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Ambedkar has emerged as a most revered leader in Independent India

Bhimrao Ambedkar's 125th birth anniversary falls on April 14

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Ambedkar accompanied with Maulana Hasrat Mohani
  • Praveen Davar

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, whose 125th birth anniversary falls on April 14, has emerged as one of India’s most revered leader especially during the last two decades. No political party can afford to ignore him though the reasons for doing so are more electoral than emotional.

Independent India’s first cabinet of prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had only 14 members with B.R. Ambedkar as law minister listed at No.11 in the order of precedence, below Jagjivan but above Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherji of the Hindu Mahasabha (later the Jan Sangh founder). Mahatma Gandhi had prevailed upon Nehru Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to include non-Congressmen as well because independence had come for the whole country – and not only for those who led the freedom movement.

It was only four years later, on September 27, 1951 after Ambedkar quit the Nehru cabinet that it became known that one of the causes for his doing so was that he was not given the portfolio of his choice: ministry of planning. However, the prime reason for his resigning was over the government’s failure to pass the Hindu Code Bill, faulting Nehru with “lack of determination” to get the measure through.

Suffering from many ailments, including diabetes, rheumatism and high blood pressure contacted in a life full of relentless struggles, Ambedkar died in December 1956 after turning 65. Only two months earlier, he had formally embraced Buddhism and converted lakhs of his followers to his new faith. It was a culmination of a long process spanning nearly 50 years. But it was really after independence that Ambedkar made up his mind to adopt Buddhism, a religion he saw as a liberating force for the entire country.

Even though he had ceased being a minister, the government allowed him to retain his bungalow where he spent the final years of his life focussed on studying Buddhism. He also began to learn Pali and translated Buddhist texts into Gujarati and Marathi. In 1954, during a trip to Burma (now Myanmar), Ambedkar made a proposal for sponsoring a campaign for Buddhist conversion in India, arguing that Budhism was a religion for the whole world.

At a dhammadikha ceremony held in Nagpur, attended by nearly 500,000 people, Ambedkar and his followers converted to Buddhism. Besides dedicating them to social service and eradication of casteism, Ambedkar adminstered 21 vows to his followers, which included renunciation of all aspects of ‘Brahmanic Hinduism’. The neo-Buddhists took a vow against worshipping Hindu gods and goddesses and not to perform shraddh ceremonies or worship the cow.

As Ambedkar will be remembered most by posterity for his monumental contribution to the making of India’s constitution it is appropriate to quote from his last speech in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949, the eve of the statute being adopted the following day:

“On January 26, 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be reorganizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.”

But Ambedkar was much more than the architect of India’s constitution and a Dalit leader who today towers above others of his ilk. He was an educationist, economist, anthropologist, sociologist, journalist, jurist and, above all, a great parliamentarian and social reformer who devoted his whole life for the uplift of the weakest and most vulnerable sections of Indian society.

This much and, more, will be remembered, and said, about Ambedkar during the year of his 125th birth anniversary celebrations. (IANS)

(Praveen Davar, an ex-army officer, is a member of the National Commission for Minorities. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at praveendavar@gmail.com)

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Why Republic Day Is Celebrated On 26th January?

Every year January 26 is celebrated with full fervor to acknowledge the Republic Day

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Any new law initiated by the government should be in accordance with the constitution. Wikimedia Commons
Any new law initiated by the government should be in accordance with the constitution. Wikimedia Commons
  • 26 January is observed to honour the Constitution of India
  • This year, India will observe its 69th Republic on January 26, 2018.
  • The Constitution adopted by India was written by BR Ambedkar on January 26, 1950

NEW DELHI: Every year, 26 January is marked as the Republic Day in India. It is one of the few occasions when the whole of the nation celebrates the hoisting of National Flag. 26 January is observed to honour the Constitution of India as it came into force on the same day in the year 1950. The new constitution replaced the Government of India Act, 1935 into the governing document of India, thus, making India a Sovereign-Democratic nation. The Constitution adopted by India was written by BR Ambedkar on January 26, 1950, and since then the day is commemorated as Republic Day. The Constitution of India is considered as the supreme law of India and the nation has to abide by its rule.

The other significant day of Indian freedom movement is 15 August. This day is celebrated to glorify the independence of India from the clutches of British rule. After attaining independence, India required a blueprint to run the government and guide its people on a progressive path. Till then, India was functioning under the laws enacted and implemented by the British government. An independent constitution was the best bet to protect the rights of citizens and jot down the principles for running the nation. So to fulfill this need, India’s first law minister and chief architect of Indian Constitution, BR Ambedkar came up with a drafted framework for our constitution. It finally came into force after several amendments made by the cabinet body.

The Constitution adopted by India was written by BR Ambedkar on January 26, 1950, and since then the day is commemorated as Republic Day. Wikimedia Commons
The Constitution adopted by India was written by BR Ambedkar on January 26, 1950, and since then the day is commemorated as Republic Day. Wikimedia Commons

Constitution was a tool to govern the country in a constructive way and make the country a sovereign, secular, and democratic republic. On this day, the first president of independent India, Rajendra Prasad took the oath at the Durbar Hall and hoisted the national flag, followed by a 21-gun salute. It marked the tradition of flag hoisting and parade began.

Also Read: 20 Amazing Facts About Indian Navy That Everyone Should Know

Why is 26th January celebrated as the Republic Day in India?
With campaigns like non-violence and civil disobedience movements, India finally attained freedom from British rule on August 15, 1947. This date has a great importance in the Indian history. On January 26, 1950, BR Ambedkar drafted the Constitution of India which was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly. Then finally, Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950.

The reason behind choosing 26 January as the Republic Day was that, on 26 January 1930, Indian National Congress (INC) announced the declaration of Indian Independence while rejecting the Dominion status offered by the British Regime.

Cultural groups of many states display their heritage and diversity through various platforms. Wikimedia Commons
Cultural groups of many states display their heritage and diversity through various platforms. Wikimedia Commons

Prominence of the Constitution of India
India stands out to be the largest democratic country in the world and has the longest written constitution of any sovereign nation. The credit for the framing the Indian Constitution goes to Dr. BR Ambedkar. He was the principal architect behind drafting the outline of our Constitution.

The idea of making an Indian constitution was coined by M.N.Roy IN 1934. After that, Indian National Congress proposed the formation of the constituent in 1935.
After the validation of the Constitution, India became the contemporary Republic and replaced the Government of India Act, 1935. The Constitution of India states that “It declares India a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity among them.”

Also Read: Mahabharata or Game of Thrones? Quite similar!

The Constitution can never be upturned by parliamentary supremacy. It lays down the fundamental framework, procedures, and duties of government, fundamental rights, directive principles and the duties of citizens. Basically, it is a gateway between the government and people. Any new law initiated by the government should be in accordance with the constitution.

Who drafted the Indian Constitution?
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was India’s first law minister of an independent India. He was an eminent jurist, social reformer and politician. Throughout his career, Ambedkar fought for the rights and integrity of the Dalits and other socially backward classes. For his immense service to the nation, Ambedkar was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, in 1990.

Ambedkar is considered as the Father of Indian Constitution and popularly known as Baba Saheb. Wikimedia Commons
Ambedkar is considered as the Father of Indian Constitution and popularly known as Baba Saheb. Wikimedia Commons

Ambedkar is considered as the Father of Indian Constitution and popularly known as Baba Saheb. He was the mastermind behind drafting the Constitution of India. He guided the Constitution of India that laid down the principals of defining fundamental political approach of the system.

BR Ambedkar was the chairman of Drafting Committee which included Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and other prominent leaders. The members took over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. The Constitution got the signed approval of 308 members on January 24, 1950, and came into effect on January 26, 1950 – India’s first Republic Day.

Also Read: An insight into two biggest political parties of India

Republic Day celebrations in India
Every year January 26 is celebrated with full fervor to acknowledge the Republic Day. People from every corner of the nation comes together to lighten up the spirit of oneness and unity. This year, India will observe its 69th Republic on January 26, 2018. The celebrations include Flag Hoisting ceremony by the President of India followed by the March Past at Janpath. The entire event lasts for 3 days. The parade showcases India’s defense capability and its traditional and social heritage.

The parade showcases India's defense capability and its traditional and social heritage. Wikimedia Commons
The parade showcases India’s defense capability and its traditional and social heritage. Wikimedia Commons

Cultural groups of many states display their heritage and diversity through various platforms. The occasion also calls for the display of military might to its people and also to the world. Important awards like the Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra are been given away by the President, before the commencement of the ceremony.