Facts Related to Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar

Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha

In 1924, Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha was formed by Dr. Ambedkar for removing difficulties of the untouchables and placing their grievances before government. This was his first organization to achieve his political and social ideals. The aims and objects of the Sabha were:

  • To promote the spread of education among the Depressed Class by opening Hostels or by employing such other means as may seem necessary or desirable.
  • To promote the spread of culture among the Depressed study circles.
  • To advance and improve the economic condition of the Depressed Classes by starting Industrial and Agricultural schools.
  • To represent the grievances of the Depressed Classes.
Mahad Satyagrah, 1927

The struggle of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar began from 1927 with Mahad Satyagraha. In 1926, the Municipal Board of Mahad in Maharashtra had passed orders to allow all communities including dalits to drink and collect water from a famous tank in the city. This tank was hitherto inaccessible for untouchables. These orders were opposed by upper caste Hindus and this led Dr. Ambedkar to call a conference of Dailts, which was participated by thousands of untouchables to support the municipal decision. In his address to the people there, Dr. Ambedkar asserted that the Hindu society should be organised on the basis of equality and absence of casteism. Here, he also burnt a copy of Manusmriti on December 25, 1927.

Temple Entry Movements, 1930

In Maharashtra, as in other parts of the country, the untouchables were not allowed to enter the Hindu temples. Ambedkar organised a Satyagrah for entering into Kala Ram Mandir temple at Nasik in May 1930. It was the perception of Ambedkar that such Satyagrah may facilitate the entry of untouchables to other temples. Ambedkar led 15,000 male volunteers and 500 female volunteers in this Satyagrah. A mile long procession was taken towards Kala Ram Mandir in the batches of four. After a month’s struggle a compromise was reached to allow entry of untouchables.

Depressed Classes Movements

The Depressed Classes conferences were organised even before Ambedkar’s effort to oppose untouchability in Indian society. For the first time, the Depressed Classes Mission Society of India was formed by Justice Sir N.G. Chandravarkar on October 18, 1906. The first conference of Depressed Classes was convened on November 11, 1917 by Justice Chandravarkar. The conference pleaded the demands of untouchables before the government. The first All India Depressed Classes conference was held in Bombay on March 23, 1918 under the Chairmanship of Maharaja Shivajirao of Baroda. It was attended by many prominent leaders. Bal Gangadhar Tilak said in this conference that he would not recognise God if he were to tolerate untouchability.

However, Ambedkar was sceptical about the movement started by high caste Hindus. In this backdrop, Ambedkar himself organised the All India Depressed Classes Association on August 8, 1930, and expressed great concern at the probability of the caste ridden Hindu Oligarchy being granted unrestricted power. For the first time, he demanded safeguards for the downtrodden untouchables in the Constitution and pleaded for direct representation in the councils in proportion to the strength of depressed community.

Ambedkar versus Gandhi on question of untouchability

At around the same time, Mahatma Gandhi had broadened his movement for removal of untouchability under the banner of Anti-untouchability League in 1932. Gandhi advised that the activities of Anti-untouchability League should be mainly directed towards the economic, social and educational improvement of the depressed classes rather than to the temple entry and inter-dining. Henceforth, the word untouchable was replaced by Harijan and Anti-untouchability League was renamed has Harijan Sevak Sangh. This Harijan Sevak Sangh worked as a branch of Congress. Dr. Ambedkar was on the board of this Sangh but soon he disconnected himself from it because  he felt that this Sangh is not a platform for programme for removal of untouchability. This is how, Gandhi and Ambedkar developed different perspectives in context with the amelioration of problems of depressed classes. According to Dr. Ambedkar, Harijan Sevak Sangh was a political organisation aimed to draw untouchables into Congress fold. Consequently, he formed a Samata Sainik Dal (Social Equality Army) to dislodge all those values which conserved and fostered anti-human elements in the name of tradition and cultural heritage. We note here that after assassination of Gandhi in 1948, this Samata Sainik Dal was one of the organizations which were banned in those times. Dr. Ambedkar remarked that disbanding Samata Sainik Dal was an act of cowardice.

Political Ideals of Ambedkar Regarding Empowerment of Untouchables

Jawaharlal Nehru had termed Dr. Ambedkar as a symbol of revolt against the exploitative elements of Indian society. The struggle against the caste system and untouchability is based on some political ideals of Dr. Ambedkar. Firstly, Dr. Ambedkar had firm faith that caste system in India cannot be reformed and thus the only remedy is the total destruction of the caste system. In one of his speeches {Annihilation of caste}, he remarks that the root of untouchability is caste system, the root of caste system is religion attached to Varnashrma, the root of Varnashrma is Brahmanical religion, and the root of Brahmanical religion is authoritarianism. To him, virtue and charity have become caste ridden and morality has become caste bound. He characterised c[limit] 74940 CGS-6: November 16 to November 30, 2015 December 29, 2015.

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