Celebrating Ambedkar | The importance of 'Bhim Jayanti'

Ambedkar's vision encompassed the liberation of all oppressed groups, and it is this pursuit of freedom that is advanced during commemorations of his birth anniversary.
Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 11:42 IST
Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 11:42 IST

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Ambedkar Jayanti, also known as Bhim Jayanti, is observed annually on April 14th to honor the birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. An economist and a reformer, Ambedkar played a pivotal role in shaping the Indian Constitution and served as the first Law Minister of Independent India. This year marks his 134th birthday and is being celebrated with enthusiasm nationwide.

A prominent figure in Indian history, Ambedkar is renowned for his efforts in abolishing untouchability and advocating for the empowerment of Dalits, believing that their rights could not be attained within Hinduism caste-ist fold. He played a key role in awakening Dalit consciousness, fueling their pursuit of political representation in the newly independent India.

Ambedkar, a multifaceted personality, served as a jurist, economist, politician, and social reformer. He is chiefly remembered as the principal architect of the Indian Constitution, which enshrined the principles of equality and established India as a democratic republic.

Significance of Bhim Jayanti

Ambedkar championed social freedom, arguing that legal freedoms hold little value without social liberties for the oppressed. The significance of Ambedkar Jayanti lies in our continued struggles to grant equality of opportunity, choice and dignity to all Indian citizens within a stratified society. Marginalized groups still face retaliation based on the ancient laws of Manu and this day, every year, serves as a rallying point in the ongoing struggle against Brahmanical overreach and dominance on modern Indian society.

In his influential work Annihilation of Caste, presented to the Jat Pat Todak Mandal in 1936, Dr Ambedkar proposed radical solutions. Recognizing the inadequacy of mere intermingling and interdining, he advocated for rejecting Dharma shastras, smritis, and Vedas to dismantle Brahmanical hegemony. Doubtful of reform efforts within Hinduism, he called for the abolition of priesthood and the promotion of social mobility based on merit rather than birth.

Ambedkar stressed the importance of embracing diverse cultural values and fostering mutual respect. He envisioned a society founded on the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity, striving to eliminate socio-economic disparities. Despite his advocacy for democratic ideals, he questioned democracy's compatibility with India's entrenched caste system.

His vision encompassed the liberation of all oppressed groups, and it is this pursuit of freedom that is advanced during commemorations of his birth anniversary.

Inspiring quotes by Ambedkar

Here are some quotes by Dr Baba Saheb that remain relevant in current times, and serve as a reminder of sheer intellect and thoughtfulness in one of the greatest philosophers and reformers of our times:

  • “Lost rights are never regained by appeals to the conscience of the usurpers, but by relentless struggle.... Goats are used for sacrificial offerings and not lions.”

  • “Political tyranny is nothing compared to social tyranny and a reformer who defies society is a more courageous man than a politician who defies Government.”

  • “Men are mortal. So are ideas. An idea needs propagation as much as a plant needs watering. Otherwise, both will wither and die.”

  • “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.”

  • “Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules it ceases to be religion, as it kills the responsibility which is the essence of a truly religious act.”

  • "In the Hindu religion, one can[not] have freedom of speech. A Hindu must surrender his freedom of speech. He must act according to the Vedas. If the Vedas do not support the actions, instructions must be sought from the Smritis, and if the Smritis fail to provide any such instructions, he must follow in the footsteps of the great men. He is not supposed to reason. Hence, so long as you are in the Hindu religion, you cannot expect to have freedom of thought."

  • “The history of India is nothing but a history of a mortal conflict between Buddhism and Brahminism”

  • “I am proud of my country, India, for having a constitution that enshrines principles of democracy, socialism, and secularism.”

  • “I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.”

  • “Be educated, be organized, and be agitated.”

Published 14 April 2024, 11:42 IST

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