Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, also known as Babasaheb Ambedkar is famous as the father of the Indian Constitution. He was a great activist and a social reformer who fought for the rights of Dalits and the upliftment of the socially backward class in the Indian society.
Early life and Education
B.R. Ambedkar was born on 14th April 1891 in Mhow, a small place in Western Madhya Pradesh. He belonged to the ‘untouchable’ Mahar caste. Since his grandfather and father were part of the British army, all Army personnel’s family were required to study and thus Ambedkar had the privilege to study which would otherwise had been denied to low caste people.
Fight against Untouchability
Despite the opportunity given to all students to study, Bhimrao faced a lot of discrimination in school. They had to sit on the floor to study, teachers would not touch their notebooks, they were not allowed to drink water from the public reservoir and it soon etched into his mind that they will remain the ‘untouch’.
He was very fond of reading and read everything he could lay his hands on. Bhimrao was always mocked at by teachers but he went on to get higher education and graduated in Arts. He even won a scholarship for higher studies and was sent to America. He completed his doctorate and went to London to study economics and politics. His scholarship was terminated and he had to return to Baroda. Here he worked as the Defence secretary for the state but he was often ridiculed for being of the ‘Mahar’ caste. Thus he left his job and became a teacher at Sydenham College in Mumbai. He also started a weekly journal, ‘Mooknayak’, with the help of the Maharaja of Kohlapur. The journal criticised the orthodox Hindu beliefs and was a voice against discrimination.
He earned enough money to complete his studies in London and then was appointed as barrister in the British bar. Determined to work for eradication of discrimination in India, he returned. He started the ‘Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha’ which provided education and socio-economic improvement to the backward classes. He followed the footsteps of Gandhi to fight for water source and right to enter temples for the untouchables. He also published a book ‘Annihilation of caste’ in which he strongly criticised the discriminative Indian society. He also published ‘Who were the shudras?’ where he explained the formation of untouchables.
The Father of Indian Constitution
He earned the chair as free India’s first law minister and the chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian Constitution. He drafted the Indian constitution in such a way as to provide Indian citizens with freedom of religion, abolish untouchability, provide rights to women and bridge the gap between various Indian classes.
Conversion to Buddhism and Death
Babasaheb converted himself to Budhism after being inspired by their preaching. He even wrote a book ‘The Buddha and his Dhamma’. He died on December 6, 1956. His birthday is celebrated as a public holiday known as Ambedkar jayanti.