A man who says ‘I am a Hindu and a patriot’, and ‘I love my country’, someone who says Modi is like Chavez, is equally likely to say that Gandhi and Ambedkar need to be embraced together. This is the line the ‘national historian of India’ Ramachandra Guha has been advocating for a while. In one of his columns, he listed Ambedkar and Pandita Ramabai—figures who were disgusted with Hinduism and chose to leave its fold—as Hindus ‘we’ need to be proud of along with Gandhi and Nehru. It was an offensive suggestion, at best. Guha has been performing ‘Ghar Wapsi’ well before the current thrust of the RSS affiliates which believe anyone born in India is a Hindu.
Since Guha has consistently maintained that India is a “fifty-fifty democracy”, one wonders if the propounder of this philosophy would say the same about embracing Gandhi and Nathuram Godse together, something Modi and the RSS happily go about doing these days. After all, Godse was a brahmin; and Guha once wrote that his tears flow a little more copiously when people of his caste die.
To recover from such doses of unhealthy nationalism, all you need to do is reach for Dr Ambedkar’s classic tract against the ‘saint’, Gandhi: What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables. There’s nothing fifty-fifty about how Ambedkar viewed Gandhi.