A 38 meter tall bronze statue of Dr BR Ambedkar (1891–1956) is nearing completion in the central Indian city of Hyderabad. Construction of the towering sculpture has been accelerated, aiming to be completed for this year's Ambedkar Jayanti Day, which honors the late jurist, constitutional author and religious and social reformer's birthday on April 14.
Andhra Pradesh Minister of State for Social Welfare Merugu Nagarjuna visited the statue last week. "Work is progressing rapidly," he said after touring the statue's construction site. (Deccan Chronicle) The Minister added that work is underway at the base of the statue where the shoes for the feet have been attached and other parts of the front part are being joined.
As the statue was built, many people called on the government to help Indian communities that have always been oppressed. Among these are the Dalits, people who historically belong to one of the lowest castes in India, apart from the four main castes of the Varna system. In the constitution of India they are called scheduled castes.
Welfare Minister Nagarjuna noted, “The state government is implementing many social welfare programs for Scheduled Castes. Chief Minister Jagan regularly reviews the work of the statue. (Deccan Chronicle)
A technical expert, Vasudeva Rao, overseeing the construction project, said the 38-meter statue would be set on a 24-meter pedestal. He added that construction was happening 14 hours a day in a bid to complete the statue on time. Rao added that the total height of the statue, including the base, would be 62 meters.
Construction is also underway on a library, convention center, amusement park, and community hall that can accommodate 2 people. The site covers an area of 000 hectares, with an estimated total cost of 7,3 billion rupees ($2,48 million).
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the first journey of the Baba Saheb Ambedkar Yatra train is scheduled for April 14. The train will visit sites important to Dr Ambedkar's life including Mhow (now officially known as Dr Ambedkar Nagar), Ambedkar's hometown in Madhya Pradesh.
The train will also stop in Nagpur, the city where Dr Ambedkar and many of his followers converted to Buddhism in 1956. Other stops include Varanasi, where the Buddha gave his first teaching at Sarnath, and Gaya for a visit to Bodh Gaya. .
In a lecture on February 25, Prof. PJ Jogadand, a Mumbai-based sociologist, said that the greatest tribute that can be paid to Dr Ambedkar would be the implementation of the policies he sought as a lawyer and activist. Importantly, a number of socially progressive changes pursued by Ambedkar have yet to be fully implemented, according to Professor Jogadand.
"A bill introduced by Ambedkar to liberate women has been defeated," Prof Jogadand noted. “If the policies proposed by Ambedkar had been implemented, many problems related to electricity, labor, water, foreign trade and population could have been solved. It is unfortunate that we worship Ambedkar by erecting his huge statues and garlanding them. (The time of India)
Dr Ambedkar's grandson, speaking at a conference on February 26, suggested that India could better honor its heritage by strengthening Buddhism. He said Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism in 1956 and had a vision to revitalize the religion in India.