Who was Bhimrao Ambedkar & what should we learn from him?

Owen Kelly looks at the lessons we can learn from Bhimrao Ambedkar, Dalit anti-caste campaigner & writer of most of the Indian constitution.

Episode 023     November 11, 2022
Contributors    Owen Kelly    

According to Wikipedia, “Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956) was an Indian jurist, economist, social reformer and political leader who headed the committee drafting the Constitution of India from the Constituent Assembly debates, served as Law and Justice minister in the first cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru, and inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement after renouncing Hinduism”.

It goes on to say that “Ambedkar’s legacy as a socio-political reformer had a deep effect on modern India. In post-Independence India, his socio-political thought is respected across the political spectrum. His initiatives have influenced various spheres of life and transformed the way India today looks at socio-economic policies, education and affirmative action through socio-economic and legal incentives. His reputation as a scholar led to his appointment as free India’s first law minister, and chairman of the committee for drafting the constitution. He passionately believed in individual freedom and criticised caste society. His accusations of Hinduism as being the foundation of the caste system made him controversial and unpopular among Hindus. His conversion to Buddhism sparked a revival in interest in Buddhist philosophy in India and abroad”.

His work, straddling the line between inside and outside, between reform and revolution, between society and the individual, between religion and spirituality, offers many lessons to those interested in cultural democracy. In this episode Owen Kelly points out just a few of them.