As the country paid rich tributes to Dr BR Ambedkar on his 54th death anniversary on Monday, a little-known organisation in Mumbai has suggested that the Government considers carrying the Indian Constitution architect’s picture on currency notes.
At Chaityabhoomi, Ambedkar’s memorial, the tens of thousands of his followers, who thronged the shrine, saw large banners promoting the cause. Ironically, the demand has no been put forth by any Dalit group. Muslim volunteers of an NGO have come up with the demand.
“Ambedkar was not only the leader of the downtrodden but was also the architect of modern India. And what better way to honour his contribution than to give him an esteemed place on the Indian currency,” said Saira Patel, general secretary of Mumbaikar Asanghatith Gharelu Kamgar Union, a non-governmental organisation working with Dalits and Muslims in Andheri.
Patel added that they have sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. “We will approach Dalit leaders for support and are considering a tie-up with mobile phone companies to initiate a public voting campaign through SMS,” she said.
She added that unlike in the West, where several leaders are featured on currency notes, in India we only have Mahatma Gandhi’s picture.
“Gandhiji is no doubt the most recognised face of the Indian freedom struggle. But we think that Dr Ambedkar also deserves to be on the Indian currency,” Patel said.
Mohammad Patel, another member of the group said, “We are not saying that Gandhi’s pictures should be taken off the notes.
However, Dr Ambedkar’s pictures can appear on at least some denominations.”
Though the demand for Dr Ambedkar’s to feature on currency notes has been made by a Muslim group, there is support aplenty from Dalit organisations.
Rajendra Gavai, national general secretary of the Republican Party of India said, “Dr Ambedkar is the architect of the country’s constitution. We will support the demand.”