B.R. Ambedkar – The Extraordinary Man Behind Our Extraordinary Constitution

BHIM RAO AMBEDKAR_VF
 
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is a towering figure in India’s polity. He is, after all, the man who is responsible for leading the drafting of the Indian Constitution from the front. He was a scholar, a social reformer, and a great believer in democratic principles based on liberty and equality.
There is a lot about this great man that we are not aware of. Let’s take a short tour of his life today, on his birthday, celebrated all over India as Ambedkar Jayanti. Here are 6 things we all ought to know about him:

1. A Man of Humble Beginnings

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, aka Babasaheb, was born on 14th April 1891 in the little-known town of Mhow (now Dr. Ambedkar Nagar) in modern day Madhya Pradesh. Born into a Mahar (Dalit) caste, encounters of untouchability and social discrimination marked his early life.

2. A Scholar

In 1897, Ambedkar and his family moved to Mumbai where he became the only untouchable enrolled in Elphinstone High School. The next twenty-five years or so would see him excel in the field of academics – attending Columbia University, the London School of Economics, and earning multiple degrees.

3. The Brain Behind the Reserve Bank of India

The Reserve Bank of India came into existence only after Dr. B.R Ambedkar conceptualized it in the year 1935. He presented the plan to Hilton Yong Commission, which is when the RBI was formed. In his book, The Problem Of The Rupee: Its Origin And Its Solution, he raised ‘currency questions’ in British India.

4. The Father of the Indian Constitution

By 1947, the nation had gained independence and Ambedkar had established himself as a prominent jurist, economist, and social reformer. That same year, he was invited to serve as India’s first Law and Justice Minister. On 29 August 1947 he was appointed as the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee and he began drafting India’s new Constitution. Having studied the Constitutions of about 60 countries, Ambedkar drafted a Constitution that drew inspiration from countries like Britain, Ireland, USA, Japan, France, the former USSR, South Africa, Germany, Australia, and Canada.

5. Changed Working Conditions

A pillar of strength for all, B. R. Ambedkar set out on a mission to bring change in the life of labourers. In British India, where labourers were treated as slaves, he was the man who initiated the institution of labour laws. He also agitated for the reduction in daily work hours from 12 to 8. It was due to him that systems like employee insurance, medical leaves, benefits, equal pay, etc. were put in place.

6. Fought for Gender Equality

Babasaheb fought for 3 years to get the Hindu Code bill passed in Indian Parliament. He said, “I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved. Let every girl who marries stand by her husband, claim to be her husband’s friend and equal, and refuse to be his slave. I am sure if you follow this advice, you will bring honour and glory to yourselves.” Ambedkar was a staunch supporter of women’s rights and worked relentlessly to ensure women become equal partners in India’s growth.

Today, as the world celebrates B.R. Ambedkar and his many contributions to the shaping of modern India, it is best to leave you with a quote from the man himself on his greatest contribution.
“The Constitution is not a mere lawyer’s document, it is a vehicle of life, and its spirit is always the spirit of the age.”