Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar April 14, 1891, Mhow, India — December 6, 1956, New Delhi
Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, economist, and Dalit leader who headed the committee drafting the Constitution of India from the Constituent Assembly debates served as Law and Justice Minister in the first cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru, and inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement after renouncing Hinduism.
About Dr. Ambedkar
Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a fighter in the cause of Annihilation of Caste, was born in a low-caste Mahar family on 14th April 1891, at Mhow cantonment, where his father served in the Army. Dr. B R Ambedkar was born in a caste that was considered the lowest of the low. But this very man framed the Constitution for the country. His life was one of the struggles, as his radical proposals to deal with the Caste System met with overt hostility from the Upper Castes. Not only did the great Doctor fight against all institutional and social odds to keep studying, but spectacularly earned a Doctorate in Economics from Columbia University in 1917. The boy who suffered bitter caste humiliation became the first Minister for Law in free India and shaped the country’s Constitution. Dr. Ambedkar's struggle against Brahmanical Patriarchy, his radical proposals for the Hindu Code Bill, and his suggestions for a radical restructuring of property relations alert us to his challenging of the status quo. Dr. Ambedkar, perhaps India’s most radical thinker, transformed the social and political landscape in the struggle against British Colonialism, by making the downtrodden politically aware of their situation. Ambedkar famously said to Dalits something that bears immense importance even today – “Educate, Agitate, and Organise”
"I measure the progress of a community by
the degree of progress that women have achieved."
He laid a great emphasis on education, especially where it was traditionally denied. He is known to have said once that education was more important than Temple entry for the downtrodden. He saw Education as a potent tool that could equally empower every citizen to build an egalitarian society and also help break the age-old restrictive shackles of discriminatory social practices. As a college bearing his name we continually strive to emulate his vision and help empower the future generation to build a holistic, inclusive, and progressive society of Modern India.
"I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality, and fraternity."
Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 in the town and military cantonment of Mhow (now officially known as Dr. Ambedkar Nagar) (now in Madhya Pradesh). He was the 14th and last child of Ramji Maloji Sakpal, an army officer who held the rank of Subedar, and Bhimabai Sakpal, daughter of Laxman Murbadkar. His family was of Marathi background from the town of Ambadawe (Mandangad taluka) in the Ratnagiri district of modern-day Maharashtra. Ambedkar was born into a Mahar (Dalit) caste, who were treated as untouchables and subjected to socio-economic discrimination. Ambedkar's ancestors had long worked for the army of the British East India Company, and his father served in the British Indian Army at the Mhow cantonment. Although they attended school, Ambedkar and other untouchable children were segregated and given little attention or help by teachers. They were not allowed to sit inside the class. When they needed to drink water, someone from a higher caste had to pour that water from a height as they were not allowed to touch either the water or the vessel that contained it. This task was usually performed for the young Ambedkar by the school peon, and if the peon was not available then he had to go without water; he described the situation later in his writings as "No peon, No Water". He was required to sit on a gunny sack which he had to take home with him.
"Life should be great rather than long."
image source velivada
Ambedkar's first wife Ramabai died in 1935 after a long illness. After completing the draft of India's constitution in the late 1940s, he suffered from lack of sleep, had neuropathic pain in his legs, and was taking insulin and homeopathic medicines. He went to Bombay for treatment, and there met Sharada Kabir, whom he married on 15 April 1948, at his home in New Delhi. Doctors recommended a companion who was a good cook and had medical knowledge to care for him. She adopted the name Savita Ambedkar and cared for him for the rest of his life.
"If I find the constitution being misused,
I shall be the first to burn it."
In 1897, Ambedkar's family moved to Mumbai where Ambedkar became the only untouchable enrolled at Elphinstone High School. In 1906, when he was about 15 years old, he married a nine-year-old girl, Ramabai. The match per the customs prevailing at that time was arranged by the couple's parents.
"Cultivation of the mind should be
the ultimate aim of human existence."
1) Studies at the University of Bombay
In 1907, he passed his matriculation examination and in the following year, he entered Elphinstone College, which was affiliated with the University of Bombay, becoming, according to him, the first from his Mahar caste to do so. When he passed his English fourth standard examinations, the people of his community wanted to celebrate because they considered that he had reached "great heights" which he says was "hardly an occasion compared to the state of education in other communities". A public ceremony was evoked, to celebrate his success, by the community, and it was at this occasion that he was presented with a biography of the Buddha by Dada Keluskar, the author and a family friend.
"Indifferentism is the worst kind
of disease that can affect people."
2) Studies at Columbia University
In 1913, at the age of 22, Ambedkar was awarded a Baroda State Scholarship of £11.50 (Sterling) per month for three years under a scheme established by Sayajirao Gaekwad III (Gaekwad of Baroda) that was designed to provide opportunities for postgraduate education at Columbia University in New York City. Soon after arriving there, he settled in rooms at Livingston Hall with Naval Bhathena, a Parsi who was to be a lifelong friend. He passed his M.A. exam in June 1915, majoring in economics, and other subjects of Sociology, History, Philosophy, and Anthropology.
"Equality may be a fiction but nonetheless
one must accept it as a governing principle."
3) Studies at the London School of Economics
In October 1916, he enrolled in the Bar course at Gray's Inn, and at the same time enrolled at the London School of Economics where he started working on a doctoral thesis. In June 1917, he returned to India because his scholarship from Baroda ended. His book collection was dispatched on a different ship from the one he was on, and that ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. He got permission to return to London to submit his thesis within four years. He returned at the first opportunity and completed a master's degree in 1921.
"So long as you do not achieve social liberty,
whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you."
image source The federal news
In 1932, the British colonial government announced the formation of a separate electorate for "Depressed Classes" in the Communal Award. Mahatma Gandhi fiercely opposed a separate electorate for untouchables, saying he feared that such an arrangement would divide the Hindu community. Gandhi protested by fasting while imprisoned in the Yerwada Central Jail of Poona. Following the fast, congressional politicians and activists such as Madan Mohan Malaviya and Palwankar Baloo organized joint meetings with Ambedkar and his supporters at Yerwada. On 25 September 1932, the agreement, known as the Poona Pact was signed between Ambedkar (on behalf of the depressed classes among Hindus) and Madan Mohan Malaviya (on behalf of the other Hindus). The agreement gave reserved seats for the depressed classes in the Provisional legislatures within the general electorate.
"Law and order are the medicine of the body politic and
when the body politic gets sick, medicine must be administered."
Since 1948, Ambedkar suffered from diabetes. He was bed-ridden from June to October 1954 due to medication side effects and poor eyesight. His health worsened in 1955. Three days after completing his final manuscript The Buddha and His Dhamma, Ambedkar died in his sleep on 6 December 1956 at his home in Delhi.
Ambedkar said in 1935 that he was born a Hindu but would not die a Hindu. He viewed Hinduism as an "oppressive religion" and started to consider conversion to any other religion. In Annihilation of Caste, Ambedkar claims that the only lasting way a true casteless society could be achieved is through destroying the belief in the sanctity of the Shastras and denying their authority. Ambedkar was critical of Hindu religious texts and epics and wrote a work titled Riddles in Hinduism from 1954 to 1955. The work was published posthumously by combining individual chapter manuscripts and resulted in mass demonstrations and counter-demonstrations.
"Religion and slavery are incompatible."