I attended Ambedkar Jayanti programme today in the presence of Hon’ble Governor Shri Ganga Prasad Ji at Chintan Bhawan Gangtok.
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In my address, I highlighted the following: –
The contribution and relevance of Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar in the social and political space of India is immense. This day should not just be a day to celebrate his birth anniversary, but a day to introspect and deliberate on the life and work of the great leader. In a country where the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution himself came from the Scheduled Caste community, it is an irony that we are still fighting against social discrimination and inequality. This is the biggest hurdle to development in a democracy.
So, the questions that arise are: – What is the solution to this syndrome? How can we free our society from this impediment to democratic principles? Being a humanitarian and a strong advocate of inclusive politics, I have often thrown such discussions in the public domain.
Going back to history, caste system or the ‘Four Varnas’ originated during the Rig Vedic Age. It was just social discrimination then, but unfortunately today it has spread its tentacles to the political arena also. It is sad that our society is still struggling to find the solutions to the ill effects of caste system. I feel it will continue till our politics is power -oriented, instead of being public- oriented.
The issues related to the poor and the marginalised take a back seat during elections. Instead most political parties play upon people’s sentiments based on caste, creed or religion. Even in our State, this elections saw caste-based politics being played by political parties. Vote bank politics has become a trend. Till such malpractices continue, we cannot succeed in eradicating social discrimination. This is the biggest challenge before our country.
Not a single political party has assured basic minimum needs of the people as their future programme. None of them have included it as a part of their election manifesto. These are real issues that should form the future programmes of political parties.
The Constitution has given us equal rights and security. We must believe in the Constitution and in ourselves. The Scheduled Caste community should believe in themselves, and not limit themselves within the reservation structure only, but be confident to move ahead together with other castes in the society. Every Scheduled Caste should embrace the philosophy and follow the ideologies of Dr Ambedkar in letter and spirit. The real tribute to Baba Saheb would be to live like him in thought, behaviour and action.
I explained that the provision to create Scheduled Caste was to remove the discrimination from society. Dr. Ambedkar, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, had given a time frame of 30 years to bring the community into the mainstream of the society and at par with other castes. But sadly, that period has extended till date, and we are still staring at ancient practices like untouchability in the modern day. It is seen that untouchability is practised in every community, even among various sub castes of the Scheduled Castes. Scheduled Castes should be united so that other communities take inspiration from them and move towards eradicating untouchability and social inequality. We cannot only attribute caste system to something that is imposed upon by the supposedly higher castes in the societal structure. We should take the responsibility to fight against caste system at every level in society.
I stated that social justice is the ideology of our politics. Therefore, we have been the forerunners in ensuring social justice and equal opportunity and security for all sections of the people. Inclusive development is our goal and we have achieved in ensuring it to a great extent. In fact, we can be taken as a role model in this sector and our initiatives in ensuring social justice in the last 25 years should be a wonderful topic to study for research scholars. The study could show the path to the rest of the country and help in eradicating social inequality and untouchability from the country and divert our collective efforts towards developmental work. Such a study would be a huge contribution of Sikkim to the Nation.
I urged the audience to graduate from traditional thinking to organic thinking and culture. We must move towards knowledge based, digital world and make Sikkim a model state. Students belonging to the Scheduled Caste community should come out of the confines of the caste-based structure, and become progressive, competitive and forward thinking. We must give due recognition to our caste and the privileges and provisions that come along, but at the same time we should not be stuck to or be obsessed with traditional thinking.
I suggested the youth of Scheduled Caste community to establish a Dalit Sahitya Library to know and understand the vast literature available on Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
I congratulated former Minister Smt Neeru Sewa for being felicitated on the occasion for her contribution as a politician and social worker. Commending her work, I said that she has a long way to go in the social and political space of Sikkim. Good people like her should come into politics, as there is no alternative to a good human being. I urged the audience to choose a leader who is ideologically strong and is a good human being.
Similarly, I extended my heartiest congratulations to Shri Nilesh Lamichaney, a young budding cricket star from Sikkim. I wished him the best in his future endeavours and wished that he gets a berth in the National cricket team very soon.
In conclusion, I said that the peace, communal harmony and good will is our identity. We must preserve them for posterity as it would mean keeping Sikkim safe forever.