Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956), popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination towards the untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women and labour. He was independent India's first law and justice minister, the architect of the Constitution of India, and a founding father of the Republic of India. In 1990, the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, was posthumously conferred upon Ambedkar. Ambedkar's legacy includes numerous memorials and depictions in popular culture.
Ambedkar Early Life
Bhimrao Ambedkar was born to Bhimabai and Ramji on 14 April 1891 in Mhow Army Cantonment (Madhya Pradesh). He cleared his matriculation in 1907-08 from Elphinstone High School and graduate degree in Economics and Political Science in 1912. He completed his Post Graduation (Economics) in 1915. Ambedkar gained a reputation as a scholar for his research in law, economics, and political science. In his early career, he was an economist, professor, and lawyer.
Ambedkar's Social Ideas
Ambedkar's life was shaped and influenced by his bitter and degrading personal experiences as untouchables. It was this which led him to search of the origin of untouchability.
His quest of knowing the roots of social evils can be seen in his writings of:
- "The Untouchables", ''The Shudra, Who were they and how they come to be the fourth varna of Indo-Aryan society",
- "Caste in India, its mechanism, genesis and development"
- "Hindu Social Order: Its essential principles",
- "Philosophy of Hinduism" and 'Annihilation of Caste".
His social ideas were shaped during his formative years and matured in his later stages of life but it remained focus on the desire for the uplift of the down-trodden, which found expression in all his social ideas.
Ambedkar fight for the Downtrodden
In 1919, in his testimony before the Southborough Committee in preparation of the Government of India Act Ambedkar opined that there should be a separate electoral system for the Untouchables and other marginalized communities. In 1920, Ambedkar launched a newspaper called “Mooknayaka” (leader of the silent) with the assistance of Shahaji II, the Maharaja of Kolhapur. (other periodicals- ‘Bahishkrit Bharat’ (1927), ‘Samatha’ (1929) and ‘Janata’ (1930)). In 1923, he set up the ‘Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha (Outcastes Welfare Association), Ambedkar launched full-fledged movements for Dalit rights by 1927 and demanded public drinking water sources open to all and right for all castes to enter temples. In 1932, Ambedkar signed the Poona Pact under which reservation will be provided in education and in govt jobs for SC/ST.
Ambedkar's Political Ideas
Ambedkar's political philosophy was closely related to the most immediate and accumulated issues of human) life and essentially in accordance with the fact of society. Thus, in order to understand political ideas of Ambedkar, it would be necessary to understand his thoughts about interrelations of State, Government, Society and Individuals. It would also be necessary to deliberate about the concepts, ideologies of political theory and political arguments as put forward by Ambedkar. Ambedkar was a great admirer of Parliamentary system of Government.
According to him, there are three inherent characteristics of the system:
- Firstly, free and fair elections from time to time.
- Secondly, in the form of government no single individual can presume the authority that he knows everything and that he can make the laws and carry the government. The laws are to be made by the representatives of the people.
- Finally, the elected representatives, the legislatures and ministers must have the confidence of the people renewed in themselves at given periodicity.
He founded the Independent Labor Party in 1936 and his party contested the 1937 elections to the Central Legislative Assembly. In 1942 he founded Scheduled Castes Federation. In 1947 Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as the chairman of the constitution drafting committee.
Ambedkar view on Religion
Ambedkar's view on religion was entirely political. According to him for an effectively functioning society unity is inevitable. And the Hindu religion cannot produce unified society. For him, a society must be driven by a consistent progressive religion. Though he stood for annihilation of caste system, which derives from ancient Hindu texts, he conceived that it will result in destruction of the society. So his ideological view on religion is the one which lead to logical inference and inquiry. And this can occur only through social reform. At the time of Ambedkar the social reform mainly focused on widow remarriage and child marriages. He opened the issues of massive social dysfunction and the possibility of reformation.
Ethically, his views were not based on an individual moral autonomy nor on the authority of gods. His principles were based on socially prescribed guidelines for action. He criticised Hinduism on its concrete and uncritical rules and on its framework which doesn't give any opportunity to the individual to take a responsible decision to interpret it in the action. In Ambedkars's framework, religious principle carry secular reward and punishments in the sense of structured public approval. Not of a graded society. He advocated a society based on three fundamental principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Dr. Ambedkar was a remarkable liberal crusader who realized the ideological hollowness of the Dalit Movement and provided necessary ideology to it. He created awareness among depressed classes to have a graceful life.
Ambedkar view on Economic Planning
He argued that industrialisation and agricultural growth could enhance the Indian economy. He stressed investment in agriculture as the primary industry of India. Ambedkar's vision helped the government to achieve its food security goal. Ambedkar advocated national economic and social development, stressing education, public hygiene, community health, residential facilities as the basic amenities. He calculated the loss of development caused by British rule.
He wrote three scholarly books on economics:
- Administration and Finance of the East India Company
- The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India
- The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution
Ambedkar view on Uniform Civil Code
As Law Minister, B. R. Ambedkar recommended the adoption of a Uniform Civil Code. Ambedkar's frequent attack on the Hindu laws and dislike for the upper castes made him unpopular in the parliament. He had done research on the religious texts and considered the Hindu society structure flawed. During the debates in the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar demonstrated his will to reform Indian society by recommending the adoption of a Uniform Civil Code. Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet in 1951, when parliament stalled his draft of the Hindu Code Bill, which sought to enshrine gender equality in the laws of inheritance and marriage
Ambedkar role in framing Indian Constitution
- He was appointed as the Chairman of the constitution drafting committee in 1947.
- Ambedkar had studied the constitutions of about 60 countries. Ambedkar is recognized as the “Father of the Constitution of India”
- Indian constitution give guarantees and protections to individual citizens for a wide range of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability, and the outlawing of all forms of discrimination. So Ambedkar play important role to promote unity in the country.
- Ambedkar advocated extensive economic and social rights for women and vocal for a system of reservations for members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and Other Backward Class in the civil services, schools, and colleges.
- He laid emphasis on religious, gender and caste equality. Even Ambedkar recommended the adoption of Uniform Civil code to bring reform in the Indian society.