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In the decade of 1890s, a poor school boy, belonging to the Mahar caste, was made to sit outside the class. He was not allowed to sit with the others. He would carry his gunny sack used for sitting, from home to school every day. Not only this, if he wanted to have water, the peon would pour the water from a height in his cupped hands. This was the level of untouchability that was followed in that decade.
How could an innocent child from the so-called lower caste, grow in such an environment? What impact would these situations have left on his mind. What impressions would he have made about himself. How would it have affected his self-esteem? No doubt the questions are many.
But there was one strong boy who not only survived these mental atrocities, but also uprooted them and gave others like him a better place to live and a healthier environment to grow in. It was none other than B.R. Ambedkar, today known as 'the father of the Indian Constitution'.
Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, also known as Babasaheb, was born on 14th April, in the year 1891, in Madhya Pradesh. His family was of the Marathi background. His father Ramji Maloji Sakpal was Subedar in the British Indian Army, and his mother's name was Bhimabai.
For his education, he attended the Elphinston High School, Elphinston College, the Columbia University and the London School of Economics.
Though he had earned many scholarships as a student, yet during a few years in his career, he had to make a living as a private tutor, as an accountant and then even started an investing consultant business. However, he was not much successful in these because of being an untouchable. Later, he became a professor of politics in Mumbai. Though he became popular among his students there; however, he had to face discrimination by the fellow teachers in the name of untouchability again.
Ambedkar used to often ponder over eradicating untouchability; however, it was only by 1927 that he had finally decided to launch movements against the evil. He launched movements to get the public drinking water opened for the untouchables, a movement for the right of the untouchables to enter the temples and various other movements as well. By now, he had earned a massive following. In 1930, he launched the Kalram Temple Satyagraha.
The Reservation For The Scheduled Castes And Tribes
In 1932, the British government proposed a separate electorate for the so-called lower castes. However, Gandhiji then thought that such an action might divide the Hindu community and he discussed the same with Ambedkar and Madan Mohan Malaviya. After a prolonged thought and relevant discussions and proposals before the British government, they succeeded in getting the seats reserved for the depressed classes. The number of seats now became 178, which would otherwise be 70 according to the proposal from the British government.
After India's independence, Ambedkar was invited as the first law minister. He then was made the Chair Person of the drafting committee of the constitution. That is why, he is today also known as the father of the Indian Constitution.
While the constitution guarantees various rights and provisions for the individual citizens, Dr. Ambedkar ensured the reservation of seats in the civil services, schools and colleges for the scheduled castes and tribes also.
The constitution was adopted on the 26th of November, 1949, by the Indian constituent assembly.
The Reserve Bank of India was also based on his ideas given to the Hilton Young Commission.
Ambedkar's Conversion To Buddhism
In the year 1950, he turned his attention towards the Buddhist religion. In 1955, he established the Bharatiya Buddha Mahasabha and then in 1956, he completed his book 'The Buddha and his Dhamma'.
Ambedkar died on 6th December, 1954, in sleep while he had been bedridden. He was posthumously given the Bharat Ratna in the year 1990. His memorial is established at his house in Delhi at 26 Alipur Road.
He became an asset for the nation and a messiah for the then called untouchables. Otherwise, who knows until when the innocence of kids in school might have kept being snatched away in the name of untouchability and caste?