9th International Seminar on Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

The 9th International Seminar on Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on topic “Ambedkar Philosophy: Path to Social Justice in South Asia” was held on December 15, 2016 (Thursday) at Al-Razi Hall, New Campus, University of the Punjab, Lahore. Chief Guest of the program was siddiq ul- Farooq Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board. Vice chancellor Punjab University was also present at the seminar. Director Sir Ganga Ram Heritage Foundation delivered the welcome address. Among the Indian guest speakers Miss Manjula Pradeep, Social activist Ahmadabad. Dr. Anand Teltumbde dalit scholar from Goa, Parmod Kumar professor of English at Indra Gandhi national Open University, New Delhi, was delivered the paper. All Indian guests are of the view that the popularity and significance of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in all over India is increasing day by day. From Pakistan Dr mujahid Mansoori and Muhammad Munir Shirwani Radio Pakistan also delivered the paper in the seminar. Finally V.C Punjab University Dr. Mujahid Kamran and Chief guest Siddique -ul- Farooq addressed the seminar. In the end souvenir were distributed among the participants by the chief guest. The hall with capacity of 200 people was fully occupied by the audience, Deans, professors, media persons, minority representatives and students were among the audience.

Director Sir Ganga Ram Heritage Foundation Syed Shaheen Hassan Said in his welcome address that following philosophy of Baba sahib Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Sir Ganga Ram Heritage Foundation (SGRHF) is committed and intends to promote intellectual efforts of architect of Indian Constitution. We want to enhance its activities circle up to regional level in all South Asian Region, as we believe it is essential to launch a joint intellectual struggle to make sure of achieving the target of social justice in all South Asian societies, where millions of deprived people and oppressed classes are waiting from centuries for their most basic rights to make this region peaceful, stable and prosperous.

Dr Anand thanked SGRHF for organizing the program on Dr BR Ambedkar and inviting him on this auspicious occasion. He praised Dr Ambedkar as a remarkable and most educated person of the subcontinent of his time. He said the philosophy of Baba Sahib is like Ambedkarism is in India what the people call and there are lots of Ambedkarites who are formed by the philosophy of Ambedkar. The philosophy of Ambedkar can be put into a single word Democracy. For him Democracy was not a system of government but it is well being of an ideal society. An ideal society is based on three things liberty, equality and fraternity. The meanings of these three words, means to be understood. Liberty is the freedom of every individual of the society and not the freedom of the exploiter to exploit others, freedom of the capitalist and freedom of the landlord to exploit. It emphasizes equality. Democracy is the government for, by and of the people. But his definition of Democracy actually is far beyond the sensible government. It was not government but something like associated living in this world; actually it is communication with the fellow beings so we exercise fraternity. It is a wake of life near Ambedkar. Ambedkar again emphasized Democracy as a system of transformation and achieving a human progress. Ambedkar define democracy as a form and method of government whereby revolutionary changes in the economic and social life of people are brought without bloodshed. For success of Democracy the first and foremost element is equality. Dr Ambedkar was of the opinion that political democracy must change to form a social democracy in order to develop state socialism. Ambedkar is associated with the constitution of India. He believed that Democracy is essential in imparting social justice. The coexistence of three democracies i.e. political, social and economic is imperative to achieve the goals of equality and fraternity as enshrined in the constitution of India. He criticized the parliamentary democracy which is running today because it has altered the principle of liberty and equality for highlighting liberty. Ambedkar attribute extensive meaning to democracy. Ambedkar proposed plan of state socialism according to which all the basic entities to be nationalized. Cultivable land be nationalized and owned by state and passed to communities and the land taken from land holders or property taken from capitalist would be compensated. He said India is India because of Baba Sahibs constitution.

Mr Parmod Kumar said I bring love, peace and harmony from my country India for you. It was time that nobody knew Ambedkar, but now everyone knows him. You are witnessing the powerful discourse that they are teaching him in different ways in programs around the world. It is the need of the time to follow Ambedkar. People in the world think that caste system is an organized system where there is division of labour. But Ambedkar says it is division of labourer. He was clear of his understandings. Ambedkar was a global and revolutionary person and should be adopted and acquired in our day to day life that is important. He has clarity of how the world operates. He had a great understanding of this world. The way Ambedkar challenged discourses in his life time are before us. Pointing out at the back stage banner of the Seminar and SGRHF standee behind him on which Ambedkar slogan of equality, liberty and fraternity was mentioned. He said we have to understand these words and how to acquire them. When you study equality then you realize what equality is. Equality should reflect in each and every aspect of life. How can we claim democracy when there is a big inequality? Talking about social justice, he said education is the first step towards social justice. Education is the only instrument that can transform situation and bring change. When speaking of social justice we take example of schools. Statistics in India shows, one teacher school, no toilets in schools and some are without roof. The schools are there for namesake. If we improve the level of education at primary level we are doing great service to Ambedkar. If we look at South Asia we can be proud of this area because it has largest youth potential population. There is a scope of transformation here. Statistics show 33 million of primary and secondary out of school students in South Asia in 2016.The dropout rate are even more and worse. Provision of basic education is in disorder and need remedy. Revolutionary pattern has to be adopted in our day to day approach and not to talk about in programs. The reform of educational system in schools should be the top priority, only then we can do justice to Ambedkar criteria of social justice. At the time of entry of the student in school system, we have to work on the retention of students and after they go out of school and college there have to be replacement related provisions for our students. We should have enhancement of community participation which include education development strategy, reform and schooling as it is a must. This is the only way to do justice to Ambedkar great ideas of social justice. Development of Institutions, educational strategy and scheme of poverty reduction, dissemination of new formation of communication technology, production and use of indigenous software’s, Ambedkar has to be remembered not because he could see problems, articulate problems, not because he could visualize the kind of plan and strategy to challenge that but he was seen achieving that also. He has passed 3 to 4 mantra to us to educate, agitate, and understand. So I understand that we can look at him and follow him.

Manjula Pradeep said that the most famous quote of Dr. Ambedkar is “Educate – Unite – Agitate” meaning that to excess the path to social justice, people who have been discriminated for past several centuries due to their social origin have to first get educated then Unite and finally they have to agitate for their rights. I as a human rights activist, striving for human rights of one of the most discriminated communities in the world and in South Asia, I see Education as the first and foremost path toward social justice. For thousands of years, Dalits were not entitled to attain literacy and in Manu code of Law, it’s said that “If a Dalit listen to the Sanskrit chants, then hot lead should be poured in his/her ears. We have come a long way from being humiliated, disregarded, oppressed, and denied of our rights as human beings. At one time we were in the category of untouchables, unseeables and unapproachable. Although majority of us have moved out of the category of unseeables and unapproachable, but we still face untouchability and discrimination in varied forms.
Education is a tool for empowerment and that’s what Ambedkar believed in.
She said that the vulnerability, that a Dalit woman faces due to her identity based on caste and gender is unimaginable. She goes through all forms of caste and gender discrimination and many times faces caste and gender violence. Due to her gender, she is forced into inhumane caste based occupations, like manual scavenging, temple prostitution, bonded labour, child labour etc. She also suffers from caste and gender violence including domestic violence, unnatural death, human trafficking, mass/gang rapes, forced conversion, etc. One of the famous quotes of Dr. Ambedkar is “I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved”.
She further said in Durban South Africa in the year 2001. Many Dalit rights organizations, lead by Dalit leaders joined in the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, with one mission, which was to ensure inclusion of caste in the UN agenda. The united force, ensured debate on the issue of caste based discrimination and now it is very much part of discussion in the Human Rights Councils treaty bodies and special procedures. Despite few achievements, the issue of caste based discrimination and annihilation of caste as raised by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar has not got adequate space and recognition. Many of us who are part of the discriminated communities are not even talking or discussing about social justice and we are contented with reservation and few benefits being received through certain government schemes and programs

  • The message of Dr. Ambedkar, to Educate – Unite – Agitate is also not much popular in other caste affected countries in South Asia except India. Hence following needs to be done to spread “Ambedkar’s Philosophy: Path to Access Social Justice in South Asia”.
  • Organizing seminars and workshops on Dr. Ambedkar’s life and mission with Universities, colleges, NGOs, Institutions in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
  • Dissemination of educational material (printed, audio and visual) relating to Ambedkar’s philosophy and work and to be translated in national languages, i.e. Urdu, Nepali, Sinhalese, Bangla.
  • Organizing exposure, exchange, internship programs for youth from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka to learn from the work done in India by Civil Society Organizations, Universities and Colleges.
  • Setting up Ambedkar libraries and Resource Centres on books and volumes written by Dr. Ambedkar and other social reformers like Jyotiba Phule.

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