Obama urged to pay tribute to Ambedkar during India visit

A coalition of organisations and lay leaders has called on US President Barack Obama to pay homage to Dr. BR Ambedkar, the champion of Dalits and downtrodden in India.

In a letter, John Dayal, Secretary General of the All India Christian Council (aicc), appealed to President Obama to pay tribute to Ambedkar while paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat in New Delhi.

President Obama is due to visit India in the first week of November which will be his longest state visit after taking over as the president.

Dayal alongside other Dalit-Bahujan and minority leaders requested a verbal or ceremonial acknowledgement of Ambedkar, a key author of India’s Constitution and hero to the 'untouchables'.

The aicc leader asked Obama to consider laying flowers at Ambedkar’s monument (Deeksha Bhoomi) in the city of Nagpur or Ambedkar’s statue in Parliament House in New Delhi.

Dayal appealed, “We request you…to record your acknowledgement of the peaceful contribution to world civilization by Ambedkar. He follows the tradition of Abraham Lincoln in emancipating an entire race. He is worthy of the homage of Heads of State, and the adulation of all people of goodwill.”

Dayal informs Obama that Ambedkar “…studied in London, and your own Columbia University, and returned to fight India’s struggle for freedom."

"His finest hour was in writing free India’s Constitution, making it a modern document of freedom and liberation far removed from the documents of tradition and culture. The Constitution liberated the Untouchables. Much has to be done, but the yoke is broken.”

Earlier, Dr Joseph D’souza, President of the aicc, in an editorial column stated that as Obama emerged out of the historic struggles of the blacks in the US, his visit could also inspire the movement for the abolition of caste in India.

"Ambedkar, who took out a civil rights struggle for abolishing caste and untouchability, made the new India possible. Imagine an India that has no dalit/adivasi or minority participation in the administrative, bureaucratic and knowledge structures," he wrote.


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