As democratic India prepares to celebrate the 125th year of his birth, Dr B. R. Ambedkar stands taller than he ever did before. This is essentially because the deep-seated problems spotlighted by his life and work remain very much alive while the bold and often profound questions he raised about Indian society remain unanswered.
It is not without political significance that the Hindu Right is currently attempting, against the grain of history, to appropriate Dr Ambedkar’s legacy. In this situation, his uncompromising analysis of the caste system, of chaturvarnya and sanatana dharma, of notions of pollution, of unalterable or rigid social hierarchy, and of the implications of the hegemony of the shastras must be read, re-read, and made part of a national debate.
Dr Ambedkar’s outstanding intellectual contribution to re-imagining and building a new India free from the debilitating, indeed soul-destroying, system of caste as an institution of social oppression and discrimination incompatible with democracy must be ranked on a par with his justly celebrated contribution to the making of India’s Republican Constitution.
— from N Ram, Convocation speech, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), May 12, 2015 (pdf file attached)