Feminist reclamation of Ambedkar in Indian discourse
Author(s): Praveshika Mishra
Abstract: 20th century India was riddled with clash of ideologies. People were divided on lines of their socio-political views on patriarchal structure of the Indian society, constantly critiqued by the newly emerging radical thinkers to abolish age-old, inane dogmas and superstitions with the reasoning of the west. Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s birth as an untouchable and in a society based on graded inequality and refutation of basic human rights to his community served as an impetus for him to bring changes in the system through legislation and social reforms. Through his scholarly reasoning and intellectual deliberations, Ambedkar brought his oeuvre which raised issues concerning caste, gender equality, social realism and legislation. His understanding of feminist concerns was a result of his exposure to the western philosophies and his question of their fundamental rights, political inclusion and advancement, fair treatment and right over inheritance mirrored the global feminist concerns. In the name of conforming to Hindu religion, women were trapped in the vicious circle of timidity, masculine subjugation, lack of awareness about their rights and no decision-making powers. He contributed in Hindu personal laws and introduced many women welfare provisions in Indian Constitution, generating consciousness among deprived, uneducated women and encouraged them to combat against discrimination and injustice. The present paper attempts to study his speeches and writings in the light of 20th century Indian feminist discourse and tries to position his indefatigable contribution to the emancipation of women today.