Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar (1891-1956 AD) is a name, which dwells in the hearts of crores of Indians and holds the tag of being the Chief Architect of the Indian Constitution. Dr. Ambedkar’s entire life was devoted to the upliftment of the underprivileged and down-trodden in various forms, from birth-to-birth, and who were victimised by the exploitation of their own fellow-beings. Ambedkar was an excellent jurist and economist; he was also an educationist and statesman. But, above all he was an outstanding social reformer. Dr. Ambedkar worked for human equality. He called on people to attain rights and progress on the basis of hard work and knowledge. For this, as said already, he struggled throughout his life; he became a pioneer of crores of oppressed, down-trodden, deprived, exploited and backward people of India.
Some sins like man-made socio-religious evils, malpractices and traditions, which remained in existence for hundreds of years, created a state of unjust discrimination among communities and became the medium of oppression and exploitation of fellow-beings on the basis of so-called high-low birth distinction. It was, undoubtedly, an irony of India. This situation was a major cause of the downfall or degradation of India. Due to this situation, crores of people of the country remained deprived of their natural rights. The life of a large section of the society was extremely painful –full of difficulties. This was, in fact, a state of great shame and disgrace for Indian society and the nation.
Discriminatory feeling of the high and low deeply rooted in the mindset, creating the state of inequality among fellow-beings, resultantly inhuman treatment of lakhs and crores of people, sometimes very shocking and poignant, was the cause of unfortunate division of society into Castes and Subcastes, and the hinderance in the way of appropriate development. From the Tathagata, Gautama Buddha, to a number of contemporaries of Dr. Ambedkar himself, raised their voices against this very sad situation from time-to-time. They worked to get the society out of this situation. In this regard, the concerted and revolutionary efforts of Gautama Buddha, his works for social change and especially keeping human equality in the centre, remained unsurpassed. In his own time, Gautam Buddha called upon the so-called elite or upper-class people who were leading the fields of the Dharma and society to change their mentality. The Shakyamuni Gautama placed before them the truth of human equality. He unveiled the reality of everyone’s right of her/his own rise. In this regard, the Tathagata became the great icon of socio-religious changes on the basis of his systematic ideas, continuous efforts and unprecedented work. He emerged as a true Guru, one of the Greatest Indians and The Light of Asia. He became the guide and director of equality-based ideal life of crores of people all over the world along with India. The Tathagata is still the ideal of life of millions all over the world.
Gautama Buddha came from a royal family. He was a Kshatriya. He had great respect and influence among the ruling class people as well as the Kshatriyas. The people from the Vaishya class had also great respect for him. The respect of the ruling class towards him, and his own influence among the Kshatriyas, played an important role in Shakyamuni’s socio-religious transformation mission. Especially, the ruling class greatly contributed in furthering the mission of the Tathagata Gautama.
Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar had been a victim of many social evils including Caste discrimination and untouchability in his childhood, adolescence and youth. He had to pass through very sad –painful situations many times. But, bravely facing the circumstances, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar realised the reality that the path of excellence in life was hard work in the right direction. He, accordingly, continuously working hard, with perseverance and struggles made his rightful place in the socio-political spheres of the country. By his own ability, efficiency and wisdom, he made a huge contribution to the society and the nation. Through his life and works, he well proved the truth that every human being has the same qualities –virtues; each one has the merit. If one, woman or man, gets equal opportunities, she/he is fully capable of her/his all-round development and, undoubtedly, can contribute towards the large-scaled welfare of humanity.
Dr. Ambedkar, after getting familiarity with the reality of Indian society and making his clear and evolutionary views that “man is mortal; everyone is to die some day or the other, …but resolve to lay down one’s life in enriching the noble ideas of self-respect and in bettering human life”, struggled –worked, especially keeping the awareness of the common people in the centre throughout his life.
The initiatives taken for the awakening of Dalits, backwards and underprivileged during the period between 1920 and 1940 AD, especially the formation of the “Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha” in the year 1924 AD, starting a hostel in Sholapur in the year 1925 AD for needy students up to high school standard from Dalit-class along with providing other facilities to them, the publication of “Mooknayak” (from the year 1920 AD), and “Bahishkrit Bharat” fortnightly in the year 1927 AD, and the foundation of the “Depressed Class Education Society” in the year 1928 were among Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar’s those noteworthy efforts through which the application of his thoughts related to “self-help, self-elevation and self-respect” reflected beautifully and concretely. “The Chavdar Tank Satyagraha –Mahad Satyagraha” of the year 1927 AD, the temple entry programmes of year 1930, 1931 AD and later were the untiring efforts –exemplary works of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar towards the realisation of human equality and materialising it; have remained a great source of inspiration till date in this regard.
Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar remained a member of the Bombay Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly, the Constituent Assembly of India and Interim Parliament and Rajya Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition (in case of the Bombay Legislative Assembly), the Chairman of the Drafting Committee (of the Constituent Assembly), and Union Minister of Law and Justice (Government of India) between 1926 and 1956 AD. This long period is a living story of his life dedicated to human equality, including his commitment to the rights and empowerment of women in all spheres of life, progressive causes and prosperity of democratic values. For this, he is even today a pioneer in the minds and hearts of crores of his countrymen, women and men, along with establishing himself as one of the Greatest Indians.
With his understanding and knowledge par excellence, Dr. Ambedkar drafted the Indian Constitution. He also left his own impression on the Constitution. The Indian Constitution is the lengthiest constitution of the world. The Constitution establishes India as a Welfare State, paving the way for social and economic democracy along with political democracy. Through the provisions of this Constitution, the doors of equality and development of all citizens, women and men, without discrimination, open up, which was, in fact, the mission of life of Babasaheb Ambedkar himself and also the real purpose of his struggles and public actions. He was committed to human equality and wished to ensure the integrity and prosperity of India on the strength of equality-based unity of his compatriots. We all Indians need to get familiar with this truth and through it to understand Dr. Ambedkar today.
Dr. Ambedkar was committed to his mission. He was also a true Indian and an outstanding nationalist. In the year 1942 AD, he had clearly said, “I have dispute with Casteist Hindus over some points, but I will...submit my life for the safety of my nation.” In the year 1948 AD, when Sardar Patel sent troops in Hyderabad, Babasaheb Ambedkar, declaring the Nizam of Hyderabad as an anti-national, called on every Indian to extend all support to Vallabhbhai in his action. Babasaheb Ambedkar wished for concrete policies with regard to Jammu and Kashmir and hoped never to compromise or relax even a little for the unity and integrity of India. Babasaheb Ambedkar was in favour of a “Uniform Civil Code in India” from the viewpoint of equality of all as well as the unity and integrity of the nation. Today’s generation should also have familiarity with Babasaheb’s patriotism and nationalism along with his mission. Only by doing so, justice could be done to the excellent ideas and works of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, one of the Greatest Indians, which were dedicated to the upliftment of the common man.
*A Padma Shri and Sardar Patel National Awardee Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.