Thursday, December 07, 2006

50th anniversary of Dr. Ambedkars death - a million gather in Mumbai

Yesterday December 6th saw the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Ambedkar. Estimates vary, but up to 1.5 million people are reported to have gathered at his stupa in Mumbai. This is always a sad date for his followers, coming as it does a tragically short six weeks after his conversion. In Mumbai the anniversary passed off very peacefully despite considerable anxiety – in recent months Maharastra has been rocked by Dalit riots sparked off by inter-caste atrocities and especially the lack of response to them by the authorities. These are a testament to the struggles still facing his people, 50 years on. For an indian analysis of the situation, see the recent article in ‘The Hindu’ – ‘Why are Maharashtra’s Dalits so angry?’.

The 50th anniversary coincided with the publication of a new book commemorating Ambedkar, privately published by Ashvajit in Birmingham – ‘The legacy of Ambedkar – seen from the West’. Fittingly, it was printed by TBMSG members in India, and despite some delays (caused in part by the riots already mentioned) first copies have been reported arriving at FWBO centres around the world.

Meanwhile, the Dhammakranti project continues its country-wide three-month tour , aiming to reach out to as many people as humanly possible during the anniversary period. At present they are on the first-ever Dhamma tour of South India (Tamil Nadu and Kerala), they will end with a ‘Buddhist Youth Conference’ at Bor Dharan, our retreat near Nagpur.

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