Dr. Ambedkar was the first man to make a scientific study of untouchability: Even though Gandhiji had thought of the ways of removal of untouchability before the birth of Dr. Ambedkar, it was Ambedkar who drew the attention of the Congress Organisation and also of the entire nation towards the grave problems of the untouchables and their deplorable conditions. Ambedkar had made a detailed study of the problem of untouchability, its origin, development etc. 2. Self-Respect Movement: Dr. Ambedkar had made it clear that his main aim in life was to remove the practice of untouchability and to take the so-called “untouchable community” towards socio-economic equality and justice. Through his social-movement he wanted to instill in the minds of the untouchables the ideas of self-dignity, self-confidence and self-respect.

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Thus his movement is often called “self-respect movement.” Ambedkar established an institution called “Bahishkrita Hitakarini Sabha” which added momentum to this movement. 3. Five-Principles or “Pancha-Sutras” for the Progress of ‘Dalits’: Dr.

Ambedkar wanted the untouchables or ‘dalits’ to follow some principles in life so that they could attain a respectable status by their own efforts as a community. He recommended “Pancha-sutras” for them. (i) Self-Improvement: Making one’s own efforts for one’s improvement without expecting much from other; (ii) Self-Progress: Making self-efforts for achieving progress in life; (iii) Self-Depen­dence: Learning to lessen one’s dependence on others and attaining finally self-reliance; (iv) Self- Respect: Maintaining self-dignity and never sacrificing it for any reason, (v) Self-Confidence: De­veloping confidence in oneself, in one’s capacities and in one’s efforts. 4. Call to Reform the Style of Life: Ambedkar made an appeal to his community to change its style of life to suit to the needs of time. “He urged them to stop the dragging of dead cattle out of the village.

He wanted them to give up eating carrion, alcoholic drinks and begging. He wanted them to become literates and send their children to schools. Finally, he wanted them to dress well and have self-respect for themselves. Thus, one of his chief aims was to bring about a revolution in the way of life of the untouchables and in their aspirations for themselves and for their children.’” 5. Three Principles of Dalit Movement: “Education, Agitation and Organisation”: Dr. Ambedkar suggested three principles to govern the “dalit movement”. These principles are: “educa­tion, agitation and organisation”.

(i) Education is essential for helping the dalits to take out their mask of ignorance; (ii) Agita­tion becomes inevitable to fight against all the exploiters and cheats; (iii) Organisation is necessary to thrash out individual differences, to realise community interests and to fight for a common cause collectively. After the All-India Depressed Class Conference in Nagpur in 1942 Ambedkar declared, “My final word of advice is to educate, agitate, organise and have faith in yourself. It is a battle for the reclamation of human personality.” Personal efforts to put the three principles into practice: Ambedkar himself worked to put these three principles into practice. Ambedkar encouraged the education of dalits through the organisations he established namely, “Bahishkrita Hitakarini Sabha”, “Independent Labour Party” and “Depressed Classes’ Education Society”. Ambedkar organised agitations in the direction of reaching his goals. His own words reveal his faith in agitations.

“The direct action in respect of Chowder Tank in Mahad (of Kolaba District, Maharashtra), the Kalaram Temple at Nasik and the Guruvayur temple in Malabar have done in a few days what million days of preaching by reformers would never have done”. He personally led the temple entry agitation at Nasik. In 1930, just 10 days before Gandhiji’s “Dandi March”, Ambedkar launched a big temple entry movement at Nasik before the Kalaram Temple in which more than 15000 volunteers including 500 women had taken part. The programme of temple entry was more for creating social consciousness than for asserting religious rights. Dr. Ambedkar realised the importance of “Organisation” and worked to build a few of them. Examples: “Bahishkrita Hitakarini Sabha” [1924], Mahad Conference or Dasgaon Dalit Confer­ence, [1927] “Independent Labour Party”.

As early as in 1920 he had made attempts to organise all the untouchable castes and bring them under one banner. He had organised the first All-India Con­ference of Untouchables in May 1920 at Nagpur. 6. Call to Destroy the Caste System: Ambedkar in his efforts to raise the status of untouch­ables considered the caste system one of the great obstacles. He expressed his great disappointment with the caste as well as varna system.

He even gave a call to destroy the caste system in his famous book called “Annihilation of Caste” [1936]. He wrote in “Harijan” in 1933 – “the Outcaste is byproduct of the caste system”. Nothing can emancipate the outcaste except the destruction of caste system.” As an expression of his disillusionment with Hinduism, he rejected Hinduism and em­braced Buddhism with his followers in 1956. [He, however, died in the very same year, that is on 6th December 1956], 7. Political Role of Ambedkar: Ambedkar made use of political instruments to achieve the purpose of protecting dalit interests. Demand for Separate Electorate for Dalits. In the First Round Table Conference convened in London in November 1930 Dr.

Ambedkar, who attended it on behalf of the depressed classes, spoke about the loathsome condition of the untouchables in India. He prepared a declaration of the fundamental rights of the depressed classes and submitted it to the minorities sub-committee. He demanded the abolition of untochability and the establishment of equal citizenship. He vehemently demanded a separate electorate for the depressed classes.

Gandhiji, who boycotted the first Confer­ence and participated in the Second Round Table Conference at London along with Ambedkar, op­posed the proposal. He said “the political separation of the untouchables and the Hindus would be suicidal to the nation.” He even said that he would resist such a proposal with his life. He declared his resolution of “last-unto-death”. The conflict between the two leaders was however, settled by the famous “Poona Pact” [1932].

Ambedkar was able to get some reasonable representation for the untouchables. Ambedkar who met Gandhiji in 1931 insisted on making the removal at untouchability a pre­condition for a person to become a member of the Congress. He supported the Anti-Untouchability League which launched a campaign all over the country to secure for the depressed classes enjoy­ment of their civil rights such as taking water from the village wells, admission of the children in village schools etc. 8. Ambedkar as the “Abhinava Manu”: Ambedkar was invited by the Prime Minister Nehru to be the Law Minister in the First Cabinet of Independent India.

Ambedkar accepted the offer. He was made the Chairman of the Drafting Committee to draft the Indian Constitution. Article 17 of the Constitution abolished untouchability. Ambedkar had once declared that he would burn “Manu Smritf’ for its failure to provide justice to the dalits. The same Ambedkar now could get the opportunity and the honour of giving to the people of India their Constitution.

He is rightly called the “Abhinava Manu” [or “Modern Manu”]. He was awarded the “Bharata Ratna” title posthumously. Ambedkar’s ideas, views and thoughts continue to influence and inspire a number of his followers who are spread ‘ over the entire nation.