RECALLING DR. AMBEDKAR (by Shiva Kant Jha) [April 14. 2015]

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(To-day is Ambedkar Jayanti. I consider it appropriate to quote one paragraph from my ON THE LOOM OF TIME, Portrait of My Life and Times pp. 189- 192. I had been the Commissioner of Income-tax at Nagpur from 1986 to 1992.)

‘…..While I sat as the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals), I always felt that Dr. Ambedkar, from his photograph tucked on the wall, kept me under his constant vigil. Working under his full view, I felt saddled with an enormous sense of responsibility. When I became the Commissioner of Income Tax (Administration), I found that on the wall, behind my back, was an imposing photograph of Dr.Ambedkar which had been inaugurated by my predecessor-in-office several years back. Every year, on Dr. Ambedkar’s Jayanti, a throng of office functionaries would assemble to offer floral tribute to Dr. Ambedkar. It was the customary duty of the Commissioner to solemnly garland him and to offer roses and marigolds to him in recognition of his outstanding services to our nation. After this colourful event in the chamber of the Commissioner, the officers and the officials used to assemble in the first floor hall of the Aayakar Bhavan. Lots of speakers would speak on the various aspects of Dr.Ambedkar’s work stressing his great relevance to resolve the contemporary problems. Towards the end, it was for me, as the Commissioner, to say something about him. As I was accustomed to enjoy speaking (perhaps I was in love with my own voice), and as I had admiration for the great ‘Ambedkar phenomenon’, I used to speak at length which the listeners enjoyed, or suffered. So over years I heard a plethora of ideas about Dr.Ambedkar expressed at different fora. I had many occasions to move from place to place in my far-flung jurisdiction; and I saw Dr. Ambedkar’s statues dotting the landscape of the rural and urban Maharashtra. I noticed the people’s attitudes of deep veneration towards him. While at Nagpur, I enjoyed reading Dr. Dhananjay Keer’s biography of Dr. Ambedkar. Keer’s Dr. Ambedkar Life and Missions is an outstanding work. Dr.Ambedkar’s contributions have thus been crisply summarised in a sentence in the preface to the book :
“Ambedkar’s eternal search for knowledge, his incredible industry and his unflinching aim with which he raised himself from dust to doyen, from the life of a social leper to the position of a constitutionmaker, and his heroic struggles for raising the down-trodden to human dignity will constitute a golden chapter in the history of this nation and in the history of human freedom as well.”’

[ an extract from Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME, Portrait of My Life and Times pp. 189- 192)

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