Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891 in Madhya Pradesh. He was the fourteenth child of Ramji and Bhimabai Sakpal Ambavedkar. B.R. Ambedkar belonged to the "untouchable" Mahar Caste. His father and grandfather served in the British Army. The British Government of the day required all Army personnel and their families to be educated, and ran schools for this purpose. Thus the Sakpal family was fortunate to see their children receive a good education, which otherwise would have been denied to them.
When Bhim was six years old, his mother died, and he was brought up by his father's sister Meerabai until Ramji remarried. His father was a strict, pious man, and avoided meat and drink. Along with his children, he often sang devotional songs composed by Namdev, Tukaram, Moropant and Mukteshwar, and read stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
After his retirement, Bhimrao's father settled in Satara Maharashtra. Bhimrao was enrolled in the local school. Bhimrao Ambedkar experienced caste discrimination right from the childhood. Bhim began to notice that he and his family were treated differently. At high school he had to sit in the corner of the room on a rough mat, away from the desks of the other pupils. At break-time, he was not allowed to drink water using the cups his fellow school children used. He had to hold his cupped hands out to have water poured into them by the school peon. Some days, he could not get water because the peon is away.
Once, he and his elder brother had to travel to Goregaon, where their father worked as a cashier, to spend their summer holidays. They got off the train and waited for a long time at the station, but Ramji did not arrive to meet them. The station master seemed kind, and asked them who they were and where they were going. The boys were very well-dressed, clean, and polite. Bhim, without thinking, told him they were Mahars (a group classed as ‘untouchables’). The station master was stunned - his face changed its kindly expression and he went away.
Bhim decided to hire a bullock-cart to take them to their father - this was before motor cars were used as taxis - but the cart-men had heard that the boys were ‘untouchables’, and wanted nothing to do with them. Finally, they had to agree to pay double the usual cost of the journey, plus they had to drive the cart themselves, while the driver walked beside it. He was afraid of being polluted by the boys, because they were ‘untouchables’. However, the extra money persuaded him that he could have his cart ‘purified’ later! Throughout the journey, Bhim thought constantly about what had happened - yet he could not understand the reason for it. He and his brother were clean and neatly dressed. Yet they were supposed to pollute and make unclean everything they touched and all that touched them
Bhim never forgot this incident. As he grew up, such senseless insults made him realise that what society called ‘untouchability’ was stupid, cruel, and unreasonable. His sister had to cut his hair at home because the village barbers were afraid of being polluted by an ‘untouchable’.
When his father decided to remarry, Bhim was very upset - he still missed his mother so much. Wanting to run away to Bombay, he tried to steal his aunt’s purse. When at last he managed to get hold of it, he found only one very small coin. Bhim felt so ashamed. He put the coin back and made a vow to himself to study very hard and to become independent.
In their one room everyone and everything was crowed together and the streets outside were very noisy. Bhim went to sleep when he got home from school. Then his father would wake him up at two o’clock in the morning! Everything was quiet then - so he could do his homework and study in peace.
One day, the teacher called him up to the blackboard to do a sum. All the other boys jumped up and made a big fuss. Their lunch boxes were stacked behind the blackboard - they believed that Bhim would pollute the food! When he wanted to learn Sanskrit, the language of the Hindu holy scriptures, he was told that it was forbidden for ‘untouchables’ to do so. He had to study Persian instead - but he taught himself Sanskrit later in life
In spite of these hardships, Bhimrao continued his studies and passed his Matriculation. Bhim was then 17 years old. Early marriage was common in those days, so he was married to Ramabai the same year. He continued to study hard and passed the next Intermediate examination with distinction. Bhim Rao Ambedkar joined the Elphinstone College for further education. In 1912, he graduated in Political Science and Economics from Bombay University .
In 1913, Bhimrao Ambedkar lost his father. In the same year Maharaja of Baroda awarded scholarship to Bhim Rao Ambedkar and sent him to America for further studies. Bhimrao reached New York in July 1913. He worked hard and attained a degree in Master of Arts and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1916. Then Dr.Ambedkar proceeded to London to study economics and political science. But the Baroda government terminated his scholarship and recalled him back
The Maharaja appointed him Military Secretary but no one would take orders from an "untouchable" Mahar. No one at the office where he worked would hand over files and papers to him - the servant threw them onto his desk. Nor would they give him water to drink. No respect was given to him, merely because of his caste.
He had to go from hotel to hotel looking for a room, but none of them would take him in. At last he had found a place to live in a Parsi guest house, but only because he had finally decided to keep his caste secret.
He lived there in very uncomfortable conditions, in a small bedroom with a tiny cold-water bathroom attached. He was totally alone there with no one to talk to. There were no electric lights or even oil lamps - so the place was completely dark at night.
Bhimrao was hoping to find somewhere else to live through his civil service job, but before he could, one morning as he was leaving for work a gang of angry men carrying sticks arrived outside his room. They accused him of polluting the hotel and told him to get out by evening.
He had no choice. After only eleven days in his new job, he had to return to Bombay. He tried to start a small business there, advising people about investments - but it too failed once customers learned of his caste.
With the help of Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, a sympathizer of the cause for the upliftment of the depressed classes, he started a fortnightly newspaper, the Mooknayak (Leader of the Dumb) on January 31, 1920
In September 1920, after accumulating sufficient funds, Ambedkar returned to London to complete his studies. He became a barrister and got a Doctorate in Science. He now considered himself fully equipped to fight the evil of "unsociability." In July 1924, Ambedkar founded the Bahishkrut Hitkaraini Sabha, aimed at scrapping the caste system from the Hindu religion. The Sabha started free school for the young and the old and ran reading rooms and libraries. Dr. Ambedkar took the grievances of the "untouchables" to court, seeking justice and equality. Soon he became a father-figure to the poor and downtrodden and was respectfully called "Babasaheb."
On October 13, 1935, at a conference at Nasik, Dr. Ambedkar reviewed the progress made on the condition of the "untouchables" in the decade since Ambedkar started his agitation. Ambedkar declared that their efforts had not borne the kind of results he had expected. This year his beloved wife Ramabai died.
The British Government agreed to hold elections on the provincial level in 1937. The Congress, Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha started gearing up for the elections. Dr. Ambedkar set up the Independent Labor Party in August 1936 to contest the elections in the Bombay province. On February 17, 1937, Ambedkar and many of his candidates won this a thumping majority.
In 1947, when India became independent, the first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, invited Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who had been elected as a Member of the Constituent Assembly from Bengal, to join his Cabinet as a Law Minister. The Constituent Assembly entrusted the job of drafting the Constitution to a committee and Dr. Ambedkar was elected as Chairman of this Drafting Committee. After completing the Draft Constitution, Babasaheb fell ill. At a nursing home in Bombay he met Dr. Sharda Kabir and married her in April 1948. On November 4, 1948 he presented the Draft Constitution to the Constituent Assembly, and on November 26, 1949 it was adopted in the name of the people of India. On that date he said: -I appeal to all Indians to be a nation by discarding castes, which have brought separation in social life and created jealousy and hatred.”
On May 24, 1956, on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti, he declared in Bombay, that he would adopt Buddhism in October. On 0ctober 14, 1956 he embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers. On December 6, 1956, Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar died peacefully in his sleep. A two-mile long crowd formed the funeral procession. At Dadar cemetery that evening, eminent leaders paid their last respects to him
Thus ended the life of one of India’s greatest sons. His was the task of awakening India’s millions of excluded and oppressed to their human rights
He was conferred highest civilian award “Bharatratna” in 1990
( Reference : Various sources and Life of Babasaheb Ambedkar by C. Gautam )