Dr. Ambedkar: Maker of Modern India
By S.R. Darapuri
01 April, 2015
Dr. BabaSaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar was born in an untouchable caste which was deprived of all social, educational, religious and political rights. In spite of this he is counted among some of the most educated persons of the world. He had high degrees from America, England and Germany. Notwithstanding his education he had to face a lot of insult in the society. When he was appointed as Military Advisor in the court of Maharaja of Baroda he was so much insulted by the employees that he had to leave his post. Fed up with caste insults he decided never to take up a job and after getting a law degree from England he established his independent law practice in Bombay.
Dr. Ambedkar like Moses, the liberator of the people of Israel, was motivating his people to awaken, to organise, to know their strength and exercise their rights. He gave them the slogan of “Educate, Agitate and Organise” for their liberation.
He neither criticised the existing educational system like Mahatama Gandhi, C. Rajgopachari, Ravindra Nath Tagore and others nor did he set up a new theory. On the contrary he motivated the Dalits to send their children to the schools and colleges and educate them. His education extension programme was not confined to the Dalits only; rather he made education available to all classes. Dr. Ambedkar set up colleges through Peoples Education Society which made education available to all irrespective of class or caste. He made arrangement for morning and evening classes which benefitted thousands of young men and women. BabaSaheb raised the demand for reservation in government jobs for educated Dalits just like Muslims and other minorities.
BabaSaheb struggled not only for the liberation of Dalits but he made a great contribution towards nation building and reconstruction of Indian society. He fondly loved his country and its people and contributed much to their liberty and prosperity.
For framing the future constitution of India Round Table conference was called in England in 1930 and 1932 where he was invited as a representative of Depressed Classes, it was vehemently opposed by Gandhi. Dr. Ambedkar in his speech strongly criticising the British Government said, “This government had done nothing for our betterment. We were untouchables before and we are still untouchable. This government is anti Dalit and is complacent to their expectations and liberation. This government is doing it deliberately. A government of the people, for the people and by the people only can bring us relief. Hence our first demand is “Swaraj.” From this brief extract we can gauze Dr. Ambedkar’s love for his country and his longing for freedom.
Dr. Ambedkar will be remembered not only for promoting interests and education of Dalits but he will be remembered for his contribution to nation building and its modernisation. Following are some of its important aspects:-
1. On implementation of Government of India act 1935 it was decided to set up Vidhan Sabha Assemblies (State Assemblies) and Self Rule in states Dr. Ambedkar formed Independent Labour Party to secure Dalit participation in it and he contested the first General Election in 1937. He got a good success in it. This Party along with Dalit interests advocated labour interests also and many demands were put up. BabaSaheb wanted that Labour should not be satisfied with better wages; good working conditions but they should take part in politics and get share in political power.
2. Dr. Ambedkar knew well that ever growing population was also one of the factors responsible for backwardness of India. Hence he had put up a bill for enforcing a population control in Bombay Assembly in 1940. It also reflects his love for his country.
3. In 1942 for certain reasons he disbanded Independent Labour Party and set up Scheduled Castes Federation and held a big conference of Dalit classes of all India level. He also held a big sammelan of Dalit women. He wanted the women to fight themselves for their liberation and rights. He exhorted the women to fight for enforcement of prohibition. He advised the women to refuse food to their husbands if they come home drunk. It shows his concern for women liberation.
4. In 1932 Dalits were given reservation in government jobs and independent representation in Assemblies and Parliament through Communal Award which was opposed by Mahatma Gandhi through fast unto death. At last in order to save Gandhi’s life Dr. Ambedkar had to sacrifice the political rights of Dalits by signing Poona Pact, thereby abandoning the right to separate electorate. Dalits continue to suffer political slavery as a result of this Pact.
5. It was seen that Congress men disturbed Dalit meetings. Hence in order to stall it Baba Saheb formed “Samta Sainik Dal” of Dalit youth on the lines of Rashtriy Svayamsewak Sangh (R.S.S.). He held its big conference in 1942. Through this Dr. Ambedkar wanted to inculcate a spirit of discipline, self respect, protection of Dalit leaders and countering atrocities on Dalits.
6. It is well-known that Dr. Ambedkar made a significant contribution in framing Indian Constitution but even some people try to make small of it. We cannot deny that if democracy has survived in India it is due to our constitution only. Dr. Ambedkar made a singular contribution to the establishment of parliamentary democracy and state socialism.
7. Dr. Ambedkar was much concerned with the miserable plight of women as shudras along with Dalits. Hence he wanted to get political rights for women. In 1952 when he was Law Minister of India he took a lot of pains to prepare Hindu Code Bill and placed it before the Parliament. But when orthodox Hindus opposed it at a large scale and Mr. Nehru, the then Prime minister, also displayed weakness Dr. Ambedkar resigned in disgust from the post of Law Minister. Later on in 1956 the same bill was passed as Hindu Marriage act, Hindu Succession Act etc. It shows that Dr. Ambedkar made a great contribution to the emancipation of Indian women.
Apart from above Dr. Ambedkar contributed a lot to lay the foundation of India’s industrialization and modernisation. Unfortunately his contribution in this field has not been brought before the people. In this field his important contribution is welfare of labour classes, agriculture irrigation, and preparation of water transport schemes. As a result of it industrialisation and multipurpose river water schemes could be launched later on in India. In 1942 when Dr. Ambedkar was member of the Executive council of Viceroy he held charge of Labour Department which included Labour, Labour Laws, Coal mines, Printing and Public Works Department.
BabaSaheb had stayed for long in labour colony. Hence he was fully aware of the problems of the labour class. Hence as Labour Minister he got enacted many labour laws out of which Indian Trade Union Act, Industrial Disputes Act, Compensation, Working Hours and Maternity Benefit are the main laws. He put a ban on the working of women in deep mines ignoring opposition from the British. He motivated the Labour to get share in political power. In fact a majority of the present labour laws were enacted by Dr. Ambedkar for which labour class will remain indebted to him forever.
BabaSaheb was very much engaged in the welfare of Safai workers and organising them whereas Gandhi sermonised them to remain Bhangis and he considered their strike as immoral. BabaSaheb organised the Safai karamcharis of Bombay Nagar Mahapalika and got formed their union for the first time. He wanted to organise similar unions in other states also and give it a shape of All India Organisation. With this purpose in view he formed a two member committee to submit a report after studying the working conditions in other states and prevailing laws. It makes very clear that BabaSaheb was very much interested in getting justice to Safai workers and organising them on the lines of organised labour class.
Dr. Ambedkar was much worried about the increasing population of India resulting in problems of poverty, unemployment and hunger deaths. Hence he wanted to upgrade agriculture. In fact he wanted to give it a status of industry. Hence he put up a proposal for nationalisation of agriculture land and collective farming on the pattern of Russia so that it could be mechanised. For this purpose he wanted to implement river irrigation schemes. He had drawn plans for canals by putting up dams on rivers and produce hydroelectric power. In this way he wanted the rivers to become means of prosperity by stopping destruction through floods. With this purpose in view he was the first to make a plan for “Damodar River Valley” similar to “Tennis Valley Authority” of America. Similarly he made plans for utilising the water of other rivers of India. Dr. Ambedkar wanted to promote water transport also because it is very cheap. He also favoured the use of small atomic explosions in the river bed in order to deepen them and avoid floods due to silting. With this objective in view he had set up “Central Waterways, Irrigation and Navigation Commission” (CWINC). From this we can estimate the modern outlook and progressive thinking of Baba Saheb regarding agriculture, irrigation, power and use of the river water.
Dr. Ambedkar was of the firm opinion that unemployment, poverty and shortage of consumer goods cannot be removed without industrialisation of India. On the contrary Gandhi was strongly opposed to use of machines and industrialisation. Dr. Ambedkar also knew that industrialisation cannot be done without power. Hence he was of the view that we should produce cheap and adequate power. BabaSaheb wanted to generate power by building dams on rivers. With this objective in view he made Damodar Valley Project and established Central Water and Power Commission. The main task of this Commission and Central Waterways, Irrigation and Navigation Commission was to give advice to the states for agriculture irrigation and power generation. Later on with their cooperation and guidance many big multipurpose river Schemes were prepared which helped in agriculture irrigation and flood control along with power production. He also set up Electricity Boards for power generation and distribution. In fact Dr. Ambedkar laid the foundation of industrialisation of India by making plans for power generation, flood control, agriculture irrigation and multipurpose river schemes.
From the above brief description it is obvious that Dr. Ambedkar was very much devoted to the reconstruction of modern India, industrialisation, agriculture development and irrigation; flood control, river transport and to increase power production. He was really a maker of Modern India. Our nation will ever remain indebted to him for his great contribution towards industrialisation and modernisation of our country.
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