Friday, March 08, 2013

Top Dalit human rights activist appeals for positive approach towards Dr BR Ambedkar

Martin Macwan, a well-known human rights activist, has regretted that the impression of father of the Indian constitution Dr BR Ambedkar, over the years, has been reduced to a "leader of a caste or sub-caste", and it is time one should overcome this gap. Currently in the midst of a two-month-long march for refurbishing this wrong impression, which ends on April 14, Dr Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, Macwan believes it is time for a wider support for Dr Amdrkar's views, who stood for justice and equality for all. The march, which is going to different villages and towns, proposes to end with a grand shobha yatra in Ahmedabad. Following is text of an appeal he has made for support:
Contrary to the expectation that innovations both in science and technology would reduce the tension in society between various sections; the same has increased, as evident from several studies. The discontent often results into crimes.Doubtless, this is rooted in the realities of social and economic disparity. Social tensions have not been new to the Nation as it was even in the times of the freedom movement. True, there were leaders who were able to channelize social discontent into positive energy. Today, the distance between various castes has increased or has become stable, far from reducing. The gender gap too has increased. The poison of prejudices between castes has further deepened between various sub-castes within the caste. One wonders what does the future hold for children, who are witnesses to what is happening today.
The thinking and reflection on the question once again directs our minds to the question of social integration based on equality, the founding principle of our constitution. Equality would without doubt replace violence with love and compassion; chaos to understanding and destruction to creativity. To enable conditions for the shift requires that we need to change our approach to education as well as the forms of cultural celebration. April 14, 2013 is the best day to mark the beginning of this search. People sharing the same vision across sections have proposed the program enlisted here.
This is a special celebration of the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar who laid equality as the founding principle in the Indian Constitution.
● Isn't it possible that all sections of society come together and celebrate the program of social integration that visualizes a society free of caste, creed and discrimination?
● Isn't it possible that all heads of religion condemn caste discrimination?
● Isn't it possible that the youth express their interests in non-violent manner as shown by Dr Ambedkar?
● Isn't it possible that our cultural expression serve as the role model for children?
As a positive response to above questions, a plan is underway to celebrate April 14, 2013 as a Sobhayatra of struggle for equality. The Sobhayatra would match the design of national independence day parade, with the following components:
1. Focus on the constitution: A large statue of Dr Ambedkar will be at the head of the Sobhayatra with the constitution of India in a hand that highlights Article 17: Abolition of untouchability.
2. Chhote Bhim: 250 girls and 250 boys from all Districts, various religions and castes shall be dressed as Ambedkar with their float.
3. Chhote Gandhi: 100 girls and boys will dress up as Gandhi and walk with their float.
4. Chhote Savitri and Jyotiba Phule: To remember the history where the Phule couple opened the first school for Dalit children and all women as well as saved hundreds of pregnant Brahmin widows from committing suicide, 100 girls and boys shall dress up each as Savitri and Jyotiba Phule and walk with their float.
5. Chhote Buddha: 100 children shall dress up as Lord Buddha to remember the message of his life: Love and Compassion as a corner stone of society to replace violence and discrimination.
6. Education for the poor today: A float shall display the challenges that all poor face today to their access to education.
7. Samta Sainik Dal (voluntary corps for equality): Dr. Ambedkar had started this organization in 1926 to motivate youth to stand united against injustice and discrimination. It is planned that 1,000 youth from various sections of society shall become the members of SSD on the day and walk along with their float.
8. Epic Struggle of Chavdar lake: A float shall depict the history of Chavdar lake satyagraha to draw attention of society to the existence of untouchability practices in the State to access drinking water.
9. The positive youth: 2,500 youth shall join the Sobhayatra with their friends on their motorcycles.
10. Women in political power: Thanks to reservation policy for women that has ensured hundreds of women's representation in political process from Panchayat to the state bodies. The question remains of using the political space to achieve our objectives to remove discrimination. Elected women shall walk along their float in the Sobhayatra.
11. Social integrity: As a visible gesture people from various sections of society shall walk along with their float.
12. Law as a tool to address discrimination: 1000 lawyers who believe in using law as a tool for social reconstruction shall join the Sobhayatra.
13. Research: enormous research on the subject of discrimination, a powerful tool to produce facts that can decisively influence discriminatory policies is underway. A float with prominent research scholars shall join the Sobhayatra.
14. Arts and Culture: The poor have historically used music, theatre, paintings, dance and other cultural forms to express their living conditions. The 'Godna' women painters from Bihar, the Drummers from Andhra Pradesh, the sarnai players from north Gujarat and other artists shall present their float.
15. Remembering Megh Mahya: The legendary Dalit icon Megh Mahya who saved the lives of people of Patan State by getting beheaded to quench their thirst shall be remembered with a float.
16. All religions promote equality and condemn discrimination: Heads of religions are invited to walk to make a statement that they stand for equality of all and condemn discrimination based on caste and gender.
17. Balloons of freedom from Manual scavenging: 100,000 balloons shall be released in the skies to draw the attention that even Gujarat has 64,000 manual scavengers in the national number of over 750,000 scavengers.
18. Food for thought: The Sobhayatra occasion shall publish booklets depicting the contribution made by eminent personalities (alphabetically): Achhutanand, Ambedkar, Buddha, Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaja, Chokhamela, Gandhiji, Gyaneshwar, Kabir, Narayan Guru, Narsinh Mehta, Periyar, Phlues, Sayajirao Gaekwad, Tukaram, Zalkari bai and many others shall be published. Informed participation to Sobhayatra is more effective than mere numbers.
19. Caste violence: In spite of the legal protection and special legal provisions, caste violence has been a blot of Gujarat and the Nation as a whole. A float shall depict the reality.
20. Diverse employment opportunities to replace caste based occupations: The major concern for youth is dignified occupation and employment. A float of youth from the poor communities who have been entrepreneurs shall be presented to show way to others and sensitize those who have resources to contribute to such initiatives.
21. Rights to land and natural resources: Land rights has been one of the root cause for growing social tension. It is the responsibility of State and its constitutional obligation to protect the rights of the poor over land and natural resources. A float shall present the stories of struggle of the poor to their right over land.
22. The Young artists: Children use the theatre in the most effective way to show elders to overgrow caste and gender prejudices. Numerous theatre groups from villages where children run the 'Chhote Bhim theatre' shall perform on their floats.
23. Representation of other States: Representatives from various States shall join the Sobhayatra.
24. Digitizing Sobhayatra: 100 women photographers and videographers shall digitize the entire event.
Very Important:
1. No Foreign funds will be accepted in any form for the event. The entire program shall be managed and organized from donations from individuals and institutions who raise their hands for equality of all and discrimination to none.
2. This program is not of any one individual or institution.
3. There will be series of programs that shall take place from January 2013 until 14th April. A regular update shall be posted on the website.
Accounts: For the transparent accounting system the following three institutions, registered as charitable organizations having registration under 80 (g) have consented to receive the donation for the event. A website will be launched and details of all donors and people lending support to the event shall be displayed. The accounts will be audited and presented to the public. You may make your donation by cash or preferable by cheque to:
1. Navsarjan Trust (Sobhayatra a/c): 2 Ruchit Apartments, Behind Dharnidhar Derasar, Vasna. Ahmadabad – 380 007 : Ph 079-26630872
2. Janvikas (Sobhayatra a/c): C-105, Royal Chinmay, Nr. Simandhar towers, Judges Bungalow road, Bodakdev, Ahmadabad – 380 054: Ph: 079- 26857745
3. St. Xavier's Non Formal Education Society, St. Xavier's College, Navrangpura, Ahmadabad 380 009. Ph: 079- 26304928, 26303577.

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