Indian Buddhist leader Dr. B. R. Ambedkar deserves to be honored with a commemorative Postage Stamp in Sri Lanka
Posted on August 11th, 2014

By Senaka Weeraratna

The article appended below was first published in the Lankaweb, Asian Tribune and Daily News in January 2012. It has been re-published in the Ambedkar Times based in USA on August 06, 2014.  Though the Indian political scene has changed dramatically both nationally and particularly in Uttar Pradesh, the main assertion of the article that Dr.  Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb, be given due recognition In Sri Lanka for the enormous contribution he has made for the revival of Buddhism in India following the footsteps of Anagarika Dharmapala, whose 150th Birth Anniversary will be commemorated worldwide on September 17, 2014, is still valid and deserving of necessary action.

The Govt. of Sri Lanka has taken a correct and important step in honouring fellow Asian freedom fighters and revolutionary leaders ike Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam who was honoured recently in Sri Lanka with the issue of several commemorative postage stamps bearing his image and the unveiling of a bust of Ho Chi Minh at the Public Library in Colombo. To draw Asian countries closer to each other cannot be done purely on an economic footing. There must also be cultural trappings and moreover a sense of solidarity drawn from a common struggle and shared past.

The de-colonization phase of contemporary Asian history threw out many Asian leaders of the calibre of Gandhi, Nehru, Subhas Bose, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Ambedkar, Mao – Tse -Tung, Chou En lai, Sukarno,  U Nu, Aung San, Ho Chi Minh,  General Võ Nguyên Giáp, Hideki Tōjō, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Anagarika Dharmapala, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike among others. 

They were icons both within and outside their countries, and had an appeal and worldwide following that today’s leaders of Asia do not have. There is a crisis in Asian leadership today largely related to moral inertia and lack of outspokenness.  

The Bandung Conference of 1955 brought both Asian and African leaders together. It captured public imagination. The 60th anniversary of ‘ Bandung’ falls next year. It serves as a good occasion for the Asian block of nations to re- generate a common Asian spirit and togetherness that we find well expressed among western countries linked to the EU and Islamic countries linked to OIC.

Senaka Weeraratna

August 11, 2014 

………….

The need to honour Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

As a leading Buddhist country in the world, the Buddhists of this country should seriously consider requesting the Government of Sri Lanka to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honour of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, for the great work he has done for his people and the cause of Buddhism in India. 

There are nearly 250 Million Dalits in India which is virtually 1/4th of the Indian Population.

Sri Lanka should befriend these people.

Buddhism can cement ties between Indian Dalits and Sri Lanka. 

Mayawati, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, is a staunch Buddhist. She heads the Bahujan Samaj Party, which represents the Bahujans or Dalits, the weakest strata of Indian society. This is her fourth term as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. She is an icon for millions of India’s Dalits. She is sometimes referred to as Behen-ji (sister). 

With a population of over 200 million people, Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state, as well as the world’s most populous sub – national entity. Uttar Pradesh (UP) is the second largest state-economy in India, with a GDP of $103.5 billion in 2009. The annual per capita GDP of the state was $1586 in 2009. It contributed 8.34% to India’s total GDP in the financial year 2010.

UP also has several sites important to Buddhism: the Chaukhandi Stupa marks the spot where Buddha met his first disciples, while the Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath commemorates Buddha’s first sermon. Further, the town of Kushinagar is where the Buddha attained Maha Parinirvana.

Sri Lanka should invite Mayawati to visit Sri Lanka and in turn seek the strengthening of economic and religio -cultural ties between Uttar Pradesh and Sri Lanka, The Buddhist World must give her recognition outside India.

The example of Ambedkar embracing Buddhism should be given the widest publicity in the North and East ( as Gamini Gunawardena has suggested) to motivate the so called low caste Tamils in these areas and the Hill Country of Sri Lanka to pursue a similar path. 

Buddhism teaches equality. This was Dr. Ambedkar’s message to his fellow Dalits.

Indian Dalits who are Buddhists (in the absence of Dr. Ambedkar) may well spread that message among Tamils in Sri Lanka who feel persecuted and oppressed by members of the higher profile Tamil castes.

Dr. Ambedkar’s inspiring legacy may well play a bigger role in Sri Lanka’s efforts at reconciliation between various communities.

One Response to “Indian Buddhist leader Dr. B. R. Ambedkar deserves to be honored with a commemorative Postage Stamp in Sri Lanka”

  1. Christie Says:

    For the Tamils in Sri Lanka the Dalits are the rest of the country.

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