Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar a Religious Reformer in India Term Paper

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Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

As Minister of Law in India's first post-independence government, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar drafted the constitution of India that provided the legal framework for the abolition of many oppressive aspects in Indian society (Beshkin pp). Ambedkar is regarded as the father of the Indian Constitution and the country's leading champion of human rights.

The caste system in India is one of the world's longest surviving forms of social stratification (O'Neill pp). This fifteen hundred year old system follows the basic precept that "all men are created unequal" (O'Neill pp). The ranks in Hindu society come from a legend in which the main groupings, or varnas, emerge from a primordial being:

From the mouth come the Brahmans the priests and teachers.

From the arms come the Kshatriyas the rulers and soldiers.

From the thighs come the Vaisyas merchants and traders.

From the feet come the Sudras -- laborers

(O'Neill pp).

In turn, each varna contains hundreds of hereditary castes and sub-castes, each with their own pecking orders of hierarchy (O'Neill pp).

There is a fifth group called the achuta, or "untouchable," and according to legend, the primordial being does not claim them, therefore they are outcasts, "too impure, too polluted, to rank as worthy beings" (O'Neill pp). Tom O'Neill of National Geographic writes, "Untouchables are shunned, insulted, banned from temples, and higher caste homes, made to eat and drink from separate utensils in public places, and, in extreme but no uncommon cases, are raped, burned, lynched, and gunned down" (O'Neill pp). Although the Indian constitution forbids caste discrimination, thanks to Ambedkar, this ancient system still exists in modern Indian society (O'Neill pp). However, the displays of prejudice today are a far cry from the days before independence when untouchables were forced to wear bells to warn of the approach, forced to carry buckets so their spit would not contaminate the ground, and were beaten if their shadow touched a higher caste person (O'Neill pp). O'Neill recounts meeting a Brahman priest, Umashankar Tripathy, who explained that a Brahman should never come in contact with an Untouchable (O'Neill pp). Tripathy stated, "A Brahman wouldn't even touch the feet of Gandhi," referring to the deified leader of India's independence, "Gandhi was a Vaisya; Brahmans are superior" (O'Neill pp).
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born in 1891 into the "untouchable" community of Mahars in central India (Ambedkar pp). His astounding brilliance won him a sponsorship to study abroad by the Maharaja of Baroda where he gained a Ph.D. In Economics at Columbia University in New York, a DSc. At the University of London, and was called to the Bar from gray's Inn (Ambedkar pp).

From 1924 until his death in 1956, Ambedkar fought as an activist, legislator, journalist, and educator, for the most basic human rights for the Indian people, particularly those of the lower castes, the untouchables (Ambedkar pp). During the battles for India's independence, he "profoundly disagreed with Mahatma Gandhi over the question of separate electorates for the untouchables, but eventually compromised with reserved sears for them with the general Hindu category" (Ambedkar pp). He was appointed as Law Minister in Nehru's first cabinet and drafted and piloted the constitution, which declares all forms of discrimination unlawful, including "untouchability," for the new Republic of India, whose birth is January 26, 1950 (Ambedkar pp). However, Ambedkar came to understand that the spirit of the Constitution was "subverted by discriminatory practices in covert and subtle….....

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