North America— Outside India, the North American continent, which is also one of the wealthiest regions in the world, is gearing up for a grand celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti. Some of the government bodies and states which have recognized Ambedkar Jayanti are:
British Columbia took the lead in the continent of North America and also perhaps the world in becoming the first state to declare April as Dalit History Month in 2022.
Earlier, the city of Burnaby declared April as the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality and is celebrated every year with that spirit.
As a part of the celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti, a symposium has been organized in Vancouver, Canada, which will be called Dr. Ambedkar International Symposium for Emancipation and will see the participation of speakers from around the globe.
In the United States of America, off late, several developments related to caste have taken place. For example, this year, in February, Seattle became the first state in the country to ban caste discrimination despite opposition. While California shall become another state to ban caste-based discrimination if the bill SB403 passes through the senate.
As far as the celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti is concerned, many states have accorded a special status to the month of April, such as:
Washington: April 2023 has been declared as Dalit History Month in the state of Washington. "April is a significant month for Dalit communities as this special month includes the birth of important Dalit leaders and social reformers such as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Jyotirao Phule," the proclamation by Jay Inslee, Governor of the state of Washington, read.
Michigan: The state of Michigan joined Washington in the celebration as the governor Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed the entire week from the 9th to 15th April as Social Equity Week. The week also covers the birth anniversary of Jyotirao Phule. Acknowledging the contribution of Ambedkar and Phule, the proclamation read, "the life-work carried out by Mahatma Jyotirao Phule and Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar has elevated the lives of millions of marginalized people and women across all classes of society to live their lives with social, political, economic and religious equity and an opportunity to lie with dignity and honor in modern India." The senator from Michigan, Dayna Polenhanki, called Dr. Ambedkar the 'Martin Luther King of India.'
The events last year had seen Ambedkarites from Ohio, Indiana, and Chicago (Illinois) gathering at Michigan to celebrate the Jayanti. This year also, there are lots of cultural events planned, with Bhim geets and cultural performances.
New Hampshire: the northeastern state of the country, became the latest state to join the Ambedkar Jayanti celebration as it declared April 14 as ‘Dr. B R Ambedkar Equality Day'. The proclamation signed by the governor recognized Ambedkar as the "first Minister of Law and Justice of Independent India," and noted that "Dr. Ambedkar contributed multi-dimensionally as a lawyer, journalist, educationalist, economist, lawmaker, and statesman to endorse equality, justice, dignity, and fraternity in society." Earlier in 2022, New Jersey celebrated Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti as Equality Day, whereas the State of Colorado celebrated the same day as DR B.R. Ambedkar Equity Day and recognized Ambedkar as "the Chief Architect of the Indian Constitution."
The United States of America is slated for a grand celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti this month. There are also a variety of events planned across the United States, and the United Nations Headquarters has also joined the commemoration of Babasaheb Ambedkar for the last few years.
The Permanent Mission of India is organizing the event along with Ambedkar International Mission USA, The World Bank, World Health Organization, International Telecommunication Union, and The United Nations. The event will comprise the following events:
Discussion: As a part of the commemorative event, a discussion will be held on the topic of "Overcoming Barriers and Unleashing Opportunities through artificial intelligence for Social Justice" - "AI for Social Justice" at the UN headquarters.
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's Jayanti Procession: It will move from Madison Avenue and 42nd St to the United Nations Headquarters.
Seattle: The city council of Seattle, which had banned caste discrimination, will have a wide range of celebrations. The major event planned is on 29th April, a seminar in Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle, which will be attended by speakers from all over the world and includes journalists like Dilip Mandal and Ashok Das (Dalit Dastak).
Post Jayanti celebrations will also be held by AANA (Ambedkarite Association of North America) in the states of Arizona and Florida.
The UK has a sizable Indian population, and over the last few decades, people from marginalized communities have also joined NRIs from the upper castes. Notably, Ambedkar spent a large part of his life in the United Kingdom. This year also, there are a series of events planned. Sushant Singh, President, Students Union (Welfare & Campaigns), SOAS (School of Oriental and Asian Studies), University of London, shared a list of the events with The Mooknayak:
11th April: Phule Jayanti to be organized by SOAS Student Union (Welfare and campaigns)
12th April: A discussion will be organized on the topic "Which way emancipation for India's oppressed." It will be a Zoom call organized by SOAS Ambedkar Society in collaboration with United Dalit Students Forum of JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University).
13th April: FABO (Federation of Ambedkar and Buddhist Organization), an organization working in the UK for the past 55 years, will be celebrating Ambedkar Jayanti at Ambedkar Center, South Hall, London.
14th April: A floral ceremony will be held at Ambedkar Museum in the morning, and in the evening, the High Commission of India will celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti.
30th April: SOAS will cap the Dalit History Month with 2nd Ambedkar Memorial Lecture.
Germany will also celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti as part of the Dalit Month, and an event has been planned at the University of Bonn on 15th April. The event will include various cultural activities, guest speakers, group discussions, and a photo exhibition. Speakers from the neighboring countries of France and the Netherlands will also join the event.
Although Australia has not recognized Ambedkar Jayanti, the country is celebrating April 14th as "Universal Equality Day," and has many events planned to mark the occasion. Australia will witness a bigger celebration this year as compared to the previous year, and the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane will mark the event with fanfare. Organisations such as PATCA (Periyar Ambedkar Thought Circle America) and Ambedkar International Mission are organizing the event. In Adelaide, a grand celebration is being organized by the Ambedkar International Mission. The Dalit history month will also feature screenings of various films, such as CHANDRUDU by John Sreedar. A panel discussion is planned at Brompton, South Australia, on Saturday, 8th April, with the topic being "Resilience and Self-belief for success in Adversity." The speakers of the program include Prof Kaushal Panwar from Ignou and Professor Vivek Kumar, JNU.
To make the occasion more interactive, a zoomathon has been planned, which is essentially a series of Zoom calls all over the world. Vikrant Kishore, an academician who is part of the organizing committee, said, "On the occasion of 'Universal Equality Day', we want to learn who in your country is your inspiration; who is your person who promoted equality, whether by action, words, art, poetry, song, opportunity, or whatever. We want your hero and all the heroes of equality to be known throughout the world, and their lives celebrated on this Universal Equality Day observation." He said that "We want to collect the names and stories of the heroes of all countries who espoused equality in whatever way. The call will last for 24-48 hours, and individual countries will join the call at their local time."
Clearly, the Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations are no longer subdued and have extended in time and space. The credit for this goes to the Ambedkarite groups in India and abroad. Very soon, we can witness the Ambedkarite ideology resonate across the globe.
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