Speech by H.E. Mr. V. Mahalingam at the 125th Birth Anniversary of...
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Welcome Remarks at the Celebration of 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on 21.03.2016 at Georgetown

 

Hon'ble Mr. Justice Carl Ashok Singh, Chancellor of the Judiciary

 

Prof. V.N. Verma, University of Guyana

 

Mr. Kashir Khan, Attorney-at-Law

 

Ms. Ann Maria Joy, Student of Texila University

 

Distinguished invitees,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

My Fellow Citizens of India,

 

Good Evening!

 

Dr.BhimraoRamojiAmbedkar, fondly called "Babasaheb" was born on 14th April 1891 and Dr.Ambedkar's 125th Birth Anniversary falls this year. Government of India will be celebrating in India on 14th April 2016 on a large scale at his birth place Mhow near Indore in Madhya Pradesh and celebrations will be done throughout India and the world with the formation of National Celebration Committee under the Chairmanship of Hon'ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Our High Commission will be celebrating his Birth Anniversary in advance. Today's celebration here in Georgetown will be the first and again on 30th March a similar function will be organised at Berbice.

 

On this occasion, I would like to welcome Hon'ble Mr. Justice Carl Ashok Singh, Chancellor of Judiciary who will be the lead speaker. In spite of his busy schedule, he has agreed to grace the occasion without any hesitation and we are greatly honoured by his presence today.

 

I would also like to welcome all the other distinguished speakers, Prof. V.N. Verma, University of Guyana and Mr. Kashir Khan, Attorney-at-Law. I am particularly pleased with the ready acceptance of Ms. Ann Maria Joy, an Indian citizen and Medical student of Texila American University to speak on this occasion and I heartily welcome her too.

 

I am happy to welcome all the distinguished invitees and friends, my fellow citizens who are present here to celebrate the 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr.Ambedkar.

 

My special welcome to media friends who are present here.

 

Ambedkar, the first Law Minister of independent India, was the prime architect of Constitution of Independent India. His greatest contribution was protecting the fundamental rights of the depressed classes who were called Dalits who were subjected to untouchability for many centuries. The introduction of Directive Principles of State Policy in the Indian Constitution was his innovation for enhancing the living status of depressed classes by securing fair distribution of wealth. But he realised nothing less than the "political rights" is more important in emancipating the depressed classes and fought for it throughout his life.

 

It was not easy for him to achieve what he could achieve. As a student, he was not allowed to sit with other higher caste Hindu students. He sat outside the class to listen to what his teacher taught in the school. He was not allowed to drink water from the same glass which higher caste Hindu students did. Someone had to pour water from a height in order to not to allow a lower caste person like him either to touch the water or the vessel that contained it. But Ambedkar never gave up in his life. He went on to become the first Indian to pursue a Doctorate in Economics abroad. No wonder, the Nobel Laureate AmartyaSen considers Ambedkar as "Father of his economics." Ambedkar who was instrumental for "Communal Award" - announced in 1932 as a means of political rights for the depressed classes and later "Affirmative Action" towards sanction of political rights in Independent India was a source of inspiration for many. Affirmative Action is known as "reservation" in India, "employment equity" in Canada and "positive discrimination" in the UK. Ambedkar was source of inspiration for many great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela for their struggle for Affirmative Action. Even countries like Malaysia and Sri Lanka drew lessons from Ambedkar's "Affirmative Action" model to provide concessions for majority ethnic groups in their country to bridge the disparity between the ethnic groups.

 

It is no surprise then that Ambedkar was voted the "Greatest Indian" in 2012 by a poll organised by a national television channel in India. Nearly 20 million votes were cast making him the most popular Indian figure after the Father of the Nation - Mahatma Gandhi. Hence this celebration in India and all over the world by Indian Missions is a fitting tribute to the father of the Indian Constitution and champion of social justice.

 

Thank you.

 

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