On the eve of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s birthday, it’s time we know more about the man. Here are some quick facts to spruce up your knowledge about him:
1. Babasaheb’s father, Ramji Maloji Sakpal, was a subedar in the army. His mother’s name was Bhimabai Murbadkar Sakpal. He was born as Bhimrao Ambedkar. He as born on April 14, 1891.
2. Dr. Ambedkar had 13 siblings, him being the youngest of all. Later, only three sons and two daughters survived.
3. His ancestors had worked for the British East India Company’s army, his father served at the Mhow cantonment.
4. His real surname was Ambavadekar because his native village was Ambavade in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. However when he was in school, his teacher Mahadev Ambedkar changed his surname to Ambedkar in the records of the school.
5. He was married to Ramabai when he was only 15 years old, in 1906. She died in 1935 due to an illness after which Ambedkar re-married in 1948 with Dr. Sharada Kabir. She later changed her name to Savita Ambedkar. They had a son named, Yashwant.
6. He passed his matriculation from Elphistone High School (only person from the ‘untouchables’ there) and further went on to enrol in Elphistone college. He obtained a degree in economics and political science from University of Mumbai. After his father died in 1913, he moved to study at the Colombia university under a scholarship scheme that was offered by Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III. In October 1916, he enrolled for the Bar course at Gray’s Inn, and at the same time enrolled at the London School of Economics where he started working on a doctoral thesis. During June 1917, he returned to India because his scholarship from Baroda ended. He had four doctorates, the last two being conferred on him as honoris causa.
7. His first fight against discrimination of the lower castes was the establishment of Bahishkrit Hitakarni Sabha while he practiced law at Bombay High Court. In 1918 he worked as a professor at Sydenham college in Mumbai where other professors objected to drinking water from the same jug as his. In 1935, he was appointed as the principal of Government Law College and he held that position for two years. Before this, he was also appointed as the military secretary to the Gaekwad but he quit it in a short time.
8. He was India’s first law minister post independence. He, also known as the father of the Indian constitution, was the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. Dr. Ambedkar opposed granting a special status to Jammu and Kashmir and supported the Uniform Civil Code.
9. In around 1950, he converted to Buddhism. In 1954, he was bed-ridden. He was diagnosed with diabetes in 1948. In 1955 his health worsened. It was said that political issues took a toll on his health. He died in his sleep on December 6, 1956 in Delhi. Half a million attended his cremation (in Buddhist ways) at Dadar Chowpatty, Mumbai.
10. In 1990, he was given the Bharat Ratna award, posthumously.
Photo courtesy: India TV