On the momentous occasion of Sunday, June 25, a remarkable achievement unfolded as a street in New York City was officially dedicated to the revered visionary leader, Baba Saheb Ambedkar. The renowned 61st Street Broadway will henceforth bear the illustrious name of this world-famous Indian luminary, thanks to the unwavering efforts of the Shri Guru Ravidas Sabha and the Begumpur Cultural Society of New York.
In an exclusive conversation with The Mooknayak, Deelip Mhaske, an esteemed US-based activist, shed light on the arduous path traversed to accomplish this remarkable feat. "The procedural hurdles were formidable," he remarked. "As Senate approval was required, the process involved several years of patient waiting. However, our endeavors received crucial support from a local councilor of Asian descent, and subsequently, Senate Members and Congresswomen rallied behind the cause, pushing it through the Democratic Party. Eventually, our collective efforts yielded success."
When asked about the challenges faced during the arduous journey, Dilip candidly expressed, "Conveying the importance of this initiative to lawmakers and garnering their support proved to be a protracted and painstaking task. Political campaigns had to be organized consistently to highlight the significance of honoring Baba Saheb Ambedkar through this street dedication."
Dilip further highlighted the overwhelming response from the American populace, who embraced the endeavor with enthusiasm and extended their support wholeheartedly. A democratic voting process was conducted to gauge public sentiment, wherein the name change garnered smooth acceptance, largely due to the dedicated efforts of the Ravidas Community in the locality. Diligent efforts were made to inform and engage people, culminating in the joyous inauguration of the street's new name.
Baba Saheb Ambedkar's association with Columbia University holds immense historical significance, as the newly named street in New York City will lead directly to this esteemed institution. In 1927, Ambedkar accomplished a remarkable feat by earning his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia. Recognizing his profound contributions as "a great social reformer and a valiant upholder of human rights," Columbia University bestowed upon him an honorary doctorate in 1952. The university conducted a comprehensive survey to identify students over a span of 100 years who had made significant societal contributions, and with immense pride, B.R. Ambedkar was hailed as the finest among them.
In 1995, a bronze bust of Ambedkar was graciously donated to the Lehman Library by the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organizations of the United Kingdom, further immortalizing his remarkable legacy.
During his time at Columbia, Ambedkar had the privilege of studying under the esteemed John Dewey, whose teachings profoundly influenced his ideals of equality and social justice. Ambedkar fondly recalled that it was at Columbia where he experienced true social equality for the first time. In a 1930 interview with the New York Times, he candidly shared, "The best friends I have had in my life were some of my classmates at Columbia, and my great professors, including John Dewey, James Shotwell, Edwin Seligman, and James Harvey Robinson."
United States: In Chicago, there is a Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Statue in the Lincoln Park Zoo. In Washington, D.C., there is a Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar Memorial Plaza on Capitol Hill. And in Fremont, California, there is a Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar Civic Center.
Canada: In Toronto, there is a Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Square in the city's east end. And in Surrey, British Columbia, there is a Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Statue in the city's civic plaza.
Germany: In the city of Wuppertal, a street has been named "Ambedkarstrae" to honor Dr.. Ambedkar. This is significant as it represents recognition of his contributions beyond countries with large Indian populations.
Australia: A statue of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar can be found at Federation Square in Melbourne. There are also street names dedicated to him in areas with a significant Indian community, such as Sydney and Adelaide.
United Kingdom: There are also a few tributes to Baba Saheb in the United Kingdom. In London, there is a Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar Statue in Parliament Square. And in Leicester, there is a Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar Memorial Hall.
South Africa: In Johannesburg, there is a Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Statue in the city's Gandhi Square. And in Durban, there is a Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Statue in the city's Phoenix Settlement.
Vietnam: The Vietnam Buddhist Research Institute unveiled a 3-meter-tall statue of Baba Saheb at the Hanoi Buddhist Institute. The institute plans to unveil nine more statues of Baba Saheb at universities across Vietnam. The statues are being funded by the Vietnamese government and the Buddhist community.The institute also plans to distribute smaller statues of Baba Saheb to Buddhist monasteries and universities throughout the country.