Tallest statue of Ambedkar outside India unveiled in Maryland, US

The tallest statue of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the principal architect of India’s Constitution, outside India was formally inaugurated in Maryland, United States, at a location close to Washington DC.

The statue of BR Ambedkar unveiled in Maryland, US. Screenshot courtesy: Facebook/AIC – Dr Ambedkar International Center

Amidst chants of “Jai Bhim”, more than 500 Indian Americans from various parts of the United States and some from India and other countries attended the unveiling ceremony of the 19-feet tall “Statue of Equality”.

Heavy rain and drizzle did not deter the enthusiasm and energy of the participants, many of whom drove for as long as 10 hours to attend what they described as an historic event.

The statue has been made by renowned artist and sculptor Ram Sutar, who also built the statue of Sardar Patel, called “Statue of Unity” and installed on an island in Narmada, metres downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat.

“We are calling it the Statue of Equality… This [inequality] is not the problem only in India, [but also exists] everywhere [in] different forms,” said Ram Kumar, President of the Ambedkar International Center (AIC), speaking to the Press Trust of India after the statue unveiling ceremony.

Born on April 14, 1891, Ambedkar — popular among his followers as “Babasaheb” — was the chairman of the Constituent Assembly’s most crucial Drafting Committee that earned him the moniker “Architect of the Indian Constitution”.

Spread over 13 acres, the AIC complex in Accokeek township of Maryland state, located some 35km south of the White House, would consist of a library, convention centre, and a Buddha Garden, among other elements, when finished.

“This is a great occasion to participate in the unveiling ceremony of statue of Babasaheb. This is the tallest statue of Babasaheb in America… After 75 years of [Indian] independence, people are realising the work done by Ambedkar and that’s the reason why day by day he’s gaining popularity,” said Ravi Kumar Narra, National President of the Dalit Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), to PTI.

“Earlier, [Ambedkar] was treated as a Dalit leader, but now the entire nation is recognising his contribution of empowering women and the marginalised [parts of] society as well as the economic weaker sections,” added Narra.

The “Statue of Equality” represented 1.4 billion Indians and 4.5 million Indian Americans, said Deelip Mhaske from New York, who leads the Ambedkarite movement in the US. “Although this is completely done through community contributions, we received congratulatory messages from [Indian] Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar,” he said.

Ambedkar died on December 6, 1956, months after he embraced Buddhism on October 14 that year, the date chosen for the unveiling of the statue in Maryland. October 14 is celebrated as Dhamma Chakra Parivartan Din by Ambedkarites.