*in the 1920's*
HOW TO ORGANIZE THE DOWNTRODDEN?
Dr. Ambedkar completed his academic work, and began in earnest his lifelong struggle for political rights and social justice for the downtrodden, and especially for the untouchables; his activities started to bring him into conflict with the views and plans of the Congress Party.
|==1920== Dr. Ambedkar started a weekly paper, "Mooknayak" ("Leader of the Voiceless") in Marathi, with the help of the reform-minded Shahu I, Maharaja of Kolhapur (*Imperial Gazetteer*; *Imperial Gazetteer map*). In the first issue he called India a "home of inequality," and described Hindu society as "a tower which had several storeys without a ladder or an entrance. One was to die in the storey in which one was born." The Depressed Classes must be saved "from perpetual slavery, poverty, and ignorance"; herculean efforts must be made "to awaken them to their disabilities." (*Keer*, pp.41-42.)|
|==1920== In March, he spoke at a Depressed Classes conference in Mangaon in Kolhapur State; it was attended by the Maharaja of Kolhapur, who publicly praised him as a future national leader. At the end of the conference the Maharaja and his courtiers shocked the tradition-minded by actually dining with Ambedkar and his caste members. (*Keer*, p. 42.)|
May, the Maharaja of Kolhapur convened another such
conference, in ; Nagpur (*Imperial Gazetteer*; *Imperial Gazetteer map*), a town
later to acquire a major symbolic significance in Dr.
"At the conclusion of the conference, Ambedkar made an attempt in the direction of consolidating the forces of the Depressed Classes. In the Central Provinces the Mahar community had eighteen sub-castes. He called the leaders of the community together and gave a dinner in which they all participated. It should be noted that with great persuasion Ambedkar could get all the sub-castes of the Mahar community, and not all the Untouchable communities, to dine together. It was not possible yet to make all the communities belonging to the Untouchables participate in an intercaste dinner!" (*Keer*, p. 43.)
resigned from his teaching position, in July he returned
to London; he relied on his own savings, supplemented by
loans from his friend Naval Bhathena and
the Maharaja of Kolhapur. He returned to the
London School of Economics, and to Gray's Inn to read
for the Bar. He lived in poverty, and studied constantly
in the British Museum. (*Keer*, pp. 44-46.)
Despite claims to the contrary, during this London visit he never actually met Bertrand Russell, whose ideas had strongly influenced him: *a modern scholarly study*.
|== "My dear Prof. Seligman,
You will probably be surprized to see me back in London. I am on my way to New York but I am halting in London for about two years to finish a piece or two of research work which I have undertaken. Of course I long to be with you again for it was when I was thrown into academic life by reason of my being a professor at the Sydenham College of Commerce & Economics in Bombay, that I realized the huge debt of gratitude I owe to the Political Science Faculty of the Columbia University in general and to you in particular.
While I am in London I wish to utilize certain research facilities and I should be extremely obliged if you can send me a letter of introduction to Prof. Sidney Webb, Profs. Marshall, Nicholson and Foxwell. I am sure you know them and will not withhold this much kindness from your loving student,
B. R. Ambedkar
(Source: letter of August 3, 1920, Seligman papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University)
"At the time, along with Ambedkar, many Indian students
were studying in England. Ambedkar would neatly fold his
clothes and store them under his mattress; because of
that, his friends would ask him, "Do you iron your
clothes every day?" Ambedkar would laugh, and keep his
secret to himself." (*Khairmode*
|==1922== Through unremitting hard work (sustained on insufficient food and sleep), Ambedkar once again overfulfilled all expectations: he completed a thesis for a M.Sc. (Econonics) degree at London School of Economics; and was called to the bar (*photo*); and submitted a Ph.D. thesis in economics to the University of London. (*Keer*, pp. 48-49.)|
|== "My dear Prof. Seligman, Having lost my manuscript of the original thesis when the steamer was torpedoed on my way back to India in 1917 I have written out a new thesis...|
|==1922== He planned to do further research in economics at the University of Bonn (and also toyed with the idea of studying Sanskrit there). He sent to the university *a handwritten letter and CV in German*, but the whole project didn't work out. He soon had to return to London to deal with challenges to his thesis.|
|==1923== His Ph.D. thesis at the University of London, *"The Problem of the Rupee"*, was challenged on political grounds (for its allegedly subversive, anti-British implications), but was resubmitted and finally accepted. It was at once published in London (by P. S. King and Son, Ltd.), and was "dedicated to the memory of my father and mother, as a token of my abiding gratitude for the sacrifices they made and the enlightenment they showed in the matter of my education." (*Keer*, pp. 49-50.)|
in Bombay after a somewhat
harrowing return voyage, Dr. Ambedkar received a warm
welcome from his community. His family had been in
financial straits during his absence. His books
were sent home by a close friend
of his, an Englishwoman called 'F'; Khairmode
emphasizes Dr. Ambedkar's somewhat flirtatious charm. He
was a brilliant speaker, but also sometimes showed an almost
cruel streak. It was hard for him to be patient
with his sons; family life
often exasperated him. But there were moments of humor
as well. At times he was happy enough to sing aloud.
During this period, he and Ramabai still
performed the Hindu rituals that had been
traditional in his family.
Now he began to practice as a barrister in Bombay. He founded the "Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha" (Group for the Wellbeing of the Excluded), to help the Depressed Classes mobilize. Its motto was "Educate, Agitate, Organise." (*Kadam*, pp. 80-81.)
|==1925== He also began to lecture part-time on mercantile law at Batliboi's Accountancy Training Institute (June 1925-March 1928). In addition, he published his London School of Economics M.A. thesis as *"The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India"*; it was dedicated to the Gaikwar of Baroda ("for his help in the matter of my education"), and had an introduction by Prof. Seligman. He also gave *testimony before the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance*. (*Kadam*, p. 81.)|
Ramabai lost their much-loved baby son, Rajaratna;
both parents were thrown into despair.
== "There is no use pretending that I and my wife have recovered from the shock of our son's death, and I do not think that we ever shall. We have in all buried four precious children, three sons and a daughter, all lively, auspicious, and handsome children. The thought of this is sufficiently crushing, let alone the future which would have been theirs if they had lived....My last boy was a wonderful boy, the like of whom I have seldom seen. With his passing away life to me is a garden full of weeds. But enough of this, I am too overcome to write any more." (--A letter to a friend, Aug. 16, 1926, quoted in *Keer*, p. 66.)
|==1926== The Governor of Bombay nominated him as a member of the Bombay Legislative Council; he took his duties seriously, and often delivered speeches on economic matters. Here are some of his *important speeches, 1927-28*.|
|==1926== He led the satyagraha at Mahad to exercise the right of Untouchables to draw water from the Chavdar Tank. He ceremonially took a drink of water from the tank, after which local caste Hindus rioted, and Brahmins took elaborate measure for the ritual purification of the tank. (*Kadam*, p. 83.)|
|==1927== On January 1st, he held a meeting at the Koregaon Victory Memorial, 17 miles from Poona, which commemorates the defeat of the Peshwa's forces and the inauguration of British rule. The names of Mahar soldiers who fought with the British are inscribed there on a marble tablet. Such meetings still take place annually there on that day. (*Kadam*, pp. 82-83; Eleanor Zelliot, personal communication, Feb. 2005)|
|==1927== On June 8, he was formally awarded the Ph.D. degree from Columbia University. His Ph.D. thesis was *"The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India"*. (Note: different dates are given in different sources for this event, but this is the one given on his own official transcript, preserved in the Registrar's Office, Columbia University.)|
|==1927== On December 24th, he addressed a second Depressed Classes Conference in Mahad; he attacked the Laws of Manu (*one site*; *another site*), and then a copy of this ancient text was publicly burned, to the shock and horror of many caste Hindus. (*Kadam*, p. 87.)|
|==1928== Dr. Ambedkar was appointed Professor at the Government Law College, Bombay; his term of appointment ended in 1929. (*Kadam*, p. 89.)|
|==1928== Dr. Ambedkar was selected as a member of the Bombay Presidency Committee to work with the Simon Commission, drafting guidelines for political change in India. Congress decided to boycott the Simon Commission because it had no Indians on it. Discussion: *Syed Amjad Ali*; *Banglapedia*. Dissenting from the views of many of his colleagues, Dr. Ambedkar prepared *a detailed report* setting out his own recommendations.|
|==1929== Dr. Ambedkar closed his second journal, "Bahiskrit Bharat" ("Excluded India"), which he had started in 1927, and replaced it with the "Janata" ("The People"), which was published until 1956, when it took on the name "Prabuddha Bharata" (after his conversion). (*Kadam*, p. 93; Eleanor Zelliot, private communication, Jan. 2005.)|
|==1929== On Oct. 23, during a visit to Chalisgaon, he had a bad accident, and was confined to bed until the last week of December:|
|== "At Chalisgaon I got down to go to a village on the Dhulia line, to investigate a case of social boycott which had been declared by the caste Hindus against the untouchables of that village. The untouchables of Chalisgaon came to the station and requested me to stay for the night with them.... [the story is continued in Part Three of Waiting for a Visa)|
|== on to the 1930's ==|
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