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IGNOU Celebrates 128th Birth Anniversary of Dr Ambedkar

29 April, 2019
To commemorate the 128th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Chief Architect of Indian Constitution, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) planned series of events depicting the Baba Saheb's life and his role in Nation Building and upliftment of the all the marginalized people and women in particular. 
 
Dr. Raja Sekhar Vundru, Principal Secretary, Govt. of Haryana was invited as the Chief Guest for the inaugural programme. Dr Vundru who is an authority on Ambedkar’s life and thought delivered lecture on Dr Ambedkar’s path breaking Leadership.
 
Introducing Dr. Vundru and welcoming him, Dr. Parmod Kumar, School of Humanities, IGNOU said that Dr. Vundru has been the most diligent scholar who has studied the life and works of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar and it will be a real treat listening to him. 
 
Dr. Parmod Kumar also welcomed Prof. Nageshwar Rao, Vice-Chancellor IGNOU and shared his most enabling role in organizing the programme. He also shared that Prof Rao is the force behind all the organized activities. “As a person who carries the hopes and aspirations of more than 3 million students, Ambedkar’s ideas and vision is crucial for him”, Dr Kumar said. He also welcomed Prof. Ravindra Kanhere, Pro-VC and Registrar Ms. Vidya Sonal for gracing the occasion.
 
In his address, Dr. Raja Sekhar Vundru touched upon the political journey of Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar. Starting with his first major appeal to British Government for democratic representation of the Dalits, he underscored Dr Ambedkar’s role in fighting for a proportional representation which was around 9% in Maharashtra on the basis of Census report 1911. He made a strong pitch for their representation in order to get them the rights which any other citizen enjoys from upper-caste, observed Dr. Vundru. Thus began the making of a leader who was inspirational to everyone who were denied their rights for centuries by the caste-system in India at that time, he said.
 
Highlighting the other traits of leadership in Baba Saheb, Dr. Vundru narrated numerous incidents where the Leader of the Masses showed exemplary courage and visionary leadership. One such was when Dr. Ambedkar chose to fight for "Access to Civic Amenities" for the Dalits through Mahad Talaab Movement (Mahad Satyagraha) or Chavdar Lake as a symbolic act for access to water for the oppressed from the tank which was legal, Dr. Vundru said. 
 
Dr. Raja Shekhar Vundru also talked in detail about Baba Saheb's efforts to gain entry for the discriminated and oppressed in temples showing path-breaking leadership through non-violent and lawful means. Dr. Vundru talked about various kinds of Leadership and pointed out that Ambedkar possessed true transformational leadership which is most rare and enduring in the history of India. 
 
His stance of not budging against the pressure of the Indian National Congress and appearing before Simon Commission shows his other quality of a leader of standing up to the odds and keeping the single principle of equal rights for the oppressed as a focus, reiterated Dr. Vundru showing his path-breaking leadership. His act of standing against the tide and fighting for the cause of millions of people makes him as the most remarkable role model of Indian Youth. 
 
Prof. Nageshwar Rao, VC, IGNOU while remembering Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s legacy said that Dr. Vundru's lecture has been very insightful giving glimpses into various historical and leadership aspects of the life of Baba Saheb. He shared that he has also served Dr Ambedkar Chair for three years in the past.  He thanked him for sharing such a detailed view of his political life and his journey to a great leader. Prof. Rao said that still lot needs to be done to make our society based on equality for everyone. Narrating an incident which showed that our society still has these ills, he appealed for change in the mindset of the people and felt that with such lectures and other programmes IGNOU will fulfill its share of responsibility in eradicating all the social discrimination and achieve egalitarian social order.
 
Pro-VC Prof Kanhare in his speech said that education is a pre-requisite for bringing about social change. He underlined the need to do more grass-root work to bring about the expected social order.   
 
Ms Vidya Sonal offered a sincere vote of Thanks to the dignitaries and audience.
 
A Drawing/Painting competition for children so that they can engage with the contribution of Baba Saheb was also held. Essay Competition was organized for IGNOU staff along with screening of Film on Dr Ambedkar. Essay Competition for the staff of IGNOU had a large number of participants who came forward and expressed on the life and thought of Dr B R Ambedkar.
 
The Celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti also included a special lecture by Christopher Jeffrelot on 26th April’2019 as a part of 128th Ambedkar Birth Anniversary Celebration in the EMPC studios. In his lecture Professor Jaffrelot talked about the four different strategies that Ambedkar adopted in his struggle. Explaining Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar's vision and mission for social change, Prof. Jafferlot said " Dr. Ambedkar called the untouchables “sons of the soil” and the real inhabitants of India even before Aryans. Second, he experimented with electoral politics to gain representation for “his people”. Third he worked with those in power and tried to articulate the voice of India’s Dalit masses. And the last was for Dalit liberation through conversion to Buddhism. Ambedkar's three fold call for Educate, Organise, and Agitate continues to be a source of light and inspiration for Mass empowerment. The lecture was well received as teachers from various other universities like JNU, Jamia, Delhi University participated in the discussion after the lecture.