Amazing Ambedkar!

Celebrate Mahaparinirvan Day

The Mahaparinirvan Day

Sixth December 2009 marks the 53rd death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar.

A short summary of his life:

Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on 14th April, 1891 in Mahu Cantt in Madhya Pradesh. He was the fourteenth child of his parents.

The life of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was marked by struggles but he proved that every hurdle in life can be surmounted with talent and firm determination. The biggest barrier in his life was the caste system adopted by the Hindu society according to which the family he was born in was considered ‘untouchable’.

In the year 1908, young Bhimrao passed the Matriculation examination from Bombay University with flying colours. Four years later he graduated in Political Science and Economics from Bombay University and got a job in Baroda. Around the same time his father passed away. Although he was going through a bad time, Bhimrao decided to accept the opportunity to go to USA for further studies at Columbia University for which he was awarded a scholarship by the Maharaja of Baroda. Bhimrao remained abroad from 1913 to 1917 and again from 1920 to 1923. During this period he had established himself as an eminent intellectual. Columbia University had awarded him the PhD for his thesis, which was later published in a book form under the title “The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India”. But his first published article was “Castes in India – Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development”. During his sojourn in London from 1920 to 1923, he also completed his thesis titled “The Problem of the Rupee” for which he was awarded the degree of DSc. Before his departure for London he had taught at a College in Bombay and also brought out Marathi weekly whose title was ‘Mook Nayak’ (meaning ‘Dumb Hero’).

By the time he returned to India in April 1923, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar had equipped himself fully to wage war against the practice of untouchability on behalf of the untouchable and the downtrodden. Meanwhile the political situation in India had undergone substantial changes and the freedom struggle in the country had made significant progress.

While Bhimrao was an ardent patriot on one hand, he was the saviour of the oppressed, women and poor on the other. He fought for them throughout his life. In 1923, he set up the ‘Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha’ (Outcastes Welfare Association), which was devoted to spreading education and culture amongst the downtrodden, improving the economic status and raising matters concerning their problems in the proper forums to focus attention on them and finding solutions to the same.

The problems of the downtrodden were centuries old and difficult to overcome. Their entry into temples was forbidden. They could not draw water from public wells and ponds. Their admission in schools was prohibited. In 1927, he led the Mahad March at the Chowdar Tank at Colaba, near Bombay, to give the untouchables the right to draw water from the public tank where he burnt copies of the ‘Manusmriti’ publicly. This marked the beginning of the anti-caste and ant-priest movement. The temple entry movement launched by Dr. Ambedkar in 1930 at Kalaram temple, Nasik is another landmark in the struggle for human rights and social justice.

In the meantime, Ramsay McDonald announced the ‘Communal Award’ as a result of which in several communities including the ‘depressed classes’ were given the right to have separate electorates. This was a part of the overall design of the British to divide and rule. Gandhiji wanted to defeat this design and went on a fast unto death to oppose it. On 24th September 1932, Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhiji reached an understanding, which became the famous Poona Pact. According to this Pact, in addition to the agreement on electoral constituencies, reservations were provided for untouchables in Government jobs and legislative assemblies. The provision of separate electorate was dispensed with. The Pact carved out a clear and definite position for the downtrodden on the political scene of the country. It opened up opportunities of education and government service for them and also gave them a right to vote.

Dr. Ambedkar attended all the three Round Table Conferences in London and each time, forcefully projected his views in the interest of the ‘untouchable’. He exhorted the downtrodden sections to raise their living standards and to acquire as much political power as possible. He was of the view that there was no future for untouchables in the Hindu religion and they should change their religion if need be. In 1935, he publicly proclaimed,” I was born a Hindu because I had no control over this but I shall not die a Hindu”

After a while Dr. Ambedkar, organised the Independent Labour Party, participated in the provincial elections and was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly. During these days he stressed the need for abolition of the ‘Jagirdari’ system, pleaded for workers’ Fight to strike and addressed a large number of meetings and conferences in Bombay Presidency. In 1939, during the Second World War, he called upon Indians to join the Army in large numbers to defeat Nazism, which he said, was another name for Fascism.

In 1947, when India became independent, the first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, invited Dr. Ambedkar, who had been elected as a Member of the Constituent Assembly from Bengal, to join his Cabinet as a Law Minister. Dr. Ambedkar had differences of opinion with the Government over the Hindu Code Bill, which led to his resignation as Law Minister.

The Constituent Assembly entrusted the job of drafting the Constitution to a committee and Dr. Ambedkar was elected as Chairman of this Drafting Committee. While he was busy with drafting the Constitution, India faced several crises. The country saw partition and Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

In the beginning of 1948, Dr. Ambedkar completed the draft of the Constitution and presented it in the Constituent Assembly. In November 1949, this draft was adopted with very few amendments. Many provisions have been made in the Constitution to ensure social justice for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes.

Dr. Ambedkar was of the opinion that traditional religious values should be given up and new ideas adopted. He laid special emphasis on dignity, unity, freedom and rights for all citizens as enshrined in the Constitution.

Ambedkar advocated democracy in every field: social, economic and political. For him social Justice meant maximum happiness to the maximum number of people.

On 24 May 1956, on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti, he declared in Bombay, that he would adopt Buddhism in October. On 0ctober 14, 1956 he embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers. The same year he completed his last writing ‘Buddha and His Dharma’.

Dr. Ambedkar’s patriotism started with the upliftment of the downtrodden and the poor. He fought for their equality and rights. His ideas about patriotism were not only confined to the abolition of colonialism, but he also wanted freedom for every individual. For him freedom without equality, democracy and equality without freedom could lead to absolute dictatorship.

On 6th December 1956, Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar attained ‘Mahaparinirvan’.

In 1990, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, the chief architect of our Constitution, was bestowed with Bharat Ratna. The same year Dr. Ambedkar’s life size portrait was also unveiled in the Central Hall of Parliament. The period from 14th April 1990-14th April 1991 was observed as ‘Year of Social Justice’ in the memory of Babasaheb, the champion of the poor and the downtrodden.

“If you ask me, my ideal would be the society based on liberty, equality and fraternity. An ideal society should be mobile and full of channels of conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts.” stated Dr. B.R. Ambedkar


December 6, 2009 Posted by | Ambedkar | 2 Comments

Times Of India coverage

Article on Amazing Ambedkar initiative in Times Of India newspaper. Please read the text of the article below.

Remembering Doctor
Standard issue editorials and freshly garlanded iconography will do their temporary bit to remind the populace of Dr Babasahed Ambedkar’s death anniversay on December 6.

But on the sidelines of such tokenism, a groundswell is gearing to make Mahanirvan Day more relevant to te public. Playwright Ramu Ramanathan and a small contingent of young stage hands have, for the past month and half, been directing friends and foes to their evengelist online effort called Amazing Ambedkar (amazing

All they expect people to do is read any of Ambedkar’s texts (provided through links) for 15 minutes on December 6.

The idea is to shepherd people to Ambedkar’s ideology and prescriptions, which still resonate in a country whose social map is the same old, with new coordinates of injustice.

“There has emerged a culture of maligning historical figures like Gandhi, Ambedkar and Nehru, although very littile is actually known about them or their works,” points Ramanathan. “What better to correct this anamoly than to encourage people to read these men’s historical legacies and make their own judgements.”

Amazing Ambedkar is the first of a sustained initiative that hopes to stimulate a climate of intellectuall action and reinstate reduced ‘heroes’.

Fifteen minutes is all it takes.

By Joeanna Rebello. Principal Correspondent at The Times of India. Bombay Area.

December 5, 2009 Posted by | Ambedkar | Leave a comment

Read your history for 15 minutes – and create your own history


6th December is about a very simple but stunning idea, which was introduced to the world (and India) that: no one has the right of absolute control over others.

According to this idea, people have the inherent right to some measure of freedom. Rules should be agreed upon, and not be imposed. Although this notion has become our most cherished political value, in the 17th century it existed in practice nowhere on the planet. When it did spread, slowly, it was applied to men, usually white men.

Bit by bloody bit, the idea has encompassed other groups, but it has yet to be applied to innumerable people in India. Most of whom belong to the lower end of the caste system …

Today’s India tends to be critical of Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar without their -isms being understood.

This is unfortunate.

Among other things, these were intellectual stalwarts.

For example, Dr Ambedkar besides being a lawyer and a champion for social justice, studied at the Columbia University and did a MSc dissertation on Administration and Finance of the East India Company. Also a PhD on National Dividend: A Historical and Analytical Study. Later at the London School of Economic, Ambedkar evaluated the Problem of the Rupee along with Edwin Cannon. And above all, he drafted the Constitution of India.

The point is, Dr Ambedkar radicalised the process of justice and development.

Today, his relevance can be questioned, but not belittled.

On 6th December, spare 15 minutes and read Dr Babasaheb’s Ambedkar original writings in any language you deem fit.

Question his thoughts, by all means, but spare those 15 minutes and then ask the questions …

Please forward this link. So that more and more people are reading Dr Ambedkar for 15 minutes on 6th December

Some online links…

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Ambedkar | 4 Comments