Today is the 152nd birth anniversary of M.K. Gandhi. Who would have imagined that a wee boy, born in humble old Porbandar, would go on to do such great things as meet Babasaheb Ambedkar, and further, be bested by him in debates about untouchability and caste? Mr. Gandhi made invaluable contributions to our understandings of caste, by bravely taking all the wrong positions on the issue. After all, what will happen to the theatre of discourse without the presence of such a dedicated heel? In Mr. Gandhi, the saying, “We learn from our mistakes,” found its greatest champion—surely, he must have done a heck of a lot of learning. So, on this day Navayana pays tribute to him; we have curated a list of books which exemplify his person:
- Annihilation of Caste by B.R. Ambedkar—One of the most celebrated and definitive treatises on caste. This edition contains the back-and-forths between Ambedkar and Gandhi that was generated by the polemical force of the text.
- The Strength of our Wrists: 3 Plays by Premanand Gajvee—a fictional depiction of the disagreements and debates that surmised between Ambedkar and Gandhi. Gajvee’s comedic take is nevertheless politically potent.
- The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire by Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed—an in-depth analysis of Gandhi’s time in South Africa, where his racism and his support for the colonisers against native struggles was embarrassingly evident.
- Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi and the Risk of Democracy by Aishwary Kumar—a philosophical study of the differences between Ambedkar and Gandhi, and how their views on equality as a social–political real are incommensurable.
- Ambedkar and Other Immortals: An Untouchable Research Programme by Soumyabrata Choudhury—a book of philosophy that teaches us how to read Ambedkar, how to read Gandhi, and how Ambedkar read Gandhi.
- Seeking Begumpura: The Social Vision of Anticaste Intellectuals by Gail Omvedt—a palate cleanser after so much Gandhi. This book is a history of ideas, that narrativizes the visions of oft-forgotten figures, who have, in different times and in different ways, dreamed of an equal and free society.
This Gandhi Jayanti, don’t be like Mr. Gandhi—instead follow Lenin, when he said, “Read, read, read.”
The first thing Mr. Gandhi said of Annihilation of Caste in 1936 was that its price could have been 4 annas and not the 8 annas that Ambedkar self-published it for. So, here’s more Gandhigiri: free shipping on all orders above Rs 499 at Navayana.