Dr. B R Ambedkar and New Life Movement

BR Ambedkar had urged Dalits to quit living in villages and move over to cities. He described that process of migration as “new life movement” for Dalits. Ambedkar famous quote on villages when he had reasoned, “The love of the intellectual Indian for the village community is of course infinite, if not pathetic. What is a village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow mindedness and communalism”.
Concerns of Dr. Ambedkar behind calling dalit migration a new life movement
The socio-economic-political structure of the village emphasises on maintaining status quo and maintaining structural rigidities in the society. Dr. Ambedkar saw the breaking of the following rigidities a significant factor for reshaping the socio-economic environment for dalits.

  • Civil disabilities like untounchability.
  • Breaking status quo.
  • Overcoming structural rigidities.
  • Social, economic and political injustice.

The current model of urbanisation is driven by economic factors has contributed immensely for overcoming of these rigidities.

  • A process of urbanisation promotes achieved status rather than ascribed status thus giving a new wave of opportunities for dalits.
  • Open occupational structure rather than caste driven provides new avenues for dalits.
  • City air makes the man free. This urbanisation makes the dalits free from the socio-economic rigidities of village.

But the Indian urbanisation also poses a new challenge for Dalits. Dalits face a serious challenge in access to housing, finance. The discrimination against dalits in urban areas is reported frequently. The discrimination against dalits which is behavioral and attitudinal is still a realistic phenomenon in urban India.
The change is coming. But the phase is slow. The behavioral rigidities need to be addressed. This needs to be addressed through increased awareness.

Question for UPSC Mains:
What were the concerns of Dr. B R Ambedkar behind his calling the Dalit people's migration towards cities as New Life Movement? Do you think that the current mechanisms of urbanisation address those concerns? Discuss.

Published: April 21, 2018 | Modified:December 18, 2019

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