VIJAYAWADA : Untouchability is still prevalent in the country even after 75 years of Independence, although in a different form, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said during a programme to unveil the 206-ft statue of Dr BR Ambedkar on Friday.
Stating that the practice does not just mean keeping a person of a particular community at a distance, he opined that oppressing people and preventing them from being empowered is also untouchability.
Addressing a huge gathering during the Samajika Samatha Sankalpa Sabha at the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation (IGMC) Stadium before unveiling the statue, he said, “The way Statue of Liberty has become USA’s identity, the Statue of Social Justice will be the pride of Andhra Pradesh from today.”
Noting that the statue stands as a symbol of Social Justice, he said it is a perfect manifestation of Gram Swaraj ushered in by his government in the last 55 months as it implemented a plethora of welfare schemes transparently for the uplift of Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Backward Classes (BCs) and other Economically Backward Communities (EBCs) against various odds.
Ambedkar’s ideals and philosophy continue to be relevant, says Jagan
Taking potshots at the TDP, Jagan said they opposed introduction of English medium in government schools and did not want children of poor families to study in English medium schools.
Stating that the Opposition’s unwillingness to support the government’s endeavours for socio-economic change in the society as perceived by Dr BR Ambekar was nothing but untouchability in a different form, the Chief Minister said, “They did not want the poor to have access to better medical facilities. They did not want the poor and marginalised to co-exist in the Amaravati capital region. They even filed cases against introduction of English medium and distribution of land to the poor. They went to the extent of opposing distribution of tabs to the poor.”
Describing TDP leaders as ‘pettamdarlu’ (feudalists), Jagan accused them of practising untouchability and discrimination against the SCs, STs, BCs and Minorities. “We need to fight them, and strive for social justice as envisioned by Dr Ambedkar,” he asserted.
Further, he hailed Bharat Ratna Dr BR Ambedkar as a great visionary who dedicated his entire life for the uplift of weaker sections in multiple ways. “It has been 66 years since Dr Ambedkar’s death, but his ideals and philosophy continue to be relevant. The social reformer stands as a symbol of inspiration that changed the country’s social, economic, and political and gender spheres,” he noted.
Asserting that his government has been implementing various welfare schemes in the true spirit of Dr Ambedkar, Jagan pointed out, “The architect of the Indian Constitution fought against feudal forces and the oppression of weaker sections while working for women’s liberation, people’s fundamental rights, constitutional rights and dignity of weaker sections.”
The Chief Minister observed that the inauguration of the iconic Ambedkar statue marks the social awakening. He said Dr Ambedkar’s towering personality provides us with the inspiration to safeguard our fundamental rights and dignity.
Highlighting the efforts that his government has taken to ensure social justice, he said four posts of Deputy Chief Ministers have been given to individuals belonging to SC, ST, BC communities and Minorities. “As many as 66% of the cabinet berths have been given to SCs, STs, BCs and Minorities. They also hold the posts of Assembly Speaker, Legislative Council chairman, nine ZP chairman posts, 58 municipal chairmen, 79 corporation chairmen, four Rajya Sabha memberships and 117 Market Committee Chairman posts,” he pointed out.
Of the total 2.10 lakh government posts created in the last 55 months, 80% are from the SC, ST, BC and Minority communities, he added. “The revolutionary changes are tangible across the State in the form of Rythu Bharosa Kendras, village clinics, family doctors, digital libraries, village and ward secretariats and the volunteer system. Our government has so far spent Rs 2,47,000 crore on various DBT schemes empowering the weaker sections, especially women,” he said.