I am somewhat surprised that the Prime Minister should take this Panchsheel seriously, the Panchsheel, as you sir know it well, is the essential part of the Buddhist religion and if Mr Mao had any faith in the Panchsheel, he certainly would treat the Buddhist in his own country in a very different way. There is no room for Panchsheel in politics and secondly, not in the politics of communist country” –Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, On August 26, 1954, in Rajya Sabha while dissecting the foreign policy of the then Nehru Government
On April 14, the nation will celebrate the 130th birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, and the entire country will pay tribute to this multifaceted son of Bharat. The real metal of visionary thinker is tested when we apply his thinking to the present situation. When we are facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the form of COVID-19, the deadly Virus originated in China, how should we see Dr Ambedkar and his relevance. Besides many other extraordinary qualities of leadership and scholarship, what Ambedkar stood for was ‘principled correctness’, rather than ‘political correctness’. If we follow the same path to the present day discourse revolving around the Corona crisis, we can appreciate Babasaheb better.
Everybody agrees that before the Nizamuddin incident, we were in a command position in dealing with the infectious Virus. One irresponsible act of a single group and we are witnessing twenty hotspots in the country. Still, some people for the sake of being ‘political correct’ calling it a ‘single source’ without mentioning Tablighi Jamaat. When it comes to the fundamentalist and non-reformist mindset of some of the Muslim sects, Dr Ambedkar was blunt and daring enough to take a principled stand. When it comes to national and human interest, we should address the root cause of the problem without being apologetic.
The same is true about the international dimensions of the problem. China hid the origin the disease, used authoritarian tactics to curb the whistle-blowers, manipulated World Health Organisation and now exploiting the situation for business interests are known facts. The entire humanity will have to accept this reality and act accordingly without the fear of getting tagged as racist and Babasaheb can be a great guiding force in this. He was the one who warned that the Communist regime could never respect any democratic and peaceful means of coexistence. The expansionist tendency of China needs to be exposed and countered collectively.
Does that mean we have to support any Government blindly and should not identify the loopholes? Again from Ambedkar’s point of view, the answer is a big NO. As Babasaheb did during the partition or the Constitution-Making process, we have to be constructively critical with credible solutions. The issues related to economic slowdown and problems faced by the poor and migrant workers in the urban centres are real. Both, the Government and society, are working together to address the same. But, some political parties, media houses and foreign-funded NGOs are trying to fuel the unrest around these issues. Ambedkar would have named and shamed such forces as he did at the time of partition and we should also do the same.
In the coming days, many more issues related to the social harmony, economy and world order etc. will come up, where the principles laid down by Dr Ambedkar can show us some light. Studying his principles and their context in original and not through Communist appropriated interpretations, and then applying then to the
contemporary scenario will be the best tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.