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Essay on Dr. BR Ambedkar : The Apostle of Dalits

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Childhood and educational life, Started work for improving the economic conditions of the dalits, initiated anti-caste and anti-priest movement, Contribution in the making of Constitution of India, Role played in Indian politics before independence and Adopted Buddhism and fought for the inequality in the society.

Babasaheb Ambedkar has, undoubtedly, been the central figure in Indian dalit society. It is difficult to imagine anything serious or important in their collective life that is totally untouched by Ambedkar. For the dalit masses, he is everything together; a scholar par excellence in the realm of scholarship, a Moses or Messiah who led his people out of bondage and ignominy on to the path of pride and a Bodhisattva in the pantheon of Buddhism.

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born on 14th April, 1891 in Mhow in Madhya Pradesh to Ramji Maloji Sakpal, a ranked army officer and Bhimabai Murbadkar Ambedkar Sakpal. Ambedkar had a rough childhood as he belonged to a family of poor Dalit caste. They were considered ro be untouchables and were subjected to socio-economic discrimination. Even in school. Ambedkar and other untouchable children were victims of segregation and inferior treatment.

After graduating from Elfinstone College, Bombay in 1912, he joined Columbia University, USA where he was awarded PhD. Later, he joined the London School of Economics and obtained a degree of Dsc (Economics) and was called to the Bar from Gray's Inn. Being an Indian jurist, economist, politician and a social reformer, he influenced dalits in various different ways.

With the slogan of 'Educate-Agitate-Organise', the social movement led by Dr Ambedkar aimed at annihilation of caste and the reconstruction of Indian society on the basis of equality amongst human beings. In 1927, he led the march at Mahad, Maharashrra to establish the rights of the untouchables to taste water from the Public Chawdar Lake, traditionally prohibited to them. This marked the beginning of anti-caste and anti-priest movement.

The temple entry movement launched by Dr Ambedkar in 1930 at the Kalaram Temple, Nashik, Maharashtra is another landmark in the struggle for human right and political and social justice. Dr Ambedkar held the view that "Only political power cannot be a panacea for the ills of the depressed classes. Their salvation lies in their social elevation'.' In 1932 British announced the formation of a separate electorate for 'Depressed classes' in the communal Award. Gandhi opposed a separate electorate for untouchables, as he feared that such an arrangement would divide the Hindu community and started fasting. Later an agreement known as 'Poona pact' between Ambedkar and Madan Mohan Malaviya was signed.

The agreement allowed reserved seats for depressed classes in the provincial legislatures, within general electorate. As a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council from July 1942, he was instrumental in bringing about several legislative measures to protect the rights of labourers and workers. Dr Ambedkar was the Chairman of Drafting Committee fm• the Indian Constitution. He prepared a Draft Constitution for discussion. Under his leadership the members of the drafting committee completed the works in 114 days spread over three years.

One of the greatest contributions of Dr Ambedkar was in respect of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution of India. The Fundamental Rights provide for freedom, equality and abolition of untouchability and remedies to ensure the enforcement of rights. The Directive Principles enshrine the broad guiding principles for securing fair distribution of wealth and better living conditions.

On 24th May, 1956 on the occassion of Buddha Jayanti, he declared in Bombay, that he would adopt Buddhism in October. On 14th October, 1956 he embraced Buddhism alongwith many of his followers. Ambedkar had been suffering from diabetes since 1948. From June to October in 1954, he was bed ridden owing to clinical depression and failing eyesight He died in his sleep on 6th December, 1956 at his home in Delhi.

His birth date is celebrated as a public holiday known as Ambedkar Jayanti. Many public institutions are named in his honor, such as the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University in Hyderabad, BR Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur etc. He was honoured with the greatest civilian award 'Bharat Ratna' posthumously in April 1990.

He was an Indian nationalist, jurist, political leader and a Buddhist revivalist. He was also the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. Ambedkar spent his whole life fighting against social discrimination and the Indian caste system.

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