Bhimrao Ambedkar

Born on 4th April, 1891 in Mhow, in current Maharashtra, Dr B.R Ambedkar was the 14th child to Ramji and Bhimabai Sakpak Ambavedkar who hailed from the then considered ‘untouchable’ Mahar caste .

As both his father and grandfather were employed in the British Army, B.R Ambedkar was fortunate enough to have the best education as did all the other army personnel deployed in India under the British regime. On his exit from the British Army, his father moved on to Satara in Maharsahtra , where Ambedkar experienced abuse in the name of caste from close quarters and had to spend most of his school years relegated to a mat in the corner of the classroomwith no access to drinking water which was reserved for the upper caste. The young mind was deeply moved by this plight of but that did not deter him from pursuing his education and post his matriculation examination from Bombay University with flying colors, he joined the Elphinstone College in Bombay, from where he graduated in 1912 in Political Science and Economics.

He soon found himself employed in Baroda and as destiny favors the one who perseveres, his brilliance and excellence caught the attention of Maharaja of Baroda who sent him to America on a full scholarship in the year 1913.

America opened the floodgates of liberty and democracy for this young man who for the first time felt himself liberated from the narrow confines of his caste system. He attained a degree in the Master of Arts and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1916 for his landmark thesis:“National Dividend for India: A Historical and Analytical Study”. From there he proceeded towards London for his further education in Economics and Political Science, but his scholarship terminated and he had to report to the Maharaja of Baroda.

Back home, he was the Maharaja’ political secretary but of no use in the royal quarters where he faced severe stigma on account of his caste. He relocated to Bombay where with the aid of a supporting patron, Saahu Maharaja of Kolhapur he started a fortnightly newspaper and accumulated funds to go back to London and get his degree in law and a Doctorate in Science.

Back in India, he founded the Out castes Welfares Association which aimed to specifically target the welfare of the downtrodden and pull them up in the society. He actively campaigned and worked for improvement in the stature of the Untouchables in India. By the year 1929, Ambedkar was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Congress whose version of Constitution made no provision for the backward caste and it was only in 1932, that Gandhi and Ambedkar found a middle ground in the historical Poona Pact where the Scheduled Castes and Tribes would get some special concession like reserved seats in the Parliament and State Legislature.

Post-Independence, he was the man who was entrusted with the job of framing the Constitution of the land as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee that was constituted by the Constituent Assembly. The final Constitution was ultimately adopted on 26th Nov, 1949.

By 1956 he had formally adopted Buddhism as his natural calling and peacefully died in his sleep on Dec 6, 1956.

For his unflinching perseverance to the cause of the downtrodden, he is hailed as the ‘Messiah of Dalits and downtrodden in India’ and was ultimately conferred the Bharat Ratna in 1990.

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