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Popularly known as Babasaheb, Dr Ambedkar made immense contribution for the uplift of the untouchables. With the slogan of “educate-agitate-organise”, the social movement led by Ambedkar aimed at Annihilation of Caste & the Reconstruction of Indian society on the basis of equality of human beings. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna by the government posthumously in 1990.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891 in Madhya Pradesh to to Ramji Maloji Sakpal and Bhimabai. His family was of the Marathi background from Maharashtra and belonged to the Mahar caste. The family was treated as untouchables and was subjected to socioeconomic discrimination. The children faced resistance to study in schools owing to their caste.
Ambedkar’s father served in the Indian army at the Mhow cantonment. He always encouraged his children to learn and work hard and to read the Hindu classics. He used his position to get the students study in government schools. While at school Ambedkar was segregated and given little attention by the teachers due to his caste. He would not be allowed to sit inside the class neither touch water. The peon would pour water for Ambedkar which he stated as “No peon, no water.”
He passed his matriculation exam in 1907 and later entered Elphinstone College. He obtained his degree in economics and poetical science from Bombay University in 1912. In 1913 he moved to the US and passed his MA exam in 1915 with Economics honours. He later enrolled at the London School of Economics where he started work on a doctoral thesis. Later he returned back to India.
For sustaining a living Ambedkar worked as a teacher, an accountant and an investment consulting business. In 1918 he became the professor of political economy in Sydenham College of commerce and economics where he was subjected to negligence as an untouchable. In 1922 he completed a thesis for an MSc degree at the London School of Economics. Ambedkar was married to Ramabai. Ambedkar established a successful legal practice. In 1935 he was appointed the principal of the Government Law College in Mumbai a position he held for two years. His reputation as a scholar led him to be appointed as the first law minister of independent India. He married for a second time Sharada Kabir, a high caste Hindu. Ambedkar in the later part of his life had been suffering from diabetes and his health deteriorated. He continued the crusade of social revolution until the end of his life.
He died on December 6, 1956 and was cremated in a Buddhist style cremation at Dadar Chowpatty Beach. A memorial for Ambedkar was established in his Delhi house. His birthday is celebrated as Ambedkar Jayanti.
BR Ambedkar's Protests against Discrimination:
Ambedkar belonging to the socially backward community had to face the negligence of the society. In his lifetime he was subjected to socioeconomic discrimination. While at school Ambedkar was segregated and given little attention by the teachers due to his caste. He would not be allowed to sit inside the class neither touch water.
He therefore made immense contribution for the uplift of the untouchables. His first organized attempt to educate the untouchables was the Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha which was intended to promote education and the socio economic improvement and the welfare of the downtrodden people. He launched movements against untouchability to share public drinking water resources and the right to enter temples. In 1927 he led the march at Mahad in Maharashtra to establish the rights of the untouchables to taste water from the Public Chawdar Lake prohibited to them which marked the beginning of anti caste and anti priest movement. The temple entry movement launched by Ambedkar in 1930 at the Kalaram temple, Maharashtra, is another landmark in the struggle of human rights and political justice. He also took part in an event where the Hindu text “Manu Smriti” was burnt.
In 1925 he was appointed to the Bombay Presidency committee to work with the all European Simon commission which sparked protests. In 1932 he was invited to attend the Second Round Table Conference in London. The British agreed with Ambedkar for a separate electorate for the untouchables which was opposed by Mahatma Gandhi because he feared that it would divide the Hindu community into two groups. Gandhi organized a fast which provoked huge civil unrest across the country. On the insistence political leaders of Ambedkar dropped his demand for separate electorate for the untouchables. Ambedkar held the view that “only political power cannot be a panacea for the ills of the depressed classes. Their salvation lies in their social elevation”. With the slogan of “educate-agitate-organise”, the social movement led by Ambedkar aimed at Annihilation of Caste & the Reconstruction of Indian society on the basis of equality of human beings.
Ambedkar was also critical of the Hindus treatment of the Muslims. He protested against child marriage and the mismanagement of women in the Hindu society.
In 1937 Ambedkar published his book “The Annihilation of Caste”. In his work “Who Were the Shudras” he explained the formation of the untouchables. Ambedkar wrote a book on Buddhism “the Buddha and His Dhamma”, published posthumously. In 1920 he began he publication of the weekly “Mooknayak” through which he used to criticize orthodox Hindu politicians and the inability of the society to fight against caste discrimination.
Dr Ambedkar studied Buddhism all his life and around 1950s he turned his attention to Buddhism. In 1955 he founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha. He embraced Buddhism on October 14, 1956. His wife also converted to Buddhism and so also a large number of his supporters. Ambedkar’s promotion of the Dalit Buddhist movement has helped in the formation of interest in Buddhist philosophy across the country.
Drafting India’s Constitution:
Dr Ambedkar is known as the Father of the Indian Constitution. After the independence of India on 29 August he was appointed the chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, charged by the Assemble to write the new Constitution of India. The text that Ambedkar prepared provided Constitutional guarantee and protections for a wide range of civil liberties for individual citizens, including the abolition of untouchabilty, freedom of religion and the outlawing of all forms of discrimination. He argued for economic and social rights for women and won the support of the assembly for introducing a system of reservation of jobs in the civil services, schools and colleges for members of schedule caste and schedule tribes. The constitution was adopted on 26 November, 1949 by the Constituent Assembly. One of the greatest contributions of Ambedkar was in respect of the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution.
Political Career of Ambedkar:
Ambedkar took active part in the politics of the country. In 1936 he formed the Independent Labour Party which won 15 seats in the 1937 elections o the Central Legislative Assembly. In 1952 he independently contested an election to the Lok Sabha but was defeated. In the same year he was appointed to the Rajya Sabha and remained as its member till his death. His political philosophy gave rise to a large number of dalit political parties, publications and worker’s union that remain active across India.
Achievements and Honours to Ambedkar:
Dr BR Ambedkar was awarded the Bharat Ratna by the government posthumously in 1990.A number of institutions have been named in his honour such as Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University in Hyderabad, Dr BR Ambedkar University in Srikakulam, in AP and so forth. Ambedkar established a successful legal practice. In 1935 he was appointed the principal of the Government Law College in Mumbai a position he held for two years. His reputation as a scholar led him to be appointed as the first law minister of independent India.
The Entire Nation
(FAN OF Dr. BHIMRAO RAMJI AMBEDKAR)
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