Dr. B.R. Ambedkar | Pioneer of Indian Democracy | 05th November 2022 | Virtual Wire
The 20th Century has witnessed numerous sterling names, names of institutional figures, who’ve played an integral role in shaping the course of history, as we see it today.
Hailing from India, I would like to draw on the native context, and focus on the iconic Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly referred to as the “Architect of the Indian Constitution”. Zestful and flamboyant, he remained committed to strengthening the foundation of democratic principles of my country, thereby propelling her to the path of socio-economic development, especially during the post-independence era, when India was virtually on the brink of disaster.
Contributions to the socioeconomic landscape
Imbued with a strong passion to bring about radical changes in the Indian socio-political framework, he commenced his endeavours, at the grassroots level. An individual of the infamous minority community of the “Dalits” he went about demanding extensive rights and opportunities for his people, thereby advocating governmental measures for their active integration into mainstream Indian society. A brilliant scholar and an eloquent orator, he urged an increase in provisions for educational measures across the country, as he believed “ Education is an instrument to provide the masses with the strength to fight against all forms of exploitation, injustice and oppression “. Furthering this agenda, he established numerous institutes of education, in addition to the existing centres of vocational training established by the British Government in the late 1920s, across the country.
As a matter of fact, the “policy of reservation”, which continues to exist even as of today, was his brainchild, in order to uphold the status of certain sections of minorities such as “Scheduled Castes”, and “Scheduled Tribes”, by providing them with the upper hand in vast sectors of employment, without encroaching upon the rights of other communities. Most notable was his contribution to the field abolition of untouchability which later went on to become an integral aspect under Article 17 of the Indian Constitution. In this regard, he received active support and encouragement from distinguished statesmen such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. In fact, such an endeavour led to the formation of the Mandal Commission in 1979, which produced reports of neglect of these sections of society, and provided for wider welfare schemes for the same.
In the socio-religious sphere, he spearheaded the idea of “God as One”, and denounced orthodox caste practices. A staunch advocate of Buddhist principles, he established the idea of “Navayana Buddhism “, aimed at the annihilation of communal violence, therefore preaching the idea that religious designs on political practices have no existence in the Indian state. Moreover, as per an excerpt from his interview with the BBC in 1955, he would later go on to say that “ Violence orchestrated by illicit religious practices, would shake the process of nation-building at its very core”.
Fundamental Contributions and the Making of the Constitution
The Constitution of Indiaby-product is not just a mere legal document, it is so much more. Not only does it establish the political foundations of the Indian state, but is a by product of the sovereign will of its people. It is a sort of framework that embodies the democratic trajectory of the nation. As it’s chief architect, Dr. Ambedkar was highly influenced by the British political system, as is manifested in the very nature of the Constitution. Universal principles of “democracy”, “freedom of speech and expression”, “eradication of corruption” and the “ parliamentary system of government” itself, culminated in the formation of what has been the source of political dignity of my country. Quite interestingly, the principles he laid down, exerted a significant influence on India’s international stature, as it emerged as an “epitome of democracy”, in the words of eminent historian, Ramachandra Guha.
The Preamble to the Constitution, an important document that lays down the very political existence of India, was one of his key political contributions, that accentuated the spirit of a federal state in overwhelming proportions. Moreover, the finer balance worked out by him between subsidiary features such as “single integrated judiciary”, and “single citizenship”, and federal features such as “divisions of powers”, and “the need for a written constitution”, gave the nation its identity as a “quasi-federal state”, an important aspect of political identification. In a nutshell, it could be claimed that his political acumen and his commitment to the welfare of the people, especially at a time of socio-economic chaos, helped India to a great extent, to get rid of its colonial complexion.
An excerpt from an eminent Indian newspaper, the Financial Express states “For decades, he was counted among the finest scholars of India. But Ambedkar is not just a scholar anymore. As long as the caste system and the struggle around it exists, Ambedkar will be relevant in the politics revolving around the caste-riddled fragmented society of India. His thoughts have now taken the centre stage in Indian polity”. Aside from the fact that he was an avid advocate of the interests of the marginalised and strict adherence to India’s political foundation, he emerged as a renowned statesman during the 20th century. His name has transcended boundaries and his core ideas and principles, have been lauded by leading political scholars and academics, all around the world. As a matter of fact, in 2017, Her Majesty The Queen inaugurated the Ambedkar Museum, which traces the rich historical contours of this iconic individual. In several parts of Europe and Asia, the Indian Constitution and its general relevance are taught with a sense of elation, highlighting the nuanced functioning of a democratic state. As a visionary, his teachings cannot be understood in the narrow context of things. It is to be experienced in practical applications of governance and policy-making.
Ambedkar Museum in London
Her Majesty The Queen, was born in a century replete with great personalities who shook the world through their deeds. However, as an Indian, if there’s anyone who has inspired me and instilled in me, the sense of belonging to this incredible nation, it has always been Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, for he is not any mere individual, but the reason behind the survival of my proud nation.