Editorial Articles

Editorial Article

Remembering the Father of Indian Constitution – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar


Raghul Sudheesh

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, is referred to as the architect of the Indian Constitution. Dr. Ambedkar was born in a community which had suffered oppression for many centuries and were treated as ‘untouchables’. However, this did not prevent him from realising his dreams. The struggle he had faced in his life had only strengthened him.

At a time when untouchability was the norm, it was  because of the foresight of Maharaja Sayaji Rao of Baroda that Dr. Ambedkar was able to enter Elphinstone College in Bombay and after graduation join the Baroda State Service. Later, the Maharaja, who was sending some students to the USA for higher studies at the Columbia University, included Dr. Ambedkar among them. Subsequently, Dr. Ambedkar moved to the United Kingdom and studied at the London School of Economics and was subsequently awarded the degree of Barrister-at-Law by Gray’s Inn.

Though Dr. Ambedkar has contributed in many walks of life as a scholar, journalist, economist, activist, legal luminary, social reformer and political leader; his biggest and most important contribution was in his role as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution of India.

After India’s Independence on August 15, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, invited Dr. Ambedkar to be a part of his Cabinet as the nation’s first Law Minister. He accepted the same and on August 29, 1947 Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee.

R Venkataraman, former President of India in his Message to the book, “Dr. B. R. Ambedkar - The Man and His Message” mentions, “As Chairman of the Drafting Committee, Dr. Ambedkar anticipated every conceivable requirement of the new polity. Drawing from the examples and experiences of other nations and the distinctive needs of our own society, he raised, brick by brick, the magnificent edifice which now stands as the Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India. There were, of course, other luminaries on the Committee like Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, K. M. Munshi and N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar who also made vital contributions to the process of Constitution-making but if there is one person who will be remembered as the pilot of the various provisions of the Indian Constitution, it will surely be Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. It devolved on Dr. Ambedkar to explain (to the Assembly), with a combination of tact and frankness, and utmost patience, the meaning and scope of the different provisions of the Draft Constitution. He had the rare gift of unravelling the most complicated legal concepts in a language which the laymen understood.” He adds, “Dr. Ambedkar had a clear perception of the mutuality of the three pillars of State - the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. He realised that the jurisdiction of each should be clear and untrammelled. At the same time, he had a sense of the limitations of these three pillars of democracy and of the importance of the role of citizens.”

Dr. Ambedkar had entered the Constituent Assembly solely to protect the interests of the downtrodden people and he had no other interests. He once said, “I came into the Constituent Assembly with no greater aspiration than to safeguard the interests of the Scheduled Castes. I had not the remotest idea that I would be called upon to undertake more responsible functions. I was therefore greatly surprised when the Assembly elected me to the Drafting Committee. I was more than surprised when the Drafting Committee elected me to be its Chairman. There were in the Drafting Committee men bigger, better and more competent than myself such as my friend Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar. I am grateful to the Constituent Assembly and the Drafting Committee for reposing in me so much trust and confidence and to have chosen me as their instrument and given me this opportunity of serving the country.”

Regarding the working of the Constitution, Dr. Ambedkar once expressed his honest opinion that the working of the Constitution did not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution. He says, “The Constitution can provide only the organs of State such as the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. The factors on which the working of these organs of the State depend are the people and the political parties they will set up as their instruments to carry out their wishes and their politics”.

The Constitution of India has stood the test of time. The world’s largest democracy India, as a Nation has witnessed many challenging times and scenarios. If the Union of India has remained intact, the credit for that must be given to the Constitution of India. 

In a fitting tribute to Dr. Ambedkar, eminent Constitutional Historian and author, Dr. M. V. Pylee says, In the Constituent Assembly none else was so forceful and persuasive in arguments, clear and lucid in expression, quick and arresting in debate. And yet, he had always the generosity to concede the credit to a critic who made a valid point and to frankly acknowledge it. Dr. Ambedkar's contribution to the Constitution is undoubtedly of the highest order. Indeed, he was a great visionary and law maker and deserves to be called the father or the chief architect of the Constitution of India.

(The Author is a Legal Journalist and the Founder of Lexlab, a publisher of law books. Views expressed are personal. e-mail : raghul@lexlab.in)