Birth Anniversary at India House

Dear Friends,

The Federation of Ambedkrite & Buddhist Organisations, UK celebrated Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on 14th of April at House of Commons and India House. Speaking at the function in the House of Commons, the President of FABO UK, Dr. N. Srinivasan raised the question human rights violations in India. Dr. Sanjay Chahande, Director of Social Services in the Government of Maharashtra spoke with the facts and figures and pointed out how the atrocities are taking place day by day. Unfortunately his speech was interrupted because of the lack of time. Same thing happened to Bhikhu Chandra Bodhi and Dr. David Haslam. This programme started late and the speakers couldn’t do justice to their subjects. Later on there was another function held at the India House. He programme started with the floral tributes to Baba Saheb by the High Commissioner and various dignitaries and the welcome address by Gira Chakarvarti. Mr. Ramdas Athwale explained how the Republican Party of India is struggling to fulfil the dreams of Baba Saheb. Unfortunately none of the major speaker raised the question of review of the constitution. I had an opportunity to say a few words and I tried to convey this message. I am producing my entire speech, which I delivered at India House.

Today we are celebrating the birth anniversary of Baba sahib Dr. BR Ambedkar. It is a happy occasion for everybody, but at the same time it reminds us of our responsibilities and duties towards our brothers and sisters in India. We should also evaluate what we have achieved so far and where we are going. Baba Sahib wanted to see India great, a modern India in which everybody irrespective of their colour, caste, religion, language or region enjoys equal status and dignity. It is only possible if everybody economically and socially is equal. He warned us that on 26th of January 1950 we will have equality in politics and inequality in social and economic life. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest moment, or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy.The truth is that day by day the gap between rich and poor is increasing. Nearly half of the population, majority of them Dalits, has gone down below the subsistence level.The development of any country is measured on the basis of the plight of the people.

In a democracy it is essential that everybody has freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of profession and freedom to adopt the religion of one’s choice without any hindrance. But from the last a few years a very dangerous trend is taking place. , Baba Sahib was very much concerned about the India’s future. While debating on the draft constitution, he said, "On 26th Jan, India will be an independent country. What would happen to her independence? Will she maintain her independence or will she loose her again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. In the form of castes, creeds and religions, we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political views. Will Indians place the country above caste and religion or will they place caste or religion above country. I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place the religion above the country, our independence will be put in jeopardy and probably lost for ever."

But what is happening today? On the name of religion, churches, mosques and other religious places are being demolished. Christian, Muslims and Sikhs are made the target by the religious fundamentalists. Dalits are being persecuted and executed in a broad day light. Their women are being paraded naked. Not only their houses but men women and their children are burnt alive. Recent example is before us. In Kambalapalli village in Kolar District, Karnatka three houses were set on fire by so called high castes where seven Dalits were burnt alive. In March, a 23 year old woman, sukhviri devi of Nagla village in Agra was stripped naked and beaten up. As a matter of fact all minorities feel insecure . If we want to keep India united, we will have to heed Baba Sahib’s warning and check this present trend. Mr. Patwant Singh, the famous author, in one of his articles in the Asian Age writes that Islam, Christianity and Sikhism cannot be blamed for all the troubles. The rigid and hierarchical nature of India’s dominant faith has divided people since centuries along caste lines. The absence of equality and cohesiveness in India’s religious establishment paved the way for the outsiders to dominate us. But despite India’s historical tragedies, farsightedness and retrospection still elude us. No lessons have been learnt from our past nor serious note taken of the damage caused by our current caste, religious, regional and linguistic rivalries. With politicians busy manipulating these divisions for personal and party ends, the national interest continues to be neglected. If this trend continues, it is a sure way to disaster.

It is an old saying that a bad workman always quarrels with his tools. For all the ills, instead of blaming themselves, the politicians have started blaming the constitution. This is an easy escape. The Government have set up a commission to review the constitution without making it clear that which portion of the constitution has harmed the country. The constitution is not a religious scripture that you cannot change a word of it. This document can be amended with the change of time and we have seen about 80 amendments. Under article 368, the Parliament has a power to amend any part of the constitution. This document must fulfil the aspirations of the people otherwise it is not worth having it. We must not forget that this constitution has kept India united from the last 50 years. It has been a guarantor of parliamentary democracy, secularism and fundamental rights. It has also inspired the spread of democratic consciousness in the society, empowerment of Dalits, tribals and women. Perhaps we have one of the best constitutions in the world. It is not that our laws are bad but the politicians lack the will to implement them. The corrupt and criminals are entering into the parliament and legislature assemblies. They don’t work for the welfare of the common people but for their own self interest. Bribery has become the norm of the day. Even the think tank of American establishment , the Heritage Foundation has branded India as one of the most corrupt country in the World. For this kind of affairs you can’t blame the constitution.

While delivering Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant Memorial Lecture on ‘Making India’s Constitution’, Justice H.R. Khanna said, ‘whatever may be the provisions of the Constitution, its ultimate success and effectiveness for public will depend upon the persons who work them and the way those provisions are worked. Once this basic condition is lacking, the working of the provisions of the constitution is bound to run into rough weather.’ As a matter of fact Justice Khanna has expressed the opinion of our President Mr K.R. Narayanan who speaking on the Republic day said that we will have to see whether we have failed the constitution or the constitution has failed us. It clearly reflects that not the constitution but the politicians and bureaucrats are responsible for this state of affairs in India. We all of you who believe in the multicultural society, secularism and democracy must come forward and oppose these politicians and save India from ruin. That will be the true tribute to Dr. Baba Sahib Ambedkar.

Arun Kumar

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