Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, famously known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, is a famous face of Indian History. He is known for his unconditional effort in the campaign against social discrimination against the untouchables (Dalits) and his contribution to making the “Constitution of India.” He also made an impactful contribution to the Indian Judiciary system and Indian Economy.
Early life and education
Babasaheb Ambedkar was born on April 14th, in the year 1891 in the military cantonment named How presently known as Dr. Ambedkar Nagar in the then Central Province (Madhya Pradesh). His family was from Marathi background and he belongs to a lower caste named Mahar, which was untouchable or Dalits.
Although he went to school, he was not allowed to enter the classroom. He hardly got any attention or assistance from the teachers. He was not allowed to drink water like others. If he needed to, the peon used to pour the water from a height to avoid any touches with the water container. In a word, he had to go through an unimaginable painful phase in his childhood, which no one deserves.
B. R. Ambedkar, along with his family, moved to Bombay (presently Mumbai) in 1897 and became the only untouchable to be admitted to Elphinstone High School. In the year of 1907, he successfully passed the matriculation examination and got admitted in Elphinstone College, affiliated by Bombay University in the next year. In 1912, he completed his graduation in Economy and Political Science from Bombay University.
Then he moved to the United States for postgraduate studies at the age of 22, where he got admission to Columbia University in New York City through Baroda State Scholarship. He obtained a Master of Arts in June 1915, majoring in Economics. He obtained a Ph.D. in Economics in 1927 based on his thesis written on the caste system in India. He also studied at the London School of Economics.
Career & Major Works of B. R. Ambedkar
B.R. Ambedkar achieved new dimensions in multiple fields for his contributions. The major of them are the campaign against untouchability, drafting of the Indian Constitution, reformation of society, etc.
A Campaign against untouchability:
He was a victim of untouchability from the very beginning of his school days. His professional life is not different from that. He started his career as a private tutor, as a consultant and then investment consultant. But he failed when the clients found that he is untouchable.
After that, he tried his luck in the legal profession. He defended a lawsuit for a non-Brahmin person to win a case against a Brahmin person accused of ruining Indian social values. He was always committed to promote and uplift the education of the untouchables.
He even established an institution of them to study. Later he was appointed to Bombay Presidency Committee to work with the Simon Commission, which raised a great outrage across the whole country.
He took a step further to strengthen the campaign against the caste discrimination by launching a protest to open up the public water resources to the Dalits. He even condemned the ancient Hindu ideology in the open forum, which justifies the caste system of the country.
During 1932, the British announced a separate electoral process for the depressed community of the society. Mahatma Gandhi strongly protested against the same by hunger strike in Poona (now Pune). The then congress members discussed and signed Poona Pact with Ambedkar, which ensures reservation of seats to the backward castes in the provisional legislature.
His political career started in the year of 1926 as he was nominated as a member of the Bombay Legislative Council. He continued his efforts for the reformation of the Indian Economy. He served this post till 1936. In 1935, he was named as the principal of Government Law College, Bombay, for two years.
He also served as the chairman of the Governing body of Ramjas College, University of Delhi. After the death of his wife, whose long-standing wish was to go on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur, he was unable to do so as the untouchables were not allowed there as per the Hindu beliefs. He always expressed his views to leave the Hindu religion and build a new different religion.
He published a book named “Annihilation of Caste,” where he criticized the Hindu religion for its support for caste discrimination. He founded the Independent Labour Party, which contested Bombay Election in 1937. He was also elected as MLA of this legislature and served in the opposition party.
To take the campaign forward, he founded the All India Scheduled Caste Foundation. He also conveyed his views on the formation of untouchable castes. In 1952, he participated in Indian General Election but unfortunately, he lost to his former assistant and Congress party candidate Narayan Sadoba Kajriolkar.
He again tried to enter the Lok Sabha in 1954 but again, he failed. He twice became the Member of Parliament representing Bombay State in Rajya Sabha. During the second term, he died.
Drafting of India’s Constitution:
In 1947, upon the independence of India on 15th of August; the congress led all the party to form the Government. They asked Ambedkar to serve as Justice and Law Minister, which he accepted. He was also appointed the Chairman of the Indian Constitution Drafting Committee.
He was undoubtedly the most suitable person for this job. He had vast knowledge about the Constitution. He studied constitutions of 60 countries. He was recognized as the “Father of Indian Constitution”.
His draft was described as a social document which either directly points towards a social reformation or attempt to execute the same by incorporating certain conditions. His text was directed towards the protection of civil liberties of each of the individuals, freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability and outlawing all kinds of discriminations.
He extensively fought for the economic and social rights of women. He convinced Assembly to introduce reservations for jobs in civil services, schools and colleges for the members of the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. The Constitution was adopted on 26th November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly.
Opposition to Article 370:
He was always against Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir state. He said that this section was included in the Indian Constitution against his wish. He also firmly believed that this was unfair on the part of Kashmir to expect India to provide military and other necessary services but to not merge with it.
Uniform civil code:
He was in support of introducing a uniform civil code. He debated in Assembly in favor of the same. But when the Assembly hold his drafted Hindu Code Bill, he resigned from the cabinet in 1951.
At the age of 15, his marriage was arranged with a nine year’s old girl named Ramabai. After being elected as the principal of Government Law College, he settled in Bombay. He oversaw the construction of a house Rajgruha and stocked his library with more than 50,000 books.
But in the same year, his wife died after suffering from a long illness. After completing his drafting work of Indian Constitutions, he had insomnia, pain in his legs and acute diabetes.
He started to take insulins and homeopathic medicines. He went to Bombay for treatment, where he met with Dr. Sharada Kabir. He, later on, he married her in 1948. She adopted a new name of Savita Ambedkar, who looks after him for the rest of his life.
Ambedkar was always against the orthodox religious restrictions of Hinduism. He never wanted to die as a Hindu. He also made his followers believe the same. At first, he thought about adopting Sikhism. But after meeting with Sikh leaders, he came to know that they will be given a second category status.
That’s why he left Hinduism. He didn’t want to fall in the same trap again. So he turned his face towards Buddhism. He studied Buddhism all his life. He traveled to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to attend the World Fellowship of Buddhists and converted into a Buddhist.
Since the year of 1948, Ambedkar suffered from diabetes. He was in bed for a long time due to medication side-effects and poor eyesight. He had been increasingly embittered by political issues, which took a toll on his health. His health worsened during 1955. Ambedkar died in his sleep on 6th December 1956 at his home in Delhi.