Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 in the Mhow Army Cantonment, Central Provinces (present-day Madhya Pradesh). He completed his graduation in Economics and Political Science in 1912 from Elphinstone College, and obtained a Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1915 after completing his thesis ‘Ancient Indian Commerce’. In 1916, he began working on his second thesis titled ‘National Dividend of India — A Historic and Analytical Study’ for another M.A. and in 1921 presented his third thesis ‘The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and its Solution’ while studying at the London School of Economics. In 1923, he completed a D.Sc. in Economics, and received his PhD in Economics in 1927.
Role in India’s Independence Movement:
After his return to India, Ambedkar dedicated his time to fighting caste discrimination against the Dalits. He launched a newspaper called ‘Mooknayaka’ (leader of the silent) in 1920, to educate people about the drawbacks of the prevailing social evils. He undertook litigation for this cause, demanded open public drinking water sources and right for all castes to enter temples. In 1932, he signed the the Poona Pact with Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, providing for reservation of seats for the untouchable classes in the general electorate.
In 1936, Ambedkar founded the Independent Labor Party, which later transformed into the Scheduled Castes Federation.
Contribution to Constitution Making:
On 29th August 1947 Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. He strived to provide for civil liberties for all individuals, and specifically advocated for extensive economic and social rights for women, abolition of untouchability and reservation for members of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and Other Backward Classes in educational institutions and government jobs.
He remained an advocate of the exclusion of Article 370, which granted a special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and for the adoption of a Uniform Civil Code.
Ambedkar was appointed as the first Law Minister of independent India in 1947. Ambedkar’s ideas as presented in the Hilton Young Commission served as an inspiration for instituting Reserve Bank of India.
In 1956, Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, after having devoted several years to studying the religion. In the later years of his life, his health worsened, and he passed away on 6 December 1956 in his sleep at his home in Delhi. His birthdate is celebrated as ‘Ambedkar Jayanti’ in the form of a public holiday. He was posthumously given the Bharat Ratna in 1991.
Dr. Ambedkar wrote several books in his lifetime. He wrote three books on economics - Administration and Finance of the East India Company; The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India; and The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution. His book, Annihilation of Caste, is considered one of the most authoritative works on Dalit life and politics till date. The Ministry of External Affairs has also published his written works and speeches.