Thursday, April 15, 2010

[ZESTCaste] New PG program on Ambedkar's Philosophy at IGNOU

New PG program on Ambedkar's Philosophy at IGNOU

April 15, 2010

New Delhi: Prof. Gail Omvedt, Chairperson, Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar
Chair, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) announced a Post
Graduate programme on the Philosophy of Dr.Ambedkar from July 2010.

Speaking in a lecture on 'Ambedkar and Reconstructing the World', as
part of a function to celebrate the 119th Birth anniversary of Dr.
B.R. Ambedkar by IGNOU, Prof. Gail emphasized, "There is no question
pertaining to caste in Census 2011. Scholars are faced by a dearth of
data, as there is just no data available on questions like what kinds
of changes have taken place within the caste system. People who talk
about caste are branded as casteist, while the ground reality is that
even today, feudal and extreme forms of casteism like manual
scavenging remain."

She further added that what we all want is a city called 'Begumpura',
a city without caste and taxes, which was imagined by Sant Ravidas.

"Caste was seen as ordained by God. All major 'holy books' from Vedas
to Bhagvadgita, propagate this thought. Ambedkar challenged this
concept and it lead to his burning of the Manu Smriti in 1927. This
protest stuck the first blow to Hinduism," remarked Prof. Tulsi Ram, a
noted scholar of 'Dalit and Ambedkar thought' from Jawaharlal Nehru
University (JNU) and the other speaker at the function. His lecture
focused primarily on the role played by religion in general and
Hinduism in particular, in propagating the caste system.

Lord Buddha, according to Babasaheb, was the first person who
understood the relation between religion and caste system. Babasaheb
also saw Buddhism as a way to Dalit emancipation.

Prof. Ram remarked that according to Dr. Ambedkar, Social Movements
should always have the upper hand over political movements, otherwise,
only the ruler is overthrown but the society, by and large, remains
the same.

Prof. Ram also gave various instances of how Dr.Ambedkar used Buddhism
while writing the Constitution. For example, the concepts of
Panchsheel, Democracy, Human Rights and Majority have their roots in
Buddhist thought.

Presenting the inaugural address, IGNOU Vice Chancellor, Professor
V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai remarked, "Dr. Ambedkar stressed the position
of education as an agent of change. It is very important to propagate
the teachings of Dr. Ambedkar by all Universities in the country.
IGNOU constituted the Dr. Ambedkar Chair on Social Change and
Development, two years back for this purpose. The Chair has been
giving academic orientation to IGNOU's activities in social change and

The function was organized by IGNOU's 'Dr. Ambedkar Chair on Social
Change and Development' and 'IGNOU Scheduled Castes (SC)/Scheduled
Tribes (ST) Employee &Teachers' Welfare Association' to celebrate the
119th birth anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Professor Tulsi Ram, presented a lecture on 'Ambedkar and Social
Emancipation'. This was followed by a lecture on 'Ambedkar and
Reconstructing the World' by Prof. Gail Omvedt. Pro Vice Chancellor,
Prof. Parvin Sinclair and Prof. Vimal Thorat, Convenor of Dr. Ambedkar
Chair were also present.

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