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Essay On Dr Br Ambedkar As A Social Reformer Described

Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, politician and social reformer. This biography profiles his childhood, life, career, and achievements.

Born: 14 April, 1891 

Place of Birth: Mhow in Central Provinces (currently Madhya Pradesh)

Parents: Ramji Maloji Sakpal (father) and Bhimabai Murbadkar Sakpal (mother)

Spouse: Ramabai Ambedkar (1906-1935); Dr. Sharada Kabir rechristened Savita Ambedkar (1948-1956)

Education: Elphinstone High School, University of Bombay, Columbia University, London School of Economics

Associations: Samata Sainik Dal, Independent Labour Party, Scheduled Castes Federation

Political Ideology: Right winged; Equalism

Religious Beliefs: Hinduism by birth; Buddhism 1956 onwards

Publications: Essays on Untouchables and Untouchability, The Annihilation of Caste, Waiting for a Visa

Passed Away: 6, December, 1956

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was a jurist, social reformer and politician. He is also known as the Father of Indian Constitution. A well-known politician and an eminent jurist, his efforts to eradicate social evils like untouchablity and caste restrictions were remarkable. Throughout his life, he fought for the rights of the dalits and other socially backward classes. Ambedkar was appointed as India’s first Law Minister in the Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru. He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, in 1990. 

Childhood & Early Life

Bhimrao Ambedkar was born to Bhimabai and Ramji on 14 April 1891 in Mhow Army Cantonment, Central Provinces (Madhya Pradesh). Ambedkar’s father was a Subedar in the Indian Army and after his retirement in 1894, the family moved to Satara, also in Central Provinces. Shortly after this, Bhimrao’s mother passed away. Four years later, his father remarried and the family shifted to Bombay. In 1906, 15 year old Bhimrao married Ramabai, a 9 year old girl. His father Ramji Sakpal died in Bombay, in 1912.

Throughout his childhood, Ambedkar faced the stigmas of caste discrimination. Hailing from the Hindu Mahar caste, his family was viewed as “untouchable” by the upper classes. The discrimination and humiliation haunted Ambedkar at the Army school. Fearing social outcry, the teachers would segregate the students of lower class from that of Brahmins and other upper classes. The untouchable students were often asked by the teacher to sit outside the class. After shifting to Satara, he was enrolled at a local school but the change of school did not change the fate of young Bhimrao. Discrimination followed wherever he went. After coming back from the US, Ambedkar was appointed as the Defence secretary to the King of Baroda but there also he had to face the humiliation for being an ‘Untouchable’. 

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He cleared his matriculation in 1908 from Elphinstone High School. In 1908, Ambedkar got the opportunity to study at the Elphinstone College and obtained his graduate degree in Economics and Political Science in the year 1912 from Bombay University. Besides clearing all the exams successfully Ambedkar also obtained a scholarship of twenty five rupees a month from the Gaekwad ruler of Baroda, Sahyaji Rao III. Ambedkar decided to use the money for higher studies in the USA. He enrolled in the Columbia University in New York City to study Economics. He completed his Master’s degree in June 1915 after successfully completing his thesis titled ‘Ancient Indian Commerce’. 

In 1916, he enrolled in the London School of Economics and started working on his doctoral thesis titled “The problem of the rupee: Its origin and its solution”. With the help of the former Bombay Governor Lord Sydenham, Ambedkar became a professor of political economy at the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Bombay. In order to continue his further studies, he went to England in 1920 at his own expense. There he was received the D.Sc by the London University. Ambedkar also spent a few months at the University of Bonn, Germany, to study economics. He received his PhD degree in Economics in 1927. On 8 June, 1927, he was awarded a Doctorate by the University of Columbia.

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Movement Against Caste Discrimination

After returning to India, Bhimrao Ambedkar decided to fight against the caste discrimination that plagued him throughout his life. In his testimony before the Southborough Committee in preparation of the Government of India Act in 1919, Ambedkar opined that there should be separate electoral system for the Untouchables and other marginalised communities. He contemplated he idea of reservations for Dalits and other religious outcasts. 

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) in 1920 with the assistance of Shahaji II, the Maharaja of Kolkapur. It is said that 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. 

Ambedkar started his legal career after passing the Bar course in Gray’s Inn. He applied his litigious skills in advocating cases of caste discrimination. His resounding victory in defending several non-Brahmin leaders accusing the Brahmins of ruining India, established the bases of his future battles.

By 1927, Ambedkar launched full-fledged movements for Dalit rights. He demanded public drinking water sources open to all and right for all castes to enter temples. He openly condemned Hindu Scriptures advocating discrimination and arranged symbolic demonstrations to enter the Kalaram Temple in Nashik.

In 1932, the Poona Pact was signed between Dr. Ambedkar and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, representative of the Hindu Brahmins relinquishing reservation of seats for the untouchable classes in the Provisional legislatures, within the general electorate. These classes were later designated as Scheduled Classes and Scheduled Tribes.

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Political Career

In 1936, Ambedkar founded the Independent Labor Party. In the 1937 elections to the Central Legislative Assembly, his party won 15 seats. Ambedkar oversaw 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.

Ambedkar objected to the decision of the 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 for independent India.

Framer of the Constitution of India

Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as the chairman of the constitution drafting committee on August 29, 1947. Ambedkar emphasized on the construction of a virtual bridge between all classes of the society. According to him, it would be difficult to maintain the unity of the country if the difference among the classes were not met. He put particular emphasis on religious, gender and caste equality. He was successful in receiving support of the Assembly to introduce reservation for members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in education, government jobs and civil services.

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Br Ambedkar & Conversion to Buddhism

In 1950, Ambedkar travelled to Sri Lanka to attend a convention of Buddhist scholars and monks. After his return he decided to write a book on Buddhism and soon, converted to Buddhism. In his speeches, Ambedkar lambasted the Hindu rituals and caste divisions. Ambedkar founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha in 1955. His book, "The Buddha and His Dhamma" was published posthumously.

On October 14, 1956 Ambedkar organized a public ceremony to convert around five lakh of his supporters to Buddhism. Ambedkar traveled to Kathmandu to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference. He completed his final manuscript, "The Buddha or Karl Marx" on December 2, 1956.


Since 1954-55 Ambedkar was suffering from serious health problems including diabetes and weak eyesight. On 6 December, 1956 he died at his home in Delhi. Since, Ambedkar adopted Buddhism as his religion, a Buddhist-style cremation was organized for him. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of thousands of supporters, activists and admirers.

Time and again, Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar reminded the Indian population that only political clarity or administrative reforms could not shape a country that is so diverse in culture and social spectrum.While Mahatma Gandhi was uniting India to rise against the oppressive British governmen

Time and again, Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar reminded the Indian population that only political clarity or administrative reforms could not shape a country that is so diverse in culture and social spectrum.

While Mahatma Gandhi was uniting India to rise against the oppressive British government, Babasaheb Ambedkar was guiding the Indians towards a spiritual development. Here is how Babasaheb fought against untouchability:

  • Born into a poor, low Mahar caste family on April 14, 1891, in Mhow, in the Central Provinces, now Madhya Pradesh, Babasaheb Ambedkar had a tough childhood. His family was treated as untouchables and was subjected to socio-economic discrimination
  • Hailing from the 'untouchable' caste of Mahars in Maharashtra, Ambedkar was a social outcast in his early days. Even in his school, he was treated as an 'untouchable'. His schoolmates would not eat beside him, his teachers did not touch his copies as he came from a family that was considered 'unclean' by the orthodox Hindus
  • Later in life, Ambedkar became the spokesperson of the backward classes and castes in India. Much like African-American reformers such as Martin Luther King Jr and Frederick Douglas in the United States, Ambedkar expounded the importance of a social reform that would abolish caste discrimination and the concept of untouchability in India
  • He also joined hands with Gandhi in the Harijan movement, which protested against the social injustices faced by people belonging to backward castes in India. Babasaheb also pointed out that the principal problem of the Indian society was the perennial fight between Buddhism and Brahmanism
  • Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi were two of the most prominent personalities who protested against the untouchability in India. Gandhi had published three journals to support the underprivileged class, namely Harijan in English, Harijan Bandu in Gujarati and Harijan Sevak in Hindi
This led to the Harijan Movement in India.

Gandhi primarily concentrated on the social and economic stability of people belonging to the untouchable groups and reformed the society's outlook towards them. But all went in vain!Unfortunately, even after about 70 years of Independence, India is still trapped under the claws of class and caste discrimination.

On the 126th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, we bring to you some alarming facts about the problem of untouchability in India:

Who are the untouchables? Where did it all start?

The Varna or caste division propounded in the Rig Veda describes the society as a four-varna or caste system. The supreme varna is Brahman, the second is Kshatriya, the third is Vaishya and the last is Sudra. This idea of social stratification was further developed in the Laws of Manu, written in Manu Smriti.No mention of the untouchable class can be found here as the Varna division system excluded the untouchables altogether. They have been identified as Ati Sudra or inferior to the Sudras. Later, in the fourth century, they came to be known as Avarnas or the people with no caste.

The untouchables or chandalas are also mentioned in the Upanishads and Buddhist texts as the 'fifth caste' or Panchama, which spawned from the contact between Sudra men and Brahman women.

Dalit woman works as manual scavenger (Image source: Borgen Project) 

Untouchability in India

Untouchability is the Achilles' heel of the Indian society. Many leaders have tried to eradicate the untouchable issue from this country but failed.Even today, there are separate crematoria for Brahmans and non-Brahmans at Radhanagar in Hooghly district, West Bengal, which the birthplace of 'the father of modern India' Raja Ram Mohan Roy.In India, terms such as 'untouchable' or 'harijan' were replaced by the word 'Dalit' since the 1970s. The new term was earlier used by Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. At present, issues related to the Dalits have become a political leitmotif and the people are used as vote banks.

According to the 2011 census, the Dalits or the Scheduled Castes (16.6) and Scheduled Tribes (8.6) comprise over 25 percent of India's population.

Image source: Wordpress Although the Indian government has constituted many laws and policies to help the Dalit population, atrocities and injustices are quite common all over the country.In order to prevent such uncalled incidents against the Dalits, the government enacted the Prevention of Atrocity (POA) Act on March 31 in 1995.However, social ostracising against the Dalit people is still rampant in the country. Dalits are still prohibited from entering temples, attending mass ceremonies, using resources and working alongside with people of other castes.
Image source: Tracks

Here are a few instances of Dalit injustice in India:

  • Karnataka holds the record for the highest number of Dalit atrocity cases. Gulbarga, a city in the southern state, alone has 126 cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989, and the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955
  • In Uttar Pradesh, many villages are populated by people from the Chamar caste, which is tantamount to the majority of the Dalit population. The situation is so tense there that the post of gram pradhan, which is reserved for the scheduled caste, has been lying vacant since long, as no Dalit person has the courage to contest the polls against the Thakurs
  • At Dholaria Shashan village in Rajasthan, Dalit people are scrutinised before entering the village. They are not allowed to wear shoes and headgear while passing any upper-caste area
  • In another bizarre incident, Thakurs at Rajpur tehsil near Kanpur withdrew the names of their children from a school when the institute appointed a Dalit cook to prepare the midday meal
  • In June 2012, Mohan Paswan, a Dalit resident in the Parhuti village, Bihar, was lynched when he disobeyed a local thug by using a hand pump during the heatwave
  • In August 2015, a Jat khap panchayat in Haryana ordered the rape of two Dalit sisters because their brother had love affair with a Jat girl.

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