Ripples in a Lagoon

AMBEDKAR_AYYANKALI_collageEarlier this year, Arundhati Roy delivered the Mahatma Ayyankali Memorial lecture at the Kerala University, Trivandrum. She asserted that M.K. Gandhi, India’s “Father of the Nation”, was a person with very problematic views on caste, which needed to be reexamined and his exalted position reassessed. She called for choosing more befitting heroes for India, Mahatma Ayyankali certainly qualifying as one. In the immediate aftermath of her lecture, there were quite a few voices of disbelief and indignation, mostly privileged caste; amplified by the control such voices have on the mass media in India. She was called a traitor, liar and ignoramus all in one breath. But there were others who knew that what she was stating was nothing shocking, not even new. Many engaged, marginalized and marginalized and engaged people have been voicing similar sentiments for decades now.

So it is pleasing to hear one such voice of reason and empathy, Retd Justice K Chandru, the judge who freed Periyar from the clutches of copyright law, reminding everybody that no public figure is above censure, not even Gandhi, and that Roy has a right to express her opinion and to present facts that support her views. M.K. Gandhi has definitely left us ample evidence of his casteist mentality. Navayana’s annotated critical edition of Babasaheb’s Annihilation of Caste contains some of it.

In other news, the CPM leadership in Kerala is finally waking up to Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Ayyankali. In many respects, leftist political thought ought to have been a natural ally of Ambedkar, and Ambedkarite politics, but things have always taken a different trajectory in India because the left continues to be dominated by privileged-caste men and women. Hopefully, this new interest of the communists in Ambedkar and Ayyankali, ‘true heroes of India’, will not be a cosmetic one.

Buy Annihilation of Caste here.

Comments:

  • Rajratna Jadhav says:

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