Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was one of the architects of the Indian Constitution of the Independent India. He was a well-known statesman and a prominent jurist. Born on 14th April 1891 (Ambedkar Jayanti), Ambedkar’s efforts to eradicate the social evils like untouchability and caste restrictions were remarkable. The leader, throughout his life, fought for the rights of the dalits and other socially backward classes. An iconoclastic social reformer who being an untouchable fought against untouchability and brought social justice reforms in the society. The social reform movement of the caste Hindus could not win him to its side because of his existential understanding of the pangs of untouchability.
Drafting new Constitution of India…
Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar became India’s first Law Minister on 15th August 1947 after Indian independence. The then Congress government invited B R Ambedkar to take charge. On 29th August, he was chaired by the Assembly to pen down the new Constitution of India.
Ambedkar’s version of Indian Constitution was known as first and foremost a social document
To Ambedkar, the Constitution was not just the basic law for the governance of the country. drafting turned to a guarantee and a protection for civil liberties of individual citizens. Freedom of religion, abolishing untouchability and social discrimination, women’s social rights became major parts of constitutional rights. The provisions of the Constitution are couched in the language of generalities with pregnant contents of significance which vary from age to age and have at the same time transcendental continuity without any hiatus.
The Constitution gives the Fundamental Rights given to every citizen. The idea behind them is to ensure certain basic rights to the citizens, so that they are not at the mercy of the shifting opinions of the legislators. He carved a unique and impregnable pride of place and honour in the history of the free Indian nation. So long as the Indian Constitution survives, the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar will remain immortal. He lives forever in the hearts of every downtrodden.
Establishing the Finance Commission of India…
Dr. Ambedkar became the first Indian to pursue doctorate in economics abroad. He argued that industrialization and agricultural growth could enhance the Indian economy. He stressed investment in agriculture as the primary industry of India. advocated national economic and social development, stressing education, public hygiene, community health, residential facilities as the basic amenities. His DSc thesis “The problems of Rupee, its origin and solution (1923)” examines the causes for the Rupee’s fall in value.
- He opposed income tax for low-income groups. He contributed in Land Revenue Tax and excise duty policies to stabilise the economy.
- He further a research and fought for women empowerment at that time itself. And prompt to it, he presented Hindu Code Bill in parliament but it was opposed by almost every male member of parliament (including Nehru and Sardar Patel). If passed, it would have ended Saiti Pratha, Dowry system in 1951 only. After the bill lapsed, he resigned. (the draft also included divorce rights to women, portions of inheritance to daughters, while giving widows complete property rights.)
- As Labour Minister in the Viceroy’s Council, he successfully led the struggle for reduction of work from 12 hours a day to 8 hours in 1942. He contributed the idea of setting up of Employment Exchanges in India.
- He was almost solely responsible for establishing the Central Technical Power Board, the National Power Grid System and the Central Water Irrigation and Navigation Commission.
- He played an important role in the establishment of the Damodar Valley project, Hirakud project and Sone river project.
- Rejected to draft article 370.
In 1936, Ambedkar established the Independent Labour Party. In the 1937 elections to the Central Legislative Assembly his party won 15 seats. Ambedkar administered 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.
He 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.
Political and Economic Thoughts…
Dr. Ambedkar believed in a democratic system of government and power to the people had been a major concern for him. He was very clear that unless citizens have power in their own hands, there could be no democracy. That is why he says that democracy rests on four premises, where the citizen remains at the centre:
- The individual is an end in itself.
- The individual has certain inalienable rights, which must be guaranteed to him by the Constitution.
- The individual shall not be required to relinquish any of his constitutional rights as a price of any privilege.
- Dr Ambedkar’s political thinking is contained in two of his statements:
(1) Rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of society.
(2) A democratic form of government presupposes a democratic form of society. Social conscience is the only safeguard of all rights, fundamental or non—fundamental. The prevalent view, that once rights are enacted in a law they are safeguarded, is unwarranted.
- Democracy is essentially a form of society, a mode of associated living. The roots of democracy are to be searched in the social relationship, in the terms of associated life between the people who form a society.
He understood that adapting a democratic system in the Constitution would not suffice. Social parity among society, equality before law and administration, constitutional morality, lack of totalitarianism of the majority and evolving public morality are conditions for the success of democracy in India. The foremost condition is equality in society as equality is the foundation stone where the notions of liberty and fraternity develop. He remarked that equality is the original notion and respect for human personality is a reflection of it. If equality is denied, everything else may be taken to be denied.
As it’s a known fact that, Dr. Ambedkar himself was a victim of social boycott and caste discrimination. His parents were Hindu Mahar by caste, and was termed as “úntouchables” among the society by the upper caster community. After facing extreme discrimination among the society, they shifted to Satara and continued his studies in Satara.
In 1908, Ambedkar got the opportunity to study at the Elphinstone College and pursued his graduation in the field of Political Science and Economics from Bombay University in 1912. He further went to USA for higher studies.
After returning to India, Dr. Ambedkar decided to fight against the caste discrimination that almost split the nation. Ambedkar opined that there should be separate electoral system for the Untouchables and lower caste people. He also favoured the concept of providing reservations for Dalits and other religious communities.
Ambedkar began to find ways to reach to the people and make them understand the drawbacks of the prevailing social evils. He launched a newspaper called “Mooknayaka” (leader of the silent). It was believed that, one day, after hearing his speech at a rally, Shahu IV, an influential ruler of Kolhapur dined with the leader. The incident also created a huge uproar in the socio-political arena of the country.