A Mahar child with a Brahmin name

The most learned Indian politician of all time is also probably the most misunderstood one as well. He was the voice of the suppressed, the messiah of the backward class. His path was treacherous but when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Bharat Ratna Bhimrao Ambedkar; Image source: True Scoop News

Bharat Ratna Bhimrao Ambedkar; Image source: True Scoop News

Dragging his gunny bag in the hot sun, young Bhim made his way back home from school. He was only allowed to sit in the corner of his class on the gunny bag which he had to take back since the peon won’t touch it. He wasn’t allowed to touch the tap so the peon would pour water in his upturned mouth so the tap wouldn’t touch his body.

When the peon was absent no one would perform this act for him which led him to be thirsty all day. This incident led him to write an essay, ‘No peon, no water’. Since he was a child he could see and understand the division of caste and stigma of it. A caste that was given to him since his birth. The humiliation that he had to face in his day to day life, made him realise that he must work towards freedom of the lower castes however, he had no position no money and no value in the society.

His only way out of the darkness was to walk towards the light of knowledge. He seeked knowledge like no other. Since childhood he made sure to always remain the top his class. He learned all his books by heart. While others made fun of the fact that a low caste who was bound to engage in lowly jobs was wasting his time studying so much, he ignored them all and continued down the path of knowledge.

However, not everyone was unkind to him. His teacher, who was a Brahmin by caste adored Bhim. A teacher didn't see his caste but looked at his pursuit of knowledge. He made him star pupil and even shared his lunch with him. One day he saw Bhim quite upset. He asked the reason for it. Bhim told him that his Mahar caste becomes an obstruction in his learning. As soon as people learn of his caste they deny him all the opportunities.

His teacher said that when it comes to learning there must be no barriers. Bhim’s surname was Ambavadekar, kept on Bhim’s birthplace. His teacher’s surname was Ambedkar, quite similar to his surname. That day his teacher renamed him saying that this will be the title he will use from now on. If his identity is the only thing stopping him from his studies then he will give his own name to Bhim. From that day forward, his name became Bhimrao Ambedkar.

Of course, this didnt lessen his hardships but now that he was carrying the name of his teacher, his spirits were ignited. He carried the hopes of the man who belived in him.

As Bhim grew up his challenges grew treacherous and he grew even stronger. He became the first Indian to get a Doctorate in Economics from the London School of Economics as well as a Doctorate from Columbia University. When he was in the London School of Economics, he used to stay up all night in the library. He used to arrive at the doorstep of the library before the librarian and only left the library at his request. In the end, the librarian started handing him the keys so he could close it at night after him. Even the librarian got shocked at how much he could study.

After he came back to India, he worked hard for freedom of the nation and freedom of the suppressed class from the caste hierarchy. Even after being a leanered person he was often misunderstood as a leader who was imposing factionalism in the Indian society. People only saw him as a person who was fighting for his people and not for all Indians. Little do they understand that when one person fights for the suppressed class, he uplifts the entire society along with it.

Ambedkar always judged of how progressive a society was by looking at the condition of women. Women are often the suppressed ones in every society. It is meaningless to call a particular group progressive if there is a section that gets left behind. By making space for the depressed class you make the entire society better. If only people could have understand it.

He was a misunderstood man whose contributions are often neglected. More than a social reformer, he was a lawyer and an economist. When RBI was being set up every member carried a book, ‘The Problem of the Rupee’ with his name on it.

His contributions in drafting the constitutions are well known and he became India’s first law minister. Sadly, he still had to resign because he was fed up of the caste politics and his voice going unheard in the spaces. He adopted Buddhism in the end stages of his live and many of his followers converted with him.

He may not have received the credit he deserved but, his works keeps on finding new spaces even today. He is the light that shines brightly among millions of people whose lives got better because of him.


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