‘Gandhiji, we do not have any country’, why did Ambedkar say this in the very first meeting with Bapu?

Gandhiji we do not have any country

Gandhiji : Gail Omvedt in her book ‘Ambedkar-Toward an Enlightened India’ states, “If Gandhi was the ‘Bapu’, the father of the society where he tried to ensure equality while maintaining the ‘Hindu’ structure, then Ambedkar was the father of his people.” K was ‘Baba’ i.e. a great liberator, who wanted freedom from the established structure.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is remembered as a messenger of peace and non-violence. On the other hand, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar is considered to be the representative of the Dalits, the exploited and the underprivileged.

Ambedkar is often compared to Gandhi in India. Gandhi is usually seen wearing a dhoti and spinning a charkha. In this scene, his identification with the poor of India is visible. He gave glorious status to traditional Indian villages and was an advocate of religious roots. While Ambedkar, dressed in ‘Western’ clothes, is seen claiming the heritage of the Dalits, he rejects brahminical and narrow cultural nationalism.

Gail Omvedt, author of several important books on economics and sociology and a well-researched biography of Ambedkar, says in her book ‘Ambedkar- Towards an Enlightened India’, “If Gandhi was the ‘Bapu’, the father of the society where he followed the ‘Hindu’ framework, Ambedkar was the ‘Baba’ of his people, that is, a great liberator who wanted freedom from the established structure.”

First meeting of Gandhi and Ambedkar

Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhi met for the first time in August 1931 in Bombay. The meeting didn’t go very well. When Gandhi told Ambedkar that he had done a lot for social reform; Ambedkar then angrily replied, “All old men lay more stress on things of the past.” Ambedkar accused the Congress that its sympathy for the untouchables was mere formality. He also alleged that funds meant for untouchables were being misused.

Ambedkar had told Gandhi in very clear words, ‘Gandhiji, we have no country.’ To this Gandhi replied, ‘I know, you are a true man far from artificiality.’ Ambedkar took his point to approx. Repeatingly said, “How can I call this country my country and how can I call this religion my religion, where we are no more than dogs and cats, we do not even have water to drink.”

Ambedkar’s speech against the British in London

Ambedkar in October 1930 and M.N. Srinivasan went to London to attend the first Round Table Conference as a representative of the Dalits of India. During the Round Table Conference, Ambedkar participated in several committee-meetings and presented his views clearly. Most of his attention was focused on the Federal Structure Committee where he argued in favor of a strong central government.

Apart from this, Ambedkar had said there in two words that the political freedom of Dalits can be ensured only after the independence of India. He said, “The bureaucratic system should be abolished from India and the government should be of the people, by the people and for the people…. We believe that no one else can end our sorrows.

We cannot put an end to them ourselves unless we have political power in our hands and we cannot have political power so long as the British Government is in power. We hope to get political power only from Swaraj…. We are aware that political power flows through the British rule to those who are already in possession of economic, social and religious power. Our existence is in his hands. It is our wish that we may soon become the possessors of political power.


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