Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on 14th April, 1891 at Mhow, near Indore in the then Central Province, now Madhya Pradesh. He was the fourteenth child of his parents. The life of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was marked by struggles but he proved that every hurdle in life can be surmounted with talent and firm determination. The biggest barrier in his life was the caste system according to which the family he was born in was considered 'untouchable'.
In the year 1907, young Bhimrao passed the Matriculation examination from Bombay University with flying colours. Later in 1913 he graduated in Political Science and Economics from Bombay University. Around the same time his father passed away. Although he was going through a bad time, Bhimrao decided to accept the opportunity to go to USA for further studies at Columbia University for which he was awarded a scholarship by the Maharaja of Baroda. Bhimrao remained abroad from 1913 to 1917 and again from 1920 to 1923. During this period he had established himself as an eminent intellectual. Columbia University had awarded him the Ph.D for his thesis, which was later published in a book form under the title "The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India". But his first published article was "Castes in India - Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development". During his stay in London from 1920 to 1923, he also completed his thesis titled "The Problem of the Rupee” for which he was awarded the degree of D.Sc. Before his departure for London he had taught at a College in Bombay.
By the time he returned to India in April 1923, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar had equipped himself fully to wage war against the practice of untouchability on behalf of the untouchable and the downtrodden. Meanwhile the political situation in India had undergone substantial changes and the freedom struggle in the country had made significant progress. While Bhimrao was an ardent patriot on one hand, he was the saviour of the oppressed, women and poor on the other. He fought for them throughout his life. In 1923, he set up the 'Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha (Outcastes Welfare Association), for spreading education and culture amongst the downtrodden, improving the economic status and raising matters concerning their problems in the proper forums to focus attention on them and finding solutions to the same. The problems of the downtrodden were centuries old and difficult to overcome. Their entry into temples was forbidden. They could not draw water from public wells and ponds. Their admission in schools was prohibited. In 1927, he led the Mahad March at the Chowdar Tank. This marked the beginning of the anti caste and ant-priest movement. The temple entry movement launched by Dr. Ambedkar in 1930 at Kalaram temple, Nasik is another landmark in the struggle for human rights and social justice.
In the meantime, British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald announced the 'Communal Award' as a result of which in several communities including the 'depressed classes' were given the right to have separate electorates. This was a part of the overall design of the British to divide and rule. Gandhiji wanted to defeat this design and went on a fast unto death to oppose it. On 24th September 1932, Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhiji reached an understanding, which became the famous Poona Pact. According to this Pact, in addition to the agreement on electoral constituencies, reservations were provided for untouchables in Government jobs and legislative assemblies. The provision of separate electorate was dispensed with. The Pact carved out a clear and definite position for the downtrodden on the political scene of the country. It opened up opportunities of education and government service for them and also gave them a right to vote. Dr. Ambedkar attended all the three Round Table Conferences in London and each time, forcefully projected his views in the interest of the 'untouchable'. He exhorted the downtrodden sections to raise their living standards and to acquire as much political power as possible. After a while Dr. Ambedkar, organised the Independent Labour Party, participated in the provincial elections and was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly. During these days he stressed the need for abolition of the 'Jagirdari' system, pleaded for workers Fight to strike and addressed a large number of meetings and conferences in Bombay Presidency. In 1939, during the Second World War, he called upon Indians to join the Army in large numbers to defeat Nazism, which he said, was another name for Fascism.
In 1947, when India became independent, he became the first Law Minister of Indipendent India. Dr. Ambedkar had differences of opinion with the Government over the Hindu Code Bill, which led to his resignation as Law Minister. The Constituent Assembly entrusted the job of drafting the Constitution to a committee and Dr. Ambedkar was elected as Chairman of the Drafting Committee. While he was busy with drafting the Constitution, India faced several crises. In the beginning of 1948, Dr. Ambedkar completed the draft of the Constitution and presented it in the Constituent Assembly. In November 1949, this draft was adopted with very few amendments. Many provisions have been made in the Constitution to ensure social justice for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes. Dr. Ambedkar was of the opinion that traditional religious values should be given up and new ideas adopted. He laid special emphasis on dignity, unity, freedom and rights for all citizens as enshrined in the Constitution. Dr. Ambedkar advocated democracy in every field: Social, Economic and Political. For him Social Justice meant maximum happiness to the maximum number of people.
On October 14, 1956 he embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers. The same year he completed his last writing 'Buddha and His Dharma'. Dr. Ambedkar's patriotism started with the upliftment of the downtrodden and the poor. He fought for their equality and rights. His ideas about patriotism were not only confined to the abolition of colonialism, but he also wanted freedom for every individual. For him freedom without equality, democracy and equality without freedom could lead to absolute dictatorship. On 6th December, 1956, Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar attained 'Mahaparinirvan' at 26, Alipur Road, Delhi.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is known as the architect of Constitution of India. His hard work in the drafting of the constitution and making it a powerful tool for social and economic empowerment of the downtrodden are praiseworthy. He ensured that there are appropriate checks and balances in the democratic system of Govt. and ensured that the three wings of executive, legislature and judiciary function independently with accountability to one another. In the course of his most eventful life, Dr. Ambedkar made outstanding contribution as an Economist, Sociologist, Anthropologist, Educationist, Journalist, as an authority on comparative religion, as a policy-maker, as an administrator, and as a parliamentarian. Above all he was a renowned Jurist.
A voracious reader, Dr. Ambedkar saw education as a tool for the liberation of the socially backward from illiteracy, ignorance and superstition. Dr. Ambedkar was a crusader for gender equality and fought for equal rights for women in inheritance and marriage. Dr. Ambedkar had a vision for women empowerment and stood up to break down the barriers in the way of advancement of women in India. Dr. Ambedkar's vision, inspiring life and thoughts reinforce our conviction that the nation is to be governed with absolute commitment, positive thinking, judicious planning, optimum effort, harmonizing initiatives and relentless determination. His role in the struggle for a modern, democratic, and socially just India greatly enhanced at the expense of various other outstanding national figures who were contemporaries and opponents during the great battles of the freedom movement era. This is essentially because the deep-seated and central problems spotlighted by his life, struggles, studies, and experimentation in ideas remain alive and kicking while the searching and often profound questions he raised about Indian society remain basically unanswered.
In spite of the multifaceted contribution of Dr Ambedkar, it is doubtful whether the Nation has given him due recognition and respect to this great personality. To do justice to to History the Government of India (Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment) decided to organize Nationwide Celebration of 125th Birth Anniversary Year of Dr Ambedkar from 14.4.2015 to 14.4.2016.Approval of the Union Cabinet was obtained for the Nationwide Celebration and a National Committee under the Chairpersonship of the Hon'ble Prime Minister to provide guidance, advice and direction to the celebration of the 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar was set up on 1st June, 2015 (Annex–1). Approval of the Union Cabinet was obtained for implementation of 16 identified activities and it is happy to note that all these items have been implemented during the course of one year long celebration. The details of the special activities implemented are explained in the following chapters.
(Photographs of Hon’ble Prime Minister at the function)
Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Dr. Ambedkar International Centre on 20th April 2015 in the presence of Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment and Chairman, Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar and Shri Shri Vijay Sampla, Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment.
Paying homage to Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar, the Prime Minister said that Babasaheb Ambedkar stood for all of humanity, and was, in particular, a ray of hope for the marginalized and downtrodden sections of society. He further added that Babasaheb had created great Constitutional institutions such as the Election Commission and Finance Commission, in which the entire nation had immense faith and confidence even today.
Noting that this project had been conceived in 1992 – more than 20 years ago – the Prime Minister said he was distressed at the delay in the initialization of this project, and emphasized that his Government had resolved to complete the work within 20 months. He urged the concerned departments to ensure a world-class quality of construction.
Speaking on the occasion the Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot said that the life of Dr. Ambedkar is an inspiration to the millions. The contribution of Dr. Ambedkar in social, political and economic sectors is enormous as he is one of the key founders of the Modern India. Shri Gehlot emphasized that this Center would spread awareness about the life and teachings of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the Government has decided to develop all important places related to Dr. Ambedkar’s life - like his birth place at Mhow Indore, 10, King Henry Road, London, Diksha Bhoomi, Nagpur, Dr. Ambedkar National Memorial at 26 Alipur Road Delhi, Chaitya Bhoomi Dadar Mumbai, where Babasaheb spent his last days etc- into Memorials.
The four storeyed Centre would be built on an area of 3.25 acres and would have a Public Library, Research & Extension Centre, Media-cum-Interpretation Centre, Convention Centre, two auditoriums and Exhibition on the Life of Dr. Ambedkar.
The life and teachings of Dr. Ambedkar form the pivotal point around which the conceptual base for the 'Centre' is developed. The building form and design uses transparency, inclusiveness and symbolism to express the essences of democracy and equality though architecture. Special emphasis has been laid down for incorporation of the persona of Dr. Ambedkar in the structure. The stone clad façade on this modern edifice reflects the strength, firm determination and exemplary resoluteness; the inspiring traits of Dr. Ambedkar's personality. It is also embedded with the subtle elements of Buddhist Architecture reminding us of the eternal values of compassion, universal brotherhood and equality among all, the corner stone of the philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar.
Dr. Ambedkar's vision of fraternity finds its eloquent expression in the environment friendliness features of the building by integrating energy efficient principles in the building design.
(Photographs of the Model of Dr. Ambedkar International Centre’)