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B. R. Ambedkar headshot

B. R. Ambedkar

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This individual is not a direct affiliate of the Berkley Center.

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was an Indian nationalist, Dalit leader, and Buddhist revivalist. He was born into a poor Untouchable/Dalit Hindu family in 1891 and became one of the first Untouchables to earn a college degree. He led numerous efforts throughout his life to end caste discrimination, and became a vocal critic of Gandhi for Gandhi’s support of the caste system. To ensure equal untouchable representation, Ambedkar advocated a separate electorate system for Dalits. Gandhi opposed this, but they reached a compromise with the Poona Pact in 1932. In 1935, he announced that, because of caste injustices, he would not die a Hindu. He urged his followers to abandon Hinduism and grew increasingly involved with Buddhism. After independence, he was invited to draft India’s new constitution. He officially converted to Buddhism in 1956 and died less than two months later.