"The United States has a Statue of Liberty and a Statue of Freedom but it does not have a Statue of Equality. We saw an opportunity there and hence we will be calling the statue of Dr BR Ambedkar, which we are going to install on the outskirts of Washington, DC in a few months, the Statue of Equality," Takshak Chahande, a member of the Ambedkar International Center (AIC) told The Quint.
The statue is currently being cast by the legendary sculptor Ram Sutar, who had also sculpted the tallest statue in the world – the Statue of Unity in Gujarat – for the Government of India. The Ambedkar statue will be ready to ship in the next few months and the AIC hopes to install it in July on its foundation day.
Ram Sutar's son Anil Sutar, who is an architect and sculptor in his own right, said, "We will depict Ambedkar holding India's constitution. While sculpting a statue, we make sure that we bring out the main character of the person. Ambedkar has worked for social justice and for the downtrodden. Before making a statue we study who the person was and what work they have done. We have tried to bring out Ambedkar's true facial expressions and get the standing pose right."
The Ambedkar statue will be a part of a memorial that the AIC is in the process of building in the town of Accokeek, just over 30 kilometres from the US Capitol.
The AIC has acquired a land of 13.1 acre for this project. Along with the statue, it plans to build a memorial hall, which will have big-screen displays to showcase Ambedkar's life and work. These interactive, multimedia displays will also have information about other social reformers and the anti-caste movement. The place will have Buddhist iconography such as a Buddha statue and an Ashokan pillar. There will also be a garden, a library, a residence hall and a gift shop.
"The world needs to know who Ambedkar was. The visitors will know about untouchability and the struggle against it. The memorial hopes to drive the anti-caste movement back home as well. And since this location is so close to the centres of power, Ambedkarites will be able to make their voice heard in the Congress, United Nations and elsewhere."– Takshak Chahande
The entire project will cost 1.5-2 million dollars (approximately 12 to 16 crore rupees). The amount will be raised through crowdfunding. The organisation hopes that the memorial will be ready for people to visit by the end of 2025.
The AIC wants to tie up with journalism institutions in India to bring Indian students to the US on short-term fellowships, and it wants to associate with the US universities to facilitate these fellowship programmes. However, the place will be open to students and scholars of Ambedkarite persuasion from anywhere in the world.
"It will be a missionary centre. We want this centre to be equipped enough to create another Ambedkar," Chahande stated.