Toronto, Oct 13 (Medium): Canada-India Project for Research and Innovation (CIPRI), York Centre for Asian Research & Community Conversation, Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University in partnership with Ambedkar International Mission (AIM) in Canada organized a community conversation on Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s Ideology, Philosophy and Teachings on Oct 6 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 519 Kaneff Tower, York University (Keele Campus). The whole event was organized under the leadership of Dr Nivedita Das Kundu, Director of CIPRI.

AIM is a global non-profit organization dedicated to continuing Ambedkar’s mission, “Unite Educate & Agitate.” Ambedkar’s words were: “I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.

Homage to Dr Ambedkar was paid by the CIPRI Students Group, present faculty members of the York University, and all the community leaders and the community members present.

Professor Dawn Bazely, project investigator of CIPRI, in her welcome address said that she was excited to unveil the teachings, philosophy and ideology of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, whom she called India’s founding parent.

Prof Dawn Bazely (centre), Dr Nivedita on left and Prof Arun Prabha on the right

​The reason she called Ambedkar as India’s founding parent is because he was responsible for uplifting and advancement of causes of women not only in India but also in other countries of the world.

​While in Shanti Niketan, New Delhi, she said she had held a Wikipedia Workshop to make the teachers pull out the names of two women scientists. Consequently last week two prestigious noble prizes, one in Physics and the other in Chemistry, were awarded to two women scientists.
As a science Professor, Dawn said she was greatly concerned about the status of women, and their contributions.

Professor Emirates Arun Prabha Mukherjee, who had spent the major part of her life studying the philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar remarked that there was a need for keeping more books on Ambedkar in the libraries.

Arun Prabha Mukherjee

In the early years she had read that Ambedkar, suffered from great discrimination being from lower class of the society. However, with whatever resources available to him, as a child, he tried his best to learn and was able to acquire higher education.

Braving all the odds, Ambedkar was able to find justice not only for himself but he was responsible for emancipation of the downtrodden society of India.

He eventually became the first law minister of India after India’s independence from British rule and worked tirelessly to create constitutional rights for India’s marginalized people.

​ Dr. Ambedkar fought for civil rights and struggled against caste and untouchability.

After reading about all injustice with which he was treated, Arun Mukherjee was greatly touched and wanted to raise awareness about this unjust system which was once prevalent in India.

While speaking of Ambedkar’s philosophy, Mr. Remesh Sangha, MP Liberal, Brampton, in his speech said that Ambedkar believed more in building libraries for people of India than in building statues of great men of India.

Ramesh Sangha, MP Liberal, Brampton

This was when he found that many statues of great men which were destroyed and efforts were being made for their reconstruction.

He pointed out how in earlier days India did not allow advancement of women and many of them were barred from getting higher education. At that time Ambedkar had provided great inspiration for the education of women, providing better opportunities for women in jobs. But, Sangha said that even when women were successful in getting higher education, they had difficulty finding suitable jobs.

​If they successfully entered the work force, they still had to suffer great physical and mental abuses at the work place. Even the pay scales for men and women on the same post varied and Ambedkar fought to empower the women in the Indian society.

Mr. Ramesh Sangha handing over Certificates from House of Commons to Dr. Nivedita

Ambedkar was reportedly the first Indian to pursue a doctorate in economics abroad. He believed that industrialisation and agricultural growth could enhance the Indian economy. Ambedkar advocated national economic and social development, stressing education, public hygiene, community health, residential facilities as the basic amenities for all the citizens of India.

Sangha also recognized the good community work done by CIPRI with the support from York University, focussing on India and Canada’s possible collaborations in research and innovations and acknowledged CIPRI’s efforts and presented certificates to CIPRI research team members from House of Commons, Canada.

The event was followed by the speech of Dr. Nivedita Das Kundu.

Dr Nivedita Das Kundu​

Nivedita said Dr. Bihmrao Ramji Ambedkar popularly known as Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was the principal architect of the Indian constitution and an emancipator of the poor and deprived. ​Dr. Ambedkar continued Nivedita, was not only crusader against the caste system and a valiant fighter for the cause of the down trodden but also was a great statesman and a National Leader of India. Dr. Ambedkar was a hope for the millions of depressed, oppressed and exploited people.

Nivedita said that Dr. Ambedkar’s mission was to challenge the ideological foundation of graded system of caste hierarchy that denied equality, freedom and human dignity to minorities as well as, women in Indian Society.

He developed Indian constitution and tried to bring the equality by the rule of law in India. Dr. Ambedkar left behind vast writings, teachings and valuable speeches and it is our duty to remember his teachings and think through his ideas, his vision, and his methods to bring change in ourselves and in the society as a whole.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is the father of Indian democracy, in the true sense. When we look at the life, thoughts, and mission of Dr. Ambedkar, said Nivedita, he wanted to bring “total” revolution in India which will encompass all the aspects of human life; social, political, economic, cultural, intellectual, artistic, and scientific. When the whole India was fighting against the slavery from the external sources, he stood there to fight against internal slavery that was undergoing.

To him India’s political freedom would have been useless, unless and until it attains social justice inside its boundaries. As we know, from ancient time women were not given proper treatment. Women’s societal positioning was never at par with men.

They were denied of even basic rights. He was the great Indian leader to break down the barriers in the way of advancement of women in India. Being a pioneer of social justice, he worked for the women empowerment.

Dr. Ambedkar’s contribution towards women rights in India was immense. Dr. Ambedkar said “I measure the progress of society by the progress women has made in it”. Dr. Ambedkar fought for grunting women equal rights as their male counterparts to inherit the property of their parents and equal status in marriage and guardianship to women. He was the advocator for the liberation of women and gender equality in India and made efforts to bring changes via Law.

​Due to Dr.Ambedkar’s efforts today women in India are now holding high positions in all fields including in Academics, teaching, Engineering, Medical, Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, Administration, and Politics. While he was a Minister of Labour, he framed many laws Specifically for Women in India.

While concluding her speech; Nivedita said that Dr. Ambedkar was the leader who shaped the modern India. As Dr. Ambedkar mentioned that women irrespective of their caste, class and religion should try to understand their rights and duties, protection and safeguards for their empowered, knowing the fundamentals and practicing them in life will be a tribute to Dr. Ambedkar. We should try to reach not only to Indo-Canadian Community but also to other community in general and spread his teachings among other nationalities too while we are in the multi-cultural society in Canada. ​

On behalf of Dr Ambedkar International Mission (AIM) Canada, Toronto Arun Kumar Gautam, president of AIM welcomed all who were responsible for organising this “Community Conversation: Dr B. R. Ambedkar’s ideology, philosophy and teachings.” ​

Arun Kumar Gautam

Thanked Dr Ambedkar’s Mission in Scarborough and York University for its deep commitment to social justice. Arun Gautam​added that, the Indian community in Canada appreciates this initiative of the York University to host Community Conversation on Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s Ideology, Philosophy and Teachings”.

Gautam, continued his speech mentioning that Dr B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956), “The Symbol of Knowledge,” was a jurist and constitutional theorist, a scholar, economist, thinker, genius, visionary leader, writer, journalist, institution builder, and revivalist of Buddhism.

An architect of the Indian Constitution, Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian honour) awardee, said Gautam, Ambedkar had undauntedly fought for social justice and equality which affected the lives of a large number of Indians.
As a great nationalist, Ambedkar dedicated his life protecting the equality of most vulnerable through reforms in social, political, legal, religious and institutional areas.

He wanted radical change and believed that law can punish an individual but not the society as a whole which has the religious sanctions for discrimination and inequality.

Dr. Ambedkar is seen as a champion of Dalit rights. In fact, his quest for justice was rather comprehensive. His battle was for the reclamation of human dignity and justice.

Canada and India, said Arun Gautam are multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic countries. There are many similarities in the constitutions of Canada and India. The violation of human rights of men, women, and children are important international issues. The international peace and development can’t be achieved without protection of human rights.

Ambedkar’s birth anniversary is celebrated in many countries of the world every year. It would not be out of place to mention that the 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr B. R. Ambedkar was celebrated on April 13, 2016 in the UNO, New York.

The event was celebrated first time in the UNO, as ‘Global Harmony Day’ for combating inequalities to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since then the event has been celebrated there every year. Dr. Ambedkar was a great scholar in multiple disciplines, and his writings and speeches and work have inspired many on several issues, particularly on the problems of discriminated groups and social institutions, like the caste system, not only in India, but in many countries around the world.

Besides constitution-making and the issue of untouchables, Dr Ambedkar also made contribution on policy making, particularly those related to the reorganization of states, water and power policy, labour policy, and economic policy. Thus Dr Ambedkar had made fundamental contribution in the nation building.

Arun Gautam’s speech was followed by the speech of Bhram Dutt, from AIM Canada.

Bhram Dutt at the podium

Dutt pointed out that though Ambedkar graduated from Columbia University, he came from an underprivileged community.

​Dutt said that Ambedkar had acquired great knowledge and was the founder of his own independent ideology and worked for social integration among the caste ridden society in India.

He wanted a mobile society based on liberty, equality and fraternity. He took affirmative actions in the constitution of India for provisions for the reservations for the poor/ backward classes.

He inspired, and worked for the betterment of women, and submitted a bill known as Hindu Code Bill (HCB) in the Parliament of India. HCB aimed to codify and reform Hindu personal law in India, the first essential first step towards unifying the nation. However, He resigned from the cabinet as a Law Minister when the HCB bill was not passed .He created awareness among the poor and backwards classes. Due to his tireless efforts many people from underprivileged classes have reached to respectable and higher positions in the Indian society.

Amdekar had drafted the Constitution of India, providing various constitutional guarantees, protections of civil liberties, religious freedom, abolition of untouchability, and outlaw of discrimination.

​He also argued for social and economic rights for women and gained support for introducing the system of reservations for members of backward castes in jobs associated with civil services, schools, and colleges.​​​

The inspirational recitation by the children of AIM followed which moved the hearts of the audience.

The inspirational recitals by the children of AIM

The recital of the children highlighted how women in India were barred from getting higher education and even if they were educated they could not get job opportunities.

They pointed out that inter-caste marriage was still an enigma plaguing the Indian society. Widows could not be remarried. Their was still discrimination in caste, colour and religion in every field of life, be it in education, in politics, in career. But, the work of Ambedkar had brought about a revolutionary change in the status of the women in all fields of life.

The children said that they felt fortunate that their mother could get higher education and could become a dentist in India.

They pointed out that at present due to the tireless efforts of leaders like Dr.Ambedkar women have entered all the fields of life, even in Astronomy or in space science which earlier was totally man’s territory.

​Group photo session followed the above speech.

During the event a was momento presented by AIM to some of the organising committee members.

A momento presented by AIM to some of the organising committee members
Dr Nivedita (ctre),Arun Gautam & Ramesh Sangha left, Bhram Dutt & CIPRI student right
Group Photo Dr Ambedkar Day Celebration

​CIPRI Student Research Team made concluding remarks and thanked all the participants and audience both; this was followed by the delicious food and an opportunity to mingle with the community members who all culminated community conversations about the life, teachings and philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar.

​(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)

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