Report on the 2-day National Seminar on “Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s vision of Economic Development of India”, on the eve of 125th birth-anniversary of Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, was conducted by School of Economics, University of Hyderabad.
Date: 29th and 30th of August 2016.
Venue: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar auditorium, University of Hyderabad.
Seminar coordinator Dr. G. Sridevi welcomed the seminar delegates.
The Seminar was inaugurated by Shri Prakash Ambedkar, Grandson of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Prof.Sukhadeo Thorat (Chairman, ICSSR), Prof. G. Nancharaiah (Former Vice-Chancellor, Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, Lucknow, National Fellow, ICSSR and Emeritus Professor, School of Economics, UoH), along with Prof. B. P. Sanjay, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Prof. Naresh Kumar Sharma, In-charge Dean, School of Economics and Dr. G. Sridevi seminar coordinator.
Prof. Naresh Kumar Sharma, in his opening remarks described Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as tallest intellectual of this country. He presented a brief report on the achievements of School of Economics.
Professor G. Nancharaiah presented an overview of the contribution of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar to the field of Economics and its relevance in the present context. He elaborately presented the views of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on the impediments of the caste system to the path of progress. He expressed that caste hinders the mobility of labour and creates informal markets resulting in less than desired outcomes. He also said that caste becomes a direct source of unemployment due to the fixation of occupations by birth. Prof. Nancharaiah presented the views of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on Trade Policy and said that the devaluation of Indian Currency in International Market would promote exports eventually draining a portion of production available for domestic consumption leading to inflation in the domestic market. Such trends of Inflation would be against the interests of working class of population since the dividends of enhanced exports would be appropriated by the trading and manufacturing class and not the working class.
Professor Sukhadeo Thorat presented the view of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on Economic Development as Development which carried equity along with it and coined the term “Equitable Development” as a connotation to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s view on Economic Development. Thorat heralded Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as the founder of India’s Water Policy by regarding the immense contribution that Ambedkar made in the policy making on the construction of dams to generate multi-purpose utilities to conserve water for irrigation and to generate thermal power,etc… The intervention of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, being the first person to receive a doctorate in Economics, in the aspect of the establishment of monetary institutions was instrumental in the establishment of a central bank in the name of Reserve Bank of India. He was presented as an economist who conceptualized the vagaries of surplus labour in the traditional sector and articulated for draining of surplus labour through industrialization.
Prof. R. S. Deshpande chaired the Panel discussion. He said Indian Constitution has provided a full protection against discrimination but its implementation has been tardy and evasive. It is not followed in letter and spirit in most of the places. But the worst comes when it does not find the right place in higher educational institutions. By definition, these institutions are supposed to inculcate the knowledge leading to decent human behaviour. Unfortunately, the kind of mismanagement and failure to inculcate the right kind of knowledge among the students has brought shame to all of us who claim to be the cream of the learned society. Divisibility on the social background has always been used as a tool of exploitation, and majoritarianism plays its disagreeable role in suppressing the voices that are raised against such blatant discrimination. It is the earnest duty of all of us to see that this cancer of discrimination is rooted out of the society in the best possible manner. This cannot happen unless each one of us, irrespective of our own origin, fight it out tooth-and-nail. Only then dream of Dr. Ambedkar will be realised and we will be credited for achieving the goal of humanity. Otherwise, we must take the blame for the entire mismanagement of the independence given to us by the fathers of this nation.
1) Prof. Kalpana Kannabiran spoke about the relevance of the framework offered by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar to deal with the issues of discrimination in Higher Educational Institutions. According to her university is a place for notional change that comes through self-reflexivity and confrontation with one’s own beliefs. She strongly believes that a radical change in curriculum will lead to a collective action and encourage the expression of a collective anger.
2) Prof. Sasheej Hegde talked about the limitations of the existing institutional mechanisms to deal with social discrimination in Higher Educational Institutions. He pointed out that while on one hand, Higher Educational Institutions are becoming more inclusive in terms of the composition of students, on the other hand, new forms of discriminations are emerging. To address this issue he emphasized on the need to pay attention to the architecture of inclusion and suggested an evidence-based approach to build the same.
3) Dr. K. Laxminarayana pointed out how the coexistence of Neo-liberalism and Brahminism are at the core of institutional discrimination. In the Post-Mandal Era while the composition of students changed in favour of marginalized communities and that of the faculty remained unchanged. He criticized the increasing trend of interference of the state into the internal affairs of Higher Educational Institutions and stressed on the urgent need to identify and remove the structural inequalities present in Higher Educational Institutions.
Special Lectures :
Prakash Ambedkar spoke on “ Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and Public Finance”. He began with the need for expansion of Public Funded Education and the education to be financed by the state. He talked about GATT agreement on Education and detailed on how subsidies on Education are being cut down. He slammed the recent New Education Policy proposed by TSR Subramanian Panel and being tabled in parliament. He expressed that the NEP is advanced as a resolution to privatize the entire educational system as opposed to the views of advancing public funded education expressed by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
Prakash Ambedkar argued that none of the governments were serious on the concerns expressed by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on the spending of budgetary provisions on the development of people through financing education, health. Instead, governments so far, irrespective of political affiliation had excessively allocated budget for military spending. Bringing forth the views of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on Pakistan occupied Kashmir and recognizing Tibet as an independent nation, detailed that the nation suffered a lot by keeping the issues of Kashmir and Tibet boiling down, that the nation had to spend its major finances on maintaining army instead of resolving the issues, that the foreign policy of the country suffered on that account.
He articulated that spending on army deprives welfare of people. He articulated that BREXIT is new emerging alternative of the poor, whereas India is still at crossroads caught up between growth and development of fewer castes leading to the disadvantage of the majority of people. He also viewed that Reservation is not a developmental policy but was an assurance in a nation building, and asserted that only a small section of the society is controlling a vast majority of the resources and said that the majority should reclaim its rightful share and place.
Prof.Amresh Dubey talked about the implications of economic policy for growth and economic development for marginalized groups. He focused on inter-sectoral linkages in India and presented the view of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar that the deprived groups must be included in non-agricultural occupations. He was critical of the fact that sociologists have ignored the sociological contributions of Ambedkar. While commenting on the policy concerns he brought out the plans of Ambedkar in according to material benefits to the deprived sections, and stressed that there should be built-in mechanisms to bring in disadvantageous groups into the process of development.
Prof. Anand Teltumbde’s focus was mainly on two major works of Ambedkar, 1) Problem of Indian Rupee, 2) The problem of small holdings. In the first work on the problem of the rupee, he advocated for pure gold standard, with a view that this will check inflation which will be in favour of poor. Explaining his views of Problem of Indian Rupee, Anand Teltumbde expressed that his analysis was oriented targeting the welfare of the working class. On the second work on small holdings, where Ambedkar proposed for collectivization of agriculture. According to him, industrialization along with state socialism was the solution for disguised unemployment and lower productivity.
Prof. E. Sudharani delivered a special lecture on Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on Women Empowerment Ambedkar and the Question of Women Empowerment – the fundamental problem is the very philosophy and codes of Hindu social ordering. Doing away with that is the only way out – e.g. burning Manusmriti (counter-revolution to Buddhist perception liberated women) is one crucial way to express the anger and taking forward the protest. Women Empowerment is not Women welfare. Ambedkar’s perception of empowerment contained the ability to take decisions, control over one’s body and participations in different activities, particularly for the Dalit women. Gender question needs to be addressed keeping in mind the heterogeneity in terms of social groups.
Prof. G. Aloysius delivered a special lecture on Ambedkar and Buddhism. The principal of governance and the internal face of nationalism is caste. Annihilation of Caste is the foundation for nation building. Ambedkar through Buddhism wanted to encourage the principle – one man one value. Ambedkar had a dual objective – emancipation and empowerment of the depressed classes. As caste has entered during a particular period in history it shall even leave the country at a particular time.
Session-1 : Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s view on Indian Agricultural Development
The session brought out several issues in impeding agricultural development, such as the problem of small holdings, skewed distribution of land, negligence in providing agricultural inputs, non-implementation of land reforms, lack of credit to SC/ST farmers, and their impact on productivity. The session brought out proposals by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar addressing those concerns. The proposals of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as presented by scholars were : 1) Collective and Cooperative Farming, 2) Agriculture should remain in the control of State, 3) State should intervene effectively in ensuring adequate farm inputs, 4) Driving out surplus labour from Agriculture to non-agricultural sectors.
Session-2 : Technical Session 2: D. B. R. Ambedkar’s views on Education and Development of women
The session brought forth the existence of Brahminical thought in the socio-cultural paradigm of India, and the non-existence of liberal social institution, which in turn denies power to Dalit Bahujan. An aesthetic paradigm is suggested to understand the concept of subjectivity. The session also focussed on gender disparities in the distribution of work and summed up that the proportion of females as agricultural labourers has been increasing over time.
Session-3 : Technical Session 3 Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Views on Caste, Labour, and Economic Discrimination
This session discussed various issues on Informalization and forced migration which are two glaring realities of today’s development paradigm especially with respect to some of the growing sectors like mining etc. The paper discussed the livelihood struggles of the migrants in informal gold mining and precarious working condition. Globalization inducing caste based inequality since the days of Colonial period until today. Based on the consumption expenditure data analysis shows that inter-caste inequality has become significant. The politics of ban on Beef and vulnerability of Dalits in this context was analyzed with impressive nuances.
Also, discussed various Constitutional Acts meant for the safeguard of the SC/STs. When it comes to the space of capital once again the castiest approach is predominant as far as the profile of entrepreneur is concerned.
Session- 4 : “Economic Development: Role of State and Dalits”
Various welfare programmes and how the targeted population is taken away from the programme for political benefits of various political parties (through election campaign). Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan was appraised in terms of forcing the upper caste elite to come in touch with the job of cleaning which they have abstained from thousands of years. However, this view was critiqued significantly from the perspective of real life politics elite and cultural hegemony. Assessment of well-being of the disadvantageous sections (in united AP) in terms of various indicators like – Gross enrollment ratio; Operational land holding; Poverty; Malnutrition; Employment ratio disparity also does not portray any satisfactory picture. With regard to the implementation of SC Sub-plan in India, some serious issues have been identified – under-utilization and diversion of funds and the non-timely allocation along with prevailing leakages.
Session-5 : “Democracy: Caste and Gender”
Caste as a monster and discussed how caste has become a source of religio-cultural identity. Dr. Ambedkar’s theory of deconstruction and reconstruction of Indian society in this regard. Post liberalization India is characterized by increased dominance of the dominant castes while the welfare state has been abdicating its basic responsibilities under fiscal and global pressures. Globalized India witnesses increased visibility of caste violence in the public domain and the collective character of atrocities.
Valedictory session was chaired by Prof. Y. V. Reddy and address was delivered by Prof. S. Madheswaran.
He discussed social exclusion and labour market discrimination using the standard tools of the economics of discrimination but with improvised decomposition method. Based on the idea of “Economic Empowerment” and “Equal Opportunity” the speaker made a strong case for reservation / affirmative action in the private sector given its current predominance in Indian economy.
-By Dr. G. Sridevi
Assistant Professor, School of Economics, UoH