Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on April 14th, 1891. Bhimrao was born into the Dalit caste. Hindus were and still are ranked based on their position in the caste system (groups assigned by birth, not personality). The pure casts are Brahman, Chetri, Vaishya, Shudra, and the impure caste is the dalit. Untouchables, or dalits as they are sometimes called, were discriminated upon by pure-caste Hindus.
He was born to Ramji Maloji Sakpal and Bhimabai in central India. His father served in the Indian army. He was the youngest of the fourteen children.
In 1897, his family moved to Bombay where he enrolled in the Elphinstone High School. He became the first ever untouchable to get a proper education, let alone go to a school. Young Ambedkar experienced a great deal of social discrimination growing up, but he surpassed those problems.
Completing his matriculation degree (a term commonly used to refer to the final year of high school or secondary school certificate examination) in 1907, he admitted himself to Elphinstone College. Once again in 1908, he made history by becoming the first untouchable to enter a university. He graduated from the same university in 1912 with a degree in economics and political science.
He secured a job at the Baroda state government but did not continue the same for long, as he was awarded a Baroda State Scholarship, which provided him the opportunity to gain a postgraduate education at Columbia University in New York City. To pursue the same, he moved to America in 1913.
He completed his MA in June 1915, majoring in Economics, with Sociology, History, Philosophy and Anthropology as other subjects of study. Two years henceforth, he gained a Ph.D. in Economics.
Meanwhile, in 1916, he enrolled for a bar course at Gray’s Inn. However, due to the termination of the scholarship, he had to return to India.
His first work in India was a Defence Secretary for the Princely State of Baroda. He was always ridiculed for being untouchable in the caste system. This led him to quit this job and he took up private jobs such as tutoring and accounting. He also tried out a consultancy start-up, which failed miserably due to his social status. He ended up teaching at the Sydenham College of Commerce.
He soon went back to his roots of going against caste discrimination and he created a weekly journal called the “Mooknayak” with the help of the Maharaja of Kolhapur. It mainly criticized the ideology that many Hindus had followed about the caste system and the fact that politicians had done nothing about it.
He accumulated enough wealth and soon he moved to England where he completed his Master’s Degree. He studied at the London School of Economics. After that, he returned to India and started working as a legal professional. But his passion led him back to creating the Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha, which was an organization that helped the backward class of society.
He was appointed to the Bombay Presidency Committee in 1925 so that he could work for the All-European Simon Commission. But his commission reports were slammed by the Congress, who set up its own version of the constitution.
He started working against untouchability again in 1927. He also followed in the footsteps of Gandhi by also practicing non-violence. He was mainly fighting for the rights that allowed untouchables the access to clean water and the right to enter temples (Hindu place of worship).
His popularity rose and in 1932, when he received an invitation to come to the Second Round Table Conference in London. Interestingly he opposed Gandhi. Gandhi believed that the cast system “wasn’t inherently bad” and that it was just a system of division of labor in society. Ambedkar believed that the caste system was inherently discriminating and solution for improvement in condition of lower castes lies in annihilation of caste system.
Finally, he reached an understanding with Gandhi which was called the Poona Pact according to which instead of a special electorate; a reservation was granted to the depressed class in the regional legislative assemblies and Central Council of States.
In 1935, he was appointed as the Principal of the Government Law College. The Following year, he founded the Independent Labor Party, which went on to secure 14 seats in the 1937 Bombay elections.
The same year in 1937, he published his book, ‘The Annihilation of Caste’ in which he strongly pointed-a-finger-of-disgust at the Hindu orthodox leaders and created a bad picture of the caste system, which was seen as the truth by many untouchables who had been ridiculed and put down. Next, he came up with his work, ‘Who Were the Shudras?’ in which he explained the formation of Untouchables.
He served as the minister for labor of the Viceroy’s Executive Council and on the board of the Defence Advisory Committee. The constitution drafted by him aimed to bring an end to discrimination against the dalits in the country freeing it from any sort of discrimination. It provided the citizens with freedom of religion, and it abolished untouchability. There were also rights for women and he started to close the gap amongst the classes of the society.
Other than his role as the framer of the Constitution, he helped establish the Finance Commission of India. It was through his policies that the nation progressed both economically and socially. He emphasized on a free economy with the stable rupee.
In the year 1951, following the stalling of the Hindu Code Bill, which he brought up, he decided that it was time to resign from the Cabinet. He contested for a seat in the Lok Sabha but was sadly defeated. He was later brought into the Rajya Sabha of which he was a member until his passing.
Bhimrao Ambedkar is one of the most influential people in the history of India. He is someone that poor or low-income people could and still can look up to. He managed to come from the lowest of the lows, which was being a Dalit, to become a respected advocate and author of the Indian Constitution. He was an amazing social reformer. He started the Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha and the Moonayak, which were both big parts of his attempts to end the caste system and the discrimination that it had led to in India. Although a tiny sliver of the caste system still exists, Bhimrao Ambedkar was able to peacefully stop the discrimination.