AMBEDKAR: THE CHAMPION OF FREEDOM AND EQUALITY
NOTWITHSTANDING HIS HUMBLE ORIGINS, AMBEDKAR CARVED A NICHE FOR HIMSELF IN WORLD HISTORY
His humble origins notwithstanding, Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (B R Ambedkar), has carved a niche for himself in world history as a global icon and champion of freedom and equality thanks to his unforgettable work and legacy mirrored in the Constitution of India, which is the mainstay of India’s polity and all that it stands for.
While it is customary for all Indian states and masses to commemorate his birth anniversary, known as Ambedkar or Bhim Jayanti, on April 14 with gusto, the extent of the honor enjoyed by the late Indian jurist can be gauged from the fact that this day is observed with equal zest in other countries of the world as well. He was born in 1891 and in 2021 nation celebrates his 130 birth anniversary.
As in 2020, this year’s celebrations too are likely to be held virtually on account of the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Commemorated as ‘Equality Day’ in India, April 14 would also be observed as ‘BR Ambedkar Equality Day’ in British Columbia, Canada, as per a Government of British Columbia proclamation. There couldn’t be a better way of paying tributes to an iconic personality as Dr Ambedkar on his Jayanti than this, considering the fact that because of his birth into a ‘Dalit’ family, he had to struggle for equality throughout his life. A demand to declare this day as ‘International Equality Day’ has also been presented to the UN.
Ambedkar Jayanti is celebrated with immense zeal with processions being held by Dr Ambedkar’s followers at Chaitya Bhoomi in Mumbai and Deeksha Bhoomi in Nagpur. States and union territories of India, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, declare a public holiday on this occasion.
Enthusiasm marks the worldwide observances of the day, especially those by dalits, adivasis, labour class, women and Buddhist converts, with his followers paying homage to him at the sites sporting his statues in the cities of their residence. It is also customary for political luminaries including the President and Prime Minister of India and leaders of major political parties to pay homage to Dr Ambedkar at the Parliament House in New Delhi.
Born as the 14th and last child of Ramji Maloji Sakpal, a subedar in the army into a Mahar (dalit) caste, which was considered untouchable, Ambedkar was no stranger to social discrimination, which he had to endure in his childhood, and therefore, dedicated his life to fight for equal rights for the weaker and downtrodden sections of the society, including equal rights for women thereby emerging as the champion of social equality all across the globe. He converted to Buddhism in 1956, inspiring Dalits in large numbers to follow suite. He was posthumously conferred Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award in 1990 for his unforgettable legacy.