Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Remembrance Day – April 14
Born: 14 April, 1891
Passed Away: 6, December, 1956
Spouses: Ramabai (1906), Savita Ambedkar(1948)
Birth Place: Mhow, India
Education: London School of Economics and Political Science (1916–1922)
Known as: Father of the Indian Constitution
Movies: A Journey of Samyak Buddha
Award: Bharat Ratna
Bheem Rao Ambedkar was a first prime minister and indian constitution architect in India.He was born on April 14, 1891 at Ambedkar village in Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra state. His father was Ramji. He was the 14th son of his father. His birthday is celebrated as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar remembrance Day in India
Dr B R Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was one of the architects of the Indian Constitution. He was a well-known politician and an eminent jurist. Ambedkar’s efforts to eradicate the social evils like untouchablity and caste restrictions were remarkable. The leader, throughout his life, fought for the rights of the dalits and other socially backward classes. He was appointed as the nation’s first Law Minister in the Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru. He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor in 1990.
Bhimrao Ambedkar was born to Bhimabai Sakpal and Ramji on 14 April 1891 in Madhya Pradesh. He was the fourteenth child of his parents. Ambedkar;s father was a Subedar in the Indian Army and posted at Mhow cantonment, MP. After the retirement of his father in 1894, the family moved to satara. Shortly after, his mother passed away. Four years later, his father remarried and the family shifted to Bombay, where he cleared his matriculation in 1908. His father Bhimabai Sakpal died in Bombay, in 1912.
Ambedkar was a victim of caste discrimination. His parents hailed from the Hindu Mahar caste, which was viewed as “untouchable” by the upper class. Due to this, Ambedkar had to face severe discriminations from every corners of the society. a The discrimination and humiliation haunted Ambedkar even at the Army school, run by British government. Fearing social outcry, the teachers would segregate the students of lower class from that of Brahmins and other upper classes. The untouchable students were often asked by the teacher to sit outside the class. After shifting to Satara, he was admitted to a local school but the change of school did not change the fate of young Bhimrao. Discrimination followed wherever he went. In 1908, Ambedkar got the opportunity to study at the Elphinstone College. Besides clearing all the exams successfully Ambedkar also obtained a scholarship of twenty five rupees a month from the Gayakwad ruler of Baroda, Sahyaji Rao III. Political Science and Economics were the subjects in which he graduated from the Bombay University in 1912. Ambedkar decided to use the money for higher studies in the USA.
After coming back from the US, Ambedkar was appointed as the Defence secretary to the King of Baroda. Even, there also he had to face the humiliation for being an ‘Untouchable’. With the help of the former Bombay Governor Lord Sydenham, Ambedkar obtained the job as a professor of political economy at the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Bombay. In order to continue his further studies, in 1920 he went to England at his own expenses. There he was awarded honor of D.Sc by the London University. Ambedkar also spent few months at the University of Bonn, Germany, to study economics. On 8 June, 1927, he was awarded a Doctorate by the University of Columbia.
After returning to India, Bhimrao Ambedkar decided to fight against the caste discrimination that almost fragmented the nation. Ambedkar opined that there should be separate electoral system for the Untouchables and lower caste people. He also favored the concept of providing reservations for Dalits and other religious communities.
Ambedkar began to find ways to reach to the people and make them understand the drawbacks of the prevailing social evils. He launched a newspaper called “Mooknayaka” (leader of the silent). It was believed that, one day, after hearing his speech at a rally, Shahu IV, an influential ruler of Kolhapur dined with the leader. The incident also created a huge uproar in the socio-political arena of the country.
In 1936, Ambedkar founded the Independent Labor Party. In the 1937 elections to the Central Legislative Assembly his party won 15 seats. Ambedkar oversaw the transformation of his political party into the All India Scheduled Castes Federation, although it performed poorly in the elections held in 1946 for the Constituent Assembly of India.
Ambedkar objected to the decision of Congress and Mahatma Gandhi to call the untouchable community as Harijans. He would say that even the members of untouchable community are same as the other members of the society. Ambedkar was appointed on the Defence Advisory Committee and the Viceroy’s Executive Council as Minister for Labor. His reputation as a scholar led to his appointment as free India’s first, Law Minister and chairman of the committee responsible to draft a constitution.
Framer of Constitution
Bhimrao Ambedkar was appointed as the chairman of the constitution drafting committee. He was also a noted scholar and eminent jurist. Ambedkar emphasized on the construction of a virtual bridge between the classes of the society. According to him, it would be difficult to maintain the unity of the country if the difference among the classes were not met.
Conversion to Buddhism
In 1950, Ambedkar traveled to Sri Lanka to attend a convention of Buddhist scholars and monks. After his return he decided to write a book on Buddhism and soon, converted himself to Buddhism. In his speeches, Ambedkar lambasted the Hindu rituals and caste division. Ambedkar founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha In 1955. His book “The Buddha and His Dhamma” was published posthumously.
On October 14, 1956 Ambedkar organized a public ceremony to convert around five lakh of his supporters into Buddhism. Ambedkar traveled to Kathmandu to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference. He completed his final manuscript, “The Buddha or Karl Marx” on December 2, 1956.
Since 1954-55 Ambedkar was suffering from serious health problems including diabetes and weak eyesight. On 6 December, 1956 he died at his home in Delhi. Since, Ambedkar adopted the Buddhism as his religion, a Buddhist-style cremation was organized for him. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of thousands of supporters, activists and admirers.
Interesting Facts about Dr. Ambedkar:
- Ambedkar is an eminent constitutional lawyer, an authority on economics and political issues, a statesman, an author, an agitator and an architect of the Indian Constitution.
- Bhimaro Ramji Ambedkar adorned diverse fields, but he will always be remembered as the unquestionable leader of the depressed classes.
- On October 14, 1956, when Dr. Ambedkhar embraced Buddhism, thousands, nay, millions followed suit. Many did not forgive him for lifting them out of dust and teaching them the way to self-respect and dignity.
- Bhimarao, born on April 14, 1891, in ‘Mhow’ village in Central India, was the fourteenth child of Ramji and Bhimbai Sakpal. He was affectionately called Bhima; and the name Bhimaro stuck to him after he completed his college studies.
- Like his grandfather, Maloji, Bhim’s father, Ramji Sakpal, too, was in the army of the British Government. In those days the British Government had made education compulsory for the men in the army.
- It was rare and great event for an ‘untouchable’ to study so much. So the Mahar community held a meeting and felicitated “Bhimaro”.
- At the age of 17 Bhim was married to nine year old Ramabai. The marriage was held, of all places, in an open market shed in Byculla, Bombay.
- He completed his Intermediate course. It was beyond Ramji’s means to bear the cost of Bhim’s further education. Fortunately, the Maharaja of Baroda, Sayaji Rao Gaikwad, granted a scholarship that enabled Bhimrao to attain the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1912.
- After the death of his father, Ramji, the responsibility of the entire family rested on Bhimarao’s young shoulders. Once again Sayaji Rao, the Maharaja of Baroda, came to his rescue and selected him to be sent to America for his higher studies in return for serving the State of Baroda for ten years.
- There he had to put in a lot of hard work as he was determined to study not only for his University degree but was also keen on acquiring knowledge of several other subjects such as Economics, Political and Social Science , Law, Moral Science and Anthropology.
- He wrote a thesis on ‘Ancient India Commerce’ and, in 1915, acquired the Master of Arts degree and also wrote another thesis on ‘National Divided for India. A Historical and Analytical Study’ which was accepted by the Columbia University in 1916 and Ambedkhar was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy.
- After this Ambedkar went to London to study Economics and Political Science. At this time the Baroda Government decided to terminate his scholarship and hence he was forced to return to India.
- As per the agreement with Sayaji Rao, the Maharaja of Baroda, he completed the remaining years of service with them at Baroda.
- Thereafter he returned to Bombay in 1917, to serve as a lecturer in Sydenham College with the aim to save money for completion of his higher studies.
- During this time, Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur was taking interest in the welfare of the depressed classes and with his help Bhimrao started a Newspaper “Mooknayaka” (i.e. the leader of the dumb of speechless).
- In 1920, Ambedkar went back to London and completed his studies and returned to India. Now he was a Barrister. He set up an organization known as ‘Bahishkrut Hitakarini Sabha’.
- The aim of the organization was to uplift the people from the lower classes. He started free schools for the young generation with reading rooms and libraries.
- He became a father figure to the poor and low class people. They started calling him “Baba” and more respectfully as “Babasaheb”.
- In the year 1929, the Government nominated Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to the Bombay Legislative Council. He convened a conference of the depressed classes at Mahad on March 19, 1927, which was attended by 10,000 people. He told them to attain self elevation with self-help and regain self-respect by gaining self-knowledge.
- Babasaheb struggled to secure for the untouchables the right to use the public tanks and entry to the temples.
- According to the Simon Commission’s recommendation, the British Government invited various leaders from various parties for discussion to England, to attend the Round Table Conference.
- Ambedkar was also invited to represent the cause of the untouchables. He was invited again for the second session of the Round Table Conference by the British Government and was on the Federal Structure Committee, and was entrusted with the task of drafting the future “Constitution of India” Mahatma Gandhi too participated in this meeting.
- In November 1932, Dr. Ambedkar attended the third session of the Round Table Conference. In August 1936, he established his own new political party with the a name “Independent Labour Party”.
- The elections took place on February 17, 1937. Ambedkar with many of his members won this election with majority. He abolished the “Khoti or Khot” system of land in the ‘Konkan’ region.
- The second World War started in 1939 and the British Government announced that India would support them in the war. On learning of this announcement, the Congress Governments in all provinces resigned.
- At this time Dr. Ambedkar published a book “Thoughts on Pakistan”. This generated a lot of criticism.
- He met the governor of Bombay and asked him to lift the ban on the entry or recruitment of the lower class (Mahars) in the military by creating a Mahar Battalion in the army.
- Ambedkar, founded the People’s Educational Society and the society opened its first college known as “Siddharth College”.
- Ambedkar was brought into the Constitution Assembly with the backing from the scheduled class and with support from the Muslim League.
- In April 1947 he submitted to the Assembly a draft on “States and Minorities”. The Constituent Assembly, on April 29, 1947 declared that Untouchability in all forms would be abolished in India.
- The British Parliament passed the Act of Indian Independence on July 15, 1947 and immediately after that the first Cabinet Ministry of Free India was formed and Dr. Ambedkar was invited to join the Cabinet as the Law Minister, which he accepted.
- Ambedkar was called to draft the Constitution of Independent India where by he was appointed as the Chairperson. He completed this vast and varied work in February 1948.
- His famous book “The Untouchables” in English was published in October 1948. He also worked on modifying the Hindu Law and submitted the Hindu Code Bill to the Constituent Assembly in 1948.
- News arrived from United Sates of America that the famous ‘Columbia University’ had awarded the Doctorate of Law degree to Dr. Ambedkar. Ambedkar went to New York to receive it on June 5, 1952.
- The very next year, on January 12, 1953, the Osmania University of Hyderabad, conferred on him an Honorary Doctorate of Literature.
- Age and ill health did not deter Ambedkar from working non-stop. When he realized that the Hindu System would never grant social equality to his people, he started looking for an alternate religion, which would make his dream come true; a religion where every man was treated as an equal. He found his answer in Buddhism.
- After delebrating for a long time and after studying several other religions he finally embraced Buddhism on October 14, 1956.
- He was much impressed by Gautam Bhutta’s teachings and grow close to the Buddhists and Buddism and also addressed a public meeting in New Delhi on the occasion of the anniversary of Gautam Buddha. He also attended the Buddhist Conference at Colombo.
- Despite his failing health he continued with his writing work and finally completed his book, ‘The Buddha and and his Gospel”.
- He also completed two more of his book, “Revolutions and counter revolutions in India” and “The Buddha and Karl Marx”.
- Although he was a highly controversial figure, he played a very constructive and a very important role in making the Constitution of India and Hindu Law Reform.
- By 1956, when he died, he had succeeded in raising his caste fellows from the dust to the dignity of an equal citizenship.
- Today in India all the temples, public places are open to the depressed classes. Ambedkar attained “Nirvana” on December 6, 1956 and was posthumously awarded “The Bharat Ratna” in the year 1990.