'Civis Indianus Sum': ambedkar on democracy and territory during linguistic reorganisation (and partition).
This article considers Ambedkar’s ideas about the implementation of democracy in India, in the context of the linguistic reorganisation of provincial administrative boundaries. In doing so, it looks to emphasise the importance of territorial configurations to Dalit politics during this period, and in particular the consequences of ‘provincialisation’, which has received little attention within the existing literature. Rethinking space by redrawing administrative territory provided Ambedkar with one potential avenue through which to escape the strictures of Dalits’ minority status. In this vision, linguistic reorganisation (and partition) were harbingers of greater democratisation and potential palliatives to the threat of Hindu majority rule at the centre. In turn, however, Ambedkar simultaneously came to perceive the creation of these new administrative spaces as marking a new form of provincial majoritarianism, despite his best efforts to form alliances with those making such demands. In this sense, the article also seeks to address some of the shared processes behind linguistic reorganisation and partition, as two related forms of territorial redrawing. In the face of these demands, and the failures of both commensuration and coalition politics, Ambedkar turned to the idea of separate settlements for Dalits, whereby they might themselves come to constitute a majority. Whilst such a novel attempt at separation and resettlement was not ultimately realised, its emergence within Ambedkar’s thought at this time points towards its significance in any history of caste and untouchability in twentieth-century South Asia.
|Keywords||caste; Ambedkar; language; Maharashtra; region; Dalit; non-Brahman; Maratha; partition; Pakistan; South Asia; democracy; territory; community; majority; minority|
|Journal||Modern Asian Studies.|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Web address (URL)||http://hdl.handle.net/10545/623481|
|Publication dates||13 Aug 2019|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||05 Feb 2019, 08:54|
|Accepted||06 Aug 2018|
|Contributors||University of Sheffield|
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