The 68th Mahaparinirvan Diwas of Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was commemorated by Dr. Ambedkar Chair (sponsored by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India) at the KISS Deemed to be University on 6th December 2023. The commemoration of the 68th Mahaparinirvan Diwas was initiated with the garlanding of the Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar statue at KISS Campus – 1 by the Registrar, Faculties and Core Committee Members.

Two distinguished speakers – Professor David Blundell (University of California, Los Angeles) and Ms. Nandini Oza (Former President of the Oral History Association of India) – delivered lectures at an international online seminar organised by Dr. Ambedkar Chair. Prof. Harish Chandra Sahoo, Bhima Bhoi Chair Professor, KISS-DU, chaired the session, which was attended by the Pro-Chancellor, Registrar, Chair Professors, Faculties, Research Scholars and Post Graduate students.

Prof. David Blundell presented “Contributions of Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar to Our Human Existence”. He focused on three key aspects: Dr. Ambedkar’s early academic contributions to anthropology and the understanding of caste; Dr. Ambedkar’s proactive application of social sciences, law, and economics to uplift downtrodden people, fostering awareness and consciousness of their humanity; and the application of Dr. Ambedkar’s beliefs in religious systems, notably Buddhism, for fostering social transformation.

Ms. Nandini Oza presented “Development, Religion and the Case of the Sardar Sarovar Project”. She explored the complex interplay between development, religion, and the Sardar Sarovar Project. She showcased the dispossession of indigenous communities through the lens of the ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’ social movement. Linking these contemporary issues to the legacy of Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Ms. Oza questions what the “Universal Champion of Human Rights” would do.

Thus, the international seminar commemorating the 68th Mahaparinirvan Diwas of Dr. Ambedkar raised several thought-provoking questions. It displayed the relevance of Dr. Ambedkar’s message and ideology at the turn of the 21st century, especially in our Indian academia. A formal vote of thanks was given by Dr. Ambedkar Chair Professor.