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The Federation has been set up to propagate Ambedkar’s thought and Buddhist ideas throughout the world. The Federation in fact represents the amalgamation of the many groups which came into being in various towns and cities in the UK. It thus forms a unified front for our activities and concerns at a national level. Strength can only come through unity and organisation. Part of the motivation for this organisation in Britain was the awareness on the part of its founders that those Indians now living abroad have a moral obligation to maintain active connections with their homeland. We realised that, as people who can now enjoy a relatively comfortable and secure lifestyle, we must not merely allow ourselves to fall asleep and ignore our responsibilities and duties.
To be true to our roots and the way of life extolled by Buddha and Babasaheb Arnbedkar, we resolved to work to the best of our abilities for the betterment of our people and the nation of India. The importance of Ambedkar’s life and mission has not diminished and the India of today is still badly in need of paying heed to his ideas and putting them into practice. The attention of the world has to be brought to the continuing plight of oppressed Dalits in India and the campaign for their human rights conducted with all our power.
At the approach of Ambedkar Centenary Year, the Federation brought the Ambedkar Centenary Celebration Committee into being and launched it at the House of Commons in April. 1989. Due to some dedicated Ambedkarites, the Centenary Celebration became a success which lasted altogether for four years. Prior to the Centenary Year. Dr Ambedkar’s life and mission were not widely known in the UK. The activities undertaken by the Centenary Committee ensured that the attention of the public, media and prominent figures in political life was drawn to Babasaheb’s vital contribution to modern India and the significance of his movement in the modern world.
These events comprised exhibitions, seminars, lectures and cultural programmes. Several interviews and talks were given on TV and radio. Two grand functions took place at the House of Commons and the Royal Commonwealth Society, with many VIP guests; a prestigious function also occurred at Gray’s Inn (where Babasaheb was called to the Bar). The Committee published four souvenirs in magazine format which have been acclaimed internationally by scholars for their contribution to a deeper understanding of Dr Ambedkar’s work. The Federation was also asked to present a paper on Ambedkar’s movement at a UNESCO conference in Paris.
A commemorative plaque was installed at the house where Dr Ambedkar lived (7′t
during his time of study in London in 1921-1922. A bronze bust of Babasaheb was also installed at the Indian High Commission in London. A life-size statue in a public park will be installed in the near future and a bronze bust was installed at the London School of Economics on 14 April 1994.
The annual event of the commemoration of April 14 (the date of Babasaheb’s birth) continues to be celebrated by the Federation at a location in central London and a garlanding ceremony at the portrait and bust statue of Dr Ambedkar in India House. This is the seventsyear that the Federation has marked the date in a fitting manner.
On April 18 this year, a statue of Dr Ambedkar was unveiled under the auspices of the Federation at Valod, District Surat in Gujarat State. This is a very remote area of India, with a large population of Adivasis, India’s aboriginal tribal inhabitants. The statue was unveiled by the Vice President, Mr K.R. Narayanan before an gathering of over 10,000 people.
The presentation of a bust to Columbia University, New York, on October 24, 1995 means that the world renowned educational institutes on both sides of the Atlantic which contributed to-wards the nurture and growth of Dr Ambedkar’s prodigious intellectual skills and scholarly acumen, now have memorials to one of the greatest figures of modern India.
Jai Shim.