Gandhi has fallen and Phule has risen

As the year ends, we admit we have produced fewer books this year—but 2019 will see us making up. Navayana’s books have, however, found a way of being in the news. Recently, one of our titles caused a minor stir in some caustic corner of right-wing social media. The book in question was the graphic novel based on Jotirao Phule’s 1873 Gulamgiri. With Srividya Natarajan handling the storyboard and Aparajita Ninan the art, A Gardener in the Wasteland: Jotiba Phule’s Fight for Liberty is true to the spirit of Phule’s blistering attacks on all that Hindus hold dear. The reason for the hullabaloo was that it was being taught to students of privilege at Ashoka University, a place that has little place for the shudras and ati-shudras who are central to Phule’s thinking. There were pathetic liberal defences made on grounds of freedom of expression that read like applications for a job at Ashoka, while the troglodytes attacked university ‘elites’ for corrupting young minds. But no one was talking about Phule the great ridiculer of Brahmanism and Hindu mythology. There was little evidence of people actually engaging with the radicalism of Phule. His invisibility was palpable in all the shallow ‘debates’ the elites were having among themselves. Never mind. Do read A Gardener in the Wasteland in a new paperback edition, available on the Navayana website for Rs 300.

Meanwhile, Ramchandra Guha has gotten himself into hot soup again for claiming that though Gandhi had been racist in his early days, he changed his ways later in life. This hopeless attempt at defending the saint came in the wake of intense struggles in the University of Ghana to bring down a Gandhi statue that had been inflicted on them by the Indian state.  Guha’s condition of ‘cognitive dissonance’—suffered by most elite Indians who are gratuitously racist and casteist—has been resoundingly put in his place by Ọbádélé Kambon who teaches at the University of Ghana and was one of the spearheads of the campaign to get rid of Gandhi’s statue. At Navayana, we may take some credit for outing Gandhi’s unrepentant racism; our 2015 book, The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire authored by Ashwin Gandhi with Goolam Vahed offered a rigorous exposé of Gandhi’s racist ways. And the book trailer that accompanied the book did help the #GandhiMustFall movement.

Do buy these and other Navayana titles from our site although we will process your orders from 2 January onwards, after the year-end break.