University Journal of Society
ISSN: Applied, Year 2021, Vol. 01, No. 01
Article | PDF Version
Prof. B. P. Mahesh Chandra Guru
Former Professor, Chairman and Dean, Department of Studies in Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Mysore, Karnataka, India, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Lecture delivered a lecture on ‘Contemporary Relevance of Baba Saheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’ in the International Special Lecture Series – 2020, organized by the Baba Saheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Studies and Research Center, Bangalore University, Bangalore, Karnataka, India, December 08, 2020.
Received: 05.01.2020, Accepted: 26.01.2020, Published: (forthcoming) 26.11.2021, Pg. No. 13-24
Content ID: UJS/2021/V01N01/C01
The Article is giving a short yet detail account of the reliance of Dr B. R Ambedkar in this contemporary world. . The article is giving a very precise account of his role in making modern India as the Chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian Constitution. Ambedkar’s observations in relation to educational, social, economic, political and cultural issues and developments are becoming true. Ambedkar waged a relentless war against all oppressive characteristics and elements of Indian society throughout his life. His observation of Indian society and fight against all odds was also reflected in his Educational, Cultural thinking, and his roles as a social reformer, statesman, economist, constitution maker, and journalist. All these make him the champion of human rights.
Education and Social Change, Human Right, Social and Cultural Change, Social Reform
Dr.Ambedkar was one of the most outstanding sons of India who has left an indelible mark on the history of mankind. There is a vital need to preserve the thoughts of the noble son of India which are highly relevant in the present times. Ambedkar emerged as a great scholar with series of efforts and struggles and was appointed as the Chairman of the drafting committee of Indian Constitution. Ambedkar waged a relentless war against all oppressive characteristics and elements of Indian society throughout his life. Ambedkar wanted to secure national independence which was based on social and economic equity and justice. He wanted to create a new social and economic order in India which would ensure meaningful political democracy. Baba Saheb Ambedkar remains as a towering personality in the world in terms of scholarship, struggle for justice and multifaceted contributions for the development of Indian Republic in different capacities. He is revered as the first man in the world because he firmly stood by the last man in the society as the great savior. He was considered to be one of the six best brains of the world by eminent historian Nicholas Beverly. He is loved, adored and respected because he worked for social freedom and democracy in India against too many odds. Ambedkar’s observations in relation to educational, social, economic, political and cultural issues and developments are becoming true. There is a vital need to preserve the thoughts of the noble son of India which are highly relevant in the present times. The contemporary relevance of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar is amplified in this paper on the basis of systematic conceptual analysis.
Educational Perspectives of Ambedkar
Ambedkar had developed in his youth a passion for reading. His father ungrudgingly supplied him with new books by borrowing money from relatives and friends and at times even pawning the ornaments of his married daughters. He pursued his studies against several odds and obtained a second class in matriculation examination held in 1907. He joined Elphinstone College in Bombay and passed the Inter Arts Examination. Sayajirao Gaekwad, the Maharaja of Baroda provided scholarship to Ambedkar and facilitated higher education. Ambedkar passed B.A. examination in 1912and was appointed to the post of Lieutenant in the Baroda State Forces in 1913. He had cultivated a strong desire to acquire highest qualifications of those years in order to emancipate the indigenous people of India from all oppressive forces and tendencies. Ambedkar signed an agreement in 1914 which stated that he would serve the Baroda State for ten years after the completion of higher studies. He was the first to receive instruction in the land of Lincoln and Booker Washington. 
Ambedkar pursued higher education in America and engaged in his studies with great diligence, devotion and sincerity. He worked for more than 18 hours a day and obtained M.A. degree in 1915 for his thesis ‘Ancient Indian Commerce’ at Columbia University. He worked simultaneously on another thesis and obtained Doctor Philosophy for the dissertation in 1916 which was published in the form of a book entitled ‘The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India’.
Ambedkar obtained admission in the Grays Inn Law School and London School of Economics and Political Science. He had to come back to India in 1917 since the period of scholarship was over. Ambedkar was appointed as Military Secretary to the Maharaja of Baroda. He suffered worst kind of humiliation in the office and society for no fault. He had to leave Baroda and serve as Professor of Political Economy in Sydenham College, Bombay in 1918. He was highly respected by the students for his scholarship and devotion to teaching profession. He also organized the Depressed Classes and fought for social justice.
Ambedkar was fortunate enough to receive timely financial assistance from the Maharaja of Kolhapur and left for London in July 1920 to realize his dream of completing higher studies in Law and Economics. He resumed his studies in Economics from September 1920 at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Law at the Grace Inn. He was greatly inspired by Benjamin Franklin who upheld the values namely – industry and frugality. Ambedkar submitted his thesis entitled ‘Provincial Decentralization of Imperial Finance in British India’ and earned the Degree in Master of Science in June 1921. In October 1922, he submitted his famous thesis namely – ‘The Problem of the Rupee’ to the University of London in March 1923 which caused a furore in the academic world of London. He returned to India 1923 and resubmitted the thesis which was considered for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Science. Thus, Ambedkar emerged as a great scholar, visionary and fighter for social justice in India.
Baba Saheb Ambedkar gave highest importance to education which is the surest means of liberation and empowerment of the mankind. He founded People’s Education Society for achieving the goal of educational development of the marginalized sections of society in the country. He recruited the best teachers and imparted high quality education and produced great number of nation builders. He strongly advocated the nationalization of education to develop human resources without any kind of discrimination. He opposed both brahminization and privatization of education which produced the slaves of the system. United Nations Organization celebrated the birthday of Baba Saheb Ambedkar as the World Knowledge Day in 2012 because he was an embodiment of highest scholarship.
Ambedkar as a Cultural Thinker
Ambedkar was a great cultural thinker, personality and champion of cultural pluralism. He advocated that cultural pluralism should be sustained for the integrated security and development of the nation in the post-independence era. He firmly opposed Hindutva centric nationalism which promotes social and economic statusquoism against the principles of Indian Constitution. Ambedkar found that Hinduism, with its cruel system of `graded inequality would not liberate the untouchables from various shackles. 
Ambedkar emphasized that the Depressed Classes would die for that religion which took care of them, but they would not care for the religion which did not care for them. He said that untouchability was such an abominable stain that it would not matter much even if some lives were sacrificed to wash it out. Any action that unified the people was good, where there was unity there was a good cause.  Ambedkar gave a new dimension to the religion and argued that the religion which treats crores of its adherents worse than dogs and criminals and inflicts upon them insufferable disabilities is no religion at all. Religion is not the appellation for such an unjust order. Ambedkar burnt the ‘Manusmriti’ on December 25, 1927 since it was a charter of rights for Caste Hindus which upheld inequality injustice, discrimination and exploitation. He argued that the roots of ‘Manusmriti’ should be burnt first of all in the minds of the people.
Ambedkar cautioned: “Untouchability shuts all doors of opportunities for betterment in life to the untouchables. It is mischievously propagated by Hindu scriptures that by serving the upper three classes the Shudras attain salvation. Untouchability is another appellation for slavery. No race can be raised by destroying its self respect. If the Depressed Classes gained their self-respect and freedom, they would contribute not only to their own progress and prosperity but by their industry, intellect and courage would contribute also to the strength and prosperity of the nation”. 
Ambedkar firmly believed in social movement rather than political movement. His task was thousand time more difficult than that of Mahatma Gandhi who led the masses to freedom from the British rule which was barely 100 years old whilst Ambedkar led the social movement to liberate the oppressed who had been slaves for centuries. In the struggle for the freedom of the country Gandhi had the support of the millions of Indians, but in the struggle for liberation of the untouchables millions opposed him. Not even those for whom he struggled and bore patiently the humiliations and accusations hurled at him fully appreciated what he was doing, mainly because of the ignorance and lack of understanding. 
Ambedkar firmly stood by pluralism centric Indianism which is the binding force, uniting force and sustain force in the country. Ambedkar was a great religious philosopher and reformer. He studied all religions of the world comprehensively, found certain drawbacks and embraced Buddhism which is the symbol of peace, harmony, non-violence, equality, justice and other human values. Ambedkar led a historical conversion movement in October 1956 and embraced Buddhism because the principles of Buddhism were abiding and were based on equality.
After embracing Buddhism on October 14, 1956 Ambedkar declared: “By discarding my ancient religion with stood for inequality and oppression today I am reborn. I have no faith in the philosophy of incarnation; and it is wrong and mischievous to say that Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu. I am no more devotee of any Hindu god or goddess. I will not perform Shraddha. I will strictly follow the eight fold path of Buddha. Buddhism is a true religion and I will lead a life guided by the three principles of knowledge, right path and compassion”. 
It was not merely a religious conversion but a revolutionary movement, the real purpose of which has not been understood by the people. He wrote a great book called ‘Buddha and His Dhamma’. He emphasized the need for building sovereign, enlightened and united India on the basis of the principles of Buddhism. He embraced Buddhism as a symbol of revolt against caste oriented oppression in Hindu society.
Ambedkar submitted several memorandums to the British authorities demanding social justice and equality for the oppressed Indians. He argued that Home Ruled should ensure the social equality to the lower and depressed classes who belonged to the same Hindu religion, followed the same customs, lived with the same borders and shared the same aspirations for liberty and Home Rule. He observed that Home Ruled was as much the birthright of a Brahmin as that of a Mahar. The first duty, therefore, of the advanced classes was to educate, enlighten and elevate them. Unless and until that attitude was adopted, the day on which India would have Home Rule was distant.  The importance and necessity of communal and adequate representation of untouchables is beyond question”.  Ambedkar’s political thoughts were primarily based on the social ground realities of Indian society. He was the prominent advocate of social justice which is the foundation of national governance and development processes.
Ambedkar had firmly believed that social inequality would jeopardize political freedom and democracy. He strongly advocated the annihilation of caste as the basis for establishing liberty, equality and fraternity in India. He was a great social reformer and launched series of social struggles against inequality, injustice, tyranny and oppression in the name of god and religion. He vehemently opposed all kinds of superstitions which impeded social transformation and social development in India. He lamented that not the spread of knowledge and literacy but accumulation and monopoly was the aim of the Brahmins. In his view the backwardness of the non-Brahmins was due to lack of education and power. Ambedkar provided a new dimension to social philosophy in India. He strongly advocated that untouchability is not a religious system but an economic system which is worse than slavery.
Ambedkar rose to eminence as a social reformer and a leader of the Depressed Classes of India. He worked hard for their upliftment from the downtrodden position they were living in, as a result of social, economic, religious and political disabilities, sanctioned by religion and imposed by custom. The main aim and mission of Ambedkar’s life was to try to lead the Depressed Classes towards a higher social, political and economic status and to free them from the stigma of Untouchability that lay upon their foreheads.
Ambedkar had established Bahishkrita Hitakarini Sabha and united the untouchables against the Hindutva forces and their oppressive characteristics and oppressive tendencies. In order to save the Depressed Classes from perpetual slavery, poverty and ignorance, herculean efforts must be made, he asserted, to awaken them from their disabilities.  Ambedkar opposed the vertical Hindu social order which was against the principles of natural justice and social justice in India. He worked all through his life to establish a horizontal and egalitarian Indian society. He was an ardent fighter for social equality, social justice, social democracy and social inclusion which are the foundations of Indian Constitution. He had a distinctive approach to the oppression of women and weaker sections in India.
Ambedkar actively participated in the three Round Table Conferences held in London in 1930s and declared that the untouchables in India preferred the replacement of the existing British Government by a Government of the people, for the people and by the people. He also prepared the Declaration of Fundamental Rights safeguard in the social, economic, religious and cultural rights of the Depressed Classes. He demanded a special recognition for the Depressed Classes in the future constitution of India. Ambedkar had emphasized that India was in the grip of counter-revolutionaries, and unless we do something very quickly we may bring greater disaster to this country.  Ambedkar provided series of meaningful ideas and guidelines with a view to make the Constitutions of India social justice oriented. He drew plenty of facts and figures from his own memorandum submitted to the Round Table Conference. Ambedkar wanted to establish a welfare state in India in the post-independence through meaningful constitutional provisions and safeguards.
Ambedkar submitted a memorandum on the safeguards for the minorities in general and the Scheduled Castes in particular to the Constituent Assembly on behalf of the All India Scheduled Caste Federation in the year 1946. The memorandum sets out in specific terms fundamental rights of citizens, safeguards of the rights of minorities and Scheduled Castes to representation in the legislatures, local bodies, executive and services. It also provides for special provisions for education and new settlement of the Scheduled Castes in separate villages. The document spelt out the specific rights and privileges of the Scheduled Castes but also prescribed certain remedies in the event of encroachment upon them in the independent India.
Ambedkar was a great political scientist and reformer. He had established All India Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Federation to unite the untouchables and oppressed Indians. He had also established Republican Party of India and strived for the political empowerment of the marginalized sections of India. He argued for separate electoral system to facilitate the true representatives of Dalits and other weaker sections. He was a great champion of establishment of parliamentary form of democracy, small states, democratic decentralization and participatory democracy in India. He strongly opposed the multi-party system which has diluted the spirit of democracy in India in the post-independence era.
Ambedkar never pursued power politics but contributed for the integrated development of the country as a statesman. The Constitution not only envisages eradication of regional imbalances but also has ways to bridge the economic, social and political differences among the citizens. He had inspired people of all sections and religions during the freedom struggle. 
Ambedkar was a people oriented economist who wanted to reverse the paradigm of development. His economic ideas deserve greater attention since he made contributions to the major economic debates of the day. He argued that a gold exchange standard allowed the issuer greater freedom to manipulate the supply of money, jeopardizing the stability of the monetary unit. His views on farming and farm holdings remain highly relevant since he stood by consolidation of land for greater production and productivity for the benefit of the mankind. He firmly stood by economic equity, justice and sovereignty to create a welfare state. 
Ambedkar was a great economist and champion of economic democracy in the country. He worked for reformation of bank, nationalization of banks, economic equity, economic justice, nationalization of economy, infrastructural development, agriculture development, linking of rivers, cooperative agricultural management, small scale and cottage industry development and inclusive development. He consciously incorporated the sustainable development initiatives in the Indian Constitution. He gave an excellent model of development namely ‘Antyodaya’ (last man development) and called upon the nation builders to achieve the goal of Sarvodaya through Antyodaya. The United Nations Organization celebrated his birthday in 2016 as the World Empowerment Day. The economic miseries and complexities of the world can be combated through the adoption of Ambedkar’s development model in the age of globalization.
Ambedkar had entered the Constituent Assembly with the only hope of safeguarding the rights of the downtrodden. He labored day in and day out for writing the Constitution of free India incorporating into it liberty, equality and justice. Ambedkar was a great constitutional expert and drafted the Constitution of India by incorporating the best philosophies and inputs from various constitutions. He created series of provisions and protective measures for the empowerment of all Indians. He was a great champion of welfare state, secularism, collective welfare and pluralism. He single handedly drafted the Constitution of India and laid strong foundations for the establishment of secular state. Babu Rajendra Prasad, Pandit Nehru and other national leaders have emphasized this truth in their speeches and writings. He had observed that political power is the master key which opens all the doors of prosperity. He had cautioned the oppressed sections of Indian society not to become stooges but to gain political power and make apparent contributions for the integrated development of the country. He had cautioned that Indian democracy would be destroyed if equal opportunities are not guaranteed to the people of India especially in social and economic fronts.
Ambedkar was a great champion of the Dalit cause because he succeeded in turning the depressed class movement into a revolutionary movement throughout India. He was the foremost human rights activist during the 20th century. He was an emancipator, scholar, extraordinary social reformer and a true champion of human rights. He also vehemently fought for gender justice and equity and inspired subaltern groups all over the world.  As a true champion of human rights, he firmly stood by the victims of social, economic and political marginalization carried out by the dominant powers of India. He opposed caste based and religion based atrocities against women and weaker sections. He had consciously incorporated meaningful protective measures for women and other vulnerable sections of Indian society in the constitution. There is increased discrimination against the indigenous people of India in the age of globalization and economic liberalization. The Hindutva forces and market forces are primarily responsible for the gross violation of human rights in India. Prompt implementation of human rights protection measures would save the marginalized sections from the oppressive politics and exploitative economics of cultural fascist and economic and political dominant powers.
Ambedkar as a Journalist
The press in India is under the total monopoly of the ruling class which is the biggest enemy of the oppressed class. The untold miseries of the weak and the oppressed are not adequately focused by the Indian Press. Ambedkar entered this profession in 1920s as the lone spokesman of the voiceless, pennyless and helpless millions of untouchables and weaker sections. He could not find even a single newspaper which was committed to abolition of untouchability and empowerment of Dalits. Thus, he chose to become the champion of the downtrodden communities in the Indian Press.
Ambedkar always used print media of his own as one of the instruments to achieve his goal of emancipating the untouchables. He entered journalism to strengthen his movement for social and economic justice in India. He was a great journalist and activist. He edited Mookanayak, Bahishkrita Bharat, Samata, Janata and Prabuddha Bharat and provided adequate space for the have nots of Indian society. Ambedkar He championed the cause of the women and weaker sections through the profession of journalism for the first time in the history of the press in India. Unfortunately, the writers of the history of the press in India have not documented the journalistic contributions of Ambedkar.
Ambedkar observed: “Journalism in India was once a profession. It has now become a trade. It has no more moral function than the manufacture of soap. It does not regard itself as the responsible advisor of the public. To give the news uncolored by any motive, to present a certain view of public policy which it believes to be for the good of the community, to correct and chastise without fear all those, no matter how high, who have chosen a wrong or a barren path, is not regarded by journalism in India its first or foremost duty. To accept a hero and worship him has become its principal duty. Under it, news gives place to sensation, reasoned opinion to unreasoning passion, appeal to the minds of responsible people to appeal to the emotions of the irresponsible. Salisbury spoke of the Northcliffe journalism as written by office boys for office boys. Indian journalism is all that plus something more. It is written by drum boys to glorify their heroes. Never has hero worship became so blind as we see it in India today. There are, I am glad to say, honorable exceptions. But there are too few and their voice is never heard. The dominant forces have demoralized the people and politics. In establishing their supremacy they have taken the aid of ‘big business’ and money magnates. The questions which President Roosevelt propounded for American public to consider will arise here, if they have not already arisen. Who shall rule – wealth or man? Which shall lead – money or intellect ? Who shall fill public stations, educated and patriotic free men or the feudal serfs of Corporate Capital? 
Ambedkar firmly advocated ‘Freedom of the Press’. He had a clear vision of the importance of the ‘Press Freedom’. He accorded a pride of place to ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ which is the mother of all liberties while drafting the Constitution of India. One of the main objectives of the Constitution, as envisaged in the preamble, is to secure liberty of thought and expression to all the citizens. In order to give effect to this objective, ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ has been guaranteed as a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) to all citizens, subject only to the reasonable restrictions which may be imposed by the State under clause (2) of that Article.
Ambedkar critically opposed Brahminization and commercialization of media in India. He had called upon the media professionals to provide adequate space in the media to the vulnerable sections of society and function as the voice of the voiceless Indians. He was against the media monopoly, corporatization of media and commercialization of media. He wanted absolute humanization of media as a matter of social responsibility.
Legacy of Ambedkar
Venkata Reddy recalls the yeoman services rendered by Ambedkar to the mankind in India thus: “Ambedkar was, par excellence, a spokesman of ignored humanity – the workers, small peasants and landless laborers. He expressed the sorrows of untouchables and tried sincerely to channel the activities of the depressed classes. In mobilizing them he created a sense of self-respect and pride in them. He dedicated his life to the cause of removal of untouchability and completely identified himself with the socially segregated sections of Indian society”. 
Ambedkar’s views on social democracy, eradication of caste system, formation and strengthening of constitutional institutions, and the role of religion and caste in democracy are relevant in the present times. There is abundant evidence of his relentless effort to improve the lives of all sections of Indian society. His multi-faceted contributions to nation building and upliftment of all sections of the Indian society are unrecognized. The vision of Ambedkar is really amazing and inspires millions of intellectuals and activists in the world.
Pandit Jawaharalal Nehru had observed that the dead Ambedkar was more powerful than the living Ambedkar. Many Indians including Dalits had not understood the true personality and unique contributions of Ambedkar when he was alive. He was deeply hurt by the indifferent attitude of the oppressed sections towards his mission. He had called upon the people to carry forward the caravan of social justice struggle forward rather than pushing it backward on the basis of social commitment.
Ambedkar came to the right conclusion that the teachings of Buddha could elevate the status of India. Fighting these evil forces with determination and strengthening the unity of democratic and secular forces is therefore, the best way in which we can uphold the life and mission of Ambedkar and pay our tribute to the memory of Ambedkar who shines as the symbol of revolt against all oppressive features of the Hindu Society.
Ambedkar dedicated his life to the cause of millions of oppressed Indians including untouchables. He breathed his last on December 6, 1956. The nation mourned the death of Ambedkar who had played a historical role for over four decades as the emancipator of oppressed class and champion of the have nots in Indian society. Ambedkar is rightly regarded as a global visionary and statesman by the right thinking people all over the world. He is one among the very few statesman who earns millions of followers all over the globe in recognition of his struggle for the welfare and progress of the mankind in different capacities. There is a clear cut conflict of interest between globalism and Ambedkarism. Globalization has increased the gap between the rich and poor and created series of anomalies in all walks of life. Ambedkarism offers novel solutions to all ill-effects of globalization. There is a need for strengthening the Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter Movement in the new millennium on the basis of the principles and struggles of Baba Saheb Ambedkar and other great saviors of the mankind.
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Guru, Prof. B. P. Mahesh, 2021, “Contemporary Relevance of Baba Saheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar”, University Journal of Society, https://www.UniversityJournal.org/ujs/UJS2021V01N01C01/ (08.08.2021), accessed <date of accessed>
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