Dr. Ambedkar with members of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution. <Image source: Link>
When I applied for IIT, I had no notion what IIT was all about. And I sat for the exams and I got through; not so good, but got through. By the second year of IIT, it was very clear to me that I didn’t want to do engineering. And so I took refuge in the Humanities Department. I would spend long hours reading books on philosophy, economics, history and so on. So I was very, let’s say, unsettled. It was also a period of great change in this country, and I think that’s what saved me. There was the Jayaprakash movement with great movements in Bihar, a kind of total revolution. And I was very young and impressionable, and it was a good period to have politics swirling around you, unlike today where you’re bereft of real social movements, social change. In the early ’70s we were still in the social democratic phase of society, namely nation-building, taking the whole of society along, bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, all these kinds of ideas were paramount. It was a framework where a young person didn’t look to his left or his right or behind him to see who is following. We didn’t need any followers, we were Che Guevara’s. We could do it by ourselves and we’d go ahead and try and change the world, go for strikes, sleep outside the factory gate, join the workers in their strikes, go to the rural areas. So it was a very, very good period. We were not given to much contemplation about where we were going and we went wherever our hearts took us, wherever the wind in our sails took us.