A video from an event by the Swaero movement, launched by senior IPS officer RS Praveen Kumar from Telangana and others, has triggered a row in the state. Following this, Praveen Kumar has clarified that the Swaero movement does not teach prejudice against any religion. Based on a video clip from the launch event of the ‘Swaero Holy Month’ on Monday, a few Telangana BJP leaders have accused Praveen Kumar of promoting teachings against Hinduism among students.
Swaero is a social transformation movement launched by Praveen Kumar, who is the secretary of the Telangana Social & Tribal Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society, and others. It mainly consists of alumni from the society.
The ‘Swaero Holy Month’, also called Bheem Deeksha, is a month-long event, marked by reading Dr BR Ambedkar’s works and other such activities. This year, the event was launched at the historical Dhulikatta Buddhist Shrine in Telangana’s Peddapalli district, known for its Buddhist heritage.
According to Praveen Kumar, a members of a local Buddhist family who attended the event went on stage and recited the ‘Buddha Vandanam’, or the vows taken by Dr B R Ambedkar on the historic day of his conversion to Buddhism on October 15, 1956, at Deeksha Bhoomi in Nagpur. In the video clip that is now being circulated and criticised by right wing groups, Praveen Kumar is seen repeating Ambedkar’s vows after a person leading the oath on stage. These vows include denouncing faith in certain Hindu gods, as well as striving for equality and refraining from committing sins.
Based on a video of the oath, Telangana BJP leaders and VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) members have accused Praveen Kumar of cultivating sentiments against the Hindu religion through the Swaero movement, among students of the Telangana Social & Tribal Welfare Residential Educational Institutions. Clarifying his stand, Praveen Kumar issued a statement saying Swaeroism is an inclusive ideology, where people of all religious faiths are working for liberation of the poor from poverty.
“Swaero Network has people with all religious beliefs in it and we take the best from all religions and we don't teach any prejudice against any religion both in our homes and in work places and celebrate all festivals. We work for just and equal society in the country only through education, health awareness, scientific thinking and economic empowerment, not through hatred,” the statement said.
This is my clarification on what has appended in Dhulikatta Buddhist Shrine today. Once again I reiterate Swaeroism is inclusive ideology and we have people with all religious faiths working for liberation of poor from poverty. #swaero pic.twitter.com/h08wKjXcd9— Dr. RS Praveen Kumar (@RSPraveenSwaero) March 15, 2021
Praveen Kumar said that he and his Swaero colleagues do not subscribe to what the Buddhist family said on stage. “We deeply regret if it has hurt anyone's religious sentiments. Our organisers have clarified this to all the participants on the stage itself immediately,” Praveen Kumar said.
In a video from Praveen Kumar’s speech at the Bheem Deeksha, the IPS officer is seen saying, “Bheem Deeksha means knowledge, rationalism and discipline. It means tolerance towards all religions. Regardless of caste, religion and region, to find our own hidden potential, and to strive for greatness, is the aim of this event. Bheem Deeksha and Swaeroism does not discriminate against or blame any particular religion, caste, region or nation.”
Watch Praveen Kumar's speech at the event
Praveen Kumar has been widely recognised for his transformational work in the field of education in the Telangana residential welfare schools, bringing a wide range of opportunities to students from marginalised backgrounds.
The Swaero movement, based on the ideologies of Jyothi Rao Phule and Dr BR Ambedkar, consists of alumni of the Telangana Social & Tribal Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society. It aims to instill self-confidence in students from marginalised communities and to encourage them to pursue higher education.
In another instance in the past, baseless allegations have been made that “anti-national activities” were being carried out in the welfare schools.