Baba Saheb Ambedkar, SCs & STs and Railways


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Ambedkar, Dr Ambedkar – Yes, Dr Ambedkar for the World, Baba Saheb for the Nation, Messiah for SC&ST Dalits – is still called the Leader of the Dalits, Leader of only the SC&ST Dalits. For some, he is the Architect of the Constitution of India. But generally, We forget that he is a Great National Leader, an eminent Educationist, an analytical Historian, a radical Social Reformer, a revolutionary Statesman, a constructive Planner par excellence, and a Visionary much before his times.

Baba Saheb, as the Labour Member of Viceroy’s Council, during the Second World War and after, provided for, many Labour Laws for the Welfare of the Working Classes. We should not forget the basic fact that We are a Nation of Working Classes – Agricultural Workers and Artisans. The Majority of us are the poor SCs&STs, BCs and Minorities. All that we see in this Country have been produced by us, created by us and built by us. Our intuitions, intelligence, innovations, improvements, developments, accumulated empirical knowledge, cumulative wisdom, skills, craftsmanship, labour, hard work, sweat, blood and lives have all gone into them, and also in shaping the face and future of this Nation. This Country lives, moves and breaths only because of us and our labour. Turn around, see everywhere – one can only see our creations, contributions, our footprints, our handworks and our signature. But, we go unrecognized. Not only that, we own nothing.  Nothing is ours. Nothing remains with us. Yes, it is a very sad fact that  We don’t hold even an insignificant fraction of these that have come from our minds and hands. Our Contributions forever remain unacknowledged. Our Labour goes uncompensated. Our share in the fruits of our own labour, development, progress, wealth and National Resources still remain a Mirage and are out of our reach.

Baba Saheb – as a Member of the Working Classes, born as a Dalit in a Dalit Family, did not ever forget us. He always worked for us, our development, our welfare and our progress. Even in his exalted position, as a Member of the Viceroy’s Council, he always kept our interests right before him. He had created so many safeguards and protections for us. Hence, he rightly deserves to be called the Protector of the Working Classes of this Country.  We as the Working Classes, should always be thankful to him. But, come first May – the May Day, the International Day of the Working Classes – Labour Day – our workers, their unions, the union leaders and political parties of all shades, talk about Karl Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and others from abroad, far and near, who have contributed to the Welfare, Safety and Well being of the Working Classes. But hardly anyone will even think a moment about Baba Saheb. That is the sad reality of this Country. Sadly enough, it is not others alone, but we SC&ST Dalits also forget to recall our own Baba Saheb and his contributions for the Workers, Working Classes of People, Unions and Union Leaders, and their Welfare, Protection and Progress. Is this not very strange and odd? Yes, Strange, it is, but is not a Contradiction in the Indian Situation!

Baba Saheb was always a Man of Principles. He always remembered his origins, birth, early childhood, his experiences, the struggles of his parents, the sufferings of his wife, the poverty of his family, the sad early deaths of his children, the tribulations of his friends, the injustices all around, the difficulties of the surroundings, and the dilemmas of the community – the discriminations he faced, humiliations heaped upon him, and whatever small and big help he received from others, oftentimes unexpectedly. He always studied – studied widely and in depth.  He worked hard, continuously and endlessly. He stood against untruth. He opposed injustices. He never approved unfair practices.  Baba Saheb resigned from the Cabinet of Free India – when the Hindu Code Bill, the Bill for Women’s Rights, the Rights of almost half of India was differed for political compulsions, religious reasons and electoral expediencies. He could not compromise himself or accept these reasons, or bow before the pressures of the ruling castes, Fears of the Govt about the consequences of violating the dominant interests or the tyranny of the majority in the Parliament. For him, Women of this Country, the Women whatever may be the communities and the castes they belong to, are equally suppressed and exploited, and are denied justice, even though many of them are themselves equally as oppressive, if not more, as the dominant caste men while dealing with the SC&ST Dalits – be they men, women, old or young or children or infants. It is for this reason, to provide justice to those denied, Baba Saheb could go to the extent of giving up his Cabinet Post. In this, he was not abdicating his responsibilities, but showed openly his resentment in being restrained from executing and discharging his responsibilities. He was not running away from challenges, but threw the challenge of his moral uprightness in the face of those who were either flagrantly unjust, or were unreasonably afraid of unfair oppositions of the unreasonable individuals entrenched with power. He was not an escapist, but was exposing those who wanted to still escape from the responsibilities and duties towards their own women – their mothers, aunts, sisters, wives, daughters, daughters-in-law, and others like grandmothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and grand daughters.

Baba Saheb, was just not tinkering with the Society in his efforts to reform, restructure and re-engineer the society. He had much grandeur designs, bigger plans, and many noble thoughts. He was grasping with much larger issues. He realised that a populous Nation like India can not survive with Laws, Reforms and Restructuring, or Freedom, Independence, Liberty and Democratic Framework of Government, or Liberal Constitution and Republican Status for the Nation. He realised the need for cool, calculated contemplated Planning for an equitable just and fair Development of All, to raise the Standards of Living of Individuals and Society. As a Member of the Viceroy’s Council, he took up the responsibility of Planning for Development of CPWD, Irrigation, Water Resources, Electric Power Generation and so on. As Chairman of the Post-War Reconstruction Committee in these areas, he had planned for many of the major Irrigation Projects like dams, barrages, canals, Hydro-Electric and Thermal Power Stations. He was instrumental in setting up of the Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority, Central Road Research Institute, and also in identifying and roping in eminent Indian Engineers and other experts in these fields for the arduous task of building India into a Modern Nation.  Hence, truly he is the Father of the Planning and Development that we see in India, right from the time of pre-Independent Second World War India.  When one talks of Planning and Development, one cannot forget the British – their tea gardens, textile mills, Posts and Telegraphs, Defence and Police Forces, and most importantly the Railways. Whatever one might have thought of Railways – foolishly and superstitiously – as double binding of mother earth or earth goddess with big strong stiff Steel Rails, Railways have proved to be the forerunner of all real Developments in the Country. It is not that Progress and Development raced along with Railways wherever the Rail Lines went, but they provided the trained, organised, experienced, thinking Man Power. Railways always turned out men of action, men of resources, men of ideas, men of development and men of changes. The Railway Men were the Agents of Change. They were the harbingers of change.  Especially the Railway Workshops, Loco Sheds, Yards and Sidings contributed a lot, and became the Centers of Training the illiterate rural boys recruited for jobs with Railways. Many of these rural boys later turned out to be the base of development, nucleus of progress, foundations of entrepreneurship, sources of employment, inspirations for education and organisers of the Working Classes. They not only organised unions, but also brought most of the employees, their families, children and the surrounding people together, and awakened them for change and development, right through the hinterlands of rural India.

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We cannot ever afford to dismiss all these and the Indian Railways, as hallucinations and imageries of old hags and their memoirs. Even today, Indian Railways is perhaps one the biggest enterprises in the World – both in Govt and Private. We and the Govts to come, should, therefore, pride ourselves that we have such a beautiful and important institution that is Indian Railways. We should duly recognise the Railways’ contributions employment potentials and profitability. Uniquely enough, Indian Railways is one of the few Railways that makes profits. A great achievement in spite of all the inefficiency, corruption, nepotism, mismanagement, mis-administration and the failures of almost successive Indian Govts, Politicians, officials, managers, unions, the press, judiciary and the people. Yes, true to the tradition of being an unjust, unfair, unequal, unreasonable, undemocratic Nation and Society, fairness and justice to workers are the biggest causalities in the hands of the Govts, Ministers and other Politicians, Officials and Unions. Working Classes historically being shunned and despised as Shudra BCs and Ati-Shudra SC&ST Dalits, continue to suffer from the prejudices of the Society, Union Leaders, Officials and Govts even today. In spite of these realities, SC&ST Dalits’ Welfare is much better in Railways – thanks to Babu Jagjivan Ram, and the strength of organised labour. Yet, all is not well with Railways, and SC&ST Dalits in Railways or Railway Unions, or even in the Railway Board. In fact, the situation gets worse as we see up. But there is always deceptive relative calm at the higher levels. Yet the situation is not a comfortable or a happy one. Much more remains to be done. There is a great and urgent need to look into the silent biases discriminations and denials at the time of Selections Promotions and Placements. Similarly, more attention has to be paid at the time of sending teams abroad, individuals for long and specialized training programmes, both in India and abroad.  The Railway Women’s Organisations, Officers Wives Associations, Welfare Institutions etc can do well if they can take up Special Welfare Programmes, Awareness Development Activities, Night Schools, Coaching Classes, Training Programmes, Educational Development and Health Care Camps in poor neighbourhoods, slums in the surrounding areas, and SC&ST Colonies.  Wherever possible, they can also adopt SC&ST Villages, SC&ST Schools, and poor promising capable intelligent and studious SC&ST Students.  There is a very very urgent and special need to look into a large number of petty Vigilance Cases being booked and pressed against SC&ST Dalits in general, and those due for promotion or about to retire. An empirical study of the cases coming before the Minister for Railways showed a disturbing and shocking fact that more than 60% of the Vigilance Cases being sent to CVC and UPSC and also being finalised for punitive action were against SC&ST Dalits. This, is particularly alarming, when the representations of SC&ST Dalits in Railways at the higher levels in any discipline are still very poor. Anyone concerned about the Future of the Country, harmonious coexistence of the People in the Society, just and fair Development and Growth, as well as the Welfare of SC&ST Dalits should look into this aspect more carefully. Particular attention has to be paid in this area, especially when, many officials of the Vigilance Departments are themselves corrupt and are highly prejudiced, and are out to justify their existence and the work of the Vigilance Departments by booking numerous petty cases against small SC&ST fries.

Another area that needs particular and an early attention is the Professional and On the Job Training of SC&ST Officers Staff and other Employees, particularly Promotion Trainings. Special attention has to be paid in assessing the Annual Confidential Reports and the Gradings being given to SC&ST Dalits. With so many Zones and Divisions in Railways, and the breadth width and spread of Railways across the Country, there is a need for certain moderation and leveling up of the Reports they get, vis-à-vis the general community people, particularly the blue-eyed boys and girls of the reporting officials. Otherwise, all the good work, reputation and history of Railways will sadly get tarnished. We must guard against this.

Author – Unknown to us, in case you know the name of the person who wrote this please let us know in the comments section and will update along with the post.

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