Sushila Rao


This article briefly delves into history to trace the ideological contours of institutionalised protest against untouchability and the discernible shift towards a quest for a distinct identity in the colonial era, particularly with the emergence of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as its leader. In this context, it then seeks to highlight the recurring themes as well as contradictions in Ambedkar's thought, and assesses how a combination of playing up of these incongruates by vested interests as well as other factors have been successful in preventing the realization of his vision of emancipation. Finally, the paper attempts to elucidate some of the practical manifestations of the perpetuation of self-serving Ambedkar 'icons' by the dominant groups by exploting the origin, evolution, 'principles' and the strategies of two vehicles of Dalit mobilization seemingly on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum - the Dalit Panthers Movement and the BSP - and by reflecting on their ultimate outcomes.