Chandrika Ram was born on 2 July 1917 at Saran in Bihar. He studied at the Goriakothi H.E. School and went on to pursue higher education at Patna University where he completed his masters. After this, he studied law in the same university– becoming the first Dalit lawyer in the region. He started practicing at the Patna High Court in 1945.
Role in Indian Independence Movement
Ram joined the Indian independence movement in 1942 by participating in the Quit India movement. He was imprisoned for his participation in this movement for 2 and half months. Soon after, he got involved with the depressed classes movements in Bihar.
Ram was a leading figure in the Dalit movement in Bihar. He served as the General Secretary of the Bihar Provincial Depressed Classes League (1941) and went to become its President (1947). He was appointed as the Provincial Supervisor of the Harijan Co-operative Societies and was the member of the Provincial Harijan Sevak Sangh (1944).
Ram also participated in electoral politics and represented the Congress party. He was elected to the Bihar Legislative Council (1946).
Contribution to Constitution Making
Ram was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946 from Bihar on a Congress party ticket. He made key interventions on the issues of reservation for backward classes in employment and time limit for reservation.
After India became independent, Ram continued his active political career. He was elected to the Bihar Legislative Assembly twice (1952 and 1957). During his first tenure as MLA he was General Secretary of the Bihar Congress and was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Bihar Chief Minister. In 1957 he was appointed as a Deputy Minister of Bihar. Later, he was elected to the Bihar Legislative Council (1962-1971).
Ram continued to work for various Dalit issues. He was appointed as the General Secretary of the All India Depressed Classes League (1947). He served on the Criminal Tribes Enquiry Committee and Committee for Social Economic Conditions of Harijans in Bihar as a member. He was also a member of the Harijan and other Backward Classes Upliftment Board constituted under the Ministry of Education by the Government of India.
Ram authored ‘A Plan for Harijans and Other Backward Classes’ in which he evaluated and made recommendations on the welfare activities aimed at the betterment of the depressed classes. He submitted this proposal to the Planning Commission.
- On the issue of including backward classes in Draft Article 10 (Article 16), Ram stated that while backward classes are not treated on par with untouchables, they are still underrepresented in the political arena. Further, he urged that when Harijans are given reservations based on their backwardness, other backward classes should be given similar protections.
- On the 10-year time limit for reservations for Scheduled Caste communities, he clarified that the reason for demanding an extension of the time limit was that the political, social and economic conditions of these communities would not change significantly in 10 years. Instead of focusing on a time limit, he suggested that a committee should be appointed to evaluate the status of these communities and make recommendations.
- Encyclopaedia of Dalits in India: Leaders edited by Sanjay Paswan and Jaideva Paramanshi (Gyan Books, 2002)
- Who’s Who 1952 (Parliament Secretariat, December 1952)