Even though B.R. Ambedkar is a monumental figure in the emancipation of both the Dalits and women in India, rarely have we been taught enough about him in our history classes. Today, when the nation is celebrating the 130th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, it is important that we highlight his role as a social reformer, chairman of the draft committee of the Indian Constitution, as well as the first law minister of the country. It is also worth remembering that he was a distinguished economist, active politician, labour leader, great parliamentarian, fine scholar, anthropologist and orator.
As someone who reclaimed the dignity of the Depressed Classes and strived to redefine the social fabric of India, Ambedkar became a prominent figure in nation building.
If you want to know more about Ambedkar and his thoughts, do check out our handy homegrown list below:
I. The Doctor and the Saint: The Ambedkar–Gandhi Debate: Caste, Race, and Annihilation of Caste
To best understand and address the inequality in India today, Arundhati Roy insists we must examine both the political development and influence of M.K. Gandhi and why B.R. Ambedkar’s brilliant challenge to his near-divine status was suppressed by India’s elite. In Roy’s analysis, we see that Ambedkar’s fight for justice was systematically sidelined in favor of policies that reinforced caste, resulting in the current nation of India: independent of British rule, globally powerful, and marked to this day by the caste system.
This book situates Ambedkar’s arguments in their vital historical context-namely, as an extended public political debate with Mohandas Gandhi.
‘For more than half a century-throughout his adult life-[Gandhi’s] pronouncements on the inherent qualities of black Africans, untouchables and the laboring classes remained consistently insulting,’ writes Roy.
‘His refusal to allow working-class people and untouchables to create their own political organizations and elect their own representatives remained consistent too.’
In The Doctor and the Saint, Roy exposes some uncomfortable, controversial, and even surprising truths about the political thought and career of India’s most famous and most revered figure. In doing so, she makes the case for why Ambedkar’s revolutionary intellectual achievements must be resurrected, not only in India but throughout the world.
II. Riddles in Hinduism
Riddles in Hinduism is one of his many works B.R. Ambedkar did not get to publish in his lifetime. Ambedkar began writing Riddles in Hinduism in the first week of January 1954 and completed it by the end of November 1955.
I. ‘Beyond Belief’ by BBC
It has been 70 years since the new country of Pakistan was born, followed the next day by an independent India. There can be few who are unaware of the seminal role played by Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for independence. Much less known is Dr. B.R Ambedkar. Many would argue that his contribution was every bit as important. Ambedkar was the country’s first Law Minister and he was the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. He was a Dalit - or Untouchable - and he had a major falling out with Gandhi on how the problem of Untouchability should be dealt with.
In this podcast, the podcast host is joined by Dr. Ananya Vajpeyi, Fellow and Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi; Santosh Das, President of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations and Vice Chair of the Anti Caste Alliance; and William Gould, Professor of Indian History at Leeds University.
You can find the podcast here.
II. Columbia University Ambedkar Initiative Podcast
Led by Prof. Anupama Rao, The Ambedkar Initiative links Columbia University with the anti-caste legacy of B. R. Ambedkar and recognizes his continued relevance to discussions about social justice, affirmative action, and democratic thinking in a global frame. The project is dedicated to exploring genealogies of radical democracy outside the North Atlantic, addressing the complex interrelationship of identity inequality in global frame and recognising emergent affinities and solidarities in the struggle for recognition and social justice.
You can watch the podcast here.
I. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is a 2000 Indian English-Hindi bilingual feature film directed by Jabbar Patel. It tells the story of B.R. Ambedkar, known mainly for his contributions in the emancipation of the downtrodden and oppressed classes in India and shaping the Constitution of India, as the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constituent Assembly.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English, Best Actor (Mammootty) and Best Art Direction (Nitin Chandrakant Desai) in 1999. The film was screened retrospective on August 15, 2016 at the Independence Day Film Festival jointly presented by the Indian Directorate of Film Festivals and Ministry of Defence, commemorating 70th Indian Independence Day.
You can watch the documentary here.
II. Bhim Garjana
Bhim Garjana is a 1989 biographical film in the Marathi language directed by Sudhakar Waghmare. Krishnanand and Pratima Devi played the lead roles in the film.
Watch an extract from the film here.
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