Introduction

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly and made outstanding contributions. Then he was requested to serve on the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly and made him its chairman. The other luminaries on the Committee like Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, K.M. Munshi, and N. Gopalswami Ayyangar, Dr. Ambedkar worked hard and became the pilot of the various provisions of the Indian Constitution.

Central Idea

He concentrated on the three pillars of the State – the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary. He made a significant observation about the constitution. Jawaharlal Nehru noticed Dr. Ambedkar’s skill in the field of Law and Legislation. So, he chose him to be the first Law Minister of Independent India and Dr. Ambedkar became the Law-maker.

Much progress has been achieved in providing equality of opportunities to the people. Members of the Scheduled Castes find doors that had been closed to them for centuries, being opened. He stressed the importance of Constitutional Methods to achieve social objectives. Gandhiji stressed the duties and Ambedkar stressed the rights. Both brought about a veritable revolution. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar passed away in December 1956. Jawaharlal Nehru described him as a symbol of Revolt’.

Summary

This lesson is an extract from the message that Sri. R. Venkataraman, former President of India, wrote for the book ‘Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – The Man and his Message – A Commemorative Volume’.

Ambedkar was a voracious reader. What is remarkable is that he bought books by sacrificing other needs. The author cites two instances to show what an avid reader Ambedkar was – in New York if he bought 2000 books, in London where he went for the Second Round Table Conference, he bought books which had to be sent to India in 32 boxes!

Different influences made Ambedkar fight for an egalitarian society. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the USA, giving freedom to the black Americans, Mahatma’s movement for the welfare of the Harijans, Phule’s attempts at a classless society had an impact on Ambedkar and he started his crusade for the uplift of the downtrodden through his newspapers – ‘Mooknayak’, ‘Bahishkrit Bharat’, ‘Samata’ and his institutions – Hitakarini Sabha and Independent Labour Party.

Ambedkar impressed all as the elected member of the Bombay Legislative Assembly. He made effective contributions to the debates in the Assembly on a variety of subjects.

The Indian National Congress chose Ambedkar as the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly, though Ambedkar was not in the Congress. This allowed Dr. Ambedkar to give the most notable and permanent shape to his social philosophy.

Ambedkar took painstaking efforts in framing the Fundamental Rights, which he did keeping in mind the Indian situation as well as what he had seen in other nations. Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, K.M. Munshi, and N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar – the other members – contributed their might, and the Constitutional Adviser, B.N. Rau helped Ambedkar in explaining to others the complicated legal concepts in a layman’s language.

While framing the Constitution, Ambedkar recognized the mutuality among the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary without overlooking the importance of citizens.

In recognition of Ambedkar’s legal expertise and vision of social justice, Nehru chose Ambedkar as the first Law Minister of independent India. The author writes that it was a great feat for a man born to a Mahar family to be considered, the modern Manu.

It is because of the efforts of visionaries like Ambedkar, people belonging to the scheduled castes enjoy equal opportunity in different fields of higher learning and public services.

However, the writer laments the fact that there are instances of discrimination against the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes even now, and if we have to consider the work of Ambedkar fully done, this should stop.

The author voices his opinion that in a free, democratic India if there are instances of civil disobedience in the form of strikes, it would be, as Ambedkar remarked in the past, ‘grammar of anarchy’. This does not augur well for the country as it involves the loss of public property and even lives.

Despite many philosophers and thinkers like the Buddha and the Tamil poetess Awai questioning the divisive forces in society, the caste system has remained deep-seated in India.

Summarising the contributions of Gandhi and Ambedkar in breaking down the caste barriers even as the British had divided Indians, the author says that if the Mahatma impressed upon the higher caste the idea that they had to be noble towards the lower caste, Babasaheb spurred these so-called lower caste people to fight for their rights. Thus, between the two of them, the circle was complete in bringing about a revolution.

Paying tribute to Ambedkar on his death, Nehru referred to him as the ‘symbol of revolt’. Nehru believed that despite differences of opinion among political leaders about Ambedkar’s ideology, what all had to reckon with was Ambedkar’s persistence and perseverance in making people fight for their rights.

The author ends with the hope that soon Ambedkar’s dream of an egalitarian society would be a reality in India.

Conclusion

According to Dr. Ambedkar, though the methods of civil disobedience, non-cooperation, and satyagraha were good against an alien power, they resulted in anarchy if used in a democracy. He felt such methods were not necessary for a democracy based on free and fair elections. Such agitations, he said, would invariably result in the loss of lives and property. Hence, he stressed the importance of constitutional methods to achieve social objectives.