A Sunday wasted on Gandhigiri

The greatest continuing contribution of M.K. Gandhi to contemporary politics is the many national  holidays that are declared in his name. It stings, then, when his birthday is wasted on a Sunday. After all, reprieve from society has become the only solace in these days of normalized terror. Mr. Gandhi was himself a workaholic. No rest for the wicked, perhaps. No breaks from spinning yarns. Everyone working all the time, everyone in their right place—the shudra doing their labour, the dalit stamped under foot, the rest in high places—that was the world he yearned for. Today, we follow Dr Ambedkar in affirming the idea that another world is possible. A world beyond caste and hierarchy. Here is a list of books to show you the way:

  1. Annihilation of Caste by B.R. Ambedkar—One of the most celebrated and definitive treatises on caste. Appended with the polemical exchanges between Ambedkar and Gandhi, this edition is a classic.
  2. The Strength of our Wrists: 3 Plays by Premanand Gajvee—a fictional depiction of the disagreements and debates between Ambedkar and Gandhi. Gajvee’s comedic take remains politically potent.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. I Could Not Be Hindu: The Story of the Dalit in the RSS by Bhanwar Meghwanshi—in turning away from the virulence of the Hindu right, Bhanwar sought figures like Ambedkar and Gandhi to show him the way. His political struggle testifies why Gandhi falls short.
  6. Seeking Begumpura: The Social Vision of Anticaste Intellectuals by Gail Omvedt—a collection of the many visions of oft-forgotten figures, who have, in different times and in different ways, dreamed of an equal and free society.