Ambedkarisation and Dalit Assertion: A Case Study of a Village in Banaras District in East
Mr Zeeshan Husain, PhD Scholar, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi, India
More than two decades ago a political scientist coined the term ‘Ambedkarisation’ to describe a process happening in west Uttar Pradesh. This was about the increasing presence of the images and ideas of one of the founding fathers of India, BR Ambedkar, among the Dalits of the west UP. This was based on Jagpal Singh’s fieldwork in Meerut district almost three decades ago; in 1992-94. My paper revisits the concept and tries to find out its relevance in east UP. This is based on my fieldwork in a village in Banaras district and carried out intermittently between 2018 and 2021. I first elaborate on the concept of Ambedkarisation as used by Jagpal Singh. Then I move to illustrate my own fieldwork findings of the same process in a different region. My research question is how much relevant is the concept Ambedkarisation in today’s context, where it has succeeded and where it has failed and finally what could be its impact on India’s democracy. The paper ends by taking the issue of religion in the process of Ambedkarisation and the upward social mobility due to non-Hindu religious affiliate. This reflects in the upward social mobility among the Buddhists and Ravidasis, and social stagnation among the Hindu scheduled castes (SCs). Lastly, the paper posits that Ambedkarisation needs to take into account the issues of Islamophobia, patriarchy and Hinduisation of SCs to make India into a completely inclusive democracy and society.
Keywords: Ambedkarisation, Uttar Pradesh, Banaras, Dalit religion. Buddhists, Ravidasis