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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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Dr BR Ambedkar was elected as the first Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly.
Dr BR Ambedkar was elected as the first Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly.
  • 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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Interesting Life Facts About Dr BR Ambedkar

Dr BR Ambedkar came from a middle-class Dalit family and barely had money to make ends meet but still, he didn’t budge on his efforts against social injustices.

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Dr BR Ambedkar efforts to eradicate untouchability and the caste system were phenomenal. Wikimedia Commons
Dr BR Ambedkar efforts to eradicate untouchability and the caste system were phenomenal. Wikimedia Commons
  • Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar
  • Dr BR Ambedkar inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement in India
  • In 1924, Dr BR Ambedkar formed a community for removing difficulties of the untouchables and placing their grievances before government

“I do not want that our loyalty as Indians should be in the slightest way affected by any competitive loyalty whether that loyalty arises out of our religion, out of our culture or out of our language. I want all people to be Indians first, Indian last, and nothing else but Indians.”

These were the words from one of the greatest social reformers of our nation and the most influential name who worked against social discrimination. Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar. He was an exceptional leader that modern India has ever seen. Dr BR Ambedkar had multi feathers like that of a jurist, politician and an economist in his hat.

Also Read: Savitribai Phule: The Pioneer Of The Women Education In India

Dr BR Ambedkar was independent India’s first Law Minister and known to be the author of India’s constitution. He used education as a means to rise above all odds and envisioned India to stand on the ladder of prosperity and development. He inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement in India and pioneered campaigns against social discrimination against Dalits, women and labour. He wanted India’s to be a real democratic country and even quoted:

“Democracy is not merely a form of government.It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards our fellow men.”

Dr BR Ambedkar was elected as the first Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly.
Dr BR Ambedkar was elected as the first Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly.

Dr BR Ambedkar was born in 1891 in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh and died due to severe diabetic neurosis on 6 December 1956 at his home in Delhi. After his demise, his political party was renamed as Republican Party of India in 1957 by his followers. This visionary’s birthday is celebrated as Ambedkar Jayanti in India, every year. He came from a middle-class Dalit family and barely had money to make ends meet but still, he didn’t budge on his efforts against social injustices.

Also Read: Swami Vivekananda’s Quotes That Will Inspire You To The Fullest

The legacy of one of India’s brilliant leader should be noted down well and hence; we have taken up few of the facts about his life and struggle, take a look:

  1. Dr BR Ambedkar ‘s real name was Ambavadekar but his teacher, Mahadev Ambedkar, who was very fond of him, changed his surname from ‘Ambavadekar’ to his own surname ‘Ambedkar’.
  2. Ambedkar was very much against the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that gives a special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. He even offered his resignation for his condition of removing Article 370 from the constitution.
  3. In 1924, Dr BR Ambedkar formed a community for removing difficulties of the untouchables and placing their grievances before government. He named it ‘Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha’.
  4. In First Round Table Conference which was held in London on November 12, 1930, Dr BR Ambedkar and Rao Bahadur Srinivasan represented the depressed classes in the assembly.
  5. In 1936, Dr BR Ambedkar formed the Independent Labour Party and participated in the provincial elections of Bombay. In that election, he won 13 seats out of 15 seats reserved for scheduled castes. The Party was transformed by Ambedkar as the All India Scheduled Castes Federation in 1942.
  6. Dr BR Ambedkar was against the strikes and protest by civil servants. In his views, the strike was nothing more than a breach of contract of service.

    Dr BR Ambedkar strongly campaigned against Caste System in India. Wikipedia Commons
    Dr BR Ambedkar strongly campaigned against Caste System in India. Wikipedia Commons
  7. Dr BR Ambedkar was appointed the member of Executive Council of Viceroy as a Labour member in July 1942 and he resigned from this post in May 1946.
  8. In January 1920, Dr BR Ambedkar started a weekly paper called ‘Mooknayak‘(Leader of the Dumb). Through this, he wanted to spread the cause of depressed classes in India.
  9. Due to differences with Jawahar Lal Nehru on the Hindu Code Bill, Dr BR Ambedkar resigned from the Cabinet on September 1951.
  10. Dr BR Ambedkar was elected as the first Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly. He is also referred as the father of the Indian Constitution. However, K.V. Rao portrayed Ambedkar as the mother of the Indian Constitution because according to him, the vital decisions about the Constitution were taken by Nehru and Patel, and Ambedkar followed the same.
  11. In 1952, Dr BR Ambedkar was defeated in the election mainly due to his advocacy of partition of Kashmir. But later in March, he was elected as a member of Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra.
  12. It was Dr BR Ambedkar, who changed the working hours in India from 14 to 8 hours.

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Dr BR Ambedkar efforts to eradicate untouchability and the caste system were phenomenal. Also Being a writer, he wrote many famous books including-The Untouchable: Who are They and Why They Have Become Untouchables, Buddha and His Dhamma, The Rise and Fall of Hindu Women and many more.