Dr B.R. Ambedkar International Conference 2017 – Quest for Equity  – Reclaiming Social Justice, Revisiting Ambedkar (3)

Dr B.R. Ambedkar International Conference 2017 – Quest for Equity  – Reclaiming Social Justice, Revisiting Ambedkar (3)

K Raju and Bhalachandra Mungekar

The second day [22-07-2017] proceedings: The security was tight as before and the delegates / speakers had pass through separate entrance. The first plenary session was chaired by K. Raju and there were three speakers – Lord Bhiku Parekh, S. K. Thorat and Samuel Myers between 9.30 to 11.00 am at the main auditorium.

Parik speaking 22-07-2017

What Lord Bhiku spoke: Parekh Like how Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, was just not a Baniya, the mercantile caste into which he was born, B.R. Ambedkar was not just a Dalit, but a national leader and a nationalist, noted political scholar Bhikhu Parekh has said. “Like Mahatma Gandhi was not just a Baniya, Rabindranath Tagore was not just a Bengali, Dr. Ambedkar was not just a spokesperson of Dalits. He was an Indian and a nationalist,” said Parekh, while delivering a lecture on the second day of the three-day international conference on B.R. Ambedkar, sponsored by the Congress-ruled Karnataka government here on Saturday [22-07-2017][1]. Recently BJP president Amit Shah’s statement calling Mahatma Gandhi a “Chatur Baniya” drew flak from scholars across the country. Parekh, an acclaimed author of several books on politics and political theory, said that by calling Ambedkar a Dalit leader and a spokesperson, we were reducing the significance of his contribution to the nation[2].

How India became “Republic”, though Nehru opposed: “We have to revisit Ambedkar to reclaim justice” to the marginalised sections of society, he added. Noting that Ambedkar fought for social and economic democracy, he took on Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhai Patel to ensure social and economic justice to the downtrodden and marginalised sections of society. The father of the Indian Constitution fought for inclusion of the word “Republic” in the preamble of the Constitution. For Ambedkar, democracy confined only to political rights, while the “Republic” guaranteed political, economic, and social rights. He recollected about the condition of India soon after Independence. He said that at the time of framing the Constitution, Jawaharlal Nehru did not include the word ‘Republic’ in the first draft[3]. When asked, Nehru said that the word ‘Democracy had included Republic’. In the second draft, Republic was included while the word Democracy was not[4].

Ambedkar and Jewish people

What Ambedkar told about Jews: Dr Ambedkar was interviewed by Glora Becher, Council of Israel in Bombay. His views were published in “Praja bandhu” and then, included in his complete works[5]. “I believe that just as there was a land of promise for the Jews, so the Depressed Classes must be destined to have their land of promise. I trust that just as the Jews reached their land of promise, so will be the Depressed Classes in the end reach their land of promise.”….“I see in the present day condition of the Depressed Classes of India a parallel to the Jews in their captivity in Egypt. In Moses I see a leader whose infinite love for his people has given undaunted courage to face hardships and bear calumny.”…………“I confess that if any thing sustains me in my efforts to emancipate the Depressed Classes, it is the story of Moses undertaking the thankless but noble task of leading Jews out of their captivity.”……..It is only natural that the Jewish people have always looked at Dr. Ambedkar and his life’s work with absolute admiration. His struggle for the weakest sector of society has found an echo in the hearts of those who for many hundreds of years since their expulsion from their “Promised land”—Israel—were suffering from discrimination and persecution just becasue of being different from the majority around. We in Israel are till today proud of Dr. Ambedkar’s support in our struggle for rebuilding our national home in Israel. (Courtesy : News from Israel)[6].”

S K Thorat speaks

Separate settlements for SCs and they should migrate there – S. K. Thorat: Former UGC chairman and present ICSSR chairman S.K. Thorat noted that a large number of Dalit graduates remained unemployed owing to withdrawal of the State following liberal economic policies. He said privatisation of public sector enterprises and contracting out services to the private in the public and government sectors led to the erosion of reservation of jobs to the Scheduled Castes. Reservation had “eroded from the backdoor” by contracting out services. Unemployment was 13 to 14% among Dalits, he said. Under the guise of Liberalization-Privatization-Globalization, reservation is denied to SCs. Therefore, the reservation policy should be like that of Ireland. Though, the Untouchability Act was amended in 1950, 1985 and 2010, the violations are not booked, action taken and punished. To overcome such discrimination, separate settlements should be provided to them and they should migrate to such places.

Samuel Myers speaks

Samuel Myers’s comparison of the Dalits and the blacks: Samuel Myers tried to compare the discrimination acting against the Dallits and the blacks under market and non-market factors. The market factors are identified as  like earnings, employment, housing, education, opportunities, credit, lending and access to wealth. The non-market factors are – sexual assault, victims of hate crimes, …. Some of the audience questioned such comparison, as the controlling factors of the two groups have been totally different, operating at various levels.

Prof G Hargopal

Afternoon plenary session: The afternoon session 2 to 3.30 pm was chaired by the Social scientist G. Haragopal, professor at the National Law School of India University, and the speakers were –

  1. Dalit intellectual Anand Teltumbde[7].
  2. Bronislaw Czarnocha[8]
  3. Marxist economist Prof. Prabhat Patnaik
  4. Hargopal said 2019 would be a critical point in the country’s history, with the Constitution of India “at stake”[9]. “The Congress should look at the growing inequalities in income; it is a matter of concern. India’s richest 1% holds about 58% of the country’s wealth and this phenomenon has only increased under the Modi regime. The Congress should start talking about minimizing inequalities in income as wealth should sub-serve the common good.” Haragopal pointed out how the BJP government has become the favourite of global capitalists[10]. He said the spread of fascism was turning out to be a threat to the Indian Constitution. “The country will reach a critical point in 2019 (when parliamentary polls are scheduled) and we have to be cautious. The minorities are suffering from insecurity and the Congress has a responsibility to protect the Constitution.”

Ambedkar activist - Anand Teltumbde

Anand Teltumbde observed: What he noted…………that the country was living in “de facto fascism” and de jure fascism was just two or three years away. while wealth in the hands of the country’s richest 1% had grown from 53% to 58% after Modi took over and this development is a pointer to the fact that Dalits are at the receiving end. “The ruling classes have been fooling all and there is massive inequality in the country. The VVIP syndrome keeps mocking at the common man and social activists have no space as they are imprisoned or attacked. The concepts of equality, liberty and fraternity have remained mere rhetoric and the poor continue to suffer.” Teltumbde said the Congress has to transform itself with the focus on Ambedkar and fight the Hindutva juggernaut to stop de jure fascism from becoming a reality in the country.

Prof Prabhat Patnaik

Prabhat Patnaik – says openly in 2019 Modi should be defeated: Responding to a statement by former MP Balchandra Mungekar that progressive forces needed to unite with the Congress in 2019, Prabhat Patnaik said[11]: “We are ready to align with the Congress if the Congress also reforms itself.” “With neo-liberalism reaching a dead-end under the Modi regime, a counter-revolution is staring at us. A new vision of India is required and it is important to think of giving economic rights to the people along with political rights.” Patnaik outlined the economic rights as[12]: right to food, right to employment, right to free healthcare, right to quality education and right to free pension for elderly and the disabled. The total cost for providing these rights will be not more than 10% of the Gross Domestic Product, he said, adding: “Through this, we can carry forward the notion of development as envisioned by Ambedkar.”

© Vedaprakash


Ambedkar conference - Bangalore- Blue

[1] The Hindu, Ambedkar not a Dali icon, but a national leader, Nagesh Prabhu, Bengaluru, July 22, 2017 23:39 IST; Updated: July 22, 2017 23:39 IST.

[2] http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/ambedkar-not-just-a-dalit-icon-but-a-national-leader/article19333852.ece

[3] Indian Express, Dalits must reclaim their human dignity: Lord Parekh, By Express News Service  |   Published: 23rd July 2017 02:11 AM  |  Last Updated: 23rd July 2017 12:06 PM

[4] http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2017/jul/23/dalits-must-reclaim-their-human-dignity-lord-parekh-1632387.html

[5]Dr Ambedkar,  Dr Ambedkar aand the Jewish People, Chapter.31, pp.342-344, Vol.17, 2003 edition.

[6] Praja bandhu, dated 30th December 1991.

[7] Anand Teltumbde is a management professional, writer, civil rights activist, and political analyst. He has authored many books (translated widely in most Indian languages) on various issues relating to Peoples’ movement with particular emphasis on Left and Dalits and is a noted scholar on the subject. He has extensively written in English and Marathi in popular newspapers and magazines commenting on contemporary issues. He is a regular contributor to magazines like Outlook India, Tehelka Mainstream, Seminar, Frontier, and Economic & Political Weekly in which he writes a regular column ‘Margin Speak’.

[8] Bronislaw Czarnocha interest in Bisociative Revolution started in 1982 while analyzing the process of Revolution of Solidarity, when the bisociativity of that revolution became apparent as the simultaneous class struggle of the workers and the national liberation movement spearheaded by the intellectuals of the movement.His interest in the Dalit struggles for annihilation of the cast arose through 8 years of collaboration with the Arunthathiyars of Tamil Nadu where he saw the divide between the Marxist left and the Dalits directly on the ground. The tragedy of the Rohith Vermula in 2016 and the results of American elections the same year motivated him to undertake full process of exploration and formulation of the principle of Bisociative revolution.

[9] The Hindu, Scholars call for unity against ‘Hindutva juggernaut’, STAFF REPORTER, BENGALURU, JULY 23, 2017 23:40 IST; UPDATED: JULY 23, 2017 23:40 ISTUPDATED: JULY 23, 2017 23:40 IST

[10] Times of India, Revisit Ambedkar to stop fascism from becoming reality: Analyst, Rakesh Prakash| Jul 24, 2017, 06:19 AM IST.

[11] http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/scholars-call-for-unity-against-hindutva-juggernaut/article19337978.ece

[12] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/revisit-ambedkar-to-stop-fascism-from-becoming-reality-analyst/articleshow/59730783.cms

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One Response to “Dr B.R. Ambedkar International Conference 2017 – Quest for Equity  – Reclaiming Social Justice, Revisiting Ambedkar (3)”

  1. vedaprakash Says:

    What went into organising the Ambedkar Conference
    August 7, 2017 P Manivannan

    ‘Quest for equity – reclaiming social justice, revisiting Ambedker’ was a three day international conference organised by the Government of Karnataka to mark the 126th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru between 21st – 23rd 23rd July. IAS officer P Manivannan was part of the team organising the conference; he shares his experience.

    Many renowned speakers mentioned that they never attended any such a huge conference on Dr Ambedkar, in their life time. Indeed, just to dismantle the temporary structures, it took 10 days!

    Now that the last part of the work on the conference is getting over, it’s time to reflect how the entire thing happened. Instead of writing and keeping it in the file, we thought we will share with the citizens, to whom Dr Ambedkar and the State government belong. Also, the expenditure and accounts of the conference will be published in the 2nd part of this post. We would want everything to be transparent and professional.

    So, here is an account of how things happened!

    Last year, around the same time, I was called to attend a meeting of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, along with Dr H C Mahadevappa, PWD Minister and Anjaneya, Minister for SC & BCW. It was in this meeting that a decision was taken to conduct Dr. Ambedkar International Conference, and the responsibility was given to the Social Welfare Department (SWD).

    Frankly, as Secretary, SWD, I was little worried for two reasons. Firstly, the Department was almost doing a fire fighting job on a daily basis managing more than 2000 hostels, 1000s of Ambedkar Bhawans and more than 100 schemes for the welfare of the SC/STs. Secondly, the Department has never conducted any international conference so far and the Department has not even updated the list of top scholars on the subject.

    Hence, I submitted to the Government that the conference may possibly be collaborated with any University or College, to organise this conference on behalf of the Government, and the Department would oversee it. This idea was accepted, and I suggested the names of National Law School, Azim Premji University and the Bangalore Central University. However, it was finally decided to constitute an Organizing Committee of all the VCs and other academicians, who will organise this conference. Prof. Japhet of Bangalore Central University was appointed as Convener of the Organizing Committee (OC).

    An Empowered Committee (EC) was formed with the Hon’ble Chief Minister as Chairman, and having the following as Members, to guide the Organising committee.

    1) Dr. H.C. Mahadevappa, Hon’ble PWD Minister and convener.
    2) H. Anjaneya, Hon’ble Minister for SC & BCW.
    3) Dr. G. Parameshwara, Hon’ble Minister for Home
    4) T.B. Jayachandra, Hon’ble Minister for Law, Human Rights and Minor Irrigation.
    5) R. Roshan Baig, Hon’ble Minister for Infrastructure Dev. Information and Haj.
    6) Krishna Byregowda, Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture.
    7) Manivannan, P, secretary, SWD; member secretary

    The OC started working. It constituted a Sub-Committee consisting of 40 members. This committee selected speakers for the conference. Though this Conference was to coincide with the 125th Birthday Celebrations of Dr. Ambedkar, this had to be postponed to July to ensure better participation. In the review meeting of the EC, chaired by the Chairman, it was noted that names of the speakers has been finalised, but other arrangements are yet to begin.

    Hence, the EC appointed Sri Atheeq, IAS, Principal Secretary to Hon’ble CM as Chairman, and Dr. E. Venkataiah, Advisor on SCSP/TSP as Co-chairman of the OC. We also appointed Prof. Aakash Rathore as co-convener to liaison with academics and support the government with technical aspects of the conference. Three Sub-committees were formed, headed by the Hon’ble Ministers as under:

    1) Anjaneya, Minister for SC&BCW – Cultural Committee.
    2) Krishna Byregowda, Minister for Agriculture – Logistical Committee
    3) Priyank Kharge, Minister for IT & BT- Information & Publicity Committee

    Thus, the arrangements for the conference actually kick-started only during April-May 17. The EC also decided to entrust the work of the conference to Marketing & Consulting Agency (MCA), as an agency under the Government’s Commerce & Industries Department. It was realised that the work has to happen on a war footing, as they were hardly left with two months time, and the Government also appointed following persons, to co-ordinate and streamline the functioning.

    1) Pushparaj Deshpande, Chief Coordinator
    2) Prof. S.K.Thorat, Former UGC Chairman
    3) Prof. Nagalakshmi- Coordinator
    4) Mehroz Khan

    The MCA in consultation with the EC appointed Phase 1, head-quartered in Bengaluru, as event manager. The work started right earnest, and the newly set up 24×7 Control Room in the building of the Sports & Youth Empowerment Department on Nrupathunga Road came handy. The Phase 1 team and other staff working for the conference were shifted to the Control Room, which became a hub for all the activities connected with the conferences. Ministers heading various committees paid visits to the Control Room and the PWD Minister visited the Control Room and took an emergency review meeting at 10 PM on 17th July, just two days prior to the conference

    The emergency meeting was due to a surprise we got from the Police intelligence, that around 9000 persons may attend the conference, whereas we had planned to the capacity of the auditorium and adjoin halls; 3000. So, we had to take care of additional 6000 persons. In that meeting, directions were given for creating additional facilities to cater to 9000 persons and to install large size LCD TVs, and provide additional toilets, drinking water, additional parking lot etc. The additional facilities were created with coordination from different agencies.

    The team worked round the clock without sleep. The Police Intelligence report came true with around 9000, 8000 and 8000 people attending the conference on 1st, 2nd and 3rd day respectively. However, a section of the visitors were visibly unhappy that they had to watch the proceedings in LCD TVs, but this was sorted out by explaining to them that the main hall could hold only 2000 persons.

    The event was a total success except for minor glitches here and there. The lessons learnt in conducting this conference will be useful for Dr. Ambedkar conferences in future. The expenditure on this conference is done in a transparent manner and will be available for all to see.

    Thanks to those who made it happen!

    It’s our duty to thank the entire team! We express thanks to all those who worked day and night to make this conference a great success. Special thanks to Vikash Kumar Vikash, IPS, Commissioner, SWD and his team of officers, Srinivasulu, IFS, MD, Dr. ADC and his team of officers, Mulla and his team, Dr. Nataraj and his team, Dr Srinivas and his team, Dr. Soundarajan and his team, Sri Digge Shivaji and his team, Sri Nischith and his team. also thanks to Dr. H. Shivanna, VC, GKVK, and Dr. A.B. Patil, Registrar, GKVK for providing their premises for the conference, Vishu Kumar, IAS, Director, Information and Publicity.

    We also sought the services of Manoj Kumar, IFS, 1997 batch, Project Director, Victor Nishchith, Registrar, Kidwai Institute of Oncology, Anbu kumar, IAS, Commissioner, Backward Class Welfare, Jayanthi N, Chief of Customer Relations from BESCOM. Special thanks to Samudyata Kadur Shivaram, who headed the Control room team that worked round the clock, ensuring wonderful coordination!

    Our heartfelt thanks to the police team who were on duty during conference, numbering around 2000, headed by Hemant Nimbalkar, IPS, Addnl. Commissioner, Bengaluru East, along with Harsha, IPS, DCP, NE, Soumendu Mukherjee, IPS, IGP, Emergency & Fire Services, Dr. Shalini Rajaneesh, IAS, Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare. Thanks also to K.P. Shivakumar, SE, KSHIP and Sri Pavithra, SE, KREIS, without whose assistance and help, the conference would not have become a success. We thank Oum Pradutt, Navil, Satish, Saji, Deepika, Anita, Kora, Swetha and others of Phase 1 team and ‘Hasiru Dala’ for their tireless efforts in making this event a great success.

    Above all, we are grateful to the Chief Minister, GoK for his direction, guidance, and support, and he was a source of inspiration to the entire team. My special thanks to Dr. H.C. Mahadevappa, Minister for PWD, who was the spirit behind the team, and who took meetings even at 10 pm in the night! Our next thanks go to H. Anjeneya, Minister for SW & BWC for his valuable guidance in conducting the conference. Our special thanks again to, Krishna Byregowda, minister for Agriculture, whose constituency GKVK campus falls, and Priyank Kharge, Hon’ble minister for IT& BT, who worked shoulder to shoulder with us.

    I also thank Dr. E. Venkataiah, IIAS (retd) Advisor, who made tremendous contribution in coordinating with various Dalit Organisations in making this conference a success. I thank Dr. Sudhakar, MLA and Dr. R. Raju from Delhi, whose advice on the conference is well-appreciated. We also would like to thank, the BMRCL, headed by Pradeep Kharola, BMTC, headed by Anjum Parvez, and supported by Biswajit Mishra, and BESCOM, headed by Rajendra Cholan, for ensuring the evening time of the speakers were utilised over presentation by them over dinner.

    I am also duty-bound to thank all the speakers, delegates and participants for their contribution in making this event a grand success. Thanks are due to officers of the secretary office, mainly Ananth kumar, and his team including the drivers and assistants who worked late in the night. Last, but not the least, thanks are due to media, electronic and print media who gave coverage of the event widely.

    P Manivannan, Chief Project Officer at Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project, was also Secretary, Social Welfare Department, Government of Karnataka till recently. The article here has been republished from his Facebook post with minimal edits, with his permission.



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