Dr Ambedkar memorial Lecture, 2017: Contemporary Relevance of Ambedkar's Thoughts on States and Minorities' by Prof Sukhdeo Thorat


Date: Feb. 17, 2017

Venue: TISS Convention Centre, New campus, Mumbai

“Rights for minorities should be absolute rights. They should not be subject to any consideration as to what another party may like to do to minorities within its jurisdiction” (Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, 1947)

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, fondly remembered as Babasaheb, was a philosopher and a social revolutionary with an uncompromising commitment to protecting the human rights of millions of Indians. He has left an indelible mark on Indian polity, society and economy with his countless scholarly works, pragmatic policies and strategies, and of all, an ever lasting statesmanship. When higher education was impossible even for the most affluent class in India, Ambedkar managed to reach New York, USA in 1913 and secured M.A. in Political Science with economics as major subject and also a Ph.D. in the discipline of economics from the Columbia University, the University of world repute. He secured yet another Masters and a doctorate degree from the London School of Economics (LSE) in the discipline of economics, and simultaneously also a law degree from The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, London. Although Ambedkar emerged an indispensable choice for drafting the Indian Constitution, his voluminous scholarship on diverse fields is hardly known, even among the academicians. Therefore, bringing his scholarship to the center stage of academic debate would certainly help finding solutions to numerous problems the country is currently confronted with.

AML in TISS, Mumbai:

As an institution of excellence in higher education, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has been responding to the ever changing Indian social realities and the consequential challenges through its teaching, research, training and field action activities. Talking about Dr. Ambedkar and his contribution to the society at large had been a part of the Ambedkar birth anniversary celebration of the TISS SC/ST Employees Welfare Association since many years. However, with the change in TISS leadership and the Association's continuous persuasion, discussion on Ambedkar took a formal shape over the years. With the active involvement of students of TISS, Ambedkar Memorial Lecture (AML) became one of the major TISS annual activities in subsequent years. The aim of AML is to honour Dr. Ambedkar's intellectual contribution to the academic world and to create an opportunity for academicians, students, activists and leaders of diverse socio-political background to familiarize themselves with the scholarship of Ambedkar and their relevance today. The first ever AML was on “Liberty, Equality, Community: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar's Vision of a New Social Order”, delivered by Prof. Gail Omvedt on July 25, 2003. Subsequently, TISS also made some of the Ambedkar's scholarly essays such as “Annihilation of caste” a compulsory reading for all the students admitted to its Master level programmes. The last year (2016) AML was delivered by the TISS Prof. Avatthi Ramaiah, and the theme was “Celebrating Dr. Ambedkar and His Vision for Nation Building”.

The AML 2017:

Dr. Ambedkar had been an ardent supporter and defender of rights of minorities. His essay on “States and Minorities” is indeed a memorandum that he prepared on behalf of the All-India Scheduled Castes Federation in the year 1946 and submitted to Constituent Assembly. It is a detailed account of the kind of safeguards required for the minorities in general and the Scheduled Castes in particular with relevant justification and statistics. The memorandum not only prescribes the rights and privileges of the Scheduled Castes but also lays down the remedies in the event of encroachment upon them. He asserted that the judicial power of the state shall be vested in the Supreme Court of India. He also asserted that no religion is to be treated as state religion, and all citizens should have the rights to reside in any part of India. He rejected the argument that all those communities that are numerically minority should be given minority status. Instead, he argued for minority status only to those communities that face more disadvantages irrespective of their numerical strength. He therefore demanded minority status to the Scheduled Castes as well. It is therefore hoped that a critical reflection on Ambedkar's essay on States and Minorities would indeed help us understand the importance and relevance of his writings to various communities and categories of population residing in India, including women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribe, OBCs and religious minorities. Therefore, the 2017 (13th) AML theme is:

Contemporary Relevance of Ambedkar's Thoughts on States and Minorities

Currently the Chairman of the ICSSR, the former Chairman of UGC

Book Release: As part of the AML, the book “Contemporary Relevance of Ambedkar's Thoughts” which is the compilation of all AML delivered so far, will be released by Prof. Thorat in the presence of Prof. S. Parasuraman, Director, TISS.

Date of AML: February 17, 2017 at 5.30 pm

Venue of AML: TISS Convention Centre, New campus, Mumbai.

Online registration is necessary for participation to all who are currently not affiliated to TISS: Follow the link below: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfBYfY4uP-J1aCuUAfG9FuH5jEAcR2dc01FfyuhxIJsGI5NUw/viewform?c=0&w=1

The other activities include:

  1. Cultural Programme on February 16th at 6:00pm at the Quadrangle
  2. Panel Discussion on the Book “Contemporary Relevance of Ambedkar's Thoughts” on February 20th at 4 pm in the Library Conference Hall. The panelists are Prof. Murzban Jal (Director, Indian Institute of Education, Pune), Prof. Meena Gopal (TISS), and Prof. Ramesh Kamble (University of Mumbai) and to be moderated by Dr Suryakant Waghmore, IIT, Mumbai.

AML Students Organizing Committee 2017

Ms. Priyanka, Cell No: +918433549829; priyajmsw@gmail.com

Mr. Sanket, Cell No: 07777948496; sanketcug@gmail.com