Report on Dr. Ambedkar Bust Unveiling

All Dalits around the world came to pay the homage and celebrate the Official ceremony of the bust of its one of the most celebrated student- Dr. BR Ambedkar (Columbia 1913-1916)

Prof. Daniel, Director, Southern Asian Institute had to be out of town due to family reason. Prof. Dirk, Chair, Anthropology Dept. was the chair. He started with the praise for the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar in many fields. Among all its student, Dr. Ambedkar was the only one who was the architect of the Constitution of the largest democracy, India.

Mr. C Gautam, Secretary of Ambedkar & Buddhist Organisation of UK., who donated the bust, spoke of the greatness of Columbia University and his previous ceremony 4-5 years back during the first ceremony of the bust donation.

Ven. Rahul Bodhi, Head of Bhikku Sangha United Buddhist Mission, Buddha Vihar, Bombay administered the Buddha Vandana and blessed the occasion.

Then Mr. Yogesh Varhade on behalf of Dalit E-forum presented the e-Compendium on Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar(CD-ROM) to Prof. Dirk and Dr. David Magier( Librarian, Lehman Library, Columbia Univ.). He told "With lot of hard work of Dr. Anand Teltumde, Sashi, Niranjan Waghmare, Mr. K.P. Singh etc. this CD-ROM containing Dr. Ambedkar's writing & Speeches was made available for the scholars & Students". A bouquet of flowers was laid on Dr. Ambedkars Bust and as a token appreciation, Prof. Dirk accepted the bouquet for Columbia University( SA Ins.)

Mr. VK Choudary, Representing Dr. Ambedkar Literary Vision, Guru Ravidas Sabha, other organisations gave vote of thanks with his passionate poem reading.

Prominent people who attended around the world are Mr. Raju Kamble from Dubai, vice-president, Dalit International Organisation based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Ven. Rahul Bodhi from Bombay who is on a mission to gather support for his 5 Crore project, Dr. Shobha Singh, Dr. Berwa, Prof. Owen M. Lynch,Prof. Oldenberg, Mr. K.P.Singh Mr. C Gautam from UK, Siddharth Kain( Consulate General, India), Mr. Pyrelal, Mr. Pritipal Singh, Mr. Kardha, Mr. Sitaram, Dr. Satinath Choudhary, Mr. Rakesh Gupta, Mr. Balbir Chand, Mr. Ajay Thool, Mr. Utpal Bele, Mr. Pratik Fulzele, Mr. Vijay Sukhadeve, Mr. R.B. Gautam. Mr. P.N.Arya, Mr. Yogesh, Dr. Shakuntala Varhade and many more.

Refreshments were served and there was a lot of joy among the participants.

A Report from Dalit E-forum

Report published in Indians Abroad
Ambedkar's bust unveiled at Columbia library

July 02, 2000 20:54 Hrs (IST)

New York: Columbia University last week honored one of its most illustrious alumni, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar - known as the father of India's Constitution, which he wrote - when its Southern Asian Institute installed a bronze bust of him at the university's Lehman Library.

Prayers to Lord Buddha and speeches that recounted Ambedkar's contributions in different fields accompanied the installation, conducted by Prof. Nicholas Dirks, chairman of the Department of Anthropology, on June 25.

"Dr. Ambedkar was Columbia's most remarkable international alumnus. He achieved his greatness not because of any affirmative action, but against unspeakable odds and prejudices," Prof. E .Valentine Daniel, director of the Southern Asian Institute, said in a statement which was read out in his absence by Dirks.

Daniel said that Ambedkar showed the world that one did not have to be a Brahmin to be a scholar, an intellectual and a leader and he blasted a huge hole through the edifice of the caste system. "If we celebrate Dr. Ambedkar today, we do so in order to set him up as an ideal for young Dalits of today to follow," he said. "He showed you what was possible and it is for you to make his dream come true."

About 150 people turned up for the event, including people from Dubai, Britain, Malaysia, India as well from various cities of North America. Also present at the ceremony were C. Gautam, secretary of the Ambedkar and Buddhist Organization of the United Kingdom, who donated the bust; Yogesh Varhade, a coordinator of a Dalit forum from Pennsylvania who gave the university a copy of a CD on the life and works of Ambedkar and V.K. Choudhary of the New Jersey-based Vision.

Choudhary, who presented a vote of thanks, said in his remarks that for all Dalits, Columbia University is a place of worship.

"Dr. Ambedkar, who got his Ph.D from here, opened the gate of education that was closed for Dalits by upper-caste Hindus," he said. "The name of Columbia University is in the heart of every Dalit along with the that of Ambedkar." Choudhary also presented a copy of his anthology of poems titled Hindu Kiun (why Hindu) to the university.

Prof. Philip Oldenberg, assistant director of the Southern Asian Institute, told India in New York earlier that Ambedkar studied for a master's degree at Columbia in 1917 and 1918 and was awarded his Ph.D in 1927. "I am not sure he was the first Indian to be in Columbia, but certainly Ambedkar has been the most distinguished Indian to have studied in Columbia," he said.

Ambedkar's Ph.D thesis, which was later published as a book, was on the economy in British India, Oldenberg said. "I am not quite sure of the title of the dissertation, but that was broadly the subject," he said. "He also got an honorary doctorate from Columbia University in 1952." He said that the installation of the bust, sculpted by V.K. Wagh of Mumbai, would not have been possible, but for the help of the Dalit community in New York and New Jersey. "It was the combined efforts of the Ambedkarites (followers of Ambedkar) of the U.K. and New York," he said. The problem, he explained, was that although the bust had been donated a long time ago, the university had no funds for getting the pedestal and the plaque made before putting up the bust in the library.

He said the members of the community have worked hard to raise funds and to make this project a reality.

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