India is witnessing the dance of democracy in the run up to the parliamentary elections. It is just a co-incident that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary (April 14) falls in the months of parliamentary elections (April –May) for the last so many years. Every time one thinks or writes about the functioning of parliamentary democracy in India, it is natural to remember Dr. Ambedkar. During the debates of the Constituent Assembly and subsequently in his wide spread interaction with the intelligensia and the public, Dr. Ambedkar spoke about the future of parliamentary democracy in India. It is gratifying to note that the views of Dr. Ambedkar on the subject are as relevant today as these were then. If the political parties, the politicians and the common voters during the elections, the festival of democracy, take note and consider the views and advice of the father of the Indian constitution seriously, the outcome and the resultant product in the form of a good parliament and also government will of course be befitting to the needs of the country. It will be a correct and wholesome tribute to Babasaheb Ambedkar.
“A democratic form of government presupposes democratic form of society”, said Dr. Ambedkar. It is a matter of regret and concern that the Indian society at large is still dogmatic and stratified on the basis of caste and religion. Criminalisation of politics in India is yet another bane of parliamentary democracy. Dr. Ambedkar’s views on the qualifications of the MPs stipulate that ‘Education can hardly be the sole qualification for membership of parliament. If I may use the words of Buddha, he said that man requires two things. One is ‘Gyan’ and the other is ‘Sheel’. Gyan without Sheel is very dangerous. It must be accompanied by Sheel by which we mean character, moral courage, ability to be independent of any kind of temptations, truthful to ones ideals. I am very keen to see that no member enters this august assembly who does not possess ‘Sheel’ in adequate degree’. Dr. Ambedkar was against the use of money power and funds raised from unscrupulous sources. While speaking to the students of DAV College in Jalandhar on the future of parliamentary democracy in 1951, Babasaheb Ambedkar referring to the problem said,
“I would like to refer to the Mahabharat. During the battle between the Pandvas and the Kaurvas, Bhishma and Drona were on the side of the Kaurvas. The Pandvas were in the right and the Kaurvas were in the wrong. Bhishma admitted this. When somebody asked Bhishma as to why he was supporting the Kaurvas if he found the Pandvas to be in the right. Bhishma replied in the memorable sentence. I must be loyal to the salt if I eat the food of the Kaurvas. I must take their side even if they might be in the wrong”.
Dr. Ambedkar said a lot more on the subject. If we Indians take note of only a few of these views, things will change for the better. As a tribute to Babasaheb Ambedkar on his birth anniversary, I endorse Arundhati Roy, “We need Ambedkar – now urgently”.
हज़ारों साल नर्गिस अपनी बेनूरी पे रोती है;
बड़ी मुश्किल से होता है चमन में दीदावर पैदा !