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Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Babasaheb Ambedkar!! What can I pen down about this great personality that you already don’t know? He was born on 14th April 1891 and belonged to the Mahar caste, one of the untouchable/Dalit castes in India. His childhood years were torturous and humiliating. The stigma of being an untouchable, stayed glued to him all through his school days. The narrow and backward beliefs of people in his times deprived Ambedkar of basic necessities of life.

Nonetheless, he channelized his anger and humiliation to such a level that he became the most highly educated person in South Asia. After completing his B.A. in Mumbai, Ambedkar earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York. He subsequently obtained master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the London School of Economics.

Two interesting facts that you may not know about him, are:

  1. During his three years at Columbia University, Babasaheb Ambedkar took twenty nine courses in economics, eleven in history, six in sociology, five in philosophy, four in anthropology, three in politics and one each in elementary French and German!
  2. A 20-page autobiographical story written by Ambedkar in 1935-36, ‘Waiting for a Visa’ is a book that talks about his experiences with untouchability, starting from his childhood. The book is used as a textbook in Columbia University.

He went on to become a renowned social reformer and a Dalit icon. He spoke specifically against the inequality, injustice and discrimination faced by the members of the dalit community. He is considered as an architect of the constitution of our free India. He became the first law and justice minister of independent India.

Since 2015, his birthday, 14th April is observed as an official public holiday throughout the nation. Babasaheb struggled for equality for women and Dalits all his life, hence his birthday is celebrated as ‘Equality Day’ in our country. This year commemorates his 130th birth anniversary.

Ambedkar was an institution in himself and a great inspiration for the youth of every generation. Is his life and beliefs applicable in today’s modern times? As aspiring citizens of India, what can we learn from Babasaheb?

  1. His hunger for knowledge. He read 18 hours a day. In spite of coming from a dalit background, he upgraded himself and fought for others, only with the help of education.
  2. His desire to give back. He truly was a servant of the society and actually dedicated his entire life for the wellbeing of his people.
  3. His confidence. Imagine he was an untouchable himself, and yet he bravely carved his way out from that dreary life and shone like a bright sun, whose light spread to others as well.

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Babasaheb Ambedkar was the father of our constitution. This over the top learned man has said great, inspiring words in his lifetime. But the golden words said by him, which reflects his own personality, are the following:

“A great man is different from an eminent one in that he is ready to be the servant of the society.”

Babasaheb Ambedkar died on the 6th of December in 1956. And until then, he fought for the rights of women and Dalits. He was awarded India’s highest civilian honour the Bharat Ratna in 1990.

Hats off and my salute to this one of the greatest heroes our nation has produced.

 

Shamim Merchant

 

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