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Demystifying the Second Manu: Ambedkar and   Mainstreaming of Minority Narrative in India
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
2016 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Born as an untouchable Hindu  and dying as a Buddhist, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar stands tall among the downtrodden ( Dalits) in Indian society as a champion and a pioneering voice for the quest for equality of backward castes in Hindu society. Moreover, through his association with the Hindu Code Bill, he zealously tried to rectify the intersectionality of caste and gender discriminations in society by liberating Hindu personal law from the clutches of iniquitous religious and customary practices.  To Ambedkar, the Hindu Code Bill epitomized the backbone for creating a modern Indian nation, since without progressive family laws India would be building “palace on a dung heap." During his association with the Hindu Code Bill as Law Minister in the Constituent Assembly during 1948-1951, he became intricately linked to the Bill, earning the cynical epithet of “the Second Manu”.


The present paper focuses on Ambedkar’s quest in creating a minority narrative within the Hindu Code Bill discourse in the 1940s and 1950s.  The paper focusses on three aspects. First, the widespread acceptance of Ambedkar as the writer, originator and the chief architect of the Hindu code bill is not supported by the historical evidence on the formation of Hindu family laws. Second, the paper emphasizes that the recent attempt by the right wing discourse to align Ambedkar's ideology with the ideals of Hindutva was beset with fundamental and irreconcilable issues that surfaced during the Hindu Code Bill debates, and has persisted in modern India leading to a significant departure of minority narrative from the ideology of Hindutva. Finally, the paper contends that  the assessment of  Ambedkar's  contribution  must include  his pioneering efforts in the formation of  a minority narrative of the Hindu Code Bill controversy which has shaped and continues to shape gender and caste  consciousness  and influences the evolution of family law reforms in India. The paper presents a comprehensive assessment of Ambedkar's tryst with the Hindu Code Bill and  underscores its  implications in shaping the modern Indian mind. Accordingly, at his 126th birth  centenary,  Ambedkar remains germane to  caste and gender politics  in India.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Ambedkar, Hindu Code Bill, Hindu Law, family law, narrative, discourse, religion, law formation, dalit
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-297625OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-297625DiVA: diva2:942574
Woman Activism and Politics in Sweden and India, Karlstads University, Sweden https://www5.kau.se/woman-activism-and-politics-in-sweden-and-india
Available from: 2016-06-25 Created: 2016-06-25 Last updated: 2016-06-27Bibliographically approved

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