Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedakr

 

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956), popularly also known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, political leader, philosopher, anthropologist, historian, orator, economist, and editor. He was also the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Indian Constitution. Born into a poor Mahar (considered an Untouchable caste) family, Ambedkar spent his whole life fighting against social discrimination, the system of Chaturvarna – the categorization of Hindu society into four varnas – and the Hindu caste system. He converted to Buddhism and is also credited with providing a spark for the conversion of hundreds of thousands of untouchables to Theravada Buddhism. Ambedkar was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in 1990.

Overcoming numerous social and financial obstacles, Ambedkar became one of the first outcastes to obtain a college education in India. Eventually earning law degrees and multiple doctorates for his study and research in law, economics and political science from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, Ambedkar gained a reputation as a scholar and practiced law for a few years, later campaigning by publishing journals advocating political rights and social freedom for India's so-called untouchables. He is regarded as a Bodhisattva by some Indian Buddhists, though he never claimed himself to be a Bodhisattva

In 1913 he moved to the United States. He had been awarded a Baroda State Scholarship of 11.50 British pounds a month for three years under a scheme established by the Gaekwar of Baroda that was designed to provide opportunities for postgraduate education at Columbia University. Soon after arriving there he settled in rooms at Livingston Hall with Naval Bhathena, a Parsi who was to be a lifelong friend. He passed his MA exam in June 1915, majoring in Economics, with Sociology, History, Philosophy and Anthropology as other subjects of study; he presented a thesis, Ancient Indian Commerce. In 1916 he offered another MA thesis, National Dividend of India-A Historic and Analytical Study. On 9 May, he read his paper Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development before a seminar conducted by the anthropologist Alexander Goldenweiser. In October 1916 he was admitted to Gray's Inn for Law, and to the London School of Economics for economics where he started work on a doctoral thesis. In June 1917 he was obliged to go back to India as the term of his scholarship from Baroda ended, however he was given permission to return and submit his thesis within four years. He travelled separately from his collection of books, which were lost when the ship on which they were despatched was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine.

A memorial for Ambedkar was established in his Delhi house at 26 Alipur Road. His birthdate is celebrated as a public holiday known as Ambedkar Jayanti or Bhim Jayanti. He was posthumously awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1990. Many public institutions are named in his honour, such as the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University in Hyderabad; Dr BR Ambedkar University in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh; B. R. Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur; the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar; the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur, otherwise known as Sonegaon Airport; the Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University in Tamil Nadu; and the Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A large official portrait of Ambedkar is on display in the Indian Parliament building.

 
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