B.R. Ambedkar: Biography, Contributions, Views

B.R. Ambedkar upsc mindmap notes

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Why this topic is important for prelims?

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Mahatma Gandhi said that some of his deepest convictions were reflected in a book titled, “Unto this Last” and the book transformed his life. What was the message from the book that transformed Mahatma Gandhi?(2011)

(a.) Uplifting the oppressed and poor is the moral responsibility of an educated man

(b.) The good of individual is contained in the good of all

(c.) The life of celibacy and spiritual pursuit are essential for a noble life

(d.) All the statements (a), (b) and (c) are correct in this context

Solution (b)

With reference to Indian freedom struggle, Usha Mehta is well-known for: (2011)

(a.) Running the secret Congress Radio in the wake of Quit India Movement

(b.) Participating in the Second Round Table Conference

(c.) Leading a contingent of Indian National Army

(d.) Assisting in the formation of Interim Government under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Solution (a)

What was the reason for Mahatma Gandhi to organize a satyagraha on behalf of the peasants of Kheda?(2011)

  1. The Administration did not suspend the land revenue collection in spite of a drought.
  2. The Administration proposed to introduce Permanent Settlement in Gujarat.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a.) 1 only

(b.) 2 only

(c.) Both 1 and 2

(d.) Neither 1 nor 2

Solution (a)

Consider the following statements :(2012)

The most effective contribution made by DadabhaiNaoroji to the cause of Indian National Movement was that he

  1. exposed the economic exploitation of India by the British
  2. interpreted the ancient Indian texts and restored the self-confidence of Indians
  3. stressed the need for eradication of all the social evils before anything else

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution (a)

Which of the following parties were established by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar?(2012)

  1. The Peasants and Workers Party of India
  2. All India Scheduled Castes Federation
  3. The Independent Labour Party

Select the correct answer using the codes given below :

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution (b)

Mahatma Gandhi undertook fast unto death in 1932, mainly because: (2012)

(a) Round Table Conference failed to satisfy Indian political aspirations

(b) Congress and Muslim League had differences of opinion

(c) Ramsay Macdonald announced the Communal Award

(d) None of the statements (a), (b) and (c) given above is correct in this context

Solution (c)

Annie Besant was: (2013)

  1. responsible for starting the Home Rule Movement
  2. the founder of the Theo-sophical Society
  3. once the President of the Indian National Congress

Select the correct statement/statements using the codes given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution (c)

Consider the following pairs : (2019)
Movement: Organization Leader
1.All India Anti-Untouchability League: Mahatma Gandhi
2. All India Kisan Sabha: Swami Sahajanad Saraswati
3.Self Respect Movement: E.V. Ramaswami Naicker
Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1,2 and 3

With reference to the British colonial rule in India, consider the following statements : (2019)
1. Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental in the abolition of the system of ‘indentured labour’.
2. In Lord Chelmsford’s War Conference’, Mahatma Gandhi did not support the resolution on recruiting Indians for World War.
3. Consequent upon the breaking of Salt Law by Indian people, the Indian National Congress was declared illegal by the colonial rulers.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

With reference to Indian National Movement, consider the following pairs : (2019)
Persons: Position head
1. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru : President, All India Liberal Federation
2. K.C. Neogy : Member, The Constituent Assembly
3. P.C. Joshi : General Secretary, Communist Party of India
Which of the pairs given above is/ are correctly matched?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

In the context of Indian history, the Rakhmabai case of 1884 revolved around: (2020)

  1. women’s right to gain the education
  2. age of consent
  3. restitution of conjugal rights

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

[a) 1 and 2 only

[b) 2 and 3 only

[c) 1 and 3 only

[d) 1, 2 and 3

Which among the following is associated with ‘’Songs from Prison’’, a translation of ancient Indian religious lyrics in English? (2021)

a) Bal Gangadhar Tilak
b) Jawaharlal Nehru
c) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
d) Sarojini Naidu

Who among the following was associated as Secretary with Hindu Female School which later came to be known as Bethune Female School? (2021)
a) Annie Besant
b) Debendranath Tagore
c) Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
d) Sarojini Naidu

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Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar is one of the main architects of the Indian constitution. He was the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly and hence he was called the “Father of the Indian Constitution” and Chief Architect of Constitution of India”. He was a well-known political leader, philosopher, writer, jurist, economist, scholar, and social reformer. He dedicated his life to eradicating untouchability and other social inequality in India and therefore, he was famously called Modern Manu” and “Undisputed leader of Scheduled Caste”.

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Ambedkar: Early Life & Education

  • Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 in an ‘untouchable’ caste group the Mahars at mhow, Madhya Pradesh. His birth anniversary is celebrated as Ambedkar Jayanti or Bhim Jayanti on 14 April every year.
  • Education: finished a graduate degree majoring in Persian and English from Elphinstone College in 1912. He pursued a postgraduate degree from Columbia University of USA in 1913. He enrolled in the London school of economics in 1916 and he started working on his doctoral thesis titled The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and its Solution. He was awarded his Ph.D. in economics in 1927.
  • Career: As a probationer at the accountant general’s office marked by great moments of humiliation directly linked to his being a Mahar eventually led to him leaving for Bombay. In Bombay, he first began by doing odd jobs and was finally appointed as a professor of political economy at the Sydenham College of commerce and economics.
  • He was considered the greatest Dalit leader because what Ambedkar achieved for his community could be achieved neither by any leader before him nor after him. He was considered a leader of the community rather than the leader of the nation.
  • He was the champion of human rights, an emancipator of the untouchables, a scholar, a thinker, a critic of Gandhi, and a controversial personality.
  • He led a struggle for the Dalit class for equality in the society
  • He established organizations such as the Bahishkrit Hitkarni Sabha, Independent Labour Party, and All India Scheduled Caste Federation.
  • He explicitly stated, “between the interest of untouchables and the nation, he will give the preference to the interest of the untouchables”.

Ambedkar’s Views

On British Rule in India:

  • He criticized Britisher for not improving the conditions of the Untouchables.
  • He felt that the government was not sincere in spreading education among the untouchables.
  • He was particularly critical of administration on account of its over expensive character.
  • According to him, the abrupt departure of the British would result in the political domination of the upper castes and therefore proper share should be given to the untouchables before granting the self-rule to India.

On Democracy:

  • Ambedkar viewed democracy as an instrument of bringing about change peacefully.
  • Democracy for him was much more than just a scheme of the government. He stated that “political democracy has no meaning without social and economic democracy” pointing toward the deplorable conditions of the Dalits.
  • According to him,
    • In the Indian society, as long as the caste barriers and caste-based inequalities exist the real democracy cannot operate.
    • Factors necessary for the successful operation of Democracy are
      • Political parties: necessary for the effective working of parliamentary democracy as it will ensure the existence of the opposition.
      • Civil service: should be neutral and non-political because administrators would be permanent and not dependent on the fortunes of the political parties.
      • Ethical and moral factors: People and politicians must follow certain norms in public life. The law and legal remedies can never replace a voluntary sense of responsibility. The majority must always respect the views of morality because it is very essential that the minority feel free, safe, and secure in a democracy. Caste will always create barriers to the development of healthy democratic traditions.

On State Socialism:

  • According to him,
    • Liberty is meaningful when accompanied by equality.
    • Socialism must function within a democratic framework.
  • State Socialism means that the state would implement a socialist program by controlling the industrial and agricultural sectors.
  • Two major aspects:
    1. Key & basic industries will be owned by the state.
    2. Agriculture will be treated as a state industry and the state will initiate collective farming.
  • Ambedkar suggested that the program of State socialism should be made an unalterable part of the constitution and any party that comes to power will have to implement the program.

On Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity:

  • According to him, liberty alone would not be sufficient. Liberty and equality must exist simultaneously
  • They can be realized only when there is a strong sense of unity among members of society which is called the Fraternity.

On Social Change:

  • According to him, the progress of the nation could not be realised without first removing untouchability.
  • Removal of untouchability depends mainly on the abolition of the caste system.
  • Social reforms should be given priority.
  • There is a need to attack the caste system because
    • Caste has made Hindu society stagnant.
    • Hindu society fails to satisfy the test of a homogeneous society and only a conglomerate of a different caste.
    • Caste is an obstacle to the growth of national spirit.

On Caste System and Untouchability:

  • Ambedkar was not satisfied with the explanations related to the caste system found in religious texts.
  • His major literary works revolve around the abolition of caste such as Annihilation of CasteCaste in India, Who were Sudras, Origin of Untouchability.
  • He attempted the scientific understanding of the origin of caste on the basis of anthropological research:
    • He rejected the theory of the Aryan invasion (upper caste were Aryans and the untouchables were original inhabitants such as Dasas and Dasyus) because according to him, there was no historical evidence for the theory of the Aryan invasion and therefore, all caste in India has a common origin.
    • He rejected the view of Manusmriti that different varnas originated from different parts of Virata Purusha. In Manusmriti, untouchables were mentioned as Chandalas who were the offspring of the Shudra father and the Brahmin mother. This shows the pollution of Brahmins by Shudras.
  • Ambedkar used the term Dalits (from the Marathi word Dal, meaning Broken). He called Dalits broken men. According to him,
    • There used to be a tribal way of life and tribal wars.
    • Some tribes gradually started settled life, then agriculture started, and then cattle rearing started.
    • Other tribes were nomadic and many of them were defeated and scattered. They became broken and weak as they lacked land and hence they were made dependent on the settled tribes.
    • A contract was made between the people living in the village and the people living on the outskirts of the village that the latter’s duty was to watch and ward the security of the former.
    • Later on, people living on the outskirts accepted Buddhism and they insisted on remaining Buddhists which made the Brahmins target them.
  • He rejected the concept of Antyaja given by the Hindu literature which states that Antyaja was the last to take birth from the body of Brahma. According to Ambedkar, they were called Antyaja because they were living outside the village.
  • Therefore he concludes that the practice of untouchability was based on purity, pollution, anger, and rivalry rather than of some historical/religious origin.

On Beef Consumption:

According to Ambedkar, originally beef waiting was not prohibited but to regain their lost status, Brahmins stopped eating non-vegetarian food to show themselves as pure.

On Hinduism/Brahmanism:

  • Ambedkar stated ‘I had no choice but to be born as Hindu. However, it is in my capacity not to die as a Hindu. The religion which forces the poor to remain poor, uneducated, which allows man to touch the excreta of cow but not touch the fellow human being is nothing but madness’.
  • He converted to Buddhism on 14th Nov 1956 stating ‘I am disowning the religion of my birth. I am reborn. I reject religion which treats me inferior.’
  • According to Ambedkar,
    • Hindus cannot form a nation as they are segmented communities and warring tribes.
    • Hindus are a race of losers who continue to lose to other religions.
    • Hinduism is nothing but Brahmanism, a hegemony of Brahmins, not a religion but madness and it cannot be a missionary religion.
    • The core idea of Hinduism is endogamy, that is, the custom of marrying only within the limits of a local community, clan, or tribe. Without destroying endogamy, the caste system cannot end.

Difference between Gandhi’s and Ambedkar’s views

Views Gandhi Ambedkar
Varna System – Supporter

– According to him, it is a division of labour

– Against it

– According to him, it is a Caste system

Conversion – Against conversion

– According to him

  • If a person is born in a particular religion, it is a divine will
  • One should not go against the divine will
  • One should be open to accepting good things from all religions
Converted to Buddhism
Method of abolishing untouchability – Established Harijan Sevak Sangh for the upliftment of Harijans

– He also started a journal named Harijan which means “People of God”.

– Had no faith in Gandhi’s constructive programs for abolishing untouchability.

– He objected to using the term Harijan by Gandhi as it’s a misleading term because they are not the loved ones but only the depressed sections of society.

– His methods include

  • Secular Education: to instill values of liberty and equality among the students.
  • Economic progress: through new skills and moving to cities to take advantage of industrialization
  • Political power: to protect, safeguard and introduce new policies
  • Conversion to Buddhism: which is based on humanism and believed in the spirit of equality and fraternity

Comparison of Ambedkar and Marx

  • Ambedkar believed in the Marxist concept of class and class struggle. But he believed that Marxism is not much relevant for India as the basic structure of Indian society is not based on economic structure but based on the caste system.
  • He didn’t agree with Marx’s view of the state as an instrument of the dominant class and view of religion as the opium of masses.
  • He had faith in affirmative action (Affirmative action or positive discrimination, refers to a set of policies and practices within a government or organization seeking to include particular groups based on their gender, race, sexuality, creed, or nationality in areas in which they are underrepresented, such as education and employment).
  • He didn’t support the dictatorship of the proletariat during the transition period.

Ambedkar’s Contributions

The main architect of the Indian Constitution:

  • Ambedkar’s legal expertise and knowledge of the Constitution of different countries were very helpful in the framing of the constitution. 
  • He became chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly and played an important role in framing the Indian Constitution.
  • His most important contributions were in areas of fundamental rights, strong central government, and protection of minorities.
  • He considered the Right to Constitutional Remedy (Article 32) as the soul of the constitution.
  • He had complete faith in democracy and emphasized ‘democracy as a way of life’ and he supported the parliamentary form of democracy.

Social Reforms:

  • Ambedkar was against caste-based discrimination in society.
  • He advocated for the Dalits to organize and demand their rights.
  • He promoted the education of Dalits and made representations to the government in different capacities in this regard. He was part of the Bombay Presidency Committee that worked with the Simon Commission in 1925.
  • He established the Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha (Outcastes Welfare Association).
  • He started magazines like Mooknayak, Equality Janta, and Bahishkrit Bharat.
  • In 1927, he launched active agitation against untouchability.
    • He organised and agitated for the right of Dalits to enter temples and to draw water from public water resources. 
    • He condemned Hindu scriptures that he thought propagated caste discrimination.
  • He advocated separate electorates for the ‘Depressed Classes’, the term by which Dalits were called at that time. 
    • He attended all the three Round Table Conferences (1930-32) in London and each time forcefully projected his views in the interest of the ‘untouchable’.
    • He was in disagreement with Mahatma Gandhi at that time since Gandhi was against any sort of reservation in the electorates. When the British government announced the ‘Communal Award’ in 1932, Gandhi went on a fast in Yerwada Jail. Therefore, an agreement was signed between Gandhi and Ambedkar in the jail whereby it was agreed to give reserved seats to the depressed classes within the general electorate. This was called the Poona Pact.
  • A few months before he died, he converted to Buddhism in a public ceremony in Nagpur and with him, lakhs of Dalits converted to Buddhism.
  • He also emphasised equal rights for women.

Politics:

  • He founded the Independent Labour Party (1936) which later transformed into the Scheduled Castes Federation.
    • He contested in 1937 from Bombay to the Central Legislative Assembly. 
    • He also contested from Bombay (north-central) after independence in the country’s first general elections. 
    • But he lost both times.
  • He also worked as Minister of Labour in the Viceroy’s Executive Council. 
  • After independence, Ambedkar became the first Law Minister in 1947 under the Congress-led government. Later he resigned due to differences with Jawaharlal Nehru on the Hindu Code Bill (passed in the 1950s to codify and reform Hindu personal law in India). 
  • He was appointed to the Rajya Sabha in 1952 and remained a member till his death.

Economy:

  • He advocated a free economy with a stable Rupee. 
  • He also mooted birth control for economic development.

Major Literary works of Ambedkar

  1. The Annihilation of Caste, 
  2. Pakistan or the Partition of India, 
  3. The Buddha and his Dhamma, 
  4. The Untouchables, Buddha Or Karl Marx,
  5. Administration and Finance of the East India Company,
  6. The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India,
  7. The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution.

Criticism of Ambedkar

Arun Shourie (economist, journalist, author, and politician) in his book Worshipping false gods called Ambedkar ‘anti-national’ mainly on the grounds of

  • Ambedkar’s opposition to the poorna swaraj resolution of 1929.
  • His advice to Dalits not to join INC.
  • His support to Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan.
  • His need of Britishers to stay in India.

Death

Dr. B R Ambedkar died on 6th December 1956 because of diabetic illness in his home in Delhi. Dr. B R Ambedkar had a son named Yashwant Ambedkar. He was also called “Bhaiyasaheb Ambedkar”. After his death, Dr. B R Ambedkar was awarded the Bharat Ratna Award.

Conclusion

Caste-based inequality in India still prevails. While Dalits have gained a political identity via reservation and forming their own political parties, they lag behind in social (health and education) and economic aspects. There has been an increase in casteismcommunalism, separatismgender inequality, etc. It is high time that Ambedkar’s vision of constitutional morality must replace religious morality to prevent permanent damage to the Indian Constitution.

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Raja
Raja
1 year ago

thank you sir

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