A True Humanist
By V.B. Rawat &
10 November, 2006
Mr N.G.Uke, a great Ambedkarite, a friend and guide died on November
4th, 2006 at his Vasant Kunj residence at the age of 82. Uke Saheb,
as I would fondly call him was among the rare breed of Ambedkarite who
saw Baba Saheb and was selected by him as a scholar though he had already
got the same.
As an admirer of Mr Uke for
his forthright views and because his open support for atheism, I knew
NG Uke was a treasurer who had with him a number of incidents and things
and that is why I kept on calling him for an interview. ' You are always
welcome', Uke Saheb told me. Last month on October 7 th, I was able
to record a conversation with him to keep his memoirs. I know many such
Ambedkarite who are treasure of great source are on the wane and I decided
to interview them and record conversation to keep their memories safe.
I have rarely found person
of strong secular commitment such as N G Uke. Even in his conversation,
he hated words like 'fortunate, unfortunate, Mahatma, noble soul, gods'
etc. He would say that by using these words we are ultimately trapped
into the religious moulding justifying the oppression and exploitation.
Uke Saheb send reply to some
of my questions on mails. A freewheeling interview with him was recorded
which I would be able to produce after some time. As a tribute to Uke
Saheb, I am sending this interview to our friends. He was the first
person to use term ' Ambedkar Samaj' and rather than saying ' I am a
Buddhist' which he was. Till his last, Uke Saheb remained a sharp mind,
concerned about the condition of his community, which he always thought
would lead India to 21 st Century.
I salute to his memory.
Excerpts of his conversation with me
VB: Uke Saheb, how did you come in touch with Dr Ambedkar.
first meeting with Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was in July 1942 at Nagpur
during the Depressed Classes
Conferences held on 18,19,20 July 1942. During these conferences were
attended by about 75,000 Scheduled Castes persons, including 25,000
women. The three Conferences were: 1. All India Depressed Classes Conference,
2. All India Depressed Classes Women's Conference, 3. Samata Sainik
During these Conferences
we the Scheduled Castes student established All India Scheduled Castes
Students Federation (SCSF). I was one of the Joint Secretaries of the
SCSF. At that time I was studying in Inter Science at the College of
Science Nagpur. We met Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and sought his advice
and guidance for working of our SCSF. He was very happy and we had a
very useful discussion.
Since Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
was being appointed as the Labour Member of the Executive Council of
H.E. the Viceroy and the Governor General, he could not function as
the full time President of the All India Depressed Classes Conferences.
In his place Rao Bahadur N. Shivraj, MLA (Central) was appointed as
the president of the Conference.
My second meeting with Dr.
Babasaheb Ambedkar was at his residence 22 Prithviraj road at Delhi.
I had gone to Delhi for an interview before the selection board for
the selection of scholars to be sent abroad for higher studies. I was
selected by the board for higher studies in Engineering in London. Rai
Saheb GT Meshram who was the Estate Officer Govt. of India took me to
22, Prithviraj road to meet Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. As soon as I was
introduced to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, he immediately said " Mr.
Uke Congratulations since we have selected you for higher studies in
UK, under the Scheduled Castes Students Scholarship. We had a selection
in Simla". I thanked Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar for my selection in
the SC Scholarship. But I told Babasaheb that I have also been selected
today by the Govt. of India under general scholarship for study in UK
for Engineering. Babasaheb was very happy that I was selected in General
Scholarship, thus saving one scholarship of Scheduled Caste.
My next meetings with Dr.
Babasaheb Ambedkar were in London 4 times, on 26 th Oct. 29th Oct. 2nd
Nov. and 9th Nov.1946. During this period he had met important personalities
from London including Clement Attlee Prime Minister of UK, and Mr. Winston
Churchill. On 2 nd Nov. 1946 we invited him to visit our place at 4,
Downside Crescent. He blessed us by visiting our place and sitting for
a group photo which included number of SC Scholars including Mr. Khobragade
studying for Bar.
The next time when I met Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was when I was called
from London to return to India, for selection for a post in Defence.
The Public Service Commission selected me for this post. I met Dr. Babasaheb
Ambedkar along with Raisaheb GT Meshram after my selection. Dr. Babasaheb
Ambedkar had a liking for me and suggested to Mr. Meshram that he should
propose my marriage with his daughter Kamal. Meshram family and Babasaheb
Ambedkar were very close to each other. Whenever Babasaheb used to go
to Nagpur he used to stay with Meshram family. Kamal used to know Babasaheb
from her childhood of about 6 years since 1935. Our marriage took place
on May 8 th,1949 at 4 Lodhi Estate, the residence of Mr. Meshram. Our
marriage certificate was signed by 3 Cabinet Ministers of Govt. of India,
1 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar , 2. Dr. John Matthai, and 3. Dr. Kakasaheb
VB: What was your personality about ? Did you face
discrimination during your childhood? How supportive were your parents.
desired to know whether I was docile or strong person and whether I
suffered from discrimination. In my childhood I was very strong. I normally
used to score very high position in my class. The Brahmins did not like
my status in the class and they closed the school after I passed class
3 of the primary school. For the 4th class I had to go to near by village
about 2 miles from our village. I cleared class 4 th from that school
with top record. I had told my father that he should help me financially
up to 8th class including the middle school in English at Bramhpuri
about 10 miles from my village. I passed the 8 th class with high %
and was allotted Govt. Scholarship from 9th class onwards. I secured
the high school admission in Patwardhan high school at Nagpur. My further
studies were at the College of Science at Nagpur. Later I won the Govt.
of India Scholarship for higher studies in London.
VB : What
impression did you get from Baba Saheb. What do his followers need to
do to take forward his mission?
we met Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar in London during 1946 he advised us that
our people should be better than their best. Some of us definitely tried
to come to the expectation of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Dr. Babasaheb
Ambedkar embraced Buddhism on 14th of October 1956 along with 5 lacks
of people at Nagpur. His mission was to make whole of India as a Buddhist
Country. How ever he expired within 53 days of his embracing Buddhism.
His followers were not of
the required capacity for the mission of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar with
same vigor and achievements. They have been working in different groups
and are not united.
Ambedkarites must join together
under one platform. I had met Dalai Lama in Ashoka Hotel a few years
ago and I had suggested to him that he should take up the mission of
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar of converting India into a Prabuddha Bharat.
For my suggestion he became very happy and embraced me very warmly.
In order to convert India into Prabuddha Bharat on the advice of Buddha
and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, it is necessary to workout a rational program.
There are various factions
in Buddhism. We must consolidate all the Buddhists of the world. For
that matter we will have to spell out the Buddhism as has been prescribed
by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.
VB: A number
of people are redefining Ambedkar's conversion. Some says that he wanted
to embrace Islam while others suggest that he was in fact for Christianity.
There is a Sikh angle also. To strengthen their point, they say that
Ambedkar buckled under the pressure of the upper caste Hindu leadership?
For me it is difficult to digest as Ambedkar remained a man of conviction
and character all his life and it would have been difficult for him
to accept anything as final word or Gods word. As a staunch Ambedkarite
how do you respond to such questions?
is wrong. He never wanted to become Muslim or Sikh or Christian. Neither
did he want to remain as a Hindu. He wanted to become Buddhist and he
had declared in 1935 that though he was a born a Hindu, which was not
in, his hand but he would not die as a Hindu. When he was in his matriculation,
he was given a book on Buddhism. Baba Saheb had been reading about Buddhism
for a very long time. Nizam offered him a lot of money. Others also
offered him but he was not worried about money. He was worried about
India. To make India a Prabuddha Bharat, an enlightned India and no
religion can do that. He believed in Buddha but never in those rituals.
He redefined Buddhism. Scriptures and Gods cannot help India at all.
issue has again rocked the country. While the current row has been actually
against the OBC reservation in government services but it seems that
in this entire scheme of things, it is the Dalits who have become target
of the upper caste contempt. The Dalits are fighting the battle for
OBCs while the latter are not visible anywhere, only to be found hitting
at them in the villages. Now questions are being raised about creamy
layer as well as different Dalit identities. As an Ambedkarite how to
you resolve this crisis?
per as the reservation for Scheduled Castes is concerned people refused
to understand the Constitutional provisions regarding SCST reservation.
The Constitution is very clear. Constitution provides for reservations
for the Scheduled Castes. These reservations are Universal. However
the Govt. have excluded a large number of Jobs from the reservations,
which goes against the spirit of the Constitution.
There is also a view that
a creamy layer from Scheduled Castes must be taken away from Scheduled
Castes. This view is totally wrong The Creamy layer is the cream of
the society. The Cream, which consists of the intellect of the Scheduled
Castes are the people who guide and lead the Scheduled Castes. Nobody
can deprive the Scheduled Castes of their intellectual leaders. All
the rulers namely The President, The Prime Minister and the other leaders
come from Creamy layer and govern. The Scheduled Castes cannot be divided
as very rightly ruled by the Supreme Court.
As far as the reservations
for Scheduled Castes are concerned no Non-SC is affected and they have
nothing to do with reservations.
VB : You
are a rare breed of Ambedkarite who are proclaimed atheists. Why?
Castes cannot gain anything from Gods and their work. The only way out
is to prove that our society, our system is better than theirs. We believe
that superstitions, rituals ultimately exploit human being.
do you think of economic globalisation. I mean many new Dalit scholars
have complimented capitalism and often condemn Marx and his vision.
What is an Ambedkarite vision of India.
is a threat to our soverignity. Land should be nationalized and redistributed
among our people. Why should we allow the national resources to the
private companies to suck our blood. Privatisation is nothing but taking
away people's resources and we must oppose it.
Once you privatize things,
our people lose jobs in the government sector. Private companies are
not going to follow that. The government must bring out a law to protect
the interest of the Scheduled Castes.
Baba Saheb was a revolutionary
and so was Marx though Baba Saheb differed with his violence theory
yet in no way was Baba Saheb anti Marx. We may have differences with
Marxist theoreticians in India yet Marx and his philosophy are for the
benefits of the common man.
are the activities of Ambedkar Samaj. What does it aims at?
have started Ambedkar Samaj to bring all Ambedkarites on one platform
to fulfill the mission of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar not only to convert
India as a Prabuddha Bharat but we have to transform the whole world
as a Scientific Humanity without any differences. The Ambedkarites must
lead to take the world forward as one humanity.
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