What is it?
Ambedkar Jayanti (or Bhim Jayanti) is an annual festival holiday in 14th April to commemorate the memory of Dr Babasaheb R. Ambedkar who was born on this day in 1891. Dr Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, politician, philosopher, anthropologist, historian and economist who was the principal architect of the Constitution of India.
Who is he?
Dr Ambedkar was born into poverty and campaigned against the caste system. He converted to Buddhism and is seen as the driving force in the surge of thousands of converts to Buddhism from the lower castes in Indian society.
He was the first ‘untouchable’ in India to pursue a university degree and gained a law degree and doctorate in law, economics and political science. He gained a reputation as a scholar and campaigning for political rights and social freedom for the ‘untouchables’, the lowest in the caste system.
In 1927 Dr Ambedkar organised and led a march at Mahad, Maharashtra that eventually help establish equal rights for ‘untouchables’ who were not allowed to touch or taste the water of Chawder Lake.
Dr Ambedkar died on 6th December 1956 and was posthumously awarded the ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 1990 which is India’s highest civilian award.
On Ambedkar Jayanti it is customary for the President, Prime Minister and leaders of the other parties to pay their respects at his statue at Parliament in New Dehli.
As an aside, ‘equal rights’ are far from established in India. The caste system may be illegal but it still exists in a social and economic perspective. Women are far from equal here – they are hardly recognised as existing never mind as an actual citizen – everything is either in the name of their father or husband. People who have a disability are virtually invisible (apart from some beggars). Gay rights and minority rights have a long way to advance. It’s truly shocking from a western perspective.