14th April 2008 was the 117th Birth Anniversary of Bhimrao Dr. B.R.Ambedkar. The day is celebrated as ‘Muktiparva’ (festival of liberation) by Dalits all over the country and elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of Dalits spontaneously assemble at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur and elsewhere to pay their tributes to Dr. Ambedkar, who championed the cause of Dalits and the marginalized. As the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Indian Constitution, entrusted with the task of drafting the Constitution of free India, he ensured that the constitution guarantees equality to each citizen of India and abolished untouchability. This made social equality a fundamental right, which was denied to Dalits since centuries.
Dalits understand the importance of the Constitution and each year on this day, they have been converging in huge numbers at the Parliament since the last over half a century. However, the event goes by and large un-noticed and un-reported by the National media, both government owned and privately run. This includes newspapers and the electronic media. While there are huge full page advertisements regarding the programme issued by the government in National dailies, the reporting if at all there is; regarding the event, are a measly couple of lines. These reports mainly talk about the commemoration paid to Dr. Ambedkar by the Prime Minister and other VIPs. There is an absolute blackout of the peoples’ event that goes on concurrently at the Parliament House and its vicinity.
The convergence of the huge mass of humanity is spontaneous. Hundreds of thousands of Dalits reach the Parliament, by their own efforts. No one tells them to come nor sponsors their travel etc. to reach the venue. This kind of spontaneous expression of solidarity, reverence and oneness is not witnessed for any other mass leader in India. Parliament Street in New Delhi resembles a ‘mela’ venue on the 14th of April each year. It is also an occasion for Dalits, activists, writers and others to meet, express solidarity, have cultural programmes, buy Dalit memorabilia and literature.
The National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR) presents the first ever video report on the event, giving glimpses of the event. This is what the media should have presented before you, but the ‘free’ Indian media remains shackled by corporate interests and sees no ‘news value’ of an event of celebration of liberation of the oppressed.
In the evening, NACDOR organized ‘1000 Lights of Dignity’ at the National Memorial of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, at 26 Alipur Road, Civil Lines, Delhi. Dr. Ambedkar breathed his last here and after a long struggle by Dalit groups, the Government established the memorial at this venue, after acquiring the same from a prominent corporate house paying a hefty compensation in cash and real estate.
The video report on both the events can be seen at: