B. R. Ambedkar

B. R. Ambedkar
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

Ambedkar delivering a speech to a rally at Yeola, Nashik, on 13 October 1935
Born 14 April 1891(1891-04-14)
Mhow, Central Provinces, British India (now in Madhya Pradesh)
Died 6 December 1956(1956-12-06) (aged 65)
Delhi, India
Nationality Indian
Other names Baba, Baba Saheb, Bodhisatva, Bhima, Mooknayak, Adhunik Buddha
Alma mater University of Mumbai
Columbia University
University of London
London School of Economics
Organization Samata Sainik Dal, Independent Labour Party, Scheduled Castes Federation
Title 1st Law Minister of India, Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee
Religion Buddhism
Spouse Ramabai Ambedkar (m. 1906) «start: (1906)»"Marriage: Ramabai to B. R. Ambedkar" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._R._Ambedkar)[citation needed], Savita Ambedkar (m. 1948) «start: (1948-04-15)»"Marriage: Savita Ambedkar to B. R. Ambedkar" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._R._Ambedkar)
Awards Bharat Ratna (1990)

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (Marathi: डॉ.भीमराव रामजी आंबेडकर [bʱiːmraːw raːmdʑiː aːmbeːɽkər]; 14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956), popularly also known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, political leader, philosopher, thinker, anthropologist, historian, orator, prolific writer, economist, scholar, editor, a revolutionary and one of the founding fathers of independent India. He was also the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Indian Constitution.[1] Born into a poor Mahar (considered an Untouchable caste) family, Ambedkar spent his whole life fighting against social discrimination, the system of Chaturvarna – the categorization of Hindu society into four varnas – and the Hindu caste system. He converted to Buddhism and is also credited with providing a spark for the conversion of hundreds of thousands of untouchables to Theravada Buddhism. Ambedkar was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in 1990.

Overcoming numerous social and financial obstacles, Ambedkar became one of the first so-called outcastes to obtain a college education in India. Eventually earning 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, Ambedkar gained a reputation as a scholar and practiced law for a few years, later campaigning by publishing journals advocating political rights and social freedom for India's so-called untouchables. He is regarded as a Bodhisattva by some Indian Buddhists, though he never claimed himself to be a Bodhisattva.[2]


Early life and education

‎Bhimrao Ramji Sakpal seen as a young man[3]

Ambedkar was born in the British-founded town and military cantonment of Mhow in the Central Provinces (now in Madhya Pradesh).[4] He was the 14th and last child of Ramji Maloji Sakpal and Bhimabai.[5] His family was of Marathi background from the town of Ambavade (Mandangad taluka) in the Ratnagiri district of modern-day Maharashtra. They belonged to the Mahar caste, who were treated as untouchables and subjected to intense socio-economic discrimination.[citation needed] Ambedkar's ancestors had for long been in the employment of the army of the British East India Company, and his father Ramji Sakpal served in the Indian Army at the Mhow cantonment. He had received a degree of formal education in Marathi and English, and encouraged his children to learn and work hard at school.[citation needed]

Belonging to the Kabir Panth, Ramji Sakpal encouraged his children to read the Hindu classics. He used his position in the army to lobby for his children to study at the government school, as they faced resistance owing to their caste. Although able to attend school, Ambedkar and other untouchable children were segregated and given no attention or assistance by the teachers. They were not allowed to sit inside the class. Even if they needed to drink water somebody from a higher caste would have to pour that water from a height as they were not allowed to touch either the water or the vessel that contained it. This task was usually performed for the young Ambedkar by the school peon, and if the peon was not available then he had to go without water, Ambedkar states this situation as "No peon, No Water".[6] Ramji Sakpal retired in 1894 and the family moved to Satara two years later. Shortly after their move, Ambedkar's mother died. The children were cared for by their paternal aunt, and lived in difficult circumstances. Only three sons – Balaram, Anandrao and Bhimrao – and two daughters – Manjula and Tulasa – of the Ambedkars would go on to survive them. Of his brothers and sisters, only Ambedkar succeeded in passing his examinations and graduating to a higher school. Bhimrao Sakpal Ambavadekar the surname comes from his native village 'Ambavade' in Ratnagiri District.[7] His Brahmin teacher, Mahadev Ambedkar, who was fond of him, changed his surname from 'Ambavadekar' to his own surname 'Ambedkar' in school records.[7]

Higher education

Ambedkar married in 1906, and the family moved to Bombay, where he became the first untouchable student at the Government High School near Elphinstone Road.[8] Although excelling in his studies, Ambedkar was increasingly disturbed by the segregation and discrimination that he faced. In 1907, he passed his matriculation examination and entered the University of Bombay, becoming one of the first persons of untouchable origin to enter a college in India. This success provoked celebrations in his community and after a public ceremony he was presented with a biography of the Buddha by his teacher Krishnaji Arjun Keluskar also known as Dada Keluskar, a Maratha caste scholar. Ambedkar's marriage had been arranged the previous year as per Hindu custom, to Ramabai, a nine-year old girl from Dapoli.[8] In 1908, he entered Elphinstone College and obtained a scholarship of twenty five rupees a month from the Gayakwad ruler of Baroda, Sahyaji Rao III. By 1912, he obtained his degree in economics and political science from Bombay University, and prepared to take up employment with the Baroda state government. His wife gave birth to his first son, Yashwant, in the same year. Ambedkar had just moved his young family and started work, when he dashed back to Mumbai to see his ailing father, who died on 2 February 1913.[citation needed]

In 1913 he received Baroda State Scholarship of 11.50 British pounds a month for three years to join the Politics Department of Columbia University as a postgraduate student. In New York he stayed at Livingston Hall with his friend Naval Bhathena, a Parsi; the two remained friends for life. He used to sit for hours studying in Low Library. He passed his MA exam in June 1915, majoring in Economics, with Sociology, History, Philosophy and Anthropology as other subjects of study; he presented a thesis, Ancient Indian Commerce. In 1916 he offered another MA thesis, National Dividend of India-A Historic and Analytical Study. On 9 May, he read his paper Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development before a seminar conducted by the anthropologist Alexander Goldenweiser. In October 1916 he was admitted to Gray's Inn for Law, and to the London School of Economics for economics where he started work on a doctoral thesis. In June 1917 he was obliged to go back to India as the term of his scholarship from Baroda ended, however he was given permission to return and submit his thesis within four years. He sent his precious and much-loved collection of books back on a steamer, but it was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine.[citation needed]

Fight against untouchability

As he was educated by the Baroda State, he was bound to serve the State. He was appointed as Military Secretary to the Gaikwar of Baroda, which he had to quit within short time, this fiasco was described by Ambedkar in his autobiography Waiting for a Visa as

This scene of a dozen Parsis armed with sticks line before me in a menacing mood, and myself standing before them with a terrified look imploring for mercy, is a scene which so long a period as eighteen years had not succeeded in fading away. I can even vividly recall it -- and I never recall it without tears in my eyes. It was then for the first time that I learnt that a person who is an untouchable to a Hindu is also an untouchable to a Parsi.[6]
Ambedkar Barrister.jpg

Then after he tried to find ways to make a living for his growing family. He worked as a private tutor, as an accountant, investment consulting business, but it failed when his clients learned that he was an untouchable. In 1918 he became Professor of Political Economy in the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Bombay. Even though he was successful with the students, other professors objected to his sharing the same drinking-water jug that they all used.[citation needed]

As a leading Indian scholar, Ambedkar had been invited to testify before the Southborough Committee, which was preparing the Government of India Act 1919. At this hearing, Ambedkar argued for creating separate electorates and reservations for untouchables and other religious communities. In 1920, he began the publication of the weekly Mooknayak (Leader of the Silent) in Mumbai with the help of Shahu I (1884–1922), Maharaja of Kolhapur. Ambedkar used this journal to criticize orthodox Hindu politicians and a perceived reluctance of the Indian political community to fight caste discrimination. His speech at a Depressed Classes Conference in Kolhapur impressed the local state ruler Shahu IV, who described Ambedkar as the future national leader and shocked orthodox society by dining with Ambedkar. Having resigned from his teaching position, in July he returned to London, relying on his own savings, supplemented by loans from the Maharaja of Kolhapur and his friend Naval Bhathena. He returned to the London School of Economics, and to Gray's Inn to read for the Bar. He lived in poverty, and studied constantly in the British Museum. In 1922, through unremitting hard work, Ambedkar once again overfulfilled all expectations: he completed a thesis for a M.Sc. (Economics) degree at London School of Economics, and was called to the bar, and submitted a PhD thesis in economics to the University of London. Ambedkar established a successful legal practice. Early on his legal career, Ambedkar was engaged in a very important lawsuit which had been filed by some Brahmins against three non-Brahmin leaders: K.B. Bagde, Keshavrao Jedhe and Dinkarrao Javalkar. They were being prosecuted for writing a pamphlet stating that Brahmins had ruined India. On the prosecution side was L. B. Bhopatkar, a lawyer from Poona. Ambedkar argued his case very ably, put up a very eloquent defence and won the case in October 1926. The victory was resounding, both socially and individually for the clients.[citation needed]


Illustration of Ambedkar's publications

While practicing law in the Bombay High Court he tried to uplift the untouchables in order to educate them. His first organized attempt to achieve this was the Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha, which was intended to promote education and socio-economic improvement, as well as the welfare of "outcastes" or the depressed classes.[clarification needed][citation needed]

By 1927 Ambedkar decided to launch active movements against untouchability. He began with public movements and marches to open up and share public drinking water resources, also he began a struggle for the right to enter Hindu temples. He led a satyagraha in Mahad to fight for the right of the untouchable community to draw water from the main water tank of the town.[citation needed]

He took a part of the event in which casteist excerpts from the Manu Smriti text was burned by a Brahmin G.N. Sahasrabuddhe.[9]

He was appointed to the Bombay Presidency Committee to work with the all-European Simon Commission in 1925.[citation needed] This commission had sparked great protests across India, and while its report was ignored by most Indians, Ambedkar himself wrote a separate set of recommendations for future constitutional recommendations.[citation needed]

Poona Pact

Due to Ambedkar's prominence and popular support amongst the untouchable community, he was invited to attend the Second Round Table Conference in London in 1932.[citation needed] Gandhi fiercely opposed separate electorate for untouchables, though he accepted separate electorate for all other minority groups such as Muslims and Sikhs, saying he feared that separate electorates for untouchables would divide Hindu community into two groups.[citation needed]

When the British agreed with Ambedkar and announced the awarding of separate electorates, Gandhi began a fast while imprisoned in the Yerwada Central Jail of Pune in 1932 against the separate electorate for untouchables only. Gandhi's fast provoked huge civil unrest across India, and orthodox Hindu leaders, Congress politicians and activists such as Madan Mohan Malaviya and Palwankar Baloo organized joint meetings with Ambedkar and his supporters at Yeravada. Fearing a communal reprisal and genocide of untouchables, Ambedkar agreed under massive coercion from the supporters of Gandhi. This agreement, which saw Gandhi end his fast, was called the Poona Pact. As a result of the agreement, Ambedkar dropped the demand for separate electorates that was promised through the British Communal Award prior to Ambedkar's meeting with Gandhi. Instead, a certain number of seats were reserved specifically for untouchables (in the agreement, called the "Depressed Class").[citation needed]

Political career

In 1935, Ambedkar was appointed principal of the Government Law College, Mumbai, a position he held for two years. Settling in Mumbai, Ambedkar oversaw the construction of a house, and stocked his personal library with more than 50,000 books.[10] His wife Ramabai died after a long illness in the same year. It had been her long-standing wish to go on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur, but Ambedkar had refused to let her go, telling her that he would create a new Pandharpur for her instead of Hinduism's Pandharpur which treated them as untouchables. Speaking at the Yeola Conversion Conference on 13 October in Nasik, Ambedkar announced his intention to convert to a different religion and exhorted his followers to leave Hinduism.[10] He would repeat his message at numerous public meetings across India.

In 1936, Ambedkar founded the Independent Labour Party, which won 15 seats in the 1937 elections to the Central Legislative Assembly. He published his book The Annihilation of Caste in the same year, based on the thesis he had written in New York. Attaining immense popular success, Ambedkar's work strongly criticized Hindu orthodox religious leaders and the caste system in general. Ambedkar served on the Defence Advisory Committee and the Viceroy's Executive Council as minister for labour. With What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables, Ambedkar intensified his attacks on Gandhi and the Congress, hypocrisy.[11] In his work Who Were the Shudras?, Ambedkar attempted to explain the formation of the Shudras i.e. the lowest caste in hierarchy of Hindu caste system. He also emphasised how Shudras are separate from Untouchables. Ambedkar oversaw the transformation of his political party into the All India Scheduled Castes Federation, although it performed poorly in the elections held in 1946 for the Constituent Assembly of India. In writing a sequel to Who Were the Shudras? in 1948, Ambedkar lambasted Hinduism in The Untouchables: A Thesis on the Origins of Untouchability:

The Hindu Civilisation.... is a diabolical contrivance to suppress and enslave humanity. Its proper name would be infamy. What else can be said of a civilisation which has produced a mass of people.... who are treated as an entity beyond human intercourse and whose mere touch is enough to cause pollution?[11]

Pakistan or the Partition of India

Between 1941 and 1945, he published a number of books and pamphlets, including Thoughts on Pakistan, in which he criticized the Muslim League's demand for a separate Muslim state of Pakistan but considered its concession if Muslims demanded so as expedient.[12]

In the above book Ambedkar wrote a sub-chapter titled If Muslims truly and deeply desire Pakistan, their choice ought to be accepted. He wrote that if the Muslims are bent on Pakistan, then it must be conceded to them. He asked whether Muslims in the army could be trusted to defend India. In the event of Muslims invading India or in the case of a Muslim rebellion, with whom would the Indian Muslims in the army side? He concluded that, in the interests of the safety of India, Pakistan should be acceded to, should the Muslims demand it. According to Ambedkar, the Hindu assumption that though Hindus and Muslims were two nations, they could live together under one state, was but an empty sermon, a mad project, to which no sane man would agree.[12]

Ambedkar was also critical of Islam and its practices in South Asia. While justifying the Partition of India, he condemned the practice of child marriage in Muslim society, as well as the mistreatment of women.

No words can adequately express the great and many evils of polygamy and concubinage, and especially as a source of misery to a Muslim woman. Take the caste system. Everybody infers that Islam must be free from slavery and caste. […] [While slavery existed], much of its support was derived from Islam and Islamic countries. While the prescriptions by the Prophet regarding the just and humane treatment of slaves contained in the Koran are praiseworthy, there is nothing whatever in Islam that lends support to the abolition of this curse. But if slavery has gone, caste among Musalmans [Muslims] has remained.[12]

He wrote that Muslim society is "even more full of social evils than Hindu Society is" and criticized Muslims for sugarcoating their sectarian caste system with euphemisms like "brotherhood". He also criticized the discrimination against the Arzal classes among Muslims who were regarded as "degraded", as well as the oppression of women in Muslim society through the oppressive purdah system. He alleged that while purdah was also practiced by Hindus, only among Muslims was it sanctioned by religion. He criticized their fanaticism regarding Islam on the grounds that their literalist interpretations of Islamic doctrine made their society very rigid and impermeable to change. He further wrote that Indian Muslims have failed to reform their society unlike Muslims in other countries like Turkey.[12]

Role in drafting India's Constitution

"Ambedkar at his desk" (an art piece) at Ambedkar Museum in Pune

Upon India's independence on 15 August 1947, the new Congress-led government invited Ambedkar to serve as the nation's first law minister, which he accepted. On 29 August, Ambedkar was appointed Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, charged by the Assembly to write India's new Constitution.[citation needed]

Granville Austin has described the Indian Constitution drafted by Ambedkar as 'first and foremost a social document'. ... 'The majority of India's constitutional provisions are either directly arrived at furthering the aim of social revolution or attempt to foster this revolution by establishing conditions necessary for its achievement.'

The text prepared by Ambedkar provided constitutional guarantees and protections for a wide range of civil liberties for individual citizens, including freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability and the outlawing of all forms of discrimination Ambedkar argued for extensive economic and social rights for women, and also won the Assembly's support for introducing a system of reservations of jobs in the civil services, schools and colleges for members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, a system akin to affirmative action. India's lawmakers hoped to eradicate the socio-economic inequalities and lack of opportunities for India's depressed classes through this measure, which had been originally envisioned as temporary on a need basis. The Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly.

Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet in 1951 following the stalling in parliament of his draft of the Hindu Code Bill, which sought to expound gender equality in the laws of inheritance, marriage and the economy. Although supported by Prime Minister Nehru, the cabinet and many other Congress leaders, it received criticism from a large number of members of parliament. Ambedkar independently contested an election in 1952 to the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, but was defeated. He was appointed to the upper house, of parliament, the Rajya Sabha in March 1952 and would remain a member until his death.

Conversion to Buddhism

Ambedkar believed that the Mahar people were an ancient Buddhist community of India who had been forced to live outside villages as outcasts because they refused to renounce their Buddhist practices. He considered this to be why they became untouchables and he wrote a book on this topic, entitled Who were the Shudras?.

Dikshabhumi, a stupa at the site where Ambedkar embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers

Ambedkar studied Buddhism all his life, and around 1950s, Ambedkar turned his attention fully to Buddhism and travelled to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to attend a convention of Buddhist scholars and monks.[citation needed] While dedicating a new Buddhist vihara near Pune, Ambedkar announced that he was writing a book on Buddhism, and that as soon as it was finished, he planned to make a formal conversion back to Buddhism.[13] Ambedkar twice visited Burma in 1954; the second time in order to attend the third conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Rangoon. In 1955, he founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha, or the Buddhist Society of India. He completed his final work, The Buddha and His Dhamma, in 1956. It was published posthumously.

After meetings with the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Hammalawa Saddhatissa,[14] Ambedkar organised a formal public ceremony for himself and his supporters in Nagpur on 14 October 1956. Accepting the Three Refuges and Five Precepts from a Buddhist monk in the traditional manner, Ambedkar completed his own conversion. He then proceeded to convert a large number (some 500,000) of his supporters who were gathered around him.[13] He prescribed the 22 Vows for these converts, after the Three Jewels and Five Precepts. He then traveled to Kathmandu in Nepal to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference.[citation needed] His work on The Buddha or Karl Marx and "Revolution and counter-revolution in ancient India" (which was necessary for understanding his book The Buddha and His Dhamma remained incomplete.[citation needed]


Bust of Ambedkar at Ambedkar Museum in Pune

Since 1948, Ambedkar had been suffering from diabetes. He was bed-ridden from June to October in 1954 owing to clinical depression and failing eyesight.[13] He had been increasingly embittered by political issues, which took a toll on his health. His health worsened during 1955. Three days after completing his final manuscript The Buddha and His Dhamma, it is said[by whom?] that Ambedkar died in his sleep on 6 December 1956 at his home in Delhi.

A Buddhist-style cremation was organised for him at Dadar Chowpatty beach on 7 December, attended by hundreds of thousands of people.[citation needed] A conversion program was supposed to be organised on 16 December 1956.[citation needed] So, those who had attended the cremation were also converted to Buddhism at the same place.[citation needed] Since this incidence Dadar Chowpatty is also known as CHAITYA-BHOOMI.

Ambedkar was survived by his second wife Savita Ambedkar (née Sharda Kabir), who converted to Buddhism with him and died as a Buddhist in 2002; his son Yashwant (known as Bhaiyasaheb Ambedkar); and his daughter-in-law Meera Tai Ambedkar. Ambedkar's grandson, who is the national president of the Indian Buddhist Association, Advt Prakash, né Balasaheb Yaswant Ambedkar, leads the Bhartiya Bahujan Mahasangha and has served in both houses of the Indian Parliament.

A number of unfinished typescripts and handwritten drafts were found among Ambedkar's notes and papers and gradually made available. Among these were Waiting for a Visa, which probably dates from 1935–36 and is an autobiographical work, and the Untouchables, or the Children of India's Ghetto, which refers to the census of 1951.[13]

A memorial for Ambedkar was established in his Delhi house at 26 Alipur Road. His birthdate is celebrated as a public holiday known as Ambedkar Jayanti or Bhim Jayanti. He was posthumously awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1990.[citation needed] Many public institutions are named in his honour, such as the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University in Hyderabad; Dr BR Ambedkar University in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh; B. R. Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur; the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar; the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur, otherwise known as Sonegaon Airport; the Tamilnadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University in Tamilnadu; and the Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College in Chennai, Tamilnadu. A large official portrait of Ambedkar is on display in the Indian Parliament building.

On the anniversary of his birth (14 April) and death (6 December), and on Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din (14 October) at Nagpur, at least half a million people gather to pay homage to him at his memorial in Mumbai.[citation needed] Thousands of bookshops are set up, and books are sold. His message to his followers was "Educate!, Organize!, Agitate!."[citation needed]

Writings and speeches

The Education Department, Government of Maharashtra(Bombay) published the collection of Ambedkar's writings and speeches in different volumes.[15]

Volume No. Description
vol. 1. Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development and 11 other essays
vol. 2. Dr Ambedkar in the Bombay Legislature, with the Simon Commission and at the Round Table Conferences, 1927–1939
vol. 3. Philosophy of Hinduism ; India and the pre-requisites of communism ; Revolution and counter-revolution ;Buddha or Karl Marx
vol. 4. Riddles in Hinduism[16]
vol. 5. Essays on untouchables and un-touchability
vol. 6. The evolution of provincial finance in British India
vol. 7. Who were the shudras? ; The untouchables
vol. 8. Pakistan or the partition of India
vol. 9. What Congress and Gandhi have done to the untouchables ; Mr. Gandhi and the emancipitation of the untouchables
vol. 10. Dr. Ambedkar as member of the Governor General's Executive Council, 1942–46
vol. 11. The Buddha and his Dhamma
vol. 12. Unpublished writings ; Ancient Indian commerce ; Notes on laws ; Waiting for a Visa ; Miscellaneous notes, etc.
vol. 13. Dr. Ambedkar as the principal architect of the Constitution of India
vol. 14. (2 parts) Dr.Ambedkar and The Hindu Code Bill
vol. 15. Dr. Ambedkar as free India's first Law Minister and member of opposition in Indian Parliament (1947–1956)
vol. 16. Dr. Ambedkar's The Pali grammar
vol. 17 (Part I) Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and his Egalitarian Revolution – Struggle for Human Rights. Events starting from March 1927 to 17 November 1956 in the chronological order
(Part II) Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and his Egalitarian Revolution – Socio-political and religious activities. Events starting from November 1929 to 8 May 1956 in the chronological order
(Part III) Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and his Egalitarian Revolution – Speeches. Events starting from 1 January to 20 November 1956 in the chronological order
vol. 18 (3 parts) Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Speeches and writing in Marathi
vol. 19 Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Speeches and writing in Marathi
vol. 20 Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Speeches and writing in Marathi
vol. 21 Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Photo Album and correspondence.

Criticism and legacy

Ambedkar's legacy as a socio-political reformer, had a deep effect on modern India. In post-Independence India his socio-political thought has acquired respect across the political spectrum. His initiatives have influenced various spheres of life and transformed the way India today looks at socio-economic policies, education and affirmative action through socio-economic and legal incentives. His reputation as a scholar led to his appointment as free India's first law minister, and chairman of the committee responsible to draft a constitution. He passionately believed in the freedom of the individual and criticised equally both orthodox casteist Hindu society. His condemnation of Hinduism and its foundation of caste system, made him controversial, although his conversion to Buddhism sparked a revival in interest in Buddhist philosophy in India and abroad.[citation needed]

Ambedkar's political philosophy has given rise to a large number of Dalit political parties, publications and workers' unions that remain active across India, especially in Maharashtra. His promotion of the Dalit Buddhist movement has rejuvenated interest in Buddhist philosophy in many parts of India. Mass conversion ceremonies have been organized by Dalit activists in modern times, emulating Ambedkar's Nagpur ceremony of 1956.[citation needed]

Some scholars, including some from the affected castes, took the view that the British were more even-handed between castes, and that continuance of British rule would have helped to eradicate many evil practices. This political opinion was shared by quite a number of social activists including Jyotirao Phule.[citation needed]

Some, in modern India, question the continued institution of reservations initiated by Ambedkar as outdated and anti-meritocratic. However, such arguments have always been dismissed by the Dalit masses. They express that the opposition of Caste-based reservations in India, primarily comes from the antagonism rooted in the Hindu society towards the Dalits. And, that the Caste-based reservations in India, in fact,have become the uplifting of Dalits in the post-colonial period.[citation needed]

Outside India, at the end of the 1990s, some Hungarian Romani people drew parallels between their own situation and the situation of the Dalits in India. Inspired by Ambedkar's approach, they started to convert to Buddhism.[17]

Theorized Mahar bias by Dalit leaders

Narayan Rao Kajrolkar criticized Ambedkar because he believed that he was biased to spend government money on his own caste, the Mahar, rather than divide the funds equally among others such as the Chambars and the Mangs.[23] Sitaram Narayan Shivtarkar criticized him on the same account at the Chambar conference held at Khond at the Ratnagiri District on 27 October 1937. Dr.Ambedkar never thoght of Mahar community alone.He always thought about all India & dalit community.Kajrolkar might have misguided by congress for political reward. [23] At the "First Chambar Conference" at Ratnagiri on December 1937, chaired by S. G. Songaonkar, echoed this yet again.[23]

Notes and references

This article contains Indic text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks or boxes, misplaced vowels or missing conjuncts instead of Indic text.
  1. ^ "Some Facts of Constituent Assembly". Parliament of India. National Informatics Centre. http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/debates/facts.htm. Retrieved 20011-04-14. "On 29 August 1947, the Constituent Assembly set up a Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar to prepare a Draft Constitution for India" 
  2. ^ Michael (1999), p. 65, notes that "The concept of Ambedkar as a Bodhisattva or enlightened being who brings liberation to all backward classes is widespread among Buddhists." He also notes how Ambedkar's pictures are enshrined side-to-side in Buddhist Vihars and households in Indian Buddhist homes.
  3. ^ Frances Pritchett. "youth". Columbia.edu. http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/timeline/graphics/youth.html. Retrieved 2010-07-17. 
  4. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (2005). Ambedkar and Untouchability: Fighting the Indian Caste System. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-231-13602-1. 
  5. ^ Pritchett, Frances. "In the 1890s" (PHP). http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/timeline/1890s.html. Retrieved 2006-08-02. 
  6. ^ a b Frances Pritchett. "Waiting for a Visa, by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar". Columbia.edu. http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/txt_ambedkar_waiting.html. Retrieved 2010-07-17. 
  7. ^ a b "Bhim, Eklavya". outlookindia.com. http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?263871. Retrieved 2010-07-17. 
  8. ^ a b Pritchett, Frances. "In the 1900s" (PHP). http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/timeline/1900s.html. Retrieved 2006-08-02. 
  9. ^ P. 81 Untouchable!: voices of the Dalit liberation movement By Barbara R. Joshi, Minority Rights Group
  10. ^ a b Pritchett, Frances. "In the 1930s" (PHP). http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/timeline/1930s.html. Retrieved 2006-08-02. 
  11. ^ a b Pritchett, Frances. "In the 1940s" (PHP). http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/timeline/1940s.html. Retrieved 2006-08-02. 
  12. ^ a b c d Ambedkar, Bhimrao Ramji (1946). "Chapter X: Social Stagnation". Pakistan or the Partition of India. Bombay: Thackers Publishers. pp. 215–219. http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/ambedkar_partition/410.html. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  13. ^ a b c d Pritchett, Frances. "In the 1950s" (PHP). http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/timeline/1950s.html. Retrieved 2006-08-02. 
  14. ^ Online edition of Sunday Observer – Features
  15. ^ B. R. Ambedkar (1979), Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, writings and speeches, Bombay: Education Dept., Govt. of Maharashtra, OL4080132M 
  16. ^ "Riddle In Hinduism". Ambedkar.org. http://www.ambedkar.org/riddleinhinduism/. Retrieved 2010-07-17. 
  17. ^ "Magazine / Land & People : Ambedkar in Hungary". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2009-11-22. http://www.hindu.com/mag/2009/11/22/stories/2009112250120300.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-17. 
  18. ^ Jamnadas, K.. "Jai Bhim and Jai Hind". http://www.ambedkar.org/jamanadas/JaiBhim.htm. 
  19. ^ Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar at the Internet Movie Database
  20. ^ P.ANIMA (2009-07-17). "A spirited adventure". The Hindu (Chennai, India). http://www.hindu.com/fr/2009/07/17/stories/2009071750610300.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ http://www.greatbritainhotel.com.au/
  23. ^ a b c Political Mobilization and Identity in Western India, 1934–47 By Shri Krishan
  • Books
  • Michael, S.M. (1999). Untouchable, Dalits in Modern India. Lynne Rienner Publishers. ISBN 9781555876975. 

Further reading

  • Beltz, Johannes; Jondhale, S., eds. Reconstructing the World: B.R. Ambedkar and Buddhism in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. 
  • Jaffrelot, Christophe (2005). Dr. Ambedkar and Untouchability: Analyzing and Fighting Caste. ISBN 0-231-13602-1. 
  • Sangharakshita, Urgyen. Ambedkar and Buddhism. ISBN 0-904766-28-4.  Out of print but for free download at http://www.sangharakshita.org/_books/Ambedkar_and_Buddhism.pdf
  • Omvedt, Gail. Ambedkar: Towards an Enlightened India. ISBN 0-670-04991-3. 
  • Gautam, C. (May 2000). Life of Babasaheb Ambedkar (Second ed.). London: Ambedkar Memorial Trust. 
  • Kuber, W. N. . Dr. Ambedkar: A Critical Study. New Delhi: People's Publishing House. 
  • Bholay, Bhaskar Laxman (2001). Dr Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar : Anubhav Ani Athavani. Nagpur: Sahitya Akademi. 
  • Keer, Dhananjay. Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. 
  • Kasare, M. L. . Economic Philosophy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. New Delhi: B. I. Publications. 
  • Ahir, D. C. . The Legacy Of Dr. Ambedkar. Delhi: B. R. Publishing. ISBN 81-7018-603-X. 
  • Ajnat, Surendra (1986). Ambedkar on Islam. Jalandhar: Buddhist Publ.. 
  • Fernando, W. J. Basil (2000). Demoralisation and Hope: Creating the Social Foundation for Sustaining Democracy—A comparative study of N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783–1872) Denmark and B. R. Ambedkar (1881–1956) India. Hong Kong: AHRC Publication. ISBN 962-8314-08-4. 
  • "Pakistan or the Partition of India". http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/ambedkar_partition/index.html. 

External links & writings

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