Other States

Ambedkar family not satisfied with memorial design

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi unveiling a plaque to mark the laying of foundation stone of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial, at Indu Mills Compound, Mumbai on Sunday.Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari are also seen.  

A grand memorial for Dr. B.R Ambedkar at the 12.5 acre site of the now defunct Indu Mill here has been a long-standing demand of Ambedkarites and Dalit groups in Maharashtra.

However, prominent Ambedkarities, in particular the Dalit icon’s descendants, are not satisfied with the way the memorial has shaped up. While some had concerns over the practical details of the design, others thought the memorial was not befitting the stature of Dr. Ambedkar.

“It’s a national waste,” Prakash Ambedkar, Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson and former MP, told The Hindu. Though Mr. Prakash Ambedkar accepted the State government’s invitation to be present at the foundation laying ceremony of the memorial, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said he had made it clear to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that his attendance should not be considered as an approval.

Mr. Ambedkar said the whole idea behind allotting the land, which was done under the Vajpayee regime, for a memorial was to have a “think tank institution” in place named after Babasaheb. “The idea was to construct an intellectual centre of international standards, where scholars across the globe come for intellectual activity. Babasaheb was an intellectual giant who contributed to many fields and in many ways. A mere garden is a waste,” he said.

His brother Anandraj Ambedkar said he was “unsatisfied” with the design aspects of the monument. In 2011, Mr. Anandraj Ambedkar led a seize upon the Indu Mills and took over it for 24 days while agitating for the memorial. He threatened to lead another agitation if the Ambedkarities’ suggestions to the design were not incorporated by the Fadnavis government.

The Ambedkars spoke to Mr. Fadnavis, who assured them that their concerns would be considered.

“The memorial is built from public money, so how can they finalize the design, based on one man’s idea, without any consultation or suggestions from those interested in Babasaheb? The design is nothing special, there is nothing international about it,” Mr. Ananadraj Ambedkar said. He also expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of enclosures at the site, saying it would be a deterrent for people during rainy seasons.

The memorial, which will consist of a 150-feet tall statue of Dr Ambedkar and costing over Rs. 425 crore, has been designed by well-known architect Shashi Prabhu.

Mr. Anandraj Ambedkar said he had also sometime back suggested a design to the State government, which was not considered. His design consisted of a 360-feet tall statue of Dr. Ambedkar, titled the “Statue of Equality,” to represent the Dalit icon’s struggle for human emancipation and human rights.

To mark the laying of the foundation stone for the memorial, Mr. Modi unveiled a plaque at Indu Mill. Mr. Modi also inspected the replica of the grand memorial, which includes a 140-feet tall stupa, a vipassana (meditation) hall, a library spread over 50,000 sq feet, an auditorium and galleries depicting the various struggles of Dr. Ambedkar’s life.

Earlier in the day, he visited paid homage to the Dalit icon at Chaityabhoomi, where Dr. Ambedkar’s ashes are interred. Each year on December 6, Dr. Ambedkar’s death anniversary, the Mahaparnirvan Diwas, thousands of Ambedkarites travel to Mumbai and pay homage at the site.

Raja Dhale, one of the original members of Dalit Panthers, said the government lacked vision and had earmarked a “small corner” (of land) “just to keep Dalits happy.” “To do justice to Dr. Ambedkar, we need to consider the aim of the design.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 4:28:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ambedkar-family-not-satisfied-with-memorial-design/article7750340.ece

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