World / Asia-Pacific

Modi compares India's Dalit icon Ambedkar with Martin Luther King

(Xinhu) Updated: 2016-03-21 16:19

NEW DELHI - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday drew a comparison between the architect of the Indian Constitution B.R. Ambedkar and iconic civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Modi said at a memorial lecture in honor of Ambedkar in the Indian capital that it is not right to see Ambedkar just as an icon of the Dalits (the country's downtrodden class often considered as untouchables), saying he spoke for all who were oppressed.

"Sometimes we do great injustice to Baba Saheb. To call him the messiah only of the Dalits is a great injustice to him. Let us not limit him to that. He was the one who raised his voice against any injustice," Modi said.

"We should see him as Vishwa Manav and not limit him to our borders. The way the world sees Martin Luther King, Baba Saheb should be seen like that. He was the voice of the downtrodden. Baba Saheb was the guardian of human values".

Talking about Ambedkar's contribution to the corporate world, the prime minister said "Baba Saheb was a great proponent of industrialization. He cared for the oppressed, marginalized Dalits who did not have land. That is why he endorsed, empowered industrialization."

Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination against Dalits, while also supporting the rights of women and labour.

He became India's first law minister and the principal architect of the Constitution of India. He died in 1956.

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