Salute to Ambedkar - The architect of Constitution

Today is the birth anniversary of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, who was the architect 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. Throughout his life, Dr. Ambedkar 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. Dr. Ambedkar was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour in 1990.


Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on 14th April 1891 in Mhow, in Madhya Pradesh. He was the fourteenth child of Ramji and Bhimabai Sakpal Ambavedkar. As his father and grandfather served in the British Army, Bhimrao got education since the British government in those days ensured that all the army personnel and their children were educated and ran special schools for this purpose. This ensured good education for Bhimrao Ambedkar, which would have otherwise been denied to him by the virtue of his caste.


Bhimrao Ambedkar was a victim of caste discrimination right from his childhood. 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 corner of the society. 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 Ambedkar as 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 Gaikwad of Baroda, Sahyaji Rao III. In 1912, Ambedkar graduated from the Bombay University in the subjects of Political Science and Economics.He 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 in Baroda 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 honour of D.Sc by the London University. Ambedkar also spent few months at the University of Bonn, Germany, to study economics. On 8th June, 1927, he was awarded a Doctorate by the University of Columbia.


After returning to India, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar decided to fight against the caste discrimination that almost fragmented the nation. He was of the opinion that there should be separate electoral system for the Untouchables and lower caste people. He also favoured the concept of providing reservations for Dalits and other religious communities.


Dr. 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 Maharaj, the ruler of Kolhapur dined with the leader. The incident also created a huge uproar in the socio-political arena of the country.


In 1936, Dr. Ambedkar founded the Independent Labour Party. In the 1937 elections to the Central Legislative Assembly,  his party won 15 seats. Dr. 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.


Dr. 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.


Dr. Ambedkar was appointed on the Defence Advisory Committee and the Viceroy's Executive Council as Minister for Labour. 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.


The most important thing for which Dr. Ambedkar is known allover India is that he was the architect of the Indian Constitution. Though he was unpopular with many leaders of the Indian National Congress and other political parties in post-independent India, Dr. Ambedkar was appointed by the Congress-led Government to take the post of the first Law Minister of independent India. He was also made the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee in August 1947.


Dr. Ambedkar used all his experience and knowledge in drafting the Constitution. There are many guarantees and provisions that are provided in the Constitution of India that ensure the general welfare of the common people of the country. He framed the Fundamental Rights and Duties along with the Directive Principles of State Policy that are followed and granted to the people of the country. He also formulated laws and systems for women and backward classes in the society. Dr. Ambedkar also tried to eradicate the socio-economic inequalities that prevailed in the Indian society from a long time. He had kept the clauses of the Constitution flexible so that amendments could be made as and when situations demanded. On 26th  November 1949, the Constitution of India was finally adopted by the Constituent Assembly and was promulgated on 26th January 1950.


On 14th  October 1956 Dr. Ambedkar organized a public ceremony to convert around five lakh of his supporters into Buddhism. He travelled to Kathmandu to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference. He also completed his final manuscript, "The Buddha or Karl Marx" on 2nd December 1956.


Since 1954-55, Dr. Ambedkar was suffering from serious health problems including diabetes and weak eyesight. On 6th December, 1956 he died at his home in Delhi. Since, Dr. 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.