No Proof That Ambedkar Said 'End Reservation if a Tribal Woman Becomes Prez'
Prof Hari Narke, an editor of Dr Ambedkar's 'Writings and Speeches' Project, told The Quint that the quote was fake.
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After Droupadi Murmu was elected the new president of India, a quote attributed to Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar started doing the rounds on social media.
The quote reads, "The day an Adivasi woman reaches India's topmost position of president, the reservation system should end." While the quote is being widely shared, we found no evidence corroborating the claim.
Ambedkar's well-documented speeches, writings, and parliamentary debates are available on the Ministry of External Affairs website, and we could find no such reference to the quote in them.
Professor Hari Narke, the editor of several volumes of these writings and speeches, told The Quint, "As per my reading, research, knowledge, and belief, this quote is fake."
He added that there was no existence of this claim before Murmu's election to the post.
Social media users are sharing a post containing a photo of Dr Ambedkar and a quote, written in Hindi, that reads:
"जिस दिन कोई आदिवासी महिला भारत के सर्वोच्च पद 'राष्ट्रपति' तक पहुंच जाएगी। देश में आरक्षण ख़त्म कर दिया जाना चाहिए।"
[Translation: The day a tribal woman reaches India's topmost position of president, the reservation system should end.]
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We perused all available volumes of Dr Ambedkar's 'Writings and Speeches' to find any reference to the reservation system's abolishment in the event of a tribal woman being elected as India's president, but did not find any.
Presenting his views on reservation in front of the Southborough Committee at then-Bombay on 27 January 1919, for "backward communities in plural constituencies," Ambedkar noted that one or two representatives for a community of people would be "as good as having none."
In his written statement, he reasoned that they would not be able to have any power to change the condition of the community in the presence of "high caste Hindus."
"In the same way legislature, mainly composed of high caste men, will not pass a law removing untouchability, sanctioning inter-marriages, removing the ban on the use of public streets, public temples, public schools; in short, cleansing the person of the untouchables. This is not because they cannot, but chiefly because they will not."Dr BR Ambedkar, Page 264, Volume 1 of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches
He advocates for continuous reservation, arguing that a token number of seats being reserved for those from backward communities may not help them at all.
Submitting a sub-committee report for minorities at the House of Lords in London, England in January 1931, he discusses that "the number of seats reserved for a minority community should in no case be less than its proportion in population."
In a 'Supplementary Memorandum on the Claims of the Depressed Classes for Special Representation', penned by Ambedkar and Rao Bahadur R Srinivasan on 4 November 1931, Ambedkar mentions a specific proportion – not the number of seats – to be set as reserved for "depressed classes," clearly stating that they would have the right to assert a claim to reservation, regardless of whether a census or governmental process finding that their population may have dwindled.
"...if under a new census over which the Depressed Classes can have no control, the population of the Depressed Classes shows a lower proportion, or if the administrative areas of the Provinces are altered, resulting in disturbing the existing balance of population, the Depressed Classes reserve their right to revise their proportion of representation and even to claim weightage."Dr BR Ambedkar, Page 121, Volume 17, Part 1 of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches
While we found a host of pro-reservation statements in these texts, we found no mention of it being abolished in case a tribal person was elected to the post of president.
Keyword searches in both Hindi and English for reports or documentation of the same also did not return any results.
WHAT DO EXPERTS SAY?
The Quint reached out to Professor Hari Narke, editor of the 'Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches' project under the Government of Maharashtra, who has edited Volumes 17 to 22 of the collection, to verify the quote being attributed to Dr Ambedkar.
Professor Narke rubbished the claim, saying that he condemned the "rumour-mongers" who made this up.
"After reading all of Babasaheb Ambedkar's literature, I can confirm that he never said any such thing, neither does it match his way of thinking... In all his texts, he has spoken about the importance of reservation for social justice, and there too, he has never said that if a tribal woman becomes president, reservation should be abolished."Professor Hari Narke, editor of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches Project
Citing Article 334 of the Indian Constitution – which discusses a limit for reservation and special representation – Professor Narke said that had Dr Ambedkar had made such a statement, he would have included it under this Article of the Constitution, "but it is not written there."
"This quote of Dr Ambedkar's was not around before this. The timing of this quote should also be noted, this has come after President Droupadi Murmu's election," Professor Narke added.
"As a researcher, I am immediately able to identify such fake quotes by the language used. If any quotation has to be shared, the name of the text, page number, and context has to be provided. These fake quotations never contain any of them," he said.
'NOT THE FIRST TIME FAKE QUOTES HAVE BEEN ATTRIBUTED TO DR AMBEDKAR': PROF NARKE
Professor Narke highlighted that this was not the first time that made-up quotations were being attributed to Dr Ambedkar.
Previously, Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati had stated that Dr Ambedkar would be against Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir before it was abolished in 2019.
However, there is no evidence to corroborate the leaders' claim.
On another occasion, a viral claim suggested that Dr Ambedkar would not have been able to write the Constitution without the Bengali Muslim vote.
Here, The Quint found that while Ambedkar was initially elected from Bengal, the constituencies that he was elected from went to Pakistan after the Partition, and he was later sponsored to contest from the then-Bombay constituency.
Evidently, Dr BR Ambedkar never said that the reservation system should be abolished if a tribal woman was ever elected to the president's post in India. There is no evidence to back the existence of this statement.
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