Every year on April 14th, India celebrates Ambedkar Jayanti as a tribute to the remarkable life of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. This day is also known as Equality Day throughout the country. Along with being a well-known polymath, he was also a jurist, economist, and civil rights activist.
Dr. Ambedkar, also known as the "Father of the Indian Constitution," played a pivotal role in shaping the democratic framework of India. He devoted himself to educating the underprivileged, enhancing their economic status, and bringing attention to economic and social inequality against the untouchables.
Born on April 14, 1891, in India, Dr. BR Ambedkar is widely regarded as the Father of the Indian Constitution. Ambedkar's rejection of Hinduism spurred the Dalit Buddhist movement. From 1947 to 1951, he chaired the drafting committee for the Constitution of India and served as the Minister of Law and Justice in Jawaharlal Nehru's first cabinet.
In 1918, Ambedkar became a professor of Political Economy at Mumbai's Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics. In 1925, he was appointed to the Bombay Presidency Committee to work with the all-European Simon Commission. During this time, he wrote a separate set of recommendations for India's future constitution. By 1927, Ambedkar began actively campaigning against untouchability. He initiated public demonstrations and marches to increase access to public drinking water resources and fight for the right to enter Hindu temples.
Following India's independence in October 1947, Ambedkar was invited to become the country's first Law Minister by the new Congress-led government, which he accepted. On August 29, he was appointed as Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee by the Assembly and was responsible for drafting India's new constitution. Throughout his life, Ambedkar was a proponent of equality, particularly for disadvantaged social classes and women. He integrated his vision of equal rights for all into several constitutional laws. On April 14, 1928, Ambedkar's birthday was publicly celebrated in Pune by activist Janardan Sadashiv Ranapisay. This day is now referred to as "Ambedkar Jayanti."
Ambedkar excelled in his studies of law and economics, earning doctorates in Economics from Columbia University and the London School of Economics. He utilized his expertise in economics to liberate India from outdated beliefs and ideas, opposing the idea of separate electorates for untouchables and advocating for equal rights for all.
He founded the Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha to promote education among the non-Brahmin "social outcastes," and established five periodicals—Mooknayak, Bahishkrit Bharat, Samta, Janata, and Prabuddha Bharat—to raise awareness about the plight of underprivileged groups.
Ambedkar vehemently opposed the British suggestion for a separate electorate for backward classes, and after lengthy negotiations, he signed the Poona Pact with Congress activist Madan Mohan Malaviya. This pact allowed the deprived classes to receive 148 seats in the legislature, as opposed to the 71 seats proposed by the British Government. The deprived class was later recognized as "Scheduled Caste" and "Scheduled Tribe" in the Indian Constitution.
After India gained independence, Ambedkar accepted the invitation to become the country's first Law and Justice Minister and was later appointed to draft India's inaugural Constitution, which he successfully accomplished, thereby giving birth to the Constitution of India.
Dr. BR Ambedkar is a trailblazer in many ways, one of them being the first Ph.D. in Economics and double doctorate holder in South Asia. His academic achievements are a testament to his intellect and dedication to learning.
Dr. BR Ambedkar was not only a scholar but also a statesman who played a crucial role in the establishment of the Reserve Bank of India. His expertise in economics and financial matters were instrumental in shaping the policies that led to the formation of India's central bank.
As a social reformer, Dr. BR Ambedkar championed workers' rights and fought for better working conditions. He advocated for reducing the working hours from 12 hours to eight hours, which eventually became a reality in India. This achievement is a testament to his commitment to social justice and his efforts to improve the lives of the working class.
Dr. BR Ambedkar's 20-page autobiography, "Waiting for a Visa," is a powerful account of his life as a Dalit and the challenges he faced in his journey toward academic excellence. The book is so impactful that it is used as a textbook at Columbia University, where students learn about the struggles of marginalized communities and the importance of social justice.
Dr. BR Ambedkar's contributions to Indian society and his role in shaping the country's constitution are recognized not only in India but also around the world. In a unique and notable honor, his statue is the only Indian statue displayed alongside Karl Marx's in the London Museum. This recognition reflects his legacy as a visionary leader, social reformer, and global icon of social justice.