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Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar: A man who fought to abolish untouchability and promote equality
On 14th April 1891, in the town and military cantonment of Mhow, Ramji Maloji Sakpal's wife gave birth to her 14th and last child. Born into a poor Mahar (Dalit) family, Bhimrao Ambedkar was often subjected to socio-economic discrimination, both by British men and fellow Indians. Children from his caste were segregated and given little attention or help by teachers. They were not allowed to sit inside the class. It was perhaps this initial experience that propelled him to become an advocator of Human rights in India. Ambedkar’s efforts led to the abolition of untouchability in 1950. Who could have a thought a child born to a Subedar, belonging to the backward community would turn out to be one of the most prolific lawyers and force behind the abolition of untouchability?
This year, 14th April marks the 129th birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, a key figure in the global story of human rights but one whose contributions are not duly acknowledged andrecognised. Ambedkar Jayanti is widely celebrated across India, where he is best known for drafting the Indian Constitution, in which he embedded several provisions for the protection of rights of the most marginalised.
It would not be wrong to say that while Mahatma Gandhi was uniting India to rise against the oppressive British government, Babasaheb Ambedkar was guiding the Indians towards spiritual development. "Britishers gained an advantage by pitting brother against brother. The current adulteration of the Hindu varashram is a direct result of generations of their bureaucracy," says Sanjay Dalmia, a renowned Indian nationalist. Babasaheb successfully led the fight for human rights, he added.
He was the first one to be a lawyer from a backward caste. In 1990, Ambedkar was posthumously conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award. With the nation strictly observing the lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak; businesses have come to halt, private companies are opting to work from home, aviation & railway sector have suspended their services, yet the central government has decided to declare April 14, the birthday of B R Ambedkar, as closed holiday for all its offices— noting his significant contribution in protecting the human rights with the conceptual framework of 'liberty, equality and fraternity'.