B R Ambedkarís grandson anti-Dalit, says RPI chief Ramdas Athavale

Ramdas Athavale
Finds the idea of BR Ambedkar's grandson to do away with caste column in school admission forms 'preposterous'

The suggestion of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) president that the caste column in forms for admission to schools be done away with to end caste prejudices right from a young age has Republican Party of India (RPI) president Ramdas Athavale up in arms.

On Friday, Athavale made a scathing attack on Prakash Ambedkar and called him anti-Dalit.

Athavale said, "Ambedkar is anti-Dalit. No individual concerned about welfare of Dalits would ever suggest such reforms that could be detrimental to their progress in education, jobs and political careers."

Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of BR Ambedkar, had a couple of days ago said, "Caste bias is ingrained in minds the day a child enters school. The child at an early age is made to believe he/she has a separate identity. When parents seek admission to schools for children, they have to fill the form which has a column on caste."

NCP Minister for Rural Development Jayant Patil said the idea of ending caste bias is good but it had practical limitations.

Patil said, "If Ambedkar is talking of reforms to transform society and do away with caste and class, it is good. But it is not practical in the present situation where our political system is centred on caste. How can we evolve welfare schemes for Dalits and tribals without data to ascertain their developmental index in education and jobs?"

Prakash Ambedkar had said, "The caste column labels the child as a Scheduled Caste, Schedule Tribe, other Backward Caste (OBC) or Brahmin. The school itself is the stage for caste bias that continues as one enters college and then the workplace."

Athavale said, "Ambedkar's very premise to drop the caste column is meaningless."

Ambedkar said he believes in affirmative action for socio-economic uplifto the backward communities but feels the time has come to have a relook at the entire system which in the name of reservation is not serving the poor and the Dalits.

The RPI chief added, "If schools drop the caste column, students from the Dalit community will not be able to get scholarship benefits." He added, "On what basis can students belonging to SC/ST/OBC seek concessions while seeking admission to professional courses like engineering, medicine, business management and others?"

Prakash Ambedkar, however, felt that Dalit leaders (like Athavale) are overreacting without understanding the context of his statement.

He said, "I am not against social and economic welfare of Dalits and the poor. On the contrary, all of us should push for more affirmative action to strength the system to address concerns of Dalits in education, and jobs."

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