‘I love India more’

It was 15 March 1943 and Dr BR Ambedkar wrote, “However strong and however filthy be the abuses which the Congress Press chooses to shower on me I must do my duty. I am no worshipper of idols. I believe in breaking them. I insist that if I hate Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah ~ I dislike them, I do not hate them ~ it is because I love India more.”

‘I love India more’


It was 15 March 1943 and Dr BR Ambedkar wrote, “However strong and however filthy be the abuses which the Congress Press chooses to shower on me I must do my duty. I am no worshipper of idols. I believe in breaking them. I insist that if I hate Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah ~ I dislike them, I do not hate them ~ it is because I love India more.” He was writing a preface to a publication titled ‘Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah’, comprising the address delivered on the 101st Birthday Celebration of Mahadeo Govind Ranade held on 18 January 1943 in the Gokhale Memorial Hall, Poona. “That is the true faith of a nationalist.

I have hopes that my countrymen will someday learn that the country is greater than the men, that the worship of Mr. Gandhi or Mr. Jinnah and service to India are two very different things and may even be contradictory of each other,” he observed. Dr Ambedkar’s criticism, his continuous stream of writings against Gandhi and Jinnah have been the subject of debates, discussions in modern-day India. Since 1942, Dr. Ambedkar had been inducted into the Viceroy’s Executive Council as Labour Member, a prestigious position which he held until his resignation in June 1946.

During the 1943 address in Poona, Dr Ambedkar said, “I am condemned because I criticized Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah for the mess they have made of Indian politics, and that in doing so I am alleged to have shown towards them hatred and disrespect. In reply to this charge what I have to say is that I have been a critic and I must continue to be such. It maybe I am making mistakes but I have always felt that it is better to make mistakes than to accept guidance and direction from others or to sit silent and allow things to deteriorate.”


“For the present, Indian politics, at any rate the Hindu part of it, instead of being spiritualized has become grossly commercialized, so much so that it has become a byword for corruption,” he said. “Many men of culture are refusing to concern themselves in this cesspool. Politics has become a kind of sewage system intolerably unsavoury and insanitary. To become a politician is like going to work in the drain… Politics in the hands of these two great men have become a competition in extravaganza.

If Mr. Gandhi is known as Mahatma, Mr. Jinnah must be known as Qaid-i-Azim. If Gandhi has the Congress, Mr. Jinnah must have the Muslim League. If the Congress has a Working Committee and the AllIndia Congress Committee, the Muslim League must have its Working Committee and its Council…” Dr Ambedkar was aghast and disturbed that both Mr Gandhi and Mr Jinnah were nowhere near reaching any settlement. “Jinnah insists that Gandhi should admit that he is a Hindu. Gandhi insists that Jinnah should admit that he is one of the leaders of the Muslims.

Never has there been such a deplorable state of bankruptcy of statesmanship as one sees in these two leaders of India. They are making long and interminable speeches, like lawyers whose trade it is to contest everything, concede nothing and talk by the hour. Suggest anything by way of solution for the deadlock to either of them, and it is met by an everlasting ‘Nay’. Neither will consider a solution of the problems which is not eternal. Between them Indian politics has become ‘frozen’ to use a well-known banking phrase and no political action is possible.” Dr Ambedkar raised the question: Is history the biography of great men? “The question is both relevant as well as important.

For, if great men were not the makers of history, there is no reason why we should take more notice of them than we do of cinema stars. Views differ. There are those who assert that however great a man may be, he is a creature of Time ~ Time called him forth, Time did everything, he did nothing. Those who hold this view, in my judgment, wrongly interpret history… It is the work of man. Man, therefore, is a factor in the making of history.” He put his finger on one universal unconditional quality: “In my judgment sincerity must be the test of a great man. A great man must have sincerity. For it is the sum of all moral qualities without which no man can be called great.

But there must be something more than mere sincerity in a man to make him great. A man is great because he finds a way to save society in its hours of crisis. But what can help him to find the way? He can do so only with the help of intellect. Intellect is the light. Nothing else can be of any avail. It is quite obvious that without the combination of sincerity and intellect no man can be great.” Dr Ambedkar ventured to highlight the philosopher’s definition of a great man: “A great man must be motivated by the dynamics of a social purpose and must act as the scourge and the scavenger of society. These are the elements which distinguish an eminent individual from a great man and constitute his title deeds to respect and reverence.”

In several speeches and writings Dr Ambedkar spoke against heroes and hero-worship. “Hero-worship is certainly not dead in India. India is still par excellence the land of idolatry. There is idolatry in religion, there is idolatry in politics. Heroes and hero-worship is a hard if unfortunate, fact in India’s political life. I agree that hero-worship is demoralizing for the devotee and dangerous to the country. I welcome the criticism in so far as it conveys a caution that you must know that your man is really great before you start worshipping him. This unfortunately is not an easy task.

For in these days, with the Press in hand, it is easy to manufacture great men.” He raised the question, in what seems to be a clarion call for today, “Where are we today in politics and why are we where we are? It is now 50 years since the National Congress was born. Its stewardship has passed hands, I won’t say from the sane to the insane, or from realists to idealists, but from moderates to radicals. Where does the country stand today at the end of 50 years of political marching? What is the cause of this deadlock?

The answer is simple. The cause of deadlock is the absence of Communal Settlement. Ask why is communal settlement necessary for political settlement and you realize the fundamental importance of the stand that Justice MG Ranade took. For the answer to this question is to be found in the wrong social system, which is too undemocratic, too over-weighed in favour of the classes and against the masses, too class conscious and too communally minded. Political democracy would become a complete travesty if it were built upon its foundations. That is why nobody except the high caste Hindus will agree to make it the case of a political democracy without serious adjustments.

Well may some people argue to their satisfaction that the deadlock is the creation of the British Government. People like to entertain thoughts which sooth them and which throw responsibility on others. This is the psychology of escapism. But it cannot alter the fact that it is the defects of social system which has given rise to the communal problem and which has stood in the way of India getting political power.” In the Poona address, Dr Ambedkar came down heavily on the press: “Journalism in India was once a profession. It has now become a trade.

It has no more moral function than the manufacture of soap. It does not regard itself as the responsible adviser of the public… To accept a hero and worship him has become its principal duty. Under it, news gives place to sensation, reasoned opinion to unreasoning passion, appeal to the minds of responsible people to appeal to the emotions of the irresponsible. Indian journalism is written by drum-boys to glorify their heroes. Never has the interest of country been sacrificed so senselessly for the propagation of hero-worship. Never has hero-worship become so blind as we see it in India today. There are, I am glad to say, honourable exceptions.

But they are too few and their voice is never heard. Entrenched behind the plaudits of the Press, the spirit of domination exhibited by these two great men has transgressed all limits.” The two men, Dr Ambedkar was referring to, were Mr Gandhi and Mr Jinnah. He said, “By their domination they have demoralised their followers and demoralized politics. By their domination they have made half their followers fools and the other half hypocrites. In establishing their supremacy they have taken the aid of ‘big business’ and money magnates. For the first time in our country money is taking the field as an organised power.” Dr Ambedkar’s address of 1943 in Poona is a bridge to our times.

The writer is an authorresearcher on history, heritage issues and a former deputy curator of the Pradhanmantri Sangrahalay