India more casteist than ever before, says Anand Teltumbde

Mr. Teltumbde says B.R. Ambedkar is being used by political parties to get Dalit votes

April 13, 2023 09:17 pm | Updated April 14, 2023 08:21 am IST - Mumbai

Anand Teltumbde. File

Anand Teltumbde. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Today’s India is more casteist than ever before, scholar and civil rights activist Anand Teltumbde said on the eve of Ambedkar Jayanti. Grandson-in-law of the architect of the Constitution, the 73-year-old said B.R. Ambedkar is being used by political parties to get Dalit votes.

“Panchteerth [five places associated with Ambedkar’s life] has been created in his name and there are ‘I am here due to Ambedkar’ claims made, but they (political parties) are trampling his teachings at every moment,” he said.

Dr. Teltumbde, who taught at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and Indian Institute of Management, is caught up with visits to police stations and courts these days. An accused in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case, he spent over two years in jail before being granted bail in November last year.

Elaborating on his contention that caste is even more entrenched in these times, he attributed it to “the kind of politics unleashed today”. “There is always a subtle way in which caste operates in our society. Unless caste is totally abolished in India, nothing can be done here,” he said, referring to Dr. Ambedkar’s writings including Annihilation of Caste..

Dr. Teltumbde agreed that the Dalit icon’s relevance has increased with politics getting competitive and splintered. “Earlier when there was a monopoly of the Congress, he was neglected. Even 10 years after his death in 1956, there was not a single road or a monument in his name,” he said.

But the increasing invocation, he added, meant nothing since no political party follows his principles in their true spirit.

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