Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, an Indian jurist, political leader, philosopher, anthropologist, historian, orator, economist, teacher, editor, prolific writer, revolutionary and a revivalist for Buddhism in India.He was alsothe chief architect of the Indian Constitution. Ambedkar was appointed as the nation's first Law Minister in the Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru.The leader, throughout his life, fought for the rights of the dalits and other socially backward classes.He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor in 1990.In 2012 he was chosen greatest Indian in a nationwide poll held by History TV and CNN-IBN.
Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891 in Mhow (presently in Madhya Pradesh).He was the 14th and last child of Ramji Maloji Sakpal and Bhimabai.B.R. Ambedkar belonged to the "untouchable" Mahar Caste. His father and grandfather served in the British Army. In those days, the government ensured that all the army personnel and their children were educated and ran special schools for this purpose.This ensured good education for Bhimrao Ambedkar, which would have otherwise been denied to him by the virtue of his caste.Bhimrao Ambedkar experienced caste discrimination right from the childhood.
After his retirement, Bhimrao's father settled in Satara Maharashtra.Bhimrao was enrolled in the local school. Here, he had to sit on the floor in one corner in the classroom and teachers would not touch his notebooks. In spite of these hardships, Bhimrao continued his studies and passed his Matriculation examination from Bombay University with flying colours in 1908.His father Bhimabai Sakpal died in Bombay, in 1913. In 1908, Ambedkar got the opportunity to study at the Elphinstone College. Besides clearing all the exams successfully Ambedkar also obtained a scholarship of twenty five rupees a month from the Gayakwad ruler of Baroda, Sahyaji Rao III. Political Science and Economics were the subjects in which he graduated from the Bombay University in 1912.
Ambedkar went to USA for further studies. Bhimrao reached New York in July 1913. For the first time in his life, Bhim Rao was not demeaned for being a Mahar. He immersed himself in the studies and attained a degree in Master of Arts and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1916 for his thesis "National Dividend for India: A Historical and Analytical Study." From America, Dr.Ambedkar proceeded to London to study economics and political science. But the Baroda government terminated his scholarship and recalled him back.
After coming back from the US, Ambedkar was appointed as the Defence secretary to the King of Baroda. Even, there also he had to face the humiliation for being an 'Untouchable'. With the help of the former Bombay Governor Lord Sydenham, Ambedkar obtained the job as a professor of political economy at the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Bombay. In order to continue his further studies, in 1920 he went to England at his own expenses. There he was awarded honor of D.Sc. by the London University. Ambedkar also spent few months at the University of Bonn, Germany, to study economics. On 8 June, 1927, he was awarded a Doctorate by the University of Columbia.
After completing his studies in London, Ambedkar returned to India. In July 1924, he founded the Bahishkrit Hitkaraini Sabha (Outcastes Welfare Association). The aim of the Sabha was to uplift the downtrodden socially and politically and bring them to the level of the others in the Indian society. 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.
In 1929, Ambedkar made the controversial decision to co-operate with the all-British Simon Commission which was to look into setting up a responsible Indian Government in India. The Congress decided to boycott the Commission and drafted its own version of a constitution for free India. The Congress version had no provisions for the depressed classes. Ambedkar became more skeptical of the Congress's commitment to safeguard the rights of the depressed classes.When a separate electorate was announced for the depressed classes under Ramsay McDonald 'Communal Award', Gandhiji went on a fast unto death against this decision. Leaders rushed to Dr. Ambedkar to drop his demand. On September 24, 1932, Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhiji reached an understanding, which became the famous Poona Pact. According to the pact the separate electorate demand was replaced with special concessions like reserved seats in the regional legislative assemblies and Central Council of States.
In 1936, Ambedkar founded the Independent Labor Party. In the 1937 elections to the Central Legislative Assembly his party won 15 seats. 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.
Ambedkar objected to the decision of Congress and Mahatma Gandhi to call the untouchable community as Harijans. He would say that even the members of untouchable community are same as the other members of the society. Ambedkar was appointed on the Defence Advisory Committee and the Viceroy's Executive Council as Minister for Labor. 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.
In 1950, Ambedkar traveled to Sri Lanka to attend a convention of Buddhist scholars and monks. After his return he decided to write a book on Buddhism and soon, converted himself to Buddhism. In his speeches, Ambedkar lambasted the Hindu rituals and caste division. Ambedkar founded the Bharatiya Buddha Mahasabha In 1955. His book "The Buddha and His Dhamma" was published posthumously.
On October 14, 1956 Ambedkar organized a public ceremony to convert around five lakh of his supporters into Buddhism. Ambedkar traveled to Kathmandu to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference. He completed his final manuscript, "The Buddha or Karl Marx" on December 2, 1956.
On 0ctober 14, 1956 he embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers.Since 1954-55 Ambedkar was suffering from serious health problems including diabetes and weak eyesight. On 6 December, 1956, Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar died peacefully in his sleep.