A viral graphic claiming BR Ambedkar said reservations in India should be abolished the day a tribal woman becomes president of the country, is fake and has been falsely attributed to him.
BOOM did not find any evidence to corroborate that such a statement was ever made by Ambedkar. Furthermore, experts who have studied his work, have dismissed the quote.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was a Dalit activist, social reformer, politician, economist and jurist, who is renowned for his role in the fight against discrimination of Dalits, and in the drafting of the Indian Constitution.
It is important to note that the quote first emerged on social media after National Democratic Alliance nominee Droupadi Murmu was elected as president. Murmu made history by becoming the first tribal woman to be elected as President of India on July 25, 2022.
The viral quote can be seen below. "The day when a Tribal woman becomes the President of India, the reservation in the country should be abolished - Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar," it states.
Click here to view
The same graphic is being shared on Facebook with the false claim.
BOOM also received the viral graphic on our WhatsApp tipline number (7700906588)
BOOM found that the viral quote being attributed to BR Ambedkar is fake. We did not find any credible evidence that corroborates Ambedkar making any such statement.
Using keywords from the viral graphic, we looked for any reference online to the quote but did not find anything remotely similar in his speeches and writings.We also did not find any such quote in Ambedkar's famous writings such as 'Annihilation of Caste'. On the Ministry of External Affairs website, Dr. Ambedkar's writings and speeches are publicly available and do not contain any quote which calls for abolishing reservations if a tribal person is elected as the President of the country.
The quote appeared online only after Droupadi Murmu was elected as president, thus making the timing suspicious.
Experts dismiss quote as fake
BOOM reached out to Maroona Murmu, Professor of History at Jadavpur University and the first Adivasi professor teaching social sciences at a university in Bengal.
"I have never come across such a quote by Dr. Ambedkar," Professor Murmu told BOOM. "Dr. Ambedkar had always talked about community uplifttment and never felt that individual success mattered much," she said.
"He was aware that even when he was undoubtedly one of the most educated persons in India, he was discriminated against for his social location and Dalit identity. So a tribal woman becoming a President might be a giant leap for democracy but that is not commensurate with the abominable condition in which the Adivasis of this country exist."
Professor Hari Narke, editor of the 'Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches' project under the Government of Maharashtra, from Volumes 17 to 22 of the collection in a Twitter thread rubbished the viral quote calling it fake and fictitious.
Narke's tweet when translated from Marathi reads, "This statement being circulated as Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is fake, fictitious and false. Babasaheb never said or wrote that. This statement is not found in Babasaheb's Writings and Speeches Volumes 1 to 22. While giving such statements, its references, (name of book, page number should be given)."
He further added, "It is not given here because this quotation is fake. Such fake statements in favor of Babasaheb are constantly circulated by the IT cell and rumours gang. Behind this is the evil intention of intellectual discrimination. This attitude is anti-equality."
Examples of Dr Ambedkar's pro-reservation stance
In the volumes of Ambedkar's 'Writings and Speeches' uploaded on MEA's official website, we in fact found several instances of Ambedkar putting forth his pro-reservation views.
In May 1950 during a conversation with writer Mulk Raj Anand, author of 'The Untouchable', Ambedkar is quoted highlighting that reservations are meant to uplift Tribals and Schedule Caste with reservations in schools, colleges, and scholarships. He also responds to a statement by Anand that reservation would be resented by 'caste Hindus' to which he replies by saying that the community would need to organise itself against 'caste Hindus'.
This can be seen below in Volume 17, Part 1 (Click here to view)
Another example of Ambedkar's pro-reservation stance is from his speech in Patiala, Punjab on October 29, 1951, during an election campaign for Scheduled Castes Federation (SCF) where he states that he wanted political reservation to remain even after 10 years (ie after 1960) and 'as long as untouchability is there'.
Ambedkar further went on to criticize Congress party SC/ ST candidates for not backing him against the ten year limit. Ambedkar was dissatisfied with the 10 years clause for political reservation in seats in Lok Sabha and state constituencies. However, after the clause for reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Tribes ceased in 1960, it has since been extended every 10 years by parliament and was unanimously extended by Parliament last in December 2019 till 2030.
This can be seen below in Volume 17, Part 3 (Click here to view)
In the past, there have been claims made by several people including former Lok Sabha speaker and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sumitra Mahajan in 2018 claiming that Ambedkar only wanted reservations for 10 years. However, this claim has been dismissed by several experts.
Some examples of this claim being dismissed can be read in the paper published by Anurag Bhaskar, assistant professor at Jindal Global Law School in Sage Journals titled "The Myth of the Ten-Year Limit on Reservations and Dr Ambedkar's Stance" (Read here) and from Raja Sekhar Vundru, author of 'Ambedkar, Gandhi and Patel: The Making of India's Electoral System' article in The Indian Express on August 16, 2020, titled, "Ambedkar and political reservation" (Read here).