To mark the legacy of Dr Ambedkar, who gave voice to the millions of downtrodden in India, his brass bust will be unveiled on 5 May 2018 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, fondly called “Babasaheb”, championed the cause of social equality and justice and was also the key architect of India’s Constitution. The two-feet bust of Dr Ambedkar, has been sponsored by the Boston Study Group (BSG), a Boston-based organization that supports the building of a just and equitable society. In fact, this is the second time that the BSG had sponsored an Ambedkar sculpture. The other bust was unveiled at Brandeis University, Massachusetts, last year.
Weighing about 18 kilograms, Ambedkar’s bust was sculpted in Nagpur and shipped to the United States. The unveiling ceremony will take place at 5.30pm at the Students Union Ballroom in the presence of chief guest and the chancellor of the university Dr Kumble R. Subbaswamy, academics Sangeeta Kamat and Amilcar Shabazz, and members of the Ambedkarite community from across North America and Asia.
The unveiling of the bust on Saturday will be followed by a dinner sponsored by BSG and Utsav – a cultural evening – in celebration of Ambedkar’s 127th birth anniversary. As part of the event, several individuals will be felicitated for following in Ambedkar’s footsteps and contributing to the cause of removing social inequality. Professors Sangeeta Kamat and Amilcar Shabazz of University of Massachusetts Amherst; Gary Tartakov of Iowa State University; Vinaya Khobragade of the Global Empowerment Network (GEN); and Rajkumar Kamble of the Ambedkar International Mission (AIM) will be among them.
This event coincides with a three-day international conference on “Caste and Race: Reconfiguring Solidarities: Unfinished Legacy of Dr B.R. Ambedkar” organized by BSG in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It will be held from 4 May to 6 May at the Integrated Learning Centre auditorium.
The conference will feature several plenaries and discussions. BSG has put together two panels: “Activism in the Diaspora”, and “Dalit Cultures of Resistance”. Research papers by Bahujan scholars from India have been selected for presentation at the conference. There is a rich line-up of speakers, including Isabel Wilkerson, Gopal Guru, Meena Dhanda, Sujatha Gidla, Sushrut Jadhav, Anand Teltumbde, Michaeline A. Crichlow and Keisha-Kahn Perry.
The conference will revolve around the comparative framework of race in the US and caste in India while underpinning the complexity of navigating between the two. This conference seeks to nurture possibilities for active solidarities among the distinct legacies of anti-caste and racial struggles that have eventually furthered the ideas of justice, equality and liberation.
BSG’s membership is comprised of individuals, families, students, scholars, academics and workers who share a vision of liberty, fraternity and equality. The group is particularly interested in creating support structures for and working with students from historically marginalized backgrounds. Much of the inspiration of BSG comes from the legends in history who worked for the constant elevation of the society’s weaker sections – from Gautam Buddha to Sant Ravidas to Savitribai Phule and Jotiba Phule to Periyar E. Ramasamy and Ambedkar. BSG has heeded Dr Ambedkar’s call for annihilation of caste and works in solidarity with various groups in the USA towards that end.
Compiled and edited by Rajiv Theodore
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