This is a new column where we are featuring a Centre established at the University of Hyderabad.
Saumya Painuli interviewed Dr. K Y Ratnam, the Head of the Centre for UoH Herald
SP: When was the Centre for Ambedkar Studies established at UoH?
KYR: The Centre for Ambedkar Studies was started in University of Hyderabad in April 2010. The Centre which falls under the ambit of the School of Social Sciences was, however, officially inaugurated on 19 April, 2011.
SP: What are the aims of the Centre?
KYR: Its aim is to initiate advanced studies on the philosophical understanding of all the intellectual disciplines and branches of Ambedkar’s thought. It seeks to initiate a critical inquiry into Ambedkar’s philosophy and also reason out why it must be revived by giving more penetrating analysis and research in terms of methodology within the larger scheme of Indian philosophical thought.
SP: What are the objectives of this Centre?
KYR: The Centre was established with the following objectives:
• To adopt an inter-disciplinary approach to study Dr. Ambedkar’s thought by involving the Departments of Social and Human Sciences.
• To explore the historical, social and political context in which Ambedkar articulated his thought.
• To study the economic thought of Ambedkar that includes his ideas on welfare economics, planning, agriculture, and industrial development.
• To analyse the precedence of both pre-modern and modern Ambedkar’s thought.
• To promote Ambedkar’s thought in both English and vernacular languages.
SP: What are the courses offered by the Centre?
KYR: At present, the Centre offers an inter-disciplinary course on “Introduction to Ambedkar Thought” for post-graduate students.
SP: What kinds of activities/lectures have been held by the Centre?
KYR: The Centre for Ambedkar Studies has been organising a number of lectures and talks by dignitaries including academicians from other universities.
Inaugural Address on “Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s Contribution to the Making of Modern India” was delivered by Professor B. L. Mungekar, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha on 19 April 2011.
The Centre organised a special lecture on “Annihilation of Caste and Its Relevance” which was addressed by Sri Bojja Tharakam, Senior Advocate and Civil Rights Activist on 19 January 2012.
The Centre also organised Foundation Day Lecture on “The Academic Agenda of Caste: Affirmation or Annihilation” by Dr. G. Aloysius, Adjunct Professor, EFLU, Hyderabad, on 19 April 2012.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture on ‘Political Representation and Electoral System in India” was delivered by Dr. Undru Rajashekar, IAS on 14 April 2011.
A special lecture on “Ambedkar : A Symbol for Legal Integration and Caste-based Discrimination in Contemporary India” was delivered by Dr. Dag Erik Berg, University of Bergen, Norway on 26 July 2013.
The lecture on “Contextualizing Conversion and Social Emancipation: An Ambedkarite Perspective was delivered by Dr. Santosh Raut on 10 October 2013.
SP: Does the Centre have any projects?
KYR: The Centre has also been actively involved with research projects. One of the major projects tilted “Recovering multiple archives of resistance in Andhra Pradesh: Anti-caste intellectual traditions, Adivasi oral traditions and Deccani intellectual traditions” was undertaken for the ICSSR –New Delhi.
SP: Could you list out any significant achievements of the Centre so far?
KYR: One of the achievements of the Centre is that it procured the ‘Scheme of Epoch Making Social Thinkers of India’ under the XII Plan Period from the UGC-New Delhi.
SP: What are the unique aspects of the Centre?
KYR: It is different from other Centres in the University because this is the only one that undertakes in-depth study on Ambekdar’s thoughts, ideas and contributions to the Indian society. The centre is a rare school of study as it exclusively caters to the study of Ambedkar. It intends to explore in depth the multiple dimensions of Ambedkar’s thought and seeks to give it its legitimate place within the academic curriculum of Social and Human Sciences. The realms of research and inquiry makes the Centre stand apart from other Departments/ Centres across the country.