Babasaheb Ambedkar’s 61st Death Anniversary
Today is Dr. Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Diwas. The 61st death anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar.
Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar, also known as ‘Father of the Indian Constitution’, was one of the most prominent leaders of India during its pre-independence and early post-independence years. He was one of the key personalities who shaped India’s inclusive and egalitarian society. He passed away on 6 December, 1956 at the age of 65. Ever since, his death anniversary is celebrated in many parts of the country (especially in state capitals) as Ambedkar Parinirvan Diwas. While the day is dedicated to remembering Babasaheb and recalling the relevance of his values in present day India, it is also commemorated as a day of celebration. Like all previous years, a grand event was organized in the Parliament Complex in the national capital, New Delhi. President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and various members of the central government gathered to pay their respects to the leader and his memory. Others who also attended the event were Vice President Hamid Ansari, India’s former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other political leaders including L.K. Advani.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter to express his sentiments on the occasion. He tweeted, “I bow to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar on his Nirvan Divas. India will always be thankful to Babasaheb for his rich service to the nation.”
Crowds Throng Chaitya Bhoomi
Chaitya Bhoomi (at Shivaji Park, Dadar), the memorial where Dr. Ambedkar’s ashes are interred saw huge crowds gathered here to pay homage to the leader. Earlier news reports had suggested that like previous years, a huge crowd was expected to throng the streets leading up to Chaitya Bhoomi on Mahaparinirvan Diwas (Din). The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) expected over 8 lakh people to gather at the memorial. While demonetsation woes may have prevented many from making this annual visit, many lakhs have made it to Chaitya Bhoomi today.
Elaborate Arrangements Made at Chaitya Bhoomi
According to news reports, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, also known as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, has undertaken massive arrangements to manage the crowds on Mahaparinirvan Diwas. The BMC has reportedly set up over 400 stalls and constructed some 200 mobile toilets for the visitors. The corporation had also said that there would be 70 doctors, 15 ambulances and several fire engines close at hand. Over 10 control rooms have been set up and the entire Chaitya Bhoomi memorial is kept under round the clock CCTV surveillance. Apart from hundreds of policemen, over 750 volunteers have been deployed around the Shivaji Park Chowpatty area. Mumbai Police also claims to be geared up to manage the masses and the flow of traffic in the area. Hundreds of thousands of people arrived at the Chaitya Bhoomi yesterday and stayed overnight on the grounds under the high tents that have been erected here.
Remembering Dr. B R Ambedkar
Earlier this month, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that the state government had approved the recognition of the Chaitya Bhoomi memorial of Dr Ambedkar as an ‘A’ class pilgrimage destination. What makes Dr. Ambedkar such an iconic personality of India? Why do lakhs of people visit his memorial unfailing in their endeavour each year? What keeps Dr. Ambedkar’s memory alive after six decades of his demise? To understand this, we must take a look at Dr. Ambedkar’s contributions to India and Indian society.
Architect of the Indian Constitution
When India kept its “tryst with destiny” and gained independence on 15 August, 1947, Dr. Ambedkar was invited to serve as the first Law Minister of the country. Soon, the leaders of the country were faced with the mammoth task of drafting a comprehensive constitution to govern the nation. On 29 August, 1947, Dr. Ambedkar was appointed Chairman of the (Constitution) Drafting Committee. He was commissioned by the Constituent Assembly to draft the Constitution. Ambedkar’s contribution to the constitution is reflected in the civil liberties and constitutional guarantees that all the citizens of India now claim as a matter of right. He made strong arguments for abolishing discriminations based on caste and for protecting the interests of groups such as women, backward classes including scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Many of his suggestions were adopted by the Constituent Assembly and incorporated into the Constitution of India which came into effect in 1950.
Contribution to the Dalit Movement
For quite some time before India had gained independence, Dr. Ambedkar had been fighting the evil of untouchability and championing the cause of the Dalits. Ambedkar founded the ‘Bahishkrut Hitkarini Sabha’ in the 1920s. The Sabha encouraged the downtrodden communities to congregate and seek justice. It ran schools and encouraged the Dalits to get education. Through the years that followed, Ambedkar led the Dalits of the country in a protest against the caste system and allied practices such as the Khoti System. A number of systems and practices that we take for granted, such as the right to equality and the right to religious worship, come from the values and visions that Babasaheb held.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, or Babasaheb as he was affectionately called, was a great visionary. No only was his sense of egalitarianism and equality the foundation of Indian society as we know it today, a number of subjects that had received his support are still relevant today. The implementation of Uniform Civil Code and opposition to Article 370 are matters that continue to receive attention till this day. We shall remain indebted to this great personality and strive to live by his values.