Groups to Honor Dr. Ambedkar as advocate for the rights of Dalits, women, and religious minorities.

To commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of  Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the Sacramento Sikh Sangat and Assemblyman Ken Cooley will formally present a California State Assembly Resolution to honor Dr. Ambedkar at the Gurdwara Sahib West Sacramento (2301 Evergreen Ave) on Sunday, April 24th, 2016 at 10:30 am.

“Dr. Ambedkar was a unifying leader and forceful civil rights advocate. He leaves behind a legacy that, to this day, inspires and unites,” said California Assemblyman Ken Cooley.
Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956) is profoundly respected among followers of Sikhism for his legacy as a social reformer and his rejection of the Hindu caste hierarchy in modern India. His work also included the collaborative establishment of Guru Nanak Khalsa College in 1937, named in honor of the first Sikh Guru. Dr. Ambedkar himself penned the mission statement of the Mumbai-based educational institution as a sign of fraternity with Sikh religious leaders.

“Dr. Ambedkar incorporated the mission of unity, peace, and fraternity of the Sikh Gurus,” said Mr. Balbir Singh Dhillon, President of the Gurdwara Sahib West Sacramento. “Millions have escaped a life of caste-slavery and hardship because of his vision for social equality.”

The effort to formally recognize Dr. Ambedkar was spearheaded by Sikh community leader Mr. Darshan Mundy. Mundy serves as the public relations officer for the Gurdwara Sahib West Sacramento and is also a board member of the Sacramento Valley Charter School, the first charter school in the United States established by a Sikh community. The charter school was started by the Sacramento Sangat who currently oversees operation of the school on the Temple grounds. Leaders like Giani Wadhawa Singh Jee’s devout spirituality inspired many from the Punjabi community to embrace the vision of Sikhism with the mission of Dr. Ambedkar .

“We share Dr. Ambedkar’s belief that education is the greatest tool against injustice,” said Darshan Mundy. “We motivate students to strive for excellence so that they could face the global challenges on inequality with a great sense of responsibility and confidence.” Dr. Ambedkar received his Ph.D from Columbia University in 1927 before returning to Mumbai as the chairman of the Constitutional Committee for independent India.

Dr. Ambedkar drew his inspiration from the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scriptures of the Sikh religion: “Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is a spiritual guide for me… Guru Granth Sahib represents a Casteless society. A society where there is no racial discrimination…” The birth anniversary coincides with the Punjabi celebration of Vaisakhi which commemorates the efforts of Guru Gobind Singh in aligning the various people groups of the region into communal harmony.

Dr. Manisha Bangar, an Ambedkarite activist from Hyderabad, India, noted the significant connection between the Sikh text and the mission of Dr. Ambedkar. “The dream of the thirty-six founders of Guru Granth Sahib was fulfilled in the creation of Khalsa Panth in Vaisakhi 1699. This was the foundation for Ambedkar’s noble struggle against caste divisions in India.”

The California Sikh Gurdwaras and Guru Ravidass Sahbas, who encompass the devotional family of Guru Granth Sahib, widely applaud this effort and intend to come to celebrate this event with Assemblyman Ken Cooley. Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation International, All India Backward and Minorities Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF), and Mulnivasi Sangh International.

For more information please contact Darshan Mundy at (916) 417-8860. 
Event Details:

Who:  Assemblyman Ken Cooley
Sacramento Sikh Sangat

What: Presentation of California State Assembly Resolution. 

When: 10:30 am, Sunday, April 24th, 2016.

Where: West Sacramento Gurdwara Sahib (Sikh Temple)
2301 Evergreen Ave, West Sacramento, CA 95691

Why: To Commemorate South Asian Civil Rights Leader Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.

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Brahmin Akali Dal Disfigure Mulnivasi, Two Men have Limbs Severed, One Dead
Minorities condemn attacks, while noting, “corruption and violence is commonplace.”
Brahmin Akali Dal Disfigure Mulnivasi

Villagers protesting against the attack on two Dalit men in Abohar, Punjab.

Punjab, India: Dec. 16, 2015 —  Punjabi official Shiv Lal Doda, who is affiliated with the Shiromani Akali Dal Party, stands accused of conspiring the dismemberment of two men in the Abohar region of Punjab, India. According to police reports, Bhim Sain and Gurjant Singh Janta were attacked by a group of men and had their hands, arms, and legs severed at Doda’s farmhouse in the Fazika district. After the December 11th attack, Sain was pronounced dead and Gurjant Singh Janta is said to be in critical condition.  

“This barbaric attack on two Dalit men goes against everything the Akal Takhat and Harmandir Sahib represent. The Mulinavsi must do all we can to protect the dignity of minorities against such savagely cruel and primitive acts of violence.” said Bhajan Singh, director of the Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation (BRASF). “Unfortunately, this sort of corruption and violence are commonplace in Akali Dal politics throughout Punjab.

Shiv Lal Doda (in circle) with Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. (HT Photo)
Shiv Lal Doda (in circle) with Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. (HT Photo)

The Akali Dal leader is closely aligned to Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, who in 2014 allegedly visited the same farmhouse where the attack happened. Badal himself has been embroiled in scandal for his efforts to censor foreign criticism of the Akali Dal and labeling rival Sikh factions as “terror groups.” The Akali Dal maintains a strong partnership with its regional and national ally the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The Brahmin Akali Dal and Hindu Nationalist BJP alliance is a complete contradiction to the wisdom of Namdev, Kabir, Ravidas and Guru Nanak, as well as the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib. We condemn this evil union,” said BRASF director Inderjit Singh Balowalia.

Relations between minorities and the Indian government have been especially tense this year after Indian police opened fire on unarmed protesters in October, killing at least two and wounding dozens at a peaceful protest against the desecration of a copy of the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib.

“The existence of this type of grotesque bodily mutilation among India’s political leaders is the product of India’s historic refusal to take its international human rights obligations seriously,” added Singh.

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“Ambedkar’s Century” Conference

Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation presents the conference —

“Ambedkar’s Century:
100 Years from the USA”

Saturday, June 29, 2013, 1pm to 6pm
Lerner Hall, Columbia University
2920 Broadway, New York, NY 10027

“Ambedkar’s Century: 100 Years From the USA” celebrates the centenary of Dr. Ambedkar’s admission to Columbia University in New York City.

In 1913, Bhim Rao Ambedkar arrived in America to study at Columbia University. There he was molded by American freedom movements. He returned to India to demand liberation of the oppressed.

Join us for an afternoon to discover the legacy of this champion of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Free for all.

Featured Speakers and Topics:

Click here for a complete list of speaker bios.

1) “Betrayal of Dr. Ambedkar, the Indian Constitution, and the Hindu Code Bill”
by M. R. Paul (BRASF)

2) “Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Critique of Hindu Scriptures and The Model for Reconstruction of the Society”
by Dr. Manisha Bangar (BAMCEF)

3) “Anti-Moolnivasi Attempts to Reconcile Ambedkar and Gandhi”
by Pieter Singh (Sikh Information Centre)

4) “Babasaheb Ambedkar, Poona Pact, and the Cultural Politics of Brahminism”
by Dr. P. D. Satyapal (Andhra University)

5) “Subaltern Counter-Memory”
by Dr. Angana Chatterji (UC Berkeley)

6) “The Importance of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Life and Mission,, Guru Nanak Khalsa College, and Hindu Mahasabha”
by Dr. Amrik Singh (CSUS)

This conference is sponsored by the BRASF Board of Directors:
Mohan Ram Paul, Inderjit Singh, Dilbag Singh, Avtar Singh Adampuri, Dr. Harchand Singh, Bhajan Singh, Harminder Singh, Dr. Amrik Singh, Col. G. B. Singh, Harinder Singh, Manjit Kaur Gill, Isher Singh Garcha. Hardial Singh Cheema, Parminder Singh, & Pal Singh Dulai.

 


 

 

Click here to download the promotional poster:(PDF) or (JPG)

 

 

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By Kanshi Pal | Ambedkar Jayanti

 

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, an icon of the civil rights movement for Depressed Classes (Untouchables) and Minorities, has drawn lately a special attention in the United States. A product of Columbia University, New York (1913-16), Dr. Ambedkar is known for his scholarship on inequities of Hindu caste system. He was a staunch critic of Hindu […]

 


Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, an icon of the civil rights movement for Depressed Classes (Untouchables) and Minorities, has drawn lately a special attention in the United States. A product of Columbia University, New York (1913-16), Dr. Ambedkar is known for his scholarship on inequities of Hindu caste system. He was a staunch critic of Hindu leader Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi, who according to him worked against lower castes all his adult life.

In May 2011 California State Assembly adopted a Resolution in recognition of Dr. Ambedkar’s struggle for civil rights to lower castes and minorities of India. California State Assembly Member Ms. Mariko Yamada, a signatory to the resolution states:

Resolved, That the California State Assembly–
(1) Celebrates along with all Californians of Indian descent the 120th birth anniversary of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, which fell on April 14 of 2011; and
(2) Recognizes Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar as an exemplary figure in the struggle for human rights and civil liberties for oppressed people around the world.”

In June 2011, Citrus Heights City Council signed a Proclamation to commemorate Dr. Ambedkar’s genius. Councilmembers Jayna Karpinski-Costa and Steve Miller personally came to announce the Proclamation on behalf of the City Council.

Sacramento County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the Resolution: “Honoring the legacy of Dr. Bhim Ramji Ambedkar, who championed human rights for his people, the depressed classes, and the Indian sub-continent, called the Dalits and so sought the annihilation of caste.” Mr. Phil Serna (District 1), Mr. Jimmie Yee (District 2), Ms. Susan Peters (District 3), Ms. Roerta Mac Glashan (Chair, District 4), and Mr. Don Nottoli (Vice Chair, District 5) were the signatories to the resolution.

The official Resolutions of California State Assembly and Sacramento County and the Proclamation of the City of Citrus Heights were presented on the occasion of the 120th Birthday ceremonies on June 11, 2011 at Rusch Auditorium 7801, Citrus Heights, California. Earlier in May 2011, a similar program was organized by fans and followers of Dr. Ambedkar’s scholarship in Hayward California.

Mohan Ram Paul, who retired as Superintendent Engineer from Punjab Electricity Board and who wrote a thought-provoking book on Dr. Ambekar’s mission and life, was one of the organizers. He is the International coordinator of Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation. Mr. Bhajan Singh Bhinder, Founding Director of Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI), jointly arranged to highlight the legendary life and legacy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and expressed solidarity to work with others to restore the principle of liberty, equality, and fraternity for all oppressed classes. He said Americans deserve to know about life and legacy of Dr. Ambedkar.

On both occasions, Col G. B. Singh, a veteran of the US Army was invited to give a keynote address, “Dr. Ambedkar: My Hero, Can We Resurrect Him?” According to Col. Singh, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is first, the sole and unrivaled intellectual giant that India has produced in the 20th Century. Second, he said, “our hero is, to date, the most educated among all the Indians.” Third, he is great because of his activism for the rights of Dalits. He concluded that Dr. Ambedkar’s name can’t be attached with anything that goes against the principle of equality, fraternity and liberty. Col G. B. Singh is the author of two books on Gandhi — Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity</em> and Gandhi Under Cross Examination.

Dr. Amrik Singh highlighted that Dr. Ambedkar’s genius fully manifests in his historical writings related with his debates with M.K. Gandhi and other leaders of Hindu persuasion.

M. R. Paul emphatically said that the legacy of Dr. Ambedkar is so rich and vibrant that it can’t be tarnished by attaching his name to the current constitution of India. He said that the graded inequality is continuing unchecked because Dalits are conditioned to accept Brahmanical myths in deceptive forms.

Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal of Indo-American Dialogue stressed that the time has come to liberate people’s minds from caste-oriented thinking to a progressive mindset. He suggested people should be more organized and begin the struggle for a free society.

Dr. Harmesh Kumar reminded people of the sacrifice of Guru Arjan, who accepted cruelties and tortures but rejected the separation of Hymns on the basis of caste, class and creed. Dr. Ambedkar’s contribution can be understood better if we know the contributions and legacy of Guru Granth Sahib.

Jaswinder Banga not only helped financially, but also worked hard to organize the entire show successfully. Senior member Mr. Bihari Lal Chahal of King City used his thunderous voice to recite a poem on Dr. Ambedkar.

Pavinder Singh Kariha, President of Tierra Buena Gurdwara Yuba City, invited Ambedkarites to organize a function in Yuba City. He said that Dr. Ambedkar’s mission to uplift the depressed classes was truly a sacred mission.

Palwinder Mahi conducted the stage very successfully. His task became very challenging when more than three dozen speakers came forward to speak on Dr. Ambedkar’s life, which is an indication of growing interest in his legacy.

The media team was represented by Husan Lardoya Banga of Ajit Jalandhar, Satnam Singh Khalsa of Sade Lok, and Prem Kumar Chumber of Ambedkar Times.

Prem Kumar Chumber, Chief Editor of Ambedkar Times, reminded that Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia extended support to Dr Ambedkar when he got ready to convert to Sikhism. Among others who spoke on the life and mission of Dr. Ambedkar were Vinod Kumar Chumber, Gurbachan Chopra, Kamal Dev Paul, Hans Raj Kajla, Rakesh Chander, Bikkar Singh Kameyana, Jaspreet Tehar, Rajwinder Kaur, Ramesh Kumar, Ex President of Sahit Sabha Tara Singh Sagar, Mohan Gill, Raj Kumar Sood, Makhan Lohar, Harpreet Mahi, Bhavna Mahi, and Khushboo.

Harmeet Singh came all the way from Chicago to attend the seminar. Others who were active participants among the audience were Hardev Singh Shergill of Sikh Bulletin, Ram Kumar Bay Area, Tavinder Kajla, Inderjeet Badbagga, Joginder Chumber, Balbir Kaler Chairman, Satish Ralh President of Guru Ravidass Gurdwara Rio Linda, Kashmir Singh, Shingara Singh Ralh, and Dalwinder Singh Ralh, President and Treasure of Guru Ravidas Gurdwara Yuba City. Also activer were Master Jagir Singh and Master Pritam Singh Directors of Tierra Buena Gurdwara Yuba City, Pushpinder Pal, Satpal Sureela, Master Kundan Lal and Dharm Paul of Pittsburgh, Sucha Ram Bharta, Professor Balwinder Pal Singh Dhanoa, and Kulwinder Singh Attorney.

Original article written by Dr. Amrik Singh.

 

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By Kanshi Pal | Gandhi, U.S. politics

 

Over 200 gathered in downtown San Francisco on Thursday, April 5 at a private luncheon for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. The Texan congressman was pleased to discuss the rising controversy of M. K. Gandhi with Bhajan Singh Bhinder, a Director of the Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation (BRASF). Mr. Bhinder brought attention to Gandhi’s […]


Over 200 gathered in downtown San Francisco on Thursday, April 5 at a private luncheon for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. The Texan congressman was pleased to discuss the rising controversy of M. K. Gandhi with Bhajan Singh Bhinder, a Director of the Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation (BRASF).

Mr. Bhinder brought attention to Gandhi’s role in fostering violent Hindutva ideology in modern India. He presented Paul, a former OB/GYN doctor first elected to Congress in 1976, with a pamphlet entitled “Drones of Satyagraha: Obama’s Ode to Gandhism” and a copy of the book Gandhi Under Cross-Examination. Dr. Paul endorsed the pamphlet by signing it and sharing it and the book with his campaign manager, wife and granddaughter.

Dr. Paul was keenly interested in learning more, asking, “Why is Gandhi known as the father of the nation?” Mr. Bhinder readily responded: “Gandhi has been forcefully declared as such, but the majority of India’s population know it is a lie perpetrated by the Indian state for propaganda purposes.” He explained that most Indians are shocked by how a hardcore Hindutva ideologist like Gandhi was foisted upon the nation, saying, “Gandhi was a narrow-minded human being who cunningly masked his violence with the hollow rhetoric of peace.”

During his conversation with Dr. Paul, Mr. Bhinder further added that Gandhi only r

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By Kanshi Pal | Media

 

SAN FRANCISCO, Apr. 12, 2012 – The release of “Voice of Truth,” an album of songs by Ranjit Singh Teji, marks another step in the unification of the masses of humanity against division and inequality. International collaboration among diaspora members from India, USA and Canada resulted in eight haunting tracks interspersed by commentary about the […]


SAN FRANCISCO, Apr. 12, 2012 – The release of “Voice of Truth,” an album of songs by Ranjit Singh Teji, marks another step in the unification of the masses of humanity against division and inequality.

International collaboration among diaspora members from India, USA and Canada resulted in eight haunting tracks interspersed by commentary about the affliction of caste and the common humanity of all. The album was produced thanks to invaluable contributions by Dr. G. B. Singh, Dilbagh Singh, Harinder Singh, M. R. Paul, Avtar Singh Adampuri, Dr. Harchand Singh, and lyricist Hardayal Singh Cheema Vehniwal.

“This moving work is aptly titled, for it echoes the voice of truth with which Dr. Ambedkar himself spoke in his mighty effort to stir all Indians to embrace the intentions of the founders of the Sikh revolution,” said Bhajan Singh Bhinder, a Director of the Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation (BRASF). “As one of the 20th century’s strongest advocates for the commonality of humanity, Dr. Ambedkar strongly desired to become a Sikh because of the Gurus’ own unparalleled record of spreading peace, harmony and good will a

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By Kanshi Pal | Ambedkar Jayanti

 

In anticipation of Dr. Ambedkarji’s 121st birth anniversary, several Ambedkarites approached U.S. Congressman Tom McClintock (California, District 4) to request his assistance in properly commemorating the event. After working with M. R. Paul, Bhajan Singh Bhinder, Kanshi Pal, and Dr. Amrik Singh, Congressman McClintock presented the following remarks to the United States House on June […]


 

In anticipation of Dr. Ambedkarji’s 121st birth anniversary, several Ambedkarites approached U.S. Congressman Tom McClintock (California, District 4) to request his assistance in properly commemorating the event. After working with M. R. Paul, Bhajan Singh Bhinder, Kanshi Pal, and Dr. Amrik Singh, Congressman McClintock presented the following remarks to the United States House on June 1, 2012:

M. Speaker:

I rise today in memory of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.

Dr. Ambedkar was born in April, 1891 into a culture where an individual’s worth was determined not by the merit of his actions or character, but by the circumstance of class into which he was born. For Dr. Ambedkar, a son of a poor Mahar family, this meant being labeled as a Dalit – an Untouchable. In India’s highly-stratified social caste system, this designation assured him, at best, a lifetime of second-class citizenry, but such was not to be Dr. Ambedkar’s fate.

Dr. Ambedkar’s father served in the Indian Army and used that position to secure the opportunity for his children to attend school, where they were segregated and paid little attention by the teachers. Of his 13 brothers and sisters, he was the only member of the family to pass his primary school exams and enter high school in 1902, where he found himself the only member of the Untouchable caste to even be enrolled. Upon graduation, Dr. Ambedkar went on to Bombay University, where he studied economics and political science and eventually was awarded a scholarship to Columbia University in New York where he earned a master’s degree in economics and sat for the bar examination before enrolling at the London School of Economics, where he would earn a doctoral degree.

Upon his return to India in 1917, Dr. Ambedkar dedicated his life to uplifting the Untouchable caste and using his considerable intellect and education to eradicate the discriminating caste system. From the humble beginnings as a child of ill-fortune, Dr. Ambedkar rose to play a prominent role in the emergence of modern India. In his long political career included instrumental contributions to the form of the Indian electorate, the launching of his own political party in 1936 and serving in the upper house of parliament from 1952 until his death four years later. Throughout his public career, he was renounced for his tireless opposition to untouchability. Whether in testimony before government committees, in civil protests or in the pages of his own publication, Mooknayak, Dr. Ambedkar was a fierce advocate for a people who otherwise found little or no representation in their society.

While many leaders in his time advocated that the Dalits’ condition could be improved if they mimicked the social norms and habits of the other classes, Dr. Ambedkar rejected the notion that only the affluent class’s preferences were appropriate for emulation. Rather, he articulated the basic principle that all men are created equal and that the Dalits required not the paternalistic guidance of the privileged few who ruled over them, but the freedom to live their lives according to their own lights.

M. Speaker, we often appeal to the paragons of freedom among the American Founding Fathers in this chamber. We need search no further than Dr. Ambedkar and his tireless devotion to the rights of man to confirm that the bedrock principles of liberty and freedom for which our Founders are known are truly universal.

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar serves as a paramount example of the ideals to which we should all strive and it is my privilege to rise in recognition of his achievements today.

Remarks written and presented by Congressman Tom McClintock.

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By Kanshi Pal | Ambedkar Jayanti, Gandhi, U.S. politics

 

NEW YORK, June. 16, 2013 – Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar was inspired to devote his life in service to emancipation for the Untouchables of India after discovering black liberation struggles in the USA, say organizers of a centenary conference at Columbia University. The conference, “Ambedkar’s Century: 100 Years From the USA,” occurs on June 29, […]

 


NEW YORK, June. 16, 2013 – Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar was inspired to devote his life in service to emancipation for the Untouchables of India after discovering black liberation struggles in the USA, say organizers of a centenary conference at Columbia University.

The conference, “Ambedkar’s Century: 100 Years From the USA,” occurs on June 29, exactly 100 years to the day since Bhim Rao Ambedkar arrived in New York City in 1913 to begin studies at Columbia University. While in the USA, he encountered American civil rights movements and saw strong parallels between the plights of blacks and Untouchables.

Mohan Ram Paul, a conference panelist and the protege of civil rights leader Kanshi Ram, said, “Generations of oppression by Brahminism has divided the Mulnivasi people into 6,000 sub-castes which are disunited. Our conference in New York City will unite people from many castes, many religions, and many nations in an alliance for the liberty of all.”

Dr. Amrik Singh, centennial conference coordinator and a South Asian public affairs expert, remarked, “Before Dr. Ambedkarji returned to India to demand liberation of the oppressed people of South Asia, he was first molded by American freedom movements while gaining an education at Columbia University. In the USA, he saw blacks enduring the same mental and physical tortures inflicted upon Untouchables for no cause save heredity.”

“The USA has its first black president and, although troubles still abound, the liberties of African Americans are no longer in much greater danger than those of any other American citizen,” said Bhajan Singh Bhinder, a director of Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation, the group organizing the conference. “Slavery is history, racism is dissipating, but caste survives. Changed laws have not changed hearts and minds in India, where a Dalit is the victim of a hate crime every 18 minutes. This conference is a spark for the modern civil rights movement as we examine how Dr. Ambedkarji’s legacy agitates us to action.”

The conference begins with a Recognition Ceremony at 12pm on Saturday, June 29 outside Lerner Hall on the Columbia University campus. General session will occur in Lerner Hall from 1pm to 6pm. Six students of Dr. Ambedkar’s life will spend those hours delving into his legacy to explain his devotion to the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Six topics to be addressed are:

“Betrayal of Dr. Ambedkar, the Indian Constitution, and the Hindu Code Bill” by Mohan Ram Paul of Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation;

“Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s Critique of Hindu Scriptures, and a New Social Order” by Dr. Manisha Bangar of Backward and Minority Community Employees’ Federation;

“Anti-Moolnivasi Attempts to Reconcile Ambedkar and Gandhi” by Pieter Singh of Sikh Information Centre;

“Keeping Dr. B. R. Ambedkar out of the Limelight: Poona Pact and Politics of Communal Award” by Dr. P. D. Satyapal of Andhra University;

“Subaltern Counter-Memory” by Dr. Angana Chatterji of UC Berkeley;

and “The Mission of Dr. Ambedkar, Khalsa College Mumbai, and the Hindu Mahasabha” by Dr. Amrik Singh of California State University, Sacramento.

Avtar Singh Adampuri, also a director of BRASF, stated: “This conference is a cause for celebration, but it is also an offensive against the root cause of the suffering of South Asia’s downtrodden people, which is the Brahmanical ordering of society. We hope every person who believes in ending oppression will accept our hospitality to attend this conference and be inspired by the example of Dr. Ambedkar.”

Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

 

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By Kanshi Pal | Ambedkar Jayanti, Gandhi, Media, U.S. politics, Uncategorized

 

NEW YORK, July 2, 2013 – South Asian civil rights hero Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar was affirmed on Saturday as “the true father of India and a preeminent liberator of the oppressed peoples of the world” by over 150 attendees of a centennial conference at Columbia University in New York City. The June 29 conference […]


NEW YORK, July 2, 2013 – South Asian civil rights hero Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar was affirmed on Saturday as “the true father of India and a preeminent liberator of the oppressed peoples of the world” by over 150 attendees of a centennial conference at Columbia University in New York City.

The June 29 conference in Columbia’s Alfred Lerner Hall celebrated 100 years, to the exact day, since Dr. Ambedkar’s admission to study at Columbia University. People traveled from across the United States, Canada, and India to hear lectures at “Ambedkar’s Century: 100 Years From the USA,” an event by Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation (International).

Panelist Dr. Manisha Bangar, who serves as National Vice President of civil rights group Mulnivasi Sangh, declared: “There has not been a more urgent need for Dr. Ambedkar’s message of emancipation than today.” She joined five other speakers who mesmerized the audience with a diversity of topics regarding Ambedkar’s legendary fight for the rights of oppressed segments of society, particularly India’s minorities and so-called “Untouchables.”

Praising Ambedkar as “the tallest personality of modern India,” Dr. Bangar cited his Columbia experience as his inspiration for adopting “the call of American pragmatism for subjecting all inherited values to scientific scrutiny.” She enthralled the audience with her argument that Hindu scriptures justify direct denial of basic human rights of Mulnivasis as a divinely proscribed injustice. Ambedkar advocated total rejection of Hindu scriptures to liberate Mulnivasis from the shackles of slavery, she said, stressing that only a new social order can alter the wretched condition of the downtrodden.

National General Secretary of Mulnivasi Sangh Dr. P. D. Satyapal passionately argued that the “cultural politics of Brahminism mythicized the condemnable acts of Gandhi as benevolent, nonviolent dimensions of a ‘Mahatma’ and dubbed Ambedkar as communal, divisive, and pro-colonial.” Satyapal, who works as an anthropology professor at Andhra University, said Ambedkar was manipulated into signing the Poona Pact by Gandhi’s “fast unto death” against the right of representation for the Untouchables.

Dr. Satyapal highlighted attempts to blunt Ambedkar’s cultural revolution with Gandhi’s paternalistic reformism and the façade of Gandhi’s humanism which has hypnotized the Western World. He concluded: “It requires a nationwide movement to create a feeling of sense of social obligation among the victim castes of the Brahminical social order. This is what Ambedkar meant by ‘taking the caravan ahead.’ Therefore, we need to create a feeling of brotherhood among the victims of the Brahminical system to create and strengthen a vibrant, vigilant civil society.”

M. R. Paul, a director of Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation, inaugurated the conference by noting how Indian nationalists betrayed Ambedkar’s goal of enshrining statutory liberties while chairing the Indian Constitution’s drafting committee. He cited as symbols of inequality the statues of Manu, the mythical creator of the Hindu caste system, which stand outside the High Courts of Jaipur and Rajasthan, calling these a “mockery of the judiciary.” Paul dubbed rejection of Ambedkar’s proposed “Hindu Code Bill” a missed opportunity for Hindu society to earn an honorable place in annals of history, saying: “A rigid society that can’t be reformed must be altogether rejected for the sake equality, liberty and fraternity.”

Dr. Chatterji, an anthropologist at University of California, Berkeley, spoke to the relevance of Dr. Ambedkar’s work in India today. While the benefits of development and the political and economic decisions made as a nation have enhanced the quality of life for many in India, she said, these very indicators of development tell a discouraging story of persistent inequities leading to the brutalization of marginalized groups. Basic human rights, she said, such as the rights to life and livelihood, health care, education, and freedom of expression, still linger outside the grasp of India’s disenfranchised.

Dr. Chatterji, who co-chairs a project on conflict resolution at UC, Berkeley, said about 270,940 Indian farmers have committed suicide since 1995, including in the major farming zones of Punjab and Haryana. Postcolonial India, she said, was challenged by conflicting agendas of nation-making as the new state struggled with the onslaught of structural adjustments and demands of a rising bourgeoisie. In the present, Human Rights Watch reports record police mistreatment in India of “lower” caste and class peoples. Sikhs have faced persecution, Muslims, Dalits and other minorities are often ostracized, and Christians and Adivasis have been forcibly converted to Hinduism.

Dr. Chatterji said it is imperative to address the various types of violence faced by vulnerable groups, including gendered and sexualized violence from non-state armed groups, armed forces, and police. She said that gendered and sexualized violence is prevalent across South Asia. In India, this is especially so in parts of the country beset by on-going armed conflict and mass violence. The regions of Jammu & Kashmir and Manipur are differently but persistently affected by conflict, as are areas in central India, while unresolved conflict-related issues intermittently recur in Punjab. Further, areas such as Gujarat and Orissa are impacted by recent and far-reaching violence on minority communities.

Such conflicts have extensive human impact and lead to intense psychosocial and economic suffering of civilian populations, especially of children, youth, women, and minorities. This creates broader disruptive cycles of violence that impact national and regional security. Dr. Chatterji said sustainable restorative processes must be informed by a vision of gender mainstreaming and inclusivity of affected peoples through conflict resolution work in India.

Pieter Singh rebutted recent attempts by Columbia Law School’s Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Chair (an Indian-state funded enterprise) to reconcile Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Ambedkar, stating: “Ambedkar and Gandhi mix as well as oil and water, sand and fire, cats and dogs, or snakes and babies. In other words, they don’t go together. They are irreconcilable.” He gave as a key reason Gandhi’s promotion of racial segregation in pre-Apartheid South Africa and lifelong defense of the caste system, stating: “On the one hand, Dr. Ambedkar stood for the annihilation of caste. On the other hand, Gandhi stood for the perpetuation of caste.”

Singh emphasized that Dr. Ambedkar’s efforts as architect of the Indian Constitution were overridden, arguing that promoting him as its author “hoodwinks and beguiles the oppressed into reconciling with their oppressors.” He quoted Ambedkar’s 1955 remarks in India’s upper house of parliament, where he said:

“People always keep on saying to me, ‘Oh, you are the maker of the Constitution.’ My answer is I was a hack. What I was asked to do, I did much against my will…. My friends tell me that I made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody.”

Dr. Amrik Singh of California State University, Sacramento concluded the event with a lecture on Dr. Ambedkar’s role in laying the foundation of Guru Nanak Khalsa College (Mumbai) for the education and amelioration of oppressed classes. The current college remains the direct brainchild of Dr. Ambedkar, who penned its mission statement and selected the lot where it still stands.

“The idea of India’s freedom,” said Dr. Singh, “is just an illusion which is systematically reinforced by targeting lower classes and minorities.” However, he stated Ambedkar’s honesty, sincerity, and dedication in his endeavors to reform India’s diabolical system of social tyranny is unparalleled in the history of South Asia.

The eager and attentive audience was reluctant to leave at the conclusion of the conference. Their final act was to join with conference organizers in enthusiastically endorsing a resolution to “move the caravan forward,” a reference to a statement by Dr. Ambedkar declaring: “Glory to those who give the flowing of their days, their strength of soul and body, and their nights to the amelioration of slavery.”

Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation (International) sponsored “Ambedkar’s Century” to memorialize the wide-ranging implications of his life and mission for reforming global social and political institutions. Guru Ravidas Sabha (New York) and its president Nirmal Singh partnered with BRASF to provide logistical support for the success of the conference. BRASF Board of Directors, including Avtar Singh Adampuri, Dilbag Singh, Isher Singh, and Inderjit Singh from Seattle, WA, gave time to attend from far and wide across the country.

Among other significant personalities at the conference were S. Manjit Singh Uppal, former President of Ghadri Baba Gurdwara, Stockton, California, and Mrs and Mr. Ramesh Bangar of Guru Ravidas Sabha (Rio Linda), Mr. Nanak S. Bhatti of Sacramento, and Harmeet Singh of Chicago. Bhajan Singh of California, a BRASF director and the conference coordinator, smoothly conducted the program. During the closing ceremonies, all panelists and other dignitaries were honored with fine walnut recognition plaques in gratitude for their efforts.

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