Thursday, July 29, 2021

It is Time to Remind – International Day of Equality


It is Time to Remind – International Day of Equality

Over the years, since June, 2015 when the proposal to declare April 14, birth anniversary of Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar as International Day of Equality was made to the Government of India, much water has flown in the Yamuna in Delhi and Hudson in New York. It is surprising and not understandable why the Government of India

Ambedkar Jayanti at UN in New York in April, 2016

(MEA and PMO) is sitting tight and not responding to our several submissions in this regard. We have been writing to EAM, PM and other Ministers and stakeholders and reminding them rather religiously but to no avail. We have no other option but to remind the Government with the hope someday that they would wake up and listen to the voice of the masses, we the people of India.

Babasaheb Ambedkar’s name and legacy is a potent force which may not be ignored for long. It has been repeatedly proved not only in India but abroad too. All the political outfits are only too eager to own Ambedkar and cannot afford to do without him. Over the recent

decades, it has been noticed that Ambedkar, one of the greatest sons of India in the contemporary times, is much recognized and felicitated personality with his statues, memorials and other insignia not only in India but throughout the globe. Not that successive Governments of India particularly the current government of PM Narendra Modi have not done their bit in this regard but still Ambedkar deserved much more. And moreover, it will not go in vain but will help in strengthening the democratic edifice, secular credentials and democratic socialism based on the lofty ideals of Equality, Liberty, Justice and Fraternity as enshrined in the letter and spirit of our Constitution by no other but Babasaheb Ambedkar himself as the Chief Architect of the Constitution of India. It is a matter of gratification to note that taking cue from the proposal on International Day of Equality our interlocutors abroad pursued with their local counterparts the idea of honouring Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in one way or the other. Chetna Association of Canada succeeded in convincing the State of British Columbia of Canada and they proclaimed April 14 as ‘Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality’ in April, 2021. Earlier the City of Burnaby of Canada had done so in April, 2020. Now in July, 2021 itself, the Gray’s Inn in
Ambedkar Room at Gray's Inn at London

London named and opened Ambedkar Room and unveiled his portrait to recognize Babasaheb. You may know that ‘Dr BR Ambedkar is the first person of the Indian origin and the very second jurist in the world to have a room dedicated to him at the Gray’s Inn. The Inn, previously had a room dedicated to Rose Heilbronn, England’s first woman queen counsel and judge’ as reported by the Tribune – Jalandhar Edition of July 22, 2021.

With this background, I thought of reminding our own Indian Government of the subject and again wrote a letter to EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar on July 25, 2021 under intimation to PM Narendra Modi and his concerned Ministers and other important functionaries belonging to the ruling BJP which is appended to this piece. It is the time to act and take a decision to make a demarche by the Government of India to the UN well before the UNGA – 76 scheduled in September, 2021. With an explicit support of India, Foreign Minister of our close friend Maldives Abdullah Shahid will preside over the UNGA – 76 in New York on one hand and on the other India herself will sit at the main Chair at the Horse Shoe Table of the UNSC beginning August, 2021. We are confident that GOI would not let the opportunity pass and take the proposal to the UN immediately to add to its international standing under the soft diplomacy endeavors. It goes without saying that Ambedkar’s name and his legacy would dictate the political course of India in the days and years to come. The proposed International Day of Equality would tend to send a positive message to the Indian masses particularly the followers of Babasaheb and the weaker sections of the society. The ruling outfits, having the mandate to take a decision, would stand to gain by honouring one f the greatest sons of India and an international icon, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

Ik Tarze Tagafil Hai; So woh Unko Mubarak,

Ik Arze Tamanna Hai; Woh Hum Karte Rehange.


Text of letter dated July 25, 2021 to EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar

July 25, 2021


Dear Sir,

Ever since you have taken over as the EAM in May/June, 2019, I have been writing to you about the International Day of Equality, my last letter dated April 1, 2021 (copy enclosed for ready reference) refers. The proposal to declare April 14, birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as International Day of Equality was first made in June, 2015 to your predecessor EAM Sushma Swaraj ever since the proposal is resting with the esteemed MEA.

I thought of reminding you on the subject in the run up to the forthcoming UNGA in September, 2021. You would appreciate, Sir, Babasaheb Ambedkar is increasingly getting international recognition. It is surprising that our own government, which has taken many initiatives to honour one ofthe greatest sons of India otherwise, is taking time to consider the proposal and take a decision to make an appropriate demarche to the UN in this regard. I may inform, which you may already be aware, that the State of British Columbia in Canada proclaimed to declare April 14 as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality in April, 2021. Some days ago in July, 2021 itself the Gray’s Inn in London has named and opened Ambedkar Room and unveiled his portrait to recognize Babasaheb. You may know that ‘Dr BR Ambedkar is the first person of the Indian origin and the very second jurist in the world to have a room dedicated to him at the Gray’s Inn. The Inn, previously had a room dedicated to Rose Heilbronn, England’s first woman queen counsel and judge’ as reported by the Tribune of July 22, 2021

I don’t feel any need to say much, Sir, as you very well know and understand how to go about and what to do to get declared April 14 as International day of Equality. There may not be more opportune time when India will occupy the Head Chair at the UNSC and UNGA -76 in September, 2021 will be presided over by Foreign Minister of our friend Maldives, Abdullah Shahid

I am confident that my submissions would find an urgent consideration and a favourable decision is taken to see that the proposal is sent and taken up at the UN appropriately. It would send a very positive political signal within the country and to the international community in under-pinning the ‘Soft Diplomacy of India’ to move towards establishing a just and equitable world order.

With personal regards,

Yours truly,

(Ramesh Chander)

Dr. S. Jaishankar,

Minister of External Affairs,

South Block, New Delhi


Copy to:

1.     Shri Narendra Modi, PM of India, PMO, South Block, New Delhi

2.     Dr. Varinder Kumar, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, New Delhi

3.     Shri Ramdas Athawale, MOS, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, New Delhi

4.     Shri Som Parkash, MOS, Ministry of Industry and Trade, New Delhi

5.     Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, MOS, MEA, New Delhi

6.     Shri Vijay Sampla, Chairman, National SC Commission, New Delhi

7.     Shri Dushyant Gautam, MP, New Delhi


Friday, July 23, 2021

Kisan Andolan – Confrontation is not the way out


Kisan Andolan – Confrontation is not the way out

The subject of Kisan Andolan (Farmers Agitation) has been touched upon a couple of times in my blogs in the recent past. The standoff between the agitating farmers and the central government on the controversial agricultural laws is still going on in its 8th month on the borders of Delhi. Ever since much water has flown in the Yamuna but no solution is in sight. On the other hand, both the sides have decided to stick to their respective stands – farmers want complete withdrawal of the three laws and the government is ready

to discuss these laws and make necessary amendments. Many rounds of formal and informal talks among the stake holders to untie the knots could not result into any way out to solve the problem. It is a matter of regret and concern, even judicial interventions by the courts including the Supreme Court could not help. The impasse has resulted in huge losses to the economy and undue sufferings not only to the agitating farmers but the ordinary citizens too. The agitation sites at the border entries of Delhi with huge settlements in about 15 km stretch sends a wrong message to international communities and tells poorly on our democratic polity. It is a clear ‘Grammar of Anarchy” to put in the terminology of no one else but the chief architect of the constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. We must solve this problem and end the standoff immediately, the sooner the better. We will ignore this warning at our own peril.

Kisan Sansad at Jantar Mantar New Delhi
As usual, I am no expert on the subject but thought of writing about the issue as a lay man but a concerned and rather perturbed citizen of India. My immediate provocation is the Kisan March and Protest (Kisan Sansad) at the Parliament starting from July 23. Both the Houses of Parliament are fully seized of the matter and the opposition parties are up in arms to corner the government in every possible way. It is a matter of great dissatisfaction that both the government and the opposition are not fully engaged with each other to address this national crisis and, on the other hand, seem to be worried about the brownie points to serve there narrow political agendas.  It is the very negation of democratic principles and norms. The warning of Babasaheb Ambedkar on the issue comes to my mind. I share what Dr. Ambedkar said in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949 in his last speech before the constitution was finally passed. He said, referring to historical events such as the invasion of Sind by Mohammed-Bin-Kasim, the invasion by Mohammad Ghauri to fight against Prithviraj Chauhan, as well as disunity among Indians in the fight against the British colonial rule

in 1857, Babasaheb Ambedkar noted “…not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of some of her own people.”  In this context, he went on to remark,“Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realization of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or will they place creed above country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we must all resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood.”

 ”Though the number of marchers and protesters have been restricted to a mere 200 yet there is every possibility that things go out of hand knowingly or otherwise. The events of January 26, the Republic Day are still fresh which resulted in avoidable confrontation and violence.

You would observe that I am not taking shelter under the guise of fact, figures, statistics, quotes, economic formulations and political viewpoints which the government Ministers and experts have been putting forth to argue their respective takes on the subject. This long drawn exercise has not resulted into any acceptable position towards the solution. What is the way out to break the logjam? The answer, to my mind, is – not Confrontation but Cooperation. There cannot be two opinions that agricultural reforms are needed to upgrade and upscale the farming sector in the country not only as the backbone of internal economy but also to integrate with the world economy in the changing scenario of international cooperation. Where have we gone wrong in this regard? First, I think, there is growing perception that the government has not consulted and discussed the issue with the farmers, other stake holders and the opposition before bringing and passing the legislation in the parliament hurriedly in a hushed way. It is too late to do anything now but to accept the fact that the laws are in place on the statute book. The extreme positions – complete repeal of the laws on the part of agitating farmers and revisit and necessary amendments on the part of the government – have become unrecognizable with the passage of time and long drawn agitation and prolonged negotiations. Egos, though misplaced, on both the sides, are standing in the way. We are yet to learn “Gyansheel” means and approaches, again in the phraseology of Dr. Ambedkar, to solve problems in a democratic setup. May be some ‘out of the box’ solution is needed in a time bound manner through direct and other channels to address the issue. Let me share what comes to my mind in this regard:-

·       The three agricultural laws should be held in abeyance, as of now, till alternate laws are made.

·       The Central Government should invite farmers, opposition parties and other stake holders for unconditional talks and discussions with one point agenda to find out a solution to the standoff to move forward.

·       Farmers should suspend/call off the agitation

·       A Joint high level and empowered Committee of Government representatives, leaders of farmers, leaders of opposition, agricultural experts, constitutional experts, civil society etc. should be constituted to discuss the issue threadbare and submit a report along with draft bills in a time bound manner, say in three months. The existing three laws which farmers want repealed and government is willing to consider amendments to these laws should be the reference material and may be considered as drafts to begin with. Government should provide help and assistance to this Committee.

·       Government should consider the report and the draft bills formulated by the said Committee and present it to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture within two weeks to discuss and clean the draft bills.

·       Government should make these bills as laws through ordinances within two weeks of the submissions of the Parliamentary Committee as per the parliamentary procedures.

·       These ordinances or bills as the case may be should be brought to a Joint Session of the Parliament, at the first opportunity, and get these passed with due procedure including discussion and amendments, if any.


It should be done in a time bound and transparent manner with a view to heal pent up and ruffled feelings of the agitating farmers and adversely affected common citizens. Egos of the government and agitators would not be hurt. Government and the opposition would have their say and position registered in the Joint Session of the Parliament as per the parliamentary practices and procedures in a democratic way. All the parties and stakeholders should accept this and honour the laws passed, with due procedure, by the duly elected and mandated government. Still, there may remain some issues or reservations. It is natural and not uncalled for. We the people of India are free to settle these matters in a democratic way by re-voting to power or unseating the current dispensation as we like by assessing and judging their delivery. Democratic and civilized societies behave this way to ward off the country from the “Grammar of Anarchy”.  This ‘out of the box’ approach will give to the barring opinions, a win-win feeling and the country will come to rails again. With all the best wishes of a novice who is concerned about our country India that is Bharat.

Monday, July 19, 2021

My Short Trip to Delhi


My Short Trip to Delhi

My friends and colleagues invited me to Delhi for a pre-launch meeting of a new business outfit, Atmanirbhar Global Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AGCCI) which will be formally launched soon under the patronage and guidance of my retired diplomatic colleague Ambassador Anil Trigunayat and my friend Anil Mehta, a businessman of his own standing. They proposed my name as an Advisor to AGCCI which I accepted with all humility. AGCCI, as I visualize, would serve the small and medium companies –

manufacturers, traders, importers and exporters, distributors, service providers etc. in ‘doing business with ease’ both in India and abroad in cooperation with important apex business facilitators like FICCI, FIEO and various export promotion Councils as partners in development. My colleague and friend from the IFS fraternity, Dilbag Singh will hold the fort for day to day administration of AGCCI. I am confident that AGCCI would deliver to the benefit and advantage of business communities to enable them to come out of the Covid pandemic difficulties which have retarded their operations. I wish AGCCI all success in its endeavors.

It was a trip undertaken after one and a half years primarily owing to the deadly pandemic and the ongoing Kisan Andolan which has resulted in uncalled for difficulties to the common traveler to and from Delhi. On being invited to Delhi by my friend Anil Mehta for a meeting on July 14, I was reluctant to accept the invitation on account of my apprehensions about difficulties on the way because of the Kisan Andolan but he assured me that slowly things were becoming normal and drivers knew how to enter Delhi through alternative routes. I agreed to join them. Accordingly, I started at 12 noon on July 13 to reach Delhi comfortably by 7 in the evening. But that was not to be. We got stuck at Rajpura in Punjab. Kisans had blocked the traffic from both sides and sat on Dharna in protest against some skirmishes between Kisans and the Police the day before. It was total chaos with a jam of about two kilometers on both sides of the road. It is good or bad, I don’t know, I have observed that the common Indian has a lot of patience and no sense of time. It is totally unwarranted, unethical, uncivilized and avoidable to block the highways at will by the rowdy crowds and harassing the common man on the road. But what to do in spite of the fact, the Chief Architect of the Constitution, Babasaheb Ambedkar warned in his last speech and said, “If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.” The greedy and unethical Dhabas around, though we claim to be religious and open our shops etc. with Dhoop-batti, fleeced people by charging as they wished without any scruples. After a wait of about two hours, my driver took the initiative and decided to go back and take an alternative route through the villages. Finally we hit the highway at Shambhu – Punjab-Haryana border almost 4 hours behind schedule. Is it not ‘Grammar of Anarchy”? Yes, it is. We were to take a detour to reach Delhi from Singhu border, site of Kisan Dharna, for the last 7-8 months the standoff between the farmers and the Government on the laws on agricultural matters. It is a widely

discussed and written about subject and I would not like to write much. But let me register my first hand impression about the scale and conduct of the Dharna – it is spread in the middle of the road in about a 10 kms. stretch before the Singhu border. Makeshift houses in trolleys, trucks and tents and even steel, wooden structures having generators, air-conditioners have come up. The food requirements are met under the lofty concept of Langar. My immediate reaction, after seeing this, was that Government should not allow this conflicting situation to prolong and decide the issues at stake with the farmers in all seriousness before it gets further complicated. We are a democratic country. There is no place for undue egos on both the sides. This standoff should end as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is bound to harm our polity, society and our international image which in any way is not in the national interest.

I reached my place of stay, Hotel Andaz at Aerocity, around 11 in the night. The hosts and the Hotel staff were good enough to serve the ordered dinner of soup and vegetables in the room itself before I hit the bed. Later in an informal chat, Event Sales Manager, Devender Kumar of Andaz told me that Andaz – a concept by Hyatt was one of the most modern dens of good living out of the 10 hotels in the Aerocity. It has 401 rooms. Interestingly in my room, there was a Coffee Table Book which enumerated 401 reasons why one should be in Delhi and be at Andaz.  Andaz, I found, a nice place to stay.

After AGCCI meetings and working lunch at Andaz, I was to catch up with my friend and relation, Dev Raj, a retired senior Delhi Police officer who lived in a nearby posh area of Palam Vihar in Gurgaon. Sardar D.S. Chadha, a well established businessman who was also with us at the AGCCI meeting kindly offered to drop me at Dev Raj’s abode. I gladly accepted the kind gesture. The ride, though short, was rewarding as we could exchange our respective life experiences and became good friends instantly. Thanks Chadha Sahib.

Dev Raj and his gracious wife Sheila, a harmonious couple, belong to my native place Jalandhar. We enjoy many common connections of friends and relations. There was much to talk and revive our old

ACP Dev Raj and his wife Sheila

memories and ponder upon the on goings. The green and well manicured lawn and matching flora around was a good place to sit 
and talk over rounds of masala tea. Dev Raj is a good raconteur and jovial while Sheila a reticent and quite lady. The evening was
totally relaxed. The well stocked house-bar enticed me and I sipped a couple of Chotta pegs of smooth Chivas Regal before a good dinner. Visit to Dev Raj and their overflowing hospitality charged my batteries. I returned to Jalandhar on July 15 after a short trip to Delhi, a good change to break the monotony of confinement in the wake of Covid mess.

Dilli Dil Hai Hindostan Ka



Thursday, July 15, 2021

Dwindling Dalit Leadership


Dwindling Dalit Leadership

Dalits are increasingly facing the challenge of dwindling leadership both in terms of quantity and quality. It is a matter of real concern and worry for the masses belonging to the weaker sections of the society. My immediate provocation for writing this piece is the recently reshuffled Council of Ministers of PM Narendra Modi.  

There are 12 Scheduled Caste Ministers – 1 of Cabinet rank and 11 Ministers of State. It is a glaring imbalance, only one cabinet rank minister for about 20% of the population, which may be noticed easily. But my intention is not to underline, though an important
point, this issue. I would confine myself on the vacuum in the hierarchy of dalit leadership which is widening over the years since independence.  Unfortunately, it is evident that a joint electorate as against separate electorate envisaged by PM Ramsey MacDonald in 1932 has resulted in this undesirable situation. Mahatma Gandhi and

other Hindu leaders tricked and blackmailed Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and made him sign the Poona Pact, 1932. The new constitution stipulated enabling provisions for affirmative action for the empowerment of dalits in form of reservations including political reservations for reserved seats in parliament and legislative assemblies. These provisions for political reservation were initially made for ten years. But it is interesting to note that no political party wants to undo this in the name of so-called ‘merit’ and ‘equality before law’ even after more than 70 years. It suits them to keep dalits divided and continue to rule over them. This process is directly responsible for the situation where it is difficult to find a leader of pan-India status and image among dalits. Babasaheb Ambedkar realized this undesirable anomaly but it was too late and he quit the scene in December, 1956 in his death. Babu Kanshi Ram understood the problem and termed the current lot of dalit politicians as ‘Chamchas’ (Stooges). The situation is becoming acute with every passing year after year. There is no line of hierarchy among the dalit politicians who can really claim their presence and recognition throughout the length and breadth of India. None of the Ministers in the current central government has the stature and status to claim to be a leader beyond their electoral constituencies or may be their own states. Not that these Ministers are not able or capable, if one simply goes by their educational qualifications, experience, professional and political success -  at least two of them are retired IAS bureaucrats, two or three are qualified doctors, one or two are academic doctors and more than two of them have been Ministers for many years. But still the predicament remains; no one enjoys the status of a leader by his own right.

I will not go deep into history and start from contemporary times with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who proved his mettle to be leader by his own right and contributed a great deal in handling the issues of the community besides his immense contribution in the national affairs. He tried his best to bring along many of his associates viz. Dadasaheb  B.K. Gaikwad, N. Shivam, Joginder Nath Mandal, Seth Kishan Dass among others, with a view to generate a second line of leadership but succeeded only partially. Babu Manguram Mugowalia, a Gadarite Baba,  played a sterling role in motivating dalit youth under the flag of Ad-dharam Mandal. Babasaheb Ambedkar was not oblivious of the requisite needs of developing a trained cadre of leaders. Towards the end of his demise in December, 1956, he endeavored to establish ‘School of Politics’ and did so but later in the absence of Babasaheb, it could not take off. Later on, after the launching of Republican Party, these leaders showed some promise and further developed yet another breed of leaders like B.R. Khabragade in Maharastra, B.P. Maurya in UP, Lahori Ram Balley in Punjab who could garner support and recognition beyond their respective regional domains but could not make a pan-India dent. On the other hand, just to counter Ambedkar, Congress Party propped up leaders like Babu Jagjivan Ram, D. Sanjivaya, Prithvi Singh Azad among others. Jagjivan Ram showed his political acumen and took the risk in 1977 to grab the coveted position of PM but the caste-machinations did not allow it to happen. Jagjivan Ram missed the chance to be one of the best PMs of India. In subsequent years, leaders like President K.R. Narayanan, Buta Singh, Chand Ram, Ram Vilas Paswan, Sushil Shinde, Meira Kumar, Kumari Shelja, P.L. Punia, Udit Raj, Charanjit Singh Atwal,  inter alia, under various dispensations came on stage but could not go far. Babu Kanshi Ram,
a visionary leader after Babasaheb Ambedkar developed a trained

and motivated cadre in the name of BAMCEF and propped up leaders like Mayawati. Kanshi Ram could not hold on because of his paralytic sickness and Mayawati got confined to UP and finally bogged down under her own baggage of said to be ‘greed for money’. She did not allow a second line of leadership to come up, unfortunately. Under various political formations currently in the non-BJP outfits, leaders like Ramdas Athawale, Prakash Ambedkar, Raj Rattan Ambedkar in Maharastra, Jeevan Malla in the South, Chardrashekhar Azad (Ravan) in UP, Jeevan Mavani in Gujrat, Chirag Paswan in Bihar, Santokh Singh Chaudhary, Harinder Khalsa, Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, Avinash Chander, Sushil Rinku, Pawan Tinu, Jarnail Nangal, Sukhwinder

Kotli in Punjab are engaged in representing dalit communities but none of them has the promise and wherewithal to do so effectively and come up the to face the challenges of the future. Dalits, it seems, are boarding a rudderless ship. Political structures and rules of the game, willfully and cunningly created by the vested interests to keep dalits on the margins, tend to divide dalit votes and party whips restrict them to raise important issues and vote with a sense of freedom. The problem is acute. The MPs and MLAs elected from the reserved seats work for their respective parties and not for dalits as ordained in the constitution.

It may be observed, before I conclude, that all the 12 Ministers in the BJP government are almost dummies. Some dalit leaders in BJP are roped in by the crumbs. It is projected that BJP/RSS are taking due care of the hitherto neglected sections of the society both politically and socially.  One may count and list these names as Gautam Dushyant, Vijay Sampla, Som Parkash, Hans Raj Hans, Sunita Duggal, Rajesh Bagha, Rattan Lal Kataria, one or two Governors and to cap it all Mahamahim Rashtrapati Ram Nath Kovind. Nothing is changing on ground. The dictum of ‘one vote – one value’ has been negated

willfully. I am sorry to add. Though it is a fact that BJP by now is the largest party having dalit MPs and MLAs in India yet the fact remains that BJP could get this distinction not be winning over dalits or doing something concrete for them but by sheer mathematics of dividing the votes on one hand and exploiting the poverty and under-development inflicted on these hapless masses.

What is the solution? It requires an in-depth study and analysis of the issue. It seems it would take another century to change the Manuwadi mindset to do away the social maladies like caste system in spite of all the constitutional provisions. I think drastic steps are required to be taken. The beginning should be made by the dalit leadership itself. Start with abolishing and withdrawal of political reservations. It has outlived its utility. I think, after that, no dalit would be able to make it to the Parliament and Assemblies. First the major parties like BJP, Congress Party and other Hinduwadi outfits would not risk to field SC candidates. Second, even if they field some as a face saving exercise, SC candidates would not win because of caste prejudices, lack of money and muscle power. On the other hand parties like BSP, Azad Samaj Party, Republican Party, Dravid Bahujan Party, and others should contest on the basis of the slogan given by Babu Kanshi Ram – ‘Jis ki jitni sankhiya bhari; utni

Upcoming leadership - MLA Ajay Dutt of AAP

us ki hissedari’. Most of the SC candidates are unlikely to make it and get elected still. That would tend to trigger a real revolution both in the society and the polity. That is what we need to realize the dreams of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram. The ‘Chamcha Age’ would end and dalits would have leadership which would have to perform to remain in the reckoning.  It would tend to result in real peaceful revolution under the constitutional arrangement which Ambedkar made himself so laboriously. Faiz Ahmed Faiz may give some encouragement and hope to the teeming millions: -

Eh Khaak Nashinon Uth Baitho;

Woh Waqt Mukaabil aa pahuncha.

Jab Takht Giraye Jayenge;

Aur Taj Uchale Jayenge.



Saturday, July 3, 2021

Commemorating Ambedkar


Commemorating Ambedkar

Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar, the greatest son of contemporary India,

an economist, constitutional pundit, social reformer and father of the Indian constitution and one of the prominent exponents of the lofty values of ‘Equality, Justice, Liberty and Fraternity’, of late, consciously or otherwise, has increasingly become a personality who is much commemorated and celebrated not only in India but in the world at large. It is a matter of satisfaction and pride. I think soon it will become a sought after subject for the research students and historians and rightly so.

Let it be and allow me to write something on the subject off the cuff to register some of the recent developments in this regard. My immediate provocation is – Bharat Ratan Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Memorial and Cultural Centre to be built in Lucknow of which

President Ram Nath  Kovind at Luchnow Memorial

Mahamahim Rashtrapati Ram Nath Kovind laid the foundation stone on June 28, 2021. It is not surprising and it seems the situation has come full circle. BSP Supremo Mayawati when she was the Chief Minister of UP built and dedicated to the nation “Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sathal” on the banks of the Yamuna in Gautam Budh Nagar (NOIDA) facing the national memorials dedicated to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Charan Singh, Jagjivan Ram among others. It was criticized as a political move and wastage of public money by many, who cannot see above their noses. Now, slowly but steadily, time has come when almost all political outfits and so called social and cultural organizations like RSS are falling on each other to erect memorials and commemorate icons like Babasaheb Ambedkar. Some of them have even demonstrated their love and liking for Kanshi Ram. Dalit vote bank seems to work for which Ambedkar was instrumental as he introduced “One vote-one value’ to empower the marginalized sections of the society.

It is a fact that Ambedkar, in his life time, never got recognition easily due to historical factors of ‘social inequality’ in the society. But legacy of Ambedkar is so potent that it is difficult to ignore him. Mahatma Gandhi had already realized and accepted this when he said in the mid 1930s ‘You may criticize Ambedkar but cannot ignore him”. Things started changing in the 1980s in the wake of political and social awakening unleashed by the BAMCEF and BSP of Kanshi Ram and resultant economic empowerment brought about by affirmative provisions like reservations in employment etc. Hitherto, dalits were taken for granted by the Congress party. The new players like BSP, Janta Dal and BJP started denting that monopoly. It was natural that it could only be done by owning and appropriating Ambedkar. BJP realized it and exploited the situation deftly. The outcome is visible with BJP ruling with a thumping majority at the Centre and in most of the states. As of now, the position, as stated by the Tribune in its editorial on June 18 is, “It is (BJP), in some ways, India’s biggest Dalit party, with highest number of Dalit parliamentarians in both 2014 and 2019 and a strong vote base among Dalit sub-castes.” Union Minister Ramdas Athawale has termed PM Narendra Modi a “real Ambedkarite” and predicted his return to power in 2024.

With this back ground it is but natural that BJP is leaving no stone unturned in exploiting and appropriating the name and legacy of Babasaheb Ambedkar to its advantage not only by the present dispensation of PM Narendra Modi but earlier too by PM Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government in beginning of the 21st century. PM Modi exactly knew how to encash the Ambedkar cheque at the ‘Vote Bank of dalits when he said, “Son of a poor mother like me hailed from a very backward section of society and could become the prime minister due to Babasaheb Ambedkar.”  The BJP government took major initiatives to commemorate and celebrate Babasaheb Ambedkar ever since it came to power in 2014. Early in 2015, GOI decided to observe the celebrate Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary in April, 2016. The gesture was much appreciated. In April, 2017, GOI announced the roadmap to built and establish ‘Panchatirth” in the memory of the icon, Babasaheb Ambedkar, a thoughtful homage and betting tribute to the leader as per the following details:

Memorial in Mhow in Madhya Pradesh- On April 14, 2016, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Dr. Ambedkar at his birthplace Mhow in Madhya Pradesh and dedicated the Ambedkar Memorial to the nation.The foundation stone for this memorial was laid by the then Chief Minister Sunder Lal Patwa. Today, this monument has become a pilgrimage for people who respect Babasaheb. From here, the Prime Minister gave the clarion call for ‘Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday’. Referring to Babasaheb's thinking and his contribution to the poor, Prime Minister Modi says that there should be a sense of reverence for understanding the principle of Babasaheb.

Memorial at Diksha Sthal at Nagpur, Maharastra- Diksha Sthal, the

At Diksha Bhoomi with BJP leader Rajesh Bagha

site at Nagpur where Babasaheb took Diksha of Buddhism on Octoner 14, 1956, has been accorded the status of A-class tourist destination. This long awaited demand was met with PM Modi’s initiative of marking 125th Jayanti of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Memorial at Chaitaya Bhoomi at Dadar in Mumbai– The site where Babasaheb Ambedkar was cremated after his nirvana on December, 1956. The site was called Indu Mills in Dadar at Mumbai which was owned by the National Textiles. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed Bhoomi Pujan for the site. The monument, Statue of Equality will be built there to honour the great son of India. Speaking at the occasion,. PM Modi urged to plant trees, each belonging to 40,000 villages of Maharashtra and one tree from all the states of the country.

Ambedkar International Center at Janpath at New Delhi - Ambedkar International Center has been built at Janpath Marg in New Delhi. The place would not only be a touristic attraction but also serve the followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar to come and connect with the ideals and philosophy of Babasageb Ambedkar. While inaugurating the Centre, PM Narendra Modi said,” I sincerely hope that this

PM Narendra Modi at AMIC at Janpth in Delhi

Centre will prove to be a great inspiration for spreading Babasaheb’s teachings” and further said, This centre will also be a platform for the discussion on how to focus on economic and social issues by incorporating the mantra of ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ also known as ‘inclusive growth’. This centre will be a think tank for it. Friends, I believe that this Centre will prove to be a boon for the new generation who can come here and understand Babasaheb’s vision.”

Ambedkar Memorial at Alipur Road in Delhi - The memorial was inaugurated on 14 April 2018. The site signifies the fact that Babasaheb Ambedkar lived in bunglow no.26 at Alipur Road in Delhi before his nirvana on December 6, 1956. Prime Minister Narendra Modi while laying the foundation of the memorial and remembering the social, political and economic contributions of Babasaheb said that it would be injustice to limit Babasaheb to a particular class. PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had decided to convert the site into a memorial in honour of Babasaheb.

Chairman of  NSCC Vijay Sampla at London Memorial
Apart from Panchatirth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ambedkar Memorial in London on November 14, 2015 where Dr. Ambedkar used to stay while studying in London.  On the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that the people of this
world would be drawn to this place to understand India's economic thinking. PM Modi added, “Babasaheb has taught us to work in national and societal interest and when done so, our direction will always be right. That is why he (Ambedkar) continues to be an inspiration even today.

Many of us may or may not know that Ambedkar is increasingly becoming an international icon without any State patronage because of the fact that Ambedkar’s legacy particularly his path-breaking struggle for ‘liberty, justice and equality’ is as potent and relevant today as it was before. It is not just for nothing Ambedkar’s statues, busts and other insignia are coming up in the important capitals and

Statue in Japan

important cities globally namely; UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Hungary, Vietnam, Ghana, South Africa, inter alia. Many of the renowned Schools, Colleges and Universities have already established libraries and chairs in honour of Dr. Ambedkar not only in India but also abroad. More recently, taking cue from the proposal on April 14, birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as International Day of Equality, in April 2020 the City of Burnaby and in April 2021, The Province of British Columbia of Canada proclaimed April 14 as ‘Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality’. It is a matter of great satisfaction.

All said and done, let me add a pending and somewhat hitherto sidelined important proposal resting with the Government of India (MEA) since June, 2015. Mahamahim Rashtrapati, Ram Nath Kovind, PM Narendra Modi and PMO, EAM Jaishankar and MEA and other important Ministers like Thawar Chand Gehlot, Ramdas Athawale, Som Parkash and even RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, I believe, are aware of this proposal. We have been reminding, off and on, the MEA/PMO and other decision makers and stake holders on

Ambedkar Jayanti at UN in New York in April, 2016

the proposal. But it is a matter of great dissatisfaction and regret that GOI has not responded to the proposal. PM Narendra Modi has done a lot and rightly so to honour the worthy son of India as narrated above and ‘We the people of India’ are grateful for this. I take this opportunity to remind and urge PM Narendra Modi and the GOI to take the lead, as usual, and make a requisite demarche to the UN at the earliest to get April 14 declared as International Day of Equality at the forthcoming UNGA in September, 2021. The time is of essence. This timely decision will facilitate and strengthen the prophecy made by MOS Ramdas Athawale as quoted in the preceding paragraphs- ‘Union Minister Ramdas Athawale has termed PM Narendra Modi a “real Ambedkarite” and predicted his return to power in 2024.’

We would ignore Ambedkar at our own peril. Ambedkar and his legacy are bound to get stronger and stronger in the years to come. Let me close with a quote from Allama Iqbal:

Uthaye Kuch Waraq Lale Ne, Kuch Nargis Ne, Kuch Gul Ne
Chaman Mein Har Taraf Bikhri Huwi Hai Dastan Meri

Some leaves were picked up by the tulip, some by the narcissus, some by the rose
My story is scattered around everywhere in the garden

Urha Li Qumriyon Ne, Tootiyon Ne, Andleebon Ne
Chaman Walon Ne Mil Kar Loot Li Tarz-e-Faghan Meri

The turtle‐doves, parrots, and nightingales pilfered away
The garden’s denizens jointly robbed away my plaintive way


Post Script: -Unveiling of a Portrait of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar and Dedication of the Ambedkar Room at Grays Inn :-

It is matter of great satisfaction that in London a portrait of Babasaheb has been displayed and a room at the Grays Inn has been named as Ambedkar Room just a couple of days ago. Speaking at the occasion Lord Alton of Liverpool said:

“It is remarkable, and highly instructive, just how frequently Dr.B.R. Ambedkar is still referred to during debates in both Houses of Parliament – not least when we have deliberated the rank discrimination still experienced by Dalits and Adivasis, or issues such as modern slavery and human trafficking, and the plight of persecuted minorities.

The story of Dr. Ambedkar’s life represents a route out of enforced misery into to emancipation, justice, and equality.

The life of this extraordinary man continues to offer hope and encouragement to millions of downtrodden people, living on the periphery of society because of caste or stigmatization.

Gray’s Inn’s decision to dedicate a new portrait and room to his memory is a wonderful way of introducing him to generations yet to
Ambedkar Room at Gray's Inn

come and we should also take other opportunities – such as an annual conference, marking Dr.Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, perhaps hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dalits – to explore the many facets of this wonderful man’s heroic life.”

It may not be out of place to mention that Amedkarites like Ms. Santosh Das, Arun Kumar and their associates under the aegis of Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Associations (FABO) of
UK played a proactive role in the project like Chetna Association of Canada in proclaiming April 14 as ‘Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality’ in the city of Burnaby and Province of British Columbia in Canada. I take this opportunity to greet and thank them for this wonderful work in according much deserved recognition to the world icon, Babasaheb Ambedkar. It may also be mentioned that earlier also FABO played an important role in converting the bulging into an Ambedkar Memorial in London where Babasaheb stayed as a student.