Studies in the USA and the UK
The Maharaja of Baroda had a scheme to send a few outstanding scholars abroad for further studies. Of course, Bhimrao was selected – but he had to sign an agreement to serve Baroda state for ten years on finishing his studies.
In 1913, he went to the USA where he studied at the world-famous Columbia University, New York. The freedom and equality he experienced in America made a very strong impression on Bhimrao. It was so refreshing for him to be able to live a normal life, free from the caste prejudice of India. He could do anything he pleased – but devoted his time to studying. He studied eighteen hours a day. Visits to bookshops were his favourite entertainment!
His main subjects were Economics and Sociology. In just two years he had been awarded an M.A. – the following year he completed his Ph.D. thesis. Then he left Columbia and went to England, where he joined the London School of Economics. However, he had to leave London before completing his course because the scholarship granted by the State of Baroda expired. Bhimrao had to wait three years before he could return to London to complete his studies.
Return to India – Nightmare in Baroda
So he was called back to India to take up a post in Baroda as agreed. He was given an excellent job in the Baroda Civil Service. Bhimrao now held a doctorate, and was being trained for a top job. Yet, he again ran into the worst features of the Hindu caste system. This was all the more painful, because for the past four years he had been abroad, living free from the label of ‘untouchable.’
No one at the office where he worked would hand over files and papers to him – the servant threw them onto his desk. Nor would they give him water to drink. No respect was given to him, merely because of his caste.
He had to go from hotel to hotel looking for a room, but none of them would take him in. At last he had found a place to live in a Parsi guest house, but only because he had finally decided to keep his caste secret.
He lived there in very uncomfortable conditions, in a small bedroom with a tiny cold-water bathroom attached. He was totally alone there with no one to talk to. There were no electric lights or even oil lamps – so the place was completely dark at night.
Bhimrao was hoping to find somewhere else to live through his civil service job, but before he could, one morning as he was leaving for work a gang of angry men carrying sticks arrived outside his room. They accused him of polluting the hotel and told him to get out by evening – or else! What could he do? He could not stay with either of the two acquaintances he had in Baroda for the same reason – his low caste. Bhimrao felt totally miserable and rejected.