                         

 1) Ambedkar and social Justice vol. II ( MO I & B; GOI 1992 )
2) Dr Ambedkar His Life & Mission By DHANJAY KEER, Popular Prakashan Bombay
3) B. R. Ambedkar By W. N. Kuber ( MO I& B GOI  Series Builder Of Mordrn India 1990)
4) Br Ambedkar Chintan Aur Vichar (Hindi) By Dr Rajindermohan Bhatnagar Jagat Ram & sons New Delhi 1994
4) The Laws Of Manu Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd New Delhi 1991
5) The Constitution Of India by PM Bakshi 1999.
6 ) Ramchriter Manas by Goswami Tulsidas             Gita Press Gorakhpur
           7.Hindu Samaj Ke Pathbharasdhtak Tulsidas Ed. Vishawa Nath N.Delhi-01( ISBN:-81-85679-19-3, 14th Edition


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. a very informative and thought-provoking article. Thank you sir for your efforts in writing this and sharing it with the world.

  3. I realised the amount of great work done for Women Empowerment by Dr Babsaheb Ambedkar.. Jai Bhim

  4. Wonderful article many many thanks for revealing the historical facts & great contribution made by baba sahib for women's liberation.

  5. article is very useful and wonderfully written and I congratulate to you for your contribution and awaking people from truth.

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