Born on April 14, 1891, in Mhow, Dr BR Ambedkar spent his life fighting for welfare of underprivileged. He campaigned against social discrimination of Dalits while supporting rights of women and labourers. Recognised as ‘Father of Indian Constitution’, his birth anniversary has acquired political overtones specially during election. In the last couple of years, many politicians including Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi not only visited Mhow but also made attempts to impress Dalits with their policies.
A major protest that made news in 2018 was on Ambedkar Jayanti when Dalit leaders objected to painting the upper part of an under-construction Ambedkar memorial in saffron in Gorakhpur (UP). Last year, President Ram Nath Kovind visiting Mhow to pay tributes to Ambedkar on his birthanniversary and spoke on latter’s ideals. His visit came close on heels of massive violence that erupted on April 2 during Bharat bandh in several states including Madhya Pradesh where more than half a dozen people lost lives.
The protests were part of pan-India demonstrations against alleged efforts to weaken SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. As political parties draw mileage from Ambedkar’s legacy, many students can’t recall his birthplace. On eve of Ambedkar Jayanti, Free Press talked to some students about him. Some funny answers from students included, “Was he not a politician?” “Isn’t he someone who worked with Gandhi in non-cooperation movement?” “Oh, he wrote the Constitution, the writer.”
However, few primary class students appeared impressed by his work. Some of class IV, V students said he took almost three years to work on Indian constitution. They added, “He studied and worked hard to fight what he believed in.” “He did not want people to be treated differently, but till now, people treat each other differently based on so many factors.”