Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: Champion of International Equality and Human Rights (April 14, 1891 – December 6, 1956)

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By Zile Singh

Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 in Mhow, a military cantonment town in the Central Province (now Madhya Pradesh). He was the 14th and the last child of Ramji Sakpal, a Subedar in the British Army. According to Hindu Varna system he was a Mahar – an untouchable. Nobody, not even himself, knew that one day he would be the Author of the Indian Constitution, Bharat Ratna Awardee – the highest civilian award, the Messiah of Social Justice, a World Champion of Human Rights, the Greatest Indian and lately a symbol of International Equality. His story is one “From an Untouchable Nationally to Most Embraceable Internationally.”
Education: Elphinstone High School, Mumbai, 1907: Elphinstone College, Mumbai, 1912: Economics and Political Science, Columbia University, USA, 1913-15; Bar-at-Law from London’s Gray’ Inn, 1916: MA in Economics and PhD, London School of Economics, 1923: PhD in Economics, Columbia University, 1927.
Spouse: Ramabai Ambedkar (1906-35); Dr. Sharada Kabir (1948-56)
Dr. Ambedkar was appointed India’s first Law Minister in the Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru. He was an economist, jurist, social reformer, politician and human rights champion. He is also known as the Father of the Indian Constitution. His efforts to eradicate social evils like untouchability and gender inequality were remarkable. Throughout his life he fought for the rights of Dalits and socially backward classes. His message was to “educate, agitate, unite”. Dr Ambedkar, who strived for social justice and equality, is still relevant and holds universal appeal cutting across geographical and political boundaries. His clarion call to reform Hinduism, especially to annihilate caste, proved futile. On October 14, 1956 seven weeks before his Mahaprinirvan (death) on December 6, Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism.
After coming to power in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dug out this Jewel of India from obscurity by initiating several new projects and programmes in Dr. Ambedkar’s name.
These are:
Statue of Equality: Foundation was laid by Prime Minister Shri Narendra
Modi of a 150 foot tall statue and a 140 foot high dome Stupa in a 12-acre space in Mumbai overlooking the sea near Chaityabhumi where Ambedkar’s last rites were performed. The complex will have a research centre, auditorium, library, museum, park, pond and plaza. Also, a Vipassana (meditation) Hall which can accommodate 13000 people. All the Works of Babasaheb will be displayed at the Memorial.

Ambedkar Museum London: A three-storey 2050 sq. ft. House at 10 KingHenry’s Road in northwest London where Dr. Ambedkar stayed while doing his PhD at London School of Economics was purchased by the Indian Government. The Prime Minister inaugurated it as a museum called the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum. The building has a memorial plaque of “Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Indian Crusader for Social Justice”. Speaking in the British Parliament PM Modi said,” Babasaheb was not just the architect of the Indian Constitution, but also the architect of our parliamentary democracy”

Dr Ambedkar National Memorial: 26 Alipur Road, Delhi where Dr. Ambedkar lived from 1951 to 1956.

Ambedkar International Centre at 15 Janpath, New Delhi.

Constitution Day: For the first time after India’s Republic, November 26 was declared Constitution Day. A special session of Parliament is called every year for two days on November 26-27.

The United Nations celebrated Dr. Ambedkar’s birthday on April 14,
2016 and focused on combating inequalities to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2016- 2030.

It is a matter of great pride that on March 31, 2022, the Province of British Columbia, Canada proclaimed his Birthday as “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Equality Day”.