LAHORE: Punjab University Centre for South Asian Studies in collaboration with Ambedkar Society for South Asia organized an international conference on ‘Unfinished Legacy of Dr Ambedkar & Plight of Oppressed in South Asia’ at Al Raazi Hall on Thursday.
On this occasion former Foreign Secretary Mr Shamshad Ahmad Khan, foreign affairs expert from Pakistan Syed Muhammad Mehdi, Director CSAS Prof Dr Umbreen Javaid, Director Ambedkar Society for South Asia Syed Shaheen Hassan while Dr Seema Mathur, Dr Sujatha Surepally, Dr Pradeep Aglave, Bezwada Wilson from India, faculty members, students and members from civil society were present.
In his address, Mr Shamshad highlighted multiple significant issues including ethnic and caste discrimination, human rights, democracy and fascist trends in south Asia. He traced the contribution of different theologies, cultures and states behind the development of United Nations Human Rights Charter. He highlighted the discrimination based on caste, culture and ethnicity in South Asia and appreciated the role of Ambedkar society for South Asia to eliminate this discrimination from society.
Foreign affairs expert Muhammad Mehdi said that democracy is the key to solving all problems. Pakistan is fortunate that at this time there is a truly representative government of the people, which has a clear idea for the establishment of peace in the region. Dr. Ambedkar and the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, were good friends and equally wanted to free the sub-continent from neo-demographic prejudices and hatred.
If both of them were alive today, they would have been very sad to see their ideals of peaceful relations between neighboring countries in India and Pakistan being trampled by violent fundamentalists. Like Quaid-e-Azam, Dr.Ambeedker had peaceful and realistic views. According to him, there was no reason why Pakistan and India should not live in peace with each other. But the misfortune of these two long-suffering leaders is that today the poison of religious hatred has been dissolved in India-Pakistan relations.
In the light of the torch that was lit by Raja Rammohan Roy for human freedom in India, we see the struggle of Dadabhai Nauruji. It is interesting that when Dadabhai got the status of Member of Parliament in 1892, Ambedkar was one year old. Maharaja Broda gave a scholarship to Columbia University. He was a 1st Achhoot who got this oppurtunity, He returned home in 1917 but had to change his name to get a place to live and when the Parsis found out that he was untouchable while staying at the Parsi Inn Hotel. The Lath-bearer Parsi gang kicked him out of the hotel by declaring him untouchable and no one helped him. This incident made it clear to Ambedkar that getting an education cannot eliminate his caste and the superstitions associated with it. That is why Ambedkar called India a bastion of injustice. He likened the Hindu society to a minaret which has floors but no way or stairs to enter. Every person dies at the place where he was born.Extremism has become the biggest problem of today’s Pakistan and India. With whom Ambid was competing. There is a problem of armed extremism in Pakistan. Some people have become armed and they want to impose their thinking by the force of the barrel of a gun, but this is a small section of the society. In India, where the constitution created by Ambedkar exists, the situation at the public level is worse than in Pakistan. It is a recent incident that more than a hundred people died in riots in Delhi, the capital of India.And this is not just a tragedy of one city in India, it is a matter of places. In Pakistan, such bad luck was seen in Karachi where people died in riots, but this is not the story everywhere. The recent treatment of madrassas in India, especially in UP, is an argument that more Ambedkar followers are needed, otherwise, in the words of Dr. Ambedkar, if India will be ruled by extreme Hindus then it will be equivalent to the creation of another imperialism.
In his address, Syed Shaheen warmly greeted all the guest speakers from India and the participants. He also appreciated Dr Umbreen Javaid for her efforts and continuous and encouraging support to organize an international conference on such an important topic. In her address, Dr Umbreen formally welcomed and thanked all the guests from India who had come to attend the international conference to share their views. She said that CSAS has been holding this international conference every year and it has become a regular feature. She briefly also shed light on the life of Dr Ambedkar.