06, Dec 2017 | CJP Team
Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Baba Saheb, was born on April 14, 1891. He was an economist, jurist and social reformer who fought for the rights of Dalits as well as those of women and workers. Ambedkar was the first law minister after India gained independence, and the key architect of the Indian constitution.
A Dalit himself, Ambedkar was the first ‘untouchable’ to pass matriculation, and worked to promote the education, economic condition and rights of the Dalit community. He published multiple publications and launched several movements to defend Dalit rights, including marches to assure them access to public water sources.
In 1936, Ambedkar published his book ‘Annihilation of Caste’, which criticised the caste system, and even reproved M. K. Gandhi on the issue of caste. In August 1947, Ambedkar, then law minister, was appointed as Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. His draft of the constitution ensured a host of civil liberties, including the freedom of religion, ending untouchability, and barring discrimination in all forms. He also pushed for women’s rights and proposed a reservation system in education and civil service jobs so as to aid those belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes.
Ambedkar also backed a Uniform Civil Code, and resigned as law minister in 1951 after his version of the Hindu Code Bill, which afforded rights to widows and a portion of inheritance to daughters, stalled in parliament. The first Indian to pursue an economics doctorate overseas, Ambedkar also played a role in the formation of the Reserve Bank of India, which is based on the ideas he presented to the Hilton Young Commission. In 1956, the year of his death, Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, and sparked the Dalit Buddhist Movement, with almost half a million Dalits converting to Navayana Buddhism, a new sect of Buddhism that re-interpreted the religion. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar died on December 6, 1956. He is remembered as an icon for all people of India, and as one who worked to empower the Dalit community.