When Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism publicly in 1956 in Nagpur, he planned to have conversion ceremonies throughout India: Agra, Chennai, and Mumbai were on the planning map. The conversion movement would have gone into deep villages had this plan taken off, but Babasaheb died in a few weeks and it could not take place.
Despite that, last 60 years saw many conversion ceremonies, small and massive, throughout the length and breadth of India. Buddhism, as it was interpreted and understood by Babasaheb Ambedkar, was to become the total revolution to liberate people not only from the oppressive social structures but also everything that binds human beings to narrow self-interests and self-limiting identities.
It is surprising the way Behen Mayavati is threatening the “Hindus” that she will convert to Buddhism if the “Dalits” are not treated well by the “Hindus”. Gone are the days when we could repeat this statement, but not anymore.
The movement is mature enough and conversion to Buddhism is not to threaten the “caste-Hindus”, it is for the reclamation of human personality and therefore instead of making such statements which have no meaning, she must launch the conversion movement or stay aloof from such statement. This is for the number of reasons.
By conversion to Buddhism, her political ascent is assured because even in today’s UP, most of the Chamars are already inclined to Buddhism, even if they have not formally embraced Buddhism.
Conversion to Buddhism should be BSP’s political necessity as it will stop weaning away the BSP by the “Hinduisation” of the Dalits and their icon. Remember, the important statement of Babasaheb Ambedkar: the cornerstone of my politics is that the untouchables are not Hindus.
By conversion to Buddhism throughout India, an all India culture identity is slowly emerging and this emergence of the pan-India cultural identity is the only way to consolidate and sustain the movement for the longer run. It creates a unifying glue for all to come together.
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale