Washington, D.C.- On October 14, a momentous event took place in a Maryland suburb of the United States capital, where the tallest statue of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the principal architect of India's Constitution, was formally inaugurated. This monumental statue, aptly named the "Statue of Equality," was crafted by the renowned artist and sculptor Ram Sutar, acclaimed for his previous work on the Statue of Unity, a tribute to Sardar Patel, which stands tall on an island in the Narmada river in Gujarat.
This remarkable statue is part of the Ambedkar Memorial Project by the Ambedkar International Center (AIC), currently under construction on a sprawling 13-acre expanse in Accokeek city, Maryland. The AIC is a U.S.-based civil rights organization dedicated to the principles and philosophy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, with the vision of creating a more just and egalitarian society.
The inauguration ceremony was a significant occasion that gathered individuals from various walks of life to honour the legacy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, affectionately known as Babasaheb among his followers. The Statue of Equality stands as a symbol of Dr. Ambedkar's enduring influence and his unyielding commitment to social justice. The choice of name reflects a broader message, addressing the issue of inequality that exists not only in India but also in various forms around the world.
Speaking on the big moment , Ram Kumar, President AIC said, " I am sure that Dr. Ambedkar memorial at AIC headquarters will provide a common ground for the community to come together, celebrate, to educate, and engage in collective activities with pride and ownership of our heritage of agitation against injustice. We hope that the “Statue of Equality and Ambedkar Memorial” will be an inspiration to our generations and a beacon of hope for the unity, justice, equality, and civil rights of the underprivileged people. It will serve as a constant reminder of what we stand for and aspire to be. This will remind the community of its heritage and help pass down traditions and values to future generations.”
Sharing his opinion, Venkat Maroju, Council member, AIC said, “Babasaheb statue is the first major step of AIC towards building a world-class memorial building. AIC vision is to globalize the universal human values of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity that Babasaheb struggled for throughout his life in order to establish social justice for all sections of society and treat every human being with dignity and equality.”
Speaking to The Mooknayak, Rakesh Gupt, Board member, AIC said, " The largest statue of Dr. Ambedkar in America stands as a powerful symbol of equality symbolizing universal equality, transcending the Indian context. It represents a profound message of equality rooted in democratic values, mirrored by the symbol of the constitution copy of the world's largest democracy."
Activist Deelip Mhaske said, "the unveiling ceremony brought Ambedkarites from diverse backgrounds together to celebrate a shared legacy. We are reminded that Dr. Ambedkar's journey began at Columbia University in 1913, and he could never have fathomed that his relentless pursuit of justice would echo across the American landscape.
Yet, there is a bittersweet taste to this moment for Ambedkarites across the United States. The recent veto of the Caste Discrimination Bill by California Governor Gavin Newsom is a painful reminder of the hurdles we face. But let me make this unequivocally clear: Governor Newsom's actions will not deter us. Not now, not ever."
The installation of this colossal statue marks a significant milestone, as it is recognized as the largest statue of Babasaheb outside of India. The AIC expressed that this statue is an integral part of the Ambedkar Memorial being developed at the center. Around 1000 kg 12ft Statue is made of bronze metal (combination).
The Mooknayak spoke to Anil Sutar, son of sculptor Ram Sutar who crafted the design of the marvellous statue. " We are very much proud to be a part of the prestigious project and it gives us immense pleasure that we made the tallest statue of Baba Saheb outside India. It took four months to complete the statue" Sutar said. He further added that the tallest Ambedkar statue in India too had been designed and created by them which was unveiled in Hyderabad on April 14 this year by Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao on Baba Saheb's birth anniversary. Located adjacent to the State Secretariat on the scenic banks of the Hussain Sagar lake, the 125 ft-tall statue is an imposing structure.
Anil further said that one more massive statue of Baba Saheb is in making. The Statue of Equality, also known as the Dr B.R Ambedkar Memorial is a monument under-construction. The statue will be located at Indu Mills Compound in Mumbai. The statue will be 137.3-metre (450 ft) in total height, including a 30.5-metre (100 ft) pedestal. The Ambedkar statue will be the third largest statue in the world after the Statue of Unity (182 m) and the Spring Temple Buddha (153 m).
The AIC is working to establish a world-class center that will serve as a location for social change initiatives, learnings, cultural and economic developments, hold conferences, celebrations, and propagate Ambedkar’s philosophy throughout the United States and help to drive the Ambedkar mission worldwide.
AIC took the first step towards making the Dr. Ambedkar Memorial on a 13 acres of land bought by the organization in 2013 in Maryland USA, 20 miles away from the White House – the heart of Washington DC. This land is enriched with full of nature, streams, and forests, and is connected by a major Highway. This memorial will be serving to spread Babasaheb’s messages and teachings and showcase a symbol of equality and human rights. It will be a pride for all the followers worldwide, especially those living in North America. The project is expected to be completed by October 2025. According to the AIC, this memorial, housing the towering statue, serves as a platform for the dissemination of Babasaheb's messages and teachings while standing as a resounding symbol of equality and human rights.
Elements of Memorial Building- Dr. Ambedkar's Statue of Equality, Buddha Statue – Symbol of Peace and Humanity and Ashoka Pillar – Pride of Buddhist Era would be the main elements to beautify the landscape.
Buddha Garden – The Garden of Enlightenment shall blend and harmonize the landscape components with the Buddhist art and architecture in the form of sculptures, murals, reliefs, and statues. Significant Quotes from Dr. Ambedkar and Dhamma teachings of Buddhism, like the suttas, will be chiseled on rocks and placed strategically around the Landscaped spaces to add to the natural ambiance. This will be a perfect space for any outdoor activities as well.
The memorial part of the project will be inspiring, uplifting, and informing the visitors about Dr. Ambedkar’s multi-faceted personality as an intellectual, genius, a reformer, displaying his profound knowledge and vision, his contributions to many fields. The center will be carefully organize and innovatively display the exhibits to make them more understandable and interesting for all age groups of visitors. It will also provide an opportunity to showcase the contribution made by various social reformers, social revolutionaries, and social justice champions in India and the world. This 3000 sq feet facility will be able to hold an event for over 150 people. It will be equipped with a big-screen display and a sound system for presentations and movies. One side of wall is fully expandable for the extended audience.
Ram Vanji Sutar, born on February 19, 1925, is a renowned Indian sculptor celebrated for his exceptional contributions to the world of art. Notably, he is the mastermind behind the design of the Statue of Unity, an awe-inspiring marvel that stands as the world's tallest statue, soaring to a remarkable height of 182 meters, surpassing the Spring Temple Buddha by 54 meters.
Hailing from a Vishwakarma family in Gondur, Dhule district of Maharashtra, Sutar's artistic journey has been marked by numerous achievements. He has created several remarkable sculptures, including the 45-foot Chambal monument, a bust of Mahatma Gandhi replicated and exhibited internationally, and the iconic seated statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Parliament of India.
Furthermore, his artistry extends to the design of the 108-foot tall Kempe Gowda statue at the Bengaluru International Airport. Sutar's contributions to the field of sculpture have garnered him prestigious awards, including the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2016 from the Government of India. In recognition of his cultural contributions, he was honored with the Tagore Award for cultural harmony in 2016.
With over 90 monumental sculptures to his name in the last six decades, his work has left an indelible mark not only in India but also in countries such as the United States, France, Argentina, Italy, Russia, and Malaysia.