Amidst the tug of war between BJP/RSS and Congress over Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s legacy, which perhaps is the biggest travesty of India’s social and political history, Google today paid homage to the man who gave India its Constitution by posting a doodle on its homepage.
Babasaheb who once said, “I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity,” was born on April 14th, 1891 in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, and was the principal architect of India’s constitution.
Being born in the Hindu Mahar caste, deemed untouchable in India, Babasaheb himself was a sufferer of discrimination. From school to being a professor of Political Economy in Mumbai, Ambedkar had to fight a war with India’s societal norms at every level.
After returning from the London School of Economics where he was honored with a DSc, Ambedkar decided to crusade a movement against caste discrimination. He organized marches and fought for the right of untouchables for clean water supplies and permission to enter the Hindu temples.
Babasaheb also worked with Mahatma Gandhi to ensure the equality of people all over India. Ambedkar was also asked to be the first law minister in the newly independent country.
In 1956, he converted to Buddhism that prompted many Dalits to follow the suit.
The high-tech future of green jobs and the Gandhian virtue of the dignity of work meld their messages on a six-storey high mural commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the centenary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Sporting a Mahatma Gandhi patch on his shoulder, an astronaut floats in space on the mural painted on the side wall of the Indian Mission to the UN that was inaugurated on Tuesday.
The mural that looks up from the vista that opens to the iconic glass-fronted UN building a block away commemorates the occasions.
The other themes on the mural, a joint effort of the ILO and the Indian mission, include the concept of “green”, environmentally sustainable jobs and the greening of the world by planting trees.
India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said at the inauguration that the mural addresses global concerns of decent jobs and the environment.
He said the mural effort goes beyond the diplomatic work at the UN of dealing with resolutions to a new diplomatic area of reaching out to people to create broader awareness of issues.
Victor Ash, the artist who painted it while perched high on a cherry-picker, told IANS: “I mixed different ideas and came up with this ‘green astronaut’ that is also worker – the worker from the future who would be working in space.”
And to commemorate the anniversary of Gandhi’ birth, he said he added Gandhi’s image as a logo on the arm of the astronaut.
Ash said that one of his inspirations was India’s record in 2017 of planting 66 million trees on a single day.
The mission building with a red-stone facade was designed by the internationally acclaimed Indian architect Charles Correa, but one of its sides was bared to the bricks after the neighbouring building was torn down and a hotel was built on the site with a deep setback.
The mural now decorates that side without impinging on the building’s Correa design.
The mural was one of several sponsored across the city by ILO to commemorate its centenary with a project called Street Art for Mankind that aims to spread the message of decent work for all with sustainable development and social justice.
Portugal-born Ash said that he had painted a mural at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai during its Summerfest.
He said that he had started as a street-artist in Paris, where he had studied, and later went into doing paintings for galleries.