Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was a social reformer and the principal author of the Indian Constitution. Born into a Mahar family on April 14, 1891, in Mhow town of Madhya Pradesh, he later inspired the Dalit movement and campaigned against social discrimination. He also served as the law minister of India (1947–51).
A few facts about the pioneer jurist, economist and educationist:
1. Babasaheb Ambedkar studied at universities in the US, Britain, and Germany. After obtaining a degree in economics and political science from Bombay University, he did his Masters at Columbia University in New York before training as a lawyer in London.
2. After returning to India during the independence movement, in 1936, Ambedkar wrote his magnum opus ‘Annihilation of Caste’, a fiery critique of the caste system.
3. Babasaheb’s personal library “Rajgirh” had more than 50,000 books and it was said to be the world’s largest private library.
4. Leading a committed struggle against discrimination, he once said that even if India were to become independent, Dalits would still languish at the bottom of the social order unless caste was abandoned by all. “The question of whether the Congress is fighting for freedom has very little importance as compared to the question for whose freedom is the Congress fighting,” he said.
5. After becoming the law minister, he took a leading part in framing the Constitution. He also played a critical role in forming the Reserve Bank of India.
6. Originally, his surname was Ambawadekar, but his teacher gave him the surname “Ambedkar” in school records. In School, he and other Dalit children faced discrimination based on their caste.
7. Before his death in 1956, Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, together with about 200,000 fellow Dalits, at a ceremony in Nagpur.
8. On March 31, 1990, he was posthumously conferred with India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.