Preparation For Long Walk To Freedom -Dr.B.R.Ambedkar
Dr. Ambedkar studied at the universities of Bombay, Columbia, London, and Bonn [intermittently] where he experienced the difference between caste ridden India, and western world. An exposure to western ‘enlightenment’, ‘thinkers’ and ‘scholars’ like John Dewey, Goldenwiezer A.A., R.A. Seligman, Edwin Canan, James Shotwell, James H. Robinson, Franklin Giddings, Harold Laski, Edmund Burke, Voltaire, J. S. Mill, E. Renan, Carlyle, Dicey, Herbert Apathekar, Sidney Webb, Kingsley Martin, Morris Dobband and others expanded the horizons of mind, which lead to the ‘spirit of inquiry’, but with originality of thought. With the studies ongoing Ambedkar started the liberation movement of the Depressed Classes (DCs) – the Untouchables [and Tribals]. He represented before the Southborough Committee (1919) for representation of DCs in Bombay Province; started Periodical MukhNayak (Voice of the Voiceless) in 1920 and formed Depressed Classes Institute (1924). The intellectual inquiries of the period from 1916 to 1924 include Castes In India (1916), Small Holding In India And Their Remedies (1918), Burtrand Russel And The Reconstruction of Society (1918).
Movement for Human Rights and Constitutional India
By 1926, December Dr. Ambedkar was nominated on Bombay Legislative Council (BLC) and was a prominent figure. Mahad Satyagrah (1927) was launched by Him to challenge the caste-untouchability code of injustice & inhumanism, and to establish the “civil and political rights” of the DCs as fundamental rights. The Satyagrah conducted in two phases in March and December 1927, witnessed the Untouchables fetching water for their natural rights; burning of Hindu code book manusmriti and adopting resolutions on lines of those of French Assembly of 1789, as Declaration of Birth Rights of All Hindus. An emphasis on “social revolution” to remove all manmade barriers and “Manuski” (Humanism) were laid by Ambedkar. His stand was vindicated by His being appointed by BLC to work with Simon Commission (Indian Statutory Commission, 1928), wherein the memorandum and evidences submitted by Dr. Ambedkar classically put forth the rights and safeguards required for the DCs. He also argued for ‘universal adult franchise’ both for male & female alike; for provincial autonomy in provinces and dyrarchy at centre before the Commission. Its significant to note that universal adult franchise was then yet to be guaranteed in most of European countries and just done in Finland (1906), Austria (1919), and Britain (1929). He also worked on Starte Committee and was instrumental in drafting its report which guaranteed education by schools, hostels, scholarships; industrial training; recruitment of DCs in police; housing; allocation of land to the ex-untouchables and Tribals of Bombay province. The Mahad Satyagrah is contemporary to Slavery Convention (1926) and other movements of human rights in the world. It is the first movement of Human Rights of India wherein the assertion of right to fetch water for the Untouchables was given narrative of ‘rights’ to be ‘guaranteed’ in the Constitution.
The Kalaram temple entry movement, Nashik (1930-33) was initiated for establishing the principle of “religious equality” in the official doctrine of inequality of Hinduism; and to appeal the conscience of caste Hindus. An independent movement & organization, independent of both the nationalist, communist, communalists and that of non-brahmins was the ‘key’. So was the thought of Manuski (Humanism) and bringing a change in the Hindu social order. The timings of Mahad Satyagrah and Kalaram temple entry movement was strategically decided in view of Simon Commission (1928) and RTCs (1930-33). The Champion of Human Rights of the Depressed Classes was nominated for Round Table Conferences (1930-33), London, where the constitutional advent for the people of British India [and Princely States] was to be decided. Dr. Ambedkar represented the cause of DCs which to him was “midway between the serf and slave.” He argued for a government “of the people, for the people and by the people”, a constitution acceptable to the majority of people and other issues of constitutional significance for India. Two Memorandums of political safeguards for the protection of the DCs in the constitution, and for a special representation was also submitted by Him, along with R. Srinivasan.