A Dalit Harvard law graduate recounts Ambedkar’s influence on him

Anurag Bhaskar, a fresh Harvard law graduate from the Dalit community, says his decision to choose law as a career has majorly been shaped by one historic personality, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

“During my school days, Dr. Ambedkar’s image of being the chief architect of the Indian Constitution immensely inspired me to study law as an instrument of social change,” Bhaskar, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, told Live Law News network in an interview published on June 17.

He admitted that choosing law wasn’t easy for him as his parents wanted him to pursue engineering. “Quite often, one of the first battles for individuals from the middle class, lower middle class and economically or socially weaker groups begins at home — convincing your parents about your choice of career. I am extremely grateful to my parents that in the end, they allowed me to pave my own path in life,”he told the network.

Bhaskar, whose commencement happened on May 30, added that his journey to Harvard is symbolic of the aspirations of millions who are forced even today to live on the margins of society in India.

“My LL.M. degree from Harvard is a homage to Dr. Payal Tadvi, who committed suicide, because of caste discrimination, even before she could complete her post-graduation. My LL.M. degree is a homage to Rohith Vemula, whose suicide letter shall always remain a constant reminder to our moral conscience as a nation that we ought to eliminate the prejudices in existence in our society. My LL.M. degree is for people from lower castes, who have been murdered for riding a horse, for having a mustache and all such daily atrocities.

“It is for the Dalits who have been denied access to water in drought-hit areas or were denied entry in cyclone shelters and deprived of relief packages after Fani cyclone had hit Orissa. I hope that my graduation from Harvard will inspire others. I hope that my graduation from Harvard inspires everyone to have big dreams, which may seem to be beyond one’s reach,” Bhaskar told the network in a long interview in which he talked about his background and his dreams and aspirations. He said he is the first generation lawyer in his family.

To a question about his future plans, Bhaskar said every day, one reads news about the death of Dalits while cleaning sewers and septic tanks and about the deaths of people in India due to hunger.

“There are many similar problems which require simultaneous work in different sectors. I am therefore interested in working in academia, litigation, policy and politics,” adding that as it is indeed impossible to be active in all areas, he will have to figure out “numerous professional milestones” to balance the work in all these areas.

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