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(Image Courtesy: PIB)
 PM-launched Ambedkar housing scheme aborted in 2005 & rebooted later under Rajiv brand        
Are birth anniversary celebrations of national icons and other similar events mere symbolism? Do they constitute more noise and less action or belated action? No one else but late Dr. B.R. Ambedkar would perhaps be pondering over this issue in the heaven while watching his 125th birth anniversary celebrations on 14th April 2016 as ‘National Bandhutva Bhav / Samrasata Diwas’.
Instances that prove such events as mere rituals to garner votes or just bask in national leaders' glory are several. In this instance, three examples should nudge all stakeholders to focus more on communicating and imbibing the ideals of such leaders rather than just reducing them to publicity stunts. 
Recollect first the launch of a “comprehensive website on Bharat Ratna Dr. B.R Ambedkar” on 6th December 2001 by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
An official release stated: “This website, whose address is www.drambedkar.com, makes available for the first time on the Internet, all the writings and thoughts of the chief architect of our Constitution, selected speeches, nearly a thousand photographs, his original voice recording, and an original film clip about him. Together, there are more than seven thousand pages of information on Dr. Ambedkar in this site, which will be periodically updated.”
It continued: “This site also has the full report of the clause-by-clause discussion on the Draft Constitution, as debated in the Constituent Assembly and other interventions of Dr. Ambedkar in Parliament, when he was India’s first Law Minister. This site was developed entirely due to the three-year effort of Shri Milind Kamble, a Pune-based businessman and a political activist (He is also founder Chairman of Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI).”
Hold your breath before clicking on the URL mentioned above. When you click it, you won't access the website but a message that the domain name www.drambedkar.com is up for sale!
Visit now the website of Ambedkar Foundation, which Government established in March 1992 primarily to promote “the ideology and message of Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar among the masses in India as well as abroad.” The website ambedkarfoundation.nic.in has hardly any speeches and writings of Dr. Ambedkar.
It does not contain the Collected Works of  Dr. Ambedkar that it has printed in English, Hindi and certain other languages. It, however, hosts several issues of a Hindi periodical named Samajik Nyay Sandesh.
Take now the case of Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana (VAMBAY), a housing scheme for slum dwellers that announced by Mr. Vajpayee on 15th August 2001. The targeted beneficiaries of VAMBAY were scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes, and other weaker sections. 
Mr. Vajpayee stated: “The Ministry of Urban Development will give a yearly grant of  Rs. 1,000 crore to this project. HUDCO, which will implement this scheme, will make available another Rs. 2,000 crore as a loan amount.”
These budgetary targets were never achieved. Official data shows that the Centre gave a total subsidy of only Rs. 930.26 crore to States/Union Territories for construction of 459719 houses and 65592 toilets during its tenure of less than five years. 
When UPA Government came to power, it merged VAMBAY and the discontinued National Slum Development Programme (NSDP) into a new scheme Integrated Housing & Slum Development (IHSDP) that was launched in December 2005. Prior to VAMBAY, Delhi Development Authority had launched Ambedkar Awas Yojna in1989 as one-time scheme. 
Congress-led UPA launched a new scheme called Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) for the slum dwellers and other urban poor in June 2011. UPA naturally gave more importance to propping up Rajiv Gandhi’s profile rather than commemorating Dr. Ambedkar’s contribution to national unity.  All these schemes have, however, not reduced the web of slums across the country but have sustained symbolism. 
Consider now the case of Dr. Ambedkar National Memorial and Ambedkar National Library that were mooted in 1992. The inordinately delayed Library has been reconceived as ‘Dr. Ambedkar International Centre’. The foundation stone of this project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 20th April 2015 at 15, Janpath, New Delhi. The Rs 197-crore project is targeted for completion before March 2017.
Interestingly enough, a website, www.ambedkarinternationalcenter.org , has been operating from the United States. The website says: “Donate. Dear All, Let us join hands and come forward to help in building Babasaheb Dr.B.R. Ambedkar International Center in USA. Looking forward for all your Support!”   
As regards Dr. Ambedkar National Memorial and Museum, it is located at a Bungalow at 26, Alipur Road, Delhi where Dr. Ambedkar lived in the fifties and died on 6th December 1956. The Memorial was dedicated to the nation on 2nd December 2003 by Mr. Vajpayee as Parivirvan Sthal. It was planned to be scaled up into an appropriate museum.
Last month, Mr. Modi laid the foundation for the Memorial-cum-Museum at same site which is referred to as Mahaparinirvan Sthal. This Rs 99-crore project is now targeted for completion before 14th April 2018. 
Several initiatives have been taken ever since the Government announced commemoration of Dr. Ambedkar anniversary (14th April, 1991) in 1990. A status report on implementation of these initiatives is, however, hard to come by in the public domain.
One crucial initiative under centenary celebrations was that States should lease/licence natural resources like stone quarries, clay quarries and animal carcasses, etc. to actual workers and their co-operatives and provide economic support to them. 
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