Ambedkar’s legacy as a socio-political reformer, had a deep effect on modern India. In post-Independence India his socio-political thought has acquired respect across the political spectrum. His initiatives have influenced various spheres of life and transformed the way India today looks at socio-economic policies, education and affirmative action through socio-economic and legal incentives.
His reputation as a scholar led to his appointment as free India’s first law minister, and chairman of the committee responsible to draft a constitution. He passionately believed in the freedom of the individual and criticised equally both orthodox casteist Hindu society. His polemical condemnation of Hinduism and its foundation of caste system, made him controversial, although his conversion to Buddhism sparked a revival in interest in Buddhist philosophy in India and abroad.
Dr. Ambedkar condemned Gandhi’s support for Hindu caste system and perpetuating untouchability. Dr.Ambedkar warned people,”Don’t call Gandhi a saint. He is a seasoned politician. When everything else fails, Gandhi will resort to intrigue.” “Don’t fall under Gandhi’s spell, he’s not God… Mahatmas have come and Mahatmas have gone but untouchables have remained untouchables.”
Ambedkar’s political philosophy has given rise to a large number of Dalit political parties, publications and workers’ unions that remain active across India, especially in Maharashtra. His promotion of the Dalit Buddhist movement has rejuvenated interest in Buddhist philosophy in many parts of India. Mass conversion ceremonies have been organized by Dalit activists in modern times, emulating Ambedkar’s Nagpur ceremony of 1956.
Dr. Ambedkar also compared the hatred against the Scheduled Castes with apartheid and antisemitism.
Some scholars, including some from the affected castes, took the view that the British were more even-handed between castes, and that continuance of British rule would have helped to eradicate many evil practices. This political opinion was shared by quite a number of social activists including Jyotirao Phule.
Some, in modern India, question the continued institution of reservations initiated by Ambedkar as outdated and anti-meritocratic.