On Ambedkar Jayanti on Thursday, 14 April, noted scholar and author Suraj Yengde shed light on how Dr BR Ambedkar's ideas were gaining recognition in the United States.
He said that America, which is struggling with problems pertaining to colour, gender, sexuality, and xenophobia, could learn from the composite universal politics of Ambedkar and the Indian Constitution that binds and unites complex histories.
"The Constitution manages to weave broken communities that are in their own separate nations into one block, which is a phenomenal thing if you think about it."Suraj Yengde
Close Ties With US
Ambedkar's America connect began with his studies at Columbia upon the recommendation of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad of Baroda, who sponsored his education, alongside that of other students.
Yengde said that Maharaja Gaekwad was one of the few kings of his time who preferred American education as opposed to the British education system, and had attended several educational and cultural exchanges and initiatives.
"Ambedkar not only witnessed the political shifts but also observed the importance of democratic values and the modernism that America offered. Even after Ambedkar drafted the Constitution, he preferred taking the help of America as opposed to the then famous Soviet bloc."Suraj Yengde
Ambedkar, who is now a well-known figure in American colleges, insisted on establishing good ties with the US not only because it had technology, but also because it was financially robust, Yengde suggested.
Columbia University has recently started the 'Ambedkar Initiative' in its colleges, he said.
With the inclusion of caste as a disadvantaged category in some US institutions, Yengde says that Ambedkar's name is mentioned "with the highest respect."
"America could learn a lot from Ambedkar and the Dalits. Ambedkar's is a story that America likes to repeat – the story of making it...coming from nowhere making something of themselves," he said.