On 26 November, the Indian community gathered with great enthusiasm to celebrate India’s Constitution Day at the Ambedkar Hall, India House, High Commission of India, London. This programme was organised by the Indian High commission with help of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO UK). This day is very important in the history of India when the Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949. Although 26 November was declared officially as the Constitution Day by the Government of India in 2015 during the 125th birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, in actual fact this significant day had been celebrated well before 2015 by the followers of Dr Ambedkar because the Constitution has replaced age old laws based on oppressive customs and religious commands.
Programme commenced with the Buddhist prayer administered by Rev. Bhante Vijithavansa Thero, Head of Buddha Vihara West London.
Appreciating Dr Ambedkar’s extraordinary contribution to drafting and delivery of the India’s Constitution, Ms Santosh Dass MBE, President, FABO UK stressed the constitution has provided equality, liberty an equal opportunity to everyone irrespective of one’s religion, language, caste and gender. Dr Ambedkar struggled all of his adult life for the cause of marginalised people, workers and especially women. She further stated that people often ignore or dilute Dr Ambedkar’s contribution. But the debates in the constituent Assembly show that Dr Ambedkar single headedly framed the Constitution. She quoted T.T. Krishnamachari, one of the members of the Constituent Assembly “…the House is, perhaps, aware that of the seven members nominated by you, one had resigned from the House, and was not replaced. One died and was not replaced. One was away in America and his place was not filled up and another person was engaged in State Affairs and there was void to that extent. One or two people were far away from Delhi and, perhaps, for reasons of health did not attend. So it happened ultimately that the burden of drafting the Constitution fell on Ambedkar and I have no doubt that we are grateful to him for having achieved this task in a manner which is undoubtedly commendable.” Ms Dass reinforced that Babasheb’s Constitution “gave hope for a brighter future 70 years ago”. She added “A fully implemented, and the protections to promote equality of treatment and opportunity are not destroyed by a dangerous nationalist agenda that seeks to divide, we can have hope. If the one value of one man and one woman is to make a difference, we must challenge the serious concerns of the Electronic Voting System in elections. With a fully implemented Constitution we must have full legal protection and justice. And for democracy to work we must have a political system that works – one without scenes of horse-trading of MLAs in government formation”. She concluded by expressing her serious concerns on the erosion of liberty and freedom of speech. She said “many academics, human rights activists and others, who raise their voice against wrongs being done, must not be imprisoned or hounded with threats of imprisonment and labeled as anti national”.
Dr Prerna Tambay spoke on the Constitution and Women rights. She explained that the Constitution framed by Babasaheb Dr Ambedkar provides women equality, freedom of speech, right to education and human dignity. She also emphasised the issues of women education and safety. She said though the constitution provides gender equality, but there is more to be done. Raj Bangar, Kanshi TV told that the ground work for equality was already done by Lord Buddha, Saint Kabir, Guru Ravidass and Guru Nanak. Dr Ambedkar worked more on it and gave it a legal form by drafting the Constitution.
Councillor Toy Aditya, Mayor of Bristol-Bradley Stoke spoke on the progress India had made since the proclamation of the Constitution and gave credit to the Constitution.
Addressing the gathering, Abdul Basit Syed, International Ambassador for Peace demanded the government to print Dr Ambedkar’s picture on the Indian currency. Dr Ambedkar is the Father of the Indian Constitution and on the basis of his thesis, ‘The Problem of the Rupee – Its Origin and Its Solution’; the Reserved Bank of India was established.
Monika RP, a popular Punjabi singer from Punjab recited a melodious song on the contribution of Dr Ambedkar. Mohammed Rashid Khan, Counsellor (Coordination & Diaspora) read the Preamble of the Constitution.
Among other community leaders, Ramesh Klair, Azad TV, Mahendrasinh Jadeja, Pravinkant Amin, Bhanuprasad Pandya and Mahendra Singh Monty attended the function.
Siddhartha conducted the proceeding of the programme.
-Arun Kumar, Bedford