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Bharat Ratna Baba Saheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

23/03/2010
(14 April 189106 December 1956)
In spite of innumerable social and financial obstacles, Ambedkar became one of the first "Dalit" to obtain a college education in India. He earned law degrees and multiple doctorates for his study and research in law, economics and political science from Columbia University and the London School of Economics. He returned home as a famous scholar and practiced law for a few years before publishing journals advocating political rights and social freedom for India's untouchables. He emerged as a great Indian jurist, political leader, philosopher, thinker, anthropologist, historian, orator, prolific writer, economist, scholar, editor, a great social revolutionary and a revivalist for Buddhism in India. He was also the chief architect of the Indian Constitution
Dr. Ambedkar's very name has become a sign of victory for the down-trodden and long-exploited people.
The life of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was marked by struggles, but he proved that every hurdle in life can be surmounted with persistent efforts, development of talent and firm determination. The biggest barrier in his life was the Hindu caste system, which considered him as 'untouchable'. However, he vigorously fought against the very tough circumstances of existence under the then ‘Hindu Society’ by developing into a well-rounded versatile personality. He emerged into such a great revolutionary that his whole life’s activities and brilliant thinking, right from his early days up to the end of his life brought a great impact over the rigid Indian system of society, its politics, the discriminatory brutal legal system, the soul-killing traditions (Mariyadas, etc.), customs and the very way in which the Indian Society in general still conducts itself and shamelessly boasts of its ‘Indian Way of Life’.

In the year 1908, young Bhimrao passed his Matriculation 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. He was a Subedar in the British Indian Army and a Kabir Panthi. 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 captioned as 'Mook Nayak' (meaning the '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 untouchables and the downtrodden. Therefore 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 solve. 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.
Meanwhile the political situation in India had undergone substantial changes and the freedom struggle in the country had made significant progress. 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.
Under the charismatic leadership of Dr. Ambedkar, the process of ‘Dalit Empowerment’ took birth. He was the true intellectual whose expression of rage against untouchability led him to seek a separate political space in British India. However, he realized that his best option, at that stage of history, was accommodation. As such, his ‘Poona Pact’ with Mahatama Gandhi in 1932 ensured Dalits the reservations that became a springboard for political evolution. At a later stage, Kanshi Ram en-cashed this evolution and transformed the Indian politics by ripping apart the Gandhian dialectic as patronizing and initiated the rescue of Dalits from the insensible or false embrace of Congress.
September 22, 1951 is a black day in Indian history, when Jawaharlal Nehru, fearing a caste Hindu backlash, dropped the Hindu Code Bill. Thus was lost a golden opportunity to remove all the constraints imposed on Hindu women by the patriarchal Brahminical Social Order based on the dictates of Manu. As is commonly known, women in Hindu society have historically been denied political, social and economic rights. Brahminical texts denied women education. Sati, child marriage, widow ostracization were cunningly used to deny women their rights to property. As free India's first Law Minster, Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar recognized that it was his duty to free women from the clutches of Manu's laws. He drafted and introduced the Hindu Code Bill on 24 February 1949. Through this Bill, Dr. Ambedkar wanted to put an end to a variety of marriage systems prevailing in India and legalize only monogamous marriage. But most importantly, the Bill sought to confer on women the right to property. It also sought to give equality to men and women in all legal matters. But caste Hindu "leaders" and "intellectuals", who were not prepared to respect women as equals, opposed this Bill calling it an attack on their religion. So-called liberal Congress leaders such as Rajendra Prasad, Govind Vallabh Pant and Madan Mohan Malviya revealed their true commitments and joined hands with reactionary RSS leaders to oppose the Bill. Many of them abhorred the very idea of Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar, an "untouchable", drafting and piloting this Bill. Dr. Ambedkar was heavily criticized for standing in favour of women's rights. He was dubbed a traitor to the country and an enemy of Hinduism, a "great" religion that kept two-thirds of its population in slavery. The orthodox elements together with "moderate" Congress leaders whipped up communal passion in the country by raising the cry of "Hinduism in Danger" in the hands of an "untouchable". A spineless Nehru yielded to pressure and decided to drop the Bill. Dr.Ambedkar strongly backed the Bill and called on the liberal intelligentsia and the media to come forward in support of the Bill, but most failed to respond to his call unable to see beyond their caste prejudices. Hurt by the lack of commitment to positive change and Nehru's spineless act, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar resigned from the Union Cabinet. More than half a century has passed since then. The mainstream media, including feminist writers are silent about the single-handed fight of Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar for women's rights. This incident has been erased from the collective memory of the nation deliberately in order to ghettoize Dr.Ambedkar as only a Dalit leader and not a nation builder who also fought for women, tribal and minority rights. Otherwise, the efforts of Dr.Ambedkar in promoting the Hindu Code Bill could have been remembered as a landmark in the making of a free India.
The reformation bills for which Dr. Ambedkar prepared the ground were at later stages divided into Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956); The Hindu Succession Act ,1956; Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, The Hindu Inheritance (Removal of Disabilities) Act; The Caste Disabilities Removal Act.
TTThose in Parliament who supported the Bills also saw them as a vital move towards the modernization of Hindu society, as they would clearly Delineate Secular Laws from Religious Law. Many also heralded the Bill’s opportunity to implement greater rights for women, establishing that such rights were necessary for India’s development.

While Bhimrao was an ardent patriot, who always conducted himself in the best interest of India. His ideas about patriotism were not only confined to the abolition of colonialism, as he also wanted freedom for every individual. For him freedom without equality, democracy and equality could lead to absolute dictatorship.
He was saviour of the women, oppressed and poor masses for which he fought throughout his life. In this connection, he had already laid the foundation of empowerment of deprived members of society by signing the ‘Poona Pact’ and through his wise advices and suggestions in the governing council of the ‘Union Government’ it was possible to implement the ‘reservation system’ derived from the ‘Pact’. However, he was well aware that to reform Hindu Society, a great deal was yet to be done.
Under these circumstances, he prepared the ground for reformations in the Hindu Personal Laws even in face of stiff opposition from political leaders including Mr. J. L. Nehru, Hindu religious organisations, etc. His efforts prepared the Indian mind for ultimate passage of Hindu Code bills and subsequently the Equal Remuneration Act, all of which empowered women, who were earlier denied equality before law in great many things. However, the force of old brutal customs still continued to operate. To neutralize this force of customs and traditions, the parliament of India is currently struggling for the passage of reservation to women for representation in the Union Parliament and the State Assemblies.
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.
He advocated democracy in every field: social, economic and political. For him social Justice meant maximum happiness to the maximum number of people.

However, due to having been frustrated in reforming the Hindu Society, he embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers on 24 May 1956, on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti.

Most of the social thinkers and people of the world think of Dr. Ambedkar as the greatest social revolutionary of the 20th Century ever born in on this planet to reform the tradition-ridden Indian Society. In India, he is much popularly remembered as the Architect of the Indian Constitution. In this respect, the global recognition needs to be kept in mind by the common Indian who still needs to improve his mind-set and particularly, remember him as the greatest saviour of Hinduism
Rattan Lal Gotra
Model House,Jalandhar
Contact No.9876180072

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