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Conversion
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar On Conversion
Mar 2014

The Hindus cannot afford to be indifferent to the movement of conversion which is gaining ground among the Depressed Classes. It would undoubtedly be the best thing from the stand point of the Hindus if the Depressed Classes were to be persuaded to drop the idea of conversion. But if that is not possible, then the Hindus must concern themselves with the next move which the Depressed Classes will take, because their move is bound to have serious consequences upon the destiny of the country. If they cannot be persuaded to stay, the Hindus must help if they cannot lead them, to embrace a faith which will be least harmful to the Hindus and to the country. 

It seems very unlikely that the Depressed Classes will formulate a new religion. Most probably, they will embrace one of the existing faiths. At any rate the Hindus can well proceed on that assumption. The first question is what is the faith that the Depressed Classes are likely to embrace? Obviously the one most advantageous to them. 

There are three faiths from among which the Depressed Classes can choose. (1) Islam (2) Christianity and (3) Sikhism. Comparing these three, Islam seems to give the Depressed Classes all that they need. Financia1ly, the resources behind Islam are boundless. Socially, the Mohammedans are spread all over India. There are Mohammedans in every province and they can take care of the new converts from the Depressed Classes and render them all help. Politically the Depressed Classes will get all the rights which Mohammedans are entitled to. Conversion to Islam does not involve loss of such political rights, as the right to special representation in the Legislatures, right to services, etc.,. Christianity seems equally attractive. If Indian Christians are too small numerically to provide financial resources necessary for the conversion of the Depressed Classes, the Christian countries such as America and England will pour their immense resources in if the Depressed Class show their readiness to embrace Christianity. Socially, the Christian community is numerically too weak. to render, much support to the converts from the Depressed Classes but Christianity has the Government behind it. Politically, Christianity will give them the same rights which Islam gives. Like the Muslims, Indian Christians are also recognised by the Constitution for special representation in the legislature and in the services. Compared to Christianity and Islam, Sikhism has few attractions. Being a small community of forty lakhs, the Sikhs cannot provide the finance. They are confined to the Punjab and as far as the majority of the Depressed Classes are concerned, the Sikhs can give them no social support. Politically, Sikhism is at a positive disadvantage as compared with Islam or Christianity. Outside the Punjab, the Sikhs are not recognised for special representation in the Legislature and in the services. 

The second question is, looking at these three alternative faiths purely from the standpoint of the Hindus, which is, the best - Islam, Christianity or Sikhism? Obviously Sikhism is the best. If the Depressed Classes join Islam or Christianity, they not only go out of the Hindu religion but they also go out of the Hindu culture. On the other hand, if they become Sikhs they remain within the Hindu culture. This is by no means a small advantage to the Hindus. 

What the consequences of conversion will be to the country as a whole is well worth bearing in mind. Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalise the Depressed Classes. If they go to Islam the number of Muslims will be doubled and the danger of Muslim domination also becomes real. If they go to Christianity. the numerical strength of Christians becomes five to six crores. It will help to strengthen-the hold of the British on this country. On the other hand, if they embrace Sikhism they will not harm the destiny of the country but they will help the destiny of the country. They will not be denationalised. On the contrary they will be a help in the political advancement of the country. Thus it is in the interest of the country that the Depressed Classes, if they are to change their faith, should go over to Sikhism. 

The third question is, if it is in the interest of the Hindus, that the Depressed Classes should go over to Sikhism:are the Hindus prepared to make Sikhism as good an alternative to the Depressed Classes as Islam or Christianity is? If they are, then obviously they must try to remove the difficulties which lie in the way of Sikhism, as compared with Islam and Christianity. The deficiencies are financial, social and political. The Hindus cannot help Sikhs to remove the social difficulty. But they can certainly help the Sikhs to remove the financial and political difficulties. Of these, it is most urgent to remove the political difficulty, because it might become an obstacle in the way of the Sikhs. The solution of the political difficulty is fortunately very small matter. All that is necessary is to add to the list of Scheduled Castes in each province, other than the; Punjab, the word 'Sikh' as that of a person from the Depressed Classes who becomes a convert to Sikhism will not lose his political rights, that he would have had if he remained a Depressed Class. Under the Communal Award, communities have been given the liberty to agree to any change in the Award and the government has bound itself to alter the Award in accordance with the agreement. 

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