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Ambedkar Research Scholars

The sac encourages research scholars to engage with dr b r ambedkar's history, from his time at the lse and beyound..

Ambedkar

Dr B R Ambedkar is one of the most important alumnus of LSE, from where he was awarded his MA and PhD. His doctoral thesis on ‘The Indian Rupee’, written in 1922-23, was later published as  The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution  (London: P S King & Son, Ltd, 1923). Ambedkar was a Social Reformer, Economist, Parliamentarian, Jurist, and the Principal Architect of the Constitution of India.

A short biography can be found on the LSE History blog, along with a description of his time at the LSE.

2015 Scholars Visits

As part of the 125th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Dr B R Ambedkar, the SAC hosted two delegations of research scholars and government officials for week-long visits on 24-31 October 2015 and 21-28 November 2015, in collaboration with the High Commission of India in London and the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India.

With two tours of 25 students & three officers each, the objectives of these trips were i) to show how HE institutions function in the UK, ii) the academic and educational facilities available that are relevant to theirresearch interests at LSE, iii) the rare archival collections relevant to India in museums and collections in London, iv) the multiculturallie in London and v) to introduce students to issues of social inequality, injustice and empowerment affecting contemporary Britain. 

Whilst here, two students were interviewed by Rozelle Laha from the Hindustan Times , culminating in an article published in the Delhi edition (in page 19) on Wednesday, 2 December 2015. 

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100 Years of the Problem of Rupee: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's Historic Thesis Shapes India's Economic Future

Ambedkarites have persistently advocated for the inclusion of Baba Saheb's image on Indian currency considering his precious contribution in shaping India's economy.

Lucknow - What was the title of the thesis that Dr. B. R. Ambedkar submitted to the London School of Economics, for which he was awarded his doctorate in 1923? This might appear to be quite an easy question for most Ambedkarites, but Himani Bundela, a native of Jhansi, who breezed through the 15 questions of Kaun Banega Crorepati to win Rs 1 crore, couldn’t answer this question and deprived herself of the chance to win Rs 7 crore, the prize money for this question. The answer to this question – "The Problem of Rupee-its Origin and Solution" – is not an esoteric knowledge among Ambedkarites today. As the thesis completed 100 years in 2023, we take a look at the thesis that surpassed the boundaries of a research paper.

On this day, 15th December 1926, Dr. Ambedkar presented evidence before the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance on his thesis - "The Problem of Rupee." It is said that each member of this commission held a copy of Dr. Ambedkar’s 257-page paper. It is noteworthy that the paper completed 100 years this year, as it was presented and published in 1923 as the thesis for his doctoral research at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE).

dr ambedkar phd thesis 1923

The Doctoral Thesis that Laid the Foundation of the Indian Banking System

Dr. Ambedkar postulated the need, working style, and outlook of the Royal Commission, also known as the Hilton Young Commission. The Commission duly incorporated the guidelines presented by Ambedkar in 1926, and later the legislative assembly passed the recommendations in the name of the RBI Act 1934. Consequently, the Reserve Bank of India was established on 1st April 1935.

During British rule, the Indian currency was pegged to the British pound, and the exchange rate was fixed at a rate that favored British interests. The British Indian government had absolute control over the issuance of currency, and they used this power to manipulate the value of the rupee to their advantage.

In his thesis, he exposed the strategy of the British to keep the exchange rate inordinately high, which tipped the balance in favor of their factory products.

One of the major issues was the constant devaluation of the Indian rupee by the British government. The value of the rupee was artificially lowered to benefit British exporters and to finance the expenses of the colonial administration. This devaluation had severe economic consequences for the Indian population, leading to inflation and a decline in the standard of living.

dr ambedkar phd thesis 1923

Gold Exchange Standard

He argued that the gold exchange standard does not have stability, and developing countries like India cannot afford gold exchange standards as they are prone to inflationary pressures. He buttressed his claims with statistical figures. The thesis also advocated the regulation of government deficits and the circular flow of money. The book comprises seven chapters.

In the first three chapters of the book, he touches upon the deficiencies associated with silver currency. In the first chapter of the book known as “From a Double Standard to the Silver Standard,” he has touched upon the economic contours of the Mughal Empire and mentioned that the economic condition during the Mughal era was much better than that in the English Empire. Dr. Ambedkar explained how silver standards had been established through the waning of gold currency and how it had been supplemented by paper currency. He pointed out that Act XXIII of 1870 did nothing new - neither the number of the coins authorized by the mints nor its tender-powers. Rather, it helped make some improvements in monetary laws. Since the invention of coinage, people always thought that the actual value of the coin can be exact with the price of the coin legalized by the mint. So according to him, the exact value of the coin can’t, however, always be the same as the certified value.

In the second half of the chapters, Ambedkar draws a comparison between the rupee and coins. The second chapter is "The Silver Standard and the Dislocation of its Parity." In the introduction to the third chapter, “The Silver Standard and the Evils of its Instability,” Ambedkar was concerned about the economic results of the disruption of the ‘par’ of exchange, and he describes it as the most “far-reaching character.”

In the fourth chapter of the book, titled “Towards the Gold Standard,” Ambedkar focuses on how the establishment of a stable economic system was contingent upon the re-establishment of a common standard of value. In the seventh as well as the last chapter of the book titled “A Return to the Gold Standard,” Ambedkar examined the system of the economy that was moving towards the changes made in the exchange standards.

The Thesis that Left its Imprint on Economy and History

Only a few research papers and theses have left their imprint on the economic structure of an economy as "The Problem of Rupee-its Origin and its Solutions" has. The fact that the Reserve Bank of India, the central bank of the country, was formed based on the guidelines made in the research paper proves the acumen of Dr. Ambedkar as an economist.

The research paper was published in 1923 by P. S. King and Sons and had the foreword by Edward Kennan, who grossly disagreed with the assertion of Ambedkar in his thesis. The Thesis is also published by the Dr. Ambedkar Foundation as a part of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar's writings and speeches.

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dr ambedkar phd thesis 1923

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Why publication of b.r. ambedkar's thesis a century later will be significant, a contemporary relevance of the thesis, written as part of ambedkar's msc degree at the london school of economics, is that it argues for massive expenditure on heads like defence to be diverted to the social sector.

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dr ambedkar phd thesis 1923

Now, over a century after it was written, Ambedkar’s hitherto unpublished thesis on the provincial decentralisation of imperial finance in colonial times will finally see the light of the day. The Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Source Material Publication Committee of the Maharashtra government plans to publish the thesis that was written by Ambedkar as part of his MSc degree from the London School of Economics (LSE). The thesis, ‘Provincial Decentralisation of Imperial Finance in British India’, will be part of the 23rd volume of Ambedkar’s works to be published by the committee and will give a glimpse into the works of Ambedkar, the economist. Notably, the dissertation argues for expenditure on heads like defence to be diverted for social goods like education and public health.

The source material committee, which was set up in 1978, has published 22 volumes on Ambedkar’s writings since April 1979. “This volume will have two parts. One will contain the MSc thesis and the other will have communication and documents related to his MA, MSc, PhD and bar-at-law degrees,” confirmed Pradeep Aglave, member secretary of the committee. He added that the MSc thesis had been submitted to the LSE in 1921. Veteran Ambedkarite and founder of the Dalit Panthers, J.V. Pawar, who is a member of the committee, said it was significant that the thesis was being published over a century after it was written. Pawar played a pivotal role in ensuring that the committee was set up.

“This work deals with taxation and expenditure. The contemporary relevance of this thesis is that it seeks a progressive taxation based on income levels. Ambedkar argued that expenditure on heads like defence was huge and this needed to be diverted to social needs like education, public health, and water supply,” said Sukhadeo Thorat, economist and former chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC). Thorat was among those instrumental in the source material committee getting a copy of the thesis from London.

“The sixth volume (1989), published by the source material committee, contains Ambedkar’s writings on economics. This includes his works like ‘Administration and Finance of the East India Company’ (1915) and the ‘Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution’ (1923). However, this MSc thesis on provincial finance could not be included in it because it was not available then,” said Thorat.

J. Krishnamurty, a Geneva-based labour economist located the MSc thesis in the Senate House Library in London and approached Thorat who, in turn, communicated with Gautam Chakravarti of the Ambedkar International Mission in London. Santosh Das, another Ambedkarite from London, paid the fees for permission to reproduce the work in copyright. The soft copy of the thesis was sent to the source material committee on November 18, 2021.

In addition to the MSc thesis, the communication and letters related to his academics, such as the MA, PhD, MSc and DSc and bar-at-law including LLD (an honorary degree that was awarded to Ambedkar by the Columbia University in 1952after he finished drafting the Constitution of India, which remains one of his most significant contributions to modern India), were also arranged and compiled by Krishnamurty, Thorat and Aglave. This also includes the courses done by Ambedkar for his MA and pre-PHD at the Columbia University. These details are being published for the first time.

Ambedkar’s biographer Changdev Bhavanrao Khairmode, writes how Ambedkar worked untiringly in London for his MSc. Ambedkar secured admission for his MSc in the LSE on September 30, 1920 by paying a fee of 11 pounds and 11 shillings. He was given a student pass with the number 11038.

Ambedkar had prepared for his MSc in Mumbai, yet he began studying books and reports from four libraries in London, namely the London University’s general library, Goldsmiths' Library of Economic Literature and the libraries in the British Museum and India Office. In London, Ambedkar would wake up at 6 am, have the breakfast served by his landlady and rush to the library for his studies. Around 1 pm, he would take a short break for a meagre lunch or have just a cup of tea and then return to the library to study till it closed for the day.

“He would sleep for a few hours. He would stand at the doors of the library before it opened and before others came there,” says Khairmode in the first volume of his magisterial work on Ambedkar (Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Volume I) that was first published in 1952. The library staff in the British Museum would tell Ambedkar that they had not seen a student like him who was immersed in his books and they also doubted if they would get to see one like him in the future!

The volume also contains a letter written by Ambedkar in German on February 25, 1921 to the University of Bonn seeking admission. Ambedkar wanted to study Sanskrit language and German philosophy in the varsity’s department of Indology. In school, Ambedkar was discriminated against on grounds of caste and not allowed to learn Sanskrit. He had to learn Persian instead. Ambedkar secured admission to Bonn University but had to return to London three months later to revise and complete his DSc thesis.

Ambedkar completed his DSc in 1923 under the guidance of Professor Edwin Cannan of the LSE on the problem of the rupee, which is described as a “remarkable piece of research on Indian currency, and probably the first detailed empirical account of the currency and monetary policy during the period”.

Ambedkar was among the first from India to pursue doctoral studies in economics abroad. He specialised in finance and currency. His ‘The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India: A Study in the Provincial Decentralisation of Imperial Finance (1925)’, carried a foreword by Edwin R.A. Seligman, Professor of Economics, Columbia University, New York. Ambedkar also played a pivotal role in the conceptualisation and establishment of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 1935.

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Sue Donnelly

January 29th, 2016, “no more worlds here for him to conquer” – dr b r ambedkar at lse.

30 comments | 66 shares

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Dr B R Ambedkar first visited LSE in 1916, returned in 1921 and submitted his doctoral thesis in 1923. LSE Archivist Sue Donnelly investigates Dr B R Ambedkar’s life at LSE.

In 1920 the economist Edwin R Seligman wrote from Columbia University to Professor Herbert Foxwell, teaching at LSE recommending a former student, Bhimrao Ramji (B R) Ambedkar, and asking Foxwell to help him in his research. In November 1920 Foxwell wrote to the School Secretary, Mrs Mair:

I find he has already taken his doctor’s degree & has only come here to finish a research. I had forgotten this. I am sorry we cannot identify him with the School but there are no more worlds here for him to conquer.

Despite this B R Ambedkar registered for a master’s degree and completed a PhD thesis on his second attempt to study at LSE. 2016 marks the 125 th anniversary of B R Ambedkar’s birth in 1891 and the centenary of his first visit to LSE in 1916. Ambedkar was born into a family from a so-called “untouchable” caste. Ambedkar became a social reformer and architect of the Indian constitution.

Letter from Seligman to Foxwell 1920

After studying at Elphinstone High School in Bombay he was the first Dalit to enrol at Elphinstone College and the University of Bombay taking a degree in economics and political science. In 1913 he was awarded a Baroda State Scholarship and moved to Columbia University, New York, completing a masters in 1913 and a thesis, National Dividend of India-A Historic and Analytical Study in 1916. A desire to undertake research into the history of Indian finance and currency led Ambedkar to study in London where a wider range of research sources would be available.

In 1916 he registered at LSE for a master’s degree and took courses in Geography with Halford Mackinder, and Political Ideas with G Lowes Dickinson , alongside Social Evolution and Social Theory with Professor L T Hobhouse.  The fees for the course were £10 10s. At the same time Ambedkar enrolled for the bar course at Gray’s Inn.

Ambedkar application to study 1916

In 1916 LSE was only 21 years old but with a high reputation in the social sciences and for its international student body, in 1913-1914 142 students had come from outside of the Britain. The outbreak of the First World War had impacted on the work of the School and student numbers had fallen by almost half to around 800. Ambedkar’s studies were interrupted as he was recalled to India to serve as Military Secretary in Baroda and in July 1917 the University of London gave him leave of absence of up to four years.

In 1920 Ambedkar returned to LSE after working as professor of political economy at Sydenham College in Mumbai and giving evidence to the Scarborough Committee preparing the 1919 Government of India Act on the position and representation of “untouchable” communities. Initially he applied to complete his masters degree and write a thesis on The Provincial Decentralisation of Imperial Finance in India. His fees had gone up by a guinea to £11 11s. There was a slight glitch in his LSE career in April 1921 when he failed to send in his form for the summer examinations and the School Secretary, Mrs Mair, had to write to University of London’s Academic Registrar for permission to submit the form late.

Presentation of portrait of Dr B.R. Ambedkar by the Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee, Great Britain, 25 September 1973. Left to right: Sir Walter Adams, Mr D.R. Jassal (Chairman Ambedkar Memorial Committee), Ven Dr H. Saddatissa (Head of London Buddha Vihara). IMAGELIBRARY/651. LSE

In economics Ambedkar’s tutors included Professor Edwin Cannan and Professor Herbert Foxwell both of whom had taught at the School since its opening in 1895. He would also have met Theodore Gregory who began as an assistant in economics but became Cassell Reader in International Trade in 1920. Gregory became an economic advisor in India from 1938-1946.

Audience in the Old Theatre at the Presentation of portrait of Dr B R Ambedkar by the Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee, Great Britain, 25 September 1973. IMAGELIBRARY/652. LSE

Ambedkar finally submitted his doctoral thesis, The Problem of the Rupee , in March 1923 but it was not recommended for acceptance. Reports claim that the thesis was too revolutionary and anti-British for the examiners. However there is no indication of this in Ambedkar’s student file. The thesis was resubmitted in August 1923 and accepted in November 1923. It was published almost immediately and in the preface Ambedkar noted “my deep sense of gratitude to my teacher, Professor Edwin Cannan “noting that Cannan’s “severe examination of my theoretical discussions has saved me from many an error”. Cannan repaid the complement by writing the Foreword to the thesis in which he found “a stimulating freshness” even if he disagreed with some of the arguments.

 Lord Robbins and Shirley Chapman (Information Officer), centre, in the audience in the Old Theatre at the presentation of portrait of Dr B R Ambedkar by the Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee, Great Britain, 25 September 1973. IMAGELIBRARY/648. LSE

After his success Ambedkar returned to India where he was prominent in the campaign for Indian independence and opposing discrimination for Dalit communities. In 1947 he became the first Law Minister of independent India and was Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. LSE continued to take an interest in his career and  in 1932 the Director, William Beveridge, wrote to Professor Cannan that Ambedkar had been invited to the School by John Coatman, Professor of Imperial Economic Relations, formerly director of public information for the Indian Police Service and the British government in India, to meet Professor Gregory while attending the roundtable discussions on the Indian constitution.

In 1973 a portrait of B R Ambedkar was unveiled in the lobby to Clement House. A bust unveiled in 1994 is currently displayed in the Atrium Gallery of the Old Building.

Ambedkar bust, Atrium

To find out about LSE’s South Asia collections head to the LSE Library’s  Traces of South Asia  webpage.

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About the author

Sue Donnelly. Credit: Nigel Stead/LSE

Sue Donnelly is formerly LSE's Archivist, where she specialised in the history of the School.

30 Comments

Marvelous, Kudos to Baba Saheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

He was great humen Being

Just amazing so talented and a great person belongs to the whole world that is Dr.BABASAHEB AMBEDKAR

Dr. Ambedkar was great revolutionary Student who oppose wrong policies of British Government in student life.

Ambedkar finally submitted his doctoral thesis, The Problem of the Rupee , in March 1923 but it was not recommended for acceptance. Reports claim that the thesis was too revolutionary and anti-British for the examiners.

You wrote – Ambedkar was later to popularise the use of the term Dalit meaning ‘oppressed’

Dr. Ambedkar didn’t popularise the term Dalit. He hardly used term Dalit instead he preferred Scheduled castes or Untouchable. Dalit term became famous in early 70s with the rise of Dalit Panthers movement in India.

The title of this piece speak the lot… ‘No More Worlds Here for Him to Conquer’ – Dr BR Ambedkar at LSE.

Unfortunately, the “Savarnas Academia” tried their level best to boycott the scholarship of “BabaShaheb Ambedkar”, but “the power” of his scholarship now turning the table

Great man!!!!!!!!!!!! Jai Bhim

A phenomenally inspiring individual who achieved so much for so many.

“Not only very able but exceedingly pleasant fellow” to a foreigner beyond all kinds oppression he underwent in his home country. A genious and revolutionary thinker much ahead of his time. History will remember him for long.

Dr. babasaheb Ambedkar was Ultimate man for India. I Read “The problem of Rupees”. sir im saluting you. i got many good knowledge from this book. Sagar Jagtap B.Sc., MBA- Finance

Thank you for the information but it was not Dr. Ambedkar who popularise the term Dalit. Dalit term became the household name after Dalit Panthers in 1970s.

Baba saheb ambedkar is the most intellectual person and he design the society of human how to live on earth with equality fraternity and freedom. And he give the new ideas to society of the world, to creat something new for benefits of the human and for their betterment.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was and is the voice of voice less. I adore him for his interpretation of Freedom and justice. He can be compared to himself and none.

Respected sir/Madam, I like to know whether anybody conducted research on “Library use study of Dr B R Ambedkar” at university library. Can I will know library records, entry records of Students, their usage, timing most brobaly about Dr B R Ambedkar

Dr BR AMBEDKAR was a person who had proved that one untouchable can write thesis of PhD from prestigious university LSE at the time when India was under British ruling.Even some people who believe in casteisms are not appreciate his work..

Dr BR AMBEDKAR was a person who had proved that one untouchable can write thesis of PhD from prestigious university LSE …

A great son of India. I think he should have become the 1st Prime Minister of India.

Thanks to LSE for remembering and keeping the memory of Dr. B R Ambedkar afresh for young generations. It is indeed a great tribute to the scholar of par excellence in several fields of humanities. The appreciation of Professor Edwin R Seligman and Professor and Professor Edwin Cannan about Dr B R Ambedkar proves his intellectual ability and his academic ideas impart “a stimulating freshness”. The world remembers his instinct fight for human entitlements, human rights, human freedom and equality of opportunities to downtrodden. His struggles and hard works are inspirational to students. Many generations are benefited from his teachings and works which helped transforming India as “the world’s largest democracy”. Dr B R Ambedkar always lives in the hearts of Indians and inspires billions of Indians and the world community at large for centuries.

Professor Krishna Raj, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru

Br ambedkar was the greatest in the world because he changed the history of india by providing equal rights to dalit(untouchables) in india and constitution of india made by br ambedkar

I grateful to LSE for sharing such a awesome and wonderful document of the man behind the creator of Indian constitution and his contribution to Indian economy. His contribution from making constitution to establishing Indian rupee, balancing the social equality is unforgettable.

he is great man .i salute him from my bottom of my heart. jai bhim ! namo buddha.

I reached a great message after a long time. It’s my good luck may be bad luck. Doctor AMBEDKAR is the father of modern india. He turned it’s direction in to a new path towards liberty, equality, and fraternity. India can became developed country by his thoughts

Dr B R Ambedkar was great philosopher of India and the father of Indian constitution all Indian people proud feeling and respectful towards D R ambedkar

First of all Jai Bhim and thank you for providing this. He is not the constitution maker of India ,but also a greatest economist , world’s greatest lawyer and social reformer. I salute you sir .

Great man Architecture of Indian Constitution and unveil Buddhisum of India again for untouchables which gives teaching of Equality, love and compassion.

He was also a mahanatma…….jai hind jai bharat🙏

As one coming from poor besides untouchable family also as its first learner from a village, I can imagine the burden of social oppression and indignity any one in his position had to undergo. Away from his native land, he, fortunately, spent rest of his educational career after graduation from Sydenham College, Bombay in the world of light, where he was marked for his merit not by his caste. He continues to be measured and viewed first as a dalit by his countrymen at home as well as abroad. In 2004, Prof. Valentine Danial, Prof. Anthropology in Columbia University wanted to create a Chair in honour of Dr. Ambedkar, one of its outstanding alumni. But the upper caste members in the Faculty, Prof. Danial was quoted by The New York Times, October 24, 2004, resisted the proposal. In 2011 ultimately the Chair was set up after, of course, creating first two Scholarships in the name of a professor, favourite of the ruling dispensation in India. Everyday the stature of Dr. Ambedkar is growing taller across the globe for his selfless service to humanity, the cause he pursued all his life and relentless fight for dignity of the voiceless and oppressed in a unequal society. I salute to him.

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London school of economics has given gems to humanity. Surely DR. B.R.AMBEDKAR was one of them. He has done so much good in so little time. Changing the foundational structure within a hindu religion it may seem like easy but it’s close to impossible thing to achieve but with his intellect dr. B.R. Ambedkar has done that.

“The man who defeated the religion is the DR. B.R.Ambedkar”

Dr Ambedkar is the Symbol of Equality and social justice. “We are because he was.”

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Educate, Agitate, Organise - a short biography of Dr B R Ambedkar April 26th, 2016

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BR Ambedkar in London: A thesis completed, a treaty concluded, a ‘bible’ of India promised

An excerpt from ‘indians in london: from the birth of the east indian company to independent india’, by arup k chatterjee..

BR Ambedkar in London: A thesis completed, a treaty concluded, a ‘bible’ of India promised

About two decades ago, when [Subhash Chandra] Bose was still at Cambridge, a letter dated September 23, 1920 arrived at Professor Herbert Foxwell’s office at the London School of Economics. It was written by Edwin R Seligman, an economist from Columbia University, introducing an exceedingly talented scholar – Mr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. Two months later, Foxwell wrote to the secretary of the School that there was no more intellect that the Columbia graduate could conquer in London.

The first Dalit to study at Bombay’s Elphinstone College, Ambedkar, was awarded a Baroda State Scholarship that took him to Columbia University in 1913. Three years later, he found his way to London, desirous of becoming a barrister as well as finishing a doctoral dissertation on the history of the rupee. Ambedkar enrolled at Gray’s Inn, and attended courses on geography, political ideas, social evolution and social theory at London School of Economics, at a course fee of £10.10s.

In 1917, Ambedkar was invited to join as Military Secretary in Baroda, earning at the same time a leave of absence of up to four years from the London School of Economics. Back in India, he taught for a while as a professor in Sydenham College in Bombay, while also being one of the key intelligencers on the condition of “untouchables” in India for the government, during the drafting of the Government of India Act of 1919.

In late 1920, Ambedkar was to return to London, determined more than ever before, not to spare a farthing beyond his breathing means on the city’s allurements. Each day, the aspiring barrister woke up at the stroke of six. After a morning’s morsel, he moseyed into the crowd of London to find his way into the British Museum.

At dusk, he would leave his seat reluctantly – after being made to scurry out by the librarian and the guards – his pockets sagging under the notes that would finally become his thesis, The Problem of the Rupee , some of whose guineas would eventually find their home in the Constitution of India that he was going to author about three decades later. Back at his lodging at King Henry’s Road in Primrose Hill, mostly on foot, Ambedkar would live on sparsely whitened tea and poppadum late into the night.

It was here that the daughter of Ambedkar’s landlady, Fanny Fitzgerald, a war widow, found her affections strangely swayed by the Indian scholar. Fitzgerald was a typist at the House of Commons. She lent him money in difficult circumstances and volunteered to introduce him to people in governance, with whom he could discuss the Dalit question that was raging in India.

An apocryphal story goes that Miss Fitzgerald once gave Ambedkar a copy of the Bible. On receiving it, the future Father of the Indian Constitution promised to dedicate a bible to her of his own authoring. True to his commitment, he would fondly dedicate his book What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables (1945) to “F”. The incident, when that promise was exchanged, occurred after Ambedkar was called to the Bar in 1923.

In March that year, his doctoral thesis ran into trouble possibly because of its radical approach to the history of Indian economy under the British administration. He might have taken the subtle hint that passages in his work needed tempering – a notion that a man of his vision was likely to have quietly pocketed more as a compliment than an insult.

Ambedkar would have been happy to chisel the nose from his David for the show, like Michelangelo had four centuries ago in order to appease the connoisseur-like pretense of Piero Soderini, who had quipped, “Isn’t the nose a little too thick?” That done, Ambedkar resubmitted his thesis in August. It was approved two months later and published almost immediately thereafter. He expressed gratitude to his professor, Edwin Cannan, who, in turn, wrote the preface to his thesis, before Ambedkar travelled to Bonn for further studies.

Babasaheb, as he was now beginning to be called, was to return to London for each of the three Round Table Conferences held between 1930 and 1932. Two months before the Third Round Table Conference – in which both Labour and the Congress were absentees – Ambedkar and Gandhi reached a historic settlement in the Poona Pact. In September 1932, from the Yerwada prison near Bombay, Gandhi began a fast unto death protesting against the Ramsay MacDonald administration that was determined to divide India into provincial electorates on the basis of caste and social stratification.

In the pact signed with Madan Mohan Malviya, Ambedkar settled for 147 seats for the depressed classes. But the pact to which he was forsworn – tacitly made in London with Fanny Fitzgerald – that of writing the bible of modern India, was brewing like a storm that would take the form of an open battle between him and Gandhi, in the years of the Second World War.

Despite the strong network of Indians at the London School of Economics, Ambedkar chose not to hobnob with India League members. What might have been a sort of marriage-made-in-heaven between him and [VK Krishna] Menon was forestalled. If Menon was Nehru’s alter ego, he would also be instrumental in shaping the early career of the man to become an alter ego – principal secretary –to Indira Gandhi.

In the winter of 1935, a twenty-something Parmeshwar Narain Haksar arrived in London, enrolled as a student at the University College. The following year, he made an unsuccessful attempt for the civil services. In 1937, Haksar became a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a distinction conferred on him with support from noted anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski.

Although Haksar also studied at the London School of Economics, it probably never became public knowledge if he had acquired formal degrees from either university. Whether or not he did, as a scholar he commanded great attention from British intellectuals, especially in his arguments on the crisis of education in India, which he reckoned had been tailored to perpetuate British imperial interests and low levels of literacy in the colony.

Haksar was to be called to Bar at the Lincoln’s Inn, but, at the beckoning of Nehru, he would join the Indian Foreign Service in 1948. His red days in London were to yield him lifelong companions. In the 1930s, the Comintern came up with the policy of hatching popular fronts all across Europe with which to counter the growing threat of Nazism and Fascism. It was a phase in European ideologies that strongly affected British politics, and popular movements led by Labour leaders and student communists in London – a cosmopolitan and unswervingly left-leaning outlook that shaped much of the administration and policies of independent India until the years of the Emergency.

A socialist himself, Haksar held an influential position in the Federation of Indian Societies in UK and Ireland besides becoming the editor of its magazine, The Indian Student . His links with the Communist Party of Great Britain, Rajani Palme Dutt and the Soviet undercover agent at Cambridge, James Klugman – indeed with almost anyone of some consequence who supported the cause of Indian liberation – was more than enough for Scotland Yard to keep him closely watched in London.

In September 1941, when the India League organised a commemoration at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square for the late Rabindranath Tagore a few months after his demise, Scotland Yard obliged by adding a leaf to their surveillance files. Inaugurated by M Maisky, a Russian ambassador, it was just one in a sea of events concerning India that the Yard and other intelligencers of His Majesty’s Government would tolerate during the interwar years. Almost all such gatherings featured subversive pamphlets and books published by the League and similar organisations that were openly lauded by Soviets and Soviet sympathisers.

It was just as well that Nehru also had to tolerate that under the shield of Haksar’s own watch a new romantic plot thickened around Primrose Hill, that of his daughter Indira and future son-in-law, Feroze. Feroze had his flat at Abbey Road and Haksar lived half a mile away, at Abercorn Place. Haksar was befriended by the Gandhis – Indira and Feroze – who introduced him to Sasadhar Sinha of the Bibliophile Bookshop. That, besides the India League and Allahabad connection, not to mention Haksar’s enviable culinary skills, ensured that he was soldered to the future of the Gandhis.

The future of the man who had leant the family his coveted surname would also take a blow on the burning issue of caste. Gandhi was not to be remembered as the sole nemesis of the British Empire. In an interview given to the BBC in 1955, Babasaheb indicated that one of the biggest reasons behind Clement Attlee handing over the reins of the Indian administration so suddenly was the persistent fear of a massive armed uprising in the colony.

He implied that the road to independence had already been paved by the Azad Hind Fauj brigadiered by Netaji. Bose had departed from London during Ambedkar’s days in the London School of Economics. But, he would return in Haksar’s time.

dr ambedkar phd thesis 1923

  • Raosaheb K. Kale 3  

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Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is one of the greatest leaders and intellectuals of India. Although, extensively contributed in social, political and religious spheres of nation, he was conveniently ignored by the academic and reduced him into merely Dalit leader. In the changed time and circumstances, as thoughts, writings, speeches and work of Dr. Ambedkar increasingly becoming relevant, the great deal of interest is being shown by the present scholarship worldwide, in his life and mission. Dr. Ambedkar, a crusader of social justice, while fighting for Dalits to get their rightful place in society with equal status and progress, gave message to educate themselves and their children to liberate from social slavery. Importantly, out of sixty-five years of life span, Dr. Ambedkar spent almost forty years in education as a researcher, scholar, teacher, academic administrator and builder of educational institutes. Dr. Ambedkar severely criticized the educational policy of British, it being socially exclusive and of which benefits remained confined to small section of society particularly urban elites and upper caste. He pleaded for education of Dalits and asked the British to take special measures to protect their educational interest. Importantly, at the same time, he also pleaded with the British for free and compulsory primary education for all.

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Kale, R.K. (2022). Ambedkar’s Passion for Education—Overcoming Historical Deprivation and Ensuring Provision for the Deprived. In: Kale, R.K., Acharya, S.S. (eds) Mapping Identity-Induced Marginalisation in India . Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-3128-4_8

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azadi ka amrit mahotsav

The journey of Baba Saheb Ambedkar –  Life, History & Works

  • Baba Saheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891, he was the 14 th and last child of his parents.
  • Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was the son of Subedar Ramji Maloji Sakpal. He was Subedar in British Army. Babasaheb’s father was a follower of Sant Kabir and was also a well-read person.
  • Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was hardly two years old when his father retired from service. His mother died when he was only about six. Babasaheb got his early education in Bombay. Since his school days he realized with intense shock what it was to be an untouchable in India.
  • Dr. Ambedkar was taking his school education in Satara. Unfortunately, Dr. Ambedkar lost his mother. His aunt looked after him. Afterwards, they shifted to Bombay. Throughout his school education, he suffered from the curse of untouchability. His marriage took place after his matriculation in 1907 in an open shed of a market.
  • Dr. Ambedkar completed his graduation at Elphinston College, Bombay, for which he was getting a scholarship from His Highness Sayajirao Gaikwad of Baroda. After his graduation, he had to join Baroda Sansthan according to the bond. He lost his father when he was in Baroda, 1913 is the year when Dr. Ambedkar was selected as a scholar to go to U.S.A, for the higher studies. This was the turning point of his educational career.
  • He got his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University in 1915 and 1916 respectively. He then left for London for further studies. He was admitted there to the Gray’s Inn for Law and also allowed to prepare for the D. Sc. at the London School of Economics and Political Science. But he was called back to India by the Dewan of Baroda. Later, he got his Bar-at-Law and D.Sc. degree also. He studied for some time at Bonn University in Germany.
  • In 1916 he read an essay on ‘Castes in India — their Mechanism, Genesis, and Development’. In 1916, he wrote his thesis ‘National dividend for India — A Historic and Analytical Study’ and got his Ph.D. Degree. This was published after eight years   under the title — “Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India.” Then after getting this highest degree, he returned to India and was appointed a Military Secretary to the Maharaja of Baroda with a view to groom him as the finance minister in the long run.
  • Babasaheb returned to the city in September, 1917 as his scholarship tenure ended and joined the service. But after a brief stay in the city till November, 1917, he left for Mumbai. The maltreatment he faced on grounds of untouchability had forced him to leave the service.
  • Dr. Ambedkar returned to Bombay and joined Sydenham College as a Professor of Political Economy. As he was well read, he was very popular among the students. But he resigned his post, to resume his studies in Law and Economics in London. Maharaja of Kolhapur gave him the financial help. In 1921 , he wrote his thesis. “Provincial Decentralization of Imperial Finance in British India,’ and got his M.Sc. Degree from the London University. Then he spent some period in Bonn University in Germany. In 1923 , he submitted his thesis — “Problem of Rupee its Origin and Solution”, for the D.Sc. Degree. He was called to Bar in 1923 .
  • After coming back from England in 1924 he started an Association for the welfare of the depressed classes, with Sir Chimanlal Setalvad as the President and Dr. Ambedkar as the Chairman. To spread education, improve economic conditions and represent the grievances of depressed classes were the immediate objects of the Association.
  • The Bahiskrit Bharat , newspaper was started in April 3, 1927 to address the cause of the depressed classes in view of the new reform.
  • In 1928, he became a Professor in Government Law College, Bombay and on June 1, 1935 he became the Principal of the same college and remained in that position till his resignation in 1938.
  • On October 13, 1935, a provincial conference of the depressed classes was held a Yeola in Nasik District. In this conference, he gave the shock to the Hindus by announcing. “I was born in Hinduism but I will not die as a Hindu” Thousands of his followers supported his decision. In 1936 he addressed the Bombay Presidency Mahar Conference and advocated the renunciation of Hinduism.
  • On August 15, 1936, he formed Independent Labour Party to safeguard the interest of the depressed classes, which mostly formed the labour population.
  • In 1938, Congress introduced a bill making change in the name of untouchables. Dr. Ambedkar criticized it. In his point of view changing the name is not the solution of the problem.
  • In 1942, he was appointed to the Executive Council of the Governor General of India as a Labour member, in 1946, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly from Bengal. At the same time he published his book, Who were Shudras?
  • After Independence, in 1947, he was appointed as a Minister of Law and Justice in Nehru’s first cabinet. But in 1951, he resigned his ministership, expressing his differences on the Kashmir issue, India’s Foreign Policy and Nehru’s Policy towards the Hindu Code Bill.
  • In 1952, Columbia University conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. in recognition of the work done by him in connection with the drafting of India’s Constitution. In 1955, he published his book titled Thoughts on Linguistic States .
  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was awarded a Doctorate on January 12, 1953, from Osmania University. Ultimately after 21 years, he proved true, what he had announced in Yeola in 1935 , that “I will not die as a Hindu”. On 14th Oct. 1956, he embraced Buddhism in a historic ceremony in Nagpur and died on 6th Dec. 1956.
  • Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was conferred with the title of “Bodhisattva” by the Buddhist monks at “Jagatik Buddhism Council” in 1954 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The special thing is that Dr Ambedkar was conferred with the title of Bodhisattva while he was alive.
  • He also contributed to India’s Independence struggle and in its reforms post-independence. Apart from this, Babasaheb played a significant role in the formation of the Reserve Bank of India. The Central bank was formed on the concept presented by Babasaheb to the Hilton Young Commission.
  • This sparkling life history of Dr. Ambedkar shows that he was a man of study and action. Firstly, he acquired sound knowledge of Economics Politics, Law, Philosophy  and Sociology, in pursuing his studies; he had to face many social odds. But he did not spend all his life in reading and studying and in the libraries. He refused the higher posts with attractive salaries because he never forgot his brothers in the depressed class. He dedicated the rest of his life for equality, brotherhood and humanity. He tried his best for the upliftment of the depressed classes.
  • After having gone through his life history it is necessary and proper to study and analyze his main contribution and their relevance. According to one opinion there are three points which are more important even today. Today also Indian Economy and Indian Society is facing many economic, and social problems. Dr. Ambedkar’s thoughts and actions may guide us for the solution of these problems.
  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s death anniversary is observed as Mahaparinirvan Diwas across the country.
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and last child of his parents.  under the title — “Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India.” Then after getting this highest degree, he returned to India and was appointed a Military Secretary to the Maharaja of Baroda with a view to groom him as the finance minister in the long run. he wrote his thesis. “Provincial Decentralization of Imperial Finance in British India,’ and got his M.Sc. Degree from the London University. Then he spent some period in Bonn University in Germany. In 1923 he submitted his thesis — “Problem of Rupee its Origin and Solution”, for the D.Sc. Degree. He was called to Bar in 1923 , newspaper was started in April 3, 1927 to address the cause of the depressed classes in view of the new reform. . 1935 that “I will not die as a Hindu”. On 14th Oct. 1956, he embraced Buddhism in a historic ceremony in Nagpur and died on 6th Dec. 1956. and Sociology, in pursuing his studies; he had to face many social odds. But he did not spend all his life in reading and studying and in the libraries. He refused the higher posts with attractive salaries because he never forgot his brothers in the depressed class. He dedicated the rest of his life for equality, brotherhood and humanity. He tried his best for the upliftment of the depressed classes.

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COMMENTS

  1. Ambedkar Research Scholars - London School of Economics and ...

    Dr B R Ambedkar is one of the most important alumnus of LSE, from where he was awarded his MA and PhD. His doctoral thesis on ‘The Indian Rupee’, written in 1922-23, was later published as The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution (London: P S King & Son, Ltd, 1923).

  2. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's 1923 Thesis: The Problem of Rupee and Its ...

    Explore the historic impact of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's groundbreaking thesis, 'The Problem of Rupee-its Origin and Solution,' on India's economic future. Uncover how this 100-year-old thesis laid the foundation for the Indian banking system and influenced the establishment of the Reserve Bank of India.

  3. Why publication of B.R. Ambedkar’s thesis a century later ...

    Ambedkar completed his DSc in 1923 under the guidance of Professor Edwin Cannan of the LSE on the problem of the rupee, which is described as a “remarkable piece of research on Indian currency, and probably the first detailed empirical account of the currency and monetary policy during the period”.

  4. Ambedkar’s Educational Odyssey, 1913–1927 - ResearchGate

    In March 1923, Ambedkar submitted a thesis for his London DSc degree on a completely different subject—Stabilisation of the Indian exchange: problem of the rupee.

  5. Ambedkar at LSE | LSE History

    Dr B R Ambedkar first visited LSE in 1916, returned in 1921 and submitted his doctoral thesis in 1923. LSE Archivist Sue Donnelly investigates Dr B R Ambedkar’s life at LSE.

  6. B. R. Ambedkar - Wikipedia

    After graduating from Elphinstone College, University of Bombay, Ambedkar studied economics at Columbia University and the London School of Economics, receiving doctorates in 1927 and 1923, respectively, and was among a handful of Indian students to have done so at either institution in the 1920s.

  7. BR Ambedkar in London: A thesis completed, a treaty concluded ...

    The incident, when that promise was exchanged, occurred after Ambedkar was called to the Bar in 1923. In March that year, his doctoral thesis ran into trouble possibly because of its radical...

  8. Ambedkar’s Passion for Education—Overcoming Historical ...

    Dr. Ambedkar, a crusader of social justice, while fighting for Dalits to get their rightful place in society with equal status and progress, gave message to educate themselves and their children to liberate from social slavery.

  9. The journey of Baba Saheb Ambedkar – Life, History & Works

    In 1921, he wrote his thesis. “Provincial Decentralization of Imperial Finance in British India,’ and got his M.Sc. Degree from the London University. Then he spent some period in Bonn University in Germany. In 1923, he submitted his thesis — “Problem of Rupee its Origin and Solution”, for the D.Sc. Degree. He was called to Bar in 1923.

  10. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Invaluable Contribution in the ...

    Dr. Ambedkar was a champian of Fundamental Rights. Parliamentary Democracy: Dr. Ambedkar was in favour of Parliamentary Democracy right from the inception of Govt. of India Act, 1935.