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Celebrating Dr. BR Ambedkar: Architect of Social Justice

  • 15 Apr 2024

“The Constitution is not a mere lawyer document, it is a vehicle of life, and its spirits are always the spirit of age”.

~Dr. BR Ambedkar

This year marks his 134th birthday which is observed on April 14, honours Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar. It is known as 'Equality Day' and commemorates his commitment to eliminating inequality.

Ambedkar advocated for a social system in which a man's rank is determined by his merit and achievements, and no one is noble or untouchable because of his or her birth. He argued for preferential treatment of the country's socially downtrodden and economically exploited population. His contributions were multifaceted, ranging from legal reforms to social activism and political leadership.

Dr Ambedkar played a pivotal role in drafting the Constitution of India, ensuring that principles of equality, justice, and rights were enshrined within its framework. He advocated for the rights of Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) and other oppressed groups, emphasising education and empowerment as crucial tools for social up-liftment.

His Early Life and Education

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 in the town and military cantonment of Mhow (Dr Ambedkar Nagar, Madhya Pradesh). Ambedkar's forefathers had long served in the British East India Company's army, and his father was a member of the British Indian Army in the Mhow cantonment.

Despite attending school, Ambedkar and other untouchable children were kept apart and received little attention or assistance from teachers. They were not permitted to touch the water or the vessel that carried it. This task was generally completed for the young Ambedkar by the school peon, and if the peon was unavailable, he had to go without water; he later described the circumstance as "No peon, No water" in his works.

In 1897, Ambedkar's family relocated to Mumbai, and he was the only untouchable student at Elphinstone High School. In 1906, at the age of roughly 15, he married Ramabai, a 9 year old girl. Ambedkar received a Baroda State Scholarship for postgraduate studies at Columbia University in New York City in 1913, when he was 22 years old. Ambedkar obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia in 1927.

Ideas of Dr. Ambedkar on Social Justice

Ambedkar's vision of social justice promotes the liberty, equality, and brotherhood of all humans. As a rationalist and humanist, he condemned any form of hypocrisy, injustice, or exploitation of man by man in the guise of religion. He advocated for a religion founded on universal moral principles that may be applied to all times, places, and races. It must follow reason and be founded on the fundamental principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

He saw the caste system as the root cause of Hinduism's problems. According to him, the varna system is the primary cause of all inequity, as well as the source of caste and untouchability. Ambedkar advocated for a social system in which a man's rank is determined by his merit and achievements, and no one is noble or untouchable because of his or her birth.

He argued for preferential treatment of the country's disadvantaged and economically exploited citizens. The Indian Constitution, drafted under his supervision, has clauses ensuring justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity for all residents. It also includes many measures that ensure preferential treatment for the oppressed in a variety of industries. Article 17 of the Indian Constitution declares untouchability eradicated.

In his speech to the Constituent Assembly for the approval of the Constitution, Ambedkar stated: “I have completed my work; I wish there should be a sunrise even tomorrow. The new Bharat has got political freedom, but it is yet to raise the sun of social and economic liberty”.

Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s Efforts for Social Justice

He dedicated his life to the pursuit of social justice and the empowerment of marginalised communities in India. His efforts for social justice were transformative and laid the foundation for the empowerment and emancipation of marginalised communities in India. His legacy continues to inspire movements for equality, social justice, and human rights worldwide.

Here are some key efforts and contributions he made towards this cause:

  • Campaign Against Untouchability
    • Ambedkar had been called to testify before the Southborough Committee, which was drafting the Government of India Act 1919. During this hearing, he advocated for separate electorates and reservations for untouchables and other religious groups.
    • While practising law in the Bombay High Court, he attempted to educate and uplift untouchables. His first organised effort was to establish the central institution “Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha”, which aimed to promote education, socioeconomic progress, and the welfare of "outcastes," also known as depressed classes at the time.
    • He founded several journals to advocate for Dalit rights, including Mook Nayak, Bahishkrit Bharat, and Equality Janta.
  • Drafting of the Constitution
    • As the chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, Dr Ambedkar played a crucial role in framing the Constitution of India.
    • He ensured that the Constitution included provisions for fundamental rights, abolition of untouchability, and affirmative action to uplift socially disadvantaged groups.
  • Temple Entry Movement
    • Ambedkar led movements to secure the rights of Dalits to enter Hindu temples, which were often barred to them due to caste-based discrimination.
    • His efforts aimed at challenging traditional caste hierarchies and promoting social equality.
    • He led hundreds of followers in burning copies of Manusmriti. Thus, Ambedkarites and Dalits commemorate Manusmriti Dahan Din (Manusmriti Burning Day) every year on December 25.
  • Labour Rights and Economic Reforms
    • Ambedkar championed labour rights and advocated for economic reforms to improve the socio-economic conditions of marginalised communities.
    • He emphasised the need for land reforms and economic empowerment to address caste-based inequalities.
  • Reservation Policy
    • Ambedkar was instrumental in introducing reservation policies in education and government jobs to ensure representation and opportunities for Dalits and other backward classes.
    • Dr. Ambedkar's advocacy for reservation policies aimed at providing opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups continues to be relevant. These policies aimed to mitigate historical injustices and provide avenues for social mobility.
  • Conversion to Buddhism
    • In 1956, Ambedkar led a mass conversion of Dalits to Buddhism as a symbolic rejection of the caste system and Hindu social hierarchy.
    • This movement highlighted his vision for social equality and religious freedom.

Dr. Ambedkar’s Concept of Social Justice - Relevance in the Present Scenario

Dr. BR Ambedkar concept of social justice remains highly relevant in the present scenario for several reasons:

  • Empowerment of Marginalised Communities: He advocated for the education and empowerment of marginalised communities like Dalits, Adivasis, and other backward classes. His focus on education as a tool for empowerment is crucial in addressing socio-economic disparities.
  • Inclusion and Diversity: He emphasised the importance of inclusive development that encompasses the aspirations of all sections of society. In today's diverse world, his vision calls for policies and practices that embrace diversity and promote social inclusion.
  • Human Rights and Dignity: His emphasis on fundamental rights and human dignity is crucial in the context of contemporary challenges such as social exclusion, violence against marginalised groups, and violations of basic rights.
  • Intersectionality: Dr. Ambedkar's approach to social justice recognises the intersectionality of identities and inequalities. His ideas inspire a holistic approach to addressing multiple forms of discrimination based on caste, gender, religion, and economic status.
  • Global Relevance: His struggle against social injustice and his advocacy for democratic values resonate globally. His ideas on social justice contribute to broader discussions on human rights, equality, and inclusive development worldwide.


Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's concept of social justice provides a foundational framework for addressing contemporary socio-economic and political challenges. Embracing his vision entails commitment to equality, dignity, and empowerment for all individuals, ensuring that his legacy continues to guide efforts towards a more just and inclusive society.


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