For the first time, the UN celebrated the birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar with a top official describing the noted Indian social reformer as a "global icon" for marginalised people and voiced the world body's commitment to work with India to fulfil his vision.
"On behalf of the UN Development Programme, I commend India on celebrating this important anniversary at the UN," UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said in her keynote address at a special event organised by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN to commemorate Ambedkar's 125th birth anniversary for the first time at the global body.
"We are committed to continuing our very close partnership with India to help realise the vision of the 2030 Agenda and ensure that Ambedkar's vision becomes reality for the poor and marginalised around the world," said Clark who is among the candidates for the post of the next UN Secretary General.
The 125th birth anniversary of the principal architect of India's Constitution was observed on Wednesday at the world body.
The event was organised in association with civil society advocacy groups Kalpana Saroj Foundation and Foundation of Human Horizon.
Clark who is Chair of the UN Development Group, addressed a packed audience of diplomats, scholars and Ambedkar's followers and said the occasion commemorates the "legacy of a very great man" who understood that "rising and persistent inequalities" pose fundamental challenges to the economic and social well-being of nations and people.
Emphasising that Ambedkar's ideals are as relevant on Thursday as they were 60 years ago, former New Zealand prime minister Clark said his work on the empowerment and inclusion of excluded groups, reform of labour laws and promotion of education for all "made him an icon for marginalised people in India and in other countries".
On the occasion, a panel discussion on 'Combating inequalities for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals' was also organised featuring Professor Stan Kachnowski and Associate Professor Anupama Rao from Ambedkar's alma mater Columbia University and Harvard University lecturer Christopher Queen.
Clark said reducing inequalities and discrimination in all their forms, the cornerstone of Ambedkar's vision and work, is also at the "heart" of the new development agenda the world has committed to achieving by 2030, adding that Ambedkar had a "deep understanding" of the far-reaching measures that are needed to address inequalities.