Event Name Dr B.R. Ambedkar Lecture : Accepting or Appropriating Ambedkar? Caste, Power and Politics in India today
Start Date 4th May 2017 4:00pm
End Date 4th May 2017 5:30pm
Duration 1 hour and 30 minutes


As Ambedkar has become increasingly central to political discourse in India, there has been an outpouring of analysis questioning the motives behind the current ubiquity of B. R. Ambedkar. Gopal Guru sees the rise of Ambedkar as an icon as ‘motivated by various kinds of political compulsions’ (2008: 205). In this paper I will engage with these debates and chart some of the socio-political considerations underpinning the current valorisation of Ambedkar, before highlighting the limits within which this occurs. Ambedkar’s writings and speeches pose a challenge to many of those who now claim to honour him. The consequence is that Ambedkar is turned into an icon or image that is shorn of its radicalism. If the innumerable statues are to honour Ambedkar instead of just depicting him, then it is time that as much attention was paid to his ideas as to his image.