A 38-meter tall bronze statue of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956) is nearing completion in the central Indian city of Hyderabad. Construction of the towering sculpture has been sped up, with the goal of completion for this year’s Ambedkar Jayanti Day, which honors the birthday of the late legal scholar, constitutional author, and religious and social reformer on 14 April.
Andhra Pradesh’s state minister for social welfare, Merugu Nagarjuna, visited the statue last week. “The work is progressing fast,” he said after viewing the site of the statue’s construction. (Deccan Chronicle) The minister added that work was underway at the base of the statue where the shoes for the feet were fixed and other parts of the front portion are being joined.
As the statue is constructed, many people have called on the government to assist communities of Indians who have historically been oppressed. Among these are the Dalits—people who historically belong to one of India’s lowest castes, outside of the four main castes of the varna system. In the constitution of India, they are referred to as scheduled castes.
Minister for social welfare Nagarjuna noted: “The state government is implementing many welfare programs for the scheduled castes. Chief Minister Jagan is regularly reviewing the statue’s work.” (Deccan Chronicle)
A technical expert, Vasudeva Rao, overseeing the construction project said that the 38-meter statue would be installed on an 24-meter pedestal. He added that construction was running 14 hours a day in an effort 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 capable of holding 2,000 people. The site covers an area of 7.3 hectares, with as estimated total cost of 2.48 billion rupees (US$30 million).
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the first journey of the Baba Saheb Ambedkar Yatra train is scheduled to take place on 14 April. The train will visit sites of importance to the life of Dr. Ambedkar, including Mhow (now officially known as Dr. Ambedkar Nagar), the town of Ambedkar’s birth in Madhya Pradesh.
The train will also stop at 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 in nearby Sarnath, and Gaya for a visit to nearby Bodh Gaya.
In a lecture on 25 February, Prof. P.J. Jogadand, a sociologist based in Mumbai, said that the greatest tribute that could be given to Dr. Ambedkar would be the implementation of the policies he sought as a lawyer and activist. Importantly, a number of of socially progressive changes pursued by Ambedkar have yet to be fully implemented, according to Prof. Jogadand.
“A bill introduced by Ambedkar to liberate women was defeated,” Prof. Jogadand noted. “Had the policies proposed by Ambedkar been implemented, many issues pertaining to power, labor, water, foreign trade, and population could have been solved. It is unfortunate that we are worshipping Ambedkar by erecting his huge statues and garlanding them.” (The Times of India)
Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson, speaking at a conference on 26 February, suggested that India could best honor his legacy by strengthening Buddhism. He said that Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism in 1956 and had a vision of revitalizing the religion in India.
Unveiling of 125-foot Ambedkar statue in April says Minister Koppula Eshwar (The Hans India)
Work on 125-feet tall Ambedkar statue speeded up, says minister Nagarjuna (Deccan Chronicle)
Ambedkar Circuit train to make its first journey to mark his birth anniversary (The Indian Express)
In Hyderabad, 125-foot-tall bronze statue of Dr B R Ambedkar to be unveiled on April 14 (The Indian Express)
Implement policies propogated by Dr BR Ambedkar: Professor PJ Jogadand (The Times of India)
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