Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 in Mhow in Madhya Pradesh. He went on to become one of India’s greatest leaders and was the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. All his life he fought to remove discrimination, deprivation and degradation from society.
On his 128th birth anniversary, here are 10 interesting facts that you might not know about him.
1. Ambedkar was not his original name
Ambavadekar which is derived from the name of his native village ‘Ambavade’ in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra was his original surname. It was changed to Ambedkar by his school teacher Mahadev Ambedkar who was very fond of him, so he changed his name in the school records
2. He was the first Indian to pursue a Ph.D. in economics abroad
In fact, not only this, he was the first person to get a double doctorate in Economics in South Asia. He did his first Ph.D. from Columbia University followed by another from the London School of Economics.
3. He played an instrumental role is in the establishment of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 1935
The idea of RBI was conceptualized by Ambedkar in his book ‘The Problem of the Rupee – Its Origin and Its Solution’ which he later presented to the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance or the Hilton Young Commission.
4. The Mahad Satyagraha of 1927 was his first important movement
This Satyagraha was one of the most defining moments in the political and social life of Ambedkar. It was held in Mahad, a small town of Maharashtra, three years prior to the Dandi March of Gandhiji. The central idea of this march was to assert the rights of Dalits to use water from public water sources.
5. Working hours in India were changed from 14 hours to 8 hours by him
He played a key role in bringing about several labour reform as the member for labour in the viceroy’s council from 1942 to 1946. In the 7th session of Indian Labour Conference, he changed the working hours from 12 to 8 in November 1942.
6. Autobiography of Ambedkar is taught as a textbook in his alma mater Columbia University
The 20-page autobiographical account which Ambedkar wrote in 1935-36 after his return from America and Europe reflects his experiences with untouchability since his childhood.
7. He opposed Article 370 of the Indian constitution
He even refused to draft Article 370 which has given the state of J&K a special status on the grounds that it is discriminatory and against the unity and integrity of the nation. However, this article was eventually drafted by the former Diwan to Maharajah Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, Gopalswamy Ayyangar.
8. He fought for the comprehensive Hindu Code Bill for three years
He even resigned from his post of the first law minister of India when this bill which gave rights to women was dropped by the Indian parliament. This bill proposed dual purpose – first, to empower them by giving their due rights and second, to abolish caste inequalities and social disparities.
9. He was the first person to suggest the division of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar
In his book ‘Thoughts on Linguistic States’ which was published in 1995, he suggested the idea to split the states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. This idea was actually implemented by a good 45 years and Jharkhand was formed out of Bihar while Chhattisgarh out of Madhya Pradesh.
10. He was pivotal in the development of our National policy for water and electricity
He played an instrumental role in the initiation and development of some of the major multipurpose river valley projects in India like the Bhakra Nangal Dam project, the Damodar Valley project, etc. Not only this, the Central Water Commission was also established by him to facilitate the development of irrigation projects at both the central and state level.
He also established the Central Electricity Authority and established the Central Technical Power Board (CTPB) to establish the hydro and thermal power stations in the nation.