Will “National Govt.” Be Better than Present One ?
MADRAS, Sept. 23.−A civic address was presented to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Labour Member, Viceroy’s Executive Council at the Council Chamber, Ripon Buildings, last evening. The gathering included Mr. V. Ramakrishna, Chairman, National Service Labour Tribunal and Kumararaja Sir M. A. Muthiah Chettlar.
After introducing the Councillors to Dr. Ambedkar, , Dr. Syed Niyamatulia, Mayor. presented the distinguished guest With the address enclosed in a silver casket.
The address, which was read by the Mayor, referred to the part played by Dr. Ambedkar in the cause of Labour in India, which “looks to you for obtaining its legitimate rights during the war period and for a greater recognition after the war, of its claims.”
Replying, Dr. Ambedkar said that a criticism had been leveled against the Government of India that it was a very slow machinery. But he would say that during the last few years it had not been keeping idle, waiting upon time to carry out some of the most necessary reforms which every government was bound to perform. The institution of a scheme of technical training with about 400 training Centre’s and 68,000 trainees, the provision of compulsory arbitration of industrial disputes, the setting up of a legal machinery for implementing its decision and the enacting of a law whereby the Government of India, if it was not satisfied that the terms and conditions of employment in a particular concern were not right and proper, had the authority to impose on the employer the terms that it deemed appropriate and proper were some of the pieces of valuable legislation, passed, by the Government of India. He hoped that those measures would not be scrapped at the end of the War and that they would become a permanent part of the legislative system in the Country.
“What we have done, we are conscious, is very small,” said the Labour Member. “But I do want the public to understand that Government of India in the matter of legislation is not in a very happy position. A large part of labour legislation is within the authority and Jurisdiction of the Provinces. The authority of the Government of India is found in the concurrent piece of legislation. But the administration of labour is entirely in the hands of Provincial Governments. Consequently Government of India has to consult, the Provincial Government before it undertakes any legislation. The speed of the Government of India is therefore probably not fast as others expect. But I would say that Government of India is not deadened at heart. It is quick, it is thinking. It has a reorientation in labour matters.” “Many people criticized Government of India.” continued Dr. Ambedkar. “I wonder whether it is worthwhile criticizing it. Government of India would not have done much. But the question is not whether the present Government at the centre has done this or will do that. It is to my mind, whether the new National Government will do better than the present Government of India. After all, if I may say So, I am quite prepared to admit that the present Government of India must be taken as a care-taker’s government.”
Expressing a certain degree of doubt as to the ability of the National Government to do better than the present Government Dr. Ambedkar referred to the 1937 general elections on the basis of adult suffrage. He was one of those who had been disillusioned at the allegation that all human evils would disappear once they established Parliamentary Government based on adult Suffrage. History gave no support for such a proposition. But whether they had the framework of Popular Government or adult suffrage, there was inherent in every society in every country two classes viz., the Governing class and the subject class. In 1937 elections conducted on widest possible suffrage they had the Brahmin community as the governing community. In the seven Congress Provinces there were Brahmin Prime-Ministers, half the member of Ministers were Brahmin Ministers. If that election proved anything, it proved that in the country there was one community that was destined to be the governing class. And it came out successful in the elections as a governing class. He thought that in asking the question whether every country was not entitled to Self-government, they should ask themselves whether a governing class in a particular country had a sense of responsibility so that the government of that country could be entrusted to that community. The right to govern must be really decided in the light of the responsibility of the governing class. If they had a governing class, which believed in graded inequality, and if a National Government was so formed that it went into the hands of that class, the question was, “Do you really think that such a National Government will be better than the present Government of India?” “I am no opponent of National Government,” said the Labour Member in conclusion, “I love Swaraj and want independence, if I could be assured that I could have the welfare and independence which is promised to the nation. But if all this tall talks tall philosophy is followed by nothing else than what is called one-step-dance, if they are to be confined to the governing class, and political power is used for strengthening that community and for disenfranchising the rights of the rest, I feel the present Government should not be criticized so much as now.”
PARTY AT CHETTINAD HOUSE
To meet the Hon. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Labour Member, Government of India, Kumararaja Sir Muthiah Chettiar gave a tea party last evening on the spacious lawns of Chettinad House.
After Tea, the guests were presented to Dr. Ambedkar.
Among those present were Sir Hugh Hood and Sir Norman Strathie, Advisers to H.E. the Governor, Mr. Justice Horwill and Mr. Justice Bell of the Madras High Court, Dr. Byed N1yamathullah, Mayor and Mr. J. P. L. Shenoy, Commissioner of the Corporation, Mr. C. Tadulinga Mudaliar, Mr. W. Chakkarai Chetti, President of the Madras Provincial Trade Union Congress, Mr. N. Sivaraj. and Swami Sahajananda.
“X’IAN DEPRESSED CLASSES.”
The Secretary of the Tamilnad Depressed Classes Christian Association, Mr. S. Francis, into viewed Dr. Ambedkar on Thursday evening and presented a memorandum urging that no discrimination be shown in Government’s treatment of the Christian and the Hindu Depressed Classes in respect of facilities for education and so on.
LABOUR MEMBER ON INDUSTRY’S ROLE
“The fundamental question about Postwar Reconstruction which we have not touched is, who is going to be responsible for it—the State or the individual? The Government of India has not decided the question; although I have warned my colleagues that they can no longer avoid it. I cannot Say What the Government of India will be, but I feel that the Government of India as it exists today may probably be described as a Government of caretakers” observed Dr. Ambedkar in reply to a memorandum presented by the Andhra Chamber of Commerce yesterday. He added that the present Government of India was not the agency to carry out the post-war reforms.
Mr. B. Seshachalam Chetti read the memorandum.
Dr. Ambedkar said that the Government of India which had all along been only a Government collecting revenue and maintaining law and order had only recently undertaken the functions of a “civilized government,” like uplifting those who are socially and economically down-trodden. Speaking on Post-war Reconstruction, he said that a memorandum prepared by the Planning Committee, Which was discussed at a meeting of the Executive Council, would soon be published for inviting public opinion. It was a matter of special interest to the members of the Government of India to make known the memorandum which laid stress on Labour, Scheduled Castes, and women who have to play a great part in India’s future development. Referring to legislation, Dr. Ambedkar asked them to realize that every kind of social security must be paid for. Unless the resources of India Were organized to produce far more wealth than it had ever produced, it would be impossible to affect any measure of social security. Whatever be the form of Government of India hereafter, it must see that wealth is not appropriated by individuals in the name of industry. In this connection, he cited the example of Russia where the industries were managed by the State and said that if the Government followed the Russian method, all industry and business must be managed by the State So, the State must decide Post-war Reconstruction. If the people of India produced a better government the present Executive Councilors were all willing to give way to them added Dr. Ambedkar. He hoped that Postwar Reconstruction would be in the hands of such a Government. Mr. C. Adiseshu proposed a vote of thanks, Dr. Ambedkar met the members of the Southern India Chamber of Commerce yesterday and discussed with them a memorandum presented to him.