The necessary construction of Ambedkar

Anand Teltumbde makes a close and compelling reading of Navayana’s critical, annotated new edition of Annihilation of Caste and the initial responses to it. Teltumbde invites us first to examine the assertion that Ambedkar was, in his life-time, a seeker of truth, with justice—radical justice—providing him his bearings, while others about him, like Gandhi, were guided by more expedient motives in their search for truth. In the light of that assertion, Teltumbde then expects us to first of all fight against a historical crystallization, may be even a deadening deification, of Ambedkar, because to engage with him and to follow him, is to imbibe the same bearings in the search for truth which Ambedkar had—justice.

Thus, for example, the crucial issue is not the facts about whether Ambedkar supported the insatiable cannibalistic urbanism as against a Gandhi supporting the now redeemed village; rather, the pivotal issue is, knowing the bearings Ambedkar had in choosing the causes he championed in his lifetime and those he opposed, would he today not be up in arms against the march of the armies of capitalism in the heart of Adivasi land, compared, if we will again, to a Gandhi who might or might not have supported the Big Companies, depending on who was financing ‘Truth and Non-violence’ at a given moment.

Straightforward Ambedkar is then not so much in his history, as his earnest quest for justice. A rich, wily Gandhi, on the other hand, can only be sought out in his equally variegated history.

Read the piece here.


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