The Ambedkar Chair at KISS-DU organized the third Ambedkar Memorial Lecture on 21st May 2022. Shri. Satya Narayan Sahu, Press Secretary to former President K. R. Narayanan and former Director of the Prime Minister’s Office spoke on Ambedkar and Nationalism. Welcoming the speaker, Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, KISS-DU, briefly recalled the stellar contribution of Dr. Ambedkar as a constitutionalist and as a fearless defender of the rights of the marginalized people. Dr.Iswar Chandra Naik, Chair Professor I/c of the Ambedkar Chair at KISS-DU, introduced the speaker, highlighting his key achievements. On that day, the Centre for Indigenous Cultural Heritage and Diversity, KISS-DU also, observed the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
Mr. Sahu spoke at some length on Ambedkar’s relationship with the nationalist mainstream in India in the twentieth century. Describing Ambedkar as a fierce spokesperson against excesses of nationalism, Shri Sahu referred to his bright career as a student and a professional, with the law and economics degrees from LSE and Columbia University, respectively, and his deep engagement with his mentor John Dewy, as formative influences on his subsequent career. Sahoo referred to two or three works on Ambedkar in particular, including What Congress and Gandhi had done for the Untouchables and Pakistan or the Question of Partition of India, emphasizing Ambedkar’s consistent condemnation of mainstream Hinduism and recalling that legacy against the excesses of Hinduism on display in contemporary times.
Professor Ashok K. Mohapatra, Senior Professor, English Programme, KISS-DU, summed up the lecture and observed that Ambedkar was a complex figure, preferring to remember him as a constitutionalist. The deliberation was followed by a question-and-answer session. Students raised some pertinent questions about the divisive political climate vitiating the present. Dr.Krupasindhu Nayak, Assistant Professor of Sociology, proposed the formal vote of thanks.