Embedded in Ambedkar’s historiography

GS 4 – Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

Context:The author in the given article talks about a poem Published in 1879, The Light of Asia by Sir Edwin Arnold, a poem on the life and teachings of the Buddha.

What India learnt?

  •  It contributed greatly to the international community’s knowledge of Buddhism and also played an important role in India’s cultural awakening and social transformation.
  • The author highlights the influence it had on the subcontinent’s leaders from Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
  • The Light of Asia or The Great Renunciation (Mahabhinishkramana) being the Life and Teaching of Gautama Prince of India and Founder of Buddhism (as told in verse by an Indian Buddhist).
  • Author brings to life the character and philosophy of Prince Gautama of India, the founder of Buddhism, are being depicted ‘by the medium of an imaginary Buddhist votary’.

Impact on Ambedkar

  • The biggest political event of 1956 and indeed amongst the biggest ever in twentieth-century Indian history was the conversion of Dr Ambedkar to Buddhism, with lakhs of his followers, on 14 October of that year.
  • Dr Ambedkar was very familiar with Arnold’s work is evident from the fact that he had two copies of it in his personal library, now at Siddharth College in Mumbai.
  • Akshay Singh Rathore, a noted scholar, says ” Ambedkarite Buddhism are the points of rupture (with the Buddhisms of his day) and the points of continuity with the classical literature, and primarily the Pali canon. So coming then to indirect influence. Arnold awoke Kosambi and Kosambi had a huge impact on Ambedkar”

Revisionist account

  • Kosambi’s (  Buddhist monk and the first modern Indian scholar of Pali) late-life rejection of the conventional wisdom on the motives for Prince Siddhartha’s renunciation was fully shared by Dr Ambedkar.
  • There is absolutely no doubt that Dr Ambedkar challenged the mainstream historiographies of Indic civilization through a revisionist account of the social and political role of Buddha and Buddhism in India’s past.


The Light of Asia was embedded in that historiography. This set him apart from others in India who were also great admirers of Buddha, like Tagore, Gandhi and Nehru.

2) Diminishing options

GS 3- Economy

Context:  In the given article the author talks about RBI’s recent Monetary Policy Committee’s latest benchmark interest rates and it’s impact on the economy.

What’s the issue?

  • Monetary Policy Committee left benchmark interest rates unchanged for a sixth  meeting and reiterated that it would keep its policy stance accommodative ‘as long as necessary to revive and sustain growth on a durable basis’.
  • RBI’s latest policy statement underscores the diminishing options available to it to address the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Since its May 2020 decision to cut interest rates by 40 basis points, taking the cumulative reduction in borrowing costs in the wake of the pandemic’s onset to 115 basis points, the MPC has found itself in a bind.
  • The second wave of COVID-19 has crushed all-round demand and consumer confidence.
  • RBI’s latest  consumer confidence survey shows the Current Situation Index at a new all-time low, with 75% of households perceiving the economic and employment situations as having worsened further, and the future expectations index reflecting overall pessimism.
  • It is hard to see the mere availability of low-cost credit helping revive the all-important consumption demand.

The Impact

  • It has been that assumed rural demand will remain buoyant on the back of an expected normal monsoon, while noting that widespread infections in rural areas, which likely led to a sequential decline in tractor and two-wheeler sales in April, could undermine future demand.
  •  RBI is banking on to provide a fillip to economic activity is an accelerated pace of vaccinations, over which it has virtually no control.
  • RBI has used the bank’s liquidity spigot as a tool to address some of the economic distress.
  •  A series of measures focus on bolstering credit flow to the hardest hit MSME and contact-intensive industrial and services sectors, respectively.
  • Still, the MPC can ill-afford to drop the ball on its primary remit — ensuring inflation remains anchored.


With international commodity prices, including crude oil, on an upward trajectory and no signs of domestic policy support to check skyrocketing petrol and diesel pump prices, inflation is sure to accelerate, posing a major conundrum to the RBI. Raising rates could risk hurting recovery, and not doing so could heighten inflation.


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