Tuesday, April 14, 2020

April 14, Birth Anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, as International Day of Equality – Road Map to Pursue the Proposal

April 14, Birth Anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, as International Day of Equality – Road Map to Pursue the Proposal

The birth anniversary of the greatest son of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar , April 14, is being celebrated this year from the confines of our homes in the lockdown imposed due to the deadly Corona Virus. There is no option. We are to live with the situation with our fellow citizens and the world at large. Let us use the occasion to reiterate our resolve to fight the Corona Virus on one hand and fight many more viruses, like the graded inequality, caste system, communalism etc. inflicting our society. It will be a befitting tribute to the memory of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Now I come to the second resolve – our resolve to earnestly pursue the proposal of April 14 as the International Day of Equality which I humbly made to the Government of India through the then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in my letter of June 12, 2015 in the run up to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The proposal was duly acknowledged by the then JS (UNES) of the UN Division of the Ministry of External Affairs vide his letter dated August 6, 2015. The proposal was pursued
with the MEA and PMO with the support of other stake holders. Forum of Scheduled Caste MPs and MLAs headed by the then Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Sardar Charanjit Singh, understanding the importance and relevance of the proposal, came forward and took up the matter with PM Narender Modi and submitted a Memorandum to him listing suggestions to celebrate the125th anniversary of the Babasaheb Ambedkar which, inter alia, included the proposal on the International Day of Equality made by Ambassador Ramesh Chander. It was a matter of satisfaction that, for the first time, the birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar was celebrated at the UN in New York on April, 14, 2016. Sardar Charanjit Singh Atwal headed a high-powered delegation and participated in the celebrations at the UN. In his speech, Atwal Sahib, endorsed the proposal on April 14 as the International Day of Equality and solicited support of the GOI, UN and the international community and rightly so. It was lauded and appreciated by the people both at home and abroad. On return from New York, he submitted a report on May 3, 2016 to PM Narendra Modi and requested him and the GOI to take up the issue of
International Day of Equality officially with the UN through diplomatic channels. Subsequently, the stake holders in the proposal, under the aegis of the Forum of Scheduled Caste MPs and MLAs also submitted a Memorandum to Mahamahim Rashrapati Ram Nath Kovind sometime in 2017-18 requesting his intervention and direction to the GOI to facilitate the matter.

With this background, Ambassador Ramesh Chander, the initiator of the proposal, has been pursuing the issue, off and on, by letters and e-mails to MEA and PMO. He also tried his best to alert and awaken the political and social leadership namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah, Mohan Bhagwat , Behen Mayawati, several Ministers, Chief Minister and MPs like Captain Amrinder Singh, Arvind Kejriwal, Sardar Parkash Singh Badal, Ram Vilas Paswan, Thavar Chand Gehlot, Hardip Singh Puri, Vijay Sampla, Ramdass Athawale,  Chaudhary Santokh Singh, P.L. Punia, Sushil Rinku, Pawan Tinu, Pargat Singh, Gurpartap Singh Wadala, Lahori Ram Balley  among others.  He also engaged with some outfits like Federation of Ambedkar and Buddhist Organisations of London, Chetna Association of Canada, The Ambedkar Times Group of Publications of California (USA), inter alia while interacting with interested organizations and societies in and around Jalandhar like Ambedkar Mission Society , Ambedkar Bhawan Trust, Guru Ravidass Dham Bootan Mandi, Guru Ravidass Sthal at Khural Garh, Schedule caste Entrepreneurs Empowerment Forum and also various educational institutions both formally and informally to gain support for the proposal on International Day of Equality. The
crux of the matter, all said and done, is that we did not leave any stone unturned to make our point reach home. But it remained a matter of regret, I must register candidly, that except lip service from various quarters, no concrete response came from the GOI. Everybody is falling on each other to own Ambedkar and his legacy in pursuance of their vested agenda but has no mind and time to do something worthwhile to honour the legend of contemporary times.

But let me hasten to write that Ambedkar’s legacy is so real and potent that it is not easy to ignore it. I am happy to share with you with a sense of satisfaction that the proposal to declare April 14 as International Day of Equality has seen the light of the day partially, if not substantially with a pleasant and positive development on April 6 happened at the City of Burnaby in Canada with the
Proclamation to observe and celebrate April 14, birth anniversary of the greatest son of India, as “Dr.B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality”.  We must convey our grateful thanks to the Council of the City of Burnaby, the friendly people of the great city and also our interlocutors and supporters like Councillor Sav Dhariwal and Jai Birdi and his colleagues and associates at the Chetna Association of India for the splendid job done in this regard.

Coming back to the resolve, we would do our utmost to cajole and convince the GOI and the international community to consider and accept the proposal on the International Day of Equality in the larger interests of humanity to bring about peace and harmony by establishing a just social and economic world order which is also a cherished “Millennium Goal” of the UN. The renewed efforts start on April 14, 2020 with added zeal and determination. Let us join hands in this endeavor to flag and underline the lofty ideals of “Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, “enshrined in the very Preamble of the constitution of India of which Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was the chief architect. I humbly suggest the following Road Map of action to carry forward the proposal:

·       Write to Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, South Block, New Delhi with copies endorsed to PM Narendra Modi, PMO, South Block, New Delhi.
E-mail of Dr. S. Jaishankar: eam@mea.gov.in
Draft Letter is enclosed as Appendix to this write up. The letter may be amended, if required, to suit the individual needs. The letter may be written either individually or by the organization/association etc. to which one may belong.

·       We will write to the State CMs to consider and request them to support the proposal either writing to PM Narendra Modi or getting resolution passed by the State Legislative Assembly of respective states.

·       Approach and request the Forum of Schedule Caste MPs and MLAs to revisit the subject and take up the issue appropriately with the GOI and PM Narendra Modi and also in the Parliament.

·       Approach and request Mahamahim President of India, Ram Nath Kovind to kindly consider and give directives to the PM and GOI as deemed appropriate on the subject.

·       Approach and request various outfits and organizations of the Indian Diasporas abroad to consider and make a demarche to the State/County/Municipal Councils, in terms of local requirements, with the request to support the proposal on International Day of Equality as done by the City of Burnaby in Canada. My humble advice in this regard is to kindly engage with Jai Birdi of Chetna Association of Canada, who was instrumental in facilitating the Proclamation of the City of Burnaby to celebrate April 14 as “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality”.

·       Approach and request our centers of spiritual and social oneness like the Deras/Maths/Dhams/Vihars/Bhawans to hold and address special congregations to generate the much needed awareness among the public on the subject.

·       We should avail of all social media organs to take the proposal forward in the absence of any media support from the national and regional media of India. Our media persons and organs, however scarce they are, should come forward to fill the gap. There is no other way.

·       Our intelligentsia has an added responsibility in the process. Kindly arrange, host, participate in specially organized Seminars/Panel Discussion/Lectures  in schools and colleges, wherever possible, to gather much needed support to the proposal at the grass roots, with the help of students and the members of the faculty and management to motivate and make aware the younger generation. Also pass resolutions in support of the proposal which may be forwarded to EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar and PM Narendra Modi either directly or through the District Magistrates/Deputy Commissioners.

This is not all. There may be many more innovative approaches and modes which the stake holder in the project may like to adopt and act. I am not a repository of all energy and knowledge.  I count on my friends, associates and the community at large. The task is too big. We are to stand up unitedly and get the job done in declaring April 14 as International Day of Equality in the days to come.
I conclude with a poetic expression to register our resolve:

तू पहले बात, फिर बात का अंदाज़ पैदा कर;
फिर दुनिया में तुझे कोई नज़र अंदाज़ कर नहीं सकता।

Greetings on the Ambedkar Jayanti, April 14.


Sample Draft Letter:
Draft Letter – International Day of Equality

Hon’ble EAM Dr. Jaishankar,
This is with reference to the proposal made by Ambassador Ramesh Chander to your predecessor Late Smt. Sushma Swaraj on declaring April 14, the birth day of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as “International Day of Equality” on June 12, 2015 (An acknowledgement dated August 6, 2015 received from the then JS (UNES) in MEA is enclosed for ready reference). I am also enclosing herewith the letter of June 12, 2015 addressed to the EAM Sushma Swaraj, containing the proposal, for your kind perusal. Subsequent to this, in the run up to the celebrations of the 125th anniversary of the great leader, Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar, Forum of Scheduled Caste MPs and MLAs under the leadership of the Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Sardar Charanjit Singh Atwal took up the matter with PM Narendra Modi and submitted a Memorandum in November, 2015 requesting him and the GOI to consider and make an official demarche to the UN for declaring April 14 as “International Day of Equality” as proposed by Ambassador Ramesh Chander. You must be aware, Sir, accordingly, when you were the Foreign Secretary, for the first time the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar was celebrated at the UN in New York on April 14, 2016. Sardar Charanjit Singh represented the GOI formally or informally with a high-power delegation of other stake holders in the celebrations at the UN. It was much appreciated not only by the followers of Dr. Ambedkar both in India and abroad but also by the society at large. On return, Sardar Atwal submitted a report to PM Narendra Modi in May, 2016 informing him of the proposed “International Day of Equality” which was mentioned in his speech at the UN and requesting the PM and GOI to take up the matter with the UN to get April 14 proclaimed as “International Day of Equality”. The report of Sardar Charanjit Singh Atwal is enclosed herewith for ready reference and perusal.
The proposal is resting with the MEA/GOI. Much water has flown, ever since, in the Ganges. You have graduated from Foreign Secretary to EAM. PM Narendra Modi has come to power successively for the second term. Ambasador Ramesh Chander has been reminding the EAM/MEA on the subject off and on by letters and e-mails over the years while also involving the stake holders in India and abroad and soliciting their support to the proposal. We are happy to inform you (the official diplomatic channels/CGI Toronto/HCI Ottawa might have informed you already) the proposal on International Day of Equality has seen the light of the day partially, if not substantially. The City of Burnaby of British Columbia in Canada has taken the lead by proclaiming on April 6, 2020 that the City of Burnaby will celebrate and observe April 14 as “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality”.   I am enclosing the Proclamation of the City of Burnaby for your information and perusal. You would appreciate, Sir, it is not only an honour to the greatest son of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar, in the contemporary times, but a matter of pride for India and the international community at large to establish an equitable world order as one of the “Millennium Goals” of the UN.
With this background, we thought of taking up the matter with you, Sir, and request you to kindly spare sometime and consider the proposal and make a demarche to the UN to get April 14 declared as International Day of Equality. Obviously, we would only be happy to see India taking a lead in the matter and not leaving it to others.
We are confident, Sir, that our submissions would find due consideration with you and the GOI.
With regards,
Yours truly,
(                     )
Dr. S. Jaishankar,
Minister of External Affairs,
South Block, NEW DELHI

Copy to: Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, PMO, South Block, New Delhi


Text of the letter dated June 12, 2015 to EAM Sushma Swaraj:
Annexure 1 & 2
Text of the Letter to EAM Sushma Swaraj –

Dear Madam,

I am one among the IFS fraternity. After retirement in December, 2010, I have come back to my roots in Jalandhar. As post retirement activities, I engage myself in educational and social matters pertaining to the socially and economically weaker sections of the society. I am a dalit and a humble follower of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. After the Government’s decision to observe 125th Anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar, I wrote to Foreign Secretary Dr. S. Jaishankar (copy enclosed for kind perusal) and offered my services with regard to the programmes to be made and conducted by the MEA in this regard.

The purpose of this letter is to make a humble suggestion for your kind consideration. PM Narendra Modi’s government, particularly you as the Minister of External Affairs, has given due weightage to India’s “Soft Power” in diplomacy. The latest feather in your cap is the International Yoga Day under the aegis of the UN. With a view to honour Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, one of the greatest sons of India, by celebrating his 125th Birth Anniversary, the Government has taken a right and laudable decision. It will go a long way in assuaging the ruffled feelings of millions of poor and socially backward followers of the great leader. My humble submission is that it will only be appropriate if India makes yet another proposal at the next UNGA in September, 2015 to declare 14th April, birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as International Day of Equality. You would agree, Madam Minister, that it would not only carry forward the UN goals of “Empowerment” of the weaker sections of the world population but also instill the democratic values of “Equality, Liberty and Fraternity” in the world order. These democratic and humane values were dear to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and his spiritual Guru Mahatma Buddha, the greatest son of India.

I am confident that this decision and action of the Government will be much appreciated by the weaker sections of the society. It will also be a befitting tribute to the memory and legacy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, messiah of the under privileged and neglected sections of humanity at large.

With regards

Yours sincerely

Ramesh Chander)

Smt. Sushma Swaraj,
Minister of External Affairs,
South Block, NEW DELHI – 1100

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