In this interview with Huzaifa Omair Siddiqi, research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the renowned historian and philosopher Aishwary Kumar, who is currently Professorial Fellow at Centre for South Asia, Stanford University and the author of Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi and the Risk of Democracy (Stanford, 2015), discusses the enormous significance Dr. B.R. Ambedkar holds for the future of planetary democratic thought.
On Dr. Ambedkar’s 130th birth anniversary, how can his ideas inspire us to look at the fundamental democratic concepts of equality, freedom, secularism, and maitri anew? For Professor Kumar, Dr. Ambedkar’s bringing together of the importance of a religiosity without religion along with a singular insistence on democracy and the rights of Dalits and minorities makes him one of the most unique political thinkers. Dr. Ambedkar’s immense ‘faith in equality’, according to Professor Kumar, is not simply a sign of his dedication to ‘liberal’ values but also the way in which he quite beautifully displaces both traditional ideas of religion and politics in order to inculcate what he calls a ‘love for politics’, encapsulated in his concept of maitri or fellowship.